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VOL. 20 • NUMBER 53 • DECEMBER 31, 2020

STORE FRAUGHT Number of Chain Store Locations in Queens Shrinks by more than 10 Percent in 2020: Report

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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 20 • Number 53 • DECEMBER 31, 2020 | 1

Jamaica Man Indicted on Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Accomplice in Ozone Park

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The shooting took place on the night of Dec. 7, in the vicinity of 90th Street and Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park.

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“This is an appalling example of stupid, senseless violence turning deadly,” DA Katz said.

By Forum Staff A Jamaica man has been indicted by a borough grand jury and arraigned on murder, manslaughter and other charges for a deadly shooting in Ozone Park earlier this month, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Tuesday. Nazieer Basir, 22, was apprehended after fleeing Queens following the shooting. He was arraigned on Tuesday on an indictment charging him with murder in the second degree, manslaughter in the first degree and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Basir was remanded and ordered to return to court on Jan. 13. According to the charges, just before 10 p.m. on Dec. 7, Basir and the victim, Photo Courtesy of Google 22-year-old Royhessny Sintjago, and two The shooting took place on the night of Dec. 7, in the vicinity of 90th Street and Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park.

others were in the vicinity of 90th Street and Liberty Avenue. The four were allegedly in the process of attacking a group of individuals in a parked car. As the vehicle took off to escape, Sintjago, armed with a tire jack, ran in pursuit. Basir allegedly raised the gun and fired two shots at the car. He missed the car, but one of his bullets allegedly struck Sintjago in the head, killing him. “This is an appalling example of stupid, senseless violence turning deadly. The defendant and victim were allegedly set to attack a group of rivals in a car. The defendant charged here allegedly fired his illegal gun, missed his intended target, and killed his would-be accomplice,” Katz said. “This mindless bloodshed must stop.” If convicted, Basir faces 25 years to life in prison.

Mayor Announces Largest One-Year Protected Bike Lane Expansion in New York City History By Forum Staff Mayor Bill  de Blasio on Tuesday announced that the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT)  has constructed a record 28.6 lane miles of new protected bike lanes across all five boroughs in 2020.  Combined with another 35.2 miles of conventional bike lanes, 83 miles of car-free Open Streets, more than 10,800 Open Restaurants on city streets and sidewalk, and 16.3 miles of new bus lanes – another one-year record – New York City’s streetscape was transformed more dramatically during 2020 than in any year in modern history. “Our city has reimagined our streets as we’ve fought back the COVID-19 crisis. That means more space for restaurants and businesses, faster options for bus riders, and more ways than ever to accommodate the cycling boom with new protected bike lanes,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Record numbers of bike lanes and bus lanes will change our urban landscape forever – and, as we continue our fight to build a fairer and better city, we won’t stop here.” “As unprecedented as this year has been, I sincerely applaud everyone at DOT for being able to implement a record number of

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Among the notable protected bike lane projects completed this year is in Broad Channel: Cross Bay Boulevard from the Addabbo Bridge to East 6th Road.

protected bike lanes this year,” added Acting DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione. “We have seen a tremendous shift towards cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic and predict the trend will continue even after the city recovers, so it is imperative we continue growing our bike network and keep cyclists safe.” Tuesday’s announcement brings the city’s total bike lane network to 1,375 lane miles, 545 of which are protected miles, including nearly 170 miles on street. DOT is also on

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track to meet the Green Wave Plan goal of installing over 80 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2021, and adding 75 miles of bicycle infrastructure in Bicycle Priority Districts by 2022. The agency also completed over 70 Street Improvement Projects  in all five boroughs, targeting locations with the greatest safety need for pedestrians and cyclists. Protected Bike Lanes Notable protected bike lane projects completed this year include:

• Queens: (9.5 protected lane miles) • Cross Bay Boulevard from the Addabbo Bridge to East 6th Road • Laurel Hill Boulevard from 51st Avenue to 55th Road • Crescent Street from Queens Plaza North to Hoyt Avenue North • Cross Bay Boulevard from Van Brunt Road to West 20th Road “The 9.5 miles of protected bike lanes completed in Queens in 2020 will benefit cyclists and all those who use our borough’s roadways by making them safer for everyone,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “Promoting public safety is a top priority for all of us in City government, so we are pleased to continuing working with the DOT to make our borough’s streets as safe as they can be.” Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin added, “In a year where we have seen cycling boom throughout this city, DOT has done a remarkable job in building the critical infrastructure to keep New Yorkers safe and moving throughout this city. Amidst all of the challenges COVID-19 has thrown our way, this Administration has remained dedicated to building upon Vision Zero and making our streets safer for all New Yorkers.”

Chain Stores Felt COVID Lockdown Pain

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“In order to protect our communities from flooding, preserve our shorelines, and restore New York’s precious water ecosystems, it is imperative that we properly rehabilitate our invaluable resources through the Water Resources Development Act every year,” said Senator Schumer.

