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Assembly Delegation Seeks Filter Probe

October 18, 2007

By Jordan Moss

The Bronx Assembly delegation that overwhelmingly supported the city’s plans to build a water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park is now calling on state and city officials to investigate and hold hearings on the project’s escalating cost overruns and other problems, the Norwood News

has learned.

Eight of the borough’s 11 representatives to the State Assembly signed a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn asking each to call hearings on the project’s cost overruns, which now total at least $1.5 billion.

A similar letter, signed by seven of the Assembly members, went to State Comptroller General Thomas DiNapoli and State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo calling for those officials to investigate problems with the project. (Naomi Rivera signed the letters to the speakers calling for hearings but not this one calling for a formal investigation.)

Aside from the cost overruns, the letters raise questions about the leakage of millions of gallons of groundwater from the site into the city’s already overworked combined sewer system, the charge that official promises of local jobs were not kept, and the lack of details concerning the “impending construction of a force main that will apparently traverse the entire borough, running from Van Cortlandt Park to the environmentally overburdened community of Hunts Point.”

The letters also ask the officials to look into the circumstances surrounding the departure of former Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Christopher Ward, who left his post the day after the project was approved by the Council, and a year later became the head of the General Contractors Association, a key group that backed the project. “While this might not breach the letter of existing conflict of interest laws, it is highly questionable as to whether it violates its spirit,” the letter states.

The members sent a third letter to the borough’s three Congressional representatives asking them to “look into this matter.”

The three Assembly members who did not sign any of the letters were Jose Rivera, the chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party, Peter Rivera and Luis Diaz.

The decision to write the letters came out of a meeting the Bronx Assembly delegation held a couple of weeks ago. Jeffrey Dinowitz, a staunch opponent of the plant asked the delegation’s chair, Aurelia Greene, to convene the session.

In addition to Greene and Dinowitz, the other members who signed all the letters were Michael Benedetto, Carl Heastie, Michael Benjamin, Carmen Arroyo, and Ruben Diaz, Jr. Naomi Rivera signed the letters to the congressmen and the City Council and Assembly speakers.

The Norwood News was not able to get comment on the letters from the lawmakers by press time.

Out & About

October 18, 2007

By Judy Noy

Halloween
Happenings

n Bring your pet pooch to Howl-O-Ween, Oct. 28, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Canine Court at Van Cortlandt Park (enter at Broadway). Dress yourself and your pet in costume for Halloween fun, costume contests and prizes. Registration is $10 per dog and $5 for each additional dog. For more information, call (718) 796-4541.

n The Bronx Library Center is spookin’ things up across the board with Pumpkin Mask Making for children ages 7 to 12 on Oct. 25 at 4 p.m., Horror Writing Workshop for young adults Oct. 19 at 4 p.m., and a special holiday program, Get Your Chills On, Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. The Center is located at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd. off Fordham Road. For a detailed schedule, call (718) 579-4244/46 or visit www.nypl.org.

n Halloween Story Time, for children ages 5 and over, is Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at the Mosholu Library, 285 E. 205th St. For more information, call (718) 882-8239.

n Wave Hill presents two family art projects: Pumpkins, Pie, Rhythms and Song, Oct. 20 and 21, with pumpkin poems, song and dances, and Creepy Masks and Shadow Plays, Oct. 27 and 28, for skits about uncanny critters, followed by making a mask for yourself. Both are in Wave Hill’s Kerlin Learning Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Wave Hill is at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in Riverdale. For more information, call (718) 549-3200 or visit wavehill.org.

Onstage

n Enjoy World Guitar Music, Don Witter Jr. performing classical guitar music on Oct. 22 at 3:30 p.m. at the Mosholu Library, 285 E. 205th St. For more information, call (718) 882-8239.

n The Orlando Marin Quartet will perform Latin-American music including mambo and cha-cha Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. at the Bronx Library Center. Also, there will be bluegrass with the Ebony Hillbillies Oct. 27 at 2:30 p.m. and latin with Sonido Costeno Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. all at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd. off Fordham Road. For a detailed schedule, call (718) 579-4244/46 or visit www.nypl.org.

n The Instrument Cabinet – Dennis Koster, Flamenco Guitar is at the Wave Hill House on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $24, $21 for seniors (includes admission to grounds) and $15 for members. The House is located at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in Riverdale. For more information and tickets, call (718) 549-3200 ext. 385.

n The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance presents BlakTino Performance Series, a festival celebrating works by black and Latino artists. The festival, first presented in 2002, runs through Saturday, Oct. 27, at BAAD!, 841 Barretto St. in the Hunts Point section of the south Bronx. For more information and tickets, call (718) 842-5223 or visit www.BronxAcademyofArtsandDance.org.

n Lehman College’s Center for the Performing Arts hosts Danny Rivera from Santurce, Puerto Rico, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. (tickets are from $40 to $55), and Smokey Robinson, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. (tickets are from $55 to $85). Lehman is located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard W. For more information, call (718) 960-8833.

n Mass Transit Street Theatre & Video presents Ain’t Easy, a play with live rap and film. This play, which tells the true story of a Bronx youth incarcerated in maximum security for killing a classmate in self defense, with the stories of four Bronx teens, will take place at Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture, 450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street on Oct. 23 and Nov. 6 and 13 at 10 a.m. and noon, and Oct. 30 and Nov. 20 at noon and 4:30 p.m. Ten free tickets are available for groups of 100. For $6 tickets, call (718) 882-2454 or baylalyn@earthlink.net.
n Bronx Hispanic Festival presents Lagrimas Negras on Oct. 18 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., in the Cesar Galarce Auditorium of Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, 234 E. 149th St. For more information and to confirm, call (917) 699-7598.

Events

n The Bronx River Alliance hosts Tour de Bronx Bike Ride, a Bronx River start to New York City’s largest free cycling event, Oct. 21 and Hunters Moon Paddle, to celebrate the Hunters Moon with a canoe trip under the stars, followed by a riverside party, Oct. 27. For more information and to register, call (718) 430-4636 or visit www.bronxriver.org.

n The Farmers Market continues at the New York Botanical Garden’s Tulip Tree Allée Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Oct. 31. Admission only to Garden grounds is free all day Wednesdays. For more information, call (718) 817-8700.
Exhibits

n Norwoodian Barbara Korman presents sculpture in a show called Beyond the Cactus at the WPA Gallery, Oct. 24 through Nov. 23, with an opening reception Sunday, Oct. 28 from 3 to 5 p.m. The Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is located at Route 121 and South Route 35 in Cross River, New York. For more information call (914) 864-7317 or visit or bkormanstudio.com.

n Lehman College’s Art Gallery hosts Beatrice Coron: The Secret Life of Cities, through Dec. 15 in the Edith Altschul Lehman Wing. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. W. For more information, call (718) 960-8731.

n At Wave Hill, artists install works based on the writings of two authors who lived briefly in the Bronx – Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain. Artists Simon Leung, Allison Smith and Amy Yoes, create special projects, including sculpture, video and architecture, each in a separate room of Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery, through Dec. 2. Poets and writers will read selected works by Poe and Twain in a program offered in collaboration with Poets House, Nov. 1. Also, there is a solo exhibition by a New York-area emerging artist in the sunrooms: Joianne Bittle Knight from Oct. 19 through Dec. 2 (meet the artist on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.). Wave Hill is at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in Riverdale. For more information, call (718) 549-3200 or visit www.wavehill.org.

n The Bronx Museum of the Arts hosts Quisqueya Henríquez: Outside Traditional Art in the artist’s first major appearance in the United States through Jan. 27, 2008. The exhibition is a selection of her work examining the sensory qualities of urban life, including a daily visual dispa–tch from Santo Domingo, where she currently lives. The museum, located at 1040 Grand Concourse at West 165th Street, is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., except for Friday, when it is open until 8 p.m. Suggested admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and free on Fridays for members and for children under 12. For more information, call (718) 681-6000 or visit www.bronxmuseum.org.

Learning

n The Bronx Library Center has events for all ages:
For children ages 3 to 12, there’s a film on Oct. 24 and 31 at 4 p.m.; Preschool Story Time, featuring picture book stories and songs for ages 2 to 5 with parent or caregiver on Oct. 18, 25 and Nov. 1 at 11 a.m.; and Family Time Stories & Craft, for all ages with parent or caregiver, Oct. 27 at 11 a.m. (pre-registration is required).
Young adults can Play Chess! in a workshop with Ramon A. Hernandez, Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 at 4 p.m.; and Meet the Authors, Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier, Oct. 24 at 10:30 a.m.
Adults can attend Honore Jaxon: Prairie Visionary, a lecture led by Professor Donald B. Smith, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.
The Center is located at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd. off Fordham Road. For a detailed schedule, call (718) 579-4244/46 or visit www.nypl.org.

n The Mosholu Library hosts Stories of Heroes for children ages 5 to 12, presented by Victor Stanton, Oct. 23 at 4 p.m.; and Toddler Time for children ages 18 to 36 months with parent or caregiver, Nov. 1 at 10:30 a.m. (pre-registration is required). The library is located at 285 E. 205th St. For more information, call (718) 882-8239.

NOTE: Items for consideration should be received in our office by Oct. 22 for the next publication date of Nov. 1.

Small Business Workshop

October 18, 2007

By Norwood News

The New York State Small Business Center will be holding a free workshop called “Creating a Winning Business Plan & Developing Marketing Strategies for Your Small Business.” Learn the process of creating a business plan and learn marketing, advertising and promotion techniques. This workshop will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CUNY on the Concourse, 2501 Grand Concourse, Room 318. The event is free, but space is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information or to reserve your spot, call Nancy Beltrez (718) 960-8806.

New Rehab Center on Perry

October 18, 2007

By Norwood News

Perry Avenue Family Medical Center (PAFM) will hold a grand opening for its new Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department on Thursday, Oct. 18.

This new department will provide consultation, diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions affecting children, adults and the elderly.

Although Perry Avenue Medical has been providing a wide variety of medical services for more than 20 years in the community, Dr. Ritu Ahuja said in a statement that the new division allows for greater focus on the northwest Bronx.

The grand opening will feature a health fair, screenings and education services in an open, interactive environment.

“[With] the changing landscape of healthcare, everyone is so confused. We want to make the community aware of our services and our staff aware of neighborhood needs. It’s easier for patients and doctors, ” said Ahuja in a statement.

Ed. note: The health fair is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Perry Avenue Family Medical is located at 3071 Perry Ave. For more information, call Tina Marie Denizard at (718) 652-7995 or visit www.perrymd.co

Help with High School Choices

October 18, 2007

By Nina Sen

By NINA SEN

At the Small Public High School Fair held at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC), excited faces were everywhere. Potential students, their parents, and school representatives came together to make the daunting high school application process a little more manageable.

Out of 114 high schools in the Bronx (excluding transfer schools), 22 sent their representatives to the Norwood fair. Although some Manhattan schools were also invited, they did not attend.

Latisha Watson, family choice coordinator/counselor for MMCC’s Educational Counseling Center, organized the event and was very pleased with the record number of attendees. "It’s important for this community [because] there’s not enough emphasis on education," Watson said.

Increasing numbers of existing Bronx high schools are being sliced into smaller, more student-focused schools, where the emphasis is on individual attention and interaction.

"Small schools were largely unknown entities three years ago when we began to transform our high school admissions process," Chancellor Klein stated in a press release last year. "But word is spreading, and more and more students are picking new small schools as their top choices."

In 2006, 83 percent of students applying for admission to public high schools matched one of their top five choices, and 43 percent matched their first choice.

One good source for information, the prospective high school student’s Bible, is the Directory of The New York City Public High Schools 2007-08 edition, where all city high schools list their requirements, 2006 intakes, special programs and mission statements. The book is usually available at junior high schools in any borough.

Once the applications are received, each high school admissions staff ranks each student and makes recommendations based on GPA, standardized test scores and/or attendance history. In early spring, students will receive their match and start preparing for the challenges of high school.

Ed. note: The Bronx Borough High School Fair will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus, 500 E. Fordham Rd. Go to schools.nyc.gov for more information. And for more help and information about the high school applications process, call the Educational Counseling Center at (718) 882-4000.

