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What’s News, Breaking: Friday, January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BREAKING: MAYOR URGES PROTESTORS, NYPD TO EXERCISE RESTRAINT AT RELEASE OF TYRE NICHOLS VIDEO

CITYWIDE — Mayor Eric Adams delivered a live address around 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, in anticipation of the release of video that is expected to depict a violent encounter between Tyre Nichols and Memphis, Tennessee, police officers earlier this month.  City law enforcement officials were also bracing for protests and other civil unrest in connection with the video’s release, that shows Nichols’ fatal beating at the hands of police. Mayor Adams urged protestors to express their anger peacefully and he urged police covering protests to exercise restraint.

Mayor Adams was also scheduled, as of press time, to appear on NY1 News’ “Inside City Hall,” in a pre-taped segment.

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PUBLIC SERVICE RETIREES GROUP THANKS CITY COUNCIL FOR NOT VOTING ON MEDICARE CHANGE PROPOSAL

CITYWIDE — Following a Jan. 19 City Council decision not to vote on Mayor Eric Adams’s proposed legislation affecting the health care coverage for municipal retired persons, the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees has expressed gratitude to this legislative body for its concern in a statement, excerpted here: “Retirees presented testimony for almost six hours at City Hall on Monday, January 9th explaining why Medicare Advantage poses a serious threat to their health. The organization will request meetings with the mayor’s office and City Council to present alternative ways to achieve significant savings and to urge passage of a bill to “protect retirees from having to live in fear of their hard-earned benefits being stripped away from them when needed most.”

The plan would have authorized Adams to force elderly and disabled retirees into a Medicare Advantage plan by withdrawing funding for their existing health insurance.

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MAYOR REAPPOINTS JUDGES TO CRIMINAL COURT

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Among the judges whom Mayor Eric Adams reappointed on Friday to the NYC Criminal Court are Judge Miriam Best and Judge Dale Fong-Frederick. Best, who has experience in this particular jurisdiction, also served as a former prosecutor for the Appeals Bureau of the Kings County district attorney’s office and assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn federal court) Criminal Division. Fong-Frederick has worked in various capacities for the NYS Unified Court System, the Kings County Surrogate Court and the Legal Aid Society.

Also appointed were Judge Sarah Litman, a former Kings County assistant district attorney who eventually became a senior assistant district attorney in the Sex Crimes Bureau, Judge Gia Morris and Judge Michael Ryan, both former prosecutors in Kings County.

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MAYOR APPOINTS JUDGES WITH EXPERIENCE SERVING BROOKLYN COURT DIVISIONS

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Brooklyn jurists are among the 21 judicial appointments and reappointments to Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court that Mayor Eric Adams made on Friday, Jan. 27. Mayor Adams appointed Judge Marty J. Lentz to Criminal Court, whose experience included work with the Brooklyn Criminal Defense Practice, Misdemeanor Brooklyn Treatment Court, and Red Hook Community Justice Center. Judge Melody Glover, who began her career with The Legal Aid Society and served in various capacities including as assistant attorney-in-charge of the Kings County Juvenile Rights Division, was among those reappointed to Family Court, where she has presided since June 2017.

Altogether, Mayor Adams appointed three Family Court judges, and one Criminal Court judge, and reappointed three Family Court judges, 10 Criminal Court judges, and four interim Civil Court judges.

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OVERNIGHT LANE CLOSURE FOR BQE SECTION UNDER PROMENADE

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Continuing maintenance work on the westbound Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will require additional nighttime closures on the span between the Brooklyn Bridge and Atlantic Avenue on specific days in February, the New York City Department of Transportation has announced. Single-lane closures in the Staten Island-bound direction will take place from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. on all the Fridays (2/3, 2/10, 2/17 and 2/24) and on Wednesdays, Feb. 8 and 22.

Also known as Interstate-278, the BQE’s affected stretch will include the lower cantilevered roadway underneath the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The upper roadway is Queens-bound.