By Forum Staff More than 1,000 chain stores across New York City—or a little less than one out of every seven chains that were open this time last year—have closed their doors over the past twelve months, underscoring the immense difficulties facing retail businesses large and small during the pandemic, according to Center for an Urban Future’s State of the Chains, 2020 report. Overall, the number of chain stores in New York City declined by 13.3 percent—with 2.0 percent closing temporarily and 11.3 percent not indicating whether the closures are permanent or temporary. This is by far the largest year-over-year decline in chain stores since the Center for an Urban Future began its annual analysis of the city’s national retailers 13 years ago, eclipsing last year’s 3.7 percent drop and the 0.3 percent decline in 2018. CUF’s 13th annual analysis of national retailer locations in New York City, which is based on data from store locators compiled between November 16 and December 5, 2020, shows that the 319 retailers listed in last year’s ranking reduced their total footprint by 1,057 store locations (including 897 closures and 160 temporary closures). The number of chain stores declined from a total of 7,948 stores in 2019 to 6,891 stores in 2020—a 13.3 percent decrease. While every borough experienced notable declines in chain stores, Manhattan had the biggest losses, with the number of chain store locations in the borough shrinking by 17.4 percent (of which 2.8 percent were closed temporarily). In fact, Manhattan accounted for nearly half of all chain store closures (520 out of 1,057) citywide. Queens had the second-largest decline (decreasing by 11.2 per-

cent, with 0.6 of those temporarily shuttered), followed by Brooklyn (down 11.6 percent, with 2.5 percent temporarily closed), the Bronx (declining by 9.9 percent, including 2.0 percent temporarily closed), and Staten Island (down by 8.5 percent, with 0.7 percent temporarily closed). This is the second consecutive year in which all five boroughs have registered declines, but it is the first year in for any borough to see a decline of more than 10 percent. Last year, the sharpest drop was a 4.9 percent decline in Queens (-91 stores). Few retailers avoided store closures. Dunkin’ experienced a year-over-year decline in stores in the city for the first time since CUF began tracking chain stores 13 years ago. Although Dunkin’ still has far more store locations in the city than any other national retailer, it has 18 fewer than this time last year. The city’s other big coffee chain, Starbucks, closed even more stores (49). Metro PCS, the city’s second-largest chain retailer, shuttered 134 stores over the past year—a bigger decline than CUF has recorded in any borough since this study began. Meanwhile, Sprint closed all 89 stores, though much of that likely stems from its merger with T-Mobile, which was approved earlier this year. Other retailers that registered a net loss of at least 15 store locations include: Duane Reade (-70), GNC (-51), Subway (-30), Modell’s (-43), Baskin-Robbins (-30), NY Sports Club (-26), Jimmy Jazz (-26), M·A·C Cosmetics (-25), Papyrus (-22), Soul Cycle (-21), Dig Inn (-19), New York & Co. (-17), Pret A Manger (-16), and Mattress Firm (-15). But several of these chains reported significant temporary closures, suggesting that some may bounce back strong next year. Photo Courtesy of Center for an Urban Future

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Expansion of Alley Pond School Starts this Week By Forum Staff The long-awaited construction to add a new wing to PS 46 was scheduled to begin this week, City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) announced Tuesday. The expansion of the Oakland Gardens elementary school, also known as the Alley Pond School, will bring: • 440 seats for pre-k through grade 5 • 2 pre-k classrooms • 2 kindergarten classrooms • 12 classrooms for grades 1-5 • 7 special education classrooms • 2 reading/speech resource rooms • 1 art classroom • 1 music room • 1 science resource room • 1 guidance suite • 1 medical suite • 1 administrative suite • 1 parent/community room • 1 kitchen/student dining area • 1 staff lunch/conference room The new addition is the result of support from Grodenchik, New York City School Construction Authority President  and Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Grillo, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing). PS 46 Principal Stamo Karalazarides requested the expansion to accommodate the

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“The website will be a fantastic tool that will help promote Italian culture and heritage to an even wider audience,” Sen. Addabbo said.

growing student body. “This project alleviates overcrowding at PS 46 so that the school can continue to provide a premier educational experience to students,” Grodenchik said. “PS 46 is a 2020 National Blue Ribbon school, one of the best in the city.  With additional space, the school will surely reach new heights of excellence.” The SCA anticipates work to begin as early as this week with the installation of a

temporary and protective fence around the playground perimeter; tree protection in the playground; and installation of a temporary ramp on 219th Street.  The project is expected to be complete in time for the September 2023 school year. “This new addition at PS 46Q is part of the plan to add more than 2,500 new seats to reduce overcrowding in District 26 and provide our students with the space and

resources they need to learn and grow,” Grillo said. “I would like to thank Council Member Grodenchik for his support of our 2020-2024 Capital Plan, which is bringing more than 24,000 seats to our most overcrowded districts in Queens.” Meng added, “I  am pleased to learn that  construction of PS 46’s new wing is finally moving forward. The project will greatly improve the school by increasing the number of  seats and specialty classrooms and suites to reduce overcrowding and better facilitate learning. I look forward to these additions serving students, teachers and staff for many years to come, and I congratulate the PS 46Q community. Thank you to Council Member  Grodenchik  and all who played a role in making this expansion a reality.” Stavisky said, “I am pleased to see the PS 46 expansion project getting underway, after a brief but necessary delay. By nearly doubling the enrollment of Alley Pond elementary school, this project will provide additional opportunities for students within our community. It is imperative that we make sure our young students have access to a quality learning environment with up-to-date facilities, and this $50 million upgrade will help ensure that for years to come. Council Member Barry  Grodenchik’s stewardship will be appreciated by generations of students.” Photo Courtesy of NYC SCA

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NASSAU 25 Newbridge Road Suite 203 Hicksville, NY 11801

FDNY Begins COVID Vaccinations for Members

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“I strongly encourage all of our members to take the COVID-19 vaccine offered through the department to protect themselves, their colleagues, and their loved ones,� said Fire Commissioner Nigro.