Neighborhood Notes

October 18, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Armory Rally for Schools, Jobs
The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) will be holding a rally in front of the Kingsbridge Armory, at the corner of Kingsbridge Road and Reservoir Avenue, to push for more schools, better paying jobs and more community benefits from the new development. The rally is on Saturday, Oct. 27 from noon to 1:30 p.m. For more information, call Amanda at (917) 213-6028.

Halloween Party
The Amalgamated Nursery School will hold its annual Halloween Party for children under 10 on Sunday, Oct. 28 at Vladeck Hall, 74 Van Cortlandt Park South between Hillman and Saxon avenues from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is a $7 admission fee per child, which includes pumpkin decorating, mask making, trick-or-treat bags, and much more. For more information, call the school at (718) 543-8688.

It’s My Park Day!
Help out at your local park this weekend. Paint park benches and light poles, plant bulbs and there will be face painting for kids as well. Williamsbridge Oval Park will be holding its event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. St. James Park will be having activities on Sunday, Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Flea Market
The Bedford Park Congregational Church, at East 201st Street and Bainbridge Avenue, will hold its annual Flea Market and Fun Fair on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, or to make a donation, please contact Reverend Dr. Christian Ponnuraj at (718) 367-8996.

Mount St. Ursula Open House
On Sunday, Oct. 28, the Academy of Mount St. Ursula will hold a campus open house from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 330 Bedford Park Blvd. For more information, visit www.amsu.org

Anger Management Course
The School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Bronx Community College, 181st Street and University Avenue, is offering an Anger Management Specialist-I Certification Course. Dr. Richard Pfeiffer, executive director of the National Anger Management Association, will teach six Saturday classes on Nov. 3, 10, 17 and Dec. 1, 8, 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To register or for more information, call (718) 289-5170 or visit www.bcc.edu/cps

Crafts Fair
The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Van Cortlandt House Museum are holding a fall crafts festival on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the grounds of Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park. The free event will feature crafts, a raffle, and food. A kids craft project will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m. For vendor applications and event information, call (718) 601-1460 or visit www.vancortlandt.org. Enter park at Broadway and West 246th Street. Off-street parking is available at the Van Cortlandt Golf House.

Speech Center Program
The Mount Saint Ursula Speech Center is accepting applications for their fall program. The Center, at 2885 Marion Ave., has morning and afternoon openings for children ages 2 to 5 who are in need of speech and language services. Children can work in groups or individually. Some types of insurance are accepted. For more information, call (718) 584-7679.

Jewish Culture for Kids
The Mosholu Montefiore Community Center offers a free Hebrew School/Jewish Family Connection Program on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon for children in grades 2 through 6. The program offers a wide variety of activities and is open to all. For more information, call Abraham Rubin at (718) 882-4000.

Social Security Assistance
Representatives of the Social Security Administration will be at Congressman Eliot Engel’s Bronx office at 3655 Johnson Ave., on Wednesday, Oct. 24 to assist people with questions and issues regarding Social Security. This service is available by appointment only. To make an appointment or for more information, call (718) 796-9700.

Historical Society Events
Earlier this month, the Bronx County Historical Society’s latest exhibition, “Telling a Story: Using Primary Source Materials in Bronx History” opened at the Museum of Bronx History on Bainbridge Avenue at East 208th Street. This exhibit will be on display through April 6. The Society is also planning three upcoming walking tours: a tour of the Bronx’s historic Woodlawn Cemetery on Oct. 20 at 10 a.m., a tour of breweries, factories, and tenements of the Melrose neighborhood on Oct. 27 at 10 a.m., and a walk through the Eastchester section of the Bronx led by Thomas X. Casey on Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. For more information, call the Society at (718) 881-8900.

Lehman College Concert
The Lehman College Community Band will hold its first concert of the 2007-2008 season, “Autumn Amble,” on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Lovinger Theater at Bedford Park Boulevard. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (718) 960-8247.

Fall Craft Festival
The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Van Cortlandt House Museum will hold a Fall Crafts Festival at the Van Cortlandt House Museum, Broadway and West 246th Street, on Oct. 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be crafts for all ages, snacks, and raffle prizes. For more information, call (718) 601-1460 or visit www.vancortlandt.org.

Scenes from an Opera
Composer, teacher, and performer Richard Thompson will present scenes from “The Mask in the Mirror,” a new opera on the courtship and marriage of African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore, on Oct. 25 at 12:30 p.m. in the Music Building Recital Hall at Lehman College at Bedford Park Boulevard. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (718) 960-8715.

50-Plus Yoga Class
The Norwood Triangle, the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center’s Adult Education Division, has added a “Yoga On the Go” class for adults ages 50 and up. The eight session class will be offered on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at 3450 DeKalb Ave. For more information, call (718) 882-4000.

PS 94 Learning Leaders Class
PS 94 is holding a class to teach and encourage learning leaderships in the community on Oct. 22 at 9:30 a.m. at the school, 3530 Kings College Place. For more information, call Robert E. Kane at (212) 213-3370 or Ms. Seminario, the parent coordinator at PS 94, (718) 405-6345 ext. 1050.

Board Set for Big Land Use Meeting

October 18, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Last year, prolific hotel developer Sam Chang and his McSam hotel group ran into stiff opposition when they tried to put up a hotel on Webster Avenue on a small wedge of property between a private home and an auto shop.

Politcal and community leaders rose up and raised such a stink that McSam apparently put the project on shelf.

Now, McSam is back and prepared to start building. But first they want to make nice with residents and present their case in front of Community Board 7’s land use committee on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Board’s office. (See editorial on p. 8 for more details.)  

McSam cancelled an appearance at last month’s Land Use meeting and there’s no guarantee they will show up this time. The group doesn’t need approval to build on the property, which is zoned for heavy commercial use.

Downzoning certain areas of CB7 will also be discussed at the meeting. New board members are intent on protecting their neighborhoods from unwanted development such as a hotel in an area, like Webster Avenue, that has no need for one.

Protecting the character of historic neighborhoods such as Grand Avenue, where beautiful, old single-family homes are being replaced by bland cookie-cutter multi-family buildings, will also be discussed.

Affordable and ‘Green’ Building Honors Activist

October 18, 2007

By Allison Grande

On Monday, family, friends, political leaders, and members of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation and the Enterprise Foundation gathered at 2348 Webster Ave. to recognize the late Astin Jacobo by unveiling Jacob’s Place, an affordable, energy-efficient apartment building in his honor.

All in attendance, including his longtime pastor Father John C. Flynn – who was "angry at him for dying because he’s not replaceable" – praised the man known to most as "Jacob" for his work with youth and his community building efforts in the Crotona neighborhood.

"I am sure that Astin Jacobo, who was a source of inspiration to many in the Bronx community, including myself, would be happy to know that this affordable development will provide healthy, environmentally friendly, energy efficient housing for the residents of our community," said John Reilly, the executive director of the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, the project’s developer.

As reported in the April 5 edition of the Norwood News, Jacob’s Place is a 63-unit housing development in the northwest Bronx that features six early education classrooms for 120 students as well as a playscape for both the children of the center and tenants.

Features of this housing development include elevators that use nearly a third of the energy of regular elevators, a playground floor made of recycled tires, a mural of Jacobo’s life and work on the wall in the community room, and large insulated windows that allow more natural light to flow into the building, which received financing help from Enterprise, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and JPMorganChase.

In order to live in these apartments, tenants must earn between 30 and 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or about $21,000 to $42,000.

What makes this project particularly "green" or environmentally friendly is the solar energy system on the roof. Under the Southern California-based BP Solar Neighbors Program, the brainchild of actor Edward Norton, every time a celebrity buys a solar energy system for their home, another system is donated to a low-income family. The Jacob’s Place donation was made possible by actor Owen Wilson. It marks the program’s first solar panel system outside of California and the first to be put in a multi-family housing unit.

"Thirty years ago, Howard Cosell told the world that the Bronx was burning," Reilly said. "Today, we recognize all those people who stayed and fought. We showed the world that the Bronx is a place where people care about each other, even, and especially, when times and circumstances are difficult."

Hit and Run on Bailey

October 18, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Jonathan Ramos, 20, of Manhattan, was struck and killed by an Acura SUV in front of 2686 Bailey Ave. on Oct. 6 just after midnight. The driver fled the scene and is still at large.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the 52nd Precinct, (718) 220-5811.

Sister of Victim Testifies

October 18, 2007

By David Greene

The unidentified 11-year-old witness and sister of homicide victim Quachaun Brown, 4, testified against murder suspect Jose Calderon, 20, at the Bronx County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Calderon, the boyfriend of Quachaun’s mother, is on trial for the January 2006 killing of the boy in the family’s Norwood apartment. The story made citywide news at the time and is now back in the spotlight because of the trial.

The 11-year-old sister testified that Calderon smashed the 4-year-old’s head against a wall before beating the child with his hands. The children’s mother, Aleisha Smith, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and faces seven and a half years in prison when she is sentenced.

Calderon, whose trial is expected to wrap up this week, faces 25 years to life if convicted.

Decatur Home Invasion Killers Sought

October 18, 2007

By David Greene

Homicide detectives are looking for a group of men who broke into the basement home of a suspected drug dealer, demanded money and property before shooting the victim, who later died.

Police were called to 3140 Decatur Ave. just before midnight on Friday, Oct. 5, where the still unidentified 25-year-old victim was shot several times. The victim died a short time later at St. Barnabas Hospital.

Residents on the block claimed the home had a steady flow of foot traffic visiting at all hours of the day and night. Neighbors also complained of an illegal conversion to the apartment, but that was discounted after an inspection by officials from the Department of Buildings.

A neighbor, who declined to give his name, said, "All these young kids used to be in my house and I had to take them to court." The landlord evicted the teens and the drug dealing quickly moved across the street, the neighbor said.

Police said the suspects fled with an undetermined amount of cash and property. The investigation is ongoing.

Early Council Campaigning Welcome

October 18, 2007

By None

It was great to read in your recent article, "Hopes for Center Connect Community and Candidates" (Oct. 4 – 17, 2007) that there are two community organizations that want to see the old Fordham Library take on "community space" instead of designating it to a developer.

As a former Community Board 7 member, I know Rev. Fernando Cabrera well. Ironically, his church is located on the same block I lived on 26 years ago (at that time it was an old synagogue). I want to congratulate him on his entree into higher civic life.

Seeing wonderful people like Rev. Cabrera and Haile Rivera fight for community justice and run for City Council is very gratifying to see.

2009 should be a blast, also considering that Carlos Gonzalez, son of State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, is also considering a run for that seat.

We need more community space! After all, as Borough President Carrion says: With our housing boom the last 10 years, where are children of this new housing going to play?

Anthony Rivieccio

The writer is executive director of the North Bronx Think Tank.

Garden Haunted No More

October 18, 2007

By None

It was with great sadness and disappointment that I realized that a time-honored holiday tradition of the Bronx is no more. I refer to “Halloween on Haunted Walk” which had been held the Saturday prior Halloween at the New York Botanical Garden. It was a lovely way to spend the day. Children dressed in costumes would walk through a “haunted” pathway to see witches and wizards, ghouls and ghosts and giant puppets designed by Ralph Lee. It is the loss of these traditional community events that erodes our way of life. Cultural institutions should realize that commitment to the community in which they exist is important to them. Fortunately, the Bronx Zoo is still having its “Boo at the Zoo” event. I hope when our elected local politicians decide on funding for our cultural institutions that they take into consideration community outreach via traditional events or the lack thereof.

Maureen Ocasio

Grass is Better

October 18, 2007

By None

I understand the concerns of Annette Melendez regarding the differences between having loose sand blowing up or slippery rocks underfoot in Williamsbridge Oval Park (letter, Oct. 4-17, 2007), but since there will be a covering of some kind there, is plastic grass the only answer? Green, healthy grass (maintained in good order!) is wonderful to walk or lie on, safer if a child should fall on it, and more aesthetic and better for the environment as a whole.