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STATE TAX DEPT.’S AWARENESS CAMPAIGN ON EARNED INCOME TAX CREDITS

STATEWIDE — The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is observing National Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day with an outreach campaign, urging taxpayers to review their eligibility for this useful benefit.  Each year, thousands of New Yorkers qualify for the first time for the income tax credit (EITC) – a refundable credit for working taxpayers earning less than $59,187 — as their filing status or personal financial situation changes. (Visit the IRS EITC or New York State Dept. of Taxation’s website for more information). 

When the federal, New York State, and New York City earned income tax credits are combined, they can be worth nearly $11,100 for a family with three or more children.

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BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK PENTHOUSE HITS MARKET FOR $17.9M

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A penthouse apartment in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s luxury Quay Tower, located at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, has gone on sale for a jaw-dropping $17.9 million, and features 5 bedrooms, a total 6,100 square feet of living space and floor-to-ceiling windows with dazzling views of the NYC skyline. While steep, the apartment’s price doesn’t quite break the record for the most expensive Brooklyn property, however, with a separate penthouse in the same building having sold for more than $20 million in 2018.

The New York Post reports that the building is a favorite of celebrities as well, with Gen Z icon actress Zendaya having purchased a unit in the building in 2020.

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GOLDMAN GETS HOUSE COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Freshman U.S. Rep. Daniel Goldman has received his new committee assignments in the House of Representatives from Democratic leadership, announced leader Hakeem Jeffries. Goldman will sit on the Committee on Homeland Security, as well as joining rising Democrat stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter on the newly-renamed Committee on Oversight and Accountability, which was previously known as the Committee on Oversight and Reform and was chaired by former Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Greenpoint, who lost her seat due to redistricting.

“What the QAnon Caucus and MAGA extremists plan to use the Oversight Committee to achieve is nothing more than political propaganda. Even worse, it’s a waste of time and taxpayer money. I look forward to using my prior experience to expose MAGA conspiracy theories and conduct meaningful oversight in support of NY-10’s families, freedoms, and future,” said Goldman in a press statement.

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LAWYER WHO MADE MOLOTOVS DURING RIOT SENTENCED TO YEAR IN PRISON

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Disbarred lawyer Colinford Mattis was sentenced to a year and a day in prison by Judge Brian Cogan on Thursday, Jan. 26, over his involvement in the riots following the death of George Floyd in May of 2020. Mattis helped to make homemade Molotov cocktails and drove a minivan to the scene of a protest, where fellow lawyer Urooj Rahman used them to light an empty police vehicle on fire.

While Mattis’ prison sentence is shorter than the 18-24 months prosecutors had asked for, he will also have to pay the city $30,107 in restitution for the destroyed van.

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WILLIAMSBURG FORECLOSURE HALTED AS DEVELOPERS TRADE SCAM ACCUSATIONS

WILLIAMSBURG — Foreclosure proceedings begun in 2021 at a 25-unit South Williamsburg condo project have been halted as the building’s backers squabble amongst themselves. Aron Lebovits, a business partner of lead developer Ezra Unger, is suing Unger in civil court after alleging Unger stole from him and attempted to defraud him of his investment, and has filed for bankruptcy as a result; while Unger claimed Lebovits had been duly paid before filing to move the proceedings to Jewish religious courts, known as the Beth Din.

The situation, described as “bizarre” by The RealDeal, was kickstarted when Unger defaulted on a $31 million loan to lender DW Partners.

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BRANNAN TO LEAD FIGHT AGAINST BROOKLYN BUS SERVICE CUTS

BAY RIDGE — Southern Brooklyn City Councilmember Justin Brannan announced on Monday his plans to spearhead the fight against the MTA’s proposed bus service changes in the borough. While the MTA has asserted that its Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign plan, announced in December and viewable on its website, will simplify and modernize transit for commuters, Brannan told the BK Reader that some of the changes will include service cuts and even full route eliminations that would take away “crucial lifelines” for residents.