By Forum Staff COVID-19 Vaccinations have begun for members of the City Fire Department, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro announced last week. As per the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, vaccination recipients are prioritized in phases. Phase 1 includes essential healthcare workers including EMS. Phase 2 includes other essential frontline workers including Certified First Responder firefighters. On Monday, Dec. 21, the FDNY received its first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and internal online registration opened for FDNY  members to schedule an appointment to receive the first of two doses. On Wednesday, Dec. 23, vaccinations began, starting with members of FDNY EMS as per state guidelines. Vaccinations for firefighters began on Tuesday, Dec. 29. Vaccinations will take place at the following FDNY locations: FDNY Headquarters, Brooklyn; Randall’s Island Training Academy; EMS Academy, Fort Totten, Queens. The department can vaccinate up to 450 members per day at the three locations combined. Vaccinations are not mandatory, but are strongly encouraged, according to FDNY officials.  It is recommended that even those who had COVID-19 and recovered, or those who have antibodies, still receive the vaccine to prevent re-infection. The following information about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been provided to all FDNY members: 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection. Administered in two shots delivered at least 28 days apart. Uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to deliver instructions to the body that tell it to produce a non-infectious protein associated with the virus. This protein enables the im-

mune system to build up antibodies to fight infection. DOES NOT change your DNA and you are NOT exposed to the actual virus (live or dead), therefore it cannot cause COVID-19 infection. Mild side effects reported through testing include mainly pain at the injection site, fatigue and aching muscles/joints for a day or two. In most cases, effects were not debilitating and did not result in missing work. Since the start of the pandemic, the Department has lost 12  members to COVID-19, including five  members of EMS and seven civilians. Due to constant exposure in the course of their duty, medical leave related to COVID-19 peaked in April, with 19 percent of EMS members and 13 percent of firefighters out at one time. More than 5,800  FDNY  members have had a COVID-19 diagnosis and the vast majority have recovered and returned to work. At the height of the pandemic in March/April, medical call volume reached unprecedented numbers with the busiest single day coming on March 30 when there were 6,527 medical emergencies across the five boroughs. “This is a great day for the  FDNY. Science has answered the call for help from our department and all essential frontline healthcare workers and produced a vaccine to  combat this deadly illness,� Nigro said. “I strongly encourage all of our members to take the COVID-19 vaccine offered through the department to protect themselves, their colleagues, and their loved ones. Through our vaccination process, we will further improve the safety of our members during this pandemic and ensure that the  FDNY  will continue to protect and care for the city our members bravely serve. Thank you to everyone at the city, state, and federal levels, as well as our own  FDNY  leadership, who have worked so hard to reach this important milestone in our fight against COVID-19.�

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During the COVID_19 crisis we are offering virtual learning sessions to help students throough the difficult navigation of online learning offered through schools.              Please call for information and rates.         Thank you.  Saty home. Stay safe. THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 20 • Number 53 • DECEMBER 31, 2020 | 5

De Blasio Announces Extension of Open Storefronts Program By Forum Staff Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced the Open Storefronts  program, which permits storefront businesses to use a portion of their sidewalk to display merchandise, sell goods, complete transactions, and provide queuing areas, will be extended through Sept. 30, 2021. The mayor announced the program will also allow businesses to sell pre-packaged food on sidewalks, and allow restaurants to use sidewalks for take-out orders. This program is a part of an effort to make New York City the world’s capital for healthy outdoor living and to advance the mayor’s recovery agenda. “Open Storefronts has given business owners an easy way to maximize their space and keep customers safe as they shop. And by introducing restaurants into the program, we’re giving local eateries more ways than ever to keep their communities vibrant,” de Blasio said. “We remain committed to giving small businesses more chances to thrive, and we’re excited to give them more opportunities to participate in this program throughout the winter and warmer months.” “There’s no question our small businesses have taken a tremendous hit because of this pandemic and we will continue to find new

Photo Courtesy of NYC DOT

“Open Storefronts has given business owners an easy way to maximize their space and keep customers safe as they shop. And by introducing restaurants into the program, we’re giving local eateries more ways than ever to keep their communities vibrant,” Mayor de Blasio said.

and creative ways to help them,” said Laura Anglin, deputy mayor for Operations. “Continuing and expanding Open Storefronts will not only give businesses valuable space outside of their building, but continues to transform the streetscape of this city for the better.” An eight-foot clear path of sidewalk from the curb must be maintained for Open

Storefronts to operate. Retailers cannot use the space of adjacent businesses, and they must bring all furniture and goods indoors when closed. For existing Open Streets: Restaurants locations, the Open Storefronts program will also permit businesses to use the curb lane directly fronting their storefront to conduct business activities during operating hours.

“The City is committed to finding innovative ways to support small businesses during this pandemic, especially those in our hardest hit neighborhoods,” said J. Philip Thompson, deputy mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “The extension of the Open Storefronts program, combined with our efforts to urge New Yorkers to shop local, will help our small businesses come back stronger than ever.” Businesses can visit  nyc.gov/openstorefronts to review eligibility requirements and to complete a brief online application. “Open Storefronts is an essential part of the effort to help small businesses survive as the City continues its work to recover from the impacts of the COVID crisis, and we thank Mayor de Blasio for extending this initiative,” said Margaret Forgione, acting commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. “We have  seen how the ability to use a portion of the sidewalk as sales space  has given  merchants  a muchneeded boost, and we hope more store owners will take advantage of this program in the new year.” New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James Patchett added, “A strong economic recovery means creating innovative solutions to help our small businesses recover safely.”

