Sunday, December 15, 2013

PS 154 Greenmarket Celebrates End of Season with Clambake

This Sunday is Last Day if the Season of Windsor Terrace Greenmarket
Join loyal market-goers this Sunday, December 22 to celebrate a great season of shopping at the PS 154 Windsor Terrace Greenmarket. The market will be open for the last time this season from 9am to 3pm, with a celebratory clambake scheduled for 11am. The clambake is sponsored by American Seafood, an operation which catches their fish off the Long Island coast.

While you are there be sure to say hello to all the local farmers who have been working so hard all year to bring you the best of their produce, and say thanks. Don’t forget to also come by and say hi to Dorothy at the information tent. As the market manager she would love to hear from you and how you enjoyed shopping at the greenmarket this past year.

The clambake will be just one of many items that will be on sale this Sunday, including Baker’s Bounty, Consider Bardwell Farm, Yellow Bell Farm, J Glebocki Farm, Sawkill Farm, and Williams Fruit Farm.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Futuristic Kensington Library Branch May Be Last of its Kind for New York

User-friendly Kensington Branch of the BPL
Kensington welcomed the newest member of the Brooklyn Public Library to its neighborhood recently: a gleaming, environmentally friendly complex with large open spaces, panoramic glass windows, and a slew of computers, iPads, and self-check-out, make this library state of the art and welcoming to visitors.

However it seems that it is more likely than not that this will be the last such building project in the BPL system. Building on an empty lot from scratch, like the new 18,500 square foot branch was, is a costly endeavor. New branches added to the system will most likely utilize already constructed spaces.

"In the future, I anticipate it would be more about using storefronts," said BPL president/CEO Linda Johnson.

A majority of the BPL’s 60 branches were donated about 100 years ago by Andrew Carnegie, and they are now ready for some massive repairs and upgrades. BPL estimates that there are over $250 million worth of repairs that need attention immediately, including things like roofs that are breaking down, and broken air conditioning systems. That is a large way from the $15 million that is now available by the city for use by the BPL.

Due to this situation the BPL to look into less expensive ways to improve their branches, such as utilizing storefronts instead of building new buildings.

The new Kensington branch is filled with mostly new 39,415 books and DVDs. It has 24 computers and two machines for self-check-out. As soon anti-theft equipment is installed the library is going to add three iPads for children.

"As peoples habits change so will we," Johnson said. "This is the first step to change our architecture to meet the way people are living and working today."

The Kensington library was one of the busiest in the entire system. There were 104,700 books or other items in circulation from this branch in 2012, ranking it the tenth busiest in the whole BPL system.

"It's really beautiful," said City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Flatbush). "It's the future of libraries and well worth the visit for even those who don't live in the neighborhood."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Con Ed Diggs Up Ditmas Despite Its New Blacktop

Kensington residents are once again putting up with torn up streets only weeks after the Department of Transportation spent many days repaving and painting parts of Cortelyou Road and Ditmas Avenue this past summer.

Con Edison has a permit to dig up Ditmas
Two Con Edison crews had no qualms tearing up large swaths of Ditmas Avenue in order to make emergency repairs.  One crew was responding to a report from a neighborhood customer about electrical problems he was having while the other crew was making emergency repairs to a set of “high voltage lines” that bring electricity to the whole neighborhood.

Spokesman for Con Edison, Alfonso Quiroz said, “We had to take them out and replace them,” referring to the wires that were in damaged cables they found underground earlier in the week.

Con Edison has a permit for the work they are doing, but many utility companies often do not bother with acquiring permits before they come and dig up the streets. Since 2010, when fines for failing to get a permit to do work on the streets doubled, the city has been collecting large sums from the companies.

The fine for tearing up a street without a permit is now $1,500, bringing millions of dollars into the city treasury. But that income has not made residents any happier.

“I just don't understand what the problem is,” fumed Miriam Sanchez, 58, who owns the hairstylist store on East Third St. “What have they been fixing for so long? The noise and construction is such a nuisance.”

Inspectors are constantly on the lookout for violators, finding many. In 2012 construction firms were fined 2,033 times. In 2011 that number was only 516.

"We would not be digging unless there was a permit," said Quiroz. He added that the work will be completely as soon as possible.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Senator Felder Delivers Funds to Six Branches of the BPL

Six branches of the Brooklyn Public Library are the recipients of a $140,000 funding boost made possible by the work of State Senator Simcha Felder and Senate majority Leader Dean Skelos. An oversized check was awarded to the President and CEO of the BPL, Linda E. Johnson in a ceremony that took place on October 24th at the Kings Highway branch of the library.

