Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Excelsior Scholarship Plan Announced by Governor Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an astounding new plan that will help poor and middle class families receive higher education. Called the Excelsior Scholarship Plan, this game-changing plan will allow almost one million students enrolled in any of New York State’s public colleges and universities to send the tuition bill to the state.  The plan was announced this past Tuesday by the Governor at a press conference with Vermont State Senator Bernie Sanders standing beside him.

"The American Dream lives in the state of New York and nobody is taking it away," Cuomo said. "And that's what this program is about."

The plan will still need to pass through the state legislature, but if it does it will allow students to go to State University of New York (SUNY) campuses, City University of New York (CUNY) campuses and two-year community colleges completely free, as long as their parents are earning under $125,000 annually. Once the plan is fully implemented it will cost the state about $163 million per year.

The plan will be phased in beginning this year when the cut-off for eligibility will be set at $100,000 annual income. In the fall of 2018 the cut-off will rise to $110,000, and by 2019 Excelsior will reach its upper limit of $125,000.

"I applaud Governor Cuomo for this bold move to educate our youth and keep them in New York," said Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky of Rockville Centre. "We need to think big and give our young people the opportunities to excel without crippling debt."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Der Pioneer Bringing Strudel to Ditmas Park

If strudel is your thing, then you are about to have a reason to rejoice. Any day now Der Pioneer is set to open at 737 Church Avenue. This restaurant/bakery is the brainchild of German pastry chef Björn Böttcher, and savory pastry chef Greg Barbiero.

Böttcher, who is originally from Hamburg, has been living in Kensington for 14 years. Barbiero makes his home in Bay Ridge.

Štrůdl. by Che
The pair met in 2010 when they were working at the same restaurant, Ciano NYC. Since then they have worked at different restaurants, but have continued to stay in touch and discuss their dream of opening a specialty bake shop-restaurant together. Finally, their dream is becoming reality.
They plan to keep the store open seven days a week, from 7am to 6pm.

Barbiero will do breakfast, brunch, and the lunch menu. He hopes to put sandwiches, soups, salads, quiches, burgers and other traditional American cuisine up for sale. Böttcher will take charge of the bakery items, all of which will be made by him in the shop.

What can we expect to see from the bakery? Traditional offerings will include: oatmeal cookies, brownies, muffins and scones. On the more exotic side we are looking forward French macaroons, German-style apple strudel, stollen (a German classic: like panettone bread with dried fruits and nuts inside), house-made bon-bons, and franz bröchen, which translates literally to a "French roll."

How does the pair feel about their new adventure? Of course, they are thrilled, saying that when you work for other people “you're learning a lot, but you're being taken advantage of," Barbiero said, mentioning 16 hour days and working during holidays. "This is our thing."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Lander Expands Hours to Assist Bangladeshi Residents of Kensington

In order to accommodate the growing community of Bangladeshi immigrants to Kensington, Councilman Brad Lander has expanded his office hours.

The announcement was made at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the councilman’s new office located at 486 McDonald Avenue, on October 21st, right after Friday prayers, called jumah, which take place at local mosques.

In addition to the expanded hours, Lander has appointed a community liaison, Ruby Abdul, a Bengali speaker, to assist with the community.
Brad Lander
“I’m very excited to expand my office’s availability to serve as a resource for the Bangladeshi community in Kensington and to finally offer Bengali assistance,” Lander (D-Park Slope-Kensington-Borough Park) said. “The Bangladeshi community is an essential part of the broader community in Kensington, but one with its own particular needs. I’m excited to have Ruby work together with so many of Kensington’s leaders to serve this incredibly special neighborhood as best we can.”

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Brooklyn Democratic Club Empowers Muslim Voters

The Muslim Democratic Club of New York is the vehicle through which many Muslim New Yorkers are getting their voices heard.

