Rockland's Award-Winning News
Dolphin Dies From Starvation; Ingested 4 Plastic Bags
The dolphin found swimming in the Hudson River Memorial Day weekend was found dead late last week. In a forensic examination, scientists determined the likely cause of death was starvation because she had four plastic bags lodged in her stomach. On Monday, a marine biologist with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation found blockage of the dolphin’s stomach finding four intact plastic bags, the largest bag was 4 feet by 2 feet. The 10 foot 600 pound dolphin was also unable to eat its normal diet of squid being so far from the ocean, also leading to her death.
O&R Investigation Reveals Pipeline May Have Been Damaged During Construction
Orange and Rockland is looking into a steel pipeline that may have been damaged during construction, causing Tuesday’s gas explosion that injured 8 people. In a recent investigation, Orange and Rockland found evidence of recent excavation and heavy-equipment work on the ground above a service line, but could not confirm if the work caused the 2-inch steel pipe to break away from the gas main. O&R Spokesman Michael Donovan said, “Further, investigation revealed that the steel service pipe had pulled free of its connection to the gas main. We found significant gas release there.” Police Chief Brent Newbury of the South Nyack-Grand View Police Department stressed that no intentional damage was done to the pipe.
Ninth Inning Scare Doesn’t Stop Boulders, 11-8 Win Against Saints
The Boulders defeated the St. Paul Saints again, scoring nine runs in the first three innings and outscoring them 11-8. The Saints got on the board in the first but that lead was short-lived. In the bottom of the inning, centerfielder Donnie Webb advanced to first after being pegged by Saints pitcher Luke Anderson and then stole second. Right fielder Jerod Edmonson singled, and left fielder and brother Chris Edmonson followed up with a double to score them both. Third Baseman Stephen Cardullo also doubled to score Chris and moved to third when first baseman Billy Alvino singled. Cardullo made it home for the last run of the inning on an infield error sending the Boulders into the second with a 4-1 lead. The game was almost lost when lefty Kevin McGovern was put in the top of the ninth he gave up four solo homeruns. The series concludes tonight with an evening game at 7. You can listen to that game here live on WRCR.
Nyack College Gas Explosions Injures 8
Eight people were injured in a gas explosion just before noon yesterday. The blast was so strong it blew the windows and doors off a building on the Nyack College campus. Two adult students and five staff members were hurt, with the most serious injury being a leg injury from a student jumping out the second floor of the building. A South Nyack- Grand View Police officer was also injured, officials say he was near the building, investigating the strong odor of gas when he turned around the building exploded. The officer stayed on the scene to help in the evacuation effort, but later suffered symptoms of blast pressure sickness. All the victims were taken to Nyack Hospital, where seven were treated for non life-threatening injuries. The 38-year-old Valley Stream woman who jumped out the window was transferred to Westchester Medical Center for serious leg treatment. Orange and Rockland Spokesman Michael Donovan said the cause of the explosion was most likely a gas leak. The blast appeared to have been ignited in one of the lower-lying sections of the building.
Rockland Transit to Protest Against Brega Contract
Rockland Transit Corp. plans to protest the county’s bus contract with Brega Transport Corp. Rockland Transit has operated the Transport of Rockland and the Tappan ZEExpress bus service for decades and believes that Brega lacks the expertise to run a full-fledged bus system. The bus company also claims that even though Brega did come up with a low bid, the contract is “unrealistic” and will not save taxpayers money. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef has until Monday to decide on the contract which is calling for Vanderhoef to throw out the recently awarded $70-million bus contract and start over. Until then, Brega’s contract is on hold.
Boulders Come Back and Beat Saints 4-3
The Boulders looked better last night beating the St. Paul Saints 4-3. Lefty Nick Serino was tagged with the win, after pitching a scoreless eighth inning. The real hero of the evening was designated hitter Mike Gedman who hit a leadoff homerun in the top of the eighth giving the Boulders the victory. The Boulders continue the series this morning at 10:35 am. Listen to the game here live on WRCR!
New City Fire Kills Two Dogs and Injures a Firefighter
In New City a blaze destroyed a large two-story home on Phillips Hill Road killing two dogs and slightly injuring a firefighter. New City Assistant Fire Chief James Avaras said firefighters arrived at the scene at around 10 am and found their efforts were restricted found their efforts were restricted because of a broken gas line and a lack of water access. It is still being investigated how the fire started, but authorities are reporting that the broken gas line was probably involved.
Firefighter Consider Ramapo a “Weapon of Mass Construction”
The head of Rockland’s Volunteer Task Force on Illegal Housing says rampant building and fire code violations are “a time bomb waiting to go off.” In a June 1 letter to the New York State Division of Code Enforcement and Administration, John Kryger had some strong comments on the issue saying, “The Volunteer Fire Service in Rockland is not about to wait until dead bodies are pulled from these ‘weapons of mass construction’ be they civilians or firefighters.” Kryger compared the rest of Rockland’s towns to the town of Ramapo saying that when the all-volunteer task force reports complaint of code violations to their local jurisdictions, they are typically followed through. In the case of Ramapo, when the violations are issued, they are normally ignored and court cases are repeatedly postponed. The Division of Code Enforcement and Administration recommended that Kryger submit a formal complaint with specific allegations and supporting documentation, then the state will respond.
Boulder’s Fall to the Saints 8-5
The Boulders may be a strong team in the CanAm league so far, but didn’t fair too well against the St. Paul Saints of the American Association last night. Monday night’s game was a back and fourth contest from the start but the pitching allowed 8 runs in nine innings and the offense wasn’t able to hit something on the board late in the game. In the bottom of the seventh there was some hope the Boulders would come back. With Scott Knazek leading off with a single, Donnie Webb reached first on an infield error and a sac bunt from Steve Nysctor moving runners to second and third. Jerod Edmonson followed with a sac fly to right field, bringing Knazek home and tying the game at 5, but that wasn’t enough. The Boulders fell to the Saints 8-5. Their second loss at home. Tonight the series continues at 7 pm here at Provident Bank Park, you can listen live on WRCR.
Spring Valley Fire Displaces 3 Families
A Spring Valley fire on Sunday left 17 people displaced. Officials are reporting that the fire spread quickly up from the garage to both floors on the left side of a wood-sided building at 7 Sherman Street a little bit before noon. The Red Cross is providing assistance for the three families affected by the fire, which include 5 children. About 60 firefighters from 6 departments responded to the fire, which appears to have started in a boiler room. No one was injured.
Stony Point and Piermont Receive State Grants For Flood Planning
The Town of Stony Point and Village of Peirmont were recently awarded state grants to plan for future waterfront flooding. The grant program is being facilitated by the Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program and The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. Stony Point plans to use the $50,000 it was awarded to identify at-risk areas for future flooding when there is climate change and the sea level rises. Peirmont also plans to use its $60,000 to study rising sea levels but also take into account the communities unique features and assets.
Boulders Beat Bears 6-5
After a 13-inning game Saturday, the Boulders bullpen looked a little rough for Sunday, but Bobby Blevins made up for his teammates yesterday, tossing 123 pitches in 8 innings and allowing five earned runs, keeping his league-leading record. As for the hitters in the game Chris Edmonson and Nick DeGuidice each went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Jerod Edmonson had a two-run single in the sixth, which ended up being the game-winning hit. The Boulders defeated the Bears 6-5. Rockland begins a four-game home-stand against the St. Paul Saints of the American Association at 7 tonight here at Provident Bank Park. You can listen to the game live on WRCR.
Grand Jury Subpoenas Records After FBI Raid
A federal grand jury has subpoenaed records after raiding Ramapo Town Hall. The records being investigated are for bond sales, town audits and Provident Bank Park. So far investigators have revealed in a 157-page document the outlining of Ramapo’s plan to obtain a $31.2-million bond anticipation note to pay off some previous short-term bonds and support future projects. Investigators are also reviewing documents to determine whether Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence overstated assets. FBI agents and the Rockland District Attorney’s office seized boxes of papers and hard drives during a more than seven-hour raid May 15. St. Lawrence has declined to comment on the investigation or what records were seized.
County Appoints New Health Commissioner
The new county Health Commissioner was appointed yesterday. Stony Point resident and family physician Patricia Schnabel Ruppert is a family physician who works at Helen Hayes Hospital where she is President of the medical staff, often focusing on orthopedic patients and people undergoing rehabilitation on the cardiopulmonary unit. Ruppert’s initial interest in public health started in medical school when she was put on a public health rotation with the Rockland Department of Health. Ruppert will be required to obtain a master’s in public health. She will serve a two-year term at an annual salary of $157,349.
Boulder’s Sweep Double-Header Against Jackals
The Boulders may have had a rough start on Wednesday’s game but sure did make it up yesterday sweeping the Jackals in a double headers matchup 8-3 and 4-2. Stephen Cardullo and Chris Edmonson hit three-run homers in game one, supporting starter Pat Moran. Cardullo drove in another pair in the nightcap to secure the win for Dan Sausville. The Boulders improve with a record of 9 -3, leading the CanAm league. The Boulders will start their weekend set against the Newark Bears this morning at 10:35 am.
East Ramapo Students Walk-Out of Class to Protest
Students from Ramapo and Spring Valley High School walked out of class late Wednesday morning protesting budget cuts and poor building conditions. Students from both schools walked toward Memorial Park yelling “No more cuts!” As drivers and pedestrians looked on, police patrols posted at intersections to make sure the children were safe and direct traffic. Student organizer Olivia Castor said the purpose of the walkout was to show the district and top state officials the student’s agenda now that the three new board members have their seats. The protest comes a week after taxpayers voted in three new school board members and rejected a $210-million budget for the 2014-15 school year. A new vote on a $209.5-million budget is set for June18.
Two Nyack Men Arrested on Drug Charges After Selling to Undercover Police
Two Nyack men were caught selling crack and prescription pills to undercover police officers yesterday. Dominic White, 36, and Larnell Fortier, 22, were being held in county jail on felony drug charges after District Attorney Tom Zugibe’s Drug Task Force detailed their alleged operation for more than two months. DA Zugibe said, this is all part of an ongoing effort to end drug dealing and reduce drug-based violence in Nyack. White is being held on $50,000 bail. Fortier is being held on $7,500 bail.
Boulders Fall to Jackals 6-5
The Rockland Boulders fell to the New Jersey Jackals in a 6-5 defeat yesterday morning. Third baseman Stephen Cardullo and first baseman Billy Alvino put up two runs each, with catcher Scott Knazek putting down two hits and one RBI. Bobby Blevins gave up six runs and seven hit in the 6 innings he pitched. The boys are back on the road continuing their series with New Jersey today in a double-header matchup starting at 5 pm.
Nyack High School Security Guard Threatens to Blow up School
Police are reporting a Nyack High School security guard allegedly threatened to blow up the school. A co-worker reported Kenneth Carter, 51, after saying he was going to go home, get his guns and “blow the place up.” Clarkstown Police arrested Carter on May 22, he was charged with making a terrorist threat. Carter was arraigned in Clarkstown Town Court and later released after posting $1,000 bail. He is due back in court June 17.
Rockland County Legislator to Consider Term Limits
Tonight the Rockland County legislature will consider setting term limits for themselves and the County Executive’s post. In a resolution sponsored by County Executive candidate and legislator Ed Day and Doug Jobson the bill will call for limiting both the County Executive and County Legislators to three four-year terms. Legislators plan to discuss the proposal and consider setting a public hearing during tonight’s 5:15 pm meeting as well.
Nanuet Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges
The man accused of making death threats on Facebook against political leaders pled guilty to the federal charges. In a White Plains courtroom, Lawrence Mulqueen, 51, admitted his guilt saying “I never meant any harm to anybody” and “It was all done in anger.” Mulqueen threatened democratic leaders of the house and senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison but is expected to receive less than two years. He is due back for sentencing October 16.
Fire Caused by Child Playing with Lighter Displaces 26 in Spring Valley
A fire over the weekend displaced 26 residents from the Regency Village Garden Apartments in Spring Valley. The Saturday fire started at 2 pm in a first-floor apartment. Spring Valley Fire Chief Bob Johnson said no one suffered serious injuries but three people were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital by Spring Hill Ambulance for treatment of smoke inhalation. Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren said the fire started with a child playing with a lighter. The child’s age and gender have not been released, no charges have been filed.
Nanuet Man Who Made Death Threats Against Public Officials Could Make Plea Deal
The Nanuet man who is being accused of making death threats on Facebook against political leaders will have to decide on whether to accept a plea bargain or not. Lawrence Mulqueen who is due in court today, is being accused of threatening Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as owning two illegal rifles and other weapons officials found in his apartment. The terms of the offer have not been disclosed but if Mulqueen does go to trial he could face up to 15 years in prision.
Dolphin Spotted in the Hudson
On Monday, a Dolphin was spotted in Stony Point in the Hudson River cove causing much excitement for North Rocklanders. The dolphin according to onlookers looked sick, but as the dolphin swam out of shallow waters toward the ocean the dolphin began to swim better. The river patrol escorted the dolphin making sure it had plenty of room to safely make its way back into the main part of the river, ordering all boats to slow down or stay out of the area.
Boulders Sweep Quebec; Win 13-12 in Series Finale
The Rockland Boulders swept Quebec with a 13-12 series finale. The Boulders trailed Quebec in yesterday’s Memorial Day game until the bottom of the ninth. Scott Knazek came in pulling off a huge three-run homer in the final inning, giving the Boulders a 13-12 victory, sweeping the Quebec Capitales and continuing to be 6-0 at home. The Boulders will now be off on the road facing the New Jersey Jackals in a three game series, starting at 7 pm.
East Ramapo will Vote for a Second Time on School Budget
A special East Ramapo School Board meeting last night announced that voters will get their second chance to vote on the school budget on June 18. Voters will decide on a $209.5-million budget with a 2.8-percent tax increase next month. The original budget called for a 3.1-percent increase. A second budget failure would force East Ramapo to adopt a contingency plan and freeze the tax levy at this year’s level, cutting $4.3-million in sports, clubs and staff. Already, the district will start the 2013-14 school year with fewer sports programs, no formal elementary art and music courses and sixty position cuts.
Rita Louie Announces Plan to Run Against Sup. Howie Phillips for Haverstraw Town Supervisor
Pomona Village Trustee Rita Louie announced on Facebook her intention to run for Haverstraw Town Supervisor. For the first time since taking office in 2002, current Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howie Phillips will have a challenger in the democratic primary this fall. Louis said that when unsuccessfully campaigning for County Legislator in 2011 that she had the opportunity to talk to Haverstraw town residents and found that the majority wanted solutions to the issues facing the town. On the North Rockland Community page on Facebook she posted “Time for a change and some fresh new ideas to move this town forward into the 21st century.” Although Louie declined to seek the Democratic Committee’s nomination, she is confident she will collect enough signatures to force a primary in September.
Flash Flood Closes Nyack Roads; Boulders Game Rained Out
Nyack was hit pretty hard with flash flood waters yesterday afternoon. Heavy rain forced the closures of multiple village roads due to flooding and firefighters pumping out the basements of homes and businesses. Also forced to close was Provident Bank Park. The Rockland Boulders were rained out of their game against Trios Riverias. The game will be rescheduled for Thursday June 20th and will be played as part of a double-header.
East Ramapo Will Vote Again for School Budget
East Ramapo voters will get a second chance to vote for a school budget. On Tuesday, the majority of residents voted down a 3.1-percent tax increase becoming the only school district in Rockland County to defeat its budget. Under the state’s tax-cap law that went into effect last year, if the district loses this second vote the district must freeze its tax levy at this year’s level becoming a contingency budget. If this happens, this could mean the elimination of all sports and student clubs and the shortening of the high school day from eight periods to seven.
Memorial Day Weekend Mass Transit Schedule
As we all get ready for Memorial Day weekend, there will be some changes in the mass transit schedule. Some of the major changes will be the addition of Tappan ZEExpress buses and Metro-North’s Port Jervis line on Friday. Coach USA Rockland buses will operate early getaway buses Friday as well. Now over the weekend, Transport of Rockland, Tappan Zee Express and the Red and Tan local bus will operate Saturday service. Metro-North Hudson line will operate on Sunday schedule, with NJ Transit’s Main/Bergen and Pascack Valley lines operating on weekend service. Coach USA short line bus will operate on holiday schedule. Trips will operate only under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Clarkstown mini-transit, Spring Valley Jitney, Coach USA Express bus and the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry will not be operating on Monday. For more information of schedules, give the Transit Information Center a call at 845-364-3333.
Boulder’s Beat Trios Riverias 6-2
The Boulders had an exciting morning game yesterday playing for the elementary schools and winning their second home game this season. The Boulders started out strong scoring three runs in the bottom of the second with Johnny Welch hitting a single then moving to second on a single from first baseman Mike Gedman and then stole third and scored an earned run off a single from shortstop Nick Del Guidice. Trois Riverias scored one run in the top of the sixth but the Boulders answered back quick with Del Guidice knocking a two-run home run out on the left field side making the score 6-1. The Boulders ended the game against the Canadians 6-2, totaling nine hits and six runs.
7 Districts pass budget; East Ramapo Votes No
Voters all around the county voted on their school budgets. Out of Rockland’s 8 districts, 7 passed with East Ramapo’s Budget voted down for the third consecutive year. North Rockland School District voted to adopt a $206-million budget that will increase school taxes 3.6-percent. Ramapo Central voters passed a $128-million budget raising taxes to 1.9-percent. Nanuet approved a $65-million budget raising school taxes to 3.3-percent. Nyack approved a $75.5-million budget passing 3.5-percent more on taxpayers. South Orangetown passed an $85-million dollar-spending plan that includes no cuts to staff or programs; school taxes will increase between 1.5 to 2-percent. Clarkstown voters also approved a $195-million spending plan that includes no cuts to staff or programs, raising school taxes to 2.9-percent. Pearl River voters passed a $62-million budget with a 1.6 percent tax increase.
East Ramapo District Defeats Budget
The county’s most closely watched school district defeated their budget yesterday, with anti-tax supporters voting in Bernard Charles, MaraLuz Corado and Pierre Germain, each gaining three-year-terms on the nine member board. Conflict continues in the district with public school activists like the save our schools coalition, claiming that the Orthodox and Hasidic dominated board will continue to dramatically cut public school programs like music and sports for the 9,000 public school students while maintaining transportation and special education for the 21,000 private school students. Voters rejected a $209.9-million budget that would raise taxes to 3.1 percent and will cut more than 60 positions. The last time East Ramapo passed a budget was in 2010.
County Legislature Votes Yes for Brega Transport Contract
Last night a $70-million contract between Brega Transport Corp. and the county was finalized. The County Legislature voted 11-0 with one absentee, approving a deal that would give Brega Transport the responsibility of operating and maintaining Rockland’s Tor and Tappan ZEExpress bus service for the next 5 years. After much back and forth with County Executive Scott Vanderhoef on whether the three bids submitted were compared accurately, a court ruling last month upheld the county’s bidding procedures.
Alaskan Inmate Sends Stony Point Woman Suspicious Package
Stony Point authorities had to evacuate several homes yesterday evening after a woman living in Riverview Court received a suspicious package. Authorities received a phone call at about 7:15 pm from a woman who received a package from a Kirby Anthoney. When she googled his name she found that Anthoney is serving time in Alaska for the 1987 rape and murder of a mother and her two young girls. When Stony Point Police arrived at the scene they immediately contacted the Rockland County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad. Members of the bomb squad were able to X-Ray the package and did find wires, a light bulb and a clock. The team treated the package as a bomb and blew up the package with a water device. Stony Point Police were able to contact authorities in Alaska and interview Anthoney. He claimed that the woman and he were childhood friends. The woman denies any relation to Anthoney.
Army Corps. to Investigate Protected Wetlands at Patrick Farm
The Patrick Farm developer who plans to build hundreds of houses may have to deal with the Army Corps. In addition to lawsuits challenging the Town of Ramapo’s approval of the project, the Army Corps. of Engineers has issued a letter saying it intends to evaluate the extent of environmentally protected wetlands. In a letter received May 16, the agency said that, “Based on our latest review…it appears that Scenic Development has proposed work in wetlands and/or waters that may require a Department of the Army permit.” Without the determination by the Army Corps., the developers have not been allowed to connect the planned 500 houses into the county sewer system.
Voters to hit the Polls to Vote for School Budgets and Board Members
Today voters across the county will get their chance to vote on school budgets and board members. Out of the eight schools in Rockland, trustee seats are being contested in four districts. Those districts are East Ramapo, Ramapo Central, Nanuet and North Rockland. As for poll site changes in certain election districts, those are only for the September primary election and general election on November. These changes will not effect where voters will cast their ballots for today’s school board elections and budget votes. Polls will be open from 7 am to 9 pm.
Clarkstown: www.ccsd.edu / 845-639-6455
East Ramapo: www.eram.k12.ny.us / 845-577-6015
Nanuet: www.nanuetsd.org / 845-627-9880
North Rockland: www.nrcsd.org / 845-942-3000
Nyack: www.nyackschools.org / 845-353-7013
Pearl River: www.pearlriver.org / 845-620-3924
Ramapo Central: www.ramapocentral.org / 845-357-7783 Ext. 11234
South Orangetown: www.socsd.org / 845-680-1012
Orangetown Police still searching for hit and run driver
Orangetown police are viewing surveillance video as part of their search for the hit and run driver who killed a 79-year-old man last week. Police say Joseph Carroll died of injuries suffered from being hit by a car at 11 a.m. Thursday in the parking lot of The Esplanade, a senior citizen housing community at 640 Oak Tree Road in Palisades. Orangetown Detective Lt. James Brown said that detectives were planning to review surveillance video with investigators assigned to the Rockland Computer Crimes Task Force. Brown said there were no suspects or descriptions of cars in the case, but detectives are continuing to go over records and interviews with possible witnesses. Brown said “They interviewed a whole bunch of people. We took names and license plates of every single car in the parking lot”.
Another Electric Transmission Line will Submit Application for Project
It looks like another controversial electric transmission line will make its way to our neighborhood. As the 1,000-megawatt transmission line from the Canadian Border to Astoria, Queens goes through its final approval stage, West Point Partners is planning to build an 80-mile electric transmission line. The line will start in Athens, New York and will end right across the river in the Village of Buchanan. Elected officials in North Rockland have already received confirmation from the developer that an application for the transmission line project will be filed next month. Local officials said they would like to see power generated locally in Bowline or the former Lovett property.
$13.2-Million For Hudson Valley Area in Parks Funding
Governor Andrew Cuomo announce on Friday that New York State parks will receive $90-million in funding through the NY Works Program. The Hudson Valley area is expected to receive about $13.2-million for improvement and design projects, the second highest amount in the state behind Western NY. Rockland plans to use its share on a pool bathhouse improvement at Bear Mountain State Park, which is estimated to cost around $500,000. $5.2-million for projects at Harriman State Park, including $1.25-million in repairs for children camp areas and $1-millon to renovate the bathhouse and the swimming pool at Rockland lake.
Spring Valley man convicted of robbery
37-year-old Andrew Baxter of Spring Valley faces up to 25 years in state prison after a jury convicted him of robbing a store clerk at knife point, the Rockland District Attorney’s Office said Monday. After a three-day trial before Justice William Kelly at the Rockland County Courthouse in New City, a State Supreme Court jury deliberated for one hour on Friday before returning guilty verdicts against Baxter. Baxter was convicted of first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery and a misdemeanor count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The verdict means Baxter joins fellow village resident Paul Giddens, 32, as convicted of robbing the Pit Stop Deli in Spring Valley on June 26. Both men have previous felony convictions. Both Baxter and Giddens are being held in the county jail pending their sentencing.
Boulders Fall Short 10-9
The Boulders played a close game last night with the Newark Bears getting a quick 5-1 lead in the first inning. Newark short stop Bridger Hunt started the game off with a grand slam in the opening frame. Rockland Boulder Chris Edmonson put up a good fight leading the way with three hits in four at bats and two RBI’s. The Boulders fell short 10-9.
5,000 Cyclist will Hit Rockland County for Gran Fondo Bike Race Sunday
More than 5,000 cyclists will be riding through Rockland County Sunday morning. The 105-mile Gran Fondo New York bike race will start on the George Washington Bridge, follow a course through Rockland to Bear Mountain State Park and then head back down and end at Weehawken New Jersey. Residents should expect some traffic and congestion throughout the county. Some closures include the northbound lane on River Road from Peirmont to Nyack that will be closed from 7-9 in the morning. Cyclists will also take 9W all the way to the top of Bear Mountain to Perkins Memorial Drive. The 9W entrance to the state park will also be closed as well as Exit 19 off the Palisades. The organizers of the event have agreed to spend $500,000 to the local police departments in overtime for directing traffic. The race will start at 7 am and end at 5 pm.
Moody’s Gives Ramapo Negative Rating
Moody’s Investors Service gave Ramapo a negative outlook on its financial health as it looks to sell $39-million in serial bonds for public improvement projects. The report was released the same day as the FBI raid. The influential investment-rating agency issued the town an A-1 rating, which could affect the interest rate the town, receives. The A-1 rating is six levels above junk status. Moody’s did give the town some hope saying that the rating could improve if officials establish more balanced finances and show improvement in financial reserves.
FBI Looks into Finances of Provident Bank Park
Ramapo Town workers returned to work yesterday conducting business as usual. Sources say that records taken during Wednesday’s FBI raid involved the financing and construction of the Provident Bank Park stadium with a focus on a $25-million bond by Ramapo. It is suspected that investigators are reviewing the document to determine whether Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence overstated assets. Also, being looked at is the movement of money between town accounts. The FBI raid came 15 months after an audit by State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, which raised concerns about the stadium project and found that taxpayers could be left footing the bill for the $60-million park. No arrests were made but the raid did send a strong message that the U.S. Attorney’s office does have its eye on Ramapo.
Boulders Win Season Opener 6-4
Last night, the Boulders played their first game of the season, trumping the Newark Bears and showing the crowd a stronger team. The Bears had an early lead in the opening frame with Newark’s Carlos Guzman’s two-out double bringing in D-Angelo Jimenez but Rockland wasted no time pushing across a pair in the bottom half. With two outs and nobody on, Newark starter Mike Ness walked Jerod Edmonson then comes his brother Chris Edmonson who got the crowd going and gave his team the lead drilling a homerun out of the park. Leading the bottom of the third, Donnie Webb comes up with another blast putting Rockland up 3-1. The Boulders did find themselves in trouble in the seventh, but moved quick and played smart keeping the bears in hibernation. The Boulders opened their season beating the bears 6-4.
FBI Raids Ramapo Town Hall
FBI agents and investigators from the Rockland County District Attorney’s office cleared employees from Ramapo Town Hall yesterday beginning a search related to a federal investigation. FBI agents in FBI ERT (Evidence Response Team) windbreakers began their raid at about 3:30 pm seizing documents and hard drives. Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe said the search was not related to the ongoing corruption investigation of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Spring Valley. An official did confirmed that records were seized from the Computer, Finance and Tax Departments, the Town Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Ramapo LDC, which created controversial Town projects like Provident Bank Park. Although many Town employees were escorted away from their desks, Town Attorney Michael Klein and other top officials stayed until late Wednesday evening. Supervisor St. Lawrence arrived at Ramapo Town Hall at around 4 pm but appeared to have made a secretive exit out of the building that evening. DA Zugibe said that no arrests have been made and that no new warrants were issued as a result of the investigation.
Pregnant Woman Makes a Run for it After Being Sentenced
A 26-year-old pregnant woman made a run for it after hearing her jail sentence yesterday afternoon. Lindsay Ann Skerry of Haverstraw ran after a Rockland County Judge sentenced her to 60 days in jail and five years probation. Two county officers who were quick on their toes were able to stop Skerry before she could leave the fourth-floor courtroom. Skerry was arrested late October on her conviction of fourth-degree grand larceny for stealing close to $2,000 worth of jewelry from Macy’s. After her attempted escape, Skerry was turned over to the County Sheriff’s office. The District Attorney’s Office will decide whether they will charge her with trying to escape.
Garnerville Fire Leaves Family of 8 Displaced
A house fire in Garnerville has left at least one family displaced. Investigators found that a candle ignited curtains inside a first-floor room Monday morning. Officials said the first-floor suffered damage that will need repairs and that the second-floor apartment suffered water and smoke damage. The second-floor family of eight can move back sometime this week. The Red Cross is working to assist the family and might be working with a second family. The Haverstraw fire inspector said that no one was injured and that the house was equipped with smoke detectors.
Former Clarkstown Superintendent Removed from New Gig
The former Clarkstown Schools Superintendent Margaret Keller-Cogan was removed from her current job after a protest by parents, faculty and staff. Nearly 250 parents signed a petition saying that they had lost confidence in her ability to lead the Buffalo-based Elmwood Franklin School. The parents and staff said they were angry because Keller-Cogan proposed a restructuring of the school and when some administrators protested, she allegedly had three of them fired setting an atmosphere of fear and intimidation at the school. Keller-Cogan left the Clarkstown School District in June where the majority of the Board of Education wanted her to leave but unlike the Elmwood Franklin School, the Clarkstown Community wanted her to continue leading. She left after the school board decided not to renew her contract. Keller-Cogan was with the Clarkstown School District for 6 years.
Orangetown Town Board Approves Aid For Project Graduation
Tuesday night, The Orangetown Town Board voted unanimously to approve aid to Project Graduation for five local high schools. Project Graduation provides a safe, alcohol-free place to gather and celebrate after graduation ceremonies are over. They usually run all night and require that the graduates stay at the one location. Pearl River and Tappan Zee High Schools will get $1500, Nanuet and Nyack will receive $750, and Albertus Magnus will get $200. Pearl River and Tappan Zee High Schools get bigger amounts because their districts are entirely within the Town of Orangetown. Though the town board had discussed reducing the amount of money they contribute in recent years, the contribution remained at the same level as 2012 and 2011. Funds are also received from the districts, PTAs and students.Pearl River, Tappan Zee and Nyack will hold their graduation ceremonies June 20. Project Graduation begins at 11PM.
Cablevision to Sell Clearview in New City
Cablevision has decided to sell 41 of their Clearview Cinema theaters including the one in New City to Bow Tie Cinemas, the eighth largest theater circuit in the U.S. According to Bow Tie spokesman Christopher Beattie, moviegoers will notice upgrades and changes starting with digital projection upgrades to all the screens, also on the list are renovations to concession stands, seating and carpeting. For moviegoers who are customers of Cablevision’s Optimum Rewards Program, there will no longer be free Tuesday movies. That promotion will end Tuesday May 28. Bow Tie’s Company does have a program where customers can earn points for free movie passes.
Indian Point Reactor Will Run Without a License
One of Indian Point’s reactors will be running without a license. Top officials on Monday said that because of a complicated license-renewal process and the agency order postponing the renewals, Entergy Nuclear will continue operating until a decision is made. NRC Region 1 Administrator Bill Dean said he will tour Indian Point in Buchanan on Tuesday with other NRC Staffers. A meeting will be held tonight in Tarrytown starting at 6 pm at the Doubletree Hotel about the plants 2012 annual safety assessment.
Deadline to Submit Pistol Opt-Out Form Wednesday
If you own a gun you have until Wednesday to sign off on keeping your records private. The deadline to submit the opt-out forms that would keep gun holders records private is May 15. Pistol owners can submit their form after the deadline, but their records would not be sealed from Freedom of Information requests until a county judge approves the forms. The option to keep individual records private is one of the orders of the SAFE Act which also includes limits to the number of bullets in a magazine to seven, requires registration of guns every five years and expands the list of banned assault weapons. To submit a pistol permit opt-out form, owners can download the form off the county clerk’s website and submit them by mail or in person at the clerk’s office or sheriff’s department.
Funds for Superstorm Sandy Available
Funds for victims of Superstorm Sandy have become available. Today at the Peirmont Village Hall in Peirmont and the Rho Building in Stony Point, trained state and county staffers will be available from 11 am to 6 pm. Recently, Governor Andrew Como and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced federal approval of the state’s $1.7-billion action plan. North Rockland is expected to receive $3-million of that money.
West Haverstraw Gas Explosion Case to Face Judge
There is new information in the natural-gas explosion that damaged several homes last year in West Haverstraw. After negotiations between his lawyer and prosecutors, contractor Fidel Padilla and his company FGC Communications pled guilty in may 2012 to first-degree reckless endangerment. But according to a new report in August, the defendants filed a motion to drop the plea saying new evidence would show Padilla’s innocence. The lawyer representing Padilla and his company argue that Padilla did not know about the State Public Service Commission’s citation against Orange and Rockland Utilities for not accurately marking the location of its facilities in the Village Fairgrounds II complex, making O&R responsible. So far, the PSC has dropped its case against Padilla for failing to verify the location of the gas line by hand-dug test hole. Padilla and FGC Communications will still face charges of failing to provide accurate mean of excavation.
Poll Sites to be Consolidated
Voters should pay close attention to where they will vote this year. Rockland County Election Commissioner Louis Babcock has confirmed that Rockland voters will face consolidated poll sites due to accessibility to people with disabilities and new security concerns at schools. Rockland previously operated 80 polls in past elections, this year it will have 68 cutting costs to about $4,200 a day during elections. Babcock said three alerts will be sent to voters to inform them of poll changes with the first already sent out.
MORE FINANCIAL RECOVERY ASSISITANCE IS AVAILABLE FOR SANDY VICTIMS
Federal, state and local officials will be working together to offer home and business owners still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, the chance to apply for assistance. “Sandy Help Teams” are being deployed in Piermont and Stony Point today and tomorrow. Governor Cuomo is sending trained personnel to assist Sandy victims with Federal Housing and Business Recovery Aid applications. They will be located at Piermont Village Hall at 478 Piermont Avenue, and the Rho Building at 5 Clubhouse Drive in Stony Point from 11am to 6pm both days. Trained staff from Rockland County government will also be available to help residents and business owners with navigating the process. Also, business owners can get information on recovery assistance by visiting to the two state Small Business Development Center Disaster Recovery locations. The Suffern location at Rockland Community College, and the Haverstraw facility at 37 West Broad Street, 2nd floor. Both can be contacted at 845-356-6065 and are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Those affected by the storm also have the option of applying online at www.nysandyhelp.ny.gov .
Legislature to Vote Against College Chargebacks
Tonight the County Legislature will vote on a resolution asking the state legislature to support a bill that will prevent counties from passing along community college chargebacks to towns and another bill that will prevent counties from reimbursing the tuition of students enrolled in FIT. Also, on the agenda, Legislators will vote to lease $36,000 in radio equipment for the Sherriff’s Department for a year. Two bond resolutions for building improvements at the Yeager Health Center in Pomona. A $300,000 bond earmarked for Building L and a $500,000 bond for partial reconstruction of Building A at the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center. The meeting is scheduled for 7:15 pm.
County Extends Unlicensed Contractor Crackdown to the Weekends
The county plans to extend their crackdown on unlicensed contractors to the weekends. Consumer Protection Office Director Terry Grosselfinger said that under the new plan one of his investigators will be assigned to most weekend and when that person is not available a Sheriff’s officer will investigate consumer complaints. Because of the poor economy, there has been an increased number of unlicensed contractors working in the county often times charging less than a licensed contractor. For more information about making a complaint call the Office of Consumer Protection at 845-708-7600.
20-Year-Old Nyack Woman Charged for Three Theft
A 20-year-old Nyack woman was arrested on three different instances of burglary. Brooke Anderson is accused of entering an apartment on April 1 where she allegedly stole gold jewelry. On May 3, she is believed to have entered the second apartment and allegedly stole more gold jewelry and an Amazon Kindle, that same day she is believed to have taken jewelry and a laptop computer from a different apartment. Anderson was charged and arraigned Thursday in Nyack Village Court where bail was set at $7,500, she will return to court on Tuesday.
Local Activist Will Run for Spring Valley Mayor
Political activist Calherbe Monel is throwing his name into the race for Spring Valley Mayor. Haitian native Monel, 40, is best known for being the host and producer of “The Monel Show” and his involvement in aids prevention and awareness in the region. Monel is a product of Ramapo High School and Regent University in Virginia. He is an ordained minister who currently works as a business developer director for an IT school and software development company. Monel is joining seven other democrats. The petition process starts June 4.
David Fried To Donate "Tainted" Campaign Money
County Executive hopeful David Fried will be donating $10,000 of his campaign money that was given to him by FBI informant Moses Stern. Even though the contribution came in 2006 during his campaign for state assembly, Fried says, “I am returning the money to set an example and live up to my own personal standards ” he continues by saying “there is no allegation of wrongdoing.” Stern is best known for his involvement in the Spring Valley bribery scandal. Stern cooperated with the FBI for a lesser sentence in federal corruption-related charges, becoming the key undercover witness in the federal bribery-related case against Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, State Senator Malcolm Smith and other New York City Politicians.
Monsey Man Accused of Probation Violations
A convicted sex offender has returned to county jail for violating the conditions of his probation. Smuel Dym, 33, from Monsey violated eight conditions of his probation sentence, which include not going to sex offender treatment and violating his curfew. Dym is a level 2-sex offender. On June 14 he plead guilty to improperly touching an 8-year-old boy between May 2010 and July 2010 and a 6-year-old between September 2010 and July 2011. The Sherriff’s office arrested Dym at his home on Friday. He is being held in county jail on $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash.
Internet Awareness Rally for Ultra-Orthodox Jews
Provident Bank Park will be used for an awareness event—if it doesn’t get rained out. Tonight several thousand ultra-Orthodox Jews will pack the park to discuss the potential dangers of the Internet. In many ultra-Orthodox communities, rabbis have prohibited their followers from using the Internet, with exceptions made for businesses. A local congregation which organized the event has paid the town of Ramapo $5,700 for using the Boulder’s playing field. The fee will cover the use of the big screen and loudspeaker system. The organization will be responsible for the clean up, security and parking staff. The rally is from 7 to 10 this evening with tickets costing $10 a person.
Legislature Votes Unanimously to Borrow $96-Million Dollars
The Rockland County Legislature voted unanimously to borrow $96-million, the equivalent of the county’s current budget deficit. The county is seeking home-rule approval from the State Senate, Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office to borrow the money and pay down the deficit. If state officials agree to the loan, the county legislature will have to complete additional deadlines for the State Comptroller when voting on next years budget. The state comptroller will then be in charge of reviewing the county’s $700-million plus spending plan.
East Ramapo Comes Up With Plan B If Lottery Funding Fails
East Ramapo school officials have come up with a plan B if state lottery funding fails. Board members released a list of planned cuts totaling $3.5-million at a Tuesday hearing, with $700-thousand in teacher retirements, $225-thousand in the additional layoffs of two nurses and a bus mechanic. $564-thousand from reducing the district’s contribution to employee retirement accounts and an additional $275-thousand cut for sports and student clubs. District officials hope to use state lottery funding to balance next year’s budget. The proposal requires special legislation to be passed to let the district get part of its annual award early. State senator David Carlucci has drafted the bill to introduce to the Senate. It has not been introduced in the Assembly yet.
Tammy Palmer’s Parents Will Get Custody of Children
After months of court appearances, Tammy Palmer’s parents have been given custody of her children. Tammy Palmer was shot dead on September 24th by her father-in-law Eugene Palmer, who remains to be a fugitive after fleeing into the Harriman State Park woods. Judge William Warren decided that John and Violet Pannirello were best suited to raise the two children, Rosemarie, 16, and John, 12. The children have voiced that they want to spend more time with their father John Palmer without supervision, but with alleged drinking problems those unsupervised visits have stopped.
STONY POINT TO RECEIVE $3 MILLION IN SANDY RELIEF
The recent announcement of federal grants to help victims of Superstorm Sandy came as a relief to many river front residents of Stony Point. The plan calls for $1.7-billion in recovery action to help New Yorkers affected from Sandy. Of that money, Stony Point will be receiving $3-million in housing assistance which will show up in the form of home repairs, reconstruction, home evaluation and buyouts. The town recently announced that property assessments for 45 storm-affected homes will be reduced based on the level of damage. Still, the proposal needs to be approved by the county legislature.
HAVERSTRAW TRUSTEE ARRESTED ON GRAND LARCENY CHARGE
A Haverstraw Village trustee was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing money from a customer from his contracting business. Thomas Watson Jr. of Watson Contracting and Home Improvement is being accused of stealing more than $10,000 from one of his customers. Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe said the owner hired Watson paying him $14,000 upfront, which was half the cost in June 2012. The balance was due when the work was complete. Watson began work on the house in September and walked away from the job in October, not returning the homeowner’s money. Yesterday, Watson surrendered himself to the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office where he was arraigned in Clarkstown Town Court on a charge of third-degree grand larceny. If convicted, Watson faces up to seven years in prison. Watson was elected to the Village Board of Trustees in 2007 and won a second four-year term in 2011.
NYACK MAN ELECTED TO PULITZER PRIZE BOARD
A Nyack resident has been elected to join the Pulitzer Prize Board. Columbia University announced Wednesday that John Daniszewski will join the select 19-member body that recognizes the year’s best work in journalism. After being a reporter and editor for 30 years, Daniszewski became Vice President and Senior Managing Editor for International News in 2009. His staff included 500 editors and reporters in 100 bureaus outside the U.S.
SPRING VALLEY TO USE RESERVE MONEY FOR LEGAL FEES
The Village of Spring Valley is looking to earmark $400,000 in reserve funds that would have prevented a tax increase. The legal costs are associated with a subpoena for records and to defend village employees if they are called to testify before a grand jury. Mayor Noramie Jasmin, who last released a statement seeking cash contributions for her own legal fees and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret have been charged in a bribery scandal. They are being accused of selling their vote of approval in favor of a phony village land transfer. Both have pled not guilty. Now with the money being used on legal fees, the village can expect taxes to increase by 2-percent. So far, Spring Valley has hired two law firms, one civil and one criminal to protect the community’s interests as the federal investigation continues.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATURE APPROVES 2 RESOLUTIONS
The Rockland Legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee approved two resolutions yesterday that could be the turning point for the county’s financial future. The first resolution voted on with a vote of 10-0 was borrowing $96-million, the same amount of the county’s audited budget deficit. On Tuesday, the full legislature will get their chance to vote on the matter, then its on to the state senate and assembly before Governor Andrew Cuomo can sign off on it. The second resolution, with a vote of 9-1 approved an incentive program to cut expenses by reducing more county workers. The budget currently calls for $4.1-million in salary savings.
NYACK ZONING BOARD APPROVES VARIANCE FOR BOUTIQUE HOTEL
The Nyack Zoning Board of appeals issued a zoning variance for the $19-million proposed boutique hotel in Nyack. The developer, WY Management LLC plans to convert a vacant manufacturing facility at 400 High Avenue into a 132-room hotel with a steakhouse, radio station and conference center. The zoning variance was needed to add two more floors to the facility, and because the area is zoned as a manufacturing district, a special permit was also needed. According to the developer’s website, the hotel is expected to open in late 2014.
VEHICLE FIRE ON TZ BRIDGE CAUSES DELAYS
A vehicle fire was reported about 11:15 am this morning on the northbound right lane of the Tappan Zee Bridge and had traffic at a standstill for almost 45 minutes. A Dodge Caravan was heavily damaged by fire and had to be taken off the bridge by a Thruway highway rescue truck. The fire is believed to have started in the engine compartment and No injuries were reported. Rescue truck crew members and state troopers used fire extinguishers to battle the blaze until firefighters from the Central Nyack Fire Department and the Tarrytown Fire Department arrived to extinguish the fire.
ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORS TO BE INSTALLED DURING TZ BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION
As preparations for the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge continue, this week, Tappan Zee Constructor crews will begin installing environmental monitors. These monitors will allow residents to track noise, dust and vibration levels during construction. These shoe-box sized devices will be placed on top of poles at eight locations, four in Tarrytown and four in South Nyack. The likely locations to receive these monitors in South Nyack will probably include the Salisbury Point co-ops and South Nyack Village Hall, although neither has been confirmed. Tappan Zee Constructors also plans to take pictures and reports of property conditions around the T-Z Bridge just in case property owners claim vibrations from the construction damaged their homes. Major construction of the $3.9-billion replacement bridge is expected to take five years.
JASMINE RAISES MONEY FOR DEFENSE
Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin has started a legal defense fund to raise money to pay for her legal bills. In a statement released on Monday, Jasmin said, “Considerable expenditure of funds is necessary for court costs, attorney fees and administrative expenses in order to successfully challenge these charges.” The charges she is referring to is her alleged involvement in a bribery scandal. Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret allegedly took bribes in the form of partial ownership and money for their vote of approval in a phony catering and community center on village land. According to the statement, Jasmin will accept contributions from supporters who want to help the mayor defend herself, providing her address in Spring Valley for sending money. Jasmin has pled not guilty.
MISSING 16 YEAR OLD NANUET GIRL REUNITES WITH FAMILY
The missing 16-year-old girl from Nanuet reunited with her family yesterday. Clarkstown Police are reporting that Britney Delinois decided to return to Rockland on her own, sending her parents a text message saying that she was taking a bus to Central Nyack. The girl was last seen leaving Spring Valley High School on Friday with reports from her grandmother that she planned on visiting a friend in Brooklyn. Before locating the 16-year-old, officials said police were receiving numerous reports from her friends that Britney was using Twitter to let them know she was “OK”. Police are providing little information about the case, but say she suffered no physical injuries.
McLAREN ENGINEERING GROUP RANK TOP 25 IN CRAIN’S NY BUSINESS MAGAZINE
The McLauren Engineering Group of West Nyack for the first time ever, made top 25 of New York’s largest engineering firm. The firm was ranked 24th by Crain’s New York Business Magazine. The results were measured by the number of engineers in the area and ranked eighth in total number of New York area projects with 540. The president of the McLaren Engineering Group, Malcolm McLaren said, “We’ve had our sights on breaking into the Crain’s ranking and pleased to achieve this goal. It’s a testament to our rapid growth in the New York City market.” McLaren which was founded in 1977 also has offices in Baltimore and Orlando. A New York City location opened two years ago.
STONY POINT RESIDENTS EXPECT TAX BREAK FROM SANDY AID
Homeowners whose properties were damaged by Superstorm Sandy will find some relief, paying less in taxes this year. Last week, Stony Point Supervisor Geoff Finn said that the assessment for the homes affected by the storm will be reduced for 2013, with the reduction depending on the amount of damage the house sustained. On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the approval of $1.7-Billion in federal aid. The state’s recovery action plans to help homeowners and businesses affected by Superstorm Sandy, with Rockland expected to receive $3-million in aid. Stony Point is already in the process of mailing out the 2013 tentative property assessment values to each property owner in town. The level of tax reduction ranges from 10 to 100-percent and will average at about 45-percent.
STATE TROOPERS CRACK DOWN ON SPEEDING IN THRUWAY WORK ZONES
Starting today, State troopers are boosting patrols along the New York State Thruway during “Operation Work Brake,” to crack down on speeding and aggressive driving before, in, and after construction zones. The initiative continues through Friday, May 3. This enforcement is held three times annually, and was created by State Police following the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005. The Act called for a strategy of active enforcement to protect workers on major highway construction work zones. The Thruway Authority says road crews face constant danger every day in work zones from motorists who speed, drive distracted, or are simply careless when traveling in work zones. In 2012, State Police issued approximately 1,350 tickets for hazardous violations in and around active work zones. The Thruway reported there were 222 accidents in work zones that same year.
POLICE INVESTIGATE 16 YEAR OLD NANUET GIRL’S DISAPPEARANCE
A 16-year-old girl Nanuet girl went missing this past weekend. Clarkstown and Spring Valley Police are teaming up to find Britney Delinois who was last seen leaving Spring Valley High School on Friday. Her grandmother last heard from the girl at around 6 pm that same day. She told her grandmother she had plans to go to Brooklyn with a friend. Police said Britney has brown hair and brown eyes. She is 5’4” and weighs around 140lbs. Anyone with information should call the Clarkstown Police at 845-639-5800.
24-Year-Old East Ramapo Alum Will Run for Spring Valley Mayor
Another name has been dropped into the hat for Mayor of Spring Valley. Miguelino Joseph, 24, will officially kick off his campaign tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 pm outside the Meadow Lane Apartment Complex at 150 W. Eckerson Road.
Joseph, a Democrat, hopes to improve government transparency and economic development planning in the village. Even though the Mayor doesn’t have control over the school board, one of Joseph’s top priorities will be advocating for students in the district.
Other candidates running for the mayoral seat are village board members Demeza Delhomme, Joseph Gross and Anthony Leon, Ramapo Town Councilman Daniel Friedman and Bernard Charles, a village employee and interim East Ramapo School Board member.
Rockland District Attorney: 14 Being Charged in Child Care Funds Fraud
14 people are being accused of ripping $229,000 off the county in child care funds.The Rockland County District Attorney’s office announced yesterday that an investigation teamed up with the Rockland Department of Social Services led to the charges against the fraudsters who falsely claimed benefits between 2007 and 2011.
Authorities said the crackdown uncovered cases in which people claimed they were the uncle looking after a child who was his own, former residents who continued to claim benefits from the county after moving away and people who concealed their income.
So far 12 of the defendants have been formally arraigned on a range of felony larceny and welfare fraud charges.
Three have already pleaded guilty and two are still being sought after. If convicted the defendants face up to four years in prison.
Big Names Endorse Controversial United Water Desalination Plant
United Water is collecting a strong list of supporters on the controversial Hudson River Treatment plant.The list of supporters includes State Senator Bill Larkin, along with the Construction Industry, Council of the Hudson Valley, the Rockland Business Association, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Rockland County and the Mid-Hudson Region of the NAACP.
Director of the Mid-Hudson region of the NAACP Wilbur Aldridge said United Water contacted the organization during the summer and gave several members a tour of the company’s testing plant. The members inspected its operations, were able to ask questions and witnessed the water’s transformation to clear drinking water.
Founder of the Rockland Water Coalition, George Potanovic, who opposes the desalination plant, commented on the recent endorsement of the NAACP saying that United Water is going to tell the group what they want them to know, calling it a dog and pony show.
United Water’s plan is to build the plant in Haverstraw where they will draw water from the Hudson River, treat the water and deliver it to Rockland customers.
Rockland Wins Bus Contract Appeal
In a high court’s ruling, it looks like Brega Transport Corp. may get the OK to run Transport of Rockland and Tappan ZEExpress buses. The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn found that Rockland County’s bid document to operate and maintain the county’s bus system did not violate municipal law or the county charter. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef and his administration have taken some heat by Rockland legislators and the community for not getting a bus deal done, especially with local owner Richard Brega of Brega Transport Corp. In the past, County Legislators awarded Brega with a five-year $70-million contract over the disapproval of Vanderhoef. This led to Wednesday’s ruling. Earlier this month, Vanderhoef made a deal with county legislators agreeing that he would sign a contract with Brega if the county won its appeal.
Sen. Carlucci Calls East Ramapo School Board’s Bet on Lottery Aid “Fiscally Irresponsible”
State lawmakers are not happy with East Ramapo’s plan to balance next year’s budget. The plan is to take a gamble with “speculative” revenue by factoring in a future $3.5-million in state lottery aid. In order for this to materialize state lawmakers must draft a bill supporting the premature revenue, which could dramatically affect future budgets in the district. On Wednesday, state Senator David Carlucci called the plan “fiscally irresponsible” saying he is, “greatly disappointed in the school board in the way that they adopted their budget because they included revenue that doesn’t exist.” Last week, Carlucci met with East Ramapo Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein to create a “lottery spin-up” bill that his office is currently drafting. Other state officials including Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee had no details on the proposal and said they will discuss it with state education officials.
Rockland Losing an Estimated $12,000-a-day for County Divide
It has been estimated by County Finance Director Stephen DeGroat that the county is losing anywhere between $12,000- $15,000 a day because of disagreement between the county’s legislative and executive branches. The 2013 county budget calls for $4.1-million in salary savings by offering county workers the choice of participating in a voluntary separation incentive program. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef included the program in his proposed budget with both the Civil Service Employees Association and the Rockland Management Association backing the program. The county legislature is not positive about the program, with doubt that the $4.1-million can truly be realized. They are also concerned that the county will not be able to provide vital services if many workers opt into the program. Last week, the County’s Deputy Budget Director Steve Grogan said that the budget anticipates 55 workers opting into the program and if more workers participate the county could make up for lost time.
Spring Valley Mayor and Deputy Mayor Plead Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges
Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret and four other politicians from New York City plead not guilty to federal corruption charges Tuesday.All the defendants were arraigned yesterday in a White Plains federal courtroom for their involvement in an FBI-led bribery investigation. Prosecutors charged Jasmin and Desmaret with taking bribes from Monsey developer Mark Stern who helped the FBI create a bogus community and catering center development on village land on Route 45. Jasmin wanted a 50-percent stake in the business for her vote. Desmaret received over $10,000 for his vote in favor of the project. Prosecutors agreed to turn over all audio and video recordings, financial documents, text messages and other evidence within days. Jasmin and Desmaret are scheduled to return to court July 19. The judge will then set a schedule for pretrial legal motions.
Clarkstown Police Department Overtime Audit Comes Up Clean
An audit on the use of overtime by members of the Clarkstown Police Department came up clean.
Police Chief Michael Sullivan told the Town Board on Tuesday that he discovered no pattern of abuse by Clarkstown officers requesting overtime which he or she did not work saying, “We are very satisfied that the controls we put in place are working.” The investigation comes after the Police Department said it found fraud in the overtime submitted by 11-year veteran and son of a former Chief, William Sherwood, whose salary in 2012 was $125,166. According to SeeThroughNY, his total income for the year was $206,237 including overtime.
Sullivan said the department will add more procedures to make future overtime easier to confirm. This will include officers submitting overtime to supervisors at the end of their work and supervisors signing off on it right away with the information being entered into the computer system at the same time.
East Ramapo School Board Gambles on Lottery Money to Balance Budget
The East Ramapo School Board is taking a gamble relying on state lawmakers to come through with $3.5-million in state lottery funding to balance next year’s $209.9-million budget. If the money does not come through, the district will be left with the difficult decision to make $3.5-million in additional budget cuts, eliminating all sports, clubs and 28 employees. This could potentially affect twleve teachers, two guidance counselors, eight nurses and six security guards. Normally, East Ramapo would receive the lottery money in September 2014 as part of its annual state aid award. The board is asking the lawmakers pass special legislation that would give them the money in June 2014. State Senator David Carlucci and other representatives are drafting up a bill that would support speeding up the lottery monies to June so it can be counted as revenue in the 2013-14 year.
SPRING VALLEY MAYOR AND DEPUTY MAYOR FACE FEDERAL ARRAIGNMENT
The Spring Valley Mayor and Deputy Mayor will be arraigned this afternoon in federal court. A grand jury indictment charges Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret with mail fraud and Hobbs Act extortion for their involvement in a bribery scandal. Jasmin and Desmaret are both being charged in separate incident involving a community center in the village of Spring Valley. Prosecutors are accusing the two of selling their votes in favor of a land transfer that supporter the project, with Jasmin selling her vote for a stake in the project and Desmaret receiving $10,500 for his vote in favor of the project. Jasmin and Desmaret are due in White Plains federal court at noon along with four other politicians from New York City.
WATER SERVICE DISRUPTED IN PEIRMONT AND GRANDVIEW
Water service in areas of Peirmont and Grandview will be disrupted today for repair work. The work is scheduled from 10 am – 2 pm. The affected addresses are 659-755 Peirmont Avenue , 1-187 River Road and all of Bright Lane. For more information contact United Water at 845-623-1500.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON ENDORSES COUNTY EXECUTIVE CANDIDATE DAVID FRIED
A big name is endorsing one of Rockland’s County Executive candidates. Former President Bill Clinton is backing former aid and friend David Fried in the race for Rockland County Executive. Clinton who worked closely with David Fried traveling the country and world with the first family said, “I have followed his career and I believe he has the vision and experience to lead Rockland forward to a new era of fiscal responsibility and government accountability.” Fried’s campaign manager Stephen Papas said they expect Clinton to come up to Rockland to personally support Fried’s campaign. Fried worked under Clinton from 1998-2001, his public service resume also includes working under Nita Lowey, serving on the County Legislature and acting as Village Justice of Spring Valley.
FORMER ROCKLAND DRUG COUNSELOR INDICTED
A Former Rockland Drug Counselor has been indicted on charges that he used his position to help drug-abusing offenders to stay out of prison. Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said Hulen Ginn, 41, of Valley Stream, Long Island is accused of taking bribes in return for making it possible for participants to get out of the program early or to avoid attending required half-way house treatment. Ginn is accused of soliciting and accepting bribes from June to October 2012, but denies the charges against him. Ginn worked for a company hired by the District Attorney's Office to run its Road to Recovery Drug Treatment Alternatives to Prison program. A Rockland County grand jury in New City has indicted Ginn on charges of third-degree bribe receiving, second-degree receiving a reward for official misconduct, and second-degree falsifying business records. He remains free on $10,000 bail.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT RESIGNS
Big news coming out of East Ramapo this weekend. East Ramapo School Board president Daniel Schwartz resigned Friday. He is the third member to quit this year. In a statement released by Schwartz’s office Kantrowitz, Goldhamer and Gaifman law firm in Chestnut Ridge, Schwartz cites “personal and business obligations” from preventing him from devoting the necessary time to the school board. Schwartz has held the unpaid school board position for two years and was elected school board president in July. In his resignation letter Schwartz says that it was an honor to serve on the board and wished the district nothing but the best into the future. His resignation takes effect Monday.
STATE: ROCKLAND DEFICIT COULD HIT $110-MILLION
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Friday that Rockland County’s deficit could exceed $110-million. Currently, the county’s deficit is at $96.4-million. In a statement released on Friday, DiNapoli concluded that the county’s revenue estimates were overly optimistic and that the county didn’t budget enough funds to cover personal services and other costs. Moody representatives reported, as it stands, Rockland’s rating has a downward pressure or a negative outlook. Both Moody’s and the State Comptroller are stressing the need for Rockland officials to rely on more realistic and dependable revenues as well as address areas where deficits are reoccurring.
STATE TROOPERS CRACKING DOWN ON MOTORIST CELL PHONE USE
Starting today, The New York State Thruway Authority says State Troopers plan to boost patrols along the Thruway as part of “Operation Hang Up,” which will target motorists using mobile devices while driving. According to the State Police, cell phone use and texting are responsible for a significant proportion of traffic crashes, injuries and deaths, and these behaviors continue to increase despite their obvious danger. In response, State Police Troop T, who patrol the Thruway, have made distracted driving enforcement a priority. Troop T says it aggressively enforces all traffic laws on the Thruway everyday, including the ticketing of motorists who use portable electronic devices, and in 2012 issued 4,664 tickets for cell phone violations. The Thruway Authority will post reminders on message boards throughout the Thruway system during the initiative. The stepped-up enforcement will continue through Sunday, April 28.
VERIZON CUSTOMERS TO SEE AN INCREASE IN PHONE BILLS
Verizon is looking to add an additional $1.49 to many of its customers’ monthly phone bills. Verizon is asking the state Public Service Commission for a 99-cent monthly construction surcharge per telephone line due to an expected $106-million in statewide telephone-line-relocation costs. The surcharge applies to all state retail business and residential service lines, except Lifeline services. Verizon calculated that the company would generate a maximum of $38.7-million annually with the new surcharge in place. The Public Service Commission is expected to rule on Verizon’s request May 18. If the PSC approves the surcharge increase, customers could see an increase in their bills by July.
FEDERAL PROSECUTORS REVEAL IDICTMENTS AGAINST SPRING VALLEY MAYOR AND DEPUTY MAYOR
Federal prosecutors unveiled their indictments against the Spring Valley Mayor, Deputy Mayor and 4 other New York City Politicians. Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret are both being charged in separate incidents involving a community center and catering hall. Prosecutors are accusing the two of selling their votes in favor of a land transfer that supported the project with Jasmin selling her vote for a stake in the project and Desmaret receiving $10,500 for his vote in favor of the project. According to the indictment, the pair face separate mail fraud and Hobbs act extortion charges. They are due White Plains federal court at noon on Tuesday.
ELECTRONIC TOLLS ARE PLANNED FOR SO. NYACK DURING NEW BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION
Officials said yesterday that drivers will pay their Tappan Zee Bridge tolls electronically near Interchange 10 in South Nyack while the new bridge is being built. That arrangement will be in place for three to four years before toll collection returns to Tarrytown by 2018. Representatives of the New York State Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors proposed the compromise solution to South Nyack officials, who want to see the area around Interchange 10 redeveloped and feared the toll gantry could be permanent. During construction of the new $3.9 billion bridge, the toll plaza in Tarrytown must be removed to make room for staging. The state will begin collecting tolls electronically using either E-ZPass or by snapping a photo of a vehicle’s license plates and mailing the owner a bill. South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian said “We are not going to have this electronic device as permanent,” and it was an unfair burden to South Nyack. A special adviser on the project said “We have heard their concerns and tried to work on an agreeable solution.” The Thruway Authority still has time to decide whether to make completely cashless tolling permanent on the new bridge.
STATE APPROVED TRANSMISSION LINE FROM CANADA
The State Public Service Commission has approved the controversial construction and operation of a transmission line from the Canadian border to Astoria, Queens. The 1,000-megawatt transmission line plans to bring Canadian-produced clean energy to the New York Metropolitan area. Residents in Story Point were devastated by the approval. Although the majority of cables would be under water in the Hudson River, the line would come up in Stony Point and run underground along the CSX railroad through West Haverstraw, Route 9W in Clarkstown to Rockland Lake and Hook Mountain, then re-enter the Hudson. The project does have support from Hudson Valley environmental groups including Riverkeeper. The developer has promised to establish a $117-million environmental trust fund to benefit the river’s ecosystem.
FIRST DEBATE: RACE FOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE
County Executive Candidates faced off for the first time last night at Clarkstown Town Hall. The debate which was hosted by the Rockland Water Coalition included democrats Ilan Schoenberger, Vladimir Leon, David Fried and Dagan Lacorte. On the Republican side was the lone Ed Day. Candidates were very tense and comic at times, debating issues of United Water’s desalination plant project, Indian Point and overdevelopment. During the debate Lacorte took a jab at Schoenberger saying the village of Suffern puts aside $250,000 for Parks and Recreation compared to the county that puts away $2,700. Schoenberger immediately dismissed that statement criticizing LaCorte and reminding him that village and county governments are run differently pointing out that villages do not carry the burden of state mandated costs. Both Day and Fried stayed on target showing their knowledge of the county. Day emphasized the need for county municipalities to work together using the proposed Stony Point gasification plant as an example. Fried impressed the full auditorium with his plans to reconstruct and save money for the county starting from the top.
CLARKSTOWN SCHOOLS INVESTIGATE CYBERBULLYING
Clarkstown parents are calling on school officials to investigate rising instances of cyber bullying. On a popular website amongst middle schoolers called ask.fm that allows for anonymous postings, parents have become alarmed by vicious posts and vulgar language used to focus on student’s appearance and personality. Felix Festa Middle School principal Dianne Basso reassured an investigation was continuing and the school was taking the situation very seriously. Earlier this month, Superintendent of Schools J. Thomas Morton sent a letter informing parents that police were investigating inappropriate social media outlets and that parents should keep a close eye on their children’s activities on these sites. Clarkstown Police are currently investigating another situation where a student was threatened on an online post. They believe that threat was a prank.
ROCKLAND COUNTY RECEIVES HUD FUNDING
On Wednesday, County Executive Scott Vanderhoef announced that the county will receive $2.67-million in Housing and Urban Development funding for towns, village and nonprofit organizations. The HUD grants have been dispersed through the county’s Office of Community Development. The federal funding included money from the Community Development Block Grant funds, the Home Investment Partnership Programs and the Energy Solutions Grants. This year, 10 municipalities and 15 nonprofits will receive funding for programs such as sidewalk improvements and social service programs.
HOMELESS NYACK WOMAN CHARGED WITH ROBBERY
Police say a 55 year old homeless woman has been accused of attacking a 73 year old woman on a Nyack street and stealing her wallet. Sgt. Robert Ruggiero of the Orangetown police said Maryann White was arrested Tuesday night after the 10:40 p.m. incident near Main and Gedney Streets. Officers found a woman lying on the ground, bleeding from the face and head. She told officers she had been punched and kicked by an attacker who took her wallet from her pocketbook and fled toward Burd Street. Police found White in a garage at 28 Burd Street and was identified by the victim. The woman was treated by Rockland Paramedic Services and taken to Nyack Hospital. White was arraigned in Village Court on charges of second-degree robbery, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
NYACK RESTAURANT OWNER HELPS COP UNDER ATTACK
It would appear we have a hero to the heroes in Nyack. At around 3:30 pm Tuesday afternoon a Nyack restaurant and bar owner saw an officer being beaten up by two young men and acted. Bourbon Street on Main Street owner Brian Moran said he saw a 16-year-old boy on the officer’s back while the 17-year-old fought off the officer’s attempts to arrest him. Moran then grabbed the kid who was punching the cop when they fell and began to wrestle while the officer tasered the older kid and handcuffed him. Both boys, from Haverstraw, came to Nyack in a cab and wanted the cabdriver to take them to Orangeburg. When the cabdriver said the ride would cost more money. The boys demanded their money back and the 17-year-old began kicking the car door causing damage. The 17-year-old was charged with assault, attempted robbery, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. The 16-year-old was charged with attempted robbery, resisting arrest and unlawful possession of marijuana. Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident, call police at 845-359-3700.
SUFFERN GRAD RECOVERING FROM BOSTON BOMB INJURIES
A Suffern grad is recovering from injuries in the second blast at the Boston Marathon and is anxious to get back to her normal schedule. Lindsey Walker, 19, a sophomore lacrosse player at Tufts University suffered major cuts to her legs and back and experienced some hearing damage after two bombs went off Monday. Walker and her friends went to the race to watch some of their classmates cross the finish line. They waited right around where the second bomb exploded. Doctors x-rayed Lindsey and found no shrapnel, saying a pair of blue jeans and a thick sweatshirt prevented her from very serious injuries. Family members say Lindsey has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATURE VOTES ON SUMMIT PARK
The Rockland legislature voted 11-6 last night to create a LDC to sell the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center. The public hearing lasted over two hours with more than an hour of statements by county legislators, many of which were apologetic about the votes they were about to cast. CSEA union reps and workers attacked County Executive Scott Vanderhoef and the legislature arguing that the sale would negatively affect the local residents who use Summit Park and the county workers who need their jobs to pay their taxes. The county plans to use the proceeds to help pay down the county’s $96.4-million deficit.
ORANGETOWN POLICEMAN INJURED WHILE ARRESTING 2 TEENS
Orangetown Police say an officer suffered multiple injuries
yesterday afternoon in a confrontation with two Haverstraw teenagers
who were involved in a dispute with a cab driver in downtown Nyack. The
police officer sustained injuries to his neck, back, hands and knees as
he attempted to arrest a teen at about 3:30 p.m. on Main Street.
According to police, the incident began when a cab driver flagged down
the officer because of a fare dispute. The teen then allegedly kicked
and damaged the door of the cab. As he was trying to arrest the first
teen, a struggle broke out, and the second teen jumped on the officers
back and began to punch him. Both teens were taken into custody after
the incident. After the arrests, the officer involved was taken to
Nyack Hospital for treatment and was later released. Both teenagers,
one 16 and the other 17, were arraigned in Nyack Village Court and
ordered held in the Rockland County Correctional Facility in New City
pending a hearing. The teens were not identified by police. One of the
teens was charged with second-degree assault, second-degree attempted
robbery, fourth-degree criminal mischief and resisting arrest. The
second teen is accused of second-degree attempted robbery, resisting
arrest and unlawful possession of marijuana. Their identies were not
released and the incident is still under investigation.
PARENTS AND STUDENTS BOYCOTT STATE TESTS
Parents across the county took matters into their own hands supporting a national movement to boycott standardized tests. North Rockland Superintendent Ileana Eckert reported 18 middle schoolers and 26 elementary students did not take the state English Language Arts test. The ELA’s as they are more commonly known, started Tuesday and continue on to Thursday. Eckert said “if a parent has refused, they have refused the makeup as well.” There are several national and state groups that are supporting parents to “opt out” from having their children take state-sponsored tests claiming schools are too focused on testing. Currently, the state has no guideline to penalize students who do not take the tests.
COUNTY TO VOTE ON SUMMIT PARK FUTURE
Tuesday evening the county will host a public hearing on the future of the Rockland County-owned Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center. Before voting on whether the facility will be turned over to a new owner, the Rockland legislature plans to hear from residents and union members. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef has suggested creating an LDC, which would be responsible for finding buyers and selling Summit Park for the highest price. The proceeds would then be turned over to pay down the county’s $96.4-million deficit. CSEA whose members staff Summit Park and the state, oppose the transfer and warned they could take legal action to block it.
TAPPAN ZEE CONSTRUCTORS TO LIMIT DREDGING: WILL NOT DUMP IN OCEAN
Tappan Zee constructors are reporting that sand and silt from dredging the river bottom will be placed in a yet-to-be-chosen spot on land. The initial plan was to deposit the sediment into the Atlantic Ocean. Construction officials said there was a change in plans, instead of digging 1.9-million cubic yards out of the river bottom over 164 acres to make way for barges and other equipment, they will now be dredging 951,000 cubic yards over 139 acres. According to a state permit, dredging for the new 3.1-billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement can only happen between August 1- November 1 to protect endangered sturgeon swimming in and out of the Hudson for spawning.
MAN ACCUSED OF MAKING FACEBOOK THREATS FACES NEW CHARGES
Lawrence Mulqueen, the Nanuet man arrested in March on charges of making death threats to public officials on Facebook, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of Congress, now faces new charges of food stamp fraud. Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said Mulqueen,50, took part in a scheme at a the Nyack Food Mart, on Waldron Ave in Central Nyack in which he used an electronic benefits card to illegally obtain cash, alcohol, cigarettes and other items prohibited from food stamp use. In some cases, the clerks at the store would swipe Mulqueen’s EBT card and enter fraudulent information on a dedicated EBT terminal, indicating that he purchased groceries. Zugibe said the clerks furnished cash to Mulqueen for a portion of what was charged to the EBT card account, providing the store with a profit on each fraudulent transaction. Nyack Food Mart owners and five of its clerks were charged with food stamp fraud earlier this year. Mulqueen is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and misuse of food stamps, both felonies, and was arraigned in Clarkstown Town Court on the new charges. He faces a hearing on July 8.
TRIAL OPENS FOR TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE DANGLER
Opening statement in the trial of the Tappan Zee dangler are expected today. Michael Davitt of West Haverstraw was arrested more than a year ago after hanging from the Tappan Zee Bridge for hours. Prosecutors offered Davitt a sentence of 45 days in jail and $5,000 in restitution in exchange for pleading guilty. He rejected that offer and now will face multiple misdemeanors including reckless endangerment, obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest and criminal trespass. The trial is expected to last up to a week.
HAVERSTRAW TO FACE 4.3-PERCENT TAX INCREASE
Haverstraw taxpayers will face a 4.3-percent tax increase under the proposed 2013-14 budget. The $8.7-million budget proposal meets the state-required 2-percent levy cap. Property taxes will see an increase of about 3.5-percent, which adds up to $218,000 more than this year’s levy. The next village budget hearing is on Monday at 8pm. The meeting is open to the public.
RARE FORM OF BACTERIAL MENINGITIS KILLED 12-YEAR-OLD SPRING VALLEY GIRL
The Rockland Department of Health is now reporting that the form of bacterial meningitis that killed a 12-year-old Spring Valley girl was so rare it probably couldn’t have been prevented. Infectious-disease specialist and acting medical director of the Rockland Department of Health Dr. Anil Vaidian said yesterday that a bacterial form of meningitis that causes less than 3-percent of bacterial meningitis deaths was the cause of Chrissy Gabriel’s death. The form of bacteria that likely entered Chrissy’s bloodstream and traveled to the covering of her brain normally lives harmless in the mouth. The bacteria turns deadly once it enters the bloodstream through a gum infection or a missing tooth. In the autopsy there were no indications that Chrissy had any type of injury in her mouth. This strain of meningitis is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from person to person.
SPING VALLEY: POST OFFICE SQUARE TO BE COMPLETED BY SUMMER 2014
Construction recently began on a Spring Valley project; not the bogus real estate development project tied to the corruption scandal. Construction workers broke ground this past winter on a 38,000-square-foot commercial building at Church and Main Streets. The new three-story commercial building will replace an old municipal parking lot. Post Office Square, as it will be called, will have retail space on the Main Street side and office space on the upper floors as well as a new 26-spot parking lot. The commercial building should be completed by June 2014.
SPRING VALLEY TRUSTEE WILL RUN FOR MAYOR
In the wake of the Spring Valley corruption scandal, the county will be keeping a close eye on the race for village mayor. Trustee Joseph Gross has announced Wednesday that he will run for Spring Valley Mayor. Gross said he hopes to raise the financial and ethical wrongs that have incurred during Mayor Noramie Jasmin’s administration. When asked whether Mayor Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret should step down he said, “I don’t act on allegations. We will have to be patient. For now, it looks like I am a candidate for mayor.” Trustees Demeza Delhomme and Anthony Leon have openly called for Jasmin and Desmaret to step down. They are both running for mayor along with Ramapo Councilman Daniel Friedman and Spring Valley Parks and Recreation employee Bernard Charles.
POMONA MAN BUSTED IN IDENTITY THEFT RING
The leader of an identity theft ring that stole financial documents from 180 people was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Philip Smith, 55, from the Bronx was ordered to pay $1.5-million in fines and restitution. The leader and his crew fraudulently bought more than $1-million in merchandise and gift cards using their names on phony driver’s licenses. Francis Hidalgo, 45, of Pomona also went down with the crewmembers. A U.S. District Court Judge sentenced Hidalgo to prison for 78 months and ordered him to pay $557,816 in restitution. Authorities are reporting that Hidalgo used the money to finance a marihuana-growing operation in the Bronx.
NANUET BUNGALOW FIRE INJURES 2
Authorities say two people were injured early Wednesday in a fire that raced through a bungalow at the Russian Orthodox Convent in Nanuet. Spring Valley Battalion Chief Ken Solhman said the fire broke out at 100 Smith St. at about 2:50AM and about 50 to 60 firefighters from the Spring Valley, South Spring Valley, Nanuet and Hillcrest fire departments were called to the scene. It took about 1 ½ hours for firefighters to control the flames. Solhman said the victims suffered smoke inhalation and burns and were taken to Nyack Hospital for evaluation. The burns were later determined to be serious enough to transfer the victims to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. The injuries are not believed to be life threatening, and the identities of the victims were not released. Clarkstown Police Sgt. Glenn Cummings said the fire was being investigated, but that there was no reason to believe it was suspicious. The exact cause of the fire was not known.
LIGHTENING BOLT SENDS VALLEY COTTAGE MAN FLYING ACROSS ROOM
Last night marked the season’s first major thunderstorm. On Wednesday, a Valley Cottage man was blown across a room in his home after lightening struck his house. Officials said the jolt then traveled to a neighbor’s home igniting a small fire and set off alarms at the Mountainview Condominium Complex across the street. Emergency responders arrived at the Mountainview Avenue home at around 7:30pm finding the middle-aged man to be conscious and able to speak. The lightening bolt left its mark taking shingles off the house and bowing a wall. As for the small electrical fire that started in a neighboring home—luckily the homeowner knew how to use a fire extinguisher.
EAST RAMAPO EXPECT’S SHORTFALL IN NEXT YEAR’S BUDGET
The East Ramapo School Board is working to close in on a $2.3-million shortfall in next year’s budget. School officials presented a $212.8-million spending plan for 2013-14 yesterday. That’s up $20-million over the budget passed last year. The plan includes a tax levy increase of about 3.1-percent. The board says the increase comes under the state-mandated cap. This will be the third year East Ramapo has operated on a deficit. Last year, the district had to borrow $7.5-million to balance this year’s budget.
A CITIZEN’S GROUP PLANS TO SUE CLARKSTOWN
A citizen’s group served a notice of claim to the Clarkstown Town Board in last night’s public meeting. The newly created Clarkstown Residents Opposing Patronage is accusing the Town Board of failure to vet the corrupt Bronx politician Jay Savino before hiring his law firm to work for the town. Savino was hired by the town of Clarkstown in 2012 to review the town’s certiorari cases. Savino, who was arrested last week in an alleged plot to rig New York City’s Mayoral election resigned yesterday as Bronx GOP Chair.
ITEMIZED LIST OF REPLACEMENT TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE COSTS
In the state’s agreement with Tappan Zee Constructors to build and design the brand-new twin span bridge, an itemized list of the 3.1-billion dollar project has been released. A few of the price tags listed include, tearing down the bridge, which will cost the state $65-million. Dredging the river bottom $40-million. Engineering and design an additional $300-million. The foundations for the main span are expected to cost $150-million. Lastly, the state expects to spend a little over $520,000 to cover the cost of relocation of the state police barracks and the Thruway’s Tappan Zee maintenance facility. The detailed project schedule outlining Tappan Zee constructors planned tasks has been submitted. The Thruway authority is still reviewing it.
FORMER CLARKSTOWN ATTORNEY STEPS DOWN AS BRONX GOP CHARIMAN
The Bronx Republican Party Chief and former attorney for the Town of Clarkstown resigned as the Bronx GOP Chairman yesterday. After his arrest in an FBI sting last week that included the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Spring Valley, Jay Savino has decided to step down as the Bronx Republican Party Chief. The Town of Clarkstown fired Savino hours after his arrest. Savino who had an $88,740 a year contract with the town was hired in 2012 to review the town’s certiorari cases. Savino along with 5 other politicians are being charged with bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud. He could face up to 25 years in prison.
CLARKSTOWN POLICE PLAN TO SPEAK WITH 7-YEAR-OLD VICTIM STABBED BY MOTHER
Clarkstown Police are hoping to talk to the young New City girl who was stabbed multiple times by her mother. Ava Sangavaram, 7, has been released from Westchester Medical Center where she was taken after her mother Victoria Vovchik, 45, brutally stabbed Ava and then turned the knife on herself. Ava’s father, Dr. Kristappa Sangavaram, 68, found Ava and Vovchik inside their house after a Woodglen Elementary School Nurse contacted him to tell him Ava was not in school. Officials believe young Ava was alone with her mother’s body for several hours before her father discovered her. Clarkstown police plan to speak with Ava after her condition improves.
SPRING VALLEY PRINCIPAL TO FACE JUDGE ON ASSUALT CHARGES
A Spring Valley principal will face a judge on assault charges, but one thing stopping the case from being solid is the victim hasn’t signed the complaint. Rabbi Nathan Spitzer is being accused by Spring Valley police for slapping a 10-year-old boy hard enough to cause swelling to the child’s eye, ear and face. Spring Valley detectives said they filed the charges based upon their investigation. The 10-year-old boy and his family are not cooperating with authorities. The deadline for the disposition is April 22. Spitzer is no longer the principal for the United Talmudical School. He will answer to the charge in court April 18.
AIRMONT MAN ARRESTED AT JFK AIRPORT
An Airmont man was arrested Monday at JFK Int’l Airport after a 5-inch knife built into his belt-buckle was found in his carry on bag, according to a TSA news release. Chaim Gruenzweig, 19, is charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The knife was detected by a TSA officer operating an X-ray machine and was “configured as part of the belt’s buckle in an effort to conceal the fact that it was a weapon,” the release said. Gruenzweig, who had a ticket to Frankfurt, Germany, was arrested by Port Authority police. The incident did not interfere with airport operations, TSA said.
75-FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE HARRIMAN STATE PARK BRUSH FIRE
A brush fire had volunteer firefighters battling a blaze for 5 hours yesterday afternoon. The brush fire at Harriman State Park flared up at around 2:30pm. 75- volunteer firefighters battled the blaze using long hose lines and all-terrain vehicles. Nine departments responded to the fire, including Mahwah, New Jersey. Firefighters stayed at the scene until 7:30pm. Fire officials said no injuries were reported and no homes were in immediate danger.
SV DEPUTY MAYOR TAKES $1,000 IN UNRELATED MATTER
In a new report, it seems Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret had more than one pay-day. According to a complaint, Desmaret took $1,000 from a cooperative witness as part of an unrelated matter. Details of his “prior corrupt agreement” were not detailed. All that is known is the agreement happened before federal authorities joined the investigation that started in Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe’s office. Desmaret, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmine and four New York City politicians were arrested last week on bribery and corruption charges. Jasmine was offered a stake in a phony FBI community center project. Desmaret received $10,500 for his vote to support the phony project.
SPRING VALLEY TRUSTEES TO VOTE ON LEGAL COUNSEL
Spring Valley trustees will vote to hire extra legal counsel. With the village shaken with the recent scandal of its Mayor and Deputy Mayor, the board of trustees plans to hire special counsel to protect the community’s rights as the investigation continues. On Thursday, a village attorney’s office memo emailed staff saying, “Employees must preserve all documentation and electronic evidence that might be the subject to the grand jury subpoena.” So far the grand jury has requested all electronic communications such as emails and instant messaging, as well as all word-processing documents, spreadsheets, databases, calendars, telephone logs, contract information, Internet usage, audio recordings and videotapes. Three of the five-member board will vote to keep the law firms of Patrick and Michael Burke in Suffern and Brian Sokoloff of Long Island. Mayor Normaie Jasmine and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, both of whom have decided not to resign or take a temporary leave will not be allowed to vote. The costs will be released Tuesday after the trustees vote.
BRUSH FIRE THREATENS NEW CITY HOMES
Firefighters from New City and three other departments spent more than 90 minutes Saturday morning battling a roaring brush fire that threatened two homes with flames up to 25 feet high. The fire was reported at about 9:50AM. The blaze spread through 2 acres of a field southeast of the intersection of Concklin and Buena Vista roads, and traveled up a ridge under high-tension power lines and threatened two homes on Buena Vista Road. About 30 to 35 firefighters from New City, Hillcrest, Nanuet andCongers fought the high-wind-driven flames until about 11:30 a.m., when itwas finally knocked down. The cause of the fire was not known.
COMMUNITY MOURNS 12-YEAR-OLD SPRING VALLEY GIRL
St. Gregory’s Church on Cinder Rd. held a vigil for 12-year-old Chrissy Gabriel yesterday night. The gathering brought together many parish, school and community members to mourn the loss of the young Spring Valley girl together. Chrissy, a student at St. Gregory’s died expectantly of bacterial meningitis Saturday. A wake is scheduled from 6pm-9pm Friday evening at the Sniffen-Sagala funeral home in Spring Valley. The Church of God in Spring Valley will perform her funeral at Saturday at 9am at the United Methodist Church.
ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHNEIDERMAN TO DONATE $100,000 IN CAMPAIGN SUPPORT CONNECTED TO FBI INFORMANT
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will be donating campaign money to a charity. Schneiderman received the $100,000 in support from a Monsey couple linked to FBI informant and briber Moses “Mark” Stern. Stern was involved in the scandal that led to the federal charges against the Spring Valley Mayor and Spring Valley Deputy Mayor along with four other New York City politicians. The donations were made in 2010 by Joseph and Esther Markowitz. The Markowitz have also supported Justice Sherri Eisenpress’s successful campaign for Rockland County Family Court Judge. Sneiderman’s office released a statement Thursday saying, “In light of reports that Mr. and Mrs. Markowitz are involved in an ongoing law enforcement investigation, out of an abundance of caution, the campaign will donate the full amount of their contributions to charities helping New Yorkers recovering from Hurricane Sandy.” The Markowitz have also been linked to sending campaign contributions to New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and Councilman Malcolm Smith who was also running for New York City Mayor. They were both busted in the recent sting.
MULCH FIRE CAUSES RUSH HOUR FOG AND SMOKE
A large mulch fire at the Clarkstown Transfer Station was reported at about 5:05pm. About 50 volunteer firefighters from four stations were called into the scene. It took Rockland’s brave about two hours to control. The fire was reported to have started in a part of the dump housing large mounds of mulch and continued to spread to about seven of the mounds, some as high as 30 feet. What caused the blaze is still unclear.
RAMAPO HIGH SCHOOL RECEIVES BOMB THREAT
Ramapo High School received a phoned-in bomb threat around 11 a.m. yesterday morning. Students and staff were immediately evacuated and Ramapo Police arrived within 5 minutes after being notified that the school had received the threat from an unknown caller. The Rockland County Sheriffs Bomb Squad searched the building along with Ramapo police and did not find anything suspicious in or around the building. After the search was finished, students and staff were allowed to re-enter the school. The Ramapo Police Detective Division is handling the investigation.
SPRING VALLEY GIVES 38 SECOND SPEECH “WILL RESTORE MY GOOD NAME”
Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmine spoke for the first time since her arrest and her statement took all of 38 seconds. The heart of her statement was, “we will vigorously defend against those charges to restore my good name.” Those charges she is referring to involve herself, Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret and four other New York City politicians that were busted in an FBI sting early Tuesday morning on corruption and bribery charges. An FBI agent and FBI informant pretended to be developers looking to build a catering facility-community center in the village. The FBI informant is Moses “Mark” Stern, a Monsey-based financial investor. In the past, he was accused of stealing $126-million from Citigroup. The case was thrown out when Stern agreed to pay the company $111-million August 2010. The case Stern is looking to find some leniency on is a civil case brought by a California-based real-estate company. They are accusing him of defrauding them 13-million dollars. Stern pled guilty to those federal charges in March. The case has been sealed pending the outcome of this local corruption scandal. Stern could not be reached for comment.
STATE SENATOR CARLUCCI PASSES “INTEGRITY TEST”
One politician that passed the honesty test is State Senator David Carlucci. On Wednesday, the Rockland County District Attorneys office ended all speculation that Carlucci was involved with the Spring Valley corruption scandal. It was confirmed that an FBI agent did approach Carlucci. District Attorney Tom Zugibe reported that Carlucci “acted appropriately and in a manner one would expect from an elected official carrying out his or her sworn duty.” Still, some constituents are concerned with Carlucci’s relationship with the senator at the center of this bribery scandal—Malcolm Smith. Smith and Carlucci were among the Democratic Senators who broke away from their own caucus to work with Senate Republicans to run the chamber. Still Zugibe defends that Carlucci, “Didn’t take the bait. It was an integrity test that he passed.”
SUFFERN CRASH KNOCKS OUT POWER
According to Ramapo Police, Daniel Hlavac, 21, of Pearl River was charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs after crashing his SUV into a utility pole on Airmont Road in Suffern yesterday afternoon. Police arrived at the scene just after 1PM, and found the vehicle had come to rest on a rock wall between Par Road and Champion Road. Hlavac was outside the SUV showing signs of intoxication. He was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released. Ramapo Police arrested him for Driving While Intoxicated and Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs. The utility pole was severed in the accident, taking out power in the area, and Orange & Rockland Utilities had to replace the pole.
FORMER ROCKLAND CO. CAB OWNER SENTENCED FOR FRAUD
Former Rockland County cab company owner Scott E. Sanders, 41, was found guilty on Tuesday of committing a $10 million insurance scam in New York City. After a four-week trial in Manhattan federal court, a jury convicted Sanders on seven counts of fraud and identity theft in connection with a long-running scheme to obtain significantly lower insurance premiums for his livery fleet. Prosecutors said that between 2005 and 2010, Sanders filed fraudulent insurance applications, claiming his cabs were stored and operated outside New York City, where premiums are cheaper. Sanders faces a maximum of 120 years in prison for mail and wire fraud; a mandatory two years for aggravated identity
theft; and a $1.5 million fine. Sanders is currently free on $2 million bail. The sentencing is set for July 9.
STATE OFFERS TARRYTOWN $29,000 FOR MUDDY RIVER BOTTOM
The state is looking to write up a check for our neighbors across the bridge. Tarrytown will get at least $29,000 to sell a piece of muddy river bottom for the Tappan Zee replacement bridge project. The state needs to purchase the 1.8-acre parcel because the new 3-mile span will rise over it. The village board approved selling the land, now all that’s left is negotiating a higher price.
FBI: SPRING VALLEY MAYOR AND DEPUTY MAYOR ARRESTED IN BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION CHARGES
Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, her Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret and four other high-profile political figures were arrested yesterday on bribery and corruption charges. In a fake Rockland County construction project created by the FBI and an FBI informant, federal prosecutors said that more than $100,000 in bribes changed hands in three schemes tied to the proposed Spring Valley Community Center and two holdings LLC. According to the 28-page complaint, the phony developers agreed to bribe New York City Republican leaders to back State Senator Malcolm Smith in the race for New York City Mayor. The made-up developers then bribed Jasmin and Desmaret separately to gain their support for the community center. Smith offered the developers $500,000 in state road construction funds the Spring Valley project. The informant offered Jasmin 20-percent stake in the development for her vote of wish she asked for 50-percent and Desmaret requested $20,000 for his vote, he ended up collecting $10,500 instead. Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe said the investigation actually started three years ago in his office, but once it was discovered that Senator Smith was involved, the case was handed over to the FBI. The FBI informant does live in Rockland and helped the FBI in hopes of seeking a more lenient sentence on federal charges. The court released the six on $250,000 bail each, giving them 10 days to get two co-signers. All will appear back in court April 23.
CARLUCCI CLEARED IN SCANDAL
Prosecutors involved in the corruption scandal that broke yesterday say, the one person who upheld his duties and
responsibilities was state Sen. David Carlucci. Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said Carlucci, a New City Democrat whose district includes Spring Valley, had no role in alleged corruption activities that led to the arrest of six elected officials
and political leaders. Zugibe said that the FBI agents that posed as real estate developers went to Carlucci about a bogus project in Spring
Valley, but that Carlucci did not provide any support. Zugibe said.
"In a sense, he passed the honesty test."
ROCKLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH REPORTS 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL DIDN’T DIE OF MOST SERIOUS STRAIN OF MENINGITIS
The Rockland Department of Health is now reporting that the 12-year-old girl who died suddenly over the weekend had bacterial meningitis but not the most serious strain first suspected. Test results showed that Chrissy Gabriel did no contract the meningococcal strain, but it is still not clear which strain of bacterial meningitis she was infected with. All forms of meningitis are potentially deadly but experts suspected with the rate in which Chrissy became sick to her unexpected death Saturday afternoon that she was infected with the most serious form. The department is no longer recommending preventative antibiotics for people who came into contact with the young girl. Many of which are family members, classmates and teachers.
FBI ARRESTS SPRING VALLEY MAJOR AND DEPUTY MAJOR
Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and her Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret were taken into FBI custody just after 7 this morning.
Jasmin and Desmaret are being accused of taking bribes in return for approving the sale of village land to a private concern. Jasmin is also accused of demanding a secret ownership stake in the company that bought the property from the Spring Valley community.
The FBI is reporting the case dates back to August 2011.
The two are expected to appear in White Plains federal court.
12-YEAR-OLD-GIRL DIES OF BACTERIAL MENINGITIS
A 12-year-old Spring Valley girl died from bacterial meningitis Saturday. Chrissy Gabriel was in cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon when rescuers arrived to her family’s apartment. She was immediately taken to Good Samaritan Hospital where doctors were unable to revive her. Rockland County’s Medical Examiner Dr. Laura Carbone found the autopsy showed that the child died of a lethal form of bacterial meningitis. Family members said the disease struck so quickly they barely had a chance to call or help. Chrissy, a St. Gregory Elementary School student was in healthy condition except a mild case of pink eye diagnosed earlier in the week. It is being reported that 33 people came into contact with Chrissy over the past week, including classmates, teachers and family members. All were prescribed antibiotics as a precaution. Two members of the Rockland Paramedics and three Spring Valley Police officers were also given antibiotics.
SYMPTOMS OF MENINGITIS
Bacterial meningitis is a rare, but the most deadly form of the disease. In Rockland there has been one recent case in January of last year. A Pearl River High School student contracted the disease. The student was treated with antibiotics and recovered. Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache and stiff neck and will often be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. They usually develop within three to seven days after exposure. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the most effective way to protect you and your child against certain types of bacterial meningitis is to get vaccinated.
CLARKSTOWN TOWN BOARD TERMINATES SAVINO'S CONTRACT
The Clarkstown Town Board reacted to conspiracy to bribe and wire fraud charges filed by the U.S. District Attorney against Josepf Savino, the Bronx Republican Party chair, by immediately terminating his contract for tax certiorari services for the town. The vote at the special meeting held late this morning was unanimous. The board met in executive session to discuss the continued retention of Savino’s law firm to represent the town in tax certiorari matters. Town Attorney Amy Mele said the action was taken because board members felt the firm would not be able to fulfill its contractual obligation, and that her office will cover pending court appearances until replacement counsel is found. Savino’s White Plains firm was retained by the town board in January 2012 and renewed the contract for another year in December 2012.
NORTH ROCKLAND BUSTS 2 UNDERAGE DRINKING PARTIES
North Rockland Police are cracking down on underage drinking. This past weekend Stony Point Police broke up two underage parties. On Saturday, Police responded to Ridgetop Drive in Tompkins Cove after receiving reports of a suspicious vehicle in the area. While on that call police found a large house party going on. Police are reporting Kayhan Baratali, 19, is believed to have been the host of the party. She was charged with unlawfully dealing with a minor—around 50 minors. On Sunday, Jeannine Rose, 45, was charged with unlawfully dealing with a minor after being caught serving about 10 minors at her home in Stony Point. Baratali expected to appear in Stony Point Town Court on May 7 at 9am. Rose is to appear in Town Court May 2 at 1:30pm.
STAR REBATE AMNESTY PROGRAM TO BE EXTENDED , APRIL 15
Rockland District Attorney Tom Zugibe will extend the STAR amnesty program. The new deadline will be April 15, giving homeowners who are claiming school property tax rebated they are not entitled to extra time to come clean. Zugibe extended the deadline an extra two weeks because he wants people to abide by the new deadline and according to him, the word is out and with the threat of arrest out of 20 people suspected of fraud, a dozen of them voluntarily met with assessors to report they were claiming the exemption illegally. Rockland Volunteer Firefighters originally caught up with the scam, discovering that landlords were receiving multiple STAR exemptions. This led Zugibe’s Special Investigations Unit to find more than 500 Rockland Property owners illegally taking in a total of $671,000.
CLARKSTOWN AND PALISADES OWNER BATTLE OVER TAXES
The Town of Clarkstown and the Palisades Mall are at it again. Clarkstown and it’s largest taxpayer filed motions in state supreme court last week, challenging each other’s methods of calculating the market value of the Palisades Mall. The Town has valued the 2.2-million-squared-foot-mall at $784.3-million in 2011 where the mall’s owner has valued the mall at $505-million for that same year. The lower assessment would be devastating for both the town and school district, with the mall paying $23.5-million in property taxes annually, around 15-million of that goes to the school and close to $6-million to the town. The last time the Palisades Center filed a tax certiorari was in 2000. The courts upheld the Town’s assessment and awarded no money to the mall.
WEST HAVERSTRAW TO SEE A 7.7-PERCENT INCREASE
West Haverstraw will see an increase in their taxes. Taxes are expected to rise 7.7-percent under the proposed $5.3-million budget for 2013-14. Along with village taxes, solid-waste fees will also rise. The projected cost of garbage, recycling, bulk and brush collections for a single-family homeowner will be up about 6.5-percent. To take a look at the West Haverstraw 2013-14 village budget, log onto the village website at WestHaverstraw.wordpress.com.
RESTRUCTURING AT THE ROCKLAND COUNTY SHERRIFF'S DEPT.
As part of an administrative restructuring at the Rockland County Sheriff's Department, Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco says Mary Barbera, a 28 year member of the Sheriff’s Department and, the first woman to hold to title of "chief" in the department, has been named to a new internal post and will serve as the department's second undersheriff. Barbera was chief of the Civil Division of the department and in January was promoted to chief of the Sheriff's Office. The change comes after the recent appointment of former South Nyack-Grand View Police Chief Robert Van Cura as undersheriff. Falco says the change is designed to improve the administrative oversight of the New City-based Sherriff’s Department, which includes its civil enforcement division, police patrol division, communications division and the Rockland County Correctional Facility. This change of title will take effect without any additional salary costs. Falco said the department previously had one Undersheriff, plus two administrative employees managing the organization of personnel, contracts, budget preparation, and grant submissions. The two management positions have been eliminated in an effort to reduce costs.
ROCKLAND PSYCHIATRIC PATIENT PLEADS GUILTY, 20 YEAR SENTENCE
The psychiatric patient who beat a fellow patient to death at the Rockland Psychiatric Center last year was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Curtis Wilson, 53, pled guilty Thursday to one count of first-degree manslaughter and was also sentenced to five years of post-release supervision. On January 16, 2012 Wilson repeatedly struck Vincent Knadler, 45, with a 2-foot metal rod across his head and body. Knadler was then taken to Nyack Hospital where he later died of his injuries. The Rockland District Attorney’s office reported by admitting to manslaughter, Wilson waived his right to pursue a psychiatric defense.
ORANGTOWN TALKS NEW RESEARCH WING AND CONVENTION CENTER
In a meeting between the Rockland Business Association and Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart, ideas like a research wing for a major university or a new convention center were thrown around to redevelop Rockland Psychiatric Center property. The 348-acre property with scattered developed and undeveloped land cost the town $5.95-million in 2003 when it was purchased from the state. The meeting held Thursday morning outlined the goals Stewart has in mind which included paying down Orangetown’s debt, cover an estimated $20-million in remediation costs, expand the tax base, minimize traffic on the Pearl River School District and create space for a waterfront park. Stewart said the town’s immediate goal was to reach out to Empire State Development Corps., a quasi-independent agency that disburses billions of dollars in grants and tax breaks. The town plans to do that by mid-summer.
CLARKSTOWN POLICE CRACKDOWN ON SPEEDING
As a result of the fatal Super Bowl Sunday car crash on Strawtown
Road in New City, Clarkstown Police conducted a crackdown on speeding
in the area. Capt. Anthony Ovchinnikoff said Strawtown Road was
targeted as part of Clarkstown's Operation Slowdown for the month of
March. He said since the fatal February accident, town police have
issued 47 tickets in the area. Operation Slowdown was initiated by
Clarkstown in respsonse to complaints about speeding in neighborhoods
throughout the town. Every month, the special traffic enforcement
effort moves to a different location, with town officers focusing on
catching speeders and finding overly aggressive drivers. Ovchinnikoff
noted that Operation Slowdown found that in some neighborhoods, the
drivers who are speeding are residents of that same neighborhood.
Clarkstown Police are urging drivers to obey speed limits, and to drive
ROCKLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE HOSTS 15th ANNUAL JOB FAIR
Rockland Community College will be hosting its 15th annual job fair. This free event will be held at the RCC Fieldhouse from 11am to 3pm April 9th. You must be a county resident, attending college in Rockland County or are an RCC Alumni to attend. Remember to bring your resumes and dress appropriately. For more information call RCC’s Career Services at 845-574-4149.
NY BUDGET MEANS INCREASE IN SCHOOL AID
Now that the budget has been passed in the state senate school districts are taking a closer look to see what the state aid means to them. The spending plan includes a $1-billion increase in education aid, $867-million of which are slated for Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties alone. Rockland schools that will benefit the most from the aid hikes are North Rockland and East Ramapo. Since the fold of the energy company Mirant, the North Rockland school district has had to close two schools and cut 300 staff positions. With the new state aid, North Rockland School district is expected to receive $50.3-million in state aid for 2013-2014 up 16.4-percent. East Ramapo is slated to receive $56.2-million in state aid up 6.3-percent. The lowest increase of the county will go to South Orangetown with a 1.4-percent increase. The NY budget is expected to begin Monday.
7-ALARM FIRE DISPLACES NANUET FAMILY
A 7-alarm fire destroyed a one-story house yesterday morning, displacing a mother and her two adult children. 70 volunteer firefighters fought the blaze which started at around 7am and was brought under control by 8:30am. A Clarkstown fire inspector said the fire was not considered suspicious. His initial determination is that the fire began in the boiler room and quickly spread upward throughout the house and to the roof. The owner, Victoria Helberg and her two adult children escaped uninjured. There were no working smoke detectors. A continuing county-wide problem officials have been concerned about.
EPA INTERVENES: PATRICK FARM HOUSING PROJECT STALLS
Movement in the proposed Patrick Farm Housing project has stalled. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is demanding that developers of the proposed project need to get a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers on the “extent of environmentally sensitive wetlands on the property.” According to letters sent to town and county officials, without the determination, the Rockland County Sewer District will block developers from connecting the planned 497 homes into the county sewer system. Opponents of the 206-acre proposed project have accused developers of deceiving the Ramapo Planning Board about the wetlands scattered across the wooded acres. The opponents see this intervention by the EPA as a hurdle for the developers and a small win for them.
SENATE PASSES STATE BUDGET
After almost seven hours of debate, the state senate passed a $135-billion budget four days before the March 31st deadline. The senate voted in favor of the remaining budget legislation at 4:32am Wednesday morning. The session lasted parts of two days and now the focus will shift on to the assembly where the legislature is expected to start voting Thursday morning. The spending plan begins Monday and will include a $1-billion increase in education aid, minimum wage will be bumped up to $9-an-hour by 2016 and there will be an early extension of a higher income-tax-rate on millionaires that had been set to expire next year. If the budget is passed by the assembly and is signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo before April 1, this will be the state’s third consecutive on-time budget.
ROCKLAND COUNTY MINISCEONGO CREEK TO BE AWARDED $1.6-MILLION IN FEMA FUNDS
Rockland County will be awarded $1.6-million in FEMA funds for the repair of the Minisceongo Creek embankments that were damaged during Tropical Storm Irene. Congresswoman Nita Lowey was quoted saying that she was pleased that Rockland will have access to these funds and that it is “critical for local municipalities struggling with the cost of restoring services and infrastructure to their pre-storm levels and preparing for future disasters.” Minisceongo Creek runs through Rockland, mainly Haverstraw. Unlike Superstorm Sandy this past October, the 2011 Tropical Storm Irene caused severe flooding around the county.
BRONX MAN DUPES MONSEY WOMAN INTO DEPOSITING FORGED CHECKS
A 28-year-old man is accused of deceiving a young Monsey woman he had met on a social networking site. Police are reporting Mark Ugonna Anagboso of the Bronx allegedly duped the 19-year-old woman into depositing $9,000 in forged checks into her checking account, making her responsible for the money. Anagboso was charged with two felony counts of first-degree possession of a forged instrument and third-degree grand larceny. He is being held in county jail on $10,000 bail. There have been several similar incidents in Rockland during the past several months. Police are urging residents to report any such activity.
HOMELESS MAN ARRESTED FOR BREAK-INS OF TWO HOUSES AND A YESHIVA
A 20-year-old homeless man has been arrested for the break-ins of two houses and a religious school. Police are charging Jayquon Boone with second-degree burglary and criminal trespass. Police arrested Boone after an investigation into a home burglary Saturday afternoon on West Hickory Street. The investigation involved burglaries at another house on the same street and Bais Malkov Yeshiva on Viola Road. Police are not releasing information on what was stolen since the investigation is on-going. Boone was arraigned in Ramapo Justice Court. He is being held in county jail.
FIRE DESTROYS NANUET HOME
A fast moving fire destroyed a one-story house in Nanuet this morning, and left a family of three adults homeless. About 70 volunteer firefighters from seven departments were called in to fight the smoky blaze. The owner and her two adult children escaped uninjured. Fire officials said that even though the house at 5 Fredric Street did not have working smoke detectors, the smell of smoke woke up the two adult children. Their mother, the owner, was working at the time of the blaze. The departments on the scene were Nanuet, Pearl River, West Nyack, Spring Valley, Hillcrest, South Spring Valley and New City, and Ambulance crews were standing by. Clarkstown Fire Inspector Vincent Narciso said the fire is not considered suspicious.