Senator Felder, who is a Democrat representing the Borough Park-Midwood District and is the chairman of the New York City Education Subcommittee and the Children and Families Committee, explained how important libraries are to communities, and his own personal lifetime affection for libraries.

“Libraries have always held special meaning for me, ever since I was young boy. They play such an important role in shaping children’s education, their thinking and their personalities,” Felder said.

Sen. Simcha Felder Handing Check to Linda Johnson
Felder added that students use libraries as places to do schoolwork, and seniors use libraries as meeting places, recreational centers, and even places to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Johnson expressed her appreciation for the allocation, which will benefit the six branches found within Felder’s district: Kings Highway, Borough Park, Kensington, Mapleton, Midwood and Ryder.

“We are deeply grateful to Senator Simcha Felder for awarding BPL $140,000. We will use the money to support children’s services at six of our branches,” Johnson said.

“In many neighborhoods, our libraries are the only places where families can attend developmentally appropriate programs with their young children. Thanks to Senator Felder’s very generous allocation, we will be able to help ensure that every child has the early literacy skills they need for success,” she added.

“While I know this funding will not resolve all of the library’s budgetary issues,” Felder said. “I hope you will accept it as a small token of the appreciation of all New Yorkers for the wonderful services you provide."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Third Ward Closes Down Suddenly With A No Refund Policy

No Refunds Offered After 3rd Ward Closes Suddenly
Due to financial pressure the 3rd Ward, both in Kensington and in Philadelphia, are closing shop. The space in the 3rd Ward was supposed to be a place for people to be able to experiment with whatever they were curious about, from robotics to drawing. The facility was brand new and exquisite, but it seems the costs, especially in Philadelphia, were a challenge they could not overcome.

A recent on-line fundraising campaign (now extinguished) explained the need for more dollars to flow into the enterprise:

    1. Our revenue at the Brooklyn location fell as a result of a change we made to one of our membership products earlier this year.

    2. The new location in Philadelphia is requiring more capital than expected to achieve profitability or reach cash flow break-even.

    3. The development of the Culinary project required advance spending.

The events director at 3rd Ward Philly commented about the 3rd Ward before it closed, that:

"I feel like it's our baby," he said. "We all really believe in it and we all know how much potential there is."

The closure was sudden and unexpected. A DesignPhiladelphi event was scheduled for the same night that 3rd Ward closed, and that event was also suddenly cancelled.

The Gothamist reported on an email posted by 3rd Ward officials to their membership at about 10pm on Wednesday night requesting them to come and

"collect their belongings before our doors officially close on October 11th." The email added that "unfortunately, you will not have an opportunity to use your membership after today at 6pm, and we will not be able to refund any payments made for membership services that have not been fully utilized before that time."

The lack of ability to refund membership fees applies to everyone, even those who only recently paid for their membership and did not have a chance to use any of their membership privileges.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Get Behind the Wheel of Your Own Slot-Racing Car in Kensington

Frank "Buzz" Perry and his slot-car racers
In the mood for some old fashioned fun? Check out the last of what used to be a popular pastime in these parts: slot car racing. At Buzz-A-Rama in Kensington fathers, sons, grandfathers, grandsons, and even here and there a girl or two, racing is a happening hobby.

This vintage store was opened by Frank “Buzz” Perry in 1965, who is now 88 years-old.

"In the first two years of when I was open, there were 45 places like this in the whole city of New York," says Perry. "And now? Now, I am the lone survivor."

Go see what keeps a few loyal fans coming back for more at Buzz Perry’s Buzz-A-Rama on Church Street in Kensington.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brooklyn Bridges Begging for Boost

Of the 240 bridges linking Brooklyn’s roads over its waterways, at least half are in terrible condition, according to experts at the Federal Highway Administration, and elsewhere. Apparently a few of those are in such bad shape that they can actually crumble apart at any time.

The 15 bridges in the direst condition include seven along the Belt Parkway, a group of Q train trestles in Kensington, and several spans along the BQE. These bridges have been labeled “structurally deficient” and “fracture critical” by the Federal Highway Administration.