Jennifer Dent

Stand Up, Be Counted

October 18, 2007

By Editorial

We got an interesting flier in the mail the other day about the beautiful Pickwick Arms Building at the top of the Grand Concourse. It showed a picture of the gazebo in the courtyard and stated: "The Gazebo in the center courtyard is a masterpiece of design and is a popular neighborhood fixture. Work was supposed to begin in the spring of 2007. But we are still waiting! Don’t let this beautiful piece of architecture be destroyed." A stickie note on the flier added the following: "It’s falling apart, exposed to the elements, and squirrels and birds.You should do a story!"

Ordinarily, this would be intriguing. We’d pick up the phone and call the person who … but, wait! No name or phone number on the flier.

As we’ve stated too many (or maybe not enough) times in this space, problems only get fixed when people who identify them are willing to identify themselves. Neighbors with similar feelings aren’t able to link arms with complainers in the shadows. If this same person even just included their name and phone number so we could call and get more information on the gazebo and why it’s so important to that person and others in the building, we’d have a terrific little story.

We understand when people who write us or call don’t want their name in the paper for one particular reason or another. We often try (and succeed sometimes) in getting that person to let us use their name and we’ll occasionally print a letter with the name withheld when safety is a concern (like when a tenant complains about drug dealers in their building). But this is hardly an issue of personal safety. And it could be a case where a problem brings a building and a community together – if only the person would tell us who they are and how to reach them!

Important Meeting Oct. 23

October 18, 2007

By Editorial

In our last issue, we reported on the drastic changes under way on Grand Avenue and surrounding blocks.

Large, beautiful homes, some with wraparound porches, are being bulldozed for ugly, cookie-cutter, multi-family dwellings that scar our neighborhoods. You know the ones – the uniform, non-brick structures, with Fedders air conditioners, all concrete-and-driveway front yards, and no room for grass or trees.

Maybe it’s too late to protect the historic homes, and maybe extremely spacious one-family homes are just not suitable for most families who want to live here.

But we can down-zone the neighborhood so that the replacements for the large houses can only be smaller one- or two-family detached homes rather than the attached and character-less multi-family buildings spreading over the area like kudzu.

Another issue, of course, other than the aesthetics, is that our local schools are already bursting at the seams. And, despite the area’s increasing population, the Department of Education says it sees no need to build any schools at the nearby Kingsbridge Armory.

Luckily, Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee is planning to discuss the possibility of down-zoning at its Oct. 23 meeting at 6 p.m. at the Board office – 229A E. 204th Street (between Valentine Avenue and the Grand Concourse).

If you care about the rapidly changing nature of our streets and blocks, you might think about coming and sharing your thoughts with the Board and the Department of City Planning representatives who will be in attendance.

95 to Share Campus with New Kids on the Block

October 18, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Construction will begin next spring on a new four-story building on the PS/MS 95 campus. When completed, most of the building will serve as the new home of the Ampark Neighborhood School, which is now using a smaller building across the street.

In its second year now, Ampark contains kindergarten, first and second grade classes. It hopes to expand to a K-5 school in the next few years and bring its student population up to 300 students by the time the building is completed in 2010. (Representatives from Ampark could not be reached by press time.)

A group of PS/MS 95 parents recently met with Council Member Oliver Koppell, a former school board member, to discuss the new construction and express some of their concerns.

"People were concerned about the new construction," said Eleanor Edelstein, Koppell’s education specialist, who attended the meeting along with the councilman. "There was some misinformation going around."

Mostly, Edelstein said, parents wanted to know what PS/MS 95 would be getting out of the new building.

According to the city’s Department of Education (DOE), the building is still in the design stages, but the current plan is for Ampark to take up the first three floors and for PS/MS 95 to use the top floor. The building will be built right next to the PS/MS 95 structure on what is now the school’s side yard and play area. The school’s large rear play yard will be unaffected.

The fourth floor, PS/MS 95’s floor, will include two science labs and an art room, said a DOE spokesperson. There is also the possibility of a rooftop recreation area.

Serge Davis, who took over as principal of PS/MS 95 and found out about the upcoming construction in July, said the details of the building were still being ironed out with the School Construction Authority (SCA).

During talks with the SCA architects, Davis said, "It’s basically, ‘this can work for us, this can not.’" Much of the discussion has centered around how the two independent schools will interact and what spaces they will share, Davis said.

At the first Parents Association meeting of the year, the construction effort was brought up. Davis said he told the parents everything that he knew about the still-evolving project and they, in turn, expressed some concerns.

"There’s always going to be concerns," Davis said, without going into detail because he didn’t want to speak for the parents. (Members of the school’s Parents Association could not be reached by press time.)

After the meeting with Koppell, who told parents he would fight to get PS/MS 95 more benefits, Edelstein said, "To some degree [the parents] were reassured. There was a general feeling of relief."

Koppell’s office recently completed an overcrowding survey among schools in his district and Edelstein said the 1,365-student PS/MS 95 is one of the schools cramped for space. (The school houses a handful of second grade classes in a nearby annex building.)

"To what degree this will alleviate this overcrowding wasn’t clear," Edelstein said. "But at least they will have some benefits."

While the new building won’t bring any new classrooms for his school, Davis said his school and the community will ultimately benefit from it. Specifically, PS/MS 95 will receive a refurbished cafeteria out of the deal. Generally, though, Davis said new facilities will help both schools provide better educational opportunities in the community.

"From a leadership standpoint," Davis said, "if our job is to empower the community then this will help us do that."

Public and Community Meetings

October 18, 2007

By None

Croton Facility Monitoring Committee will meet on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the DEP Outreach Office, 3660 Jerome Ave. There will be reports on costs, jobs, storm/ground water and more. For more information, call (718) 231-8470.

Community Education Council 10 will meet on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 6:15 p.m. at PS/MS 279, 2100 Walton Ave. The topic will be Physical Education. For more information, call (718) 741-5836.

52nd Precinct Community Council will meet Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at St. Philip Neri, 3031 Grand Concourse. For more information, call (718) 220-5824.

Bedford Mosholu Community Association will meet Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. at 400 E. Mosholu Parkway S. Apt. B1 (Lobby Floor). All are welcome.

Community Board 7 Parks Committee will meet Thursday Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the CB7 office, 229A E. 204th St.

KKK Actions Denied by Serrano Resolution

October 18, 2007

By Nina Sen

After members of the Ku Klux Klan distributed numerous racist flyers in Manassas, Virginia, specifically targeting immigrants, Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano introduced legislation condemning their actions.

“I introduced this resolution because I believe that Congress must go on the record strongly condemning the actions of this hate group,” Serrano said. “This is a real wake-up call, the terms and tone of this debate over immigration must change. This resolution is but a small step in leading the way to a more civil and humane debate over an issue that has a human element.”

The town of Manassas is close to Washington, D.C., where President Bush announced his Guest Worker plan to hundreds of immigrants last year. The history of violence associated with the KKK has also been condemned in the resolution as well as its most recent actions.

Fordham Library Rally, Reprise

October 18, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Two Saturdays ago, members of Sistas and Brothas United (SBU) held a rally in Poe Park and then marched in unison to the steps of the vacant and contaminated old Fordham Library on Bainbridge Avenue.

They want the building turned over to the community and turned into a hub for social services.

If this appears to be a misprint, it’s because it was the third rally there in the past few months (two by SBU, one by New Life Outreach International Church). Both groups maintain that they both want the same thing – to keep pressure on the city so they won’t be able to sell the property to developers.

All three of the rallies have been attended by Bronx father-son political duo Jose (an assemblyman) and Joel (a councilman) Rivera. Both have lent their vocal support to the project.

SBU organizers for the event said they wanted to use this latest rally to engage more youth and gather their support for the library campaign, which could take a year or more.

The building is controlled by the New York Public Library, which must clean up the contamination before it can do anything with the property. The Library says it is now bidding out the clean-up job. Once that is completed, then the Library says it will hand the property over to a city agency, which will control what happens to it.

Carrion Cites ‘Crisis’ in After-School Programming

October 18, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Joined by some 100 New York City high school students, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion went downtown Sunday to admonish city agencies for not providing enough after-school options for youth.

He said more than 150,000 high school students don’t have access to after-school programs, according to a study conducted by his office.

“We have a major crisis on our hands,” Carrion told his audience at City Hall.

The former teacher linked the lack of after-school programs with a rise in youth crime, saying that, from 2002 to 2006, youth (ages 13 to 18) arrests jumped almost 20 percent.

“Keeping kids off the streets and in programs translates into better school performance,” Carrion said. “We must change the prime time for juvenile crime (out of school time) into golden hours of academic achievement.”

Carrion said the city spends a disproportionate amount of its after-school budget on elementary and middle school students, which leaves high school students out in the cold. He added that, according to the study, some communities are loaded with after school programs, while others are completely neglected – a common gripe of Bronx parents.

“Programs need to be offered in as many communities as possible,” he said.

Engel Rips President Over S-Chip Veto

October 18, 2007

By Nina Sen

Congressman Eliot Engel said that President Bush condemned millions of American children to a tentative future by vetoing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Called Child Health Plus in New York State, it currently covers 400,000 low-income New York children.

The program, passed in both the House and Senate, would have allocated $35 billion for health coverage to 10 million children in need. “This is a disgrace, a shameful disgrace, said Engel, a senior member of the House Health Subcommittee. The legislation is designed to target the lowest-income uninsured children, and is especially beneficial to parents who can’t afford private insurance or qualify for Medicaid.

Bush said the expansion of S-CHIP would cover too many families that could afford health insurance, an assertion that has been strongly rejected by Democrats.

Water Rate Hike Slammed

October 18, 2007

By Nina Sen

The New York City Water Board’s proposal for an 18 percent rate increase was met with stiff opposition from Council Member Oliver Koppell.

According to Steve Lawitts, the Water Board’s executive director and a deputy commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the increase is necessary to counteract plummeting revenues, which could lead to a $200 million shortfall.

Koppell disagreed saying, "The Water Board’s proposed water and sewer rate increase of 18 percent, following the 11.5 percent increase of three months ago, is unconscionable." He added that the shortfall could be eliminated if delinquent accounts are terminated, forcing people to pay on time. While this could raise concerns about the impact on poorer families, Koppell points to the safety net protections in the "Public Service Law and Regulations" resolution that he authored while in the State Assembly.

Lawitts failed to say that another reason for the spike in rates is the rising costs of capital projects such as the massively over-budget water filtration plant being built in Van Cortlandt Park, which is now ringing in at $2.8 billion.

Headway in Graffiti Battle, as Community Adds Tactics

October 18, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Sirio Guerino, a Norwood resident and activist who is well known locally for his graffiti obsession, is mad. This time they’ve gone too far, he says, shaking his head in disbelief as he looks at  the faded remnants of a graffiti "tag" on the corner of St. Brendan’s Church.

Graffiti ranks at or near the top of most city communities’ lists of quality of life concerns. Its competitors include noise and dog poop and its presence is a telltale sign of urban blight, say police, city officials and anti-graffiti activists like Guerino.

So far in 2007, according to police statistics in the 52nd Precinct, graffiti complaints are up 45 percent and arrests are up 31 percent. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s more graffiti, says Lieutenant Steve Phalen, the special operations officer for the 52nd Precinct, but it does mean people are being more vocal about their disdain for it.

Go to any community meeting in Community District 7 and someone will invariably talk about how their building or neighborhood park has become the latest target of taggers and graffiti offenders.

In response, this summer local politicians Council Member Oliver Koppell and Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera contributed tens of thousands of dollars to anti-graffiti initiatives.

The trick, Guerino, Phalen and others say, is to vigorously combat graffiti at every turn and let offenders know their efforts will be either punished or vanquished. While eliminating it may be impossible, constant vigilance can keep it from intruding too much into people’s lives.

That’s easier said than done, says Guerino, who helped to start an anti-graffiti group called Norwood Against Graffiti (NAG) in the 90s. Nowadays, he says, graffiti writers are more brazen and disrespectful, if not more prolific.

"They’ll tag on anything, cars, churches, private homes, anywhere there’s a wall," Guerino says, while walking down a particularly graffiti-heavy stretch of Webster Avenue. "You can’t walk down a street without seeing it."