NORTH ROCKLAND SCHOOL TO RAISE TAXES AND CUT JOBS
The North Rockland School District plans to raise taxes and cut jobs to keep within their $206.3-million budget. The proposal looks to raise $137.5-million in taxes up 3.62-percent from last years $132.7-million. The proposal also seeks to cut around 11 positions, including 6 teachers. Voters get to vote on the current proposal May 21. If it is voted down twice, the district would be forced to adopt an austerity budget with no increase. This would mean a total of 47 positions would be eliminated. The school board will review the budget proposal at its meeting set for April 2 at 7:30pm at the North Rockland High School Auditorium.
TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE PROJECT STARTS WITH BARGES
Tappan Zee Constructors brought in its first barges Monday. The firm designing and building the new $3.9-billion span started testing the riverbed’s soil and land in Rockland and Westchester Counties yesterday. Testing is expected to continue for eight weeks. In a construction notification, Tappan Zee constructors said noise from equipment will be kept at a minimum and the work will not impact traffic. The testing will use a drill rig but will not be as loud as the state’s testing last year. Dredging of the river bottom is expected to start in the summer.
HOMEOWNER TACKLES AND APPREHENDS BUGLAR
A New Jersey man chose the wrong house to break into Monday morning. Jamie Tovias-Umana, 19, was tackled by Peter Cronk, 37, as he tried to escape his Maltbie Avenue home in Suffern with pockets full of stolen items. Cronk, a mechanic, has no combat or defense training and relied on instinct to apprehend Tovias-Umana. Cronk said he was sleeping in his bedroom with his wife and their 6-month-old daughter when he heard a door inside his house close at around 5am. He then looked through his bedroom door and saw the young man in his house. Cronk then tackled Tovias-Umana holding him down as his wife called 911. Police arrived within two minutes, finding Tovias-Umana in possession of Cronk’s wallet, his wife’s iPod and other personal items. Tovias-Umana who lives in Ramsey was charged with second-degree burglary and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He is being held on $20,000 bail in county jail.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT AND STATE DEPT. OF EDUCATION OFFICIALS MEET
On Friday, officials with the East Ramapo school district met with representatives from the State Department of Education to discuss the district’s ongoing fiscal troubles. Even though earlier this month, East Ramapo filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education over the school district’s practice of assigning students with disabilities to private religious schools when public school placements are available, East Ramapo Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein said that the meeting was“productive, cordial, cooperative and collaborative.”
In a statement, Department of Education spokesman Tom Dunn said “The department and the district agreed to work collaboratively as the district works to stabilize the current budget and to develop a 2013-2014 budget that provides district students with the programs and
services they need and to which they are legally entitled,” Klein added, that the possibility of adjusting the state formulas used to calculate East Ramapo’s reimbursement for costs associated with such services as those provided to special needs students, was also discussed, and that state officials were “receptive.” The Education Department wants to meet again with East Ramapo officials some time after the state’s budget is finalized, but Klein says that meeting probably won’t take place until late April at the earliest.
CLARKSTOWN BURGLAR CAUGHT AND CHARGED
The man responsible for the outbreak of burglaries in the Towns of Clarkstown, Ramapo and Orangetown has been arrested. Alejandro Cruz, 43, of Staten Island was stopped by a Clarkstown detective near Grandview Avenue in Nanuet late Thursday afternoon. The detective became suspicious after he noticed Cruz wearing shoes that were “consistent with footprints left at some of the burglary scenes.” Cruz was taken to Clarkstown Police Headquarters and was charged with eight felony burglary counts. His break-ins occurred on Wilton Circle in New City and Fenner Lane, South Middletown road and Grandview Avenue in Nanuet. Cruz stole jewelry, cash and other valuable items. He is not suspected in the break-in of the Lafayette Drive home in New City. Cruz was convicted of Burglary in Staten Island in 2003 and served a prison term until this past November. Police do not think he lives in the county.
NYACK MAN ARESTED IN WESTCHESTER
On Thursday, 36-year-old Andy Elliot of Nyack was arrested in Mount Vernon with over seven pounds of marijuana. City narcotics detectives stopped and arrested him on the street in the north end of the city
carrying a package containing more than $25,000 worth of marijuana. Detective Captain Ed Adinaro, commander of the Detective Division, said Elliot had been under surveillance, but added that the case was still under investigation, so details could not be given out. Elliot was charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a felony.
NEW CITY HOUSE FIRE: FAMILY ESCAPES
A dog may have saved the lives of a New City family late last night. A couple and their 2-year-old grandson were able to escape a house fire on Gerardine Place Sunday night at around 9:26pm. According to the homeowner Gregory Pereirai one of his four dogs were barking in the garage. When Pereirai went to the garage to find out what the dog was barking about, there was according to him tons of smoke that appeared to have started in the back of the garage. 45 firefighters responded to the fire and were able to put out the flame within 10 minutes. The split-level ranch sustained extensive smoke and water damage. Fire inspectors say it appeared to have started in the boiler room.
ROCKLAND BRACES FOR MORE SNOW
1-3 inches are due to hit Rockland County this afternoon, just missing morning commuters. Monday high temperatures are expected to be in the upper 30’s with overnight lows in the lower 30’s. Tuesday may have some leftover flurries with the high expected to be in the mid-40’s.
SPRING VALLEY FIRE DISPLACES 15; 2 INJURED
Late Thursday night a kitchen fire quickly spread thorough a Spring Valley home, injuring two people and causing damage to several condominiums. The fire started just before 11pm and was a 4-alarm fire. It took the Spring Valley, South Spring Valley, Monsey and Hillcrest Fire Departments around 30 minutes to deem under control. Although only 3 units in the Country Village Heights Condominiums were affected by the fire, all 10 units in the building were evacuated. One person living in the condominium suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Nyack Hospital for treatment and a second person was being evaluated for smoke inhalation. 15 people remain displaced. Officials are reporting that the fire does not seem suspicious and believe it started from a grease fire.
RAMAPO PLANNING BOARD APPROVES PATRICK FARMS PROJECT
The Ramapo Planning Board has given final approval for a 497-unit housing project site. The contractor for this more famously known project, Patrick Farms received site-planning approval for the second time, but still faces opposition and several pending lawsuits. Construction is on halt, Monsey-based Scenic Development LLC needs dam and road-network permits from the State departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation. The DEC is still in the process of reviewing public comments submitted this past winter. DEC spokesman Mike Knipfing said a decision could be reached in a few weeks. The project plan included 410-high-density, multi-family condominiums and 87-single-family houses including 24 rentals designated for people involved with community volunteer groups.
ROCKLAND COUNTY SECOND IN STATE FOR OVERALL HEALTH
Rockland County received one of the highest ratings in the State in overall health. The Robert Wood Johnson foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute just released its 2013 County Health rankings putting Rockland in second place for overall health and sixth in the state for health factors. The rankings examine the many factors that influence health, allowing people to compare the overall health of their county with the health of the rest of the counties in New York State. According to the report, Rockland resident are living more healthy lives.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT FILES LAWSUIT OVER SPECIAL EDUCATION PLACEMENT
After several notices and money withheld from the state, the East Ramapo School District is fighting back – Again! The East Ramapo School District is suing the State Education Department over assigning students with disabilities in the district to private religious schools when public school placements are available. The lawsuit, filed March 11 in federal court asks for judicial intervention to “clarify its rights and obligations” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Parent of Orthodox and Hasidic students would rather their children to be schooled in an environment that best accommodates their language and culture. Often times this means sending the students to out-of-district Yiddish-speaking programs at the districts expense. The lawsuit defends that if the district were to change its process to follow the state’s order, it would violate the law and take on a financial burden it can not afford but if the district ignores the state, the district will be at risk of state sanctions. This lawsuit is the latest of several lawsuits filed by East Ramapo to try and address the districts multi-million dollar deficit.
STONY POINT AND CSX TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETING ON NEW RAIL LINE
The Stony Point Planning Board and the CSX Corp will hold an unofficial meeting next week to publicly discuss a multi-million dollar project by the rail-line. The plan is to build a passing track North of Railroad Avenue in West Haverstraw and along a second stretch from the Stony Point battlefield to the north end of the Tilcon Quarry where it will meet with an existing second track right by Boulderbag Avenue in Stony Point. The public meeting will be held March 28 at 7pm in Stony Point.
2 WEEKS LEFT TO REGISTER FOR FEMA
For those affected by Superstorm Sandy, there are two weeks left to register for disaster assistance. The deadline to return applications for individual disaster assistance and low-interest disaster loan to the U.S. Small Business Administration is March 29. FEMA is urging anyone who sustained any damage or loss from Superstorm Sandy register, that includes those with insurance. Those who wish to apply and have not should go on-line to www.FEMA.gov for more information.
FEDERAL GRANT FOR SPRING VALLEY FIREFIGHTERS
Yesterday, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, announced a $280,000 federal grant for the Village of Spring Valley's firefighters. The grant is being awarded through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The funds can be used to increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations, firefighter health and safety programs, emergency medical service programs, fire prevention and safety programs, and purchase new fire equipment. Lowey said, that at a time of across the board budget cuts, she was happy the Department of Homeland Security was able to provide support to Spring Valley’s first responders that will help make the community safer.
PEARL RIVER BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTIONS
The two Pearl River Board of Education seats will be on the ballot May 21. The seats are currently held by Board President Robert V. Davis and past President Michael T. Clohessy who are seeking re-election for a term that runs from July 2, 2013 to June 30, 2016. Qualified candidates must turn in petitions signed by at least 41 qualified voters in the Pearl River School District to the district clerk's office by 5 p.m. April 22. They can pick up blank petitions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the district clerk's office in the administration building at 135 West Crooked Hill Road in Pearl River. April 22 is also the deadline for petitions to put a citizen-initiated item on the May 21 ballot. Those require 103 signatures. For more information, contact the Pearl River District Clerk at (845) 620-3924.
VILLAGES VOTE FOR MAYORS
Eight Rockland County villages held elections last night. For Chestnut Ridge, it was a landslide victory for Rosario Presti Jr. Who will take over for Jerry Kobre, the village’s first and only Mayor. Presti ran against Nancy Guirand . They both focused on keeping taxes low and village development. In Hillburn, Craig Flanagan Jr. defeated Mayor Bernard Jackson and trustee Miranda Escobar. This is the third time he’s run for mayor. Airmont will see no change in their mayor. Veronica Boesch will keep her seat. She has served as mayor for the past year filling the unexpired term of former Mayor Dennis Kay who died in April. South Nyack didn’t have much of a race for mayor. Bonnie Christian, a Democrat ran unopposed. Christian currently a trustee will take over as mayor April 1. Former South Nyack Mayor Patricia Dubow decided not to seek re-election. Upper Nyack Mayor Michael Esmay faced a challenger for the first time in a decade, defeating Jennifer Chaitin, a local businesswoman and write-in candidate for Greg Fisher. In Grandview, Lawrence Lynn ran uncontested.
LEGISLATOR CAREY GIVES MINORITY LEADER ADDRESS
The Rockland County Legislature’s minority leader took the podium last night. Cris Carey spoke in front of county legislators, residents and his family at the County Office Building. Carey urged fellow legislators to think about the county government’s future and to consider which services are essential, what the county can afford to offer, where duplicates exist and what services can be better provided by private industry. Carey also asked the legislature to support the creation of a local development corporation to take control of Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center, which has lost the county millions. The county is currently facing a $96.4-million deficit. Carey estimates it will take 4-8 years to get the county back on a stable financial track.
MONSEY MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS’ PROBATION
A Monsey man was sentenced to 10 years’ probation for sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy. Moishe Turner, 59, told Rockland County probation officials that the boy backed his buttocks into him, causing them to have sexual contact. State Supreme Court Justice William Kelly said that comment amongst others which included Turner referring to the boy as “sexually aggressive” and a “wild child” raised doubts about Turner’s sincerity. Turner plead guilty January 18 to second-degree criminal sex act for admitting to having anal and oral sex with a boy on seven occasions during July 2011. The plea agreement which spares Turner from serving up to 7 years in prison, also spared the boy of testifying in open court.
CLARKSTOWN FIRE INSPECTORS RECEIVE GRANT
Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack and Clarkstown Fire Inspectors accepted a grant award yesterday in the amount of $1,197.00 from FM Global, one of the world's largest commercial property insurers. The grant award will be used to purchase two digital cameras and accessories that will be used by Town of Clarkstown Fire Inspectors when performing fire investigations and determining the cause of a fire. Supervisor Gromack stated that, "The Town is always looking at grant opportunities in an effort to offset the cost to the taxpayers and we are grateful to FM Global for this grant award." Vincent Narciso, of the Town of Clarkstown Fire Inspectors office added "The grant will help the Fire Inspector's office to more efficiently investigate the cause of a fire, while documenting through photos." The grant was presented by FM Global representative John Antola at the Town of Clarkstown Town Hall.
DATE FOR FIRST COUNTY EXECUTIVE CANDIDATES DEBATE SET
The Rockland Water Coalition will be sponsoring the first debate and forum for the county executive candidates on April 18 at Clarkstown Town Hall. The topict of the program is “Can Rockland grow a green environment and economy?” The four candidates, Republican Ed Day and Democrats David Fried, Dagan Lacorte and Ilan Schoenberger, responded they would attend. Rockland Water Coalition member George Potanovic said the event gives residents the chance to hear the candidates views on the environmental issues affecting Rockland’s future: including United Water’s proposed Hudson River desalination plant, land use development, planning and zoning, water management, energy use, “green” growth and economic development. Questions for the candidates will come from the coalition, members of the audience, and people who email them to email@example.com. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 in the Clarkstown Town Hall Auditorium at 10 Maple Avenue in New City.
COUNTY MINORITY LEADER WILL CALL ATTENTION TO SUMMIT PARK TONIGHT
Rockland County Legislature minority leader Cris Carey plans to call attention to the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center today. Carey is in favor of creating a local development corporation to take control of Summit Park, by selling it with the proceeds returning to the county. This isn’t the first time this plan has been thrown around. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef has pitched the idea of creating and LDC which would then seek potential buyers for the highest sale price. With the county currently facing an estimated $96.4-million shortfall, the sale proceeds could then be used to help pay down the county’s deficit.
POLICE WARN NEW CITY AND NANUET RESIDENTS OF HOME BREAK-INS
Clarkstown Police are investigation a recent string of break-ins in the residential New City and Nanuet neighborhoods and are warning residents to take precautions. Police are not releasing any details of the recent burglaries, but ask homeowners to lock their doors and make sure all windows are secured and closed. Homeowners should also put interior lights on timers, install exterior security lights, and before leaving your home, hide all valuables and activate burglar alarms. Police are asking that anyone with information about the recent break-ins call the Clarkstown Police Department at 845-639-5800 or the tips line at 1-877-639-6233.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY CHOOSES ROCKLAND COUNTY FOR STUDY
The American Cancer Society has chosen Rockland County as a prime location for one of their studies. Rockland County Legislator and Chairwoman Harriet Cornell and the ACS have teamed up and are urging residents from the ages of 30-65 who have never had cancer to volunteer in their cancer prevention study. ACS is looking to enroll at least 300,000 adults form various racial and ethnic backgrounds from across the country. The study hopes to identify causes of cancer and to research into new effective cancer prevention strategies. Enrollment and participation details will be announced on Wednesday at a press conference in New City. Blue Hill Plaza, Good Samaritan Hospital and Nyack Hospital will be hosting the enrollment efforts here in Rockland.
PEARL RIVER ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE
Despite overcast skies and temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s, a festive crowd descended on Pearl River yesterday, for the 51st annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, organized by the Rockland County Ancient Order of Hibernians, and billed as the second-largest in the state. While there were no official attendance figures, crowds were three and four rows deep and jammed East Central Avenue in a display of Irish pride. Many arrived early with chairs and blankets on the sidewalk, to line the parade route. The parade began at the Pfizer parking lot off Middletown Road at 1:30PM before heading onto East Central Avenue and ending on South Main Street near the Post Office about two hours later.
19-YEAR-OLD NANUET MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR HIT-AND-RUN CHARGED WITH 5 MISDEMEANORS
A 19-year-old Nanuet man responsible for a hit-and-run crash, is being charged with assault, reckless driving and drunk driving. Ryan Barron, who was caught by police on a NJ Transit train is accused of injuring a Pearl River man at about 10:15am Saturday in the Wald Pavilion parking lot. Clarkstown Police are reporting that Barron caused a domino effect when he hit a parked car, that pushed into another car that then seriously injured the 59-year-old man. Barron then fled the scene of the accident, boarding a south bound train at the Nanuet station. A witness followed Barron alerting police of his whereabouts. The train was stopped at the Montvale, New Jersey station where Barron was identified and arrested. Barron was charged with five misdemeanors.
2 SEATS AVAILABLE ON NORTH ROCKLAND SCHOOL BOARD
The North Rockland School District is now accepting petitions for two available seats on the school board. The seats are up for election May 21. Petition documents are currently available at the District Clerk’s office in Garnerville with a requirement of a minimum of 76 qualified district voter signatures. The signed petitions must be returned to the District Clerk’s office by April 22.
SEN. SCHUMER CALLS FOR CRUISE SHIP “BILL OF RIGHTS”
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling on a cruise ship “bill of rights” that will guarantee passengers certain protections while aboard their ships. Of these protections Schumer announced he will be asking industry leaders to voluntarily adopt that the ships have sanitary conditions, back-up power, medical staff and other standard procedures. Schumer’s plan will also include the right to a full refund if a trip is abruptly canceled due to mechanical problems.
RALLY IN THE VALLEY
"Rally in the Valley" took place today at 11:00am at Kirkbride Hall in Letchworth Village
the site of what was formally a state run institution for the disabled. The rally is among four
statewide rallies that will take place throughout New York in efforts to urge Governor Cuomo to agree
with both houses of the NYS legislature and restore the 6 percent cut to services for people with
Diana Hess, Chief Communications Officer of Jawonio states: "The rally is to remind and respectfully
urge the Governor, that as a society we are judged by how we treat and care for our most vulnerable.
We need him to restore this targeted local sequester to not- for-profit providers so that people's
lives, livelihoods, and communities can thrive."
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT Cap
East Ramapo School District is again in the news following Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski's proposal to make
two school districts. On behalf of East Ramapo Activists, Steve White of Spring Valley is - quote
"Feeling validated" following a recent response from hand-delivered petition in January with almost
5,000 signatures requesting over-site within the district. NY State Education Commissioner, John King
Jr.'s written response, to White, had stated he is "prepared to take escalating action, as authorized
by law," if School District officials do not make significant progress in addressing the issues
King's letter includes the offer of support in legislation of department oversight of various
administrative and school board duties.
ORANGE CO. TEACHER ACCUSED OF 2ND DEGREE RAPE
In Orange County, a 44 year old teacher , Lisa Franklin, was charged with second-degree rape and sexual
conduct against a 12 year old male student following substitute teaching at Sacred Heart Elementary
School in Newburgh a year ago. Inappropriate text messages, discovered on his phone by his parents led
to the investigation.
CASE MOVED OUT OF STONY POINT
Finding a Judge in Stony Point that is not familiar with the Sherwood family is proving to be a challenge.
Supreme Court Justice William Kelly was requested and agreed to recuse himself from the case of Michael Coyle of Stony
Point, accused of driving under the influence and injuring a woman, Alison Sherwood, with a head on collision on Feb 22nd. Justice
Kelly was requested to step down Thursday, by Coyle's Attorney, Barry Weiss, because he was a colleague of the victim'€™s father, former
state Supreme Court Justice William Sherwood. Judge William Nelson and Justice Frank Phillips have also recused themselves. The case may be moved to White Plains or outside the judicial district
ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE - PEARL RIVER
There will be plenty of bagpipes in Pearl River on Sunday for the Largest Parade in Rockland, 2nd largest in NYS - The Ancient Order of Hibernian s St. Patrick's Day Parade! This years parade falls right on St. Patrick's Day and will start from the Pfizer Parking lot at 1:30 PM.
The "Line of March" and information on the Parade Honorees is available on the Rockland County AOH website. If you cannot make it to the parade, you can tune into live coverage right here on WRCR, as I join Mecedes Kent of Mostly Movies on Central Avenue - Hope to see you there!
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski Proposed Solution for East Ramapo School District
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski is proposing a solution for the struggles within the East Ramapo School District, in which more students attend private schools than public ones. His proposed solution is to create two separate districts.The proposed new public school district would consist mostly of public school students. It also would include an inter-district school choice program to allow students, regardless of their residence, the opportunity to attend public school. This would permit the parents of the public school community the ability to govern and oversee their children's education. The first step in Assemblyman Zebrowski's proposal is a feasibility study, funded through this years state budget, that would examine the impact of reorganization on the tax levy, state aid enrollment and educational programs for all students. Following the study, if found within constitutional boundries, the recommendations would be presented to the public.It would then require passage of special legislation by state lawmakers.
Village of Suffern Taxes Within State Tax Cap
For the 2nd year in a row, taxes within the Village of Suffern will be below the state mandated tax cap. Property owners can anticipate a tax increase of 2.3 percent. Mayor Daegan LaCorte credits new revenue sources such as permit fees for new constrution projects and retirement of a few village employees. The public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for March 27.
Housing Violations in Nanuet
Joseph Klein, The owner/manager of 149 Pipetown Hill Road, in Nanuet is being fined $5,000 for the subdivision of a house into apartments. Violations include failure to obtain a certificate of occupancy. Orginally set at $10,000 the fine was reduced in a compromise negotiation with Town Attorney Robert Conklin. Joseph Klein has a history of municiple violations and is required to pay by Aprill 10th to avoid a court appearance.
Rockland Community College in Suffern is considering building dorms. President cliff Wood has stated "Over the next five to ten years, there's a decline in the number of public school children, and a decline in the number of high school gradutes. If the college wants to maintain its current enrollment, which stands at 8,000 students, housing would be key to attract students from the surrounding counties and New York City. The possible funding sources for the project would include the County, private funds and charitable donations.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL BOARD APPOINTS TWO NEW BOARD MEMBERS
The East Ramapo School Board appointed two members Tuesday night. Bernard Charles and Nathan Losman were voted in unanimously by the board members. Bernard Charles is a Spring Valley resident. He works for the Village Parks and Recreation Department. He is also running for village mayor. Nathan Losman of New Hempstead is a lawyer who works for the White Fleischner and Fino firm. The two positions became available after two board members resigned in January citing intimidation by board members and the denial of critical financial information by the administration. As for Charles and Losman, their appointments go into effect as soon as they take the oath of office. They will serve until the regular school board elections in May and then will be able to run for a full three-year term.
COUNTY LEGISLATIVE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE DISCUSS EMERGENCY SERVICES
Tuesday night the Legislative Public Safety Committee met to discuss emergency services in Rockland. With the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, officials reviewed the positives and negatives of the different sources they currently use to get information out to residents during emergencies. As of now, the county uses NY Alert, County Radio 1640 AM, Info Rock, 2-1-1, Social Media and WRCR AM 1300. County Assistant Director of Emergency Services Dan Greeley said the lengthy power outages caused by Sandy made it a challenge to get timely and accurate information to Rocklanders. Greely urges resident to sign up for NY Alert, which sends updates by phone at not coats to the county.
CLARKSTOWN GETS $2.4-MILLION
IN FEDERAL AID
FEMA announced Tuesday that the Town of Clarkstown will get 2.4-million dollars in federal funding. This funding will go toward reimbursements for the cost of the Town’s response to Superstorm Sandy. Supervisor Alex Gromack recorded that the Town requested $5-million to respond to the superstorm, only 75-percent of that will be covered by federal aid. Clarkstown has also asked the state to pay 12-percent of its Sandy cleanup costs. The expense was mostly for overtime for town employees and outside contractors to clean up roads from fallen trees and clear streams.
STEPHEN BALDWIN TAKES DEAL AND WON’T SEE JAIL TIME
It looks like actor Stephen Baldwin will not be serving any jail time. Baldwin who is the youngest of the Baldwin brothers and a Rockland resident will plead guilty later this month to a single felony count of failing to pay his income taxes. The deal calls for Baldwin to pay back “close to” all of the $350,000 he owes for not paying his income taxes in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Baldwin plans to pay the money back within the year to avoid a felony record and have the case discharged. Baldwin will appear in Rockland County Court to plead guilty March 29.
METRO-NORTH COMMUTERS TO SEE MORE TRAINS AND MORE SERVICE
Metro-North’s second round of service expansion arrives April 7, adding 187 new trains to the weeks schedule. On Monday, the agency released that all three of its rail lines will gain off-peak and weekend trains along with more frequent service. More changes and improvements include providing three trains per hour at Ossining and Tarrytown and on the Harlem line adding three trains per hour at the Scarsdale and Hartsdale stations and four trains per hour at the White Plains and North White Plains stations. Rockland County will finally see schedules return to pre-superstorm Sandy levels March 24. Additional stops in Jersey will cease, taking away anywhere between one to nine minutes in running time. NJ Transit Spokeswoman Nancy Snyder also confirmed that there will be three express or partial express morning trains that will return, those include the 5:35am, 6:37am and 7:45am, all out of Suffern.
HORSE ROAMS ROUTE 303, CAUSES TRAFFIC
If you were late to work, coming from the Route 303/ Mountain View Avenue area yesterday morning—you had the perfect excuse…there was a horse loose. The horse escaped from the West Carberry stables in Orangeburg at around 8:30am yesterday, finding its way onto Route 303. The chase lasted around 10 minutes, where the horse eventually moved onto the grass. There were no injuries. No charges were filed.
CONGERS MOTHER CRASHES WITH 8-YEAR-OLD BOY, CHARGED WITH DWI
A Congers mother whose blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit was charged with drunken driving with a child in the car. Clarkstown Police are reporting Donna Weldon, 45, rear-ended a car on North Middletown Road at around 1pm. Weldon had her 8-year-old son in the car at the time of the accident. No one was injured. Sgt. Jo Anne Fratianni said at Clarkstown Police Headquarters, Weldon took breath and urine tests. Police found she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.018-percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08-percent. She was also charged with driving while ability impaired by combination influence of drugs and alcohol. The nature of the drugs will be determined by urine test.
JERSEY MAN FOUND SLUMPED OVER AT 303 INTERSECTION, CHARGED WITH DWI
A Jersey man was charged Saturday with drunken driving after he was found slumped over the steering wheel of a car stopped in a busy Route 303 intersection. Orangetown police found 37-year-old Andrew Walsh slumped over in a 2012 Subaru in the middle of the Kings Highway, Route 303 intersection at around 6:22pm. Orangetown police were called by numerous motorists that a car was stopped at the busy intersection in Tappan. When police arrived, Walsh appeared intoxicated and then failed all sobriety checks, failing a chemical breath test at Police Headquarters. Walsh faces a hearing at Orangetown Town Court April 10th.
CLARKSTOWN SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR 2nd ANNUAL ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD
The Town of Clarkstown is seeking nominations for its second-annual Environmental Award. This award recognizes contributors to environmental preservation, beautification and improvement in the town. Nominees could include those who have been involved as volunteers or coordinators in Town environmental programs and those who work to improve the Town’s natural environment. Nominations can be sent through a one-page form available on the Town’s website or at the Town’s Park and Recreation Department. A 100 to 150-word essay and supporting material must also be included with the applications. The deadline for nominations is April 1. The award will be announced on Earth Day, April 22.
MAN WHO KILLED YOUNG COUPLE AND BABY RETURNS TO NEW YORK, CHARGED WITH VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER
The man who crashed and killed a young Hasidic couple and their baby boy born after the hit-and-run was arrested Thursday and has been charged with vehicular manslaughter. Julio Acevedo surrendered himself to police Wednesday in Pennsylvania and agreed to come back to New York. He was arraigned in Brooklyn in State Supreme Court and will be held without bail. Acevedo left the scene of the fatal crash, he was speeding down a Brooklyn street almost double the speed limit when he struck a livery car carrying pregnant Raizy, 21, and her husband Nacham, 21, Glauber. The Glaubers died Sunday, their premature son was delivered by emergency C-section and died Monday. Acevedo is due in court March 13.
93-YEAR-OLD MAN FOUND DEAD IN HUDSON RIVER
A 93-year-old man’s body was found floating along the Hudson River Thursday afternoon. Police have identified the victim as Francis McKieran, an active community volunteer and local Elks Club member. Club members told police that McKieran was last seen Thursday morning to check or work on his boat in the Admiral’s Cove Marina. Members went down to the docks when they noticed he was gone for a time and found his body floating in the water. Police arrived at the scene at around 12:30pm where club members had already pulled him out of the water. McKieran, a lifelong parishioner at St. Peter’s and proud World War II Veteran lived with his wife Maria and had grown children in the area.
SMALL FIRE BREAKS OUT AT PALISADES CENTER MALL
Firefigthers were called to the Palisades Center in West Nyack after
shoppers spotted smoke at the mall Thursday morning. The cause was a
small fire that had broken out in a trash removal bin outside the north
side of the mall. No injuries were reported and there was no
EAST RAMAPO BOARD MEMBERS WALK OUT OFF MEETING
Normally East Ramapo School Board meetings are heated, but at Tuesday evening’s meeting chants turned into a school board walk out and that walk out turned into a hostile exchange in the parking lot. It all started when about 60 students, parents and activists protested against the idea of moving graduation ceremonies indoors and on a Monday. According to Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein, the proposal was discussed as a means to cut costs but would not happen. Instead the Town of Ramapo has decided it will donate its Hillburn complex for the ceremonies, which would still save the district money and be held on a Sunday. An opportunity for public comment was scheduled for the end of the meeting, only at 8:30pm it was announced that because some of the board members had prior comments that session would be cancelled. This is when the crowd began chanting, “Let the Children Talk!” Minutes later, outside the district offices, a hostile exchange between the district’s lawyer Albert D’Agostino and a community activist led D’Agostino to shout profanities at a student who intervened. Klein and board member Yonah Rothman were the only two district officials who remained listening as the students spoke for nearly an hour afterward. The school board made no further comment, with all questions being referred to Board President Daniel Schwartz.
DRIVER OF DEADLY CRASH TURNS HIMSELF IN
The driver of the BMW that struck and killed a young Hasidic couple and their premature baby boy who was delivered after the hit-and-run has turned himself in. Julio Acevedo, 44, met up with authorities at a minimart in Bethlehem PA, at around 5:10pm Wednesday. Pregnant Raizy Glauber, 21, and her husband Nacham Glauber, 21, were on their way to the hospital for an emergency check up when the accident occurred early Sunday morning in Brooklyn.
Officials believe Acevedo was driving the BMW at around 60mph almost double the speed limit. Doctors at the Bellevue Hospital Center delivered the baby boy by emergency C-section. The baby died of extreme prematurity due to maternal blunt force injuries. The New York Police Department is waiting to learn when Acevedo is scheduled for an extradition hearing or if he is going to wave his right to extradition. He cannot be charged in connection with the fatal crash until he returns to New York.
STATE: TWO-YEAR PAUSE ON HYDRO-FRACKING
The state Assembly approved a two-year pause on hydraulic fracking. The Assembly bill would prohibit large-scale hydro-fracking until May 15, 2015. This would include preventing permits from going out even if the documentations are complete. Assembly democrats said they can get enough votes to pass the bill. All that’s left is a Senate sponsor.
VANDERHOEF GIVES LAST STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS
Last night was County Executive Scott Vanderhoef’s last State of the County Address. Vanderhoef looked back on his 20 years in office, noting all his administration’s accomplishments, which included, to name a few, 10 county parks, 5 county buildings and 2,000 units of affordable housing. He also noted programs developed during his administration like the local veterans clinic, the hazardous materials response team and the Department of Social Services, which currently handles around 100,000 cases a year. In October, Vanderhoef announced that he would not seek a sixth four-year term and was quoted saying fresh ideas from outsiders were needed. Vanderhoef blamed state mandates for playing a huge role in county finances making it impossible to keep below the 2-percent tax cap on property taxes and the elimination and transfer of county programs. Vanderhoef also named the Pearl River Fire Department, Pearl River Ambulance Corps., South Orangetown Ambulance Corps., Rockland Paramedics and the Rockland County Tactical Team as the recipients of this year’s Al DeFlumere Rockland County medal of valor for saving Lise Chanin and her two teenage daughters after a tree crashed into their home during Superstorm Sandy. Jeffrey Chanin, their husband and father was killed.
RAMAPO CENTRAL LOOKS TO LAYOFF AND CUT PROGRAMS
At Tuesday nights Ramapo Central School District meeting, it was decided that $7.1-million would be needed to close in on the budget gap. District Superintendent Douglas Adams laid out a plan to teachers and parents present at the meeting to balance the district’s proposed $129.5-million budget, which included layoffs, program cuts and reserve money that would be used. At least 33 school positions are at risk of being cut, summer school, filed trips and the family resource center is also on the list to be eliminated and other reductions within the district. The district also announced it would raise taxes to 2.01-percent still keeping within the state’s tax cap. While preparing the budget, Adam’s said the district wanted to create a balance between “the ideal educational program and the economic reality.” The board plans to adopt the budget by April 16.
WINTRY MIX EXPECTED FOR TONIGHT INTO THE MORNING
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Rockland County and is reporting the county will be hit 2-4 inches Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Wind will be more of a concern with gusts expected to reach 40 miles per hour, high enough to cause a little damage, knocking down tree branches and power lines. The storm could make for a messy commute tomorrow morning.
DRIVER IN YOUNG COUPLE AND BABY HIT-AND-RUN IDENTIFIED
Police have identified a suspect for the tragic hit-and-run that took the lives of a young Hasidic couple and their child. The New York Police Department have identified Julio Acevedo, 44, as a suspect in the fatal hit-and-run. Just last month, Acevedo was charged with driving while intoxicated. The baby boy of the young couple was delivered by emergency C-section at Bellevue Hospital Center after his 21-year-old parents Nacham and Raizy Glauber were killed early Sunday morning on their way to the hospital in a livery car, this is when a BMW struck their car in Brooklyn. The baby, born 4 pounds died yesterday morning. The city Medical Examiner’s Office is reporting the cause of death by extreme prematurity due to maternal blunt force injuries.
7-YEAR-OLD STAB VICTIM LAID BLEEDING FOR HOURS
The 7-year-old New City girl who was stabbed by her mother was said to have spent several hours bleeding in her parent’s bedroom before being found by her father. Clarkstown Detective Lt. Charles Delo said he believes the child, Ava, was sitting on the bed when police arrived and that she was “inside the bedroom for at least a couple of hours before she was found.” Delo also reported that Ava did speak with officers before she was taken to the hospital. Ava and her mother Victoria Vovchik were found Thursday afternoon inside their New City home by the girl’s father Dr. Kristappa Sangavaram. He went to the house after receiving a phone call form his daughter’s elementary school that she was absent and no parent called her in sick. Ava didn’t suffer any vital damage to organs, with on stab wound missing her heart by a millimeter. She continues to be in serious condition.
COUNTY EXECUTIVE HOPEFUL DAVID FRIED TO PROPOSES REDUCTION IN COUNTY LEGISLATORS
On Monday, Democratic Rockland County Executive candidate David Fried got an endorsement from Republican County Executive candidate and Legislator Ed Day to reduce the number of county legislators from 17 to 11. Not only did Day compliment Fried giving him “Kudos” for his independent thinking on the issue, but Day also said he would submit the proposal for review this week. Fried said cutting the number of legislators is just one of his cutting measures. Also on the block is reducing executive wages by $250,000, this included his own pay – if he should win County Executive.
YOUNG HASIDIC COUPLE KILLED IN HIT-AND-RUN: NEW BORN DIES THIS MORNING
A young Hasidic couple were mourned by more than 1,000 people Sunday afternoon and just this morning their baby boy who was delivered after the hit-and-run has passed away. Mourners prayed and wept for Nacham, 21, and Raizy Glauber, 21, at the Satmar Synagogue. According to a Hasidic community activist, Isaac Abraham, the couple were using a car service to go to the hospital when a BMW crashed into their vehicle in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Their son was delivered by C-section at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where the baby is said to have weighed only 4 pounds at birth. Raizy was pronounced dead of blunt-forced trauma. Nacham was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital. Their livery cab driver was treated for minor injuries and released that day. The driver of the BMW and a passenger both fled the scene and are being sought by police.
2 MASSACHUSETTS WOMEN ARRESTED FOR $40,000 WORTH OF MARIJUANA
Two Massachusetts woman have been arrested for having $40,000 worth of marijuana in their car Saturday. Emilia Lima, 29, and Valerie Monteiro, 24, were charged with first degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after officers found more than 10 pounds of marijuana after being stopped on traffic charges. The women were arraigned in Orangetown Sunday and are being held at $25,000 bail each. They are due back in court at 9:30am Thursday.
STONY POINT MAN INDICTED FOR HEAD-ON CAR CRASH
The Stony Point man who crashed into and seriously injured Alysoun Sherwood, daughter of former State Supreme Court Justice William Sherwood and Social Services Commissioner Susan Sherwood has been indicted by a Rockland County grand jury. Michael Coyle, 45, was heading south on 9W at about 5pm late February when his Monte Carlo collided head-on with Alysoun Sherwood’s, 48, Hyundai. Sherwood suffered from fractured arms, ankles, sternum and femur in the crash. She is now recovering at Helen Hayes Hospital.
NEW CITY MOTHER STABS 7-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER AND KILLS HERSELF
Police are reporting a New City mother stabbed her daughter several times before killing herself. Victoria Vovchik, 45, and her daughter, identified by relatives as Ava,7, were found in the blood-covered master bedroom of their Quarry Drive home in New City. Clarkstown Police arrived at the scene at around 1:09pm after receiving the tragic phone call from the young girl’s father Dr. Kristappa Sangavaram, who discovered the bodies. Sangavaram, 68, was an anesthesiologist and co-owned the house with Vovchick a podiatrist. The two were no married. At a news conference at Clarkstown Police headquarters, Sgt. JoAnne Fratianni said there was no note was left behind offering an explanation for the suicide and alleged attempted manslaughter. Executive Director of the Rockland Paramedic Services said the child suffered from multiple stab wounds and a slash to the throat. He said she was conscious and able to speak when treated by medics. The little girl was taken by ambulance to Westchester Medical Center. The girl is currently listed in critical but stable condition.
STATE: FORMER EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER CALLED TO TESTIFY
The state has called on a former East Ramapo school board member to testify to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office about the district’s sales and leasings of two former public school buildings to Yeshivas. Stephen Price, one of two school board members who resigned in January citing intimidation and lack of critical information and lack of critical information by the superintendent has recently been contacted by the Attorney General’s office to testify. Last year, Sneiderman’s office began investigation the sales of two public school buildings. Colton and Hillcrest Elementary Schools were in the process of being sold to two Yeshivas when the state intervened and halted the sale after community outcry that the buildings were being sold for less than they were worth. Recently, State Education Commissioner John King gave the district the OK to move forward with the sale of at least the former Colton Elementary School. In the meantime, the Yeshivas have been renting the buildings from East Ramapo School District.
75-YEAR-OLD HILLCREST WOMAN ATTACKED BY TWO PIT BULLS
In Hillcrest, a 75-year-old woman was attacked by two pit bulls. The woman was walking on Danville Rd. Thursday morning when one pit bull jumped on her, knocking her down and another dog bit her. Ramapo Police are reporting the victim suffered a laceration to the lower side of her jaw. The woman was taken to Good Samaritan. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening. As for the dog’s owner, Brian Desroches was charged with allowing a dog to run free and failure to control a dangerous dog.
STATE WILL MEET WITH EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT
The state wants to meet face to face with East Ramapo School officials to address the districts unstable budget. Currently the district is facing a multimillion-dollar shortfall with programs like junior varsity athletics and music at risk of being cut. Deputy Education Commissioner Ken Slentz proposed this rare intervention on February 14. This sit-down was in response to Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein who last month in a letter pleaded with state officials for more support. At the meeting Slentz expects Klein, Board President Daniel Schwartz and the districts business official to come to the state with a set of proposed solutions. East Ramapo is currently facing an estimated $9-million deficit and recently approved a plan to borrow $7.4-million to help close the gap by the end of the school year.
ARRESTS COULD BE MADE TO STAR REBATE FRAUDSTERS
Rockland County Volunteer firefighters, criminal investigators and tax assessors helped Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe bust more than 500 Rockland property owners getting school tax rebates—illegally. In a news conference held at Ramapo Town Hall, the abuse of the New York State School Tax Relief Program has cost the state $671-thousand in Rockland alone. DA Zugibe projects this fraud statewide could cost millions. In Rockland, if property owners don’t turn themselves in and repay the money under an amnesty program being offered by the District Attorney’s office by April 1st, arrest could be made.
GOP COMMITTEE MEETING CALLS FOR PARTY UNITY
Last night was the GOP’s turn to introduce their lone candidate for County Executive, County legislator Ed Day. The meeting at Town Hall in New City wasn’t confrontational like Monday’s Democratic meeting, in which the three Democratic candidates, County Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, former Spring Valley Justice David Fried and Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte faced off with their views of the County’s top issues. Legislator Day updated the GOP committee on his campaign focusing more on the importance of a unified party. As for rumors of County Legislator Frank Sparaco running for County Executive, according to the County’s Commissioner of Elections Louis Babcock, those rumors are “100 percent false.”
LAWYER: NANUET MAN TO FACE PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION
The lawyer of the Nanuet man who is accused of threatening state and federal officials say he will undergo a psychological evaluation. Lawrence Mulqueen, 49, was indicted Monday by a Rockland County grand jury for illegally possessing weapons, which included body armor, two rifles, two rifle bayonets and about 100 rounds of ammunition, 27 of which were armor-piercing bullets, a rifle scope, a sword and a metal knuckle knife. Mulqueen also faces federal charges of threatening to kill federal officials and transmit threats in interstate commerce via his multiple Facebook pages. Mulqueen’s attorney, federal defender Susanne Brody said that she suspects Mulqueen suffers from “delusional ideation” and will have him evaluated before his preliminary hearing. Which is set to take place March 12 in U.S. district court in White Plains.
MAN WHO IS ACCUSED OF KLLING GIRLFRIEND WILL PLEA TEMPORARY INSANITY
The 66-year-old man who is accused of beating his estranged girlfriend with a thick-heeled shoe will plea temporary insanity. Lawyers of Riad Dib told Judge William Nelson Tuesday that they will prepare a psychiatric defense. Diba is being charge of second-degree murder for allegedly pounding Cecile Garbarino, 68, with a thick-heeled boot nearly two dozen times and repeatedly punching and kicking her as she tried to call for help. The defense plans to argue Dib turned violent and acted in a manner beyond normal for him, claiming he was not aware of the wrongfulness of his actions. Both the defense and prosecution will have Dib examined by a psychiatrist.
APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER CONFIRMED
Dr. Laura Carbone will keep the position of Chief Medical Examiner for the Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office. The Rockland County Legislature Multi-Services Committee voted unanimously in favor of the appointment. Carbone took over the Chief Medical Examiner position last October after the resignation of Dr. Mark Taff. The appointment of Dr. Carbone will go before the full legislature next week. If they vote in favor of Carbon, the appointment will go back to County Executive Scott Vanderhoef so that he can sign off on it. Dr. Carbone’s experience includes being Deputy Medical Examiner for the county since 2006 and working as a medical examiner in the Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office for eight years. When asked about replacing her old position as Deputy Medical Examiner, Carbone answered she thinks they will abolish the position.
PRINCIPAL CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING STUDENT
The principal of a religious school in Spring Valley has been charged with assaulting a 10-year-old student. Rabbi Meilech Spitzer, 59, a top administrator at the United Talmudical Academy is accused of slapping a student’s face several times leaving behind bruising and swelling. Spitzer was charged last week following an investigation by Spring Valley Police. The alleged incident was first reported by some Ultra-Orthodox blogs. One blog even posted photo’s of the boy indicating bruising to the left side of his face and ear with a black and blue eye. Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe said, the boy’s parents refused to file charges and cooperate with detectives making the investigation more challenging. Spitzer is due in court April 4.
NANUET MAN CHARGED BY FBI FOR FACEBOOK THREATS
The 49-year-old Nanuet man who made threats against supporters of Obama was indicted Monday by a Rockland County grand jury for illegally possessing weapons and then charged by federal authorities for making anti-government comments on Facebook. Lawrence Mulqueen wrote on several public Facebook pages that he was, “anxious to start killing various public officials.” Which included Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer and other members of Congress. Clarkstown Police Officers searched Mulqueen’s home following a complaint by his landlord. Along with the anti-government Facebook comments, officers found body armor, two rifles, two rifle bayonets and bout 100 rounds of ammunition 27 of which were armor-piercing bullets. Also seized was a riflescope, a sword and a metal knuckle knife. Clarkstown investigators found no evidence Mulqueen is a member of any specific terrorist group, but called the FBI because many of the public officials threaten o his Facebook page are federal.
DEMOCRATIC COUNTY EXECUTIVE CANDIDATES FACEOFF ON “THE ISSUES”
What was meant to be an introduction of the Democrats who want to become County Executive, ended up being a face-off. The three Democrats running for County Executive put on the gloves yesterday during an appearance before their party and their faithful’s. County Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, former Spring Valley Justice David Fried ad Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte attended the Orangetown Democratic Committee meeting to distinguish their stands on various issues and answer questions. Of the candidates top concerns was the county’s fiscal situation, the East Ramapo School District and gun control. Also in the race, running for the GOP is County Legislator Ed Day.
PENGUIN PLUNGER GUEST FORECASTS WPIX WEATHER
Fellow Rocklander and South Nyack-Grand View Police Officer, Barbara Noyes played guest weather forecaster on WPIX 11 on Friday to promote the upcoming Penguin Plunge in Nyack. Noyes helps organize the annual fundraiser that helps support families coping with a medical crisis. This year the plunge will help support Max and Bree Hershkowitz from New Hempstead and Isabella Rugerio from Harrington Park, NJ. You can catch the crew of Penguin Plungers at noon at Memorial Park on March 3. If you would like to participate or donate to the 6Th Annual Penguin Plunge, forms are available on their website at www.PenguinPlungeNY.com.
9W DWI CRASH LEAVES VICTIM IN SERIOUS CONDITION
On Saturday, Alysoun Sherwood, 48, daughter of Rockland County Social Services Commissioner Susan Sherwood and former State Supreme Court Justice and Stony Point Town Supervisor William Sherwood was severely injured in a head-on crash. Sherwood was driving northbound on Route 9W on Friday at around 5pm when her Hyundai was struck head-on by a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Michael Coyle, 45, of Stony Point, has had previous convictions for driving while intoxicated within the past 10 years and faces felony DWI charges. He remains at Nyack Hospital where he is under Police guard until he can be arraigned. Both victims had to be extricated from their cars by the Stony Point Fire Department Volunteers. Sherwood underwent 7 hours of surgery Saturday at Westchester Medical, where she is said to be in serious but stable condition.
JERSEY WOMAN CHARGED WITH DWI CAUSES 4 CAR ACCIDENT ON ROUTE 304
Clarkstown Police are reporting a New Jersey woman was charged with driving while intoxicated late Saturday. Kristina Gaddish, 31, of West Milford New Jersey struck an oncoming vehicle with her 2007 Ford Mustang on Route 304 near Blauvelt Road. The impact damaged a third vehicle when a tire went flying. Officials are reporting the car then swerved and struck a fourth vehicle before finally coming to a stop. Gaddish was taken to Nyack Hospital where she was treated for minor injuries. Gaddish is due in Clarkstown Town Court on March 11.
NANUET MAN MAKES DEATH THREATS AGAINST OBAMA SUPPORTERS
A Nanuet man has been charged with death threats against Obama supporters. Clarkstown Police were called in by his landlord after Lawrence Mulqueen, 49, made an aggressive move toward her as she tried to evict him for not raying rent. As officials investigated the Freedman Avenue home in Nanuet, police found body armor, two rifles, two rifle bayonets and about 100 rounds of ammunition, including 27 rounds of armor-piercing bullets. Officers also seized a riflescope, a sword and a metal knuckle knife. In a news release by Sgt. Glenn Cummings, Mulqueen made it known on his Facebook that he was “anxious to start killing various public officials” which included Governor Cuomo, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, US Senator Chuck Schumer, Nita Lower, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and members of the congressional black caucus. Mulqueen was arraigned in Clarkstown Justice Court Tuesday morning without bail, pending a court hearing on Monday.
HAVERSTRAW RESTAURANT HONORS EMPLOYEE WHO DIED IN CAR CRASH
This year a local restaurant will honor one of its former employees who died in a car crash in September. In this year’s “We Care” event, a three-day event to give back to the community, Union Restaurant and Bar Latino will dedicate their annual dinner to Daniel McWeeney. McWeeney was on his way home from Colicchio & Sons in Manhattan when he was killed in a car crash on the Palisaides Interstate Parkway in New Jersey. On the night of his accident, McWeeney had finished his last shift ever at the Manhattan restaurant to become General Manager for a new Haverstraw eatery called UNoodles Snack Bar, which is owned by Union co-workers. For the three-day event, Union Restaurant will not be open for regular business hours. No alcoholic beverages will be served or allowed. If you are 18 or younger an adult must accompany the minor.
RCC: RSVP GETS $78,000 IN FEDERAL FUNDING
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Rockland County also known as RSVP is expected to receive $78,000 in new federal funds. The program has hundreds of volunteers 55 and older who work for various nonprofits in the county. Last year alone, more than 600 people volunteered 90,000 hours in total. Funds were awarded by the Corporation for National Community Service.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATORS VOTE TO CLOSE IN BUDGET
Rockland legislators voted Tuesday to formally request approval to borrow $96.4-million from the state legislature. If this passes, the state comptroller’s office will then calculate the deficit. The county will only be able to borrow the equivalent amount. Also on the table Tuesday, with a unanimous vote was the borrowing of $45-million in revenue anticipation notes and $55-million in tax anticipation notes. This is typical of the county to take out these notes each March. The money is used to help pay for county operations until it receives the millions its owed in revenues and taxes. Still, according to finance director Stephen DeGroat, for every time the county borrows money, the higher the chances Rockland will face higher interest rates or a lack of willing lenders. As of now, Rockland has the lowest credit rating of all the counties in New York—right above junk status.
TAPPAN ZEE PROJECT CHIEF CHOSEN
A chief has been chosen to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge and he is backed by an impressive resume. Peter Sanderson, who will earn $340-thousand a year as acting director for the new bridge was the lead engineer who rebuilt the Minneapolis Bridge that collapsed in 2007. Sanderson will supervise a team made up of state and Tappan Zee Constructors workers that will design and build the new $3.9- billion dollar crossings. Although state officials are still trying to figure out where the money to fund the bridge will come from. Governor Andrew Cuomo is confident the state will secure a low-interest federal loan.
DOG SHOW THIS WEEKEND AT RCC
This weekend at the Rockland Community College Field House, 1,400 dogs representing the All American Kennel Club Recognized Breeds will be competing in the Wallkill Kennel Club and Rockland Kennel Club shows. During the show, dogs will be judged in a variety of categories. Spectators will also be given the chance to learn about different animal organizations, which include the Rebuild Hi-Tor effort.
NYACK/TAPPAN ZEE HOCKEY TEAM ON THIN ICE
The popular dance, the ‘Harlem Shake’ has put the Nyack/Tappan Zee co-op hockey team in the penalty box. 11 members of the combined high school ice hockey team have been pulled from their section one playoff game leaving not enough players left to put on the ice. In the video posted by the team on YouTube last week, one player in a hockey helmet dances alone while the other players seem unaware. Next scene, now the entire team is doing a more suggestive version of the dance with some players wearing little clothing and even one player wearing a strategically placed sock. South Orangetown Spokeswoman B.J. Greco, administrators, coaches and athletic directors found the Ice Hawks violated the athletic code of behavior and therefore are suspended from further athletic play, including the playoffs. The team was 10th seed in the playoffs and finished its season at 11 and 8 with one tie. They were suppose to play Landlake/Panas Sunday, but were forced to forfeit.
COUNTY GIVES FREE SMOKE ALARMS
Enlight of the sad and shocking deaths of the New City mother and daughter Barbara and Yvonne Calise, the Rockland County Department of Health’s Healthy Neighborhood Program is offering Free Smoke Alarms. You must be eligible to take advantage of the smoke alarms and free installment. Eligible persons include low-income residents, seniors and at-rick families. The only requirement is a brief home survey at the time of the visit. For more information or to schedule a home survey contact the Healthy Neighborhood Program by calling Christine Wagner at 845-364-3292 or Shari Stopler at 845-364-3290.
COUNTY VOTES TO REPEAL NEW YORK’S NEW GUN LAW
County legislators voted Tuesday to request the repeal of New York’s new gun law. The Legislature voted 11-4 against a resolution urging federal and state representatives to institute legislative reforms of gun control and increased mental health services.
The resolutions included:
*Active and retired law enforcement personnel be exempt from provisions restricting magazine capacity to no more than seven rounds.
*Common sense exemptions for law enforcement training should be included in sale of ammunition.
*Definition of assault weapons is too broad and needs to be more clearly defined.
*Local law enforcement should be fully included in review and implementation of school safety plans.
In reality, these resolutions are just propositions since the Rockland legislature has no authority regarding the new law. What it does do it put the views of the county legislature on record, making Governor Cuomo and the state legislature aware of those views.
NEW CITY MOTHER AND DAUGHTER REMEMBERED
The mother and daughter who died in an early Valentine’s Day fire were remembered by dozens yesterday. Family and friends filed up the Michael J. Higgins Funeral Home to pay their respects to Barbara Calise, 78, and her daughter, Yvonne Calise, 55. The two were found dead in the living room of their Stratford Place home in New City. Mourners described Barbara as a devoted caregiver and mother of three who was especially close with her disabled daughter Yvonne. Yvonne, who used a wheelchair was remembered as a committed volunteer who spent more than 30 years working with foster children for the Rockland Department of Social Services. Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the fire, which has been ruled as an accident and is believed to have started in the laundry room, in the basement, and quickly spread. Officials also found there were no smoke detectors in the home. Both Barbara and Yvonne will be buried Tuesday, 11am St. Francis of Assisi Church.
YESHIVA ACCEPTS FEDERAL TECH MONEY WITH NO ACCESS TO COMPUTERS
In an investigation, a Manhattan-based newspaper found that an all-boys school in New Square has accepted millions in federal funds meant for internet and telecommunications technology. The problem is, students there do not have access to computers. According to a February 15th publication by Jewish Week, the Yeshiva Avir Yakov is one of many Hasidic schools in New York that publically avoid internet use, offering their students minimal if any computer access. Jewish Week reporters investigated the supposed misuse of funding by reviewing public records and technology requests submitted by the schools. According to the report, Avir Yakov has received $3.3-million in total since 1998. The newspaper said it has obtained video footage from inside the Yeshiva that showed no computers in the classrooms. That video was not posted on the paper’s website.
PRESIDENT OF THE EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL BOARD SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT IN LOCAL PAPER’S OP-ED SECTION
President of the East Ramapo School Board, Daniel Schwartz attempted to set the record straight in the Journal News’ Sunday Op-Ed section. In print, Schwartz spoke about the comptroller’s report, defending that the review period was at a time when the district was under the direction of its former superintendent. The $15-thousand in health insurance that should have been reimbursed, was reimbursed by former board members. The $2.4-million in professional service contract that were allegedly not competitively bided, according to the comptrollers investigation was not too expensive or unnecessary, and “missing” books ended up just being miscataloged. In all cases Schwartz insisted the budget impact of these findings were $0.00. Schwartz said the state-aid formula that requires the district to provide the same services to both the districts 9,000 public school students and 20,000 private school students is the real problem. Especially when the state is not providing the necessary funding for those services.
CASHLESS TOLLS FOR TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE
According to a new state report, a completely cashless toll collection will likely be implemented to ease traffic while the new bridge is being built. Mass collection would be done through the addition of gantries, or overhead steel frames that include EZ-Pass sensors as vehicles drive underneath. As for how these gantries will be built if the toll barriers in Tarrytown are going to be demolished, County Executive Scott Vanderhoef said, “the logistics of it would indicate that they would do it on this side.” This cashless toll collection system would then become a permanent way tolls are gathered after the new $4-billion Tappan Zee Bridge is finished.
INDIAN POINT REPORT: EMERGENCY EVACUATION WILL TAKE 5-PLUS HOURS
In an updated evacuation report by Entergy Nuclear, it would take hours for a complete Indian Point Evacuation. In the 400-page report, Indian Point’s owner say it will take around 5- ½ hours for 255 schools and day-cares in the 10-mile evacuation zone to be taken to safety. The problem is that although there are enough buses to take all children in the zone away at the same time, those without cars or residents dependent on public transportation will have to wait longer for a ride. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the plan prepared by KLD Engineering of Happauge is adequate. Still, Indian Point critics, which include Governor Andrew Cuomo have argued that the area’s dense population of 310-thousand people makes its location dangerous.
PISTOL PERMIT HOLDERS CAN APPLY FOR OPT-OUT FORMS
Pistol permit holder who were looking to apply for Opt-Out forms from public records searches, may now print and fill out a form on the Rockland County Clerk’s website. Privacy for gun owners became an issue when the Journal News decided to publish an interactive online map detailing the exact addresses of local gun permit holders. The page long form, when completed, could be mailed out to the County Clerks office in New City, and should be made out to the County Clerk with the attention heading, Opt-Out to 1 South Main Street, Suite 100, New City, NY 10956.
COUNTY WILL LOOK TO BORROW MONEY TO ALLIEVIATE $96.4-MILLION DEFICIT
The county, which is already struggling with a $96.4-million deficit, is considering borrowing millions of dollars to pay down its debt. But the difference between the audited and unaudited figures could dig Rockland into a bigger hole. Audited figures show if the county were to borrow the $96-million, it would immediately be saddled with an added deficit of $17.6-million. County Finance Director Stephen DeGroat says the 2012 shortfall should be less than the $17-million predicted and could be as low as $4-5-million. Just last year, Moody’s Investors Service gave the county a credit rating just above junk status. Moody’s and other rating agencies have warned the county that continual borrowing will be unsustainable.
INDIAN POINT POWER PLANT WILL HAVE ONE OF THE MALFUNCTIONING REACTORS RUNNING BY WEEKEND
Indian Point Plant owner, Entergy Nuclear has announced that one of the two reactors that shut down due to a malfunctioning pump, should be running by the weekend. Earlier this week two pumps on Indian Point 2’s non-nuclear side that sends water from a tank to the steam generators stopped operating while workers were testing a valve. Entergy Nuclear is reporting there was no release of radioactivity and no threat to safety.
SPRING VALLEY SENIOR VALENTINES PRANK GONE WRONG
A Spring Valley High School student looking for the attention of his female peer on Valentines Day took it a little too far, causing a school evacuation yesterday. A Spring Valley High School senior decided to forgot the flowers and chocolate and impress his Valentine with a homemade smoke bomb. Spring Valley Police Chief Paul Modica said the 18-year-old student put an iced tea bottle containing a hydrochloric acid mixture in a trashcan. When the smoke began to pour out, students and staff immediately evacuated the building, some waiting in the cold for about two hours. The smoke included a poster the teen had made to impress the girl. The poster read something like, “My heart burns for you.” The senior has been charged with three misdemeanors and will be suspended.
TWO WOMEN DIE IN NEW CITY FIRE
A 79-year-old woman and her adult daughter died early Thursday in a fire that engulfed a home in New City. Emergency responders arrived at the two-story Stratford Place home at around midnight Thursday morning. Rockland County Deputy Fire Coordinator George Drescher said the Fire Department did everything they could but the fire was, “so far advanced that they could only do what they could do.” It took about 100 firefighters from 6 departments to get the fire under control, which raged for more than 45 minutes. The victims were Barbara Calise and Yvonne Calise, 54.
BOIL WATER ADVISORY FOR THESE SLOATSBURG LOCATIONS
A boil water advisory is in affect for some residents in the Village of Sloatsburg. The Rockland County Health Department issued the advisory in response to a water main break that occurred at around 7am on Route 17. The following residents should be advised to boil their water before using it for drinking or cooking.
*4 Ledge Rd.
*1-7 Bush Ave.
*115-181 Rt 17 (Orange Turnpike) Northbound
*124-160 Rt 17 Southbound
NYS EDUCATION DEPARTMENT STANDS FIRM ON EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT FINDINGS
The New York State Education Department is standing firm on it’s findings that the East Ramapo School District has been illegally placing students with disabilities. The district is left with two options; take corrective action or face financial and other consequences. East Ramapo has been cited by the state three times since 2010, for placing students with disabilities in private schools, specifically Yeshivas when public school options were available. The lawyer representing East Ramapo, David Butler, has rebutted the State Education Department defending that the district has remained in compliance when it comes to student placement and tuition reimbursements. He also accused the State of “misapplying” the law with regard to East Ramapo. In a statement made by Assistant Commission James DeLorenzo early February, if East Ramapo officials do not comply with several requirements, the State will take action against the district. One of the requirements includes creating a plan to bring students who’ve been sent elsewhere for Yiddish education programs back into the district.
ORANGEBURG POLICE: WORKER FALLS 20 FEET
Orangeburg Police are reporting a 31-year-old man from the Ramland Road Company fell about 20 feet onto a concrete floor on Tuesday morning. The worker, who has not been identified, fell at around 9:26am landing on his head while moving between storage racks at the warehouse when he lost his footing. The South Orangetown Ambulance Corps and Rockland Paramedic Services took the man to Nyack Hospital where a spokesman for the company, Martin Devaney said he could not comment on medical issues concerning workers and would not confirm that a worker got hurt.
SMALL OVERNIGHT STORM COULD MAKE FOR MESSY COMMUTE
After snow storm Nemo dropped a foot plus in many areas of Rockland last weekend, another storm could bring 3 more inches tonight into tomorrow morning. The storm is expected to fall between 10pm to 4am Thursday morning, with forecasters predicting 1 to 3 inches for Rockland. Plan for a messy commute tomorrow morning.
GOVERNOR CUOMO TALKS TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE TOLL IN NANUET
On Governor Andrew Cuomo’s visit to Rockland Tuesday, he addressed residents at the Paskack Community Center bringing great news to the county. The governor said he remains confident a federal loan for the $3.9-billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement will come through. Just last week, the State Comptroller’s office criticized the New York State Thruway Authority for not having a definitive financing plan for the project, which included how much tolls would cost. Thruway officials warn if the state does not receive the maximum amount, it will have to impose higher and more frequent toll increases. Still, when asked by reporters about the federal loan, Governor Cuomo responded, “We still believe we’re going to qualify for a federal loan and that will be a significant addition to the funding.”
ROCKLAND PSYCHIATRIST TURNS ROGUE…SELLS PRESRIPTIONS TO DEALERS
A Rockland psychiatrist turned rogue has been charged with 55-counts of selling prescriptions worth millions to drug dealers. According to State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, between February 2010 and August 2012, Dr. David Brizer, a psychiatrist formerly affiliated with Nyack Hospital’s drug treatment center, sold prescriptions for oxycodone and other painkillers to dealers. Schneiderman said, Brizer, 60, is accused of charging up to $300 for writing a prescription, with some sales allegedly occurring in his office at 48 Burd St, in Nyack and at his Manhattan office. On Monday, Brizer pled not guilty before Judge William Nelson in Rockland County Court to tax fraud, where he under-reported his income by at least $500,000 due to his under the table prescription sales. He also pled not guilty to criminal sale and possession of prescription drugs and other fraud and conspiracy counts. Brizer is due back in court on March 1.
STATE: BUSINESS FORUM ON THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE
The state is setting up a business forum on the Tappan Zee Bridge for minority and women-owned businesses to, “keep this historic Project as open and inclusive as possible.” The first meeting is set got Thursday at the Westchester Marriot in Tarrytown at 8:30am. The second meeting is scheduled for Friday at the Crowne Plaza in Suffern at 8:30am. Those planning to attend the upcoming state forums should email NewNYBridge.community@Thruway .ny.gov.
SPRING VALLEY FIRE HAD NO WORKING SMOKE DETECTORS
The fire that roared thought he Royal Gardens Apartment in Spring Valley Sunday morning was not equipped with a fire and smoke alarm system or sprinklers. One of the fire inspectors, Frank Youngman said that the 86-unit complex was built in the 1960’s, a time before alarms were required. Inspectors also found that none of the damaged apartments had working smoke detectors, which are required by New York State Law. Investigators continue to investigate the cause of the fire. 14 People were displaced, only one of the residents has returned home.
MONDAY’S COMMUTE COULD BE A NIGHTMARE
Rain, sleet and ice are expected for this morning and evening’s commute. Roads will be extra slick around sunup and sundown. Avoid streets that are known for snow melt and flooding. For public transportation, Rockland buses will resume normal service, T.R.I.P.S. is operating on its normal schedule, ferry service is running between Haverstraw and Ossining and Metro-North Railroad is anticipating no major delays. All school districts in the county are running on a two-hour delay.
MAN ASSAULTS CO-WORKERS WITH SHOVEL
As stressful as winter storms, delays and commutes can be, please don’t take it out on your co-workers. One man from Spring Valley is being accused of beating two of his co-workers with a metal chair, a shovel and a box cutter. The alleged altercation occurred during a break. The fight started out just being verbal and escalated into a physical altercation. A supervisor tried to break up the fight but was hit with a shovel instead. The incident happened in New Jersey where the accused works.
STATE COMPTROLLER APPROVES NYS THRUWAY’S $500-MIL SHORT-TERM BONDS
The State Comptroller’s Office approved The New York State Thruway’s sale of $500-million in short-term bonds for the new Tappan Zee Bridge on Thursday. That same day, Thruway Spokesman Dan Weiller announced the authority closed on a $500-million privately placed note with Barclays Capital Inc., where the Thruway is expected to pay an interest rate of less than two-tenths of a percent on the bond anticipation note. The bonds are scheduled to mature July 31, with room to extend the term of the bonds for an additional two months and increase the total months and increase the total size of the insurance by up to $200-million. The State Comptroller’s office did raise concern about how the Thruway Authority was going to finance the $3.9-billion project. In a letter sent to thruway head Tom Madison, First Deputy Comptroller Pete Grannis demanded that the authority “make public a full financing plan, including the expected level of tolls, as soon as possible.” The Thruway intends to pay out $125-million this month alone.
MONSEY MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS’ PROBATION FOR SEXUALLY ABUSING 2 BOYS
A Monsey man was sentenced to 10 years’ probation for sexually abusing two young boys. Shmuel Dym, 32, is appealing a guilty plea to two felony sex-abuse charges, after he originally accepted a no-jail sentence offered after the family came under alleged pressure from local rabbis and the ulta-Orthodox community. Dym pled guilty June 14, 2011 to two counts of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Next month, Dym will face a sex offender classification hearing.
UNITED WATER WARNS AGAINST SCAMMERS
Scams have been a huge topic of conversation this week on the Steve and Priscilla Morning Show. One company is taking steps to protect its customers from being duped. A few United Water customers have received phone calls about “requests of charitable donations” on behalf of the water provider and calls of “overdue bills” from a liver person. Well United Water is getting the word out there, if you receive phone calls like these, they are both scams. General Manager and Vice President of the United Water New York Division, Michael Pointing is warning all United Water customers to hang up and call police if you receive phone calls about charitable contributions or a live person calling request payment for an overdue bill. United Water representatives do not make personal phone calls to request payment, but the company does make automated reminder calls. Still if there is any doubt if the phone call you are receiving is a scam, Pointing advises customers to call United Water Customer Service Center at 845-623-1500.
CLARKSTOWN POLICE DEPARTMENT PURSUE OVERTIME AUDIT ON DEPARTMENT
The Clarkstown Police Department will conduct an audit of overtime paid to all officers of the Department. This comes in light of Clarkstown Officer William Sherwood’s resignation after being suspected of falsifying his hours. Sherwood was a decorated 11-year veteran. In 2012 he was paid a salary of $125,000, but according to SeeThroughNY, his income for the year was $206,000. Speakers at the meeting suspect Sherwood might have been advised to resign to save an investigation into other officers in the department. Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan defended that the system does work, that the problem was noticed immediately.
MONSEY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SEXUAL ABUSE, RECEIVES 14 YEARS IN PRISON
A Monsey man admitted to sexually abusing a girl over a six-year period, starting when the girl was just 10-years-old. This past August, Eliyahu Zarifa, 46, pled guilty to having sexual intercourse with a girl who is now17-years-old. At about the same time the victim came forward to disclose the ongoing sexual abuse, Zarifa fled to Israel but returned shortly after where he was arrested by the Spring Valley Police Department. Zarifa was sentenced to 14 years in prison, 10 years probation and will be registered as a sex offender upon his release.
