Photo by George Burshteyn

Come on, peoples — read the boilerplate below and send in some more photos for Morning Mug and the puzzle.

Photo by George Burshteyn

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

This is a paid announcement from Learn and Explore Early Childhood Center of Excellence:

OPEN HOUSE en tv 2

Learn and Explore is a brand new early childhood center of excellence with a single vision – providing a personal journey of knowledge and experiences for every young learner, ages 2 to 6. Our program concentrates on developing the “whole child” by building communication, social/emotional, thinking, and physical skills. As a result, children enjoy the self-confidence and problem-solving abilities they need for learning success in a safe, supportive, nurturing and stimulating environment.

At Learn and Explore, we believe that children learn through discovery and play. We use the Creative Curriculum education program which supports our belief that children learn best when the classroom environment is child-centered with a focus on interest areas. This enables children to develop confidence, creativity and lifelong critical thinking skills that are necessary for school-readiness and beyond.

Other features of our program include:

  • Embedded enrichment program that includes dance, music, and yoga.
  • Brand new state-of-the-art facility.
  • Nutritious meals included.
  • Extended and flexible schedule.
  • Safe, secure, and nurturing learning environment.

Come join us this weekend for a tour of our amazing facility, and an introduction to the programs that will help your child excel.

Learn and Explore, 330 Neptune Avenue, (718) 513-3600, info@learnandexplore1.com and follow on Facebook.

The above is a paid announcement by Learn and Explore. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

 

Biking on Flatbush
The NYPD has announced a two-week bicycle safety enforcement initiative called Operation Safe Cycle, which begins today, Wednesday, August 13 and continues through Tuesday, August 26.

They say they’ll be targeting cyclists who fail to stop at red lights, disobey traffic signals or signs, ride the wrong direction against traffic, ride on the sidewalk, and fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

But it’s not just cyclists — the NYPD says they’re also focus on motorists who obstruct bike lanes.

“The NYPD asks all persons bicycling and driving in the city to make safety a priority,” they said in a release. “The NYPD is committed to providing a safe environment for all New Yorkers.”

It seems that as the city continues to work on Vision Zero ideas, the NYPD will keep rolling out stings that focus on one aspect that makes traveling the streets in this city dangerous — they’ve already focused on texting and driving, speeding, and other hazardous driving behaviors.

If you have some experience with Operation Safe Cycle in the neighborhood, let us know in the comments.

gourmanoff-10

Gourmanoff, a new gourmet supermarket from the folks behind NetCost Market, is now open at 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue, taking up the ground floor of the former Millenium Theater.

The owners celebrated the grand opening Monday evening with an invite-only party, with Vegas-style cocktail waitresses handing out champagne and a full display of the market’s culinary talents. Here’s our photo tour.

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“We want Gourmanoff to be Lexus to NetCost’s Toyota,” said executive chef Zack Hess, pictured above. “It’s a different caliber than NetCost. Our products are super high-end.”

Hess, 32, said the market only sells organic meats, and all seafood is shipped fresh from Alaska, Maine and Long Island.

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The third-generation chef comes to Gourmanoff after stints at Manhattan restaurants and ritzy country clubs. Now he oversees Gourmanoff’s prolific kitchen, which produces dozens of hot items served along the market’s perimeter. From sushi to shashlik, lobster rolls to olivier salads and a huge display of smoked fish, Hess, a Sheepshead Bay native, has a hand in all of it.

His favorite items on the menu are the scallop ceviche and short ribs, which we can attest were among the best of the dozens of samples offered Monday night.

Continue Reading »

Source: Cymbrowitz’s office

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is partnering with the New York Blood Center to ask residents to roll up their sleeves and give the “Gift of Life” at his Super Community Blood Drive tomorrow. In exchange for doing good, the Brooklyn Cyclones are pitching in with a pair of tickets to all presenting donors.

A New York Blood Center Bloodmobile will be stationed outside of his office, on Sheepshead Bay Road near the corner of Emmons Avenue. The donation truck will be there from noon until 6:00 p.m.

