U.S. Customs seize cocaine inside package at JFK

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at JFK Airport seized seven pounds of cocaine, worth approximately $126,000, on February 23.

They found the cocaine inside a package at an express cargo facility. Officers became suspicious of the package because of its weight, and after conducting a probe, they discovered a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

“This seizure is another example of our CBP officers being ever vigilant in protecting the United States from the distribution of these illicit drugs,” said Robert E. Perez, director of CBP’s New York field operations.

There have been no arrests so far and the investigation is ongoing.


The Phagwah Parade will return this year


After canceling the first parade in 27 years in 2015, it seems like the Phagwah Parade is back on.

The spring parade is known for its colorful powders that are sprinkled upon people. The holiday celebrates the triumph of good over evil in the Hindu religion.

Last year, there was a feud regarding the control of an organization in the parade as well as the occurrence of two parade organizers filing for the same permit for the parade. The result was the 106th Precinct’s then Commanding Officer Jeffrey Schiff only approving one of the organizers. Still, feuds continue and the parade never happened.

Herman Singh of the Arya Spiritual Center, Inc. — whose permit for the parade had also been rejected for 2016 parade — launched a lawsuit claiming Schiff was on the side of his “rival” Romeo Hitlall of The Federation of Hindu Mandirs. Schiff, who recently moved to the 105th Precinct, claimed Hitlall’s application was approved because he applied on behalf of the “consistent” applicant of The Federation of Hindu Mandirs.

However, this year, Judge Allan Weiss told the parade organizers that they must work together.

This year’s parade will be on Sunday, March 26, and will take off from Liberty Avenue and 133rd Street. The parade is a big occasion for the borough’s West Indian population, but especially for those living in nearby Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.


St. Albans vets receive Valentine’s Day cards


State Senator Joseph Addabbo visited St. Albans VA Medical Center to deliver cards made by 3rd grade students at P.S. 88 in Ridgewood.

“Any time we get a chance to do something nice for our veterans, it’s important that we seize that opportunity,” Addabbo said. “Those who have served bravely to protect our country and our way of life deserve the utmost respect and appreciation, and we must pass that onto our children, as well.”

The visit was part of the Valentines for Vets program. Addabbo is currently the ranking member of the senate committee on veterans, homeland security and military affairs.


South Jamaica street named for former Knicks player

Mayor de Blasio, center, joined Anthony Mason Jr., second from the right and Herb Williams, right, a former Knicks player and coach.
Mayor de Blasio, center, joined Anthony Mason Jr., second from the right and Herb Williams, right, a former Knicks player and coach.

Anthony Mason was a fearsome force on the court, helping lead the New York Knicks to the 1994 NBA Finals.

He played 13 seasons in the NBA, including five for the Knicks. His accolades include a Sixth Man of the Year Award and one NBA All-Star selection.

Now, his name and memory will be honored with a street co-naming in the neighborhood where he grew up.

Among the 42 streets being co-named this year is “Anthony Mason Way,” which will be 147th Street between 123rd Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard.

Councilman Ruben Wills, who led the proposal, said Mason will be remembered not only for his tenacity in professional basketball, but also for his winning ways as a high school basketball player for Springfield Gardens High School.

“This South Jamaica raised Springfield Educational Campus PSAL Champion rose from near obscurity to earn acclaim as one of the most fearsome but talented power forwards of his NBA playing career,” Wills said in a statement.

Mason passed away about a year ago from a heart attack.

His son, Anthony Mason Jr., thanked the councilman for honoring his father.

“There are two things my father had endless love and immense pride for; one was his family and the other, New York City, his home,” Mason Jr. said. “I believe the signing of this bill for Anthony Mason Way satisfies both of those things, and will ensure his legacy.”


Customs at JFK seizes more than 1,000 hoverboards

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized 1,378 hoverboards with “counterfeit or potentially dangerous batteries” in December 2015.

According to the agency, if the hoverboards, which were made in China, were genuine, the total estimated retail value from the manufacturers would be about $447,000.

“CBP officers and import specialists are protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis,” said Robert E. Perez, director of CBP’s New York field operations.  “The interception of these potentially dangerous hoverboards is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP officers and import specialists daily.”

If you are aware of any person or company infringing upon a trademark or copyright, report the suspected violation at e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.


