Your weekly newsbriefs

Bed bugs on the loose!

The city Health Department is warning Brooklynites about bed bugs.

In a new guide entitled, “Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely,” experts explain how to tell if your home is infested and how to get rid of bed bugs.

The department notes, “Bed bugs are small insects that feed mainly on human blood. A newly hatched bed bug is semi-transparent, light tan in color, and the size of a poppy seed. Adult bed bugs are flat, have rusty-red-colored oval bodies, and are about the size of an apple seed.”

The insects feed off of people. “Bed bugs are most active when we sleep. They crawl onto exposed skin, inject a mild anesthetic and suck up a small amount of blood. Most people never feel the actual bite,” experts say.

To keep your home free of these insects, “Never bring bed frames, mattresses, box springs or upholstered furniture found on the street into your home,” health officials advise.

Read the full guide on the Health Department’s Web site, http://nyc.gov/health.

Call 311 to ask for a copy of “Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely.”

The greening of Flatbush

The streets have been heaped with snow, but some local residents are already looking forward to the start of spring.

To that end, Sustainable Flatbush has put together a program to encourage area residents to participate actively in “greening” the community, with an afternoon’s worth of workshops and demonstrations geared to children as well as adults.

The event will take place on Sunday, February 21, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dorchester Senior Center, 1419 Dorchester Road.

“We want to build community through gardening,” explained Chris Kreussling, the director of the organizations’ Urban Gardens & Farm Initiative.

Kreussling, who blogs under the moniker “Flatbush Gardener,” wants to see his neighbors get actively involved in improving their environment.

“Garden is a verb,” he emphasized. “It’s not just a place to visit. It’s something you do.”

Among the highlights of Sustainable Flatbush’s second annual “Greening Flatbush” event are lessons in seed-starting, windowsill gardening and composting (in the kitchen, with worms!), as well as a cooking demo by a Just Food Community Chef.

Free snacks will be provided by Vox Pop and the Flatbush Food Co-op, as will coffee, though those who want the latter are asked to bring their own mugs.

Pre-register at www.sustainableflatbush.org/greeningflatbush/, as space is limited. Suggested donation per attendee is $3.

That’s entertainment!

Brooklynites who want to learn more about the cherished theater districts of our borough’s yesteryear are invited to attend “Brooklyn Stages” an illustrated talk by theater historian Cezar Del Valle on the history of Brooklyn’s three entertainment areas: Fulton Street, Eastern District and Coney Island. Del Valle will discuss how Brooklyn put its fingerprint on the legitimate stage, as well as Vaudeville, Burlesque and minstrel shows.

“Brooklyn Stages” will take place on Wednesday, February 24, at the Brooklyn Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza. The discussion is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

For more information, one can contact the library at (718) 230-2762.

Molting cupid

Coney Island’s Sandy the Seagull spent last Friday bestowing Valentine’s Day cheer to the paramours of the lucky Brooklyn Cyclones Valentine’s Day Contest and was taken to school in the process.

Clutching roses and a heart shaped box of candy in his talons, Sandy visited P.S. 11 on Waverly Avenue in Clinton Hill to extend Valentine’s Day wishes to Michele Denman on behalf of her husband Hunter.

Denman, a grade school teacher, and her class were quite surprised when Sandy bounced in.

Yet the second trip wasn’t as dramatic, sadly.

Sandy was about to drop flowers and candy on Denis Hochbum on behalf of his wife and contest winner Marianne, only to find that he had been called in to work.

Not much of a homing pigeon, Sandy left the gifts at the house and flew back to Coney.

To see a video of the P.S. 11 visit, one can go to www.brooklyncyclones.com.

Percy Jackson hearts Brooklyn

Head to your local movie theater to check out Coney Island on the big screen.

At the start of the new teen action film “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” Poseidon emerges from the Atlantic Ocean, obviously stunning the lone fisherman on the Coney Island pier.

As the god of water approaches the shore, the film cuts between shots of the Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump.

Alas, the Cyclone didn’t have time to shine.

Creating Connections

Community organizers are seeking to bring together a broad spectrum of neighborhood stakeholders for the Coney Island Community Resource Summit on March 11.