Here are some facts from the New York Blood Center’s website, which underscore how important it is to donate the gift of life:

  • 4.5 million Americans benefit from life-saving blood transfusions each year.
  • 40,000 pints are transfused each day in the United States.
  • New York Blood Center alone requires over 2,000 volunteer blood donations each day to meet the transfusion needs of patients in close to 200 New York and New Jersey hospitals.
  • 1 out of every 3 people will require a life-saving transfusion sometime during their lifetime.
  • Transfusion recipients include cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, newborn babies, transplant patients, mothers delivering babies, surgery patients, chronically transfused patients suffering from sickle cell disease or thalassemia, etc.
  • Much of today’s sophisticated medical care (transplants, heart surgeries, etc.) rely on blood transfusions.
  • Car accident and trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more red cell transfusions.
  • Severe burn victims may need as many as 20 platelet transfusions.
  • Bone marrow transplants may require platelets from over 100 donors and red cells from over 20 people.
  • Blood products are perishable: Donated red cells last only 42 days; Donated platelets last only 5 days; Plasma can be frozen for a year.
  • The need for blood never takes a holiday.

Eligibility Criteria

  • ID with photo or signature
  • Minimum weight 110 lbs
  • Between 16-76 years of age
  • 16-year-olds need parental consent.
  • Persons age 76 and over must bring a doctor’s note.

For more information, contact (800) 933-2566, or to find other blood drives in the area call (800) 933-BLOOD.

Source: mikey k/Flickr

Source: mikey k/Flickr

Thomas Dunikowski, who fired a rifle at a group of rowdy teens on his Stuart Street block in 2011, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Following a mistrial last year, when jurors acquitted him of attempted murder charges but deadlocked on assault charges, Dunikowski struck a plea deal with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and agreed to an eight year sentence, with five years of supervision after his release.

“I would just like to say that I am sorry to everyone that I hurt with this whole ordeal,” Dunikowski, 33, said in court before sentencing, according to the New York Post. “I am sorry they got hurt, and I am sorry I hurt my family and [brought] them through this.”

Dunikowski was arrested in June 2011 after opening fire from his second floor window, wounding two teenagers who refused to leave his stoop. He fired 27 shots as the teens, ranging in age from 14 to 17, fled.

The noisy teens had refused to leave his property, and had allegedly been previously kicking over garbage cans and making a ruckus on the block.

The Marine Park dad also reportedly struck a 21-year-old female bystander.

school classroom by Dan Nguyen

A new, more inclusionary approach to educate NYC students with special needs is proving easier said than done, says a new report by Chalkbeat. The organization spoke to students, parents, and school officials and found that schools are struggling to implement mandatory reforms to special education, while its effect on students is still unproven.

Integrating special needs students by enrolling them in general education classes, mixed classes (including typical and special needs students), or a combination of the two, was an idea first publicly introduced in 2003 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The proposal was launched as a pilot at a limited number of city schools in 2010, and launched citywide in 2012. Chalkbeat, though, found that some schools lacked the resources and the scramble to implementation is leaving some of the neediest students behind.

Students affected by this Special Education Reform and interviewed by Chalkbeat each had unique experiences, some positive, some not. They include Joseph, a middle schooler with ADHD who was placed in mixed classes as per the city’s new policies, and for whom no purely special education classes were available when attempts to mainstream proved unsuccessful; Noah, whose mother Britt Sady pushed for his inclusion in a general education class so as to set higher standards for his learning and increase his chances of graduation; Christon Solomon, a middle schooler who says small learning sessions in special education classes work better for him than general education; and Thomas, who was suspended often in special education classes, but is doing better since being introduced to mainstream and mixed classes.

The experiences of parents and kids profiled are diverse, as are the abilities of the schools discussed to see that students’ needs are met–often, says Chalkbeat, schools simply aren’t provided with adequate staffing or financial resources to abide by the 2012 reforms. This is the case with Joseph–whose transfer to another school was finally approved only near the end of the school year, and presumably because his mother Clara, who works for the Department of Education, came armed with a certain amount of knowledge regarding red tape.

“Sometimes, if the parent doesn’t question [a school's inadequate handling of a special needs child's education], it just goes under the radar,” family advocate Olga Vazquez, of mental illness and developmental disability service support agency ICL, told the publication.

Certain schools are benefitting from reforms more than others. The article says funding is disproportionately doled out to schools with integrated classrooms instead of simply general and special education ones, and parents of both typical and special needs students at Harlem’s P.S. 112, for example, have requested mixed classes to enhance their kids’ educational experiences.

