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Three Stars of the Week: August 12th – 19th

Cam Thomas – Brooklyn Nets

The NBA Summer League tipped off in Las Vegas for the first time since 2019, and with one of the deepest drafts in recent years, plenty of young talent took the court.
After over a week of games, it was Nets draft pick Cam Thomas who stole the headlines. Despite offloading a ton of draft picks in the James Harden trade and picking late in the 1st round, Brooklyn looks to have one of the steals of the draft.
Thomas was unstoppable in Vegas from the start, leading all players with 27 points-per-game. His 36 points in a win over San Antonio were the most in a NBA Summer League game since 2018. His footwork is great, ball handling is fantastic, and he can play a huge role for Brooklyn off the bench.

Aaron Judge – New York Yankees

The Yankees have been on fire after punching their way back into a competitive AL East race. The Bomber bats are alive in the second half, and at the center of it is Aaron Judge.
Judge had a monster week as the Yankees played the White Sox in the first ever Field of Dreams game in Iowa before finishing the series in Chicago.
Judge hit two homers and recorded 5 RBI at the Field of Dreams before a sac fly, RBI double, go-ahead HR, and go-ahead RBI single in a 10-inning thriller the next game. In the final game of the series, Judge walked three times as Chicago wised up to his offensive threat.

Jose Alvarado – New Orleans Pelicans

Brooklyn’s own Jose Alvarado is working hard to earn his ticket to the NBA. After spending 4 years at Georgia Tech, the gritty guard is moving on to bigger challenges.
Alvarado signed a 2-way contract with the New Orleans Pelicans after some great showings in Summer League play. He led the NOLA Summer League roster in rebounds, blocks, and steals and was second in points and assists.
If he keeps up his infectious energy and tough play, Alvarado has a solid NBA career in his future.
On August 18th, Alvarado was signed by the Pelicans on a two-way contract. He’ll likely spend a fair share of time in the G-League, but it’s only a matter of time before Alvarado is hooping on the big stage.

NYCFC and Red Bull fans ready for first Hudson River Derby of 2021

The MLS season is in full swing, but it’s not until this upcoming weekend that New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls face off in the first Hudson River Derby of the year. One of the league’s younger rivalries has proven a fierce and entertaining one, and this season we should be in store for a great contest.
After a slow start, NYCFC picked up steam. Forced to play a handful of home matches at Red Bull Arena, City struggled before finally finding their form. NYC went unbeaten for a full month and now look to finish the month strong to stay near the top of the East.
The Red Bulls haven’t had the stretch of positive results that their rivals have over the past months. After an alright start to the year, the Red Bulls haven’t won since early July when they beat Orlando 2-1.
Still, the talent is there for the Red Bulls and the heat of a rivalry match always brings out the best in their game. While their roster comes nowhere near the teams of years past that dominated the Derby and the league, this Red Bulls team is desperate to finally change the tune of the 2021 season. They’ve been a thorn in NYCFC’s side since their inaugural 2015 season and will look to upset the Pigeons in the first of three matchups this year.
For fans, the Derby always rekindles the city’s excitement for soccer as they bicker about New York being blue or red. Passionate fans from across the city and tri-state area are counting down to Saturday’s contest, hoping for another memorable rivalry match.
For many, it took just a taste of New York soccer to get them hooked.
Joe Franquinha, a Ridegwood resident and owner of Crest Hardware in Williamsburg, is a lifelong soccer player and co-owner of NYC Footy, one of the city’s most popular adult recreational leagues.
“I went to their first ever win at The Meadowlands when they were the Metrostars. 3 goals in 3 minutes. 3-3 tie and we won in (the former) MLS-style shootout. I was hooked. Through the good, bad, name changes, all of it,” Franquinha says.
Glendale native Steve Ferrezza sits on the board of the Empire Supporters Club, the Red Bulls supporters group that predates MLS itself. Last week, Ferrezza’s incredible streak of attending consecutive Red Bulls home and away matches (where fans were permitted) was snapped at 154. The Red Bulls game in Montreal on August 14 was the first the 31-year-old was unable to attend since October 1, 2016.
“I became a Red Bulls fan over a decade ago because they were my local club. Over the years I’ve made countless friends and met my wife while attending games. It’s a family and a passion for me,” says Ferrezza.
“For me, the rivalry is similar to the Yankees and the Mets. It might not be the biggest rivalry for Red Bull, DC will always come first, but it’s still fun to beat up on the other guy in town.”
While founded nearly 20 years after the Red Bulls, NYCFC has seen plenty of passion in their first six seasons of play.
“I became a fan of NYCFC after hearing of a brand new club to debut in Yankee Stadium and the first legitimate New York City MLS club,” said Vago Tzoros, a regular in the NYCFC supporters section.
“I got a ticket for the 1st game from a friend of mine, I was instantly hooked on the madness and excitement. I made it to four and a half straight seasons without missing a game before finally missing one because I was on vacation in Greece.”
“Supporting soccer clubs abroad was always fun, but living in the US, you always want a club you can identify with a call yours,” said Christopher Lopez, who grew up in Astoria and now coaches his own amateur adult team in Queens.
“NYCFC did that and allowed us to create something special and our own. Every player dreams to play for the club and I dream to one day manage. I’m starting by running my own club.”
Regardless of who you support, the energy the Derby brings is contagious. Both clubs are full of passionate and loving fans, and all are welcome in the stands.
“I’ve become lifelong friends with a few of the supporters. We share the same passion for the sport we love and come from different walks of life,” said Vago. “That’s what makes this city so great and unique!”

