Today’s news:

Port Authority helps fund job-training center

The Port Authority contributed half a million dollars Monday to help create an aviation job-training center to house branches of York College and the College of Aeronautics in Far Rockaway.

The training center, which is expected to open in 2003, will prepare students for jobs as mechanics, ticket agents, air-traffic controllers and ground-crew workers, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“Aviation is one of the biggest employers in Queens,” said Gov. George Pataki. “JFK and LaGuardia support more than 167,000 jobs and new opportunities are being created every day. This training center will help young people prepare for jobs in this existing, fast-growing field.”

The Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation is renovating a 27,000-square-foot building to house the job-training center on Beach Channel Drive between Beach 62nd and Beach 63rd streets in Far Rockaway.

The city is donating the property, which was previously used by the Department of Social Services.

The College of Aeronautics, based in Long Island City, plans to use 7,000 square feet of space in the building, which will also house a division of Jamaica-based York College.

State Assemblywoman Pauline Rhodd-Cummings (D-Far Rockaway) worked with the Port Authority to secure the funds. The Port Authority operates LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark airports.

“This contribution is a win-win for the Port Authority, York College and the College of Aeronautics,” she said. “The entire Rockaway Peninsula will benefit from the contribution.”

The new facility will also host an office of the Far Rockaway-based Joseph B. Addabbo Health Center, which Queens Borough President Claire Shulman said is of vital importance to the Rockaways.

“By providing training and health care, we will enhance the quality of life of the entire Rockaway Peninsula and I commend the Port Authority for supporting this project,” Shulman said. “This is an excellent example of public agencies and non-profits working in cooperation to improve the lives of thousands of people.”

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) also thanked the Port Authority for its help in funding the center.

“Their contribution to the Far Rockaway training and education center is an important new step in their continuing initiatives to train and prepare our youth for the 21st century,” Meeks said.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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