Cuomo Signs COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act By Forum Staff Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020. The legislation prevents residential evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also extends the Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption from 2020 to 2021. The legislation helps tenants facing eviction and mortgagors facing foreclosure proceedings due the pandemic in five areas: Residential Evictions The act places a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1, 2021 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions. Landlords can evict tenants that are creating safety or health hazards for other tenants, and those tenants who do not submit hardship declarations. Residential Foreclosure Proceedings The act also places a moratorium on residential foreclosure proceedings until May 1, 2021. Homeowners and small landlords who own 10 or fewer residential dwellings can file hardship declarations with their mortgage

Photo Courtesy of Mike Groll/Office of the Governor

“The more support we provide for tenants, mortgagors and seniors, the easier it will be for them to get back on their feet when the pandemic ends,” Gov. Cuomo said.

lender, other foreclosing party or a court that been granted a stay of mortgage foreclosure would prevent a foreclosure. proceedings, tax foreclosure proceedings or tax lien sales. They are also prohibited from Tax Lien Sales discriminating because the owner is in arrears The act prevents local governments from and has filed a hardship declaration with the engaging in a tax lien sale or a tax foreclosure lender. until at least May 1, 2021. Payments due to the locality are still due. Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Credit Discrimination and Disabled Homeowner Exemption Negative Credit Reporting Local governments are required to carry Lending institutions are prohibited from over SCHE and DHC exemptions from the discriminating against a property owner seek- 2020 assessment roll to the 2021 assessment ing credit because the property owner has roll at the same levels. They are also required

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to provide renewal applications for anyone who may be eligible for a larger exemption in 2021. Localities can also set procedures by which assessors can require renewal applications from people who the assessors believe may no longer be eligible for an exemption in 2021. Recipients of the exemption do not have to file renewal applications in person. On Sept. 28, Cuomo announced the State’s Tenant Safe Harbor Act would be extended  and expanded  until Jan. 1, 2021 to protect additional residential tenants from eviction if they are suffering financial hardship during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Executive Order extends the protections of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act to eviction warrants that existed prior to the start of the pandemic, and those who are facing other than nonpayment evictions but suffering the same hardship. “This law adds to previous executive orders by protecting the needy and vulnerable who, through no fault of their own, face eviction during an incredibly difficult period for New York. The more support we provide for tenants, mortgagors and seniors, the easier it will be for them to get back on their feet when the pandemic ends,” Cuomo said. “I want to thank the Legislature for passing this important protection for New Yorkers all across the state who need a hand. This is the kind of support that helps us stay New York Tough.”

Two Borough Business Owners Charged with $2.6M Fraud against State Insurance Fund By Forum Staff Two Queens business owners have been charged with defrauding the New York State Insurance Fund of nearly $3 million, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz recently announced. Manuel Sanchez, 50, of East Elmhurst, and his business, Lagos Construction, have been charged with grand larceny in the first degree, insurance fraud in the first degree, falsifying business records in the first degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and fraudulent practices for allegedly failing to pay insurance premiums of more than $2 million for workers’ compensation insurance covering employees. A second business owner, Rosa Rodriguez, 37, and her company, Encinos Construction, both located in Corona, have also been charged with grand larceny in the second degree, insurance fraud in the second degree, falsifying business records in the first degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and fraudulent practices for allegedly concealing $3 million in revenue during their

Rosa Rodriguez’s Encinos Construction is located on 112th Street in Corona.

audits with New York State Insurance Fund and allegedly defrauding the fund of more than $460,000 in insurance premiums. According to the charges, Lagos Construction was a policyholder with NYSIF, which provided workers compensation benefits for the business’s employees. Between April 2014 and April 2018, NYSIF conducted four audits conducted on Lagos Construction’s business records to verify the appropriate

amount Lagos should pay in premiums to the Fund. The audits included a review of the company’s checkbooks, banks statements, contracts, tax returns, unemployment insurance reports and other documents. It is alleged that Sanchez and the business falsified records and underreported the amount of business it conducted in order to avoid paying $2.2 million in insurance premiums. According to the charges, an

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audit of Encinos Construction’s books and records from October 2015 through August 2017 allegedly showed Rodriguez and her company concealed revenue totaling $3 million and therefore defrauded NYSIF of more than $460,000 plus interest in insurance premiums. “Employees depend on the worker’s compensation insurance for their much-needed wages and medical care when they are injured on the job. This is a promise that

must be kept to our hard-working labor force. These two employers allegedly pocketed money that should have helped fund the insurance program. This is unacceptable,” Katz said. “I want to thank my law enforcement partners for their diligence investigating these two cases. Both defendants will be held accountable.” New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro added, “The workers’ compensation system exists to protect employees— and their employers—should they get injured while on-the-job. It is unacceptable that companies would fail to protect their employees and flout the law. That is why we continue to vigorously pursue and investigate fraud and abuse in the workers’ compensation system across New York State. These individuals and their companies will now be held responsible for their deception thanks to the great work of District Attorney Katz’s office and our partners in law enforcement.” If convicted, Sanchez faces 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison. If convicted, Rodriguez faces 5 to 15 years in prison.