Graffiti Was Everywhere

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, graffiti was everywhere and even became celebrated as an art form, Guerino says. But now, it’s more about being rebellious or marking your territory, he says.

Sometimes, the tags are gang-related, Phalen says, which is disconcerting, but it often helps police know which gangs are operating in which areas.

While tags are not usually attached to traditional gangs like the Bloods or Crips, its presence can escalate neighborhood rivalries. For example, local residents say that M-Mob, a loosely organized crew from Knox-Gates, exacerbated tensions with youth from across Mosholu Parkway in Tracey Towers, a Mitchell-Llama development, by tagging on their building. Residents believe the act may have contributed to a May shooting incident that left four young men from Tracey wounded.

Phalen says the best thing residents can do to combat graffiti is by calling 311 or the precinct itself (718-220-5811). This way, they can take steps to clean the graffiti and also identify places where they can send the precinct’s new Quality of Life unit and set up sting operations, like they’ve done at Target and Fordham Road.

Daniel Bernstein, the director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID), says his group has stepped up its anti-graffiti efforts since the beginning of the year. In fact, local business improvement districts have made the biggest dent in the graffiti scourge.

"It’s now part of the overall sanitation mission," Bernstein says. "We figured out that graffiti should be a big part of what we do."

Once a month, Bernstein walks the BID in search of graffiti hotspots. He then forwards his findings to the BID’s sanitation contractor, Atlantic Maintenance, which provides anti-graffiti services for some 30 of the city’s 50 BIDs. They’ll either paint or steam away the graffiti once a month.

The Jerome-Gun Hill BID (which honored Guerino for his work at the BID’s street festival last month), has been employing anti-graffiti services for at least a decade, working with a group called Partners in Grime, which gets rid of graffiti on storefronts almost immediately after it appears.

Roberto Garcia, executive director of the Jerome-Gun Hill BID, is now working to coordinate the efforts of Koppell and Rivera’s initiatives – both run through a group called City Solve – as their districts overlap. Currently, Koppell’s office is taking graffiti complaints and forwarding them off to City Solve, which then comes by every couple of weeks. Calls to Rivera’s office requesting more information on how she implements her program were not returned.

Graffiti And Shopping

Graffiti can be the difference between shoppers coming to the neighborhood or taking their money upstate to Yonkers, where graffiti isn’t as much of a problem, Garcia said.

While businesses and parks are often serviced by anti-graffiti measures, private residents are often left to fend for themselves, says Bedford Park resident John Reilly, a longtime housing advocate and head of the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation.

His group has power washers and a paint supply to battle graffiti on buildings it owns. But in his neighborhood, where "there’s a lot of it," owners are "mostly cleaning it up themselves. There isn’t really much of a city response."

Reilly and Guerino both say it’s up to building owners to stay on top of graffiti on their apartment buildings.

Guerino’s group once received grants from the borough president’s office that allowed it to pay Partners in Grime to remove graffiti on Bainbridge Avenue and 204th Street weekly, but since those ended, NAG is really just Guerino and whatever paint he can get his hands on. Though he hasn’t been out much this summer, you might find him on the street at 6 a.m., wearing a bright orange vest, painting someone’s garage or the gate of a closed business. Guerino works the graveyard shift in midtown and often comes home around dawn, restless.

"When I can’t sleep, my wife says, ‘Why don’t you go out and paint some walls?’" Guerino says. And he does.

A native Bronxite who moved to Norwood in 1986, Guerino says the uphill battle against graffiti can be demoralizing for some, but not him. He’s in it for the long haul. "My attitude is: No punk kid’s gonna outlast me."

New School Year Brings Change

October 18, 2007

By Norwood News

With the chill of fall finally taking hold after an extended summer in New York City, the Norwood News is back with our annual school preview. As in recent years, school communities are dealing with a mind-boggling slate of changes in the system.

As the city continues to put more power in the hands of administrators, principals are able to tailor their philosophies, curriculum and after-school programs to better fit their students and parents. Some schools are choosing to focus on improving test scores while others are pushing for more parental engagement.

We’ll be keeping tabs on all our schools as the year progresses, but here’s a glimpse of what’s going on.  

(Note: The Norwood News called all of our local public schools. We obviously weren’t able to include information about the schools that didn’t call us back, but we’ll keep trying.)

IS 206 – Aqueduct Avenue

Principal David Neering, who came to the Bronx from Michigan a few years ago, said the school year is going along swimmingly so far. "It’s been wonderful; kids doing what they’re supposed to be doing, moving around in a safe and orderly fashion," he said.

Perhaps the students are behaving so well because they’re reaping the benefits of a renovated gymnasium (new floor, scoreboard and ceiling) and a host of new after-school programs.

"Kids are really excited about it," Neering said.

This year, Neering’s school is working with a handful of outside organizations, including Good Shepherd and Dream Yard, which will expose students to the arts both during and after school. The school is beefing up its theater program and bringing in an artist in residence to act as a mentor and teacher. Students will be writing and producing a play during the course of the year, Neering said.

The school is also collaborating with the Chelsea Opera. Students with good track records will be allowed to participate in workshops and attend performances by the Manhattan Opera Company.

"We want our young people to be exposed to all aspects of having quality experiences in their lives, whether it’s visual or instrumental or song or dance," Neering said.

The principal is also enjoying the autonomy that being an "Empowerment" school affords him. He said the beauty of the Empowerment model is that he can design curriculum, student assessment and professional development to fit the needs of his students and faculty. But it’s not just Neering making the decisions; he consults the School Leadership Team and the process is all very "democratic," he said.

Neering was also pleased to add that a few new special education teachers have blended into the school "much like experienced teachers."

PS 95 – Hillman Avenue

New principal Serge Davis is focusing on the basics in his first year at the helm of PS/MS 95. "We’re basically just excited about learning," he said in a phone interview last week.

Davis, who took over PS/MS 95 on Hillman Avenue this summer, is taking a comprehensive approach toward harnessing and directing that excitement. He’s trying to build the after- and in-school arts program by developing relationships with groups like Dream Yard. At the same time, he wants to improve reading and math test scores, especially for those students who have fallen behind.

Through the school’s work with Dream Yard, Davis said, the 95 faculty is "infusing" arts into the curriculum through projects and field trips.

There will also be an after-school enrichment program for targeted students. The program is designed to give those students instruction in whatever it is they lack.

For those students who are doing well, Davis is offering the reward of educational field trips.

"It’s really about being a good citizen and a good student," Davis said. "We want to reward those students."

PS/MS 280 – Mosholu Parkway

The biggest change at PS/MS 280 is the presence of a new principal, though he’s no stranger. Last spring, James Weeks, formerly an assistant principal at the school, took over for Gary LaMotta, who ended up retiring this summer after he was suspended from his position abruptly last year. The Department of Education has not made public the reasons for the dismissal.

Weeks will hear whether he becomes the permanent principal hopefully sometime this month.

Meanwhile, the Mosholu Parkway  school is teaming up with neighboring MS 80 to form a new boys basketball program for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Right now, it’s just an intramural program, but once winter hits, they’ll compete against other middle schools.

Weeks says good behavior and grades will be a prerequisite for participating in the new hoops program. Right now, about 40 kids are playing ball two days a week.

To get those grades up, MS 280 has instituted a new after-school program known as AIS (Academic Intervention Services). This program is designed to identify those students who have fallen behind and bring them back up to grade level through tutoring.

As an empowerment school, Weeks says he was able to hire new support teachers for each grade level and focus on improving math scores across the board. Working with the Aussie Program, the faculty has designed a tailor-made math program that better fits the school community, Weeks said. They choose which books to use, what projects to complete and how to better assess students.

Along with a new math curriculum, Weeks is excited about the return of the chess team, which won the local championship last year, as well as more musical instruction. Thanks to a grant from Council Member Oliver Koppell, MS 280 will now offer trumpet and guitar lessons in addition to a slew of other instruments.

For parents, the school is offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, so they can be more involved with their children’s education.

PS 94 – Kings College Place (Norwood)

This Norwood institution is fully staffed this year, with seven new teachers who are all performing well so far, said Principal Diane Daprocida.

In addition to the new instructors, PS 94 will be implementing several new enrichment programs thanks to money provided through grants by Council Member Oliver Koppell.

The Community Works after-school program uses artistic themes to encourage students to make a difference in their communities. There’s also the Asphalt Green program, where volunteers come to the school and teach students to become recreational leaders, so they can maximize limited play space and physical fun at the same time.

Daprocida is also extremely excited to be getting a completely refurbished computer lab with all kinds of new technology and computer equipment.

PS 8 – Briggs Avenue (Bedford Park)

The changes at PS 8 start at the top. After spending the past eight and a half years as the school’s assistant principal, Rosa Peralta is now the new principal at the Briggs Avenue Academy, otherwise known as PS 8. It doesn’t stop there. Peralta is also welcoming three new assistant principals to help her out.

Every day PS 8 students attend music classes. And now, thanks to money from Council Member Oliver Koppell’s office, PS 8 is adding violin to its list of musical instrument instruction.

They are also happy to be continuing their relationship with the Beacon after-school program, which is run by Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. The program, which was previously at MS 80, serves a majority of PS 8’s students.

Also continuing this year will be a fund -raising and letter-writing program instituted by special education teacher Jennifer Sabia. Last year, Sabia and her students began exchanging letters with African students and were moved to help them attain simple things like pens, books and shoes. It was so successful, Sabia decided to do it again.

Peralta said the school will also be offering parent services and engagement programs.

The new principal is enjoying the freedom of being an Empowerment school, she said, which allows her to institute various arts and enrichment programs of her choosing.

PS/MS 20 – Webster Avenue (Norwood)

PS 20, the George J. Werdann III school, has 1,179 kids enrolled this year. Entering their second year as an Empowerment school, PS/MS 20 has hired 20 new teachers and implemented block scheduling (this is having at least part of the daily schedule organized into larger chunks of time to allow flexibility for a diversity of instructional activities).

They are also pleased to now have lockers for the eighth graders so they can transition into high school more smoothly. "The school is looking forward to the older students becoming adjusted to a high school environment with lockers and block scheduling," said Assistant Principal Juan Flores.

Flores says the school’s mission is dedicated to striving for excellence for all students. They also want to develop strong school leadership. "Our goals include creating movement within the school in providing quality education, discussing what works and what didn’t work, and having new faculty develop into teacher leaders, enforce responsibility, and focus on ongoing learning," she added.

In addition, PS/MS 20’s 2007 goals are the same as every school year: to raise reading and math scores.

Bronx Dance Academy – Bainbridge Avenue (Norwood)

Jason Kovac, assistant principal at the Bronx Dance Academy’s 300-plus-student middle school, is looking forward to students aiming higher this year, to grow academically, and keep up with "the learning curve."

As an Empowerment school, the Bronx Dance Academy has slightly increased their enrollment (more boys than girls this year), have hired 22 new teachers, and now have two assistant principals: Kovac, who focuses on math, science, and arts, and Deborah Bertley, who concentrates on humanities and social studies.

Students are able to enhance literacy and connect overseas through the "Read to Feed" program that has worked astonishingly well for the past couple of years, Kovac said. Students collect donations based on how many books they can read and then make use of the money to aid developing countries

"Stock market games have also been newly introduced to expose students to the real world rather than textbooks all the time," said Kovac. "The excitement in participating in ‘real world’ situations motivates students in learning math."

"Results from math and literacy statewide exams showed that the students improved last year, yet administrators aren’t going to stop there because we strive for higher grades," said former parent coordinator and recently-promoted secretary, Deanne Myers.

To build on past success, the academy is enlisting the help of parents through a variety of services. A new Web system, PCS (Parent Communication System), linked through the program, Helping Hands, was created this year to increase parent involvement. "This Web site will allow teachers to post homework, classroom newsletters, and personal messages online for parents to observe their child’s progress," Kovac said. "The school will provide basic training classes for parents to easily utilize the new system."

The Bainbridge Avenue school eagerly anticipates its yearly Nutcracker holiday performance put on by all grades on Dec. 14, as well as its end-of -year performance.