The Summit will take place at the Coney Island branch of the Brooklyn Public Library located at 1901 Mermaid Avenue.Start time is 4 p.m.

Scott Krivitsky, aneducator at P.S. 188 and member of the Coney Island Coalition Against Violence, is inviting other teachers, law enforcement officials, bankers, parents, businesses and anyone else with an interest in Coney Island’s future to attend.

For more information, contact Krivitsky at 917-882-5153 or [email protected].

Slope mansion

getting facelift

The owner of a 17 Prospect Park West told the blog F***ed in Park Slope that renovations to the multi-million dollar mansion are ongoing, but that the interior is still in a “rough state.”

“Our renovation has taken longer than some projects simply because we’re aiming to retain original architectural details while updating systems,” an owner told the blog, adding that the hope is to move into the mansion this spring. The mansion was sold by Hollywood power couple Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany to a Google executive and family for a cool $8.5 million.

And you thought the dot.com era was over!

City closes, but Masbia

stays open

In one of the biggest blizzards in recent memory, city schools and businesses shut down early, but three branches of the Masbia Soup Kitchen were open, serving hungry residents of Williamsburg, Flatbush and Borough Park.

The Kosher emergency food provider kept its regular 4 to 9 pm hours, giving employees extra money for car fare and notifying those seeking meals that the sites would be open despite the nor’easter.

According to Masbia Executive Director Alexander Rapaport, the sites fed 70 people on 65 Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, 80 people on 1372 Coney Island Avenue in Flatbush, and 150 at its flagship location on 4114 14th Avenue in Borough Park.

“On average it’s a heavier day,” said Rapaport. “When it snows, that’s when people need more food. The reason why we made sure to be open was because of the blizzard of 2007, we remember that we were the only store open on 14th avenue. We were packed. We knew we needed to be open now.”

On the menu at the soup kitchen was chicken, hot soup, vegetables, bread, desert and seltzer, of course.

For more information about Masbia, visit www.masbia.org.

Free tax prep

Brooklyn Community Foundation announced this week a partnership with Capital One Bank and Food Bank For New York City to sponsor a free tax preparation service for low-wage, working families and individuals.

The free service provided by the Food Bank is part of the Internal Revenue Service’s volunteer income tax assistance program, where qualifying taxpayers may receive earned income tax credit refunds of up to $7,637 per family when they file their taxes for 2009.

Officials gathered at a press conference at Capital One Bank, 356 Fulton Street, on Feb. 18 to spotlight the real economic benefits for the city, as well as for working taxpayers.

Last year, the earned income tax credit program boosted the city’s economy by bringing some $63 million in tax refunds back to the city and putting it into the wallets of low-wage families and individuals.

Baby boom at Maimonides

Maimonides Medical Center’s obstetrics unit is the busiest in New York State with a record 7,746 New Yorkers born at the Borough Park institution last year. And this year, things are just as busy, according to a published report this week.

This year shows no sign of letting up. “It’s a little bit likebeing an air-traffic controller,” said nursing director Carol Kidney, according to the report.

The area’s Orthodox Jewish community accounts for about half of the births each year, and the hospital also serves a large population ofChinese families who now call nearby Sunset Park home. An ad campaign for the hospital points out its multilingual prowess, noting that it can say “goo-goo in 68 different languages.”

Area youth offered

discounted tickets for Fela!

Middle school and high school students as well as youth organizations are being offered discounted rates of $25 to see the acclaimed Broadway musical Fela!, which celebrates the life of Nigerian artist, activist and Afro-beat legend Fela Kuti.

The production is highly recommended for young people studying music, theater, dance, visual arts, history, politics and social justice.

The discounted tickets are only available for matenees. All performances are at 2 p.m. at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 West 49th Street. The performance runs about 2 and a half hours.

Tickets for this subsidized program are limited and can be requested only for the following Wednesday performances:February 10, February 24, March 3, March 10,March 17, March 24, April 14, April 27, April 28, May 5 and May 12.

Tickets are best seats available and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. You must request a minimum of 10 tickets per school.

To request $25 student tickets, contact Marcia Pendelton of Walk Tall Girl Productions (WTGP inc.) by e-mail at [email protected].

To send in tips, e-mail [email protected] attn: Borough Briefs.