However the jury is still out, quantitatively speaking, on the effectiveness of integrating kids of different abilities into the same classrooms. Chalkbeat says some test scores have increased marginally, but others have not. What does appear to be clear is a widening discrepancy in disciplinary action being handed down to special needs students in mainstream classrooms, but DOE Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi says Chancellor Carmen Fariña has no plans to overhaul the 2012 reforms.

If you’re an New York City educator or parent, what’s your take on the matter? Have you run into any of the problems stated in Chalkbeat’s article, or seen students improve under new policies? Should properly run mixed classrooms benefit all students–and what would running them properly entail of schools, teachers, and the DOE? How would funding and resources be distributed if you had it your way?

Photo by Dan Nguyen

Photo by Ella Kitay

I know, I know… it’s a stretch.

Photo by Ella Kitay

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

Royal Bay Restaurant In Sheepshead Bay

Photo by Ned Berke

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) will sponsor a free talk and slide show tomorrow by official Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger:

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2014
2 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.
ROYAL BAY RESTAURANT
1794 SHEEPSHEAD BAY ROAD

Schweiger will speak about the history of Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach.

An accompanying photo exhibit is being displayed in the window of Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ district office, 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road, all summer long.

One Prospect Park West sits at the entrance to Prospect Park (Photo by Mary Bakija)

A Medicaid fraud bust at a Park Slope adult day care center resulted in the arrest today of residents of Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Sea Gate, one of whom is a member of Sheepshead Bay’s Community Board 15.

The three local defendants worked at Northern Manor Adult Day Health Care Program at One Prospect Park West. They are accused of falsifying medical records to bilk the Medicaid program out of more than $1 million. The center’s operators are also accused of hiring unqualified individuals to provide services.

The bust followed a long-term investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which has been probing adult day health care centers for potential abuses.

The attorney general’s office set up covert stings, sending healthy, vibrant seniors to the facility as undercover informants for the attorney general. They say their secret cameras recorded Larisa Rumynik, 48, of Brighton Beach, and Valentina Shapran, 51, of Sea Gate, falsifying medical admission forms to ensure the healthy patients would qualify for the programs.

The third local defendant, Liliya Kostyuk, 58, of Sheepshead Bay, is accused of providing social work services and psychological assessments that she was not qualified to perform, the attorney general’s office said.

Kostyuk is also a member of Community Board 15, a government body comprised of 50 unpaid community members appointed at the request of City Council members. The Boards are responsible for advising city and state agencies on planning decisions. According to Chairperson Theresa Scavo, Kostyuk has been on the Board for at least six years and is an appointee of former Councilman Michael Nelson. She did not hold any leadership posts on the Board.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Scavo on hearing the news of Kostyuk’s arrest. “Liliya? I’m speechless. she’s always seemed so quiet. I guess you can never judge.”

Each of the three defendants face up to four years in state prison if found guilty. The program’s director, Gelena Deverman, 35, of New Jersey, was charged with grand larceny for causing Medicaid to pay more than $1 million in phony claims. She faces 25 years in prison.

Northern Manor’s parent company, Northern Manor Multicare Center based in Nanuet, New York, in a separate civil settlement, admitted that it operated without a qualified social worker from mid-2010 to 2011. They also confessed to routinely admitting more registrants than it was certified to take.

The parent company agreed to pay a $6.5 million civil settlement in the case and to shut down the Brooklyn center.

“Today’s charges detail yet another example of egregious, despicable abuse of public resources for personal gain, sending the message that criminal behavior will be met with the full force of the law,” said Schneiderman in a press release. “Employees of this program will never again be able to steal from taxpayers and deprive vulnerable New Yorkers of the care they deserve.”

Adult day cares are surging in popularity across New York, seen as a less costly alternative to nursing homes. Such facilities are licensed by the state to provide medical and psychosocial care to seniors who are unable to care for themselves, and are paid approximately 65 percent of the rate paid to a nursing home that provides room and board.

However, the lack of oversight has seen a spike in fraud, with some centers offering gifts, kickbacks and incentives for recruiting potential Medicaid recipients.

Both the state legislature and City Council have sought reforms to limit abuse.