JHS 45 -Lorillard Place

Principal Anna Maria Giordana is more than pleased to introduce her school’s new youth development programs offering mentors for the seventh and eighth graders. The Junior DIVAS (Distinguished, Integrity, Virtuous, and Active Students) group is for seventh and eighth grade girls who will be mentored by DeWitt Clinton High School students. DONS is a parallel mentoring group for boys.

Enrollment is steady at 1,097 and has had a 72 percent Hispanic population for the past four or five years, Giordana said. They have added a new bilingual special-education teacher, and a few "Teach for America" teachers as well.

MS 45, which chose the Academy for Educational Development as its School Support Organization, will participate in "Principal for a Day" with former educator Daniel Domenech, McGraw-Hill Education’s senior vice president, on Oct.18. They will have Career Day in February.

Giordana said that the school-wide motto is "Put students first" and their vision is to develop healthy and responsible individuals who appreciate the world and are able to be productive in it. In other words, the teacher’s responsibility is to instruct, assess, and teach students what is needed to reach their full potential.

Teachers at 45 are taught that students are individuals with a wide variety of learning styles, yet they all have the capability to attain high standards.

PS 54: Fordham Bedford Academy – Webster  Avenue (North Fordham)

Parent Coordinator Carmen Aleman will be kept busy this year with so many new programs geared towards increasing parent involvement. Parents have a variety of programs and services to choose from, including nutrition classes and mammogram exams for mothers at St. Barnabas Hospital. CPR workshops (non-certified) will be held to teach parents what to do in emergencies. They will be given dummies so they can practice techniques at home and instruct others.

Outside of school, the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center offers after-school programs that several PS 54 students attend to get extra help in all subjects. In addition, the SES (Supplemental Education Service) offers free tutoring for eligible students with below average test scores.

"My goal as a parent coordinator is to continue to coax parents into attending workshops so that they are aware of their child’s progress throughout the academic year," said Aleman. "All of the teachers (including two newly hired teachers) are working hard to maintain a vigilant eye on their growth," she added.

An upcoming event that excited students and staff of PS 54 is their annual costume parade on Oct. 30.

PS 51: Bronx New School -Van Cortlandt Avenue East (Bedford Park)

According to Parent Coordinator Helena Ortiz, the school’s 20th anniversary celebration will be held at the Marina Del Rey catering hall for a dinner/dance gala. The date of this and several other events have not been confirmed. More parents are encouraged to get involved, Ortiz said.

"Fourth and fifth graders now are able to have ballroom dancing, and Mondays through Fridays enrichment clubs are offered in all subjects," Ortiz said.

PS 246: Poe Center – East 196th Street (North Fordham)

According to Eleanor Rios, the parent coordinator at PS 246, the school is starting the year off with a high enrollment and even higher expectations for the months ahead. Because of the decision to become an Empowerment school, Principal Beverly Miller is enjoying greater flexibility and autonomy in making decisions. Rios says the impact of this Empowerment is evident, especially in the addition of more staff.

With a student population of 792, which Rios says is higher than last year’s enrollment, the school is looking forward to new programs as well as the continuation of other successful programs. Rios is particularly excited about new student uniforms. This year, students are rewarded both individually and as a class for wearing their uniforms properly. "It gives the students respect, makes them responsible, and they look forward to it," Rios said. "Plus, it looks beautiful."

The North Fordham school is also preparing for another year of its after-school programs which serves 250 students. In these programs, students are helped with homework, taught English as a Second Language (ESL), and also have a little fun. For parents, PS 246 has nutrition classes on Wednesday nights and is also planning on holding
ESL and computer classes.

Coming up for students, an obesity program will introduce them to a regimen of nutrition and exercise. Rios also said that she is in touch with the Health Department as well as other counselors to try to set up a talk for parents about teenage pregnancy.

Rios said the school is focused on remaining positive. "Our motto this year is: ‘Yes we can.’"

MS 254 – Washington Avenue

This year at MS 254, the school is striving to place a greater emphasis on academics and to improve its standardized test scores. According to Edwin De Los Santos, the parent coordinator, "the school hopes to have all kids score threes and fours [above average] on the state test this year."

In order to help the 476 students at MS 254 achieve this goal, the school has set up a Saturday Math Academy to provide students with extra help in math and science. The 60 students in this program, which started two weeks ago, get tutored for four hours in the morning and then spend the rest of the day participating in recreational activities.

Another popular program is The After School Corporation (TASC) program. In this program, some 300 students receive help with their homework for an hour and then take part in extracurricular activities such as photography, computer lab, and gym activities for the final two hours of the night.

The school is also excited about offering electives for their seventh grade students this year. Students can choose from classes such as bird watching, swimming, drama, movie editing, and music.

Earlier this month, MS 254 hosted an eighth grade parent orientation to explain the school’s graduation and uniform requirements as well as the high school application process. On Oct. 17 the school was scheduled to offer a program that will help parents help their children prepare for the English Language Arts (ELA) exam in January. Parents are expected to receive even more information about their child as well as the school when parent-teacher conferences are held on Nov. 19 and 20.

Jonas Bronck Academy – Manhattan College campus (Riverdale)

It’s all about what’s best for the students at the Jonas Bronck Academy (JBA), a middle school of 146 students on the Manhattan College campus.

"We’re always looking to provide academic rigor and enhance our scholars’ education," said Principal Maria Esponda.

To help achieve these goals, the school has started some programs and enhanced others to begin the school year. In the classroom, JBA offers electives for seventh and eighth graders. While sixth graders must take a technology class, the seventh and eighth graders can choose from a variety of subjects such as foreign language, journalism, art, and chorus.

The music department is much improved this year, Esponda said. Working with the Renaissance Education, Music & Sports (EMS) program, the school was granted extra funds to expand its music program. This year, the band is comprised of 22 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students while the chorus has 24 seventh and eighth grade students. Esponda loves these programs because "for four periods a week, it gives the different grades a chance to mingle."

The school also offers multiple academic tutoring programs. Starting in November, there will be a Scholar Lounge, which is basically an after-school study hall. The school also works with Manhattan College, which sends 22 students on Wednesday afternoons to tutor students. The Gear Program, which helps prepare students for the Specialized High School Exam on Oct. 27, is held after school three times a week.

This year, the school has four major themes: community, identity, dream, and social change. To promote these themes and to provide their students with important information, the school is planning different special event days for students each month. In September, they did "Social Awareness Day." This month, on Oct. 25, the school is planning workshops on bullying, gang awareness, Internet safety, and computer awareness.

Hopes for Armory Include Push for Living Wage

October 18, 2007

By Annie Shreffler

The mall and recreation complex coming to the Kingsbridge Armory will undoubtedly host well-known retail stores and provide more goods to local shoppers, but it is unclear if this kind of new business will provide good jobs for Bronx workers.

To see the Armory’s vast commercial potential, look no further than River Plaza in Kingsbridge, which opened in 2004. The Plaza, anchored by a Target store, is swamped with customers at all times of the day and night.

Activists like Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) think being allowed to build in the community is reward enough for retailers – cheap labor shouldn’t be yet another incentive to put a mall in the center of the Bronx.

"We need not just any jobs," Pilgrim-Hunter said. "Our campaign is for quality jobs a family can live on."

In a letter to the Armory’s two potential developers and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the city agency in charge of the project, KARA demanded two things: that all employers coming in to the mall participate in a local hiring program and that 75 percent of Armory tenants pay living wages.

For the past year, KARA, a collective organized by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition made up of elected officials, community groups, and religious and union leaders, have been pushing potential developers to promise in their proposals that stores will pay $10 per hour, the city living wage requirement for contractors doing city business. But developers are hedging.

"It’s nebulous, general language and we really need commitments," Pilgrim-Hunter said, adding that an EDC-formed Armory task force comprised of residents and community leaders, is not completely happy with the proposals they have seen. "Based on no changes in the living wage language, we cannot recommend either group," she said.

Spokespersons from the two developers, The Related Companies and Atlantic Development Group, both said an earlier agreement made with the EDC prevents them from offering any comment about living wages right now.

Armory task force members are confident of achieving their goals, despite the discouraging recent history of big Bronx projects (see Croton Water Filtration Plant and Yankee Stadium) that have failed to deliver many local jobs.  

Jeff Eichler, of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said he thinks the task force will succeed in getting better wages. The labor leader likes KARA’s numerous activist members and said the group enjoys broad support, which will come in handy during the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). That is the public’s chance to ask City Council members to vote for or against the project.

"Altogether, we add up to a pretty substantial force," Eichler said.

According to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which assists groups around the country with living wage campaigns, the goal is to "[require] private businesses that benefit from public money to pay their workers a living wage," because "public dollars should not be subsidizing poverty-wage work."

ACORN argues that when companies pay low wages, taxpayers get hit twice: first by subsidizing city projects like the Armory’s $30 million new roof, then by funding the food stamps, emergency medical, housing and other social services low-wage workers depend on.

Department of City Planning statistics indicate that more than half of Bronx wage earners work in service or sales industries. According to the Census, the Bronx median wage is at $28,000 – not much above the national poverty level of $20,000 for a family of four – in one of the most expensive places to live in the nation.

"We get negative outcomes when parents work two or three jobs and can’t come home and take care of their kids," Pilgrim-Hunter said. Making a decent living, she added, is "being able to pay bills, feed your family and have benefits to take care of yourself and them."

Even working families sometimes have to turn to local soup kitchens for help, said Jack Marth, a legal clinic coordinator for the homeless services center POTS (Part Of The Solution) in Bedford Park, which served almost 8,000 people last year.

"Seventeen percent of our clients work full or part time," Marth said.

Although critics say unemployment increases when businesses hire less employees at higher pay, ACORN argues on their Web site that higher wages translate into less poverty, and that minimum wage buys less now than it did in the 1960s. They say the boon in service jobs, like restaurant and retail work, is where low wages are found the most.

Ken Small, development director of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), a Bronx group that advocates for low wage workers, agrees that it’s better to begin with fewer employees earning a higher wage if you want a community to grow.

"Economic stability is the foundation of economic prosperity and a living wage can help move workers’ families into middle class standing," Small said.

The living wage debate is happening all over the country. Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley recently vetoed a bill called the "Big Box Ordinance," which required large retailers to pay a living wage of $10 an hour, because he was afraid of scaring away business. Restaurant and hotel owners in Santa Monica formed the group "Fighting Against Irresponsible Regulation" to keep minimum wages from hitting a high of $10.50 per hour, but lost the fight in 2001.  

New York City has yet to make a stand for or against legislation requiring big retailers to pay a living wage.

Ed. note: KARA is holding a rally at the Armory on the living wage issue on Oct. 27. See p. 17 for details.  

Cookie Monsters

October 4, 2007

By None

At the Jerome Gun Hill BID Festival last Saturday, Dale "The Mouth" Boone raised his arms in what he thought was a certain cookie eating contest victory. He was wrong.

Cookie Monsters

October 4, 2007

By None

At the Jerome Gun Hill BID Festival last Saturday, Dale "The Mouth" Boone raised his arms in what he thought was a certain cookie eating contest victory. He was wrong.

Local Opera Performer Receives Fulbright Award

October 4, 2007

By Cassandra Lizaire

By Cassandra Lizaire

Opera performer and Bedford Park resident Anna Tonna, the recipient of a 2007 – 2008 Fulbright Award in Voice, leaves for Spain this month to study the Spanish composers who have so influenced her craft.

“I feel great!” said Tonna, 35, in a recent interview with the Norwood News. It was her last day at the Manhattan financial firm where she’d worked as an administrative assistant for the past 10 years. Her employers and co-workers, who had been supportive of her artistic pursuits throughout, held a party in her honor that day.

Tonna has studied and performed music for years – earning a B.A. in Music from Eckerd College and a master’s degree from the Mannes College of Music. She’s long infused a decade’s worth of recitals and performances with Spanish song and Latin American vocal elements.

Last summer, with the support of family, friends and musical mentors, Tonna decided to apply for a Fulbright scholarship to Spain, “squeezing the work of six months into two,” Tonna said.

