2010-01-01 / Top Stories


You have to give lots of credit to Beach Channel High School senior Chris Petrillo, who is leading the movement to keep the school open in the face of a Department of Education decision to phase it out and then close it in 2013. Chris bearded the district superintendent at a recent meeting, demanding to know what she had done to help the school and keep it open. She had no answer. Then, Petrillo was granted an audience with School Chancellor Joel Klein. When he got to Tweed Courthouse, however, he was stonewalled. After sitting in the Chancellor’s waiting room for a long while, the teen was told that Klein “was out of the building,” and that there was nobody else available for him to speak with.


You also have to give credit to City Councilman Eric Ulrich for voting against the bill naming a Jamaica street in honor of Sean Bell. Ulrich was one of only seven council members who had the courage of their convictions and voted no. Unfortunately for Ulrich, the vote was on an omnibus bill that included dozens of new street naming approvals, including one for community icon Beverly Baxter and another for slain high school football star Patrick Hernandez. Since the bill passed, all of those Rockaway people in the omnibua bill will soon have ceremonies declaring streets named in their memory.

Leave it to Congressman Anthony Weiner. Concerned that the theft of consumer electronics is on the rise, Weiner proposed new icrime legislation. The acronym for his new legislation: Internet Consumer Registry for Impeding the Theft of Mobile Electronics. We wonder how long it took Weiner’s aides to come up with that one.

Remember that the hearing being held by the Education Priorities Panel will take place in the auditorium at Beach Channel High School at 6 p.m. on January 6. Those who want to respond to the closing of the school will have a chance to present their views to three members of the panel, but they cannot ask questions and the panel will not respond to their comments except to say thank you.

Reeling from four straight years of plunging SAT scores, despite the rise of math and reading scores on statewide standardized tests, the city has decided to offer a free online exam prep course for all of the city’s eleventh graders in public schools. The program will allow the public school students to access test prep material and college guidance information from the internet, officials say. The program is slated to begin in early 2010 and will target those students taking the exam next spring and fall.

Unemployment is down in much of the city, but not in Rockaway. The unemployment rate in southern Queens is 12.2 percent, with Rockaway coming in at 11.4 percent. The citywide rate is holding at nine percent. Published reports say that the rate in Rockaway and other southern Queens neighborhoods will probably get worse before it gets better, and that it might approach 15 or 16 percent before an upturn begins.

More than two dozen students from Stella Maris High School, which will close at the end of this school year, recently attended a special program at the Mary Louis Academy, a Catholic girl’s high school owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph, the order that also owns Stella Maris. The students spent the day at the school, making new friends and attending classes. The order hopes that many of the girls leaving the local school, which has had a declining enrollment over the past three years, will register at Mary Louis and other parochial high school for next year. Insiders say, however, that a number of the girls, including some of the student athletes, have already left and enrolled in public high schools instead.

The Five Towns Jewish Times, the preferred paper of the Orthodox community in Far Rockaway is reporting that two new buildings are drawing an exclusively Orthodox clientele in an ever-expanding Jewish presence in Far Rockaway. “They are known as 156 Beach 9 Street and 1216 Central Avenue and these buildings are being filled by young frum couples by leaps and bounds,” the story says. “Both of these buildings now have well over 50 couples or singles and the numbers are growing each month. There is a whole new community being created in the area.” The paper points out that the influx of Orthodox Jewish (frum) residents is “revitalizing Far Rockaway.”

The Department of Sanitation did a good job in Rockaway during and after the snowstorm that hit Rockaway on Saturday, December 19. The only complaints seem to have come from the residents of the beach blocks in the west end. Some of those beach blocks were not plowed until Monday evening, two days after the storm. Officials say that the beach blocks take special equipment because the regular trucks with plows cannot turn around at the end of the blocks. Caterpillar tractors are used on the beach blocks, and there are far fewer of those than there are trucks.

The City Council has overridden the Mayor’s veto and motorists will have a grace period of five minutes before a ticket can be issued for parking overlong at parking meters or for violating alternate side regulations. The change will go into effect at the end of March, 90 days after the vote took place.

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