“Every time you see a bridge classified as structurally deficient and fracture critical it means that bridge could fall at a moment’s notice,” said Barry LePatner, an expert who has written extensively about the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Mill Basin Bridge, opened in 1940, was the only moveable bridge on the Belt
Parkway. The new bridge under construction by the DOT will be a fixed structure.
Many of the bridges were built in the 30s and 40s and could take years to repair. It is now four years since the city began to rebuild seven unsafe bridges on the Belt Parkway, at a cost of $365 million. Those spans carry about 150,000 cars each day from Brooklyn and Queens to JFK Airport and beyond, and to the Gowanus Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge westerly.

“We all know those bridges are the worst of the worst,” said City Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Mill Basin), who noted the city was working to replace them. “Those bridges have launched the careers of so many personal injury lawyers.”

Eventually all the bridges will be fixed, but in the meantime what can New York drivers do? It seems not much, other than keep driving and pray that all will be well.

“All the agencies, politicians and the government are fully aware of this problem,” LePatner said. “But they would rather put their money towards funding new projects for the public.”

Monday, September 2, 2013

Brooklyn’s Composting Initiative to Begin in October

Beginning next month households that wish to recycle food scraps, paper soiled with food, and a small amount of garden waste will have the chance. The city will be launching its organic waste collection pilot program in Windsor Terrace, South Slope and Greenwood Heights on October 7.

The program, which already began in Staten Island, lets residents of private homes place their food related waste into special bins which the city provides. After it is collected it will be made into compost and then used as fertilizer for local gardens, parks and tree-lined streets.

Those wishing to participate in the program will be given a small kitchen container and a small beginning supply of DSNY-approved compostable liners. These items are scheduled to be delivered to households that wish to participate during September.

Go to the NYC Recycles page for more information and tips for those who join in the program.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lakeside Center Due to Open in December

Great Prospects for Beautiful Prospect Park
The latest upgrade to Prospect Park, the Lakeside Center, is a 26-acre recreational area which will cost, when it is done, about $74 million.

Ground broke on the project in 2010 and has been proceeding apace. Visitors will be able to awe and ahh at the remarkable historic reconstruction, ecological restoration, and modern design that are the key elements of the undertaking. Here are some of the highlights Brooklynites can look forward to.

More green space: the new ice skating rink will be designed to blend into the green landscape surrounding it, unlike the old Wollman Rink which this one is replacing. There will be “buried building” with locker rooms, bathrooms, and a café with a roof made of green, blending in with the landscape.

Not one but two multiuse skating rinks: Both rinks together will have 30,000 square feet of skating surface between them, and they will be in use all year-round. In the winter they will alternate between being connected together to make a huge unified skating space and being split between a skating and hockey rink. In the summer they outdoor rink will transform itself into a water playground. The other rink will become a roller skating rink.

The complex will also feature a concert grove, music island, and rediscovered objects from the 19th century will be on display.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Councilman Brad Lander is a Champion of Change

Brad Lander: Champion of Change
This Tuesday Kensington’s own Councilman Brad Lander will be honored at a White House ceremony for  introducing “participatory budgeting” into the New York City political universe.

Lander, who was elected to the council in 2009, also represents Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Windsor Terrace. President Barack Obama will name Lander as a “Champion of Change” for creating a structure that allows the public to become a part of the process which allocates funding for community projects. Instead of Lander deciding where and in what proportions his $1 million yearly discretionary budget goes to, his voter base get to decide.

The idea of participatory budgeting was first born in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989. Lander was the first to bring this innovative idea to New York last year. The most recent allocations in Lander’s district were earmarked to bring computers to local schools; renovate bathrooms in schools; improve pedestrian access and traffic congestion on Church Avenue; and to bring more trees to Third Avenue in Gowanus.

Lander’s idea seems to be catching on: There are now 8 out of 51 districts in New York City that are utilizing participatory budgeting to fund community improvements. The White House explained that Obama created Champions of Change to recognize the contribution that innovation can make to communities and to honor those who are not afraid to introduce change.

Congratulations Councilman Lander!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beat the Heat at a NYC Cooling Center

Its Hot!
Feeling the heat? Its no surprise, since New York City is now in the middle of a heat wave. However, if 95+ makes your blood boil there is relief, even if you don’t have a working air conditioner or any ac at all. How so? At one of New York’s cooling centers. Yes you heard right. Right in your own neighborhood are places you can go to get some respite from the muggy, hot weather. Here is a list so you can find the one most convenient for you. So go down and cool down!

Prospect Hill Senior Services Center- Head on over to 283 Prospect  Ave anytime from 8am to 4pm Monday through Friday. For weekend hours call 718-499-9574. Hours may be extended if there is a heat emergency. Wheelchairs welcome.