New Charges in Pan Am Flight 103 Bombing By Forum Staff Thirty-two years to the day after the terrorist bombing of a Pan Am jet over Scotland killed 270 people, including 190 Americans and 11 residents in the town of Lockerbie, federal investigators on Dec. 21 announced charges against a Libyan man they say was involved in making the bomb. The investigation has been open for more than three decades, even after a Libyan intelligence officer was convicted in 2001 on 270 counts of murder in the case in a Scottish court. The FBI, working closely with authorities in Scotland, has continued to pursue leads over the years pointing to others that may have been involved in the attack. In a press conference last week in Washington, D.C., federal officials announced the criminal complaint against Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi for his alleged role in the attack. He is currently in prison in Libya. The charges are the result of hundreds of interviews and leads that took investigators to 16 countries to pore over decadesold evidence, according to FBI

Photo Courtesy of FBI

At Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, a memorial cairn constructed of 270 stones—one for each of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103 who came from 21 different countries—is the sight of an annual service on the anniversary of the disaster, Dec. 21.

officials. The investigation has relied heavily on foreign partners, many in Scotland, where remnants of the plane fell, creating an 845-square-mile crime scene. Attorney General William Barr said during the Monday press conference that while the bombing occurred more than three decades ago, it left a lasting impression on anyone old

enough to remember it. “For those of us who do remember, that tragic event and the iconic images of its aftermath, some of which are displayed here today, are forever seared in our memories,” Barr said. In 1991, the British and American governments charged Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah in

the case. Their trial in 2000 was held in Scottish court built for the occasion on a former U.S. military base in the Netherlands. The court acquitted Fhimah and convicted al-Megrahi in 2001, sentencing him to life in prison. He was released in 2009 when he was believed near death from cancer, but he survived almost three more years.

The charges unsealed this week are the first in the case since 1991. Over more than three decades, victims’ families have continued to push to advance the investigation, believing the plot and its execution were not limited to Fhimah and al-Megrahi. Agents in the Washington Field Office, which has been leading the FBI investigation since the outset, have made repeated trips to countries with a nexus to the plot. And in private briefings, FBI officials have steadfastly assured victims’ families the investigation remains robust and ongoing. Every year, for example, FBI and Scottish investigators meet with Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc. to brief any developments. The meeting is held during Remembrance Week every fall at Syracuse University, which lost 35 study-abroad students in the bombing. They were flying home for the holiday break. “The men and women of the FBI have worked tenaciously for 32 years to investigate this horrific terrorist attack,” said Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 20 • Number 53 • DECEMBER 31, 2020 | 7


About B.1.1.7. By Forum Staff International alarm can be felt around the world after a new strain of COVID-19, which first surfaced in the U.K back in September, continues spreading rapidly. The first case in the U.S., reported earlier this week, was diagnosed in a 20-year-old male near Denver, Colorado. Complete understanding of the situation and any increase in threat that it poses, requires the understanding of the way viruses actually function. Viruses are the smallest of microbes— microscopic organisms like bacteria, capable of spreading disease and illness. To give you an idea of their size, certain viruses, like rhinovirus , are so small that 500 million of them could fit on the head of a pin. Viruses have a core, containing their genetic material and are surrounded by a protective coat that is made of protein. They have the capability to latch onto other cells and get inside them. It is in the core where changes to the virus’s genetic information, called mutations, occur. It is through this process that we often see new strains of flu emerge dur-

Viruses are always changing, acquiring small mutations in their genetic material over time as they spread among people. While those changes help researchers track the coronavirus’s path around the globe, they don’t often alter how the virus works.

ing a flu season. So it is with COVID-19 and the new viral strain known as B.1.1.7. Scientists have thus far accounted for 17 individual changes to the original virus. Some of the mutations alter the spike proteins used to invade healthy cells. These proteins have been supercharged as a result of mutation and have made B.1.1.7. far more contagious––between 50 and 70% more––according to data measured in the U.K. where 60% of new COVID patients there have the B.1.17. strain of the virus. Scientists remain extremely concerned

about two specific mutations, N501Y, which makes the virus bind more tightly to human cells and D614G, which makes the virus more transmissible. Plainly stated, the virus is on the path to attempt to evade the human immune system. The good news is that so far, B1.1.7. does not appear to carry worse symptomology than the original virus. They are also very confident that the current vaccines will be effective against the variant strain. Viral experts contend that how quickly the virus spreads depends on many factors, including people’s behavior in a community. That is, whether they wear masks, physically distance and avoid big gatherings. Those factors could be more important than whether B.1.1.7 actually arrives in a community.

While many elements are still to be researched in determining the potential threat posed by the new strain, the clearest fact remains that protective measures put in to place for reduced spreading, the most helpful of which are mask wearing, social distancing and hand-washing, still remain essential components in the war against COVID. World Health Organization officials (WHO) also noted that reducing transmission cuts the possibility of dangerous variants emerging. “The bottom line is that we need to suppress transmission of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses as quickly as we can,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The more we allow it to spread, the more opportunity it has to change.”

LIGHTER FARE for a LIGHTER CROWD These days with the reduced sized party limits, more and more hosting is being done with more of an appetizer fare than traditional sit down meal. This week we have chosen two delicious selections we know you’ll love.

THE BEST JALEPENO POPPERS These spicy jalapeño poppers filled with crispy bacon, cream cheese and parmesan are so simple and craveable Serves: 4 PREP TIME: 20 min COOK TIME: 30 min CALORIES: 612 INGREDIENTS 10 Fresh jalapenos 8 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded 8 oz Cream cheese, room temp 4 Pieces thick cut bacon, cooked and finely chopped 2 tbsp Fresh chives, chopped 2 Cloves of garlic, minced 1/2 tsp Salt 1/2 tsp Freshly ground pepper 2 tbsp Butter, melted 1 cup Panko

Using kitchen gloves or a plastic grocery sack to protect your hands, halve each jalapeño lengthwise. Remove seeds and membranes using a paring knife. Spoon cheese mixture evenly into each jalapeño half. Melt butter and pour over panko. Toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly over each popper. METHOD Place the peppers, cut side up, on a baking Preheat oven to 350° Lightly grease a sheet and bake on the bottom rack until baking sheet and set aside. the cheese has melted, jalapeños have softened and panko is golden brown. About In a small bowl, combine the parmesan 30 minutes. cheese, cream cheese, crumbled bacon, Remove from the oven and serve imchives, garlic, salt, and pepper. mediately.