After months of communication to secure advisors both here and abroad, as well as a performance audition, Tonna received the joyous news that she would be one of 30,000 individuals offered the prestigious Fulbright award – a U.S. student program administered by the Institute of International Education.

“I have chosen Spain for exploration of modern vocal influences and study with masterful experts,” Tonna wrote in her Fulbright proposal.

Her intentions are now a reality as she left in September for a nine-month academic and cultural experience in Spain.

There she will study the works of “La Generación del ’98,” a 20th century group of influential Spanish composers, including Julio Gomez. An important advisor to Tonna’s research in Madrid is Carlos Gomez Amat, the son of Julio Gomez, and a renowned music critic and Spanish author.

“I am thrilled that someone as bright and resourceful as Anna Tonna is not only doing the research but will probably end up performing it as well,” said Professor Nan Maro Babakhanian, the director of the international festival, “Interpretación de la Canción Española/Interpretation of Spanish Song.”

Babakhanian, who helped in the development of Tonna’s Fulbright project, looks forward to working with her to publicize the scores and manuscripts of Gomez through the festival and to “revive the art of singing in Spanish, much of which is not taught in the conservatories.”

“My attraction to this culture is also due in part to my family background,” said Tonna. Her mother is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Spanish was the first language she learned. Tonna lived and studied in Santo Domingo throughout primary school before coming to the states for college.

In addition to the support of family, friends, and mentors along the way, Tonna is grateful for the help and guidance of The Bronx Opera Company and its artistic director, Michael Spierman.

Spierman gave Tonna an opportunity to join the company five years ago after seeing her perform at Lehman College.

“You can only learn to be an opera singer by doing it, being onstage, being in costume,” Tonna said.

“She is a fine, outstanding singer and actress who always distinguishes herself with great achievement,” said Spierman of Tonna. “We wish her very well. She will be missed around here, but we expect that when she returns we will have some more wonderful performances together.”

Through her frequent performances in the Bronx, she became more familiar with the borough, which encouraged her to move to Bedford Park.

Coming from Astoria, Queens, Tonna has lived in the Bronx for two years now.

“I love the neighborhood,” Tonna said. “Bedford Park and Norwood are like the best kept secret. We became homeowners here and we live two blocks from the Bronx Botanical Garden.”

When Tonna says “we” she is referring to her husband, Steve Brown. The couple resides on Mosholu Parkway with their 18-year-old calico, Calypso. Tonna and Brown are not only celebrating her Fulbright award, but also a health milestone for Brown. August marked the fifth year her husband has been cancer-free.

“My husband is my number one supporter,” said Tonna of Brown, who was once diagnosed with a rare cancer of the soft tissue. A teacher at The Collegiate Institute for Math & Science on the Christopher Columbus High School Campus in the Bronx, Brown encouraged Tonna, who worked full time downtown while completing the long application process.

Out & About

October 4, 2007

By Judy Noy

Onstage

n The Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance presents its annual BlakTino Performance Series, a festival celebrating works by Black, Latino and Blaktino artists. The festival, first presented in 2002, runs from Saturday, Oct. 6 through Saturday, Oct. 27, at BAAD!, 841 Barretto St. in the Hunts Point section of the south Bronx. For more information and tickets, call (718) 842-5223 or visit www.BronxAcademyofArtsandDance.org.

n The Latin American Journey is the Tainos’ five-year journey through Central and South America and the Caribbean and features songs and stories in this free bilingual program which will be
held at the Mosholu Beacon Youth Center at PS 8, 3010 Briggs Ave., on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. Please arrive at 12:45 p.m. for seating. For more information, call (718) 329-0595.

n Lehman College’s Center for the Performing Arts hosts Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez, featuring traditional music and dance, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. and Tango Buenos Aires, featuring dance from Argentina, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. Tickets for each are from $20 to $35 ($10 for ages 12 and under for the Ballet show). Lehman is located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard W. For more information, call (718) 960-8833.

n Mass Transit Street Theatre & Video presents Ain’t Easy, a play with live
rap and film. This play, which tells the true story of a Bronx youth incarcerated in maximum security for killing a classmate in self defense, with the stories
of four Bronx teens, will take place at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture,
450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street
on Oct. 16 and 23 and Nov. 6 and 13
at 10 a.m. and noon, and Oct. 30 and
Nov. 20 at noon and 4:30 p.m. Ten free tickets are available for groups of 100. For $6 tickets, call (718) 882-2454 or baylalyn@earthlink.net.

n Bronx Hispanic Festival presents Hispanic Youth Day on Oct. 11 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., and Lagrimas Negras on Oct. 18 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., both in the Cesar Galarce Auditorium of Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, 234 E. 149th St. For more information and to confirm,
call (917) 699-7598.

Events

n Café on the Rock, a coffee house for 16 to 26 year olds, featuring an open mike, will take place on Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, 4450 Fieldston Rd. Participants can read poetry, play music, do a comedy routine or show some other talent. Admission of $5 ($3 for members of the Youth Group or those with a college ID), includes free coffee, tea, soda and snacks. For more information, call (718) 548-4445.

n Bring your pet to Blessing of the Animals, Oct. 7, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Canine Court at Van Cortlandt Park (enter at Broadway). Clergy of all faiths give blessings to pets and their owners. For more information, call (718) 796-4541.

n The Bronx River Alliance hosts Pedal and Paddle the Bronx River Greenway, a bike ride followed by a paddling trip down the lower Bronx River, Oct. 13; and Second Sunday Cycling, a 5-mile bike tour at a gentle pace along the Bronx River Greenway, Oct. 14. For more information and to register, call (718) 430-4636 or visit ww.bronxriver.org.

n The Farmers Market continues at the New York Botanical Garden’s Tulip Tree Allée Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Oct. 31. Admission only to Garden grounds is free all day Wednesdays. For more information, call (718) 817-8700.

Exhibits

n Lehman College’s Art Gallery hosts Beatrice Coron: The Secret Life of Cities, through Dec. 15 in the Edith Altschul Lehman Wing, with a reception on Oct. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. W. For more information,
call (718) 960-8731.

n At Wave Hill, artists install works based on the writings of two authors who lived briefly in the Bronx – Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain. Artists Simon Leung, Allison Smith and Amy Yoes,
create special projects, including sculpture, video and architecture, each in
a separate room of Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery, through Dec. 2. Also, there
are three solo exhibitions by New York-area emerging artists in the sunrooms: Jeff Feddersen and Margie Neuhaus, through Oct. 14 (meet the artists on
Oct. 14 at 2 p.m.), and Joianne Bittle Knight from Oct. 19 through Dec. 2
(meet the artist on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.). Wave Hill is at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in Riverdale. For more information, call (718) 549-3200
or visit www.wavehill.org.

n The Bronx Museum of the Arts hosts Quisqueya Henríquez: Outside Traditional Art in the artist’s first major appearance in the United States through Jan. 27, 2008. The exhibition is a selection of sculptures, installations, drawings, photographs, videos, and light and sound works examining the sensory qualities of urban life, including a daily visual dispatch from Santo Domingo, where the artist currently lives. The museum, located at 1040 Grand Concourse at West 165th Street, is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., except for Friday, when it is open until 8 p.m. Suggested admission is $5 for adults,
$3 for students and seniors and free
on Fridays for members and for children under 12. For more information, call
(718) 681-6000 or visit www.bronx
museum.org.

Learning

n Wave Hill presents two family art projects: Buildings on the Land, Oct. 6 and 7, to make your own model building using clay, cardboard, natural and recycled materials; and Natural Color Concoctions on Oct. 13 and 14, to collect flower petals, berries, and other plant materials to rub, mush, crush and cook, creating paint and dye. Both are in Wave Hill’s Kerlin Learning Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Wave Hill is at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in Riverdale.
For more information, call (718) 549-3200 or visit
wavehill.org.

n The Bronx Library Center has events for all ages:
For children ages 3 to 12, there’s a film on Oct. 10 and 17 at 4 p.m.; Preschool Story Time, featuring picture book stories and songs for ages 2 to 5 on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 at 11 a.m.; The Hobbit, a special program on Oct. 6 at 2 p.m.; Bat Book Making, a crafts workshop for ages 7 to 12, on Oct. 11 at 4 p.m.; and Baby and Me Lapsit, featuring songs, rhymes, movement and picture books for ages 8 to 15 months with parent or caregiver (pre-registration is required), on Oct. 13 at 11 a.m.
Young adults can write their own stories at Horror Writing Workshop, Oct. 5, 12 and 19
at 4 p.m.
Adults can attend The Road to New York State Certification, a workshop for bilingual teacher recruitment, on Oct. 6 at 10 a.m.; Discovering Our Hispanic Ancestors, a fair presented by the Hispanic Genealogical Society of New York, on Oct. 13 at 10 a.m.; Spicing Up Your Meals with Latin Chiles, a special program with Chef John DeSimone, on Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m.; and Breast Health, a lecture to learn about the risk factors for breast cancer, on Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.
The Center is located at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd. off Fordham Road. For a detailed schedule, call (718) 579-4244/46 or visit www.nypl.org.

n The Mosholu Library hosts Toddler Time for children ages 18 to 36 months with a parent or caregiver, featuring picture book stories and songs on Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m. Also, for young adults, there will be Magic!, a workshop led by Bob Friedhoffer to learn feats of magic and the science behind them, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. The library is located at 285 E. 205th St. For more information, call (718) 882-8239.

n Spooky Tales to Tingle Your Spine is a special program for ages 4 and up at the Jerome Park Library on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. The library is located
at 118 Eames Pl. For more information, call
(718) 549-5200.
Public Service Announcement

n The New York Public Library announces an expansion of service effective Sept. 4: Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Mosholu and Jerome Park libraries. The Bronx Library Center’s schedule is Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more details, visit www.nypl.org.

NOTE: Items for consideration should be received in our office by Oct. 8 for the next publication date of Oct. 18.

Kingsbridge VA Nurse Recognized

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

Robyn Anderson-Malico, a nurse at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in University Heights was one of 10 honorees nationwide to be given the National Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. The award is given out yearly to recognize health care professionals and nurses who leave a lasting impression on patients with their outstanding service.

“When a patient holds your hand, smiles at you and says ‘Thank you for being here for me. Your voice, touch, and skill allowed me to get through what seemed unbearable,’ the gratification you feel is immeasurable,” said Anderson-Malico at the ceremony. “As a nurse, I am privileged to be a part of someone’s life and to help ease some of the most difficult moments and share some of the happiest ones.”

Anderson-Malico, 39, lives in Yorktown Heights.

Foreman Awarded Honorary Doctorate

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

Spencer Foreman, MD, president of Montefiore Medical Center, was recently granted an honorary doctorate at a Lehman College awards ceremony for the remarkable growth, innovation and research achieved under his leadership, said Dr. Mary Papazian, Lehman’s provost and senior vice president.

She also said that Foreman remained committed to the mission of service to the community and presided over the opening of the Children’s Hospital, advances in minimally-invasive surgery and new applications of technology to medicine.

Earlier this year, Foreman announced that he will retire once a successor is found.

Hispanic Heritage Awards

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

The Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards was held at the Bronx County Courthouse on the Grand Concourse, on Thursday, Sept. 20. On hand were Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., District Attorney Robert Johnson and New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who presented this year’s award to four individuals and one organization. This year’s honorees were Rosanna Rosado, publisher and CEO of El Diario La Prensa; Sonia Ossorio, board president of NOW; Junior Suarez, a Staten Island native who helped pull two people out of a truck after a steam blast in Manhattan; and Doris Quinones, a former Norwood resident who is the executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council and a board member of Mosholu Preservation Corporation (which publishes the Norwood News).

Cookie Controversy

October 4, 2007

By Alex Kratz

Dale “The Mouth of the South” Boone happily danced on stage, chewing the last morsels of a cookie, as the final seconds ticked down to the end of the unofficial World Black-and-White Cookie Eating Championship, held right here in the Bronx at the Jerome-Gun Hill BID Festival last Saturday. The winner would receive a $1,000 check and be crowned cookie king.

Convinced he’d easily bested the competition, The Mouth held his arms up in victory (see cover photo). But when the referees began tallying up the leftovers, the overall-clad Atlanta native became incensed and had to be escorted off the stage.

