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Beautifying Briarwood: collaboration targets trash, graffiti

A series of cleanup initiatives will aim to rid Briarwood of unsightly litter and graffiti.
Councilman James Gennaro announced that new partnerships with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), Wildcat Service Corporation and The Doe Fund will spearhead the effort.
“I am confident that these partnerships will make a visible difference in our communities and be greatly appreciated by people who love clean streets,” said Gennaro, speaking from the median on Queens Boulevard in Briarwood. “I am committed to making this district the cleanest it has ever been. “
Funding secured for the cleanup initiative includes $185,000 for Wildcat, $150,000 to The Doe Fund and $95,000 for the DSNY, totaling $430,000 in this year’s budget.
The money for DSNY will be used for additional cleaning services from 164th Street to 188th Street along Union Turnpike. Two additional service days will be added for trash pick-up, and the median along Union Turnpike will be maintained as well.
“There are so many tools in creating a clean city,” said DSNY Commissioner Edward Grayson. “This influx of support and leadership in keeping Queens clean is so critical to how we achieve this mission.”
Grayson said residents of Queens try to keep their neighborhoods clean, but the choices of a “few bad actors” are the biggest culprit.
“It takes the village to clean the village,” he said..
Wildcat Service Corporation, a Bronx-based social services organization, will provide snow removal for elderly and disabled residents in the district.
The company will also provide sanitation services to Hillside avenue from Sutphin Boulevard to 173rd Street three times a week. Areas on the Grand Central Parkway Service Road between 188th Street and Utopia Parkway will also be cleaned once every two weeks.
Workers from The Doe Fund will be cleaning the Main Street business corridor and areas of Queens Boulevard twice a week.
“With the effort of Wildcat and The Doe Fund and the sanitation department, we expect to see things looking much better,” said Community Board 8 chair Martha Taylor. “We are delighted to know that our streets will be much cleaner.”

Jackson Heights couple creating canned cocktails

With over four decades of combined experience in bartending and hospitality, Tara Merdjanoff and Jeremy Cohen are serving up classic cocktails in a can.
The co-founders of QNSY (pronounced “Queen-sey”) Sparkling Cocktails decided to launch a craft beverage company after both lost their jobs during the pandemic.
The husband-and-wife team from Jackson Heights have spent the last four years conceptualizing and perfecting their craft cocktails, which come in 12-ounce slim cans and sixtel kegs.
“When the world shut down, instead of having to find the extra hours to work on it, we had time everyday,” said Cohen. “Frankly, it was good for our mental health to stay positive and have goals.”
The craft cocktails are available in three flavors: Mojito, Cosmo, and Lovely Rita (their version of a margarita). They are 5 percent alcohol by volume.
Cohen and Merdjanoff said they focused on creating high-quality cocktails that, when ordered at a bar, slow down service for even experienced bartenders.
“Busy bars and restaurants run on systems, and some kitchens don’t stock mint,” said Merdjanoff, referring to the classic Mojito ingredient. “Good bartenders can manage that and make it look easy.”
While developing and perfecting the flavors used for QNSY, the pair opted to use real fruit juice and pure cane sugar as the neutral alcohol base for their products.
The drinks are also regulated as beer rather than a distilled spirit, which allows QNSY to potentially be sold at over 19,000 New York-based businesses.
“We wouldn’t have introduced the product if it wasn’t as good as bar quality,” said Cohen.
The pair also credited the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QDEC) for helping them prepare a business plan.
QNSY was one of over 40 local vendors to be featured at QDEC’s recent “Queens Comes Back!” event, where drew over 1000 people.
“QDEC has been by our side the whole way,” said Merdjanoff. “Without their resources, we would not have been able to accomplish this.”
The business is represented by Bronx-based Sarene Craft Beer Distributors. QNSY Sparkling Cocktails are available at over three-dozen Queens locations and select bars in Brooklyn.
“It’s not easy to stand out in a sea of new canned alcohol offerings, but they’ve nailed it by being among the best tasting and highest quality canned cocktails available,” said Matt Schulman, founder and co-owner of Sarene Craft Beer Distributors. “We believe consumers will be just as excited to try these as we were when we first got our hands on them. We’re sure they will not be disappointed.”

Bowne House admitted to national Underground Railroad list

Bowne House Historical Society, a landmark and museum where visitors can learn about the abolitionary work and supposed Underground Railroad activity that once took place there, has been admitted to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
The Bowne House is the only Network to Freedom designation in Queens.
Rosemary Vietor, vice president of the Bowne House Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, said that being recognized is a great accomplishment because of the weight of its history.
“The Underground Railroad and manumission are important history to our country,” she said. “So the point of the application was to get that material in one place to be recognized by the National Park Service. Now, we can plan a series of educational programs and on-site visits around this particular theme.”
Because people could be prosecuted for being abolitionists, the research materials surrounding the Bowne House were secretive by nature.
For the same reason, other houses in the area that are alleged to have a similar history disappeared as the community grew — but the Bowne House remained.
Vietor said that they are fortunate in that the Bowne House has roughly three centuries of archival materials from the family, which has been continuously owned the house since it was built in the mid-1600s, that have been saved.
The Board of Trustees has maintained contact with Congresswoman Grace Meng over the years, as she proposed the Flushing Remonstrance Study Act, which authorized the Secretary of the Interior to conduct research on sites associated with the signing of the Flushing Remonstrance in 1657.
The Flushing Remonstrance, which declared freedom of religion in the one-time Dutch colony, is believe to have inspired the Bill of Rights.
“I look forward to this recognition creating even more interest in the Bowne House, and bringing more visitors to our borough,” said Meng. “It will help more people learn about the Underground Railroad and Queens’ long tradition of fighting for freedom and liberty.”
The Bowne House opened as a museum to the public in 1947, and continues to offer interactive tours to guests to this day, with much of the house’s original character in tact.
Vietor said that before COVID-19, the Bowne House saw about 6,000 visitors per year.
During the pandemic, they converted the museum experience into an online format, including a virtual tour, podcasts and various online educational programs, such as the history of Juneteenth, and even cooking demonstrations.
“We do hope to have an education center on site, which is where we could hopefully have a separate series of programs on the Underground Railroad and the story of abolition,” said Vietor.

Racist initiative

Dear Editor,
Mayor Bill de Blasio is ending the Gifted & Talented programs in public schools because a large number of Asian and white students are enrolled compared to a smaller Black and Hispanic enrollment.
That is blatantly racist and unfair.
He condemns the kids and parents of two ethnic groups who succeed by following the rules. He wants to replace G&T with something called “Brilliant,” which is anything but.
It puts students of different academic levels in the same classroom. This underscores the difference between equality and his goal of “equity.”
Equality means equal opportunity for all, everyone is the same at the starting line. Equity demands equal results, everyone must cross the finish line at the same time.
That defies reality unless it’s achieved by replacing merit with manipulation.
This the Department Of Education’s latest step to dumb down education, which prompted many parents to pull their kids out of public schools and put them in charter, religious and private schools.
Enrollment declined in all 32 elementary and middle school districts. Parents realize that “equity” results in failure for all public school students.
Our likely next mayor, Eric Adams, wants to extend, not end, Gifted & Talented programs. He displays a gift that de Blasio clearly lacks: common sense.
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

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