8 DECEMBER 31, 2020 • Number 53 • VOL. 20 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops Marinated in an Asian-inspired soy with sriracha and lime juice until smooth. sauce-and-orange juice marinade and then Sriracha mayo can be made ahead and broiled until crisp and juicy— theseare the stored in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. perfect throw-back cocktail party nibble. Preheat oven to 425°F. Working with one scallop at a time, lay Serves: 6 bacon piece flat add a slice of water chestPREP TIME: 45 min nut to the center of the bacon followed by COOK TIME: 15 min a marinated sea scallop. Tightly wrap the CALORIES: 546 bacon around the scallop and pierce with a toothpick to hold the bacon in place. Place 1/4 cupSoy sauce or tamari on baking sheet lined with a cooling rack 1/4 cupOrange juice and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until bacon 1/4 cupBrown sugar is crispy. (For extra crispy bacon, broil for 1.5 lbsLarge sea scallops the last 2-3 minutes, just keep on eye on 18 oz can sliced water chesnuts them!) Serve warm along with sriracha 1/2 lbThin bacon, cut into 3” pieces mayo. Toothpicks Sriracha Aioli Dipping Sauce 3/4 cupMayonnaise 2 tbspSriracha 1 tbspLime juice METHOD In a small bowl combine soy sauce, brown sugar and orange juice. Add scallops to soy sauce mixture, toss to combine and allow refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight. In a small bowl combine mayo along

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 20 • Number 53 • DECEMBER 31, 2020 | 9

$150M in Breast Cancer Research Funding in Appropriations Package

Photo Courtesy of Sen. Gillibrand’s Office

“This program has been at the forefront of breast cancer research and care since its inception at the DoD and the continued funding is essential to life-saving scientific advancements,” Sen. Gillibrand said.

By Forum Staff The recently-passed government funding package authorized $150 million for the Department of Defense peer-reviewed Breast  Cancer  Research Program, enabling the program to continue  making  scientific breakthroughs in  breast  cancer  prevention, detection, and treatment, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday. Earlier this year, Gillibrand led a bipartisan letter to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to maintain the level of funding for the program, because: • “It is a demonstrated success: Groundbreaking discoveries that offer insights into the biology of  breast  cancer  have come as a result of the program, including revolutionary work that led to the development of the innovative drug Herceptin,” Gillibrand wrote. “From new methods of extracting  breast  cancer  cells at their earliest stages, to unprecedented research into gene/environment interaction and quality of life issues, the DOD BCRP leads the way in generating new approaches to breast cancer  prevention, treatment, and detection.  The Institute of Medicine, in two analyses of the program, overwhelmingly supports continued investment in the DOD BCRP, stating “the program fills a unique niche among public and private funding sources for cancer  research.  It is not duplicative of other programs and is a promising vehicle for forging new ideas and scientific breakthroughs in the nation’s fight against breast cancer.”  • “It is innovative and unique: The DOD BCRP has a unique grants structure that allows it to be more flexible and to fund in-

novative, high-risk, high-return research, enabling it to quickly respond to current scientific advances and to fill gaps by focusing on areas of research that are promising but otherwise underfunded.”   • “It is efficient:  Approximately 90 percent of the appropriated funds go directly to competitive, peer-reviewed research grants awarded only on the basis of scientific merit.” • “It is transparent and accountable to the public:  This is evidenced by the inclusion of consumer advocates at both the peer and programmatic review levels.  The consumer perspective helps the scientists understand how the research will affect the breast cancer community and allows for funding decisions based on the concerns and needs of patients and the medical community.  Each researcher who receives funds from the program must present their results to the American people online and at public meetings called ‘Era of Hope.’ The transparency of the DOD BCRP allows scientists, consumers, and the American public to see the exceptional progress made in breast cancer research.” • “Support for the  Breast  Cancer  Research Program can help change the lives of millions of people fighting this devastating disease,” Gillibrand said Tuesday. “This program has been at the forefront of breast cancer research and care since its inception at the DoD and the continued funding is essential to life-saving scientific advancements.” According to Gillibrand, breast cancer is one of the most common  cancers  in the United States, with nearly 1 in 8 women estimated to be diagnosed in their lifetime.

10 DECEMBER 31, 2020 • Number 53 • VOL. 20 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP

The Pharmacist’s Corner Presented by Frank Pantina, R.Ph

LOOKING FORWARD TO A BETTER NEW YEAR I would like to start this week by sending our wishes for an unbelievably better New Year. We are fortunate to serve and work in this community, through arguably, what is the most difficult time we have ever faced as individuals and as a society. Crossbay Chemist is in the position to regularly check the pulse of the community and we are proud to say that we see the evidence of your continued dedication to social distancing, mask wearing and other measures essential to stopping the spread of this virus. It is clear that testing and monitoring are critical in this fight. More and more people need to be tested on a regular basis and the demand for testing has greatly risen. To that end we are very pleased to be able to tell you that we have taken steps to add a testing site to the pharmacy. The test being administered is a PCR test. Also called a molecular test, this COVID-19 test detects genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We collect a fluid sample by inserting a nasal swab into your nostril and taking fluid from the back of the nose. Medical experts have established that PCR  tests are very accurate when properly performed by a health care professional. At our pharmacy the procedure for being tested begins with completing a health assessment form. You will then be directed to the pharmacy counter to submit the form and to make a payment for the test. Patients with medical insurance are asked to pay a $20 fee and those without insurance pay $75. Your test will then be administered by one of our trained technicians and your results will be available within 24-48 hours. We sincerely hope that this measure will take away some of the stresses associated with testing. Our test procedure has been stream-