According to the referees, dressed, of course, in black and white, the Mouth had tied with 24-yeard-old Virginian Ian “The Invader” Hickman. Both had consumed 11 big cookies in five minutes, the refs declared.

But the Mouth, no stranger to controversy, having been kicked out of at least one competitive eating association, was having none of it. (A Web site profile says: “Boone has maintained a reputation as a combative competitor who has disrupted some eating events with verbal excess. He is not well liked.”)

The Mouth, delivering on his reputation, immediately went to hyperactive emcee Arnie “Chowhound” Chapman to plead his case – crying foul and claiming conspiracy when Chapman wouldn’t reverse the decision or call for an eat off.

“Everyone out there knows I dominated that competition,” the Mouth shouted in a surprisingly high, nasal southern twang, his lips red and chapped. “They wanted their own people to win.”

“They” are the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters (AICE), which organized the cookie battle. To promote their regular eaters (guys like Hickman) Boone claims the organizers rigged the count. The Mouth said he ate at least 15 cookies.

Boone is notorious for claiming victory and making a scene, Hickman said. It’s just what he does, like a pro wrestler’s trademark leg lock.

In the end, the Invader happily put his $500 check, plus a half dozen extra cookies, into his backpack and headed home. As for the Mouth, he eventually settled down, gave his half to his mama, and walked off to the thumping of Latin hip hop.

His parting words to a reporter? “Google me.”

Attacker Jumps Five Stories And Lives

October 4, 2007

By David Greene

After failing in his attempt to kill his ex-girlfriend, a teenager jumped off the fifth floor roof of a University Heights apartment building and lived.

Police were called to a private home at 2498 Devoe Terrace in University Heights after hearing reports of a fall victim. Upon their arrival, police discovered a seriously injured Jose Peguero, 18. A dozen police and firemen assisted in getting to Peguero and getting him out of the wooded backyard.

More police officers and a second EMS crew were called to 2492 Devoe Terrace for 17-year-old Tahiri Rodriguez, who reportedly has a child with Peguero, but broke up with him four months earlier for being abusive.

Rodriguez was reportedly punched in the face by Peguero, who then dragged her to the roof and slit her wrists while she was unconscious. Peguero then walked out onto the rooftop, ran and jumped off.

“I just heard running on the roof and he hit the trees,” said Kareem Burns, a fifth floor resident of the building.

Another witness and resident of the block who declined to give his name, said, “He looked like he was dead. He wasn’t breathing. I thought he was dead.”

The shaken-up witness said the young woman “looked like she was stressed out.”

Both victims were taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in critical condition, but both are now expected to survive.

A source says Peguero, a resident of Weeks Avenue, was released from the hospital and taken into police custody. Charges against Peguero are pending.

Neighborhood Notes

October 4, 2007

By None

Homeownership Workshop
University Neighborhood Housing Program will host a homeownership preservation workshop on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Homeowners will learn what they can do to avoid foreclosure, and have the opportunity to speak to foreclosure prevention counselors from local non-profits. Two large area lenders, Chase and Washington Mutual, will also be on hand to speak with borrowers. The workshop is free, and will be held at Concourse House, 2751 Grand Concourse at the corner of East 196th Street. For more information, call Eric Fergen, UNHP’s outreach coordinator at (718) 933-2539 or fergen@unhp.org.

Small High School Fair
The Mosholu Montefiore Community Center will host its annual Small Public High School Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. to discuss programs and give out literature. The program will take place at the Center at 3450 DeKalb Ave. at Gun Hill Road, one block east of Jerome Avenue. For more information, call Tish Wescott at (718) 652-0282 weekdays.

Flea Market
The Bedford Park Congregational Church, at East 201st Street and Bainbridge Avenue, will hold its annual Flea Market and Fun Fair on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, or to make a donation, please contact Reverend Dr. Christian Ponnuraj at (718) 367-8996.

Breast Health Discussion
Learn about the risk factors for breast cancer and early detection at a discussion led by Judith Leuchter from Montefiore Medical Group. To be held at the Bronx Library Center, 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd., Bronx on Monday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (718) 579-4244.

Cook with Chef DeSimone
Bronx Library Center at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd., will feature Chef John DeSimone, of PoCucina Catering Services, to demonstrate cooking and identifying Latin chiles. This free event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m. For more information, call (718) 579-4244.

Mount St. Ursula Open House
On Sunday, Oct. 28, the Academy of Mount St. Ursula at 330 Bedford Pk. Blvd., will hold a campus open house from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.amsu.org

Annual Breast Health Day
North Central Bronx Hospital will hold its 14th Annual Breast Health Day of Screening on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is open to all women over 40 and will be offered at the 2G Radiology Department at the hospital at 3424 Kossuth Ave at 210th Street. For more information, call Luisa Hernandez at (718) 519-4840.

Anger Management
Certification Course
The School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Bronx Community College at West 181st Street and University Avenue, is offering an Anger Management Specialist-I Certification Course. Dr. Richard Pfeiffer, executive director of the National Anger Management Association, will teach six Saturday classes on Nov. 3, 10, 17 and Dec. 1, 8, 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To register or for more information, call (718) 289-5170 or visit www.bcc.cuny.edu/cps.
Crafts Fair
The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Van Cortlandt House Museum are holding a fall crafts festival on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the grounds of Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park. The free event will feature crafts, a raffle, and food. A kids craft project will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m. For vendor applications and event information, please call (718) 601-1460 or visit www.vancortlandt.org. Enter park at Broadway and West 246th Street. Off-street parking is available at the Van Cortlandt Golf House.

Affordable Housing Discussion
The Bronx Forum, a partnership between Hostos Community College and Jewish Community Relations Council of NY/CAUSE-NY, will hold a discussion on affordable housing for community leaders and professionals, on Thursday, Oct. 11, at Hostos Community College, Savoy Bldg., 2nd Floor, Multi-Purpose room, 120 Walton Ave. at 149th Street. Registration with breakfast is at 9 a.m. The workshop, for which there’s a $10 materials fee, runs from 9:15 a.m. to noon. Please register online at www.communityuplink.net/affordablehousing. For more information, contact Hoi Chan at (212) 983-4800 ext. 121 or ChanH@jcrcny.org.

Speech Center Accepting Applications
The Mount Saint Ursula Speech Center is accepting applications for their fall program. The Center, at 2885 Marion Ave., has morning and afternoon openings for children ages 2 to 5 who are in need of speech and language services. Children can work in groups or individually. Some types of insurance are accepted. For more information, call (718) 584-7679.

Senior Activities in VC Park
Northwest Bronx residents 60 and older are eligible for the City Parks Foundation’s free program offering tennis lessons, yoga instruction and fitness walking in Van Cortlandt Park. The programs run through Oct. 26. For more information or the schedule, call (718) 760-6999 or visit www.cityparksfoundation.org.

Arts-in-Education Grants
The Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) announces the availability of Arts-in-Education (AIE) grants for Bronx schools. Applicants must be a school, an arts/cultural organization and/or an independent teaching artist. Applicants can apply online at www.bronxarts.org for projects during the 2007-2008 academic year. Deadline for applications is Oct. 11. For more information, call (718) 931-9500.

Bronx River Bike Ride
The Bronx River Alliance’s last Second Sunday Cycling campaign bike ride of the year will be on Sunday, Oct. 14, from 1 to 3 p.m. The five-mile ride along the Bronx River Greenway meets at the park overlook at 204th Street, east of Webster Avenue. For more information, call (718) 430-4677 or visit www.bronxriver.org.

Tour Lehman College Art Gallery
The Lehman College Art Gallery is open to the public for a free tour on Thursday, Oct. 11, starting at 12:30 p.m. in the Gallery. Work from “Bits and Pieces” and “Beatrice Coron: The Secret Life of Cities” will be featured. Free attended parking is available. For more information, call (718) 960-8715.

Council Funds Clearer, But Still Not Transparent

October 4, 2007

By Editorial

Last issue, the Norwood News published a list of discretionary funds that local City Council members allocate to organizations and programs in their districts. Since doing so, we’ve learned a few things.

For one, Council Member Oliver Koppell gave $10,000 to Bissel Gardens, not $50,000.

Second, we omitted four grants given out by Council Member Joel Rivera ($15,000 to the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce; $12,000 to the Lehman Theatre Program; $20,000 to Tanima Productions; and $20,000 to West Bronx Housing) and one given out by Council Member Maria Baez ($10,000 to Love Gospel Assembly).

We regret the errors.

Third, there are additional discretionary grants sponsored by groups of lawmakers that were not included in the list we published, but there’s no way to tell how much each member contributed to those grants from their own pot of money. According to Koppell’s chief of staff, Annie O’Connor, some of those listed may have only sent a letter of support and not contributed anything.

And finally, while we published all the so-called “Schedule C” funds (otherwise known as discretionary grants or member items), Council members use several other sources to support programs in their districts. It’s impossible, however, to find out how much and where that money is going unless the individual Council members give you a list.

After the budget is processed, individual city agencies (such as the Youth and Aging departments) give pools of money to each Council member, who have the power to distribute those funds as they see fit. Then, there’s also capital funds, which can total in the millions of dollars and are also distributed after the budget comes out. They are also not published by the Council for public scrutiny and consumption.

So, in short, listing the discretionary funds for individual Council members is a start, but we still only know a part of how and where our Council Members distribute public funds to the communities they serve.

We will continue to dig and ask questions. It’s your money. You deserve to know how it’s spent.

Greens Late to Oval Game

October 4, 2007

By None

This letter to the editor is in direct response to Carl Lundgren from the Bronx Green party (letter, Sept. 20 – Oct. 3). Are you kidding? Do not ruin this for our neighborhood! We have fought long and hard for repairs and improvements to the Oval, and now you come out of nowhere and say this artificial surface is bad for everyone? First of all, there is no water runoff now, the field is hot all the time anyway, and the injuries from running on a rock laden track are obvious. As far as health issues, have you ever stood on the sandy field when the wind blows and your kid is trying to play ball and gets his/her lungs and eyes filled with the dry dirt that flies around constantly? It feels awful for asthmatics and everyone else too. I personally do not care if Jeffrey Dinowitz dislikes the stuff or not. He is not here with his family trying to enjoy our park day after day. We were told by park commissioners and gardeners that the field is unseedable and that this is our only option to a new useable field in a reasonable amount of time.

Please, do not ruin this for the neighborhood. We have waited too long for results for someone to come by now and put a halt on the progress.

Annette Melendez

Room to Play and Learn

October 4, 2007

By None

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition’s efforts to address the problem of chronic overcrowding in local schools are right on target (article, Aug. 23 – Sept. 5). One concern that should be included among those mentioned is the issue of the "temporary" classrooms. These structures, located in schoolyards across the Bronx, were to serve as short-term solutions to overcrowding while more permanent solutions could be developed. Instead, the "temporary" classrooms have become part of the permanent seat count, which is simply not acceptable.

Being active outdoors is essential for the physical and mental well-being of children and adolescents. Research has shown that children who play outdoors have a tendency to be smarter, to score higher on tests and to exhibit more creativity. When schoolyards are encumbered with "temporary" classroom spaces, children suffer all of the educational losses from overcrowding and, in addition, they lose their outdoor play space. There is no way to give our children and teens the education they deserve except to build more fully equipped schools.

Megan Charlop
Norwood

Success for Oval Fest

October 4, 2007

By None

Our Aug. 25 festival in Williamsbridge Oval Park was a happy occasion enjoyed by many. It was made more festive by the people and neighborhood organizations who contributed to the event. We especially want to thank Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who funded the festival; Parks Department employees who helped us; Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan, who shared his knowledge of Norwood history; artistic performers; local organizations that shared information at the festival; and the following neighborhood business owners who showed their commitment to the community by donating food or offering it at a reduced price: Sal’s Pizzeria; McDonald’s; Dunkin Donuts; Anna Artuso Pastry Shop; Hillside Meat and Deli; Bargain House 99¢ Store (Bainbridge Ave.); 99 Cents and Up (204th St.).