STONY POINT WOMAN FOUND DEAD…MAY HAVE BEEN DEAD FOR DAYS
A Stony Point woman was found dead Tuesday morning between the collapsed floor of her second-story bathroom and the ceiling below. Officials are identifying the woman as Diane Wilson, 63. After failing to report to work as a registered nurse in the Bronx, Stony Point Police were asked to check on her and her elderly mother. Investigators found the bathroom floor rotted through and Wilson stuck in the flooring, dead. Once the body was removed, Stony Point building inspector William Sheehan checked the house which he described as filthy, cluttered and uninhabitable. Investigators are not clear as to how long Wilson was trapped in the floor. Police say the death was not suspicious. Her elderly mother, who was described as being unable to care for herself, was taken from the poorly maintained home to a hospital for treatment.
CLARKSTOWN HIRES 8 MORE POLICE OFFICERS
Clarkstown will hire eight police officers to boost the strength of the Police Department to a minimum of 163 officers. In a unanimous vote by the Clarkstown Town Board, the police department will now have 164 officers, up from the current low of 156. Last year, the number of officers dropped after several senior members of the police force retired. Police Chief Michael Sullivan explained that 163 officers would satisfy the community’s safety requirements and save the town money. The town expects the new hires will cost the town $500,000 in salaries, in total, not including benefits. The town will save around $600,000 because the rookie officers will be paid a lot less than the retired officers. Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack predicts additional hiring in the coming months, because three to five more members of the department are expected to retire by years end.
NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE GIVES REPORT ON INDIAN POINT
Now it’s the Federal Fisheries’ turn to present their discoveries on Indian Point. The federal organization found that the nuclear power plant would have an adverse effect on two endangered species of sturgeon, but would not come close to wiping the fish out. In the 168-page report, it is estimated that around 1,000 Shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon would be killed if the licenses were granted. Fish usually die when they are caught against water intake screens, but this only affects a small percentage of the stock. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission enlisted the help of the National Marine Fisheries Service to run the studies, to gather accurate evidence on whether Indian Point’s owner Entergy Nuclear should get a 20-year-extension. The report appears to help the argument for extending the near expiring licenses for the plant.
TAPPAN ZEE CONSTRUCTORS RELEASES ROUGH TIMELINE OF CONSTRUCTION
After much anticipation, a broad timeline for construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge was revealed. The plan is that in three years, 2016, all traffic from the old bridge will be shifted to a span on the new bridge. The old bridge, which will be entering its sixth decade, will be demolished so construction of the second span can be completed. The southern span is projected to open in 2018. The meeting also marked the first formal introduction of the build and design team that sealed the $3.1-billion state contract last month. Tappan Zee Constructors outlined some of the work residents can expect to see.
Testing of soil from the bottom of the Hudson will take place in March with dredging starting up in August. Once the foundation is stable, the two spans will then be built side-by-side starting in the middle of the river and work their way back to land. When all is said and done, the final price tag for the new T-Z Bridge will be around $3.9-billion.
SOUTH NYACK MAYOR WILL NOT RUN FOR RE-ELECTION
It looks like there will be a switch up between South Nyack Mayor Patricia Dubow and trustee Bonnie Christian. In a statement, Mayor Dubow has decided against running for re-election saying it was time for a “fresh perspective.” The mayor has nominated Bonnie Christian to fill the seat. If Christian is elected on March 19, Dubow has stated that she would be willing to fill Christian’s vacant trustee position.
HAVERSTRAW-OSSINING FERRY SERVICE RESUMES
New York Waterway announced the Haverstraw-Ossining commuter ferry will resume service this morning. Last week , service was suspended due to ice on the Hudson River.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT STARTS PAYING BACK BOCES
The East Ramapo School District is making some progress in paying off money owed to BOCES from last year. BOCES officials were relieved when they received a check of $1.67-million from the district on Friday. BOCES announced in mid-December that the East Ramapo School District owed some $5-million for services provided through the end of 2012. BOCES spokeswoman Stephanie Gousss said Friday’s payment brings Rockland BOCES closer to it financial “comfort zone” and operations are now “business as usual.”
INDIAN POINT CLOSURE COULD COST MORE THAN IT’S WORTH
On Friday, the Public Service Commission was warned that if they shut down the Indian Point Power Plant, it would cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in preparation. Consolidated Edison and The New York Power Authority reported $300-million to begin preparing for a possible shutdown. The $300-million would pay for energy efficiency measures and for persuading users to cut their power consumption during peak times. Also reported were other measures, such as building new transmission lines and modernizing others in the region, costing an additional $500-million. The report was written in response to a request form Governor Cuomo’s Energy Highway Task Force and calls for having the list of actions, including the infrastructure upgrades in place by June 2016. Indian Point owner, Entergy Nuclear says it plans to keep operating the plant and make the proposed changes.
NEW CITY CRASH KILLS TWO MEN
A tragic crash took the lives of two young men in their mid-20’s last night. At about 11:25pm, a car crashed into a road sign on Strawtown road then struck a tree splitting it in half. Clarkstown Police are reporting that a 2007 Nissan Maxima was travelling north on Strawtown Road, when the driver lost control of the vehicle and crossed into the southbound lane, hitting a road sign. The car continued to travel onto a residential lawn on Strawtown Rd, making its final and fatal stop into a tree. The driver was ejected and died at the scene, the passenger was not ejected but also died at the scene. Police said the speed appeared to be a factor in the crash. No one else was in the car. No other vehicles were involved.
DESIGNATED DRIVER APP…NOT YOUR AVERAGE TAXI SERVICE
Earlier this week County Executive Scott Vanderhoef announced that all Rockland County Police agencies will be on high alert, cracking down on those who celebrate Super Bowl Sunday a little too hard. One company is hoping to alleviate the number of drunk driving incidents with their smartphone app – StearClear. Unlike a taxi service, this service gets you and your car home safely. This designated driver service will be on high availability come Super Bowl Sunday. The app is available for iPhone and Android phone users only.
TAPPAN ZEE CONSTRUCTORS HOST FIRST PUBLIC MEETING
Next week, the brain and brawn behind the new Tappan Zee Bridge will meet with residents from Rockland and Westchester counties for the first time. The New York State Thruway Authority awarded Tappan Zee Constructors with a $3.1-billion contract mid-December. The team will hold their first meeting here in Rockland on Tuesday at 7pm at Nyack High School. Still a major question and concern, is how the bridge will be paid for? Last week the Thruway Board approved borrowing $500-million in short-term bonds to pay for the initial project costs. The Thruway Authority is still awaiting word on a low-interest federal loan, which will determine toll prices.
STONY POINT SEALS POLAR PLUNGE THIS SUNDAY
This Sunday, the Stony Point Seals, a non-profit, will host its 14th Annual Polar Plunge at the Grassy Point Sea Wall in Stony Point. The Festivities will start at noon where you can watch WRCR’s very own The Clem from “Clem in the PM, Afternoon Train Wreck” and Priscilla from the “Steve and Priscilla Morning Show” race into the freezing cold Hudson River. All proceeds will benefit people who were affected by Super Storm Sandy. To make a donation visit stonypointseals.com or you can mail your donation to P.O. Box 654 Stony Point, NY 10980. If you are writing a check, make sure to make the check out to the Stony Point Seals.
THE NYS THRUWAY AUTHORITY TO LAY OFF 234 WORKERS, CITES $20-MILLION IN SAVNGS
The New York State Thruway Authority plans to lay off 234 workers quoting, “further budget savings are necessary.” This decision comes as the Thruway Authority plans to make up for the 45% toll increase it would have made on truck traffic, that plan was dropped last month. Thruway spokesman Daniel Weiller reported Wednesday that laying off 234 employees would save the authority $20-million. The thruway continues to struggle financially due to a decline in traffic and needed repairs to the thruway roads.
NEW SQUARE TEACHER CONSIDERED LEVEL 1 OFFENDER
A New Square teacher who pled guilty to sexual misconduct last month has been classified as a low-level sex offender. Herschel Taubenfeld admitted to forcibly touching a young boy as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in New Square Village Court. The agreement spared the victim, a child, from having to testify. On Monday, before New Square Justice Stewart Salles, Taubenfeld underwent a classification hearing. It was decided he was a Level 1 offender, considered to be at low risk to repeat his offense. His name will not be available on the sex offender registry.
RAMAPO MAN WHO BRUTALLY KILLED GIRLFRIEND INDICTED
The Ramapo man accused of killing his estranged girlfriend with a thick-heeled shoe was indicted on Wednesday by a Rockland County grand jury. Raid Dib, 66, is facing a felony charge of second-degree murder, which carries a prison sentence of 15-years to life. Dib called 911 on himself, after he allegedly murdered Cecile Garbarino, 68, just after 12:45am Friday inside the bedroom of her Wesley Hills home. Dib is accused of pounding her head and face with a thick-heeled boot nearly two dozen times. She was also punched and kicked when she tried to use the telephone to call for help. Dib will enter a plea through his lawyer before Rockland County Court Judge William Nelson.
CONSULTING GROUP REPORTS RISKS AND SAVINGS FOR SUMMIT PARK
A management-consulting group cited risks and savings in the operation of Summit Park. In a report discussed before the Rockland Legislature on Monday, Alvarez and Marsal Healthcare Advisory Group, a Manhattan-based company highlighted a list of shocking operations practices that potentially put residents and workers at risk and were draining the county of thousands. In the report, were cases of feeding pumps being used on patients that did not have an initial check and tag indicating they were safe to use. Over-stocked supplies stored so high in supply areas that they blocked fire sprinkler heads. The group calculated a better supply ordering system could save 5 to 12-percent in supply costs. As for Summit Park’s drain on the county, more than half the registered and licensed practical nurses working at the hospital and 50-percent of nurses working at the nursing home were “relief or pool” workers. With no automated clock-in system in use, the county is estimated to have lost $550-thousand. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef said the consultants were hired because he had concerns about the operations at Summit Park. Their report would help identify and improve efficiencies. Vanderhoef has been entertaining the idea of transferring Summit Park to a local development corporation to sell, with the proceeds to help pay down part of the county’s $96.4-million deficit.
EAST RAMAPO: MEETING ON SCHOOL TRESPASSING AND SAFETY TONIGHT
The East Ramapo School District will be holding an invitation-only forum today, the main focus of discussion being public school safety and security. The meeting was planned in response to complaints from the community about frequent incidents of trespassing on school grounds while class is in session. Many cases of these trespassing cases are from the Orthodox and Hasidic communities who take the shortcuts through school grounds on days they cannot drive for religious reasons. In the past, community members have unsuccessfully demanded that district administrators post and enforce “No Trespassing” signs for the safety of the children. The issue of trespassing was brought up again in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre. East Ramapo Coordinator of Safety and Security Tom Carton said the forum will ask participants for ideas on the wording of the signs. The district plans to post the signs at all East Ramapo Schools, warning people to stay off school grounds. The invitation-only meeting will be held at 4pm, in the board meeting room at the district administration building.
MONSEY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SEX ABUSE
A Monsey man pled guilty to having oral sex with one of his daughter’s female friends Monday. With his wife and two daughters present in a Rockland County courtroom, 60-year-old Dovid Kohn admitted that he had oral sex between 2004 -2006 beginning when the girl was 12-years-old. The girl, now 21, reported the abuse last year. Evidence of the abuse was collected as she spoke with Kohn about the sexual acts while wearing a body wire and through telephone calls recorded by Ramapo Police. Judge William Nelson said he will sentence Kohn to eight years in state prison and 10 years’ probation. He will also be placed on the sex offender registry. Kohn an Israeli national is living in the US illegally. After serving his sentence, Judge Nelson told the court that he will likely be deported.
MAN CALLS 911 ON HIMSELF AFTER KILLING GIRLFRIEND
A man called police on himself after murdering his estranged girlfriend by beating her with a thick-heeled boot. Riad Dib, 66, called 911 right before 12:45am Friday, insisting police come immediately to his girlfriend’s house in Wesley Hills. An officer found Cecile Garbarino’s, 68, unconscious and battered body at 12:45am in the bedroom. Rockland County paramedics pronounced her dead at 1am. The attack occurred between 10pm Thursday and 12:40am Friday. Dib is accused of pounding her head and face with a think-heeled boot nearly two dozen times. Officials believe at one point she tried calling for help but was punched and kicked repeatedly, cracking her ribs and causing internal injuries. Police arrested Dib at the house. Detective Sgt. John Lynch of the Ramapo Police Department believes there may be a possibility that an extended period of time went by between the incident and the phone call to 911. The Rockland Medical Examiner’s office is trying to determine Garbarino’s time of death to compare the time of the 911 call.
LACORTE PROPOSES ETHICS RULES AFTER SPY-GATE STINT
Last week Dagan Lacorte was exposed by The Rockland County Times with headline like “Dagan Lacaught”, “Getting Stuck in His Own Nixionian Trap” and “The Spy-Gate of Rockland”. Last week, Suffern Mayor Dagan Lacorte was busted after sending a text message meant for his campaign manager to his primary county executive opponent, former Spring Valley Justice David Fried. After being caught trying to “spy quick” on Fried, Lacorte has turned a new leaf. Immediately after the article hit the stands, at a prescheduled fundraiser event, Lacorte apologized for his actions calling the spy tactic a mistake. 24-hours later, in a press release, he felt obligated to propose ethics rules.
Ethics rules proposed by Lacorte
· Establish a Fair Campaign Practices Board like in Westchester County to rule on the accuracy of mailings and TV ads
· Adopt the federal model with an additional quarterly campaign finance disclosure on April 15th so the public has information about candidate finances prior to party nominating conventions
· No personal attacks on candidates, their supporters or their constituencies
· Issues forums with press and public questions and answers in each of Rockland’s towns, starting in February. Each forum will focus on a different topic– taxes, environment, social issues, transportation and infrastructure, education and health care.
His opponents had something to say about this ethics stint. Legislator Ilan Schoenberger was quoted by RCT saying, “I think it’s a lot of nerve and an attempt to divert attention away from him.” GOP candidate Legislator Ed Day had some advice for Lacorte saying, “I would suggest that Mr. Lacorte reflect upon the error of his ways instead of trying to lecture the community on ethics.”
UNITED WATER MOVES INTO FINAL REVIEW STAGES OF HAVERSTRAW PLANT
United Water is moving into its final stages of review following a state ruling now that a draft environmental study has been completed. The State Department of Conservation has issued a statement on the proposed controversial Hudson River water treatment plant and will now set a public hearing date and a deadline for the submission of written comments. United Water plans to construct a plant in Haverstraw. The $189.4-million plant would draw water from the Hudson River, remove the contaminants, treat it and then deliver it to Rockland customers. Despite pleas from opponents and residents to study alternatives to building the plant, the draft Environmental Study is a major step forward in the overall review process. United Water says it has looked into a new reservoir and using treated sewage as alternatives.
STATE COMPTROLLER: SPRING VALLEY LACKS FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT
State auditors found that Spring Valley lacked financial oversight and control over its electronic data and computer systems. An audit released Thursday by the State Comptroller’s office found that Spring Valley’s information technology system between June 2011 and May 2012 did not audit all claims, or purchase records, to ensure payments from the village were valid before the village treasurer approved them. No unauthorized purchases were found. The state recommends the Village thoroughly audit all purchase records to validate expenditures.
FORMER MAYOR JOHN KEEGAN PLANS TO RUN FOR MAYOR OF SUFFERN…AGAIN / RAMAPO COUNCILMAN TO RUN FOR MAYOR OF SPRING VALLEY
Former Suffern Mayor John Keegan will run for office again. Keagan, 63, is a retired postmaster and has been working part-time as a code enforcement officer for the Town of Ramapo. He served two terms as Suffern mayor, which ended in 2009 when he lost his re-election bid to now Mayor Dagan Lacorte. Lacorte is now running for County Executive. Keegan said his priorities, if elected, would be making life more affordable in Suffern and to continue to develop downtown Suffern.
In Spring Valley, Ramapo Councilman Daniel Friedman announced he will run for Mayor of Spring Valley challenging Mayor Noramie Jasmin. Friedman, 26, announced his candidacy on social media, and is running on the beliefs that government needs to promote new ideas, technology and innovation to solve its challenges. Mayor Jasmin is running on her record of putting people first. Also running on the democratic side is Bernard Charles Jr., who is the Village Recreation Facility Supervisor, he ran in 2009 and lost to Mayor Jasmin in the primary. He pledges to assert more control over the East Ramapo School Board and would help attract more business to the main street commercial strip.
NYS TRUWAY APPOVES $500-MILLION IN BONDS
The New York State Thruway Authority approved issuing $500-million in short-term bonds on Thursday. Thruway spokesman Dan Weiller said these bonds, which will begin funding the $3.9-billion project will be sold in the coming weeks and will mature in July. Thruway officials are still working to secure the federal loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which allows state applicants to receive up to 49-percent for the T-Z Bridge that could potentially add up to $2-billion. Funding of the bridge is a main question and concern, but state officials are confident that a combination of bonds, tolls and the TIFIA loan will get the job done.
NYS THRUWAY AUTHOIRTY TO RUN CASH-LESS TOLLS
The Thruway Authority cleared the way for the new bridge to have an all-electronic toll collection. The state will have to test the idea out first, but with the boards approval the state can now come up with plans to try to eliminate cash on the tolls for good. Spokesman for the Thruway Authority, Daniel Weiller could not determine when those test programs will be ready. Rockland Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski proposed the all-electronic toll collection late last year and was, “glad the Thruway Authority has taken these initial steps.”
DAGAN LACAUGHT IN TEXT MIX-UP…TRIES TO SPY ON FRIED
The Rockland County Times broke a HUGE story yesterday, with the headline “DAGAN LACAUGHT”! After rubbing elbows at a get-together for democratic insiders, Mayor of Suffern and county executive candidate Dagan Lacorte sent a text message meant for his campaign manager to his primary opponent former Spring Valley Justice David Fried. Cristobal Slobodzian and David Fried had never met, before the Mayor planned to use his campaign manager to “spy quick” in hopes to get Fried to say something politically damaging. The text read, “Record fried on phone- gay marriage, desal. $$$ he cant raise - - spy early because Chris Smith will tell him who you are. I’ll check in later for recon. Get names and emails.” Chris Smith who is running for Orangetown Tax Receiver found nothing funny about the matter, especially his name brought up as a snitch. In a press conference in New City, Lacorte said he did call Fried to apologize stating he made a mistake and takes full responsibility for it. This is one of the few incidents where all the County Executive candidates, which also include legislators Ed Day and Ilan Schoenberger agree the situation is not funny and instead of playing spy with other candidates; we should be talking about the issues. As for Lacorte’s campaign manager, Slobodzian was unaware of the text. The first time he heard of the incident was when he was questioned by the Rockland County times about the message and was quoted saying, “Mayor Lacorte is running a transparent campaign …he is speaking to all issues facing the county and state.”
EAST RAMAPO BOARD MEMBERS WHO RESIGNED ALLEGE LACK OF INFORMATION AND INTIMIDATION
The two East Ramapo school board members who resigned Tuesday are citing denial of information and intimidation. On Monday, Stephen Price and Suzanne Young-Mercer submitted their resignation letters to district clerk Cathy Russle. Word of their resignation was announced at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, which both price and Young-Mercer did not attend. The pair were the only members of the nine-member Board who are not Orthodox Jew nor Hasidic. In an interview with the Journal News, Price and Young-Mercer described difficulty working with East Ramapo superintendent of schools Joel Klein and fellow board members. Along with a continuing pattern of harassment and intimidation, there was also a lack of trust in the information being provided. In his letter of resignation, Stephen Price said that without reliable information, he “had to abstain from voting and budget decisions that came before the board.” As for those vacant seats, the board has a few options. The board can authorize a special election to be held within 90-days. Appoint someone to fill the seats until the next election, and if nothing is done within the 90-day period, the BOCES superintendent may fill the vacancies.
COUNTY RECEIVES “PUBLIC HEALTH READY” HONOR
County Executive Scott Vanderhoef announced that the National Association of County and City Health officials designated Rockland County Department of Health as “Public Health Ready”. In order to receive this honor the County met a set of national standards for Public Health Preparedness and joined nearly 300 health departments across the country that have been honored for their agencies’’ preparedness efforts through Project Public Health Ready. PPHR requires member health departments to have a comprehensive and coordinated emergency response plan in place trained staff members and that the agency exercises its plan and uses it during Public Health Emergencies. The county health department still plans to exceed the standard of the PPHR. Director of Emergency Preparedness and Public Health Junie Delizo promises to, “continue to improve our ability to quickly and effectively respond to any public health crisis in Rockland County.”
HAVERSTRAW FERRY SERVICE SUSPENDED
Ferry service between Haverstraw and Ossining has been suspended because of icy conditions in the Hudson River. There will be bus service available to ferry commuters. Buses will stop at the Haverstraw parking lot and Tarrytown train station.
“AT RISK” CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WILL CLOSE IN ROCKLAND
It was a very sad day for two schools yesterday in Rockland. St. Augustine in New City and St. Peters in Haverstraw will close its doors for good this summer break. The Archdiocese announced in November that 26 Catholic schools were at risk of closure unless they could come up with financial plans showing they could remain open on their own for three years. Tuesday the decision was made that both St. Augustine and St. Peters would close along with 20 other schools. Parents of St. Augustine in New City believe they were not treated fairly. The Archdiocese gave the school a $1.2-million goal. 6-weeks after the elementary school was put on the “at risk list”- - the school exceeded that target by $855,000. St. Peters in Haverstraw raised $400,000 in pledges and donations but was still $1.1-million short. The Archdiocese which is in millions of dollars of debt is undergoing a reorganization, running under the campaign, Pathway to Excellence.
TWO EAST RAMAPO BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBERS RESIGNED
The East Ramapo Board President announced Tuesday evening that two members of the East Ramapo Board of Education have resigned. At the opening of a regular meeting, President Daniel Schwartz announced that Stephen Price and Suzanne Young-Mercer the only members of the nine-member board who are not Orthodox Jews nor Hasidic will step down. Schwartz said the Board accepted the resignation with regret and called the departures of price and Young-Mercer “everybody’s loss”. District officials declined to comment on why the pair resigned, but said letters from Price and Young-Mercer speak for themselves. Those letters were not at the meeting and could not be reached for comment.
ONE DEAD IN HEAD-ON CRASH
An 81-year-old wrong way driver crashed head on into a car leaving his wife the passenger dead and injuring himself and the other driver. State Police received reports that there was a two-car crash at around 8:20 p.m. on Interstate 87 in Sloatsburg. An 76-year-old Monsey woman, who has not been identified, was killed in the crash with no information available Tuesday night about the conditions of the other two victims. Police and fire officials arrived at the scene to find that a Toyota Camry facing the wrong way in a southbound lane and had collided with a Volvo being driven by an 18-year-old West Point man. Both cars sustained heavy front-end damage.
MOST TEACHER EVALUATION PLANS WILL EXPIRE IN A YEAR
A state report released that 90-percent of the new tedious teacher and principal evaluation plans will expire in a year. This allows educators to review what’s working and what’s not so that adjustments could be made. The controversial mandated review system rates teachers and principals on a scale of “ineffective” to “highly effective” awarding schools based on a formula that uses New Yorker’s personal income growth. Two consecutive years with the lowest rating could be grounds for termination. The deadline for schools to get approval for their plans was January 17th. Those who did not submit their plans were not given state funding.
TWO BOYS GUILTY IN CHESTNUT RIDGE CASE DENIED RELEASE FROM DETENTION CENTER
Two of the boys found guilty in the Chestnut Ridge gang rape were denied their release from a juvenile detention center while they await the appeal of their conviction. The state appeals panel refused to delay the sentence earlier this month. Currently, all four boys, all 13-years-old, are in a limited security detention center hours from the county. Attorneys of Kenseley St. Fler and Rey Jey Alexis argue that this arrangement is not giving the boys the proper treatment of rehabilitation and believe that both boys should be home with their families because they will likely serve out Judge Sherri Eisenpress’ sentence. Eisenpress found the boys guilty of gang-raping one girl twice and sexually abusing a younger girl during separate incidents at a Chestnut Ridge house on several occasions. All four boys are appealing the decision on several grounds, which include excluding police statements made by the boys who at the time didn’t know their rights and in one case a lack of medical evidence of the victim.
STATE COMPTROLLER AND ATTORNEY GENERAL “OK” NEW TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman signed off on the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, officially pushing this $3.14-billion project forward. Still to be approved are a financial plan, toll increases and debt insurance. The new Tappan Zee Bridge will be the largest public works project in the nation and is one of the largest in state history. The bridge will also include a concrete deck on top of steel girders and will be constructed to be strong enough to carry trains in the future with deck connections in four places to turn traffic around in an emergency. The design and build team, Tappan Zee Constructors said they are pleased to be moving ahead. According to the group, construction is expected to begin as soon as Spring and is currently on a five to six year timeline.
TWO MONSEY MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO SEXUAL ABUSE
Two Monsey men plead guilty to charges of sexually abusing children. A third man is facing pre-trial hearings in county court. On Friday, Moishe Turner, 58, admitted in court that he had anal and oral sex with a 14-year-old boy on seven occasions during July 2011. Herschel Taubenfeld, 33, once a teacher in the Hasidic community admitted to forcible touching of a young boy in 2011. Both men struck up a deal with the court, avoiding incarceration to spare the children from having to testify. Turner will serve 10 years probation, with Taubenfeld sentenced to serve 6 years probation on a misdemeanor charge handled in New Square Justice Court. The third man, Dovid Kohn is currently facing 40 criminal counts of having oral sex with a girl when she was between the ages of 12 and 15.
ROCKLAND ECONOMY LOOKS BRIGHT FOR 2013
A new report shows that things are looking up for Rockland County. President and CEO of the Rockland Economic Development Corporation, Michael DiTullo says Rockland’s economy could have a pretty good 2013. DiTullo’s forecast for 2013 is that Rockland will continue to see growth, with a boost in jobs and output, especially in the health care and biotech industries. Another prediction includes a pick-up in the Rockland economy, with big time infrastructure projects expected to start this year. Those projects include a third power plant at Bowline Point and the new Tappan Zee Bridge. This progress all depends on Washington, with the uncertainty of the tax increases and spending cuts set to expire as part of the “fiscal cliff”. Only time will tell how Rockland will fair up.
RAMAPO APPROVES TRANSFER OF 7 ACRES TO NEW SQUARE
Both the Town of Ramapo and New Square have approved the transfer of about 7 acres of unincorporated Ramapo to the village. The village of New Square voted unanimously Monday night following the Town Board’s approval of the annex deal last week. With the approval of both municipalities, the 6.87-percent acres along Route 45 that is zoned for single-family residences under Ramapo’s law can be annexed and developed into multifamily housing under New Square’s zoning regulations. The annexation could be vetoed by current residents in a special election. That election must be held within 90 days of the annexation orders with the county clerk. Monsey developer Favish Langsam requested the annexation and plans to build housing to accommodate the growing Hasidic village of New Square.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATURE ADOPTS THREE RESOLUTIONS ON GUN SAFETY
The Rockland Legislature adopted three resolutions in response to a Journal News article that released the names and addresses of pistol permit holders. On Tuesday, the Rockland County Firearms Cable Lock Safety Program was approved with a vote of 13-0. The program which will be run by the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office will offer 1,600 free locks to residents. The board also voted 11-2 to urge the passage of a new state legislation that would keep the identities of people who hold handgun licenses in New York private. With a vote of 9-4 the legislature voted on a resolution condemning the Journal News for, “Exercising poor judgment in its decision to create an interactive website making the names and addresses of all lawful pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties readily available to members of the public.” The resolution also demands the removal of the map.
STOLEN HOT DOG STAND INVOLVED IN FEDERAL INVESTIGATION
A New Jersey man whose hot dog truck in Orangeburg was stolen three years ago can finally find some closure. On Wednesday, Orangetown Police informed Fred Martucci that his 10-foot-long, 7-foot-wide stainless-steel trailer was actually a part of a four-year federal investigation. Authorities are alleging the truck was stolen by two men and sold. This is all based on the testimony of Charles Giustra, who is one of the 32 people being investigated to having ties to the mob. The Fred’s Famous Franks stand owner admits he was pretty shocked, but may have been a bit more shocked that his $25,000 trailer only went for $2,500.
RAMAPO PLANNING BOARD DELAYS VOTE ON PATRICK FARM
After more than 3 hours of public speeches Wednesday night, the Ramapo Planning Board has decided to delay its vote on the controversial Patrick Farm development. The development calls for 410 high-density multifamily units and 87 single-family houses on 208 acres right off Routes 202 and 306. Residents of the village have fought the Planning Board and Patrick Farm for years, arguing that the project will destroy the character of the single-family neighborhood and endanger the environment. With the vote delayed the public and project applicant can submit any written comments through January 30th. Two board members, Dora Green and Timothy Scott closed the hearing with suggestions that the board request the application to limit the number of housing units.
COUNTY CLERKS BOMBARDED WITH PHONE CALLS FOR GUN PERMIT PRIVACY FORMS
A flood of phone calls made their way to the county clerks office following Governor Cuomo’s new gun law that restricts public access to information of pistol permits. Gun owners are looking to make their information private as soon as possible. The only problem is county clerks do not have the new privacy form yet. Under the new law, for the next 120 days no information on gun-permit holders will be available to the public. After that the forms should be in and current license holders can fill out an application requesting that their information remain private. County clerks have the power to deny privacy to any applicant who provides inaccurate information on the form. Rockland County Town Clerk Paul Piperato and neighboring counties say they’re going through the law to see what’s required and awaiting clarification from the state on their specific responsibilities.
EAST RAMAPO MAKES DEADLINE ON DEFICIT PLAN
East Ramapo made their deadline on Wednesday to submit a plan to the State Education Department on the district’s deficit. The plan is to use a multimillion-dollar bond to close this year’s shortfall of around $9-million. Superintendent of schools Joel Klein made his statement in a 4-page letter to State Education officials noting that there’s almost nothing the district can do solve East Ramapo’s broader financial crisis without a complete makeover of the state aid formula. The current state aid formula ignores the level of poverty in the district, treating East Ramapo the poorest in the county and one of the poorest in the state as wealthy because of the unique population of 9,000 students who attend public schools and those 20,000 students who attend private schools. Included with Klein’s statement the district released a timeline of $5-million worth of payments to Rockland BOCES. Officials at BOCES are nervous that students throughout the county will be affected by East Ramapo’s shortfall.
WINTER WEATHER CAUSES DELAYS
Overnight snow and sleet caused some treacherous conditions for drivers in the AM commute. The wintry mix coated the county with about 1-3 inches of snow and trailed off early this morning. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory late last night which will continue in to 4 p.m.
GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNS THE NY SAFE ACT
Governor Cuomo signed the NY SAFE Act Tuesday evening, making New York the first state to enact tighter restrictions on guns after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The Assembly passed the bill Tuesday afternoon by a 104-43 vote. The Senate approved the bill Monday evening. The NY SAFE Act bans all magazines that hold more than seven rounds and expands previous background check laws to include private sales of guns and all ammunition purchases. This will give the state more power to take firearms from the mentally ill and increase penalties for gun-related crimes. The bill also includes the immediate ban on semiautomatic rifles, shotguns and pistols with a “military-style feature”, with the exception of guns purchased before Tuesday. Cuomo defended his decision to rush the legislation to prevent a run on sales of assault weapons that are to be banned.
WEST NYACK MAN SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS IN PRISON IN FATAL CRASH
A 34-year old West Nyack man will spend up to four years in prison for leaving the scene of a fatal crash. The Essex County District Attorney released a statement Monday confirming that Joseph Bohunicky Jr. pleaded guilty in October and was sentenced in the beginning of November to 4 years in state prison. The accident took place in the Town of Schroon. Bohunicky struck a car from behind killing 65-year-old Mary Morrissey who was a passenger. He then fled the scene in his 2001 Toyota Camry. Investigators were able to connect Bohunicky to the crash using witness account and evidence from the scene. He was arrested July 17.
PATRICK FARM HOUSING DEVELOPMENT HEARING WEDNESDAY
The Patrick Farm housing development will be up for debate again this Wednesday. The hearings are scheduled for 8 p.m. at Ramapo Town Hall, ahead of a possible Town Planning Board determination that would move the project forward. The hearing will focus on the proposed construction of 410 high-density multifamily units and 87 single-family houses on 208 acres of undeveloped woods and wetlands off Routes 202 and 306. After tomorrow night a vote could decide the fate of the housing development if the Planning Board does not extend the hearings to allow for more public comment. The decision can also be set at a later date, but must be made within 62 days after the hearing is closed.
GOV. CUOMO’S GUN PROPOSAL PASSES IN SENATE
The Senate passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, also known as NY Safe, 43-18 at around 11 p.m. Monday. The new law would ban all magazines that hold more than seven rounds and background checks for all gun sales. The bill also includes the “Webster Provision” a life-without-parole prison sentence for anyone who murders a first responder. The assembly is set to take up the legislation at 10 a.m. Tuesday. If passed, New York would become the first state to enact tougher gun laws following the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre.
SUSPENDED CORRECTIONS OFFICER TO FACE DISCIPLINARY HEARING
The suspended corrections officer may have dodged charges on cocaine by jury, but Rockland County jail officials are moving ahead with a disciplinary hearing against Daniel Whittaker. Sheriff Louis Falco said Monday that Whittaker, 33, will face departmental charges that include conduct unbecoming of an officer. Before the department schedules the hearing, officials want all the results of an NYPD investigation linking Whittaker to a Manhattan couple that are accused of plotting to blow up an arch in Greenwich Village. Depending on the recommendation from the hearing officer and a final decision by the jail administration and Sherriff Falco, Whittaker could lose his job or face sanctions.
SUSPENDED CORRECTIONS OFFICER AQUITTED
The Rockland corrections officer who was suspended for possessing cocaine and fleeing a state trooper almost three years ago was acquitted of all charges Friday. The trial began just after the officer was separately targeted in an NYPD investigation over his relationship with a Manhattan couple that is accused of plotting to blow up an arch in Greenwich Village. An Orangetown jury acquitted Daniel Whittaker, 33, on misdemeanor counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree unlawful fleeing a police officer. In April of 2010, Whittaker allegedly led state troopers on a brief, high-speed chase on Route 303 in April of 2010 while in possession of cocaine. Whittaker defends that the cocaine was not his, that he took the drug to prevent a friend from using. Whittaker said he is “very happy and very glad” and that he looks forward to returning to work after being suspended for nearly three years. Rockland Sheriff Louis Falco declined to comment on Whittaker’s returning to work, noting the current NYPD investigation.
NEW ROCKLAND UNDERSHERRIFF NAMED
South Nyack-Grand View Police Chief Robert Van Cura was named the new Rockland undersheriff on Friday. Van Cura has served in the South Nyack-Grand View Police Department for more than 30 years and will be replacing recently retired undersheriff Thomas Guthrie. Van Cura will be replaced in the South Nyack- Grand View Department by Sgt. Brent Newbury.