Windsor Terrace Library- At 160 Fifth Street the library is a great place not just to cool off, but to also get some good reading material for the summer. Open Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wednesday from 1-8 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 1-6 p.m.; for Saturday and Sunday hours, call 718-686-9707. Hours will not extend during heat emergency. Not wheelchair accessible.

Kensington Library- Getting cool has never been easier. At 410 Ditmas Avenue check out the climate along with some books. Monday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tuesday from 1-8 p.m.; Wednesday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thursday from 1-8 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; for Saturday and Sunday hours, call 718-435-9431. Hours will not extend during heat emergency. Not wheelchair accessible.

Brookdale Neighborhood Senior Center/Agudath Israel of America- All are welcome to escape the heat at 817 Avenue H. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8am-4pm. On Saturday and Sunday call ahead for hours: 718-434-8670. Hours will not extend during heat emergency. Access to wheelchairs.

If you need further assistance or the addresses of other New York cooling centers contact the NYC Office of Emergency Management.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kensington Residents Demand Improved Road Safety on Ocean Parkway

Councilman Brad Lander
City Council member Brad Lander joined with Kensington residents, transportation advocates and others at the corner of Ocean Parkway and Church Avenue to demand safety improvements there and elsewhere on the dangerous Brooklyn thoroughfare.

A full year has passed since Kensington residents voted for Lander’s proposal to allocate $200,000 to safety upgrades on the notoriously unsafe roadway in the borough’s “participatory budgeting” election.

Unfortunately not enough time has passed for the New York State Department of Transportation to take action. They have as yet neither approved Lander’s plan, saying it would not improve the parkway’s safety, nor have they come up with their own plan that would create a better, safer road.

Too late for 73-year-old Ngozi Agbim, who was hit by a semi-trailer truck and killed at the intersection last Monday, making residents angry, sad and bitter.

“We just do not understand how is it that a God fearing and loving mother would die in such a manner walking back from a church service,” said Eugene Agbimson, Brother-in-Law of Ngozi Agbim.  “This is very difficult, but it is also very rewarding. It allows me to reflect on her life, her dedication to the service of God and her lifelong committed to the less privilege.   Her death like her life is now a beacon – a rallying point for change.”

“We have been working to fix that intersection—which we all know is dangerous—for years,” said Council Member Lander. “The community felt so strongly that this was voted a top priority in last year’s budget. We are heartbroken about Monday’s tragedy, which took the life of our neighbor, Ngozi Agbim. We must act now to do all we can to prevent future tragedies. We are calling on New York State DOT to approve our plan.”

“It has saddened me that someone died in this tragic accident,” said nearby resident Arlette F. Mathis. “My family and I cross that intersection daily. We fear crossing, because even with the signage, drivers speed onto the Prospect Expressway and seldom yield to pedestrians. Something like this should never happen again.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oldest Jewish Person Dies in Kensington Brooklyn

Evelyn Kozak
Evelyn (Chava Rivkah) Kozak was mourned by family and friends after passing away this past Tuesday morning in the Maimonides Medical Center. She was just short of 114 years old, making her the oldest Jewish person, and the seventh oldest person in the world.

Mrs. Kozak had a long life full of blessings, said her granddaughter Sarah Polon. Evelyn was born on the Lower East Side on August 14, 1899 to a wealthy family from Russia. She spent her childhood on Farragut Road in Flatbush, which was a time when there were no Jewish home owners in the area. She moved to Florida, and ran a boardinghouse in Miami until she was 90 years old. She was a big fan of NY Times Scrabble and played until she was 95. In the winter of 2010 Evelyn suffered a stroke and moved back to Brooklyn, to the Kensington neighborhood, where she lived with her granddaughter and eight great-grandchildren.

“People came over for blessings knowing how effective her brochos (blessings) would be,” Sarah Polon, her granddaughter said. “People asked her what her secret is. A good conscience, she used to respond.”

“She gave everything from herself, even her best clothing,” her grandson said during his eulogy at the funeral.
Mrs. Kozak may hold the record for living a long life, her family would prefer if she were remembered for her good deeds and acts of kindness.

“She cared for every person no matter race or color, type of Jew, affiliation or level of frumkeit, (religiosity). She cared about the human being. She cared about the good,” Ms. Polon said.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Brooklyn DA Hynes Honors Twenty of New York’s Finest

DA Charles Hynes Honoring New York's Finest Finest
District Attorney Charles Hynes of Kings County named today the twenty recipients of the 23rd annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Awards. The award honors those members of the law enforcement community who have gone beyond the call of duty to protect residents of Brooklyn.

