The holiday season traditionally brings not only Santa Claus and good cheer, but violence as well. Between Christmas and New Year's last year, there were three men badly beaten in front of a restaurant at 10-28 Central Avenue, two female bystanders shot inside of 14-25 Central Avenue and three men stabbed at 10-37 Central Avenue, all in Far Rockaway. None of those who were assaulted were badly injured, but we hope the last days of last year do not set the pattern for this year's criminal activity in Far Rockaway.
Once again, there were three New Year's Day plunges into the chilly Atlantic Ocean. The largest gathering was at Beach 146 Street, where 250 people took the plunge. There were also gatherings of about 100 people at Beach 119 Street and Beach 128 Street. We wonder why the three groups don't join forces and have one large group dip somewhere on the peninsula. That would probably rival the Polar Bear plunge in Coney Island, an event that draws all of the major media. The local events, each far smaller than the Coney Island event, draw only The Wave (not that that's so bad).
In the larger scheme of things, the closing of Blockbuster Video on Beach 116 Street will not greatly impact the lives of Rockaway residents. The closing is a symptom, however, of a disease that is still eating away at the peninsula despite all the development of new homes throughout Rockaway. All of our service businesses, with the exception of banks and nail parlors, seem to be leaving for other climes. Where will you go to rent a movie or a game (except for the computer)? Where can you get a decent pair of men's pants? Where can you get a new refrigerator, a television set? The answer is, you have to go off the peninsula and that has to change if the revitalization of Rockaway is to continue. People are not going to move here if there is no place to shop, no easy way to commute to work, no amenities such as movie theaters, bowling allies, YMCA's, skating rinks. There are some who want to fight the idea of bringing a big box store such as Target to Rockaway, but that is just what we need to fill in the blanks.
The mayor has taken the first step to limit the number of city-issued parking placards that seem to plague Rockaway, particularly in the summer. Those placards give city workers permission to park in no parking areas when they are on city business. Unfortunately, many police officers, firefighters and others use those placards to park illegally on Rockaway streets during the summer months. From now on, however, city agencies will not issue their own placards. The placards used by all of the city's law enforcement and first response agencies will be issued by the NYPD, while the DOT will issue the placards for all other city agencies. In addition, each agency was asked to reduce by 20 percent the number of placards they now issue when the new plan begins next month. People who use phony placards will be fined and prosecuted, the mayor said.
If you or some member of your family is a former or present city worker, chances are the coming merger between GHI and HIP will impact your health care. Not only do the two giants want to merge, they want to move out of the semipublic domain and into the forprofit area as a company to be called EmblemHealth. Of course, the officials of the new company had notified subscribers that the move will make their health care less expensive and more rational. The opposite is probably more like it. The merger and the move to go private will probably cost you more and make the company less responsive to your needs. Of course, the move will probably mean huge salary increases for the CEO and other major officials of the new, private healthcare company. There are two public hearings scheduled to address officials of the State Department of Health on this important issue. One of the hearing will be in Albany on January 31. The other, to be held on January 29 at 10 a.m., will be held in New York City, at HIP's offices, 55 Water Street. Everybody who will be impacted by the change should show up and let them know how you feel.
Some Far Rockaway High School alumni, angered at the closing of their alma mater, have begun to research the history of the school in hopes of finding something that will help convince the Department of Education to keep the school, and the name, alive. One alumnus found that Rockaway had fathered three Nobel laureates and believed that the number was the most for any school in the city - a sure shot at keeping the school name. Turns out, however, that Bronx Science has seven. Oh, well, keep digging.
Those who still have television sets that utilize "rabbit ear" antennas will soon find themselves out in the cold. Beginning in February of next year (2009), anyone who does not own a digital television will no longer be able to get a picture. That's when the television industry completes its transition from old-style analog broadcasting to digital. Converter boxes from the old format to the new will be available from most electronics stores at a cost of $50 to $70, experts say. Starting this week, however, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will begin accepting applications for up to two $40 coupons per household toward the purchase of the converter boxes. To request a coupon, you can apply online at www.dtv2009. gov. You can also call 1-888-388-2009 to request a coupon on a 24-hour-a-day helpline. You can request a coupon if you have cable service on some of your sets, but not on others.
SO,WHAT'S THE STORY?Have a news tip or story for us? Need exposure for a community-based organization? Know someone who should be recognized for outstanding work in the community? Want us to provide coverage at a community event? Just give The Wave a call at 634-4000. The Wave covers the entire Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel.