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Source: Someecards

Happy Labor Day from us at the Bean! Enjoy your day off, hardworking Americans.

As for this lowly blogger, there is not much rest to be had. Now, who wants to shoot el jefe a letter condemning this unfortunate day of actual labor?

Source: JCHB

Good news for parents of toddlers still thinking about where to send their kids come the back to school season: The Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst at 7802 Bay Parkway was just awarded a contract for a full day Universal Pre-Kindergarten for 2012-2013.

This is a new addition to the Early Childhood Center consisting of Mommy and Me classes, a private tuition-based program for children who are 3 years old and a free part-time UPK program, which includes enrichment classes in dance, music, art, Russian language and swimming.

The Universal Pre-Kindergarten program is designated for children born in 2008 and who will turn four before December 1, 2012 located in District 20.

The JCH  is now accepting inquiries for a lottery for the program. All inquiries must be submitted by 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 4.

Each inquiry must include first and last name of the child; his or her date of birth, home address and a phone number. All inquiries should be submitted by email to Tatyana Sirman. Inquiries received after 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday September 4 will not be eligible to participate.

If you have any questions, please call 718-943-6333.

Source: The Consumerist via Flickr

Dina Wolhendler, a 24-year-old mom from Borough Park, noticed that her wallet had gone missing while shopping and wasted no time chasing after the burglar to demand her belongings.

On Tuesday afternoon, she was shopping for her daughter in Midtown when she noticed that her things had disappeared. Prior to the incident, she had her bank track all of her purchases and send them to her phone. As she was on her way back to look in her office for the missing cash and cards, she got a message that her card had been used at Urban Outfitters, just a block away.

Instead of reporting the theft to the police, Wolhendler used her instincts and went to the nearby Best Buy, thinking her card may be used there next.

“I just wanted to find my wallet,” said Wolhendler. “I wasn’t thinking about what happened if I found the person (who robbed me).”

After she walked into Best Buy, she noticed a woman making a purchase with a card that looked identical to her own. She also saw the Urban Outfitters shopping bag.

“I tried to grab the card out of her hand,” Woldhendler said. “I followed her to the back of the store screaming ‘Security. Stop her. Stop her.’”

Police then stopped the two women and took in the thief. She was charged with eight counts of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. She has dozens of arrests as far back as 1982, including identify theft.

Wolhendler’s husband was doubly impressed and surprised with his wife’s feat of bravery since normally, she’s afraid of mice.

Source: Adam E. Moreira via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking to get out of town this Labor Day or simply getting uptown, here is your MTA holiday commute guide:

The MTA is providing extra service on Friday, Sept. 2, so you can get a head start on the long holiday weekend. All services will operate on a reduced schedule on Labor Day.

Long Island Rail Road:

If you’re planning an early getaway for the start of the Labor Day weekend, the Long Island Rail Road is adding early-afternoon service from Penn Station on Friday, Sept. 2. The LIRR will operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule on Labor Day, Monday, September 5.

Metro-North Railroad:

Metro-North Railroad is providing 16 extra getaway trains on Friday, September  2, that will leave Grand Central Terminal in the early afternoon. Four extra trains will be on the Hudson Line, four on the Harlem Line and eight on the New Haven Line. For the return to the City from the holiday week, there will be three extra inbound trains on the New Haven Line from New Haven arriving in the late afternoon and evening. All trains are shown in current timetables.

New York City Subways and Buses in New York City and Nassau County:

The New York City Subway, as well as buses in New York City and Nassau County, will operate on a Sunday schedule on Labor Day, Monday, September  5. Because of the West Indian-American Day Carnival on Monday, Sept. 5, the 4 train will be making additional stops in Brooklyn, while certain subway stations will be temporarily closed and eight bus routes will be detoured around the carnival.

Staten Island Railway:

The Staten Island Railway is providing extra early afternoon express train service on Friday, September  2. Extra trains will be added beginning at 2:31 p.m. from the St. George Ferry Terminal. There will be one express train and one local train awaiting every boat until 7:50 p.m. On Labor Day, SIR will operate a Sunday schedule.

Bridges and Tunnels:

MTA Bridges and Tunnels will suspend all routine maintenance work at its seven bridges and two tunnels beginning noon on Friday, September  2, through the end of the morning rush on Tuesday, September  6, in order to help smooth travel for those hitting the road for the Labor Day weekend.

Image courtesy of David Cohen

Food Stuffs is a new column examining the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything even remotely related to food because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.

Some foods make me feel all patriotic and nostalgic. They remind me of when I used to watch the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks on my parent’s Panasonic TV. Or the first time I went to see those same fireworks, standing in the crowds on the temporarily closed FDR expressway. These feelings of summer and Brooklyn and sticky nights come back to me with that refreshing, bright red fruit, the watermelon.

As my adventures in pickling continue, I was drawn to the watermelon. It is a comfort food for so many of us. It brings people together. A friend of mine, who I lived with while traveling in India, made a watermelon song. It goes like this, “Watermelon, watermelon – I love you love” and repeat. Now, even the most cynical and Brooklyn-to-the-core readers may have appreciated that hippie music sampling. I certainly hope so.

Looking at the big chunks of watermelon in the pickle brine, I could only appreciate how flexible a fruit watermelon is. In the Middle East, folks save and roast the seeds and eat fresh watermelon with feta cheese. In the South, people pickle the brine with all sorts of sweet and salty flavors. Across colleges all of the country, rowdy students intoxicate the watermelon with liquor to get themselves a bit looser. And if you really want a summer treat here in Brooklyn, find yourself a watermelon-flavored Italian Ice.

I re-used a plastic fruit bag, much to the chagrin of the market cashier and paid for the two chunks of melon, one for me and one for my companion. As we left the market on 86th Street searching for a place to savor the bright pickles, I noticed a September 11 mural across the way with bright stars and stripes and an eagle reminding us to “Never forget.”

There, I thought, that’s the place to eat pickled watermelon.

We stood proudly against the mural, imagining that we were welcoming summer a few weeks before Memorial Day. Somehow, this is as close as we would get to military service.

As I bit into the tip of the watermelon triangle, I enjoyed the mixture of sweet and pickle. The first bite tasted like watermelon with a vinegary salad dressing. I was into it and continued my way down to the rind. The rind is really the best part of this pickle. Generally, when eating watermelon you would ignore the rind, but here you savor every pickled bit. The rind is firm and crunchy yet full of flavor and refreshing, salty moisture. I found myself wanting to eat through the rind to the skin, but I stopped myself, as the pickled goodness had not permeated the protective layer of the melon. This watermelon is as tough as Bath Beach.

Standing on the corner, by the 9/11 mural, eating my pickled watermelon, I looked forward to more pickles, more murals, fireworks, chants of USA and more Bensonhurst treats.

Cherry Hill Market, 2278 86th Street at 23rd Avenue, (718) 373-4900.

Is there a restaurant or specific dish you think we should check out? Let us know!

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Source: Councilman Greenfield

From the offices of Councilman David Greenfield:

Councilman David G. Greenfield met last week with top officials from Consolidated Edison to get answers on issues that have plagued residents and businesses of Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst for years, including manhole fires and the blackout earlier this summer that left part of Boro Park crippled for several days during a brutal heat wave. Greenfield also discussed issues constituents have contacted his office about – such as delays in getting power restored following the recent incidents – and toured Con Edison’s emergency command center in Downtown Brooklyn. During the meeting, Con Ed officials committed to improving and repairing critical infrastructure throughout areas of Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst that have been hit hardest by outages in recent years.

“It’s easy to complain when there’s a blackout. My goal is to make sure that a blackout never happens again. I explained to Con Edison the rapid growth that my district is experiencing. After reviewing the information that I provided them with, Con Ed agreed to make the necessary upgrades to try to prevent blackouts in the future,” explained Greenfield. “Residents and merchants need to have confidence that Con Ed can handle the growing demand on its infrastructure. That’s why I am working closely with utility officials to make sure this area receives the upgrades it needs. I was pleased to discuss so many pressing issues with top company officials, and I am confident that they understand how important it is to prevent future blackouts from occurring in Southern Brooklyn, especially in Boro Park,” said Greenfield.

During last week’s meeting at Con Edison’s Brooklyn headquarters, Greenfield was provided with an in-depth explanation of what caused the blackout on June 21 and what steps the utility company will take to upgrade local infrastructure. Con Edison has committed to a multi-million dollar infrastructure upgrade in Boro Park including the vicinity of 50th Street and 14th Avenue, which was the site of the major blackout. Greenfield also discussed the area’s sharp population growth, including the increase of multi-unit apartment buildings, which has placed new demands on the energy grid in recent years, and gained a firsthand look at how Con Ed tracks outages in its Emergency Command Center. Greenfield also discovered that Con Ed cannot always track blackouts in specific buildings right away. That is why officials noted that it is vital that the public immediately report all outages to 1-800-75-CONED and not assume the company is already aware of the problem.

Greenfield requested the meeting in response to the June blackout, which left many homes and buildings on 50th Street between 13thAvenue and 15th Avenue in the dark throughout the weekend. During that incident, Greenfield worked through the night with Con Edison officials to make sure the response was being handled adequately, and to help arrange for emergency generators and cooling buses to be brought to the scene to provide relief to businesses and residents still without power. Following that blackout, Greenfield promised impacted residents that he would follow up with Con Edison on a long-term solution.

At last week’s meeting Greenfield and his staff met with John Banks, Con Edison’s vice president for government relations, Milovan Blair, vice president for Brooklyn electric operations, Joseph Lenge, Jr., department manager for Brooklyn electric engineering, Antonia Yuille Williams, director of public affairs and government relations for Brooklyn, Phyllis White-Thorne, public information manager and several Con Edison engineers. Greenfield will continue working with Con Edison to make sure the upgrades move ahead in a timely manner, and in response to any future incidents.

“This meeting provided me with important insight into the steps Con Edison is taking to avoid many of these same problems in the future. I applaud Con Ed for working with me to resolve these issues. I look forward to continue working closely with the utility company and with residents to quickly resolve issues that arise in the future, and to find long-term solutions to the outages that have impacted the neighborhood,” added Greenfield.

Aron (Source: Facebook)

Levi Aron, the man who abducted, drugged, killed and chopped into pieces 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky in July 2011 has been sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.

On July 11, Aron kidnapped Kletzky on 18th Avenue in Borough Park as the boy walked home from day camp. The community organized a large-scale search for Keltzky, and using video surveillance authorities eventually tracked down Aron.

They found portions of the boy’s dismembered body in Aron’s refrigerator in his Kensington apartment, as well as in a dumpster in Park Slope.

Aron was charged with murder after confessing to the crime. There was initially concern about whether Aron was fit to stand trial, but a judge gave prosecutors the green light after a review from a court psychiatrist. After further attempts by his lawyers to show mental instability - including that he is the victim of inbreedingAron eventually pleaded guilty.

Source: The Dyker Heights Historical Society via Wikimedia Commons

From the Dyker Heights Historical Society:

This is an image of the back fields of Poly Prep seen in 1919. The Chapel, under the clock tower, wasn’t built yet (c.1922), and the “field house” on the far left had not yet been converted to the gym which is there today (c.1930). Poly Prep had horses on campus to help cut the grass.

How’s that for a “back to school” photo? Maybe it’s a bit too “back in time.”

Source: Alex537 via Wikimedia Commons

Monday morning at 7:30 a.m., 20-year-old Alexa Conto was waiting for the D train at New Utrecht Avenue and 71st Street. She wasn’t feeling too well and fainted, falling right onto the tracks.

This story would have been tragic had three Good Samaritans not acted quickly by jumping on the tracks to rescue Conto, seconds before a train arrived.

“They took their own lives into their hands by jumping down. They saw the train coming. Not many people would do that,” Alicia Conto, Alexa’s mother said.

The rescuers alerted the conductor who stopped the train and called paramedics.

Conto was taken to Lutheran Hospital and treated for a broken foot and stitches in her head.

“There was my daughter all bandaged up. She fell, she cut open her head, it was a nightmare,” said Alicia.

One of the heroes, Brittany Cruz, left her cell number at the scene of the incident, but the rest left before police could get names or their information.

Now, the family wants to find the rest of the group and properly thank them.

“I want people to know that there are good people out there that will step up and help another person,” added Alicia.

Thanks to the anonymous heroes who saved Alexa from death, it really is great to know that there are strangers out there willing to help one another.