The announcement, which was made at the Brooklyn Law School, mentioned members of the New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, Kings County District Attorney’s Office, New York City Department of Correction, New York State Unified Court System, and the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association. The twenty were honored for their bravery, diligence, dedication to their jobs and concern and involvement in the community.

"The officers recognized at today’s ceremony are extraordinary men and women who represent the best law enforcement officers in the country," Hynes said. "They play a significant role in keeping Brooklyn safe, sometimes risking their own lives in the process. I am proud to honor these outstanding officers.”

Three of the officers honored were Lieutenant Joseph Smith, Sergeant Phillip Berfond and Police Officer Dale Stone. All three are from Transit District 34 of the NYPD Transit Bureau. During Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012 the three hurried to Coney Island to assist three colleagues whose patrol van was stuck in the rapidly rising water flooding all around them. The rescuers broke the passenger window of the van and placed the officers in a rowboat. As the six were leaving the scene they came across six other people with a dog trapped on top of a number of cars. One of those people was rescued on the spot, while the officers waited with the rest of the people until help arrived from their Transit District. Stone, Berfond and Smith all went to Maimonides Hospital to be treated for hypothermia. They made a rapid recovery and were soon released.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Festival of Art from the Ancient to Modern at the Park Avenue Armory

Painted Wooden Egyptian Male Statuette from Phoenix Ancient Art

One of the highlights of spring in New York is most certainly the Art and Antiques Dealers Show NYC. This extraordinary celebration of art showcases a huge variety of work, from the oldest artifacts, which can be literally thousands of years old on display at the Phoenix Ancient Art booth, to more modern fare at presenters such as Clinton Howell who specializes in 19th century period pieces.

This year’s show was held from May 1-5 at the Park Avenue Armory and featured almost 60 galleries and dealers with their best objects d’art out for the scrutiny of the public. Collectors, art lovers, or just plain curious people who enjoy the unusual and beautiful gathered together to peruse a collection of art brought together in one of the most eclectic and varied displays possible to imagine.

Also part of the show was a fundraiser on opening night. This benefit preview was sponsored by and raised money to support the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The Art and Antiques Dealers Show is a yearly event not to be missed. Check it out next spring.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Police Rescue Man From Brooklyn Bridge Jump

Police Engaging Man on Brooklyn Bridge Tower

After receiving a call on Saturday that a man was standing on the Manhattan tower of the Brooklyn Bridge threatening to jump, NYPD arrived at the scene, donned harnesses, and climbed up the cables to talk the man down.

First to arrive at the bridge were detectives Keith Connelly and Gregory Welch. Without hesitation they put on harnesses and began the climb to the top of the tower. According to police reports the detectives waited until Sergeant John Flynn joined them before engaging the man.

The police spoke with the “jumper” for over an hour before he decided to come off the bridge with the policemen. The man agreed to descend safely after the officers “were able to ascertain the man’s concerns and issues.” He came down without a struggle with Emergency Service Officers after the man was convinced that they would help him get the aid he was seeking.

When the group reached the safety of the road the 52-year old black man, whose name was not released yet, was brought to Bellevue Hospital for an evaluation.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lander’s District Chooses Where the Money Will Go

Brad Lander

In Councilman Brad Lander’s Brooklyn District a new experiment with democracy is underway and looking good. Over the weekend 2,812 residents of Kensington, Cobble Hill and Park Slope voted in what was the second election in New York City known as “participatory budgeting.”

The idea behind participatory budgeting is that the people in the neighborhood who are closest to the issues which are most important to them decide directly how their own tax money is spent.

Here’s how it works: Neighborhood residents came up with 24 proposals to put before the voters, and the voters chose among these 24 the six projects which will be prioritized for funding in New York’s 2014 budget. The budget of $1 million will be adopted in June using city capital promised by Lander.

The following projects were chosen by the voters to receive a part of the $1 million:

1. P.S. 230 will receive $180,000 to install 34 Smartboards in the school together with MacBooks. The school serves high-needs students. Many of the 1,300 pupils are also learning English as a second language.

2. The Carrol School, P.S. 58 will have eight bathrooms renovated using $110,000 of the budget. The last time the school was renovated was 1954.

3. Carrol Gardens/Windsor Terrace Library will receive $75,000to fund 29 new adult and preschool computers. The purpose is to support community needs for internet and computer competence and literacy.