Jamaica to receive first of Wi-Fi kiosks


Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the launch of LinkNYC, a program to replace old payphones into Wi-Fi kiosks. Jamaica will be one of the locations to receive the first Link by July 2016.

The Link station will provide free Internet, free domestic calling, two USB charging ports, a tablet and a red 911 button for emergency calls.

“LinkNYC is the Wi-Fi network New Yorkers deserve: the largest, fastest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world – and you won’t need to insert a quarter in the slot, because it’s completely free,” Mayor de Blasio said. “LinkNYC brings us a couple steps closer to our goal of leveling the playing field and providing every New Yorker with access to the most important tool of the 21st century.”

“In Queens, as part of the Jamaica Now Action Plan also unveiled last year with the Mayor’s administration, we were especially pleased to have bumped the Downtown Jamaica Corridor up in the priority rollout schedule of LinkNYC,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “Folks are thrilled that free, citywide public Wi-Fi is well on its way.”

The city plans to build 4,500 Link stations by mid-2019.


Hospitalized vets receive cards, candy and clothes

Assemblyman Braunstein, right, with students from Cardozo High School at the St. Albans Community Living Center
Assemblyman Braunstein, right, with students from Cardozo High School and staff members at the St. Albans Community Living Center

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, political and community leaders organized a gift drive for hospitalized veterans at the St. Albans VA Community Living Center and the New York State Veterans Home at St. Albans.

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, Community Board 11, the Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service and the law offices of Ann-Margaret Carrozza collected thousands of donations for the 20th annual Valentines for Vets drive. Cards, candy, clothing items and toiletries were among the donations given by 27 schools, civic organizations and residents.

“I want to sincerely thank everyone, especially our local public and private schools, for once again overwhelmingly supporting our Valentines for Vets gift drive,” Braunstein said. “These donations helped to brighten the day of hundreds of veterans by showing them that we care about them and appreciate their sacrifices.”

The gifts were delivered to the veterans on February 12 by Assemblyman Braunstein, his staff and students from Cardozo High School.


Pol meets with breast cancer support organization

State Senator Addabbo, right, spoke with two representatives from the Adelphi program.
State Senator Addabbo, right, spoke with two representatives from the Adelphi program.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo sat down with two representatives from the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program last week to talk about ways to inform the public about breast cancer screenings. They also spoke about the resources available to the public.

The program offers free mammograms, counseling and wellness workshops, among other services. They also celebrate breast cancer survivors.

“Mammograms have been known to save countless lives by leading to early detection of a potentially fatal diagnosis,” Addabbo said. “But it is important to focus not just on the screenings and diagnoses of breast cancer, but on the process of treating it as well.”

“The services that Adelphi offers can change the lives of breast cancer patients and their families by helping them cope with what can be one of the most difficult periods in someone’s life,” he added.

For more information, call the organization’s hotline at 800-877-8077.



Fatherhood initiative hosts workshop on how to cook

Office of Councilman Ruben Wills
Office of Councilman Ruben Wills

Last Thursday at August Martin High School, Furthering Fathering, a nonprofit ministry that promotes fatherhood, hosted a culinary workshop to teach men how to cook low-cost meals.

The organization partnered with the office of Councilman Ruben Wills on the event. Together, they started an initiative called “Healing the 100” to support co-parent families.

Led by retired Army National Guard Neno Morris, the workshop taught the attendees how to cook spaghetti with meat sauce, shop for groceries, search for discount items and review nutrition values on a meal.

Councilman Wills praised the event for teaching men to cook for their families.

“A man should be capable of more than simply providing a living for his family. He should also be able to give them proper nourishment by knowing how to stock his home with nutritious foods, and cook a meal,” Wills said. “Possessing these skills helps to build a man’s confidence, and can be passed onto future generations.”


Addabbo acts as principal for a day at Gate of Heaven School

State Senator Joseph Addabbo speaks to students at the Gate of Heaven School.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo speaks to students at the Gate of Heaven School.

As part of Catholic Schools Week, State Senator Joseph Addabbo visited Gate of Heaven School in Ozone Park on December 3 and was their principal for a day.

Addabbo, who is a member of the Senate Education Committee, regularly visits schools in his district. During this visit, he spoke with students about getting involved in their communities.

“Not only was it rewarding to experience the life of a principal for a day, but I have a renewed appreciation for the work our teachers and principals do for our children each and every day,” Addabbo said. “Being an educator is one of the most honorable and important jobs out there.”