(Due to rain from storm Henri, the field at Red Bull Arena was waterlogged and deemed unplayable. The match was postponed after a lengthy weather delay and will be played later in the season. The two rivals will meet at Yankee Stadium on September 25th)

Sliwa brings campaign for mayor to Forest Hills

Mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa recently paid a visit to Ohr Natan Synagogue and Knish Nosh in Forest Hills, where he took the time to greet voters and hear their concerns.
Sliwa has been a radio talk show host for 30 years, and is best known for founding the Guardian Angels, a volunteer organization focused on crime prevention.
“After 42 years, we are in 13 countries and 130 cities,” said Sliwa.
If elected mayor, Sliwa wants to reduce crime by increasing funding to the police, work on property tax reform, and make no-kill animal shelters the norm.
He said there is a lack of transparency in politics. He calls it the “DID Syndrome.”
“They ‘deny’ that you have a problem, ‘ignore’ doing anything about it, and ‘delay,’” Sliwa explained. “That’s why we need a strong and diverse free press, who should not be friends, but adversarial. They’re the truth gatherers.”
Sliwa has three children currently attending public schools, and shared his plans for the education system
“I want to see two teachers in every classroom,” he said. “I’ve been to classes before the lockdown, and the behavioral issues are stifling for the teachers and the other students.”
He is also a supporter of charter schools, as well as vouchers and tuition tax credits for religious and parochial schools.
“All schools will have to provide vocational education at the junior high and high school level,” Sliwa added, “since there are demands for trained personnel such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and computer programmers.”
He wants largest vocational education programs to be for professional home healthcare aides.
“They need to figure out the psychology of the elderly, since many more of us are graying at a rapid rate, and we are not providing,” Sliwa said. “Aides have to learn how to be a friend, especially for those who may not have any family or friends, as well as how to give out medication and be aware of their effects.”
On a related note, he called for greater transparency and regulation of long-term senior homes.
“I have seen people with Alzheimer’s live in a vegetated state in hallways with no communication,” he said. “Most people never see what happens behind closed doors, but with transparency we could be a greater society overall.”
And as his past with the Guardian Angels would indicate, Sliwa would be strong on crime as mayor.
“The handcuffs need to be taken off the cops and put on the criminals, so they can be proactive and not reactive,” he said. “We need 38,000 cops patrolling, and that means we need to hire 4,000 more police to fill the void.”
To pay for the extra police officers, he wants a new property tax on large institutions that currently don’t pay any.
“Because of early and normal retirements, we are going to get down to a dangerous level of 32,500 cops, and we cannot patrol the five boroughs adequately,” Sliwa warned. “We need to preemptively stop crimes before they take place.”
He also shared his plans on tackling the rise in graffiti that has occurred since the start of the pandemic.
“It is no longer an arrestable offense,” Sliwa said. “When I’m mayor, you’ll get arrested. And landlords that allow graffiti to stay on and don’t have their super remove it within 48 hours will be severely fined, since they are neglecting their responsibilities.
“Other properties that are public, abandoned or in distress, the city will have to put together a task force and paint over it,” he added. “We need zero tolerance, just like we have in the subways.”
As for the homeless problem, Sliwa said the city’s current position is destroying neighborhoods and doing a disservice to the people they are trying to help.
“The city is shoving 90 shelters, with two-thirds already completed, into neighborhoods with no transparency or communication with elected officials and community boards,” he said. “It does not help the homeless since they warehouse them rather than providing services.”
Sliwa said he would reopen Camp LaGuardia, an upstate homeless shelter in Chester where addicted and homeless men were sent beginning in the Great Depression to recover. They also grew crops to make the shelter more self-sufficient.
By the 90’s, its population consisted mainly of drug-addicted and mentally ill young men who were allowed to leave the grounds. It was closed in November 2006.
Sliwa also spoke about preservation and overdevelopment. Locally, he opposes RJ Capital Holdings/Trylon LLC’s plan for a large high-rise on the site of the Trylon Theater.
“I was just in the former Trylon Theater/Ohr Natan synagogue, and they were telling me that they have to leave and need new space. Why should they?” he asked. “They helped keep that beautiful Art Deco building active and thriving. Tower Diner with its clock tower, which I would take my youngest sons to, is also an iconic place. Both the diner and the theater should be landmarked.”
Sliwa said there is a lack of transparency and effectiveness when it comes to landmarking.
“The outer boroughs need to have landmarking, which maintains the unique nature of a neighborhood and our city,” he said. “You have to go to the people who have the passion and not the bureaucrats. There’s a humanity in it, so who knows better than the people and preservationists who live in their communities and understand a building’s historical significance?
“That is why the Landmarks Preservation Commission needs to be decentralized by borough,” he said.
Sliwa said he has a reputation for being a tough individual, but say many people don’t realize he will bring a different side of personality to City Hall if elected.
“People know I’ll be hard on crime, but what people don’t realize is that I’ll bring more compassion to City Hall than any previous mayor,” he said. “I’m compassionate about the homeless, the emotionally disturbed who I dealt with for 42 years as a Guardian Angel, and for animals.”

