Bay Improvement Group honors local heroes at service awards

Honored: From left, BIG President Steve Barrison, Officer Thomas Hionas, Officer Richard Moore, Kings Auto Group rep Maria Trantino, Firefighter Michael Nicastro, and BIG Vice President Jack Spadaro at the BIG Oscars on April 17.
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Sheepshead Bay

Let’s hear it for the Bay Improvement Group, which held its 26th annual BIG Oscars Awards for Distinguished Community Service on April 17.

Two police officers, a firefighter, and a car dealer were honored at the event for their extraordinary dedication to the community, said the group’s president.

“We’re stingy about who we give awards to, because we want it to mean something. We think it’s the highest community award out there,” said Steve Barrison. “These people are really outstanding community members and neighbors.”

Police officers Thomas Hionas and Richard Moore were given trophies for their work in apprehending a madman who bludgeoned three people to death in a Sheepshead Bay restaurant last January. Hionas expressed gratitude for the honor, but called it bittersweet.

“We accepted the award on behalf of the three victims that died. These were three hardworking people in the community, and we accepted the award in their honor,” he said. “It was a great event, but we obviously wish we were there under better circumstan­ces.”

Firefighter Michael Nicastro was recognized for saving an unconscious infant from a burning building, said Barrison.

“He went up the ladder of a burning building, and there was an infant. He began giving the infant mouth-to-mouth,” said Barrison. “Usually those situations don’t end well, but they were able to save the baby.”

Bay Improvement handed out the last trophy of the night to the owners of Kings Automotive Group for helping local organizations with various charitable community events, according to Barrison.

“You want to talk about a business that supports the community, there it is,” he said. “Anytime we need help in the community, they’re always there. They’ve been a good neighbor, and a community participate.”

So here’s to Bay Improvement Group for a successful event, and this year’s honorees for their outstanding work in the community!— Aidan Graham

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow her at
Posted 12:00 am, May 6, 2019
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