lined to make it as easy as picking up a prescription. As much attention is focused on caring for COVID at hospitals and throughout the medical community, we would like to share some information about advice from medical staff for their patients when they go home. We found this information to be extremely practical and formulating a solid plan for recovery. Sleep on your stomach at all times. If you are unable for medical reasons, sleep on your side. DO not lie on your back because it compresses your lungs allowing fluid to set in. Set your clock for every two hours while sleeping on your stomach and get out of bed and walk around for 15-30 minutes. Even if you are tired and or weak you must do this. Move your arms around frequently because it helps to open your lungs. Breathe through your nose and then through your mouth. This helps to build your lungs and rid your body of pneumonia and fluids. Get up and walk around for every commercial if you’re watching TV. Eat 1-2 eggs a day plus bananas, avocado and asparagus, they all supply potassium. Drink Pedialyte, Gatorade Zero, Powerade Zero and water with electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Beverages should be room temperature or warmed, never cold. Water with lemon and honey, peppermint tea and apple cider are good for getting fluids. No milk products or pork. Use vitamins D3, C, B Zinc, and a good probiotic. Use Tylenol for fever, Mucinex or Mucinex DM for drainage and coughing. Take Pepcid for leg cramps and a baby aspirin daily. Please check with your healthcare provider to make sure you can follow these steps at home without interfering with other prescribed meds or conditions beside COVID-19.

For your family’s prescription needs, please call

CROSS BAY CHEMIST at 718-659-9500 or 718-880-1644

157-02 Cross Bay Blvd. in Howard Beach: Mon-Fri 9am-9pm. Sat-Sun 9am-7pm. or 96-05 101st Ave. in Ozone Park: Mon-Sat 9am-7pm. Sunday: Closed.

Passenger Arrives at JFK with 5 Pounds of Coke U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport this weekend detected a large amount of cocaine hidden inside a condiment container belonging to an arriving passenger. Keiter Elian Rijo Morales, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, arrived Saturday on a flight from Santo Domingo. CBP officers inspected a large metal container labeled “Bella Tomato Paste.” CBP officers opened the container and discovered a white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine. The weight of cocaine seized was apMorales was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was proximately 5 pounds, with an estimated turned over to Homeland Security Inves- street value of $160,000. Photo Courtesy of CBP tigations.

ASPCA Announces $1M in Funding to Support Animal Care Centers of NYC By Forum Staff The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is awarding $1 million in grant funding to  Animal Care Centers of NYC  to support their operations and fund key programs, including those aimed at keeping pets and their families together and preventing shelter relinquishments throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. In addition to providing grant funding, ASPCA officials indicated that the organization is committed to continuing to support ACC’s efforts through a multi-faceted collaboration, which includes providing veterinary care for owned pets living in underserved communities, spay/neuter services for homeless animals, and the transfer of dogs and cats, including victims of cruelty and neglect, to the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City. “Now, when New York City’s resources are under pressure and many animals are at risk due to pandemic-related conditions, the  ASPCA’s funding will provide additional support for the work of ACC, which cares for approximately 20,000 animals in an average year,”  said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “We are proud to partner with and support ACC by

Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett

providing this lifesaving funding at a time when it is greatly needed to safeguard New York City’s most vulnerable animals.” In addition to funding ACC’s operations, the ASPCA  grant will also support ACC’s innovative approach to preventing animal surrenders.  These safety net services include admissions counseling for owners considering relinquishing their animals, providing owners with alternate solutions

to keep their pets in their homes. The grant will also support programs like Community Pets, which provides critical resources, pet food, veterinary care and microchips to petowning families in underserved neighborhoods–offering a vital resource that is needed now more than ever as New York City faces another spike in COVID-19 cases. “Our partnership with the ASPCA  has enabled ACC to provide crucial resources

to the community beyond the scope of our contract with the city,” said ACC’s President and CEO Risa Weinstock. “This funding from the ASPCA is critical as we anticipate the need to provide services such as surrender prevention, vaccine clinics and pet food distribution to only increase as pet owners face even more financial hardships due to job loss and evictions. We are so proud to be recognized by the nation’s leading voice in animal welfare as we pursue our shared goal of making sure every New Yorker has access to pet-related services in the communities that need it the most.  We look forward to continuing to work together, and to save even more lives in the years to come.” ASPCA officials also noted that the organization has provided more than $21 million in grant funding to support ACC and other NYC animal welfare organizations to advance efforts to drastically reduce euthanasia, increase adoption and placement numbers, and improve access to care for underserved pets. Since 2017, ACC has maintained a placement rate of more than 90 percent, making New York City one of the nation’s leaders in the placement of dogs, cats and rabbits among highintake shelters. Photo Courtesy of ASPCA

Faulisi & Company CPA’S LLP

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Faulisi & Company CPA’s LLP 101-42 99th Street Ozone Park, NY 11416


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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 20 • Number 53 • DECEMBER 31, 2020 | 11

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         12 DECEMBER 31, 2020 • Number 53 • VOL. 20 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP








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Legal Notices BRICK CITY PRODUCTIONS LLC, Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 11/17/2020. Office loc: Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: Antonio Causi, 9716 Albert Road #2, Ozone Park, NY 11417. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose.