Opponents of the plan, including Brannan, launched an online petition against it on Drove, and are encouraging locals to register for the upcoming public bus feedback sessions, also available on the MTA’s website.

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GREENPOINT PAYS TRIBUTE TO ECO ACTIVIST IRENE KLEMENTOWICZ, 94

GREENPOINT — Ecological activist Irene Klementowicz passed away on Jan. 20 at the age of 94, after a lifetime spent fighting to improve environmental conditions in her neighborhood, reports the Brooklyn Paper, which interviewed local residents in a tribute to Klementowicz’s work. Among the victories she contributed to are the cleanup of Newtown Creek and the shuttering of the Greenpoint Incinerator; her impact was recognized in 2001 by the federal EPA, which awarded her the New York State Environmental Quality Award.

“Every single time you breathe in Greenpoint, you say ‘Thank you’ to Irene,” her friend Scott Frasier told the Brooklyn Paper.

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STATE CONSUMER DEPT. WARNS PARENTS ON INFANT SLEEPER RECALLS, DEATHS

STATEWIDE — The New York State Division of Consumer Protection has urged parents and caregivers to pay attention to product recalls after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission earlier this month re-issued recalls for two inclined child sleep products, the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper and Kids2’s infant rocking sleepers, following reports of additional infant deaths. Inclined sleepers are dangerous for babies and increase the risk of suffocation, but these dangers are not well-known by many parents, and many of the sleepers remain in circulation.

The Fisher-Price sleeper has been linked to over a hundred infant deaths, 70 of which happened following the initial recall, while the Kids2 product has been linked to a further 15.

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‘EPIDEMIC’ OF MASS SHOOTINGS NEEDS CLASSIFIED HEARING, URGES REP. GOLDMAN

WESTERN BROOKLYN — The frequency of mass shootings in the United States has prompted the vice chairs of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, one of them a Brooklyn congressmember, to convene a classified hearing on the matter. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-10th District) and two Congressmembers from Florida, Jared Moskowitz (FL-23) and Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10) expressed concern that their colleagues have become desensitized to the true horror of each one and the impact they have on the victims, their loved ones, and the community. A portion of their letter reads, “…We believe it is the responsibility of elected officials to confront the horrific reality that many of our constituents are forced to face, and to determine a common-sense path forward towards stopping the epidemic of mass shootings our country faces.”

 Goldman and his colleague pointed out that in the first 25 days into the year, already 39 mass shootings have taken place.

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CONTEMPT ORDER AGAINST CITY FOR FAILING TO TRACK PRISON INTAKES

CITYWIDE — The Legal Aid Society and its co-counsel have filed a contempt motion against the City of New York for the Department of Correction’s failure to comply with a Nov. 15, 2021 federal court order to reliably track and process people out of intake within 24 hours after entering DOC custody. Since that time, Legal Aid and co-counsel at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, LLP have raised serious concerns about the reliability of the DOC systems that track time for intakes leading to the city’s failure to comply with its obligations under the order over the past 14 months.

The plaintiffs now seek additional accountability steps, including live access to the dashboard system for new admissions from all five boroughs and beyond; weekly reports from DOC to be provided directly to counsel for Plaintiffs; and regular updates on the Department’s progress to meet its promise of a reliable intra-facility tracking system.

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NEW ZERO-EMISSIONS REQUIREMENT SET FOR UBER AND LYFT

CITYWIDE — As New York City electrifies its municipal vehicle fleet, for-hire vehicles will also be required to do the same, Mayor Eric Adams announced during his State of the City Address on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 26. “Today, we are announcing that Uber and Lyft will be required to have a zero-emissions fleet by 2030. That’s zero emissions for over 100,000 vehicles on our city streets. And it will be achieved with no new costs for individual drivers,” he added.

“We’re pleased that both companies are embracing this shift, and we look forward to working with them to get it done,” said Adams. However, New York 1 News political anchor Errol Louis pointed out that these for-hire drivers own their vehicles, and that it will be interesting to see how the mandate works.

