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‘Oscars of Village’ honor local leaders, businesses and, yes, a police officer

Among the many firsts during this pandemic, Village Preservation recently held its annual Village Awards virtually.

Known as the “Oscars of the Village,” the event highlights and celebrates the invaluable people, places and organizations that make Downtown Manhattan’s neighborhoods the most interesting and exceptional in the city.

This was the 30th annual awards event held by the organization, which was previously known as Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. The emcee of the June 17 event was Bob Holman, of Bowery Poetry Club fame.

Honorees included two pharmacies, Village Apothecary, at 346 Bleecker St., and Thompson Alchemists, at 132 Thompson St. The former has been at the forefront of treating patients with AIDS/H.I.V., while the latter is likely the only pharmacy to feature a monthly folk hootenanny.

Thompson Alchemists, owned by Jolie and Gary Aloney, above, received a Village Award. (Courtesy Village Preservation)

Two cultural hubs, Cinema Village, at 22 E. 12th St., and a newcomer to the Village, Idlewild Books, at 170 Seventh Ave. South, which specializes in travel and language books, also were recognized.

Several other businesses received Village Awards, as well, including Ray’s Candy Store, at 113 Avenue A — meaning its owner, Ray Alvarez (real name Asghar Ghahraman) — M & D Shapiro True Value Hardware, at 7 Great Jones St., and Chess Forum, at 219 Thompson St.

Imad Khachan, owner of the Chess Forum, was a 2020 honoree. (Courtesy Village Preservation)

In addition, two community icons were honored. Detective Jaime Hernandez, of Ninth Precinct Community Affairs, and George Cominskie, former president of the Westbeth Artist Residents Council.

Westbeth’s George Cominskie received the Regina Kellerman Award. (Courtesy Village Preservation)

Cominskie, who has lived at Westbeth since 1983, received Village Preservation’s coveted annual Regina Kellerman Award. He was WARC president, off and on, for 15 years, and has been active with God’s Love We Deliver, among other causes.

“In a better world, there would be more Westbeths around the world,” he noted of the famed affordable housing complex.

At a time when police are under intense scrutiny and criticism nationwide, emcee Holman, in his remarks, pointedly singled out Hernandez as one of the good guys — an example of an officer who forges positive relationships with the community.

Holman said he saw those qualities in Hernandez during the former HOWL! Festival in Tompkins Square Park and also at a memorial he organized for his friend the late East Village poet Steve Cannon.

Hernandez has been at the Ninth for 31 years.

Holman noted Hernandez was a finalist for a Village Award several times before, but always had prior commitments — including the time he donated a kidney to his daughter.

Detective Jaime Hernandez has forged closed positive connections with the community. (Courtesy Village Preservation)

“When we do reform the Police Department,” Holman said, “I would like Jaime Hernandez to be one of the leaders.”

The community affairs officer thanked several local leaders for nominating him, including Tom Birchard of Veselka restaurant, activist Marilyn Appleberg and Santo Mollica, owner of Source Unltd Print & Copy Shop.

“This award means a lot,” Hernandez said of being recognized by Village Preservation.

“It’s ironic,” he quipped, “I’m…being ‘preserved’ tonight by the Greenwich Village Society.”

To watch a video of the Village Awards, which also includes Village Preservation’s annual meeting in the first part of the video, click here.

3 Comments

  1. Walter Goodman Walter Goodman July 13, 2020

    The only time NYPD officers should get a reward is when they resign. You can say Officer Hernandez is one of the good guys, but that is saying that someone who works for a fundamentally corrupt and racist agency can stomach the corruption and racism and still be a good guy. It is not believable that he did not see examples of what I am talking about. Where are his statements to the press, his revulsion and statements of conscience?

  2. Carol from East 5th Street Carol from East 5th Street July 15, 2020

    It’s a shame your bitterness for the police force (daddy issues?) has so clouded your judgement against the police and Detective Hernandez that you can’t acknowledge the accomplishments of a man who dedicated his life to serving the community. What have you done lately for the East Village?

    Luckily many others in the East Village do not share your opinion.

    • Walter Goodman Walter Goodman July 19, 2020

      Whether or not he dedicated his life to service is irrelevant to what I am saying. He also continued employment in a fundamentally racist agency. He wishes it were less racist, but he actually does more harm by working side by side with killers than any coaching of softball leagues could undo. It’s fine if you want to say he serves the community well, but you need to address his complicity. Open your ears and observe what is going on in the city in this country: We are not taking this shit anymore.

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