LIC building gets new art installation

Opened in the spring of 2020, HERO LIC has quickly become a feature of the ever-growing Queens skyline. In addition to its eye-catching modern exterior, the building is also home to various interesting pieces of art.
Last week, HERO LIC revealed a new series of exclusive artwork created by celebrated UK-based abstract expressionist painter and photographer Jack Coulter. The installation will be on display in the Queens Plaza building’s lobby and lounge area.
Originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, Coulter was born with synesthesia, a rare sensory, neurological condition that not only shapes his work, but also the way he experiences daily life. When Coulter hears sounds, he sees shapes, a phenomenon that allows him to create award-winning pieces that depict orchestral performances and popular hits
His new display at HERO LIC sees him applying this talent to some classic New York City songs, including “Empire State of Mind” by Jay Z and Alicia Keys, “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday, and “Back To Manhattan” by Norah Jones .
“My condition allows me to transcribe sound into visuals, which I channel into my musical paintings,” Coulter said of his new display. “I wanted to create a piece that would have a special meaning to the building, residents and the local community.”
Josh Schuster from Silverback Development, the real estate company that owns HERO LIC, discussed what the new art installation contributes to the property.
“Coulter’s artwork embodies the creative spirit of Long Island City,” said Schuster. “This collaboration allows us to complement the overall residential experience for residents in one of the most coveted neighborhoods in New York, which is further underlined by the recent milestones achieved at HERO LIC, especially in the midst of a pandemic.”

Queens Tech Council hosts first networking event

A forecast for thunderstorms didn’t stop members of the tech community from attending the first networking event hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s new Queens Tech Council.
“I’ve built an amazing network for myself just by being at these events,” said Mo Faisal, founder and CEO of The Money Hub and FinGem and co-founder of Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area, who attended the event at ICONYC Brewing in Long Island City. “Every small business owner, entrepreneur or anyone who prospectively wants to build something or be a leader has to go out there and talk to people.”
The Queens Tech Council launched in February with the goal of promoting the tech industry in the borough. Council members include representatives from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Pursuit, LIC Partnership, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Crown Castle, Cornell Tech, and The Business Incubator Association of New York State.
The council will focus on ensuring Queens is producing the talent companies look for, getting the resources and capital tech companies need, and helping businesses in traditional industries successfully integrate new technologies
“We work with local colleges and businesses who have educational opportunities, whether it’s apprenticeships, upscaling opportunities for the current workforce or anything that can bring more skilled workers into the tech industry,” said Michelle Watson, a technical specialist at the NYC Small Business Resource Network and Queens Tech Council member.
The Queens Tech Council has two working groups. The policy and government group works to highlight the tech industry’s needs to elected officials, while the investment and industry group works to secure both public and private funding.
Chamber president and CEO Tom Grech discussed some of the local tech industry’s recent accomplishments, including the rapid mass production of ventilators during the height of COVID-19 by Boyce Technologies in Long Island City. Borough President Donovan Richards highlighted the role the tech community will play in the future of the borough and, ultimately, the city.
“We want Queens to be the template for where we need to go, but we can only do that with you,” he told the crowd. “That means networking, relationships, and making sure we’re all rowing in the same direction.”
Rachel Loeb, president and CEO at New York City Economic Development Corporation, was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s event. She said EDC and NYC Small Business Resource Network collaborated to ensure the survival and success of local small businesses during unprecedented times.
“We’ve been working together as a partnership so that we could get crucial skills when COVID hit and resources to small businesses so that they can survive, whether it be digitizing their business or just staying open,” she said.
Just last week, Loeb attended a groundbreaking ceremony for Bartlett Dairy’s new headquarters in Queens. Additionally, Hyatt Regency JFK recently celebrated its grand opening at Resorts World New York City, and JetBlue announced that its headquarters will remain in Long Island City.