4. Church Avenue will receive $300,000 worth of traffic and pedestrian safety upgrades. Sidewalks will be extended and crossing distances reduced on Church Avenue at the Coney Island Avenue and McDonald Avenue intersections.

5. P.S. 179 will receive $115,000 to upgrade the school’s technology infrastructure.  Twenty-seven Smartboards will be installed to help this underserved school which serves a high-needs population of English language learners, special education students, and gifted students as well.

6. New trees will be planted in the 3rd Street Green Corrider to help control rainwater runoff. Using a budget of $170,000, ten new trees with enhanced tree pits will be placed in Gowanus from Bond Street to Third Avenue. Drainage during storms should be improved while bringing shade and beauty to this section of Brooklyn.

“I am amazed by the turnout and cross-community collaboration we saw over the last week,” said Councilman Lander. “After one of the more trying years in our city’s history, it would be easy to divide into factions and work against each other for funding for our corner of the city.  But New Yorkers are showing a better way forward and are working together to make the tough decisions that make all of our communities stronger.”

Those who would like to see all 24 projects which were proposed can turn to Brad Lander’s web site.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Brooklyn Writer Brings Family Lore to Life in Second Novel

Amy Shearn of Brooklyn

Brooklyn author Amy Shearn took a bit of her family history and transformed it and enlarged it into her second novel, which will be launched in Park Slope on Tuesday April 2, at 7pm at the powerHouse on 8th.  An additional book launching will take place on April 14th at the Lark Café in Ditmas Park at 6pm.  

The book, entitled “The Mermaid of Brooklyn” is based on the story of Shearn’s grandmother, Jenny Lipkin, which is also the name of the heroine of the book. The real-life Lipkin was forced to support her family on
her own, without the assistance of her absentee husband. The fictional Lipkin is faced with similar difficulties.

The character is a former magazine editor who is married to a gambler who disappears one day. She is now faced with the prospect of supporting her family on her own in a Park-Slope walk-up. Jenny is overwhelmed with her responsibilities, becomes desperate, but eventually finds her strength with the aid of a magical mermaid.

Monday, March 11, 2013

District Attorney Hynes Honors Brooklyn’s Finest Women

Kings County DA Charles Hynes

Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes honored 33 women of Brooklyn for their extraordinary service to their communities at the seventh annual “Extraordinary Women” event held on March 5, 2013.

Hynes declared that these women worked hard for years to improve the lives of those around them. They should be, and are, considered great role models for others, displaying a large degree of selflessness, dedication and compassion for their communities.

Among those extra-special women was June Rodrigues of Ditmas Park. In 2008 Rodrigues began to volunteer for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI.) Back then East Flatbush’s branch of NAMI had only two support groups. From the beginning Rodgrigues was dedicated to improving the lives of people with mental illness. It was one of her most cherished goals to improve the services available for them through education and advocacy.

Rodrigues is largely responsible for many of the most basic programs available through NAMI at the Kings County Hospital. Those include NAMI’s Peer-To-Peer, Family-to-Family, and NAMI Conexion, a support group for mentally ill Spanish speaking adults.

"It is an honor for me to recognize these women for their outstanding work, which benefits all the people of Brooklyn," Hynes exclaimed.

The 33 women were also given the special designation of “Special Ambassador” in their communities.

 "The women come from neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn.  The honorees all have one thing in common," Hynes said. "They make Brooklyn a better place to live.”

Monday, March 4, 2013

Special Programing at Brooklyn Museum Every First Saturday

Known as “Target First Saturdays,” the Brooklyn Museum opens its doors every first Saturday of the month from 5pm until 11pm. (The regular Saturday hours are 11am-6pm.)

Visitors to the Museum on the first Saturday of each month (excluding September) can expect to enjoy free programs including both art and entertainment. There are crafts projects for visitors to participate in, artist talks, tours of the galleries and other exciting activities.

Check the Brooklyn Museum’s website for details of upcoming programs. As implied in the name of the program, the popular department store “Target” is a sponsor, along with the Wallace Foundation Community Programs Fund,DLA Piper US LLP, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Ellis A. Gimbel Trust, National Grid, and more.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kensington to Welcome Branch of Zarsha Leo

Nightlife in Kensington has just been raised by a notch or two with the addition of the trendy, upscale restaurant-bar franchise Zarsha Leo into the neighborhood. Older singles can utter a sigh of relief, as they no longer have to cross a river to enjoy a great night out. Great food, a large selection of wines, local beers, beer on tap and cocktails draw in the crowds, while the big-screen TVs tuned to the most exciting sporting events happening anywhere in the world, keep them there.