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INVESTMENTS IN NURSE LABOR FORCE AND APPRENTICESHIPS PART OF MAYOR’S VISION FOR CITY

BROOKLYN NAVY YARD — A first-in-the-nation incubator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an apprenticeship system, an initiative to increase the nursing workforce and a major investment in Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) and the biggest student mental health program in the country — complete with meditation exercises — are all part of Mayor Eric Adams’ plan for the city. Working with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and the Council, the city will award $5 billion in contracts to minority and women-owned businesses by Fiscal Year 2026.

The mayor made the announcements during his State of the City address, now in progress.

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MAYOR ADAMS VOWS TO ‘FIGHT SCOURGE OF ILLEGAL GUNS’

CITYWIDE — “Fighting the scourge of illegal guns is a top priority for our city,” Mayor Eric Adams said during his State of the City Address on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 26. “And we won’t, and we can’t allow that to keep happening in the city,” he declared, commending President Biden and Governor Hochul for understanding the urgency, and announcing a set of neighborhood safety alliances, a partnership between law enforcement and service providers.

 “That means advocating for common-sense gun reform at every level of government…Americans have had enough. We must get this done. Because ending gun violence means stopping it before it starts, especially when it comes to our youth,” said the mayor.

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MAYOR ANNOUNCES CRACKDOWN ON TENANT EVICTIONS

CITYWIDE — The City of New York is investing more than $22 million in tenant protection programs — including more staff to increase investigation and enforcement against bad landlords — to keep people in their homes, Mayor Eric Adams announced during his State of the City Address on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 26. His administration will invest “stronger partnerships with community groups and legal service providers to protect tenants from being pushed out of rent-regulated apartments.”

This city will also crack down on landlords who discriminate based on source of income, said Adams. “If you tell a potential tenant that you don’t accept Section 8 vouchers or other rental assistance, guess what? That tenant might be an actor hired by the city, and we are going to take enforcement action against you.”

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MAYOR PLEDGES GROCERY PROGRAMS TO SERVE NEEDY AREAS

BROWNSVILLE — “You can’t have Whole Foods in Park Slope and junk food in Brownsville, Mayor Adams quipped during an announcement during his State of the City address on Thursday, Jan. 26, launching the Groceries 2 Go and Green Stands programs. Adams pledged to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to fresh food, including fruit and vegetables.

“We will fight the continuing crisis of obesity and chronic disease by expanding city investment in healthy food access for lower income New Yorkers,” said Adams.

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‘ROADS’ LEGISLATION WOULD CRACK DOWN ON RECKLESS DRIVERS

CITYWIDE — “New Yorkers should not have to fear for their lives every time they cross the street or bike to work. Vision Zero means exactly that: Zero fatalities,” said Mayor Eric Adams, pledging to crack down on dangerous driving during his State of the City “Working People’s Agenda” address on Thursday, Jan. 26. Adams said the city is working with Albany to advance new legislation called ROADS — Removing Offenders and Aggressive Drivers from our Streets — that would increase penalties for serious crashes, running red lights, and impaired driving — in some cases revoking offenders’ driver licenses.

The initiative will also increase the number of NYPD tow trucks to address the growing number of abandoned or illegally parked cars blocking traffic and visibility, help keep delivery zones and bus and bike lanes clear, and crack down on illegal placards.

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GOVERNMENT ISSUES RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST COMPANIES PRODUCING GUN CONVERSION DEVICES

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — As legislators on the local and congressional levels discussed viable ways to halt mass shootings, federal law enforcement has issued a restraining order against companies that sell machine guns illegally. The United States on Thursday, Jan. 26, filed a civil complaint in federal court in Brooklyn against two firearm companies, and two individuals associated with these companies (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging mail fraud and wire fraud, by unlawfully selling machine gun conversion devices. The devices, called FRT-15s, are specifically designed and intended to be used to convert AR-15-type rifles into machine guns and are therefore, themselves, “machine guns” under federal law.