Queens Tech Council hosts first networking event

A forecast for thunderstorms didn’t stop members of the tech community from attending the first networking event hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s new Queens Tech Council.
“I’ve built an amazing network for myself just by being at these events,” said Mo Faisal, founder and CEO of The Money Hub and FinGem and co-founder of Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area, who attended the event at ICONYC Brewing in Long Island City. “Every small business owner, entrepreneur or anyone who prospectively wants to build something or be a leader has to go out there and talk to people.”
The Queens Tech Council launched in February with the goal of promoting the tech industry in the borough. Council members include representatives from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Pursuit, LIC Partnership, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Crown Castle, Cornell Tech, and The Business Incubator Association of New York State.
The council will focus on ensuring Queens is producing the talent companies look for, getting the resources and capital tech companies need, and helping businesses in traditional industries successfully integrate new technologies
“We work with local colleges and businesses who have educational opportunities, whether it’s apprenticeships, upscaling opportunities for the current workforce or anything that can bring more skilled workers into the tech industry,” said Michelle Watson, a technical specialist at the NYC Small Business Resource Network and Queens Tech Council member.
The Queens Tech Council has two working groups. The policy and government group works to highlight the tech industry’s needs to elected officials, while the investment and industry group works to secure both public and private funding.
Chamber president and CEO Tom Grech discussed some of the local tech industry’s recent accomplishments, including the rapid mass production of ventilators during the height of COVID-19 by Boyce Technologies in Long Island City. Borough President Donovan Richards highlighted the role the tech community will play in the future of the borough and, ultimately, the city.
“We want Queens to be the template for where we need to go, but we can only do that with you,” he told the crowd. “That means networking, relationships, and making sure we’re all rowing in the same direction.”
Rachel Loeb, president and CEO at New York City Economic Development Corporation, was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s event. She said EDC and NYC Small Business Resource Network collaborated to ensure the survival and success of local small businesses during unprecedented times.
“We’ve been working together as a partnership so that we could get crucial skills when COVID hit and resources to small businesses so that they can survive, whether it be digitizing their business or just staying open,” she said.
Just last week, Loeb attended a groundbreaking ceremony for Bartlett Dairy’s new headquarters in Queens. Additionally, Hyatt Regency JFK recently celebrated its grand opening at Resorts World New York City, and JetBlue announced that its headquarters will remain in Long Island City.