Evan Burschkopf is the CEO of this New York-based franchise. He has been experiencing great success with his Manhattan locations, and is expecting no less from Brooklyn.

“I have great faith in my Brooklyn brethren that they will patronize Zarsha Leo to the same extent as their Manhattan cousins. Coming originally from Brooklyn myself, I feel a close connection to my stores here, and hope the locals will get to feel the same way,” confessed Burschkopf.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Expanding Choice at Savor Brooklyn

Now one of Windsor Place’s newest cafes will be offering a dinner menu in addition to their beloved cup of coffee or marvelous mocha. Savor Brooklyn, at 199 Windsor Place, began to serve dinner last Sunday evening, and where dinner is a glass of wine can’t be far away.

Savor opened last November to a shaky, or shall we say, windy beginning, but has since established itself as a place to warm up and enjoy the nice view behind the café’s over-sized front windows while sitting back with a wonderful hot beverage.

Until owner Helen Traversi organizes a regular fixed menu she will be offering a rotating selection of special plates with an emphasis on pasta. On Sunday patrons had a choice of either Bolognese sauce or penne with mushrooms. As for a heavier fare, pork tenderloin with roasted peppers was also available.

Savor also now has a beer and wine license. Traversi would like to create a wine list which is small but well-chosen, with three white varieties and three red. Cava, a type of sparkling wine, will also appear on the list. As for the beer, Traversi is looking forward to pleasing her patrons, and is inviting them to visit Savor’s Facebook page to vote for their favorite beer that comes bottled.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Great Brooklyn Activities Coming Up Soon

It’s almost Valentine’s Day-are you ready? If not here’s an idea which sounds as fun as it is useful. This Saturday, February 9 head on over to the LARK Café and enjoy some good music while you create your own personal love notes to spread around on that special day dedicated to love. Be there by 12pm for something a bit different.

Deborah Buck, Brooklyn Philharmonic Concertmaster, will present the history of classical music in Brooklyn at the Dweck Center of the Central Library. The talk will begin at 7pm on Wednesday evening February 6th. Children under the age of 6 years will not be allowed to attend.

Its almost Purim, the holiday celebrated by the Jewish people with costumes, masks, feasting and drinking. Come and see what all the excitement is about at the Kings Bay Y at Windsor Terrace on Sunday, February 24th at their annual Purim Masquerade.  The day is designed for families with costume contests, yummy hamentashen, and the packaging of about 2,000 food baskets for fellow New Yorkers in need. Pack it Up for Purim begins at 10:30am and should end at about 12:30pm, enough time to return home and enjoy a traditional family Purim meal.

Come visit the Audubon Nature Center in Prospect Park and find out the answers to your most pressing nature questions like: Where do squirrels get their food in the winter? How do birds keep themselves warm in the winter? And lots more. Prospect Park on February 18 and 19.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stolen Car with Torah Scroll Worth $30K Found

A scribe who had recently repaired a valuable torah scroll had left the scroll in his rented car over the weekend, and when he returned to get his car, it was gone, along with the scroll inside.
Rabbi Benyamin Tamaiev was quite upset about the missing torah:

“I feel very bad. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep,” Tamaiev said.

Tamaiev leads a congregation which rents space in a synagogue on the 3700 block of 18th Avenue, right where Kensington and Flatbush meet. On Friday afternoon he arrived in the neighborhood in his rented 2007 Toyota Corolla, parked it on the dead-end side of Avenue I, and went to his congregation to celebrate the Sabbath. Tamaiev was careful to hide the key near the vault where the main ark is. Tamaiev was particularly careful because the valuable torah scroll was locked inside the car.

According to Tamaiev’s daughter Judy the scribe was planning on returning the scroll to its owners in Queens on Sunday.

“It was already fixed. He was going to deliver it on Sunday,” Judy Tamaiev said.

Unfortunately the car disappeared sometime on Saturday, and was reported stolen on Saturday night at around 6pm.

Apparently the thief also took money from the synagogue’s charity boxes. It is likely that the thief was not aware that there was a $30,000 torah scroll in the trunk of the car, in addition to five sets of tefillin, also worth hundreds of dollars.

“He feels like somebody died; like he wants to die,” Judy Tamaiev said. “Terrible.”