GRACEVIEW LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 09/25/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: GRACEVIEW LLC, 6617 BEACH CHANNEL DRIVE, AVERNE, NEW YORK 11692. Purpose: Any lawful activity

Notice of Formation of SALON 1884, LLCArts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 08/18/20. Office location: Queens County. Princ. office of LLC: 458 Seneca Ave., Apt. 2R, Ridgewood, NY 11385. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to Corporation Service Co., 80 State St., Albany, NY 122072543. Purpose: Fashion and design.

ANASTASIA KATERINA LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 05/28/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC 30-92 29th St #6F Astoria, NY 11105. Purpose: Any lawful activity

Filed on Time, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/23/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY Agent of LLC upon whom the process may be served. SSNY shall mail a copy of the process to Nikolett Peto at 4261 24th Street, Floor 4, Long Island City, NY 11101. Purpose: Accounting and tax service .

MAGNET RX LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 11/10/20. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC, c/o Kalb & Rosenfeld P.C., 283 Commack Road, Suite 210, Commack, NY 11725. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

OPM OPPORTUNITIES LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/12/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY desig. agent of LLC whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to 82-17 153 Ave., Ste. 204, Queens, NY 11414, which is also the principal business location. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

CLARA B’S LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/30/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: DANIELLE TAYLOR, 17019 FOCH BLVD, JAMAICA, NY 11434. Purpose: Any lawful activity

DELOREAN DECADES LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/18/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: GREGORY MYERS, 26808 UNION TURNPIKE, 2ND FLOOR, GLEN OAKS, NY 11004. Purpose: Any lawful activity

JP INTERIOR DECORATION LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/24/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: CARLOS A PAREDES, 25-81 99TH STREET 1ST FLOOR, E ELMHURST, NY 11369. Purpose: Any lawful activity


EVOLUTION HOME REPAIRS LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 9/28/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY Agent of LLC upon whom the process may be served. SSNY shall mail a copy of the process to: PANAGIOTA XIFAS, 160-24 21st Ave, 2nd flr. Whitestone, NY 11357. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

Notice of Formation of SALON 1884, LLCArts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 08/18/20. Office location: Queens County. Princ. office of LLC: 458 Seneca Ave., Apt. 2R, Ridgewood, NY 11385. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to Corporation Service Co., 80 State St., Albany, NY 122072543. Purpose: Fashion and design.

RNR CONSULTING LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 2/12/2020. Office loc: Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: R. YAKUBOV 8804 136TH STREET, FIRST FLOOR, RICHMOND HILL, NY 11418. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose.

Notice is hereby given that license #1332605 has been applied by the undersigned to sell beer and wine under the alcoholic beverage control law at 32-21 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106 for on-premises consumption. Slider Burger LLC d/b/a SLDR Burger Bar.

SMBI LLC. Articles of Org._ filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/09/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY Desig. agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to 104-28 Merrick Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11433. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

MV BROKERAGE LLC, Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 12/09/2020. Office loc: Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: The LLC, 34-20 31 Street, Astoria, NY 11106. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose.

Notice of formation of 32 26 99 STREET, LLC. Art. Of Org. filed with the Sect’y of State of NY (SSNY) on 08/17/20. Office in Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, 48-17 64 ST WOODSIDE, NY, 11377. Purpose: Any lawful purpose

BLUE ZAFIRO SERVICES, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 08/26/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: BLUE ZAFIRO SERVICES, LLC 8209 LEFFERTS BLVD, KEW GARDENS, NY 11415. Purpose: Any lawful activity

ALANYE LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/09/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: BY ALANYE LLC, 80-08 135TH STREET, APT 702, JAMAICA, NY 11435. Purpose: Any lawful activity

SARA’S DIGITAL STUDIO LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 10/30/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: SARA’S DIGITAL STUDIO LLC, 228-35 114 TERR, CAMBRIA HEIGHTS, NY 11411. Purpose: Any lawful activity

TRIPLE PRIME V LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/25/2020. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: BUSINESS FILINGS INCORPORATED, 187 WOLF ROAD, SUITE 101, ALBANY,NY 12205. Purpose: Any lawful activity

SERENITY MARKETING, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 10/15/2020. Office loc: Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: Serenity Marketing, LLC, 137-47 71 Avenue, Flushing, NY 11367. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose.












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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP â&#x20AC;¢ VOL. 20 â&#x20AC;¢ Number 53 â&#x20AC;¢ DECEMBER 31, 2020 | 15

We gladly accept phone orders!


Sale Dates















01 02 03 04 05 06 07

We ask you to please remember that for everyone’s safety, masks must be worn at all times while in the store. Thank you. Stay safe!

Boneless Center Cut Pork Chops

Hass Avocados

Boar's Head Deluxe Ham

Capatriti Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3/ 2

$ 99

$ 99

Boar's Head Domestic Swiss Cheese

Entemann's Full Line Sale

Family pack


$ 99


Per LB

Fresh Atlantic Salmon



Boar's Head Honey Ham

$ 99 Per LB

Fresh Broccoli


$ 99 Per LB

Boar's Head American Cheese



$ 99


Tuttorosso Tomatoes

Red Strawberries


1 lb cont


$ 49 each


$ 99

16 DECEMBER 31, 2020 • Number 53 • VOL. 20 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP

w/card. limit 2 offers

4/ 4 $

w/card. Must buy 4. limit 2 offers


$ 99


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