SPRING VALLEY JUDGESHIP VACANCY FILLED
After a three-year absence, Susan Smith has been appointed to fill the Spring Valley judgeship. This seat was previously held by David Fried, who resigned last month to run for County Executive. Smith will serve the remainder of Fried’s term and intends to run for a full four-year term in November.
FLU CASES ON THE RISE STATEWIDE
On Friday, Governor Cuomo declared a statewide public health emergency as the number of flu victims continues to rise. Cuomo issued an executive order allowing pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine to patients between six months and 18 years of age. Normally, only those 18 and older can be vaccinated by a pharmacist. The Department of Health is reporting that there has been about 19,000 cases of influenza this year in comparison to last years figure of around 4,000 cases.
SUSPENDED CORRECTIONS OFFICER ON TRIAL FOR BRIEF HIGH-SPEED CHASE AND COCAINE
The suspended corrections officer whose house was raided by NYPD and local authorities appeared before a judge yesterday, but not because of the Wednesday morning investigation. Daniel Whittaker, 33, is being accused of a previous crime - leading state troopers on a brief, high-speed chase on Route 303 in April of 2010 while in possession of cocaine. Whittaker defends that the cocaine was not his, that he took the drug from a good friend to prevent that person from using. That night, Whittaker was spotted speeding at around 1 a.m. and allegedly never noticed trooper headlights or sirens until they were on his bumper. The cocaine charges lead to his suspension as a corrections officer after seven years. According to state records, he continues to be paid his salary of just under $74,000 a year. The 2010 trial was delayed because the arresting trooper, Timothy Noller had been serving in Afghanistan. NYPD and the Rockland Rescue Entry and Counter Terrorism Team, also known as react, seized 21 rifles in Wednesday’s raid, but did not find any suspected explosives. No charges were filed against Whittaker in Wednesday’s investigation. The weapon’s found in Whittaker’s Blue Hill Commons apartment appeared to be legal.
RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION TO TAKE TRIAL AGAINST POMONA TO FEDERAL COURT
A religious organization will continue to fight against the village of Pomona in federal court. A religious organization will continue to fight against the village of Pomona in federal court. A U.S. District Judge ruled that the lawsuit brought by Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov successfully argued that a series of land-use ordinances served by the village imposed a burden on its exercise of religion. The organization sued the village in July of 2007, arguing that Pomona’s land-use regulations and conduct prohibited it from building and operating a college and housing for students. The Village will file its response by January 21.
PSYCHIATRIC PATIENT PLEADS GUILTY TO FIRST-DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER
A psychiatric patient accused of fatally beating a 45-year-old man on the Rockland Psychiatric Center campus pleaded guilty Thursday. Curtis Wilson, 53, was charged with a felony count of first-degree manslaughter for attacking Vincent Knadler with a 2-foot-long, L-shaped piece of metal last January. Knadler who was also a patient at the psychiatric center was taken to Nyack Hospital where he died. Wilson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 27. District Attorney Zugibe’s office has recommended Wilson receive a 23-year prison sentence with five years of probation following his release.
COUNTY UNANIMOUSLY VOTES IN FAVOR OF FREE GUN LOCK PROGRAM
The County Board of Public Safety Committee voted 6-0 Tuesday in favor of a program that would offer Rockland residents free gun locks. The Rockland County Firearms Cable Lock Safety Program will be launched in reaction to a Journal News article, which released the names and addresses of pistol-permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties. The committee, with another unanimous vote of 6-0 supported changing state law to keep names and addresses of pistol-permit holders private, except in cases of law enforcement investigations. With a vote of 5-1 the Public Safety Committee voted on a resolution condemning the Journal News for “Exercising poor judgment in its decision to create an interactive website making the names and addresses of all lawful pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties readily available to members of the public.” The removal of the interactive map was also included in that proposal. Putnam County continues to stand its ground and will not comply with the newspaper’s request under the Freedom of Information Law to release its resident’s names and addresses.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT PROMISES TO PAY $5-MIL BACK TO BOCES
Rockland BOCES officials have confirmed that the East Ramapo School District has officially promised they will pay the $5-million owed, but do not know when the district will pay up or how much they will get. In a statement released by Superintendent of BOCES Mary Jean Marsico, she says, “We were pleased to learn that East Ramapo is working toward a resolution of their past due account with Rockland BOCES and that they recognize Rockland BOCES’ commitment to putting children first.” Superintendent of schools for East Ramapo, Joel Klein said that the district plans to pay BOCES in full from a $9.6-million bond the board agreed to take out Tuesday.
NYPD AND REACT RAID SUSPENDED COUNTY CORRECTIONS OFFICERS APARTMENT FOR EXPLOSIVES
Authorities raided the apartment of a suspended Rockland County corrections officer Wednesday morning as part of an NYPD investigation of a Manhattan couple that was charged with possessing explosives and weapons. At around 6 a.m. Wednesday, armed officers from the NYPD and Rockland Rescue Entry and Counter Terrorism Team, also known as REACT, entered the Blue Hill Commons apartment of Daniel Whittaker with a search warrant. Officials left with a few paper evidence bags that appeared to contain four guns each. The Rockland County Bomb Squad was also called in to investigate a locked safe. The team used specialized equipment including an X-Ray machine to determine the safe was safe for police to open. A spokeswoman for NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said Wednesday that officials targeted Whittaker based of his relationship with Aaron Green, who was charged with possessing explosives, bomb-making materials and weapons last month. No charges were filed against Whittaker. The weapons found in Whittaker’s home appeared to be legal.
EAST RAMAPO TO MAKE BIG CUTS
The East Ramapo school board approved major cuts, eliminating six music teachers and almost all spring sports except varsity, with plans to borrow nearly $10-million. This comes a week before the January 16th state deadline to get a deficit-reduction plan in place or face state intervention. According to last night’s decision, art teachers will keep their jobs but their salaries will be covered by federal Title 1 funding. Music teachers at the elementary school level weren’t as lucky and will be cut. Instead, classroom teachers will be trained to provide the instruction instead. Officials also plan to use the $6.6-million from the sale of the former Colton Elementary School to close the deficit. The school district still has millions of dollars more to cut to control its budget this year and according to Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein, next years budget process will be uglier than this year’s.
ORANGETOWN TOWN BOARD VOTES TO CONTINUE PAYING HIGH-PRICED LOBBYING FIRM
The Orangetown Town Board voted Tuesday evening to retain a high-priced New York lobbying firm for 2013. The board voted to continue paying Wilson Elsser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, $4,000 a month as the town continues to redevelop the Rockland Psychiatric Center Property. For the past year, Orangetown has been unsuccessful in securing first rights on two of the center’s facilities and have since focused their attention on trying to strengthen the town’s relationships with key state players.
TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE-DESIGN CANDIDATE WILL OVERSEE TAPPAN ZEE CONSTRUCTORS
This Tappan Zee Bridge build and design candidate may have lost the bid, but they are still in the game. The New York State Thruway Authority awarded Tappan Zee Constructors with a $3.1-billion contract last month, but they also shook hands with the Kansas City- based architectural and engineering firm HNTB Corp. to oversee the chosen design-build team and plan to pay the corporation $75-million for the first two years of work with the option of extending the agreement up to six years. This will be the first time the Thruway Authority has hired an oversight team. The Tappan Zee replacement will be the biggest public work project in the state’s history.
LEGISLATOR MICHAEL GRANT TO BECOME CHAIRMAN OF THE ROCKLAND COUNTY LEGISLATURE’S BUDGET AND FINANCE COMMITTEE
There will be a new chairman of the Rockland County legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee tomorrow night. Legislator Michael Grant will take over for 2013, for now former chairman Ilan Schoenberger who served as chairman for more than a decade. Grant is the son of the first County Executive, John Grant. He says his experience will help him in his efforts on the committee. That experience includes being Treasurer for West Haverstraw Village for 14 years and handling accounting and budgetary matters during his seven years on the legislature. This means Grant will inherit the County’s $96-million budget deficit and a credit rating that is one level above junk status.
LEGISLATOR DAY DEMANDS EXPLAINATION FOR UNDER-AWARDING
Rockland County legislator and County Executive candidate Ed Day is demanding a detailed response as to why the county has received few of the grants awarded to the Mid-Hudson Region as part of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative. He states that out of 84 projects, $92.8-million, there were only three single recipient project awards valued at $1.85-million for Rockland applicants. That’s 2-percent of the total dollars awarded. Our neighbors in Westchester on the other hand, received 20 sole awards and 12 went to Orange County. In the past Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski also called attention to the issue of why Rockland has been unsuccessful in receiving award funds. He plans to look into the state’s approval process. Day plans to bring up the issue of under-awarding in a meeting of the legislature’s Economic Development Committee where he plans to examine the process and how Rockland can improve its chances.
JOURNAL NEWS: DO RESIDENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT TYPE OF GUN YOUR NEIGHBOR OWNS?
The Journal News is at it again. This time raising the question, do residents have the right to know what specific type of gun your neighbor may own? On December 23rd The Journal News was under heavy fire by public officials as well as non-gun owners and gun owners for releasing the names and addresses of gun owners within the county on an interactive map. In a report, in today’s paper there were a few who believed they do have a right to know if someone living next to them have a gun and what type it is, especially when one is considering moving into the area. The majority maintains that it is more damaging than helpful. President of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association, Tom King said, “You’re giving a shopping list to criminals.” and while many think that guns are evil, there are collectors. Public officials share similar concerns fearing the safety of judges, policemen and FBI agents who were exposed in the December article. Here on the Steve and Priscilla Show last Friday, Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato described to us how uncomfortable he was providing the names and addresses to The Journal News under the Freedom of Information Act, but rejected their request when specific types of gun were asked to be released.
DATA CENTER MAY COME TO ORANGETOWN
Orangetown may be home to a new giant data center. Last month Ramland Holdings LLC met with Orangetown’s Land-Use Boards with an application to amend a close to 33-acre site at 1 Ramland Road. The project which would cost upward $100-million would add 188- thousand square feet to its already 232-thousand square foot office building and include a substation and a detention basin to hold runoff. Supervisor Andy Stewart of Orangetown praised the project, excited that hi-tech businesses want to invest in the town.
ROCKLAND TO OFFER GUN LOCKS TO RESIDENTS
A program that would offer Rockland residents gun locks was announced Friday morning. The measure is being considered by the county legislature in reaction to a Journal News article, which released the names and addresses of pistol-permit holders in Rockland and Westchester Counties. Two other resolutions were also offered, one condemning the December 23rd report and the other supporting efforts to restrict access to the data. Putnam County continues to stand its ground. They will not comply with the newspaper’s request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law to release the names and addresses of permit holders in Putnam County stating in this case their number one concern is for its residents, not the law.
LUXURY HOTEL INTERESTED IN NYACK
Nyack may see a luxury boutique hotel in the near future. Rumor has it, Texas-based developer Nylo hotels is very interested in building a $15-million hotel in Nyack. The plan is to convert a vacant manufacturing facility on High Avenue into a four-story upscale hotel with 128 rooms. Nylo submitted the proposal to Nyack’s Architectural Review Board on Wednesday. Construction could start as soon as all approvals needed are secured. The company has a hotel in Rhode Island and three in Texas. Nylo hotel also plans to open one in the Upper West Side later this year.
CORNELL KEEPS SEAT AS CHAIR OF THE ROCKLAND LEGISLATURE
Harriet Cornell will keep her seat as chair of the Rockland County legislature. She was voted in unanimously Thursday, earning her ninth consecutive term. Alden Wolfe also kept his Vice Chair position in a unanimous vote by the legislature. Cornell plans to address the future of Summit Park Hospital, improve relations with towns and villages, and figure out how to tackle the county’s $96-million deficit that has left Rockland’s credit rating just one level above junk status.
EAST RAMAPO AT RISK OF STATE INTERVENTION
The East Ramapo School District is in danger of a state intervention. The district has less than two weeks to come up with a plan to address its multimillion-dollar deficit and pay its overdue debts to Rockland BOCES. This will be the second time state education officials warn Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein to submit a timeline for how the district will go about recovering from its estimated $8-million deficit and balance its budget and how the district will pay the $5-million it owes BOCES. The first letter gave the district until January 2, a deadline East Ramapo missed. The second letter, which was received yesterday warned the district that failing to make the January 16th deadline will result in a direct order from commissioner John King, bringing East Ramapo closer to a state intervention.
PEARL RIVER MAN CHARGED WITH OVER-DOSE DEATH
A Pearl River man was arrested Thursday in connection with the drug-overdose death of a 21-year-old man in 2011. Craig Oleksowicz pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally distributing codeine, methadone, valium and oxymorphone pills also known by their street name as “Stop Signs” for their shape. The report claims that Oleksowicz sold the prescription drugs in October 2011, which led to the death of a Pearl River man. Authorities have not released the name of the victim. If convicted, Oleksowicz faces at least 20 years in prison. He is being held without bail.
STATE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER DISMISSES CHALLENGE OF FORMER EAST RAMPAPO SCHOOL SALE
It looks like the former East Ramapo School Colton Elementary will be a permanent home to a Hebrew Academy for special children. State Education Commissioner John King has dismissed a challenge by an East Ramapo resident of the sale of the former elementary building. Carole Anderson has accused the East Ramapo Board of failing to get the best price when it approved the sale of Colton Elementary School for $6.6-million to a Hebrew Academy for special children in May 2011. King says Anderson did not meet her burden of proof when arguing that the board of education sold the building for less than it was worth. King made that decision December 24th.
TWO BABIES INJURED IN THRUWAY CRASH
Two babies were hurt in a New York Thruway crash early Wednesday morning. It is being reported that the two were sitting on the laps of adults and not wearing seatbelts when the crash occurred. 3-month-old Iker Torres of Middletown was being treated in the intensive care unit at Westchester Medical. He suffered from bleeding on his brain. 14-month-old Elisha Torres of Goshen suffered minor bumps and bruises. State Police Sgt. John Antonelli said both vehicles were demolished after 24-year-old Martin Collins stopped a 1994 Honda on the State Thruway after thinking he missed the toll by Spring Valley and began backing up along the center lane. This is when a 2006 Toyota minivan carrying 12 passengers including the two infants crashed. No one else was injured besides the young boy and girl. Troopers issued Collins a summons for backing up unsafely on the road. The driver of the minivan, Elias Sarmiento, was ticketed for having two children unbuckled.
HOUSE TO VOTE TO PASS SANDY AID FRIDAY
Many will keep a close eye on the House tomorrow as they vote on a multi-billion dollar measure to fund the National Flood Insurance Program for victims of Superstorm Sandy. The House will vote for additional borrowing by Congress in a total of $9.7-million initially, then act two weeks later on an additional $50.3-billion in disaster relief for those affected by Sandy. FEMA is reporting that if the funding should not pass, the Flood Insurance Program will run out of money by Monday. There have been around 140,000 claims related to Sandy that have been filed, $1.7-billion in aid distributed. A delay in action by congress would delay payments on more than 115,000 claims. Even though the Senate did pass a $60.4-billion disaster aid on Friday, those votes become worthless as a new congress will be sworn in at noon Thursday.
CORNELL SEEKS NINTH TERM AS COUNTY CHAIRWOMAN
The Rockland legislature will hold its annual reorganization meeting Thursday. The 17-member board will decide and name its various leaders. Legislators will cast a vote tomorrow night for who will act as the chairperson. Democrats who hold 11 seats will choose a majority leader and republicans who hold six seats will name a minority chief. Harriet Cornell is seeking her ninth consecutive term as chairwoman. In a speech she will present to the legislature, Cornell will focus on what she considered to be the board’s priorities in 2013. The top concern being Rockland’s $96-million budget deficit and credit rating just above junk status.
SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS TAKE STAND TO BAN ASSUALT WEAPONS
School superintendents are taking a strong stand, calling for the ban on assault weapons. In a statement released by the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, superintendents are calling for a ban on the sale, import, transfer and ownership of assault weapons. The group is also pushing for the prohibition of individuals convicted of violent crimes and individuals with mental-health issues from purchasing or owning guns, with harsher punishments for gun dealers and the elimination of the “gun show loophole” that allows some guns to be sold without a background check. The school chiefs are asking school boards to endorse the statement as well as members of the public to sign an online petition for gun control.
SPRING VALLEY WOMAN IN CRITICAL CONDITION AFTER ALLEGEDLY DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED
A Spring Valley woman is in critical condition after allegedly driving while intoxicated and crashing into a tree. Shaundrea Bibbins, 27, was driving a 2007 Nissan Altima north on Route 45 at around 7 a.m. Tuesday, when her car veered off the road into a tree. Bibbins was taken by Spring Hill Ambulance to Nyack Hospital. She was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated. She is expected to appear in Ramapo Justice Court February 5.
SUFFERN: AXE WIELDING MAN GETS TASERED BY POLICE
Suffern Police had a run-in with an ax-wielding man in a village apartment building Saturday night. Suffern Police were called into Oakdale Manor Building at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday where officers found Marc Raimondi, 42, wielding an ax and acting aggressively. Raimondi refused to drop the axe leaving police with no choice but to fire a stun gun, knocking the suspect and his axe to the ground. Police say Raimondi resisted being handcuffed. Raimondi was remanded to County Jail on $50,000 bail.
ROCKLAND STRUGGLES TO MAKE SALES-TAX PROJECTIONS
Rockland County officials are crossing their fingers, hoping that they will reach last year’s sales-tax revenues. The county which often dips into a $1-million sales-tax reserve fund to help bridge the gap between actual revenues and projections expect the final 2012 sales-tax revenues to be close to last year’s figures at $170-million. Rockland Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat predicts revenues will be down or flat for 2012. DeGroat says the county could get lucky. Officials have not seen the last quarter yet. According to state reports through November, the county has revenues of about $154-million.
STONY POINT SEALS WILL HAVE ANNUAL POLAR PLUNGE
The Seals have confirmed they will continue their highly anticipated Polar Plunge on Super Bowl Sunday. Since 2000, the Stony Point Seals have raised money through its annual Polar Plunge to help local families with children who have extraordinary medical needs. This year the monies raised will benefit those affected by Superstorm Sandy. One of the event organizers, John Corcoran said he and the charitable group were concerned the event may not have even gone on. The group was worried that the town’s resources were stretched too thin dealing with the storm aftermath and that the event might send the wrong message to those still struggling to recover from Sandy. This year’s official t-shirt was designed by Dayle Prather, 23, of Tompkins Cove. The sketch depicts a seal in rain gear standing next to the seawall stepping on a hurricane symbol. Raffle tickets will be available at local stores. The 14th annual event will be held at noon on February 3, at the grassy point seawall.
NY LAWMAKERS LOOK TO ALTER SCHOOL-AID FORMULA
The East Ramapo School District has three proposed bills to look forward too in the New Year. State Senator David Carlucci plans to introduce a law that will increase the payout for education funding by 10-percent from lottery winnings. Under Carlucci’s plan a portion of unclaimed prize winnings would also be set aside for education and could raise $700-million for schools without increasing taxes. Carlucci is also pushing for a bill to change the state aid formula to provide more money for struggling districts and allow the Commissioner of Education to intervene. Both these proposed bills were introduced in 2011 but never developed. The district is currently facing midyear cuts to staff and programs to close in on its $8-million budget deficit and has lost state funding for ignoring a law on placement of students to private schools – mostly Jewish Yeshivas. Legislators Ken Zebrowski and Ellen Jaffee have also introduced bills to help the district financially and allow the state to intervene.
UNLICENSED CONTRACTOR ACCUSED OF THEFT WALKS OFF $35,000 JOB
An unlicensed home improvement contractor is in deep ruble after stealing more than $35-thousand from a Nanuet Volunteer Firefighter. Michael Kubasek who owns V&J Mechanical allegedly took money for renovations and walked off the job. After installing an air conditioner to the family’s home, Kubasek solicited their business when he learned they wanted to do home renovations. The agreement was to add a sunroom and family room to the home but shortly after work began, the family learned the subcontractors hired by Kubasek were never paid. District Attorney Tom Zugibe said Kubasek is accused of failing to respond to the couple regarding payments to the subcontractors and was charged with third-degree grand larceny and could face a maximum sentence of seven years. As for the new sunroom and family room, it has yet to be completed.
NOR’EASTER MAKES FOR MESSY COMMUTE
Last night’s “late-developing nor’easter” came as some kind of shock to Rocklanders. The storm dropped about 1 to 4 inches on the county leaving behind dozens of crashes and traffic on major roads. Rockland Highway Superintendent Skip Vezzetti said all of his employees, even those on vacation, had to call in and were told they were on standby as of 8p.m. Roads were pre-treated with anti-icing agents Wednesday afternoon. Crews waited until 1 ½ to 2 inches of snowfall before starting to plow and salt the roads. Temperatures did rise overnight turning the snow into rain. Commuters should expect to find black ice especially surround the city. As you head closer to the city, flooding could be an issue.
CLARKSTOWN POLICE IDENTIFY WOMAN IN CONFIRMED CHRISTMAS EVE SUICIDE
Clarkstown Police have ruled the death of the 36-year-old woman who jumped to her death from the fourth floor of the Palisades Center Mall on Christmas Eve a suicide. According to Police reports, Bindu Mathew of Orangeburg had few friends and had recently lost her dog. In video surveillance acquired by police, Mathew sat on top of the fourth floor railing and intentionally pushed herself over. Police were called to the mall at about 10 p.m. on Monday to recover her body on the parking garage level. Her funeral is set for Saturday morning.
ROCKLAND COUNTY SCHOOLS CUT VACATION TIME TO MAKE UP FOR SANDY ‘SNOW DAYS’
Several Rockland County schools that closed during superstorm Sandy are cutting scheduled vacation to make up for lost time. Many schools in the county have used up their snow days and are cancelling winter recess to meet New York’s requirement that districts be in session for at least 180 days in a school year. Superintendent of East Ramapo Schools Joel Klein has officially cancelled the districts 3-day February break. East Ramapo was closed 6 days during Sandy. Pearl River lost 5 school days to Sandy and will cancel its Presidents’ recess on February 18 and 19. North Rockland School District has canceled part of its President’s Day recess as well. Students will now have classes on February 19 and 20. Nyack will shorten its’ February break from three days to one day. Students will have classes on the 21 and 22. Ramapo Central will keep its vacation days but has opted to call its students in on May 24 and 28. Clarkstown and Nanuet will hold off on cancelling vacation time, they are waiting to see whether the state legislature will vote to give districts a break from the 180-day school attendance requirement.
CLARKSTOWN POLICE INVESTIGATE FATAL FALL OF 36-YEAR-OLD WOMAN IN PALISAIDES MALL
Police are investigating whether the fatal fall of an Orangetown woman was an accident or possible suicide. Clarkstown Police released a statement Tuesday saying, “a 36-year-old Orangetown woman either fell or jumped from the fourth floor inside the mall and landed on the basement level.” The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have yet to release the woman’s identity.
LOCAL HOSPITALS BENEFIT FROM DEVELOPMENT GRANTS
Local hospitals will benefit from state economic development grants. The grants were distributed through the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, which serves Rockland and its surrounding counties. It has been reported that 84 projects in the Mid-Hudson Region received a total of $92.8-million this year. In Rockland, the Bon Secours Charity Health System which runs Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern received $500-thousand toward construction of a medical office building. The building will be home to a cancer center, medical reference lab and physician’s offices.
RED AND TAN LINES TO LAUNCH EXPRESS LINE JAN. 7th
Red and Tan lines will launch an express bus to Midtown Manhattan starting January 7. Seven buses will begin their new hour long routes from the Lot J Park-and Ride at the Palisades Center in West Nyack and drop them off at locations between 40th and 57th streets on Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The non-stop ride will cost commuters $300 for a 40-ticket book. Midtown riders will still have to return to Rockland from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT: KINDERGARTEN CUT MAY COST MORE
A state education law has put an East Ramapo School District program cut on hold. The law says children who turn 5 on or before December 1 are entitled to attend public schools in the district they live, no matter which grade they start in. So while cutting kindergarten would save the already bare-bones budget some money, with this law children would enter first grade, bringing up questions of classroom space, teachers and supplies that would be provided. When asked about the law, East Ramapo Superintendent Joel Klein acknowledged that the district could accommodate “some but not all 5-ear-old students who otherwise might enroll in kindergarten.” Klein did not release how much it may cost the district if 5-year-old students went straight to first grade, but said it could exceed what eliminating kindergarten would save.
TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE WILL BE WORLD’S LARGEST BRIDGE
The Tappan Zee Bridge, when completed in 2018 will not only be known for its unique look but also as the widest bridge on the planet. Last week, Tappan Zee Constructors was chosen by the State Thruway Authority Board to design and build the 3-mile Hudson River Crossing for $3.9-billion. The bridge will be the largest bridge project in New York’s history and will be two spans with four general traffic lanes, two breakdown lanes and a lane for emergency vehicles that will also act as an express bus lane during rush hour traffic. Included in the building plan is a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lane. As for the design of the bridge, the signature towers which resemble inverted tuning forks make the bridge internationally recognizable – one of the design requirements in the state’s request for proposals. The unusual towers do have a purpose; they are tilted outward for added strength to eliminate the need for cross beams. The public will be able to shake the hands of the design and construction team after the state comptroller and attorney general formally review the contract.
TAXPAYERS TO TAKE SOME T-Z SLACK
As Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to turn the first shovel and create his Lower Hudson Valley legacy, the Thruway Authority is left figuring out how to finance the nation’s largest public works project. The Authority needs to borrow $4-billion for the dual-spanned design and has been looking for ways to off-set the costs on commuters. One option Governor Cuomo has looked into is having state taxpayers pick up the thruway police costs, removing the burden from motorists and truckers who currently pay for those services which add up to an annual cost of $640-million. This plan would save about $60-million a year showing rating agencies that the Authority is financially stable and avoid the unpopular 45-percent toll hike for trucks. With the state taking over the Thruway police costs, economist Charles Komanoff warns that there will be further cost shifting as the authority deals with how to limit the increase on tolls. Komanoff had said in the past, based on the projected $4-billion estimate, commuters could expect to see the tolls rise to $11.
FIREFIGHTER INJURED IN MOSEY FIRE
A Monsey firefighter in his early 20’s suffered from minor burns Thursday afternoon in a three alarm fire. The firefighter was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital with second-degree burns to his neck. The fire broke out in the attic of a single-family house at 9 Cape Court. Monsey Fire Chief Adam Gordon said no one was at home when the fire broke out. The fire started at around 11:30 a.m. No one else was injured. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
SUFFERN DISTRIBUTES TOYS TO THE NEEDY
Santa had some great helpers this year. Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn his department and dozens of community volunteers went on a mission Wednesday distributing thousands of toys to the neediest families in Rockland in 12 hours. In light of the economy and the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, this year organizers were shocked. This year’s collection filled the Suffern Police training room and spilled out into the station’s hallways. The Police Department has been collecting toys and donations from the community all month. On Wednesday, there were about 100 volunteers who sorted through the toys and when it came time to put them in the moving containers there were just too many to fit in a single pod. The majority of the toys will stay within the Ramapo Central School District. The extra toys will be given out in towns like Stony Point, Orange County and the NYPD to distribute to Superstorm Sandy ravaged section of the Rockaways.
INFECTIOUS-DISEASE DIRECTOR TO ACT AS COMMISSIONER OF THE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Current Commissioner of the Rockland County Health Department, Dr. Joan Facelle announced Wednesday that the county’s infectious-disease director Dr. Anil Vaidian will become the acting Commissioner when Facelle retires next month. Vaidian is a physician who specializes in infectious disease and internal medicine with a master’s in public health. He has worked for the County Department of Health since 2007 and was hired to lead the department’s effort to reduce Rockland’s tuberculosis rates and issues relating to infectious disease. As of now, Vaidian will act as the temporary Commissioner of health. As per Rockland legislation, the County Health Commissioner must live in the County. Currently Vaidian lives in Putnum County. He says he is not interested in uprooting his wife and three children. Vanderhoef who is not running for another term has not made a decision about who will permanently replace Facelle and has yet to organize a search committee for the seat. The new permanent Commissioner will need approval by the Rockland County Legislature.
CROWNE PLAZA CANCELS GUN SHOW IN LIGHT OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MASSACRE
The Crowne Plaza in Suffern announced Wednesday that it will cancel a gun show for the spring. In a press release by the hotel they cited the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre saying, “in the wake of this horrific event, our organization has decided that we do not want to be associated with gun shows.” The Suffern Gun and Knife show was scheduled for March 2 and 3 at the hotel and was sponsored by Big Al’s Silver Bullet Productions of Putnam Valley. On the promoter’s website two other notices of cancellations were posted, one in Connecticut and the other in Poughkeepsie.
MTA APPROVES 9-PERCENT FARE AND TOLL HIKE
And the MTA has approved a fare and toll hike of 9-percent for next year. A 30-day unlimited Metrocard will now cost $112, $8 more than what commuters pay now. MTA crossings will rise to $5.33 for people with a state-issued E-ZPass and $7.60 for those paying with cash or an out-of-state E-ZPass. Rockland Metro-North riders will have to fork over $288 for monthly Pascack Valley Line tickets. They now pay $277. All toll and fare hikes will take place in March. These increases have been planned since 2009, when the state bailed out the MTA. The agreement was to raise fares and tolls every other year. The next one is scheduled for 2015.
COUNTY LEGISLATORS OVERRIDE COUNTY EXECUTIVE’S VETO OF 2013 BUDGET
County Legislators voted Tuesday night to override the vetoes County Executive Scott Vanderhoef made to its 2013 budget. The final vote of 13-3, one more than the two-thirds majority needed came just after 8 p.m. Around 70 jobs were saved due to the override. Under Vanderhoef’s veto, multiple health and safety programs were at risk of being cut with the exceptions of the Rockland County Sherriff’s Mounted Patrol and the Health Department’s Mosquito-Control Program. More than two dozen county workers applauded after learning that their jobs would be saved. The legislature also undid Vanderhoef’s decision to include in the budget $12-million in projected revenue from the sale of the Summit Park Nursing Home. After the vote, Vanderhoef’s spokesman Ron Levine took a stab at the legislature saying they had taken ownership of the budget and now had the responsibility of explaining it to the credit-rating agencies.
ROCKLAND SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS MEET WITH LOCAL POLICE
Rockland County school superintendents plan to meet with local police to discuss the need for increased police presence on school campuses and the implementation of other security measures. In addition, the East Ramapo School District has announced that they plan to hold a community meeting in January to address security-related concerns such as the ongoing debate over trespassing. All Rockland County school superintendents will meet at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services building in West Nyack to tackle the issue at 2 p.m.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL BOARD DISCUSS PROGRAM CUTS INCLUDING KINDERGARTEN
There were hundreds of people present at the East Ramapo School Board meeting protesting, as East Ramapo School Officials weighed for the second time slashing millions of dollars form the budget by eliminating school programs, including the kindergarten program. The district has until January 2 to submit its estimated $8-million deficit and balance its budget. The district has considered borrowing money and lobbying legislators to change the state school aid formula to close in on the multimillion-dollar budget gap. East Ramapo Superintendent Joel Klein has urged Education Commissioner John King to decide on the sale of the former Colton Elementary School insisting the sale could generate revenue, preventing budget cuts. That idea has since been stalled; district residents have questioned the legality of the sale. No vote was made last night. Klein indicated he intends to seek an extension on the State’s January 2 deficit-reduction plan deadline.
COUNTY LEGISLATURE WILL MAKE FINAL VOTE ON $737-MILLION BUDGET
With just two days left before the deadline to pass a spending plan, the Rockland Legislature will vote tonight on a final version of the $737-million budget for 2013. The legislature will need 12 of 17 votes to override County Executive Scott Vanderhoef’s budget vetos, which includes multiple health and safety program cuts. On December 4, the legislature made amendments to Vanderhoef’s proposed budget, restoring nearly every job and program with a vote of 10-7. Last week Vanderhoef reinstated only two programs, the Rockland County Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol and the Health Department’s Mosquito-Control Program. Both Vanderhoef and the legislature’s version of the budget include the 18-percent increase in property tax for Rockland residents. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the County Office Building in New City.
TAPPAN ZEE CONSTRUCTORS UNANIMOUSLY SELECTED TO BUILD TAPPAN-ZEE REPLACEMENT
On Monday, Tappan Zee Constructors was unanimously selected to design and build a new twin-span bridge across the Hudson River. The $4-billion replacement will be one of the largest public works projects in the nation and is one of the largest in state history. The bridge will also include a concrete deck on top of steel girders and will be constructed to be strong enough to carry trains in the future with deck connections in four places to turn traffic around in an emergency. Transportation Economist Charles Komanoff said based on the $3.9-billion estimate, commuters can expect to see the tolls rise to $11. Both the State Attorney General and Comptroller must sign off on the contract, which is expected to occur next month. Construction is set to begin early next year.
EAST RAMAPO TRESPASSING CONCERN REHASHED
The Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre has recharged an ongoing debate over trespassing in the East Ramapo School District. Prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy, community activists and parents have pleaded with the district to tighten its security policy. Even though the district has posted “No Trespassing” signs at all 14 school buildings, there has been a lack of enforcement. In April, representatives from two parent activist groups, East Ramapo Parent Teacher Association and Padres Unidos wrote a letter to board about pedestrians using school property as short cuts, many of who are Orthodox and Hasidic Jews who live in the surrounding neighborhoods and don’t drive on certain days. The board responded by asking for more information about the specific incidents so that it can address the issue better. The two activist groups maintain they have received no formal response from the district and no action was taken. The district plans to hold a community meeting in January to address security-related concerns.
MONSEY JUSAICA SHOP OWNER TREATED FOR SMOKE INHALATION
The owner of a popular Monsey Judaica shop was treated for smoke inhalation after a fire broke out at his house on Judith Lane early Friday morning. Investigators said the fire did not appear to be suspicious and believed the blaze may have started because of holiday candles. Ramapo Police say, Tuvia Rotberg 57, was alone in his home when the fire broke out in the living room just before 1 a.m. His wife was not home, she was visiting relatives in Florida. This was a five-alarm fire with volunteer firefighters from Monsey, Hillcrest, Tallman, Spring Valley and South Spring Valley. Ramapo Valley Ambulance Corps was also on the scene. Rotberg and a firefighter were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation. Both have been released.