Thanks to all. This fall we will be working on safety, parks, education, and other issues that festival attendees prioritized. Please contact us at 646-642-6313 to be a part of making the neighborhood better!

Kay Collins

The writer is a member of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

Still Waiting for Playground

October 4, 2007

By None

I am writing this letter in the hopes of refocusing the school community and district representatives’ attention to the Bronx New School/PS 51’s lack of a proper playground.

I am a parent of a kindergartner, and new to the city’s education system. Thus far, I have spoken with many parents and some PTA members, to ensure that I obtain information regarding my child’s education. With each person I have spoken to, reference has been made in regards to a playground situation that began some nine years ago, with the possible resolution of an empty lot on Villa Avenue that would be redesigned to suit the children’s recess time. However, as the years have passed, many parents have given up the prospect of a suitable and safe playground for the children.

I am not very comfortable with the present recess situation. The street is closed off to traffic and the children have no form of entertainment; they simply run around in circles. I understand that the school leadership, neighborhood community and Council Member Oliver Koppell have been working together to make a proper and safe playground come to fruition for several years now.   

Several parents have asked that ‘if [you] know any Council members please speak to them about our playground situation.’ Unfortunately, I do not know any Council members or their staff, but I do know how to use the power of one’s voice and pen.  

I do not know what has held up the process of acquiring the empty space on Villa Avenue, but if your community paper can help bring the necessary attention to resolve this situation, I believe many children and parents would be ecstatic to have a designated play area that is both clean and safe.  Please help us to provide a secure playground for the Bronx New School children.

Jennifer Richardson
Norwood

Investigate Filter Fiasco

October 4, 2007

By Editorial

“My wife says I have a fault of believing in government,” Assemblyman Michael Benjamin told us the other day when we asked what his thoughts on the filtration plant were these days.

He was referring to the promises, most now broken, made to him and his colleagues by city officials when seeking the Assembly’s support for building the plant in Van Cortlandt Park.

Kennedy Benjamin might have missed her calling. Her critical eye would have helped save city taxpayers from footing the bill for what is increasingly being considered a public disaster.

Still, credit is due the assemblyman and one of his colleagues, Ruben Diaz, who have admitted that Jeffrey Dinowitz was right when he warned that building a filtration plant in a public park would not yield Bronx jobs and would not cost less than building it in Westchester.

Healthy skepticism has been in short supply for Bronx elected officials who have bought into two big, dumb projects on the basis of being told what they want to hear, rather than on what can be documented and legally enforced. (The other is Yankee Stadium, though there has been some progress of late holding off those horrendous parking garages.)

Diaz and Benjamin say that the next time the city and developers come a courtin’ they won’t be as easily taken in. We shall see.

But is all this self-reflection a waste of time, considering the job is well under way?

Not if it leads to a constructive investigation.

“If costs have escalated because of incompetence or worse, then we need to prevent that from continuing to happen on this project and from happening on other projects,” Dinowitz said.

The assemblymen and any additional colleagues they can recruit (Dinowitz is working on that) can ask Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to hold hearings in the appropriate committee. Silver is unlikely to want to reopen the debate on a project that divided his caucus, but if a good chunk of the same Bronx delegation that championed it asks for hearings, he’ll have a harder time fending it off.

Dinowitz also thinks a City Council hearing would be a good idea. When it met a couple of weeks ago, the Croton Facilities Monitoring Committee (FMC) did not put forth a resolution calling for a hearing, but committee chair Greg Faulkner said he would support it if someone proposed it.

Faulkner says he is more focused on the jobs issue and feels that more will come from that than an investigation of the costs.

But it seems that the FMC, which has no real power except to ask questions, is not making much headway on its own extracting the jobs that were promised to Bronxites by unions and city officials. Maybe a Council hearing would help things along.

At an FMC meeting a couple of weeks ago, union officials put up all kinds of verbal roadblocks, saying they had to go by the “list,” and that while they do give out apprenticeships, the trades needed on the project are very difficult and need a lot of training. The rank-and-file members who spoke had a similar message for new workers. In a nutshell: This is hard and dangerous work. Stay away.

The question then, of course, is why were these jobs promised in the first place?

So, community leaders, activists and elected officials can disagree on what part of this fiasco riles them most.

But it seems clear to us that all of them need to be investigated. Maybe then the lawmakers doing the investigating-most of whom supported this project-will acquire the kind of healthy skepticism Kennedy Benjamin was born with.

Hopes for Center Connect Community and Candidates

October 4, 2007

By Nina Sen

Carrying signs and chanting slogans of victory, northwest Bronx community members marched down Bainbridge Avenue to support the building of a youth center in the vacant Fordham library.

The rally was organized largely by Rev. Fernando Cabrera, pastor of New Life Outreach International Church and leader of the non-profit group Community Action Unlimited (CAU), who announced his group’s interest in creating a community center in the vacant building on Bainbridge near Fordham Road to give area youth a place to “let out their energy.”

In July, the Norwood News reported community interest in developing a center, specifically by Sistas and Brothers United (SBU), the youth arm of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, an organization separate from New Life Outreach. Though they appear to be competing for the same space, both organizations maintain they are working toward a common goal.

As the crowd reached the library, Cabrera received enthusiastic applause from his supporters. In a sermon-like speech, the pastor said, “We just want our fair share; we’re not asking for more than others, we’re just saying it’s our turn, it’s our turn, it’s our turn!”

Cabrera is considering running for City Council in District 14 and has begun raising money for the potential bid. Over the summer, community resident Haile Rivera announced his candidacy for the same seat, now held by Maria Baez, who is term limited. While the rally was an opportunity for Cabrera to showcase his leadership abilities, he said he has been doing that for most of his career. He said that if he decides to run, he already has the support of Community Board 7 Chair Greg Faulkner (who is one of Cabrera’s parishioners), the Assembly of Christian Churches, and other members of the church community.

Rivera, who was present at the rally, supports SBU in its efforts to relocate its organization to the library. “I’ve known SBU for a long time and they are most active in the community; they deserve their own space,” he said. Aware that Cabrera may be his potential rival in the Council race, Rivera said, “There is a hard line between what SBU wants and, in this case, what Cabrera wants.”

What Cabrera says he wants is to build a state-of-the-art community center, complete with basketball courts, swimming pool, computer labs, as well as ESL and reading comprehension facilities. He said that his financing plan would generate revenue from housing units available in the building and shared space among different social organizations.

On the other hand, SBU is outgrowing its office space at the Coalition’s headquarters on East 196th Street. The group is looking to house art and technology classes as well as expand their youth leadership program.

Also present at the rally was Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the Bronx Democratic chairman, dressed in jeans and armed with a video camera. He spoke of the vital need to create a youth center in the area. In his speech, before introducing his son, Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera, Rivera stressed that the final decision rests with Mayor Bloomberg.

Joel Rivera encouraged the community to call 311 and let the mayor know that residents of Community District 7 want the building to become a community center. “We want our kids to go to a place that’s positive,” he said. “To create that next generation of leaders, we gotta [make] this loud.”

The next generation of leaders may come from SBU, which Councilman Rivera showed strong support for, even joking that member Jorman Nunez would be in political office someday. Nunez said SBU was the first group to officially declare interest in the building, and is very confident his organization will acquire it.

The building is a hot commodity, but work needs to be done before the contaminated space can be used. According to Faulkner, oil is spreading through the floor of the library and could have possibly contaminated buildings in close proximity. A New York Public Library spokesperson confirmed that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has approved the remediation plan submitted in May and they are now putting out a bid for the next phase of cleanup.

Leaders from SBU and New Life said they consider getting the building turned over to the community (as opposed to retailers or developers) the first step and claim they are not focused on competition among the groups.

“It’s about cooperation not competition,” Cabrera said. “We’re going to work together.”

SBU is holding another rally on Oct. 6 to show more community support for the building. SBU student leaders say they are willing to work with any organization interested in the building, including Cabrera’s group. Nunez said he plans to meet with Cabrera to discuss future plans for the building as well as how to best meet each other’s needs.

Public and Community Meetings

October 4, 2007

By None

• Community Board 7 will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Scott Tower community room, 3400 Paul Ave. For more information, call the Board office at (718) 933-5650.
• Croton Facility Monitoring Committee will meet on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Location was not available at press time. For location or more information, call the DEP outreach office at (718) 231-8470.
• Community Education Council 10 will meet on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 6:15 p.m. Location was not available at press time. For location or more information, call (718) 741-5836.
• 52nd Precinct Community Council will meet Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Philip Neri Church, 3031 Grand Concourse. For more information, call (718) 220-5824.

Engel Drives Hydrogen Cell Car

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

Congressman Eliot Engel recently test drove the Ford HySeries Edge, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle with plug-in capability, in downtown Washington.

The HySeries Edge is an advanced vehicle powered by electricity from the grid and an on-board hydrogen fuel cell. The full range of the Edge on battery and hydrogen is 225 miles, although some drivers have driven as much as 400 miles depending on conditions.

Engel has introduced legislation to encourage the production of these vehicles to reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil.

Bronx Leaders Under 40

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

A handful of Bronxites under the age of 40 were picked by the monthly paper City Hall as “Rising Stars” in New York City politics.

Three of them – Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Jose Marco Serrano and City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera – all come with powerful political pedigrees with fathers who still serve as Bronx elected officials. All three are eyeing a bid for Bronx borough president in 2009.

City Council candidate Haile Rivera (no relation), who is going after Maria Baez’s soon-seat in District 14 (Baez is term limited), was also on the list for his work as an activist in University Heights

The Law on Heat

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

The “heat season” begins this week and city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan wants to remind residential building owners of their legal responsibility to provide hot water year-round and 24-hour heat for tenants.

“Our goal is to educate New York’s tenants about their rights during the winter and remind building owners about their responsibilities,” Donovan said. “We are putting landlords with a history of heat problems on notice, and providing them with education and assistance to encourage compliance,” he added.

In case of a heat deficiency, a tenant should always attempt to contact their building owner, managing agent, or superintendent first. If heat is not restored, the tenant should call the city’s Citizen Service Center at 311, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Heat session information can also be found on the HPD Web site at www.nyc.gov/hpd.

Bronx Support for Public Benefits Bill

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

A City Council bill to provide assistance for New Yorkers seeking public benefits was introduced by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum last week. Councilman Joel Rivera (District 15) and David Pedulla from NYU Brennan Center showed up in support of the initiative.

The bill, called Ready Access to Assistance Act (REAACT), will allow advocates to set up information tables in public areas of city benefits offices.

Engel Focused on Latin America

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

As U.S. assistance to Latin America dwindles, Rep. Eliot Engel has created an innovative plan to keep providing aid to our developing southern neighbors. His 10-year, $2.5 billion plan focuses on a non-traditional approach by encouraging financial commitments from the private sector and recipient nations.

“I have put social justice for Latin Americans at the top of my agenda”

he said.

Currently, almost 40 percent of the Latin American population lives below the poverty line. Engel’s proposal focuses on reducing poverty, expanding the middle class and investing in education, healthcare and other key development areas.

On Tuesday, the House unanimously passed Engel’s resolution responding to a spike in Central American violence. The resolution will provide $4 million to fight criminal gang activity. In a press release, Engel said there are an estimated 70,000 gang members in Central America, many with ties to the United States. The release says 90 percent of the cocaine shipped from the Andean region (which includes Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia) flows through Central America into the United States.

“I am very concerned by increasing reports of gang and drug violence in Central America,” said Engel, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “The United States should work more actively with our neighbors to the south to fight the growing violence.”

Dinowitz Protests Ahmadinejad

October 4, 2007

By Norwood News

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (81st District) participated in rallies protesting appearances by Iranian President Ahmadinejad at the United Nations and Columbia University.

“It’s very sad that over 60 years after the Holocaust so many people, institutions and nations have such a high tolerance for hatred, racism and anti-Semitism,” Dinowitz said in a statement. “I am proud that so many good people turned out to speak with one voice against Ahmadinejad and everything he represents.”

Dinowitz protested in Manhattan with Congressman Eliot Engel at a rally led by Riverdale Rabbi Avi Weiss.

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