With limited exceptions not applicable to Defendants’ conduct, the manufacture, sale and possession of machine guns is illegal under the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968.

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FDNY WILL HAVE MOST WOMEN FIREFIGHTERS IN ITS HISTORY, AS NEW PROBATIONERS GRADUATE

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh will preside at the graduation ceremony of 288 probationary Firefighters on Friday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. at the Christian Cultural Center (viewable live on the Department’s website, www.nyc.gov/FDNY). During their 18 weeks at the FDNY Training Academy, this class trained in all aspects of firefighting: fire suppression and medical response, hazardous materials, collapse and confined space rescue training, auto extrication, building inspections and procedures for engine and ladder operations.

The probationary Firefighters, 47% of whom identify as people of color, 28% as Hispanic, 15% as Black, and 4% as Asian American, will be assigned to firehouses throughout the city. There are seven women in the class, bringing the total number of female firefighters to 148 – the most in FDNY history.

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OASIS SINGLES MINISTRY HOLDS POPULAR VALENTINE’S TRADITION

DYKER HEIGHTS — OASIS Singles Ministry welcomes people of all ages from all denominations, throughout the tri-state area, to its 26th annual Oasis Singles Valentine’s Event on the weekend before that popular holiday. Lefferts Park Church, 7524 14th Avenue in Dyker Heights, hosts the dinner featuring a hot Italian buffet, dessert and live music, on Saturday, Feb. 11, $15 at the door/no reservations needed.

OASIS leader Cindy Galdal-Ruperto will speak on “The Healing Power of God’s Love.”  Musical guest Phil Triolo will share his poignant comedy.

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COME TO BROOKLYN TO SAMPLE DELICACIES OF JAMES BEARD AWARD SEMIFINALISTS

COBBLE HILL & WILLIAMSBURG — Brooklyn has a rich culinary heritage, and several of its chefs and restaurants have made the menu in the semi-finals for the NYC James Beard Awards 2023, according to Patch. This year’s nominees for Outstanding Chef are the husband-wife team of Eder Montero and Alex Raij, of La Vara on Clinton St. in Cobble Hill, which specializes in the Sephardic and Moorish cuisine of Southern Spain; and Erik Ramirez, of Williamsburg’s popular Llama Inn, serving up Peruvian fare and nigiri sushi. Among those making the list for the Best Chef/New York State category is Sohui Kim of the landmark Gage & Tollner, on Fulton St. in Downtown Brooklyn.

Finalist nominees will be announced on Wednesday, Mar. 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, Jun. 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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‘BEST NEW RESTAURANT’ IN JAMES BEARD SEMIFINALS IS KRU IN WILLIAMSBURG

WILLIAMSBURG — The James Beard Awards 2023 has named as a semifinalist the Williamsburg restaurant KRU Brooklyn. Located on North 14th St., KRU describes its cuisine as a “Modern Interpretation Of 100-Year-Old Thai Recipes.” According to the restaurant’s website, “the restaurant’s name, KRU, is Thai for “guru” or “mentor” and honors the many teachers and books that have enriched Chef Ohm’s profound culinary understanding and vision.”

One of the menu choices is Winter Melon Chicken Soup, created with a half Cornish hen, shiitake mushrooms, pickled lime, cilantro root.

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STATE D.O.E. ORDERS YESHIVA INVESTIGATION WRAPPED UP

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn’s yeshivas and Orthodox community won a victory earlier this month, reports amNY, when on Jan. 10 the state’s education commissioner ordered the city to wrap up its investigation into the religious schools by the end of June. The city had filed an affidavit claiming that its investigation was slowed by the state’s Board of Regents changing its standards for educational equivalence between public and private schools, saying that it would need more time to gather evidence and conduct school visits, but was rebuffed. 

The hot-button issue of the city’s investigation of the yeshivas has attracted criticism from both sides of the debate, with supporters and detractors alike condemning the slowness of the process. 

