2009-05-29 / Columnists

Beachcomber

People went up and down Beach 116 Street last week, leaving collection cans for a charity called "penniesforpaws.com." Because we join some storeowners in a concern that the charity may not be kosher, The Wave called the number on the can and got an answering machine. Our call was never returned. Some storeowners went further and tracked down another telephone number associated with the address on the cans. That turned out to be a business in Brooklyn that seemed to know nothing about the charity. The State Attorney General has no record of such a non-profit. John Lepore, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, is working on finding out if the charity is, in fact, legitimate. Until we get some answers, we would be careful about dropping cash into the boxes.

In the wake of the H1N1 Flu epidemic, the Department of Education has constructed a new website designed to provide parents with the latest attendance information for their children's schools. The new site is at www.sch ools.nyc.gov/home/spotlight/closures. htm. The DOE warns, however, that data showing a low attendance rate at any particular school does not mean there is a problem with the flu at that school.

There is some good news and some bad news on the horizon concerning this summer's events schedule. First, the good news. The highly-popular Kite Festival, sponsored by the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, will be back this year after a one-year hiatus. It will once again team with the Rockaway Music and Arts Council's Fall Festival. The Kite Festival will be held on the boardwalk at Riis Park while the RMAC Festival will be held on the Riis Park Mall. Both events are scheduled for the weekend of September 12 and 13. The bad news is that there is a strong possibility that we all may have seen the last of the popular Sunset Picnic Concerts previously hosted by the RMAC.

The Parks Department is giving dog walkers 250 good reasons to pick up after their pets when they're in a city park or on a beach. Beginning in June, those who do not pooper-scoop will be handed a $250 ticket rather than one for $100, which is the present fine. Adrian Benepe, the department's commissioner, says that he wants to "change the culture of litter in our parks." There are those, however, who believe that this is just another dodge to get even more money for the city's general fund by fining middle-class residents.

There was a report in the glossies last week that Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents Rockaway in the House of Representatives, talked actor Ben Affleck out of running for Congress. Affleck reportedly told the New York Times that he told Weiner he was thinking of running for a Massachusetts seat. Weiner told him "That's a terrible idea, you'll get killed." So far, it looks as if the movie star is taking the Congressman's advice.

There may be a change coming to your local area code, and our present area code, 718, might soon be a digital relic. New York City, which already has five area codes, will soon need another, experts say. The state's Department of Public Service, which regulates such things, is pondering whether to create a new area code for Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island (leaving Manhattan to have its own code) or to include portions of Manhattan in the mix. Assignable telephone numbers in the present codes will be depleted by 2011, the state agency says.

Last week, The Wave reported that there had been a halt on trucking the contaminated dirt from the former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) on Beach 108 Street and Beach Channel Drive. Opponents of the process took the halt to once again argue that the entire process is flawed and dangerous. The fact is, the halt was due to a technical, paperwork fault. The trucking company had taken out a permit to truck the contaminated soil over the Verrazano Bridge, but not the Marine Parkway Bridge. Once those permits were lined up, the trucking was started anew. At no time, officials say, was there any danger to those living around the site or to those along the trucking route.

Only in New York. Rockaway resident Butch Brandes, who is a FD Battalion Chief in Brooklyn, was walking in front of the Kings Plaza Shopping Center with his son when they were attacked by a deranged man. Brandes and the man wound up in the middle of Flatbush Avenue, slugging it out and grappling with each other. No motorist got out of his or her car to help. In fact, Brandes told The Wave, a number of motorists blared their horns and yelled for him to get out of the street. Finally, he knocked the man down and another shopper came to his aid and held the man down until police units arrived.

The fact that the city's Department of Health has decided to test only those suspected H1N1 samples that come from critically ill people and from areas where there is a significant cluster of cases, has angered many locals. The DOH confirmed last week that at least one student and one teacher at the Scholars' Academy had "flu-like symptoms." Does that mean the samples sent to the DOH lab will be tested to confirm whether or not the flu is present in the school? No, because neither illness is bad enough, nor are two illnesses considered a cluster.

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