A $3,000 reward was offered for the safe return of the torah scroll, and on Monday the police received a tip that led them to the location of the stolen car, which was less than one mile from the car’s original location. The car, scroll and tefillin were all recovered undamaged by 3pm on Monday.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hilkind, who had pleaded for the safe return of the scroll expressed relief that the torah was recovered unharmed.

“The safety and sanctity of a Torah scroll means a great deal to our community,” Hikind said in a news release. “The speedy recovery of this sacred scroll is a testimony to our ability to work together and the dedication of our extraordinary Police Commander Mike Dedo. Every last one of us will sleep easier tonight.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Daniel Straus NYU Supporter

Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice
Institutes of advanced studies are found at some of the world’s most renowned universities. In the United States those at Stanford and Princeton come to mind, but in New York it is the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice, established with the help of 1981 NYU alumnus Daniel Straus and his wife Joyce G. Straus, which sets the standard for high level research and scholarship.

The Institute for Law and Justice sees its mission as two-fold:

Although the academic focus is directed at issues touching on law and justice the institute seeks to draw academics, scholars and thinkers from a wide array of backgrounds, including the social sciences and the humanities, and from all over the world.

Research and delving deep into issues is not looked at as the pristine purview of  academics cloistered in their ivory towers. On the contrary, the Straus Institute is determined to integrate top quality academics and intellect with community service and dedication to the public good. This mission fits perfectly with the general mission of NYU: that is to be “a Private University in the Public Service.”

Each year the Straus Institute identifies an issue or issues which are of vital concern to society and uses that issue as its annual theme. When the theme is defined then a large portion of the Fellows in the Institute are directed to work in these areas. This is done with the goal of having the Fellows make an important contribution from the University to the general society, thus fulfilling its mission.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Busses Back to Bringing Babes in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Bus Routes Making a Comeback!

Not just ‘babes’ but anyone else who has been missing several key bus routes which were cut during the  lean years beginning in 2010, can now rejoice in their imminent return and restoration.

Seven bus lines in the borough are slated for resurrection, announced the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and some new routes are going to be created in Northern Brooklyn and Downtown, in addition.

Beginning as of January 6 commuters were able to partake in “one-seat service” from the IKEA in Bushwick on the B57; more convenient rides between Bay Ridge and the “People’s Playground” on the B64; and a re-established connection between Prospect Park and Downtown on the B48.

The following routes will experience an improved service:

•    B4- Full-time service is coming back; for those interested in traveling between Bay Ridge and Sheepshead Bay, this is great news.
•    B39- Coming back is the daytime route of the run between Williamsburg and Manhattan.
•    B24- On the weekend this line will take you from Williamsburg to Queens and back.
•    B69- Have something to do in Kensington over the weekend? This route between Downtown and the hottest neighborhood in Brooklyn is coming back!

So what happened? Did the MTA get some moolah from a long lost cousin? Nah. MTA officials say that they have been saving money through cost-cutting and passenger fares.
“[The service increases] are paid for with increased revenue generated by additional ridership on the MTA system, as well as savings from the MTA’s continued rigorous efforts to contain costs,” a press release issued last summer said.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Music Collective Releases Benefit Album to Help Occupy Sandy

All Funds Raised by "The Storm is Passing Over" will go to help Hurricane Sandy Victims
Produced in only two weeks, Kensington’s Mason Jar Music released “The Storm is Passing Over” to help raise funds to benefit the work Occupy Sandy is doing to help people harmed by October’s ravaging storm, Hurricane Sandy.

The goal of MJM is to “Preserve Analog Principles in a Digital Age,” and works hard to retain the techniques and other special qualities of the not-so-long-ago past. In the case of “The Storm is Passing Over” MJM gathered together some of today’s best independent folk singers to record fifteen classic American folk songs dealing with ‘storms.’

Money raised from the sales of the album will go directly to Occupy Sandy, which is a leading organization doing relief work for many of Sandy’s victims in and around New York City and the tri-state area.

Included among the folk artists participating on the album are Roseanne Cash, Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck, Town Hall, Tift Merritt, and more.

Recorded in just 14 days during December, some of the artists performed from the comfort of their own homes which were in locations around the world, including Nashville, Portland and Paris. Most of the artists however came to the Kensington recording studio of MJM, collaborating with  co-founders Dan Knobler and Jon Seale.

For a donation of only $5 visitors to can receive a digital download of this heartfelt album knowing that all of their money will be used to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.