City vaccine mandate goes into effect

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Key to NYC vaccination mandate for indoor dining, entertainment and fitness began on August 17. Enforcement will begin, with a multi-agency coalition, on September 13.
“New York City has one mission: defeat the delta variant and build a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Key to NYC sends a powerful message that vaccination will unlock our city’s potential, and we’ll stop at nothing to save lives and keep New Yorkers safe.”
The city will conduct an aggressive outreach and education campaign, including a $10 million multi-platform paid media campaign. This campaign will include radio, TV, digital, social, subway live boards.
Approximately 600 canvassers will be going door to door for affected businesses with the goal of reaching every zip code in the city in the next three weeks.
Indoor entertainment venus affected include movie theaters, music and concert venues, museums and galleries, aquariums and zoos, professional sports arenas, indoor stadiums, convention centers, exhibition halls, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, pool and billiard halls, recreational game centers, adult entertainment, and indoor play areas.
Indoor dining establishment affected by the mandate include restaurants, catering halls, hotel banquet rooms, bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, grocery stores with indoor dining, coffee shops, and fast food/quick service with indoor dining
Indoor fitness facilities affected include gyms, fitness centers, fitness classes, pools, indoor studios, and dance studios
Places excluded from this mandate include dining where food is consumed offsite or outdoors only. Businesses that choose to remove indoor seating entirely are not subject to the mandate.
Other exclusions include residential and office buildings, childcare programs, pre-K through grade 12 public and non-public schools and programs, senior centers, churches hosting Sunday potlucks or similar events, community centers, charitable food services, and catering at someone’s home
People excluded from this mandate include children under the age of 12, and anyone entering for a minimum amount of time required for a limited purpose, such as bathroom use or picking up or placing an order.
Other people not required to comply with the mandate include performing artists who do not reside in New York City and are not regularly employed by the entity, professional athletes or members of professional sports teams who do not reside in the city but enter a premises for the purpose of competing, and individuals accompanying performing artists or a sports team or professional athlete as part of their regular employment and who do not reside in New York City.
Contractors who do not reside with in the five boroughs are also excluded.
Each Key to NYC business should consider appropriate reasonable accommodations, mindful of the purposes behind this policy and public health.
There are multiple ways to show proof of vaccination. These include a photo or hard copy of a CDC vaccination card, NYC COVID Safe App, New York State Excelsior App, official vaccine record, or a photo or hard copy of an official vaccination record of a vaccine administered outside the United States.
Affected small businesses with questions can contact the Department of Small Business Services hotline at 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692), 311, or go online at nyc.gov/keytonyc.
Penalties for failure to comply after September 13 start at $1,000 and can reach $5,000 for repeated violators.
“The Key to NYC will unlock many of our favorite activities,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. “Vaccination makes every activity safer and this is a common-sense precaution to keep patrons of gyms, restaurants and indoor entertainment healthy.”

Boys & Girls Club receives $15K for STEM Program

Thirty-nine teenagers from the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens graduated from a summer STEM program last week in which they learned about electricity and renewable energy as part of a New York Power Authority (NYPA).
At the event, 174 Power Global presented a $15,000 check to support the program.
“The Variety Boys and Girls Club is so much more than a physical space, it’s where young minds come to grow,” said Variety CEO Costa Constantinides. “Programming like NYPA’s five-week STEM program gives kids hands-on experience with career paths and subject matter that is all around them, but not necessarily accessible.”
The middle-school students spent five weeks learning the basics of energy production and consumption through interactive and animated lesson plans. They engaged in games and hands-on learning opportunities, such as a contest to make the fastest wind turbine.
The students also investigated how different new renewable energy systems will work throughout New York State, as well as the battery storage project proposed for Astoria, which will store renwable sources of energy from upstate, and is being built by 174 Global Power.
To wrap up the program, students participated in a career panel event with subject matter experts from NYPA, 174 Power Global and Con Edison who spoke about their work and answered questions.
“Western Queens generates roughly 60 percent of the city’s power, and programs like this show our local kids opportunities to participate in the fast-growing green energy sector they may not have previously known about,” added Consantinides.
“We’re committed to supporting programs that inspire the next generation of STEM professionals,” added Henry Yun, CEO of 174 Global Power. “174 Power Global is committed to providing green economy jobs to the local community, in particular at a location that is close to our energy storage project, and this STEM program is a perfect fit with our mission of creating real change by working together.”

Join the Scouts

Dear Editor,
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio recently visited Ten Mile River Scout Camp in upstate New York in support of scouting.
Bishop DiMarzio was a Boy Scout, and earned the title of Life Scout, the organization’s second-highest rank. I applaud the bishop for his support of scouting.
I was a Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Explorer Scout. I learned a lot about community service, charity, and patriotism.
Today, I am Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council #5911 in Douglaston and twice a year run a Blood Drive. I do this with the help of Boy Scout Troop #153, whose help is immeasurable.
Membership in the Boy Scouts has dropped nationwide, which I find quite troubling. I urge parents to encourage their children to join the Boy Scouts. We need leaders with high ideas, and the Boy Scouts provide that.
Sincerely,
Frederick R. Bedell, Jr.
Bellerose

Let them attend

Dear Editor,
The decision to not invite all first responders and other emergency workers to this year’s 20th Anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks is inexplicable.
Many of these people were there when the attacks occurred and they have been coming to the ceremony every single year, except in 2020 due to the pandemic. It is a veiled insult to every single first responder in our city.
All of our first responders should be allowed to attend this year’s ceremony.
Sincerely,
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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