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WASHINGTON IRVING LIBRARY WINS ROBOTICS CHAMPIONSHIP

BUSHWICK — A team from Washington Irving Library, located in Bushwick, won top honors at the BKLYN Library’s Robotics League Championship this week, beating out 14 other teams and earning a spot in the citywide championship later this year. The second- and third-place winners were from Kings Bay and New Lots libraries and will join Washington Irving Library to participate in that competition.

The BKLYN Library Robotics League, in partnership with NYC First, is a free ten-week program begun in 2017 in which children and teens, ages 9 to 17, learn how to strategize, design code and build robots, exploring STEM concepts and meeting new friends along the way. 

The champions and other teammates held their heads high, and worked hard on their robotic creations that applied STEM concepts to Legos. Photos: Gregg Richards/Brooklyn Public Library

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COBBLE HILL BREWERY LAUNCHES OYSTER BEER TO HELP CLEAN HARBOR

COBBLE HILL — Cobble Hill’s TALEA Beer Co., NYC’s first female-owned brewery, is teaming up with the Billion Oyster Project to produce a unique oyster-themed beer called She Sells Sea Shells, which is brewed using oyster shells from the Project’s stockpile, and from every can sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to fund conservation efforts. The beer will launch at a special oyster pairing event held at the brewery’s Cobble Hill location on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m., where attendees can enjoy an oyster flight along with a presentation from the Project on their mission. 

The Billion Oyster Project, which uses donated oyster shells from local restaurants to help baby oysters grow in order to restore the natural state of NYC’s waterways, last year introduced their hundred millionth oyster back into New York’s harbor waters. 

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STROLLER-ACCESSIBLE BUS PROGRAM TO EXPAND

CITYWIDE — A trial program started by the MTA last year to test buses modified to give extra space to strollers and baby carriages has been given the green light to expand onto 1,000 more buses across the city, reports StreetsBlog, in a move sure to delight harried parents. The most popular route thus far with the stroller set in the trial program has been the B1 in southern Brooklyn, which runs from Bay Ridge to Manhattan Beach.

As of now the only Brooklyn line running the modified buses, which use flip-up or removed seats to accommodate the strollers, is the B1, but officials are set to announce new route expansions next month. 

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PRISONER ASSISTANCE NONPROFIT TO OPEN IN VINEGAR HILL

VINEGAR HILL — The nonprofit organization Unincarcerate America, which focuses on providing support to the families of prisoners as well as offering services to newly released ex-inmates, will give a presentation about its mission and its plans to open a new workspace in Vinegar Hill at the next Community Board 2 meeting on Feb. 1. The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and hear more information about the group’s plans after the presentation.

The meeting will take place on Feb. 1, at 6 p.m., and can be attended via Zoom. 

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GRAVESEND MOM STOPS ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING OF SON FROM SYNAGOGUE

GRAVESEND — A Brooklyn man, identified as Yossi Meyer, 42,  has been charged with kidnapping and harassment after trying to pick up and carry off a 9-year-old boy against his will during a religious ceremony at a Gravesend synagogue on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 25, reports ABC News. The boy’s mother noticed the attempt and managed to pull her son away from the suspect, who then fled on foot.

The suspect was later located by Flatbush Shomrim, hiding in a nearby school. 

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MICROBE EVOLUTION STARTUP SECURES $7M IN FUNDING

SUNSET PARK — Melonfrost, a Brooklyn startup that uses AI technology and a proprietary “evolution reactor” to forcefully evolve helpful microbes to improve food production yields, has secured $7 million in its latest round of seed funding. The Industry City-based biotech company says it plans to use this funding to expand its current operation from a small lab space to full warehouse size, and to land their first major customer. 

“It’s not just about aiming to bring new molecules or chemicals to market; rather, we need to fundamentally change the way the world’s resources come to be and move around,” founder Sam Levin told Forbes about the company’s ultimate goal.


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