02/23 -- Local News, February 2018

THE SAFE ZONE SIREN

WSZR Begins Maiden Broadcast
February 1, 2018 — By Olivia Cross

ELMHURST — The Newton Creek Textile Factory had sat abandoned for twenty-seven years. This old brick-faced textile mill was home to one of the largest production lines in Queens at the turn of the last century, but in the wake of economic downturn in the 1990s the factory was forced to shut down. Now, twenty-seven years later the factory is under new ownership and producing something other than textiles: music. Bought by Martin Pines, the textile mill has become the broadcast center for WSZR Radio, the NY Safe Zone's first radio station.

WSZR's owner Martin Pines is a two-time war veteran, serving tours of duty in both the Korean War and Vietnam. A retired Air Force Colonel, Martin has lived in New York City his entire life. Since retiring from the military, Pines became a leader of community outreach, maintaing a soup kitchen in Long-Island City from 1990 to 2004. After which time he began volunteering at local homeless shelters and at-risk youth programs. Pines is a man who prides himself as a community-focused soul. In 2009 he discovered that his life-long perfect memory was in fact a superhuman gift, and he found his life's calling changing.

"I didn't really understand what the difference was." Martin told me when we spoke last week in his loft apartment above the WSZR building in Elmhurst. "I spent a lot of my youth fighting people, but it never helped anyone. Only made things worse. The way I saw it, to make change, you've gotta be better than the violence and find a way to mend people. Being told I was 'Evolved' didn't change that. It just meant that I had to learn some new words."

Pines says he has never left New York, not through the fighting in the Second American Civil War, when he operated a fallout shelter at 22 36th St. in Long Island City. Pines sourced food for survivors, cared for the frightened and homeless, and gave as much as he could to the people of New York City. When the war ended and the Safe Zone was established, Pines — now 92 years old — stepped aside to let the government he served for most of his youth take over.

"I wanted to find a new way to give back. I wanted to see what the people needed. What'd bring them hope, and let them know that no matter how bad things had been… the worst is behind us. The world's what we make of it, you know?" Pines is joined by Brooklyn College student Jolene Chevalier in manning the WSZR station and in its off-hours broadcasts as a repeater station for a remote Kansas-based WRAY Radio.

Flyers for WSZR's maiden broadcast went up all around the Safe Zone starting in January, as Chevalier and Pines worked to bring in radio hardware, get assistance from the city connecting to surviving broadcast antennas, and get reliable power out to the WSZR building. Their initial broadcast is scheduled to begin at 9:00am today at 1510 AM.

FOOD SHORTAGES WORSEN
February 28, 2018 — By Carl Eastwood

RED HOOK — Community members of the Safe Zone Cooperative are in a closed-door session behind me, discussing a potentially disastrous discovery made this morning. The Red Cross Food Depot, located at the Southern Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Bay Ridge, was raided last night. Details are sketchy, but sources at the Depot claimed that nearly fifteen hundred pounds of food set to be distributed to the Safe Zone's poorer residents was stolen or otherwise spoiled. Colonel Jefferson Hall, commander of the Safe Zone Military Police has confirmed that foul play was involved and that the military police are coordinating with SESA in their investigation.

The Red Cross Food Depot houses critical food and water supplies distributed across the Safe Zone, collected from numerous charitable and international aid sources. The loss of this food will bring back the food lines last seen in 2015 and potentially mean thousands of hungry residents will go without food.

"We are doing everything in our power to determine what happened at the Red Cross Depot, and we will only have more information after a thorough investigation as completed." Said Safe Zone Mayor Caroline Short in a statement released to the press yesterday.

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