The goal of the club is to educate and motivate Muslim voters to support causes important to them and candidates that will fight for their issues. Murad Awawdeh is the president of the MDCNY, which boasts a few hundred dues paying members all over New York, but mostly in Queens and Brooklyn. Although most of the members are Arab or South Asian, there are also members hailing from Africa and Asia, with a smattering of whites, too.

This year the club is focusing its energies on the 44th and 46th Districts in Brooklyn. In the 44th District, which consists of Windsor Terrace, Park Slope, and Kensington, the club is endorsing Robert “Bobby” Carroll. In the 46th District, Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, they are behind Pamela Harris in the Primary scheduled for September 13th. The MDCNY will support these candidates with phone calls, canvasing, and especially targeting Muslim neighborhoods in those Districts, working to get Muslims to come out and vote in the primary.
“We are trying to engage and integrate as many people (Muslims) into this democratic process as possible. That they not only come out and vote but they understand what they are voting for. So they understand what a City Councilman does, what a Mayor does, what a Public Advocate does,” said Awawdeh.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Eleven New Yorkers Heading for Rio for Summer Olympics

You might think more New Yorkers would qualify as Olympic athletes, considering the intense training we get every day just by living here. Running for the train, jumping over pot holes, throwing groceries in the cart at the crowded supermarket, could almost be their own Olympic sports.

Nevertheless, there are eleven enormously talented (and hard-working) young people from the Big Apple that are off to join in the festivities and competition that has been a dream come true for them.

The athletes will participate in five popular events: basketball, fencing, gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. Here is a sample of just three of our eleven stars:

Carmelo Anthony is a star basketball player. This is his fourth visit to the Olympics, and he already has two gold medals at home. Here in New York he spends his spare time as the franchise player of the New York Knicks.

Tina Charles is also a basketball hero. Here at home she is the center for the New York Liberty women’s basketball team. She also took home the gold once before, four years ago. She is a native of Queens where she played high school basketball.

Miles Chamley-Watson is a swordsmen of amazing prowess. He was born in London, but that hasn’t stopped him from representing the USA in fencing for the second time. He proved his determination by being the first US fencer to win a gold medal at the 2013 world championships.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Co-work Space Opens on Church Avenue

Flatbush Jewish Center
As co-working spaces, or hubs, continue to grow in popularity, we see them popping up in some more unusual places. For instance, right here in Windsor Terrace-Kensington, one such business is open. Called “Space at the Center,” located at 327 East 5th Street, in the Flatbush Jewish Center, several different options are available for those seeking a comfortable place to work.

Included in the rental fees are Wi-Fi, private offices or shared spaces with comfortable chairs and roomy desks. The space is entirely wheelchair accessible with an elevator to the second floor where the hub is located.

Space at the Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 5pm and Friday from 9am to 1pm on Fridays. Clients can rent space on a daily basis, or at reduced rates for 10 days/month and 20 days/month. One day costs $25; 10 days for $200; and 20 days for $300.

For more information call: 718-871-5200 or email:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Expect Express Trains Next Year on F Train Line

The MTA is recommending that beginning next year half of the F trains running through central Brooklyn run as express trains during the busiest times of day.

The express line would run between the Jay Street MetroTech station in Downtown Brooklyn and the Church Avenue station in Kensington. The express line will stop once at 7th Avenue in Park Slope during morning and evening rush hours. The other half of the trains will continue to make all the stops between Jay Street and Church Avenue.

If the recommendation is accepted it would be implemented by the fall of 2017.

The recommendation was made in a feasibility study released this week by the MTA and made at “the request of F train riders and elected officials in Brooklyn.”

The study was able to precisely quantify the benefit of introducing the express line. The researchers found that each express passenger would save on average 3-4 minutes on their commute, while those taking the local would lose 1.3 minutes. Multiplying by the expected number of passengers yields a “net travel time benefit of 27,000 minutes.”

"F express trains would be slightly more crowded than current F trains," the MTA said, "although still within NYC Transit's loading guidelines, while the F locals would be less crowded. There would also be increased stair crowding at a couple of local stations due to larger PM exit surges per train."