WHAT SCHOOLS ARE DOING TO COMFORT STUDENTS AND STAFF AFTER SANDY HOOK MASSACRE
During the aftermath of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, school districts across the county are forced to re-evaluate their emergency plans, but more importantly for this Monday morning is finding a balance between frightening children with worries about their safety and being ready to offer comfort. State Education Commissioner John King sent an e-mail to New York Superintendents Friday, advising school leaders to be alert for students or staff who might be struggling in the aftermath of this national tragedy. Administrators in Rockland are calling on counselors, social workers, and psychologists to stand ready to help students and school staff who need to talk about the shooting. On Friday morning, just around 9:30 a.m., Adam Lanza, 20, brutally shot down 27 people. He shot his mother four times in the head with the gun she taught him to use, and 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. President Obama addressed residents of Newtown Connecticut vowing to “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens…in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this…we can not accept events like this as routine.” The shooter, Adam Lanza, shot himself before being apprehended.
POLICE ID MAN WHO WAS KILLED BY TRAIN
Police have identified the man who was killed by a train Tuesday evening. 33-year-old Sean Humphrey killed himself by lying across the tracks near the little league fields on Coolidge Street where he lived. The family was known in the village where his father Frank Humphrey was a village and Ramapo Police Officer. Police ruled Humphrey’s death a suicide. No evidence has been found on what may have led the man to lie across the CSX tracks and take his own life. Humphrey’s was unemployed; he had worked for the Highway Department. Police Chief Charles Miller called the death sad and tragic. The train was traveling from Chicago to Kearny, New Jersey. No crew members or passengers of the train were injured.
NJ TRANSIT WILL RUN ON SCHEDULE BY FEBRUARY
A New Jersey Transit Spokesman reported Thursday, that train service in Rockland County will not return to normal schedules until February. Ever since Super Storm Sandy, the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines have been running modified schedules. The Hoboken terminal and rail yard has operated on back up generators. New Jersey Transit Spokesman John Durso Jr. said the agency is looking to get the power running on a temporary basis in February while the substation is rebuilt. This could mean the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis Lines will return to regular schedules in late winter. The historic storm destroyed infrastructure and 300 rail cars, which is equivalent to one-quarter of the agency’s fleet, leaving behind about $100-million in damages.
RAMAPO TO PURSUE LONG-TERM BONDON PROVIDENT BANK PARK
The Ramapo Town Board has decided to pursue a long-term bond on the controversial Provident Bank Park Stadium, extending past their original agreement of five-years. The vote was held December 3, as an unannounced “new business” item. The board did approve it. Members of the grassroots political group, Preserve Ramapo are infuriated, claiming that the town purposely shielded the vote from the public, keeping taxpayers in the dark. Deputy Town Attorney and Executive Director of Ramapo’s Local Development Corporation, Aaron Troodler said, with a $25-million bond on the stadium. The town plans to take advantage of the low interest rates of 2-percent to 3-percent. It is not yet known whether the bond will be extended 10, 20 or 30 years. He also couldn’t provide estimates of cost savings.
VANDERHOEF VETOES ALMOST ALL PROGRAMS IN THE AMENDED BUDGET
Contrary to what many believed Vanderhoef would do with the amended budget, he vetoed nearly all of the changes made to his 2013 Count Budget Proposal by the Rockland Legislature. The few that he spared were the restoration of the Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol, including five patrol officers and the Mosquito-Control Program. The remaining programs, many being Health Department Programs were vetoed and again included to be cut in the 2013 spending plan. If passed, this will result in the elimination of dozens of jobs. The 14-percent property-tax increase remains. Legislator and Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee Ilan Shoenberger says the Legislature plans to vote Tuesday to decide whether to override Vanderhoef’s vetoes. 12 votes would be needed. The legislature has until December 20th to make the final call.
HAVERSTRAW AGAINST STONY POINT GASIFICATION PLANT
The Town of Haverstraw has sent out a series of letters to the Stony Point Planning Board against the proposed gasification plant. Haverstraw sent out the letters this week, saying the project does not meet Stony Point’s Town code and the environmental review process. In a report written by Haverstraw’s Planning Consultant Michael Kauker, he said the site, which is 500 feet north of the Town of Haverstraw would cause significant inconvenience to Town residents. With trucks delivering waste to the gasification site, there would be issues of traffic, noise, odor, and the storage of potentially unstable and explosive chemicals. Stony Point Waste to Energy Project was proposed by MBC Contractors Inc. for the former Insl-X-Paint plant on Holt Drive. The process includes converting carbon-rich biomass waste into a synthetic gas that can be used for electrical energy and renewable fuel production. The Stony Point Planning Board will continue a public hearing on the gasification project 7p.m. at Rho Building.
SUFFERN MAN CHARGED WITH RAPING TWO YOUNG GIRLS
The Village of Suffern reports a 32-year-old man has been charged with raping and sexually abusing two young girls. After investigations by village detectives and officers of the Rockland District Attorney’s Office Special Victim’s Unit, authorities made the arrest Tuesday charging the man with first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child. The man is being held in county jail without bail, pending a grand jury hearing.
TWO HAVERSTRAW MEN ARRESTED FOR BREAKING INTO CARS
Two Haverstraw men were arrested on Friday and charged with breaking in to at least a half dozen cars in Stony Point last week. 19-year-old John McLaughlin of Theills and 21-year-old Joshua White of Haverstraw have been charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. Town police reported Wednesday; the two went on a spree stealing wallets and valuables left inside the vehicles. With the stolen wallets, detectives caught the two men making purchases of up to $3,000. McLaughlin and White were arraigned in Stony Point Town Court. They are being held in the Rockland County Jail in New City. Their bail is set at $2,500.
SPRING VALLEY MAN DIES IN HIT AND RUN
A Spring Valley man died in a hit and run Tuesday afternoon while working for the village of Kiryas Joel Sanitation Department. State police say Anastacio Vasquez was hit at about noon, crossing Satmar Drive while collecting trash for the Orange County Village. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say they have gathered little information in the hit-and-run investigation. According to reports, police said, a white minivan was seen driving away from the area. There was no information on Vasquez, his age and address were not known. Vasquez was described as more of a day laborer than an employee of the village and may have been in the United States illegally. Anyone with information related to the death should contact state police at Monroe at 845-782-8311.
HAVERSTRAW DEPUTY WILL NOT RUN FOR TOWN CLERK
Raquel Ventura will not succeed her boss, Town Clerk Josephine Carella by filling her unexpired term, which ends December 31, 2013. Ventura, a long assumed leading candidate is not interested in the position, but two people, including the late Carella’s son are gunning for the Town Clerk spot. As of now, the vacancy will b filed by a Haverstraw Town Board appointment in January. The 80 member all-democratic Town Board will nominate a candidate for the seat. The appointee will then be expected to run for office in the fall election.
NO CHARGES IN PALISAIDES MALL STABBING
No criminal charges will be filed in the Palisades Mall stabbing. The 34-year-old cab driver Ondre Wisdom was let of easy after stabbing Gilberto Ramos 23, of Nanuet and Jaieem Webb 22, of Spring Valley with a pocketknife. According to Police Sgt. Jo Anne Fratianni after hours of interviews, no one involved in the incident wanted to pursue criminal charges. Police say the confrontation occured at about 1:40 in the morning where Ramos, Webb and Corey Major 36, of Spring Valley left the mall and picked up a cab near a parking lot bus stop. Wisdom, the driver, wanted to be paid up front for driving the three men to their destination leading to all four men getting out of the cab, in which words turned into a physical fight. Ramos and Webb were taken to Nyack hospital for treatment. Their injuries were not life threatening. Neither wisdom nor major were hurt.
COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRWOMAN SEEKS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC ELECTION COMMISSIONER SEAT
Today’s big question the County Legislature’s Multi-Services Committee will have to answer later tonight, is whether Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, chairwoman of the Rockland County Democratic Party, can act impartial enough to also act as Rockland County’s Democratic Election Commissioner. Stavisky is looking to succeed longtime Commissioner Ann Marie Kelly who is retiring. Along with keeping her post as chairwoman of the Rockland County Democratic Party, Stavisky also wants to pick up the Democratic Election Commissioner seat. To get the job Stavisky will need the approval of the county’s Multi-Services Committee, which will meet at 6 p.m. and then the full board which will meet December 18th. If she lands the Commissioner’s post, Stavisky will earn around $87,000 annually and be eligible for health coverage and a pension. She will be expected to hold both jobs with her current post as chairwoman requiring her to help the efforts of a candidate who is backed by her party, and the other title she is seeking as commissioner of the County’s Democratic Election to be objective and fair to all political office seekers. With her reputation on the line, Stavisky says she would be completely impartial if two democratic candidates brought their dispute to her attention. She also said that Republican Election Commissioner Louis Babcock could help settle any disputes.
TWO MEN HOSPITALIZED AFTER PARKING LOT KNIFE FIGHT
Two men remain hospitalized after being stabbed in an early Monday morning knife fight in the Palisades Center Mall parking lot. Clarkstown Detective Sgt. James Quinn said police have questioned the two injured men, along with a cab driver in the incident and other witnesses. Because this is an ongoing investigation, police wouldn’t release details of the incident. What we do know is that police received a call about a parking lot fight outside Macy’s just after 2 a.m. where the cab driver was suppose to pick up a fare of three men and got into an argument. The two injured men were admitted to Nyack Hospital. A third man and the cab driver were not hurt. Anyone with information can call Clarkstown Police Department at 845-639-5800.
ENTERGY NUCLEAR FACE SCRUTINY ON UNDERGROUND PIPES
Entergy Nuclear is under scrutiny again as to whether the company can maintain Indian Point safely and properly. This time judges of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board pressed Federal Regulators and Entergy employees as to how and when the pipes are inspected and whether any specific procedures are documented. A Nuclear Regulatory Commission Engineer and Entergy Technical Manager defended that the company correctly followed protocol. The question as to whether Entergy is appropriately taking care of its underground pipes that contain radioactive contaminated fluids was raised by State Attorney General Eric Sneiderman’s office. In 2009 a pipe was replaced after it was discovered that it was broken and leaking water contaminated a very low concentration of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. NRC maintained that the leak wasn’t hazardous to the public or workers, the state disagreed and argued that Entergy is not up to the task. Entergy has applied for a 20-year extension. Their current licenses expire in 2015.
TWO TEENAGERS CHARGED IN NYACK ASSULT
Two teenagers were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly beating up a gas station attendant. Orangetown Police say Malik Taylor 18, of Nyack and Ahmed Askey 18, of Mount Vernon, are accused of attacking a 34-year-old man in front of the Shell Gas Station on Route 9W in Nyack after he asked them to leave for acting disorderly just after 1 a.m. A Town Police Officer was on patrol when he saw the pair ganging up on the victim and intervened. Both suspects fled by foot leaving the victim with his face and head swollen and bruised. The officer on patrol chased Taylor down and called for backup. Taylor was apprehended along a fence line between Catherine Street and Main Street, police found a steak knife in his coat pocket, while officers and medical personnel were checking on the injured victim. Askey returned to the scene where the victim identified him. Both have been charged with multiple misdemeanors and violations and were released on bail they are due back in court January 22.
TOP CONTENDER ALSO A DREDGING PLUS
State officials were not just happy with the predicted price tag of the new Tappan-Zee Bridge, but also that the top contender does less dredging. The $3.9-billion option would dredge about 951,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river, about half of the amount noted in the project’s environmental study and significantly less than what the other two more expensive design and build teams submitted. According to the proposed project documents, dredging would take place north of the existing bridge, from about mid-span to near the Rockland shore. The plans would include three, three-month phases of digging over four years. The final year of construction there will be no dredging.
TOLLS STILL HIGH EVEN WITH LOW BRIDGE PRICE
Even with the price tag coming a little over $1-billion less than what the state had initially predicted, drivers will likely still face much higher tolls in the future. Transportation economist Charles Komanoff said based on the $3.9-billion estimate, commuters can expect to see the tolls rise to $11, about $3.50 less than the predicted average if the state was going to spend the original $5.2-billion. Governor Cuomo has said in the past that the original predicted $14 toll was too high and called for a task force to figure out how that toll could be lowered. That task force has yet to be created. State officials have maintained that the tolls will be comparable to other Hudson River crossings.
CLARKSTOWN POLICE AND FIRE INSPECTORS CONTINUE INVESTIGATING MASSIVE WEST NYACK FIRE
Clarkstown Police and Town Fire Inspectors will continue their investigation of the massive fire that destroyed a 2-and-a-half story home in West Nyack. The family of four managed to escape the raging six alarm fire on Alex Court unharmed yesterday. The Fire Department arrived at the cul-de-sac at around 12:44p.m. to find that the structure was engulfed in flames. Assistant Chief of the West Nyack Fire Department, Brian Leitner said the height and heat of the flames made it impossible to enter the home. Instead the fire departments stretched out hundreds of feet of hose lines and sprayed water from an aerial ladder truck. Volunteer firefighters from Central Nyack, New City, Valley Cottage and Nanuet assisted at the fire, with firefighters from Blauvelt on standby. The fire was under control by 2p.m. Investigators remained at the scene until nightfall and will continue their investigation today.
HUGE CRANE COULD HELP SPEED UP T-Z CONSTRUCTION
The construction of the Tappan-Zee replacement bridge could speed up a bit. Two companies with the so-called winner to design and build the new bridge own one of the largest floating cranes in the nation. This colossal, custom-made machine even has a name – the Left Coast Lifter. The 400-foot-long crane can lift large pieces of heavy material extremely fast with an arm that is 25 stories tall and can hold up to 3.7 million pounds at a time. Not only could this speed up construction time but will also reduce labor expenses. Flour Enterprise and American Bridge Company are the two companies that own this monster crane and are members of Tappan Zee Constructors, the same contractors the state’s advisory panel has recommended to design and build the Tappan Zee replacement for $3.9-billion.
WEST NYACK WOMAN ACCUSED OF HOLDING A BOX CUTTER TO A WOMAN’S THROAT
A West Nyack razor wielding woman is facing multiple charges after a night of a little too much drinking. 42-year-old Kimberly Conway will face charges of assault and driving while intoxicated after a bar fight Wednesday at Roadhouse Bar and Grill on Route 59. Ramapo Police Sgt. Anthony Giardina said Conway is accused of holding a box cuter to the throat of another woman and causing the woman’s male friend to grab Conway, getting cut on the other hand while another person took the box cutter away. The woman was not hurt. After the scuffle Conway drove off. Police did find her. She is charged with DWI and second-degree assault, bother felonies, and menacing, a misdemeanor.
DESIGN CHOSEN FOR REPLACEMENT TAPPAN-ZEE BRIDGE
We have a winner! Tappan Zee Constructors won the state’s advisory committee recommendation to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge for $3.1-Billion. The designs were unveiled yesterday; with the conceptual bridge design for the T-Z replacement being a twin-span, cable-stayed bridge, with uniquely angled towers on each span. The bridge will also include a concrete deck on top of steel girders and will be constructed to be strong enough to carry trains in the future with deck connections in four places to turn traffic around in an emergency. This was the least expensive bridge plan among the three teams for what will be the one of the largest public works in the country.
VANDERHOEF HAS ONE WEEK TO DECIDE IF HE WILL VETO AMENDED BUDGET
County Executive Vanderhoef has exactly one week from yesterday evening to decide if he will veto any of the changes the legislature made to his proposed 2013 county budget. With a vote of 10-7 Tuesday evening, the legislature adopted its own version of the budget, restoring nearly every job and program cut made by the County Executive. Under the revised plan residents will still see an 18-percent property-tax increase for 2013, and the overall spending level stays the same at $737-million. The county is currently facing an estimated $96-million deficit and the lowest credit rating of all of New York, one notch above junk status.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF HI-TOR ANIMAL CARE CENTER WILL NOT RETURN
Vivian Kiggins will not be returning as Executive Director of Hi-Tor Animal Care Center in Ramapo, after the Board of Directors declined to renew her contract and eliminated the position in an effort to cut costs. The shelter has a $620-thousand budget this year. Hi-Tor’s 2011 Financial filings showed that the Executive Director’s pay was around $70-thousand. Roberta Bangs, the President of the Board of Directors says, Kiggins was informed of her 30 days’ notice last week, but was told she did not need to finish the days remaining in her contract so that she could start looking for a job immediately. Hi-Tor, Rockland’s only animal shelter, has been struggling financially for a while now. According to Bangs, much of its support comes from municipalities and public support. Earlier this year the shelter was operating on a deficit and may be forced to close down.
T-Z CONSTRUCTION COMPANY GETS FINED FOR CAUSING TRAFFIC JAM
The construction company who caused hours of gridlock for not replacing road decks on the Tappan Zee Bridge before rush hour traffic was hit with a hefty fine. Tutor Perini Corporation has to cough up $235-thousand to the New York State Thruway Authority for causing more than 15 miles of Westchester-bound traffic that at some points reached beyond Suffern. Under the contract between the construction company and the thruway authority, two Westchester-bound lanes must be open by 5 a.m. and four lanes by 6 a.m., but it wasn’t until 7:25 a.m. that all four lanes were open. The Thruway Authority’s Director of Public Affairs Dan Weiller said Tutor Perini Corporation was fined $1,000 for every minute each lane was closed after 6.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATURE PASSES AMENDED 2013 BUDGET
Last night the Rockland Legislature adopted the amended 2013 County Budget that keeps most jobs and programs that were originally at risk of elimination under County Executive Vanderhoef’s plan safe. In a 10-7 vote Tuesday evening at 11:26 p.m. in the County Office Building, the new spending plan will keep the proposed tax hike of 18-percent but will maintain the six health department programs and the Mosquito Control Program that were on the chopping block running. Most of the 70 jobs that were going to be cut which included security positions, laundry jobs, jail cooks and Sheriff’s Road Patrol Officers were restored. Legislators who supported the restorations turned to the new contracts signed with members of the Civil Service Employees Association and the Rockland Managements Association that banned layoffs for budgetary reasons, stating that they thought the county was breaking it’s word. Also voted on, and with a unanimous vote of 17-0 was the creation of three new laws.
The Rockland County Deficit Reduction Act- requiring $10-million dollars to be set aside every year with the sole purpose of paying down the deficit.
The Rockland County Mandate and Taxation Information Act- which would allow tax bills to include a new statement in bold capital letters about the state’s unfunded mandates.
The Rockland County Taxation Transparency Act- requiring a flier to be included in each bill detailing where county taxes are being spent.
11 ROCKLAND RESIDENTS CHARGED WITH CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OFFENSES
After a joint investigation by local, state and federal authorities, 11 people have been charged with child pornography offenses. Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco and District Attorney Tom Zugibe said 10 adults and one minor have been charged with possession of online child pornography with arrests lead by the Rockland County Computer Crimes Task Force. Also a part the investigations were the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Homeland Security Investigations Division among other federal agencies, with aid from the Stony Point and Ramapo Police. 11 search warrants were conducted in Stony Point, Suffern and Spring Valley over the past three months, which resulted in evidence collection and the arrests of 11 individuals. Falco said crimes against children will not be tolerated in Rockland and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent by the DA.
The 11 individuals arrested for child pornography offenses are:
• Donald Carpenter, 57, of 33 Cedar Flats Road, Stony Point, was arrested Sept. 4 on one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released on $1,500 bail.
• Damian Champagne, 22, of 15 Fortune Way, Suffern, was arrested Nov. 1 on one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony, and violation of probation.
• A minor was arrested Nov. 5 on one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. The person was released without bail.
• Wesley Didrichsen, 23, of 6 Bayard Lane, Suffern, was arrested Nov. 13 on one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released without bail.
• Neil Tesher, 63, of 19 Ann Blvd., Spring Valley, was arrested Nov. 13 on one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released without bail.
• Jacob Filous, 67, of 64 N. De Baun Ave. No. 107, Suffern, was arrested Nov. 20 on nine counts of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released on $15,000 bail.
• Silvio Mazzella, 49, of 7 Tyler Place, Stony Point, was arrested Nov. 27 on one count of promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child and one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, felonies. He was released without bail.
• Jon Koenigheit, 41, of 8 Blossom Road, Suffern, was arrested Nov. 28 on one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released on $750 bail.
• Michael Schranz, 30, of 3 Buena Vista Road, Suffern, was arrested Nov. 28 on three counts of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released on $500 bail.
• Linton Wright II, 23, of 44 Wilshire Drive, Spring Valley, was arrested Nov. 28 on three counts of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released on $500 bail.
• Mitchell Newman, 46, of 8 Colline Drive, Suffern, was arrested Nov. 29 on three counts of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, a felony. He was released on $1,000 bail.
SHERIFF’S REPORT: TWO MEN TAKE OFF-DUTY DEPUTY’S GUN IN ROAD RAGE INCIDENT
This report by the Sheriff’s Office: An off-duty Rockland County Sheriff’s Deputy had his gun taken away from him by two men last month in what seemed to be a case of early morning road rage. According to the report, driver Jose Lopez of West Haverstraw was driving home with passenger Gregory Lopez Jr. after a few drinks in Nyack at around 2:45a.m. Lopez was driving behind Deputy James Clapp on the Palisades Parkway with his high beams on before exiting the Parkway at Exit 12 and then stopping to let Clapp pass. As Clapp passed, Lopez shined his brights onto Clapp’s car again, this triggered the Deputy to stop in the middle lane of Route 45 and confront Lopez which then turned into a scuffle. Clapp who never identified himself as a law enforcement officer is reported in saying “you messed with the wrong person.” In the tussle Clapp injured his leg and both Lopez men drove off with the 9-milimeter handgun. At Exit 15 Gregory Lopez who was now driving the car pulled over after Clapp flashed his lights. This is when Jose Lopez returned the gun and bullets separately to Clapp who then told the men to wait for the police to arrive. Clapp was suspended for a week after the incident without pay, he will remain suspended until an internal investigation of the incident concludes and a hearing is held. Clapp was a part of the Sheriff’s Mounted Unit, which currently faces the threat of being cut in the 2013 proposed budget.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATURE VOTES TO KEEP THREATED PROGRAM CUTS
The Rockland Legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee voted 7-2 Monday to keep almost every job and program County Executive Vanderhoef wants to cut in the proposed 2013 budget. The full legislature will vote tonight on the amended budget. According to the proposed 2013 budget, Vanderhoef calls for the layoffs of 70 workers and cutting six health department programs, the Mosquito Control and the County Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol. The Budget and Finance Committee plans to cover the costs that the proposed program cuts would have by using the $737-million budget itself with vacant, but budgeted jobs to be eliminated in 2013. Lawmakers also plan to cut more expenses by getting rid of the need to cover unemployment costs by eliminating layoffs and would use funds that were set aside in Vanderhoef’s proposed plan for outsourcing services which included security, laundry duties and the jail food services.
CUSTODY BATTLE OF PALMER CHILDREN CONTINUES
At the Rockland County Family Court yesterday, hearings continued in the custody battle of the children of Tammy Palmer, the woman who was shot to death by her father-in-law, Eugene Palmer, in late September. Testimonies by Tammy’s sister Denise Pannirello and Child Protective Services Caseworker Lourdes Quesada focused on the oral and physical abuse between John Palmer and his wife, which were triggered by his drinking and adultery. Testimony by both witnesses indicate that at least one of the two children, 17-year-old Rosemarie, was exposed to regular oral and physical abuse by her father to her mother and that her father was a drunk. John and Violet Pannirello, the parents of the late Tammy Palmer are seeking custody of Rosemarie and 14-year-old John Palmer. The Father, John Palmer, faces criminal charges of assault, damaging his wife’s car and violating a court order of protection. 73-year-old Eugene Palmer has been charged with second-degree murder of the shooting death of his daughter-in-law, he fled into Harriman State Park and has yet to be found. Family members believe he is dead.
LEGISLATURE SET TO VOTE ON 2013 BUDGET TUESDAY
Tomorrow night is a big night for Rockland! County Legislators will vote on next year’s county budget, which will most likely include higher taxes, and program cuts. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef’s proposed $737-million budget includes an 18-percent tax increase, breaking the state tax cap, the elimination of union jobs by eliminating full programs, and getting rid of the County Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol Unit. Also on the chopping block is cutting funding for the county pharmacy and reducing the workforce by 55 people through an early retirement plan. The Legislature normally takes 5 weeks to review the budget but lost nearly two weeks due to Hurricane Sandy. Lawmakers have been meeting until midnight to come up with solutions. Currently, the County has a credit rating that stands one level above junk status, the lowest in all of New York. The County is currently facing a deficit between $90-100-million, but Vanderhoef defends that Rockland is not broke and is not even close to bankruptcy.
FOUR RAMAPO BOYS SENTENCED TO 18-MONTHS FROM CHESTNUT RIDGE RAPE CASE
The four Ramapo boys convicted of gang-raping a girl and attacking another girl six months ago were each sentenced to 18 months in a limited-security juvenile detention center. On Friday, the four 13-year-old boys cried as family court judge Sherri Eisenpress read the sentences during the 10-minute hearing. Family members and friends of the boys were distraught. One parent even came out and dove head-first down the hallway, laying on his back, screaming with his hand crossed over his chest. Justice Eisenpress sat through six days of testimony this summer, she found the four boys guilty of four counts each of first-degree criminal sex act, they were also convicted of sexual abuse for acting together in attacking the younger girl. In addition one of the boys was found guilty of first-degree rape for having vaginal intercourse with the older girl, all between the days of June 11 and June 13 at a Chestnut Ridge house. The boys will serve 18-months in a juvenile facility, they could have faced a more severe punishment, the maximum sentence of 3 years or until their 18th birthdays.
THREE ROCKLAND LEGISLATORS PROPOSE ENDING COLLEGE “CHARGEBACKS” TO TOWNS
Three Rockland County Legislators addressed a group of local officials about possibly reversing a resolution that would force towns to pay for local community college costs for students who attend out-of-county schools. All five towns were represented Thursday morning at the County Office Building in New City where legislators Ilan Schoenberger, Frank Sparaco, and Alden Wolfe have proposed ending the “chargeback” to the towns effective Janurary 1. Chairman of the Legislature’s budget and Finance Committee Ilan Schoenberger reported that the cost of chargebacks was about $770,000 from January through August. It is projected to hit around $1.16-million by the end of the year. Now back in late May, Schoenberger who is also running for county executive voted in favor of the college chargebacks. What prompted a change of heart? According to Schoenberger, chargebacks have driven a wedge between county and town. He is quoted saying, “It creates bad will between the county and the towns. It creates bad will in the operation of government.”
SPRING VALLEY JUSTICE DAVID FRIED WILL RUN FOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Add a third name to the race for County Executive, Spring Valley Justice David Fried resigned from his bench Thursday evening so that he can enter the race for County Executive on the democratic line. Now according to state law, a sitting judge cannot run for political office. 33-year-old Fried is no stranger to the political tango. He was a member of the county legislature from 2003 to 2007. In 2007 he ran against Ellen Jaffee in the assembly and was unsuccessful. Fried was elected to the part-time position of Spring Valley Justice in 2008. Fried will formally announce his candidacy this Sunday at his family’s tire store, the Tire Warehouse and Auto Center in Spring Valley.
CLARKSTOWN LAUNCHES EMERGENCY ALERT MESSAGING FOR RESIDENTS
Clarkstown is asking all town residents and businesses to sign up for a new emergency notification system that allows the Clarkstown Police Department to alert tens of thousands of people in minutes during emergencies. The campaign is called Ready Clarkstown, where the town will be able to reach its residents through both cell and home phones, text messages, emails, pagers, and faxes. Residents will be alerted during severe weather, storms, floods, fires, road closures, crimes, and snow emergencies. At the news conference, at the Clarkstown Police Department on Thursday, Supervisor Alex Gromack and other Town officials urged residents and businesses to sign up saying, “if we can’t contact you, we can’t alert you.” Clarkstown residents can sign up by going to the town’s website www.town.clarkstown.ny.us and clicking on the red tab on the home page.
STATE: ORDERS TWO UTILITY COMPANIES TO COME UP WITH PLAN FOR INDIAN POINT NUCLEAR PLANT
A major question hovering over the future of Indian Point is whether the nuclear power plant could be replaced with renewable sources. By order of the state, that question will hopefully be answered. The Indian Point Power Plant is owned by Entergy Nuclear and is currently in the process of renewing its operating licenses. Governor Cuomo and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have publicly opposed the relicensing and have called for a contingency plan. The state has order two utility companies to examine if renewable sources like solar energy and improved energy efficiency can replace the current nuclear plant. The Public Service Commission ordered Consolidated Edison to work alongside the New York Power Authority to come up with a plan to “address the needs that would arise in the event the Indian Point units shut down.” A PSC Spokeswoman would not comment on when Con Edison and NYPA’s plan is due.
ROCKLAND JURY MAY HEAR CRIME THAT HAPPENED 18-YEARS AGO
A Rockland jury may hear a suspect’s statement in a crime that happened 18-years-ago. The now 69-year-old Daniel Jean Baptiste is facing a second-degree murder charge after being arrested December 2011 in connection with the 1994 shooting death of Rene Charles in his Spring Valley driveway. In a written statement to police and video statement to the prosecution, Baptiste admits to dropping off the shooter at Charles’ North Cole Avenue house and driving around until he heard gunshots to pick up the shooter and get away. The suspected shooter has not been charged and is believed to be living in Haiti. Judicial hearing officer Joseph Fisch held a pretrial hearing Wednesday on evidence the defense does not want used in trial, recommending that Justice William Nelson allow the jury to hear Baptiste’s statement. Nelson will hear the case December 18.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATORS ADDRESS TOWN SUPERVISORS ON COLLEGE CHARGEBACKS
Rockland County legislators Ilan Schoenberger, Frank Sparaco, and Alden Wolfe will hold a news conference. They will be updating Town Supervisors about the county college chargebacks for residents who attend community college outside of Rockland. By state law, New York is responsible for 40-percent of the chargeback, this year the state has funded only 24-percent. This has burdened the County and Towns to figure out how these costs will be met. The meeting will be held in the Legislature Committee Room in New City at 10:30a.m.
PROPOSED 2013 COUNTY BUDGET REVENUE ESTIMATES EXPECTED TO HIT TARGET…FOR THE MOST PART
The consulting accountants hired by the County Legislature to review the proposed 2013 budget found that for the most part, revenue estimates were on target, but there were some areas the county should be concerned with. In a presentation, Nicholas DeSantis and Alan Kassay of the O’Connor Davies consulting firm cautioned legislators on certain revenues considered to be “one-shot” deals. Of these considered in the 74-page report was the $2.4-million dollars it expects to collect from selling the rights to future revenues from existing cellphone tower leases. Another red flag the firm foresees but with no historical data was unable to secure, is the new energy tax which will add up to an estimated $14-million for the county. The problem is not every household will pay the tax on their full energy bill. Final predictions? Because the county did not receive the sales-tax hike by the state, the county will fall short of its estimated $188.7-million figure. Instead, bringing in closer to $170.6-million.
ZEBROWSKI AND DAY ORGANIZE COMMUNITY FORUM ON THE NEW HEMPSTEAD ROAD RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and County Legislator Ed Day will host a community forum later today on the New Hempstead Road reconstruction project. Residents will get their chance for an update on the project and will have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns. Zebrowski and Day will be joined by Rockland County Highway Department Superintendent Charles Vezzetti, the New Hempstead Road Project Manager and the Deputy Superintendent of Capital Projects. The forum will take place tonight at 7:15 to 8:15 at Temple Beth Shalom right off New Hempstead in New City.
BALL STARTS ROLLING FOR THE ROCKLAND PSYCHIATRIC CENTER PROPERTY
Town officials met Tuesday with representatives from the state’s Office of General Services and the Office of Mental Health to talk about the redevelopment of the Rockland Psychiatric Center Property. Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart was in attendance for the first sit-down meeting. The purpose was for the town to build relationships with key state players, draw up a joint plan that would attract developers, and clarify Orangetown’s interest. The property was purchased from the state in 2003 for $5.95-million. Costs to restore the mix of developed land will cost an estimated tens of millions dollars.
ARCHDIOCESE: ST. AUGUSTINE and ST. PETER ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AT RISK OF CLOSURE
On Monday, two Catholic elementary schools in Rockland were named by the Archdiocese of New York as being at risk of being closed at the end of the school year. St. Augustine School in New City and St. Peter School in Haverstraw are part of the final list of 26 elementary schools the Archdiocese has deemed at risk. Spokesman for the Archdiocese Joseph Zwilling said much was taken into account when deciding which of the 159 elementary schools the Archdiocese maintains will close their doors. This included finance, demographics and population forecasts. A final decision on which schools will face closure will be made in January.
W. HAVERSTRAW MAN WHO DANGLED HIMSELF OFF T-Z BRIDGE REJECTS PLEA DEAL
The West Haverstraw Man who dangled himself and a makeshift banner attacking Rockland Government last year? Well that daredevil is taking another big risk, not accepting a plea deal by the prosecution and will now face a criminal trial next year. On Monday at Greengurgh Town Court, Michael Davitt rejected a guilty plea to reckless endangerment, obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct in exchange for 45 days in jail and $5,000 in restitution. Now he takes the chance of facing 2 years in jail if convicted. Davitt is due back in court for trial April 15.
ROCKLAND CRIME BLOT: NEW CITY PSCHIATRIST BUSTED FOR SELLING MEDS ON THE SIDE, POMONA WOMAN SCAMS STRUGGLING HOMEOWNERS, VALLEY COTTAGE MAN PICKED-UP FOR BURGLARIZING
An 82-year-old New City psychiatrist busted for selling meds on the side will be sentenced December 7th. His lawyer is asking that Dr. Aristide Esser who admitted to illegally distributing prescription drugs in June, be sentenced to a fine and community service instead of the 20 years he faces in federal prison. Attorney John Finnegan, filed a sentencing memorandum Friday stating that the psychiatrist had a distinguished career and did not fit the pattern of recent arrests for doctors accused of operating “pill mills”
A 44-year-old Pomona woman has been charged with stealing close to $14,000 from 5 families in financial trouble during a loan modification scam. Sonia Dixon is accused of preying on homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments, then charging each homeowner a fee for her services but never consulting a bank to have the loans modified. Dixon’s Attorney, Steven Siegel, defends that the felony complaint cites one person who supposedly did business with Dixon. His office is conducting its own investigation. According to District Attorney Tom Zugibe, New York State law prohibits upfront monies from being paid for loan modification applications. The felony count carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Dixon is due back in court December 19th.
A 35-year-old man who was arrested Saturday in a Valley Cottage neighborhood is due back in court Wednesday on attempted burglary and criminal-mischief charges. Michael Welch of Valley Cottage is accused of attempting to break into several properties. He was arrested after 7p.m. on Saturday on Branchville Rd. After Police said he was roaming the neighborhood while wearing a headlamp and carrying a backpack. He has been charged with felony charges of second-degree attempted burglary and third-degree criminal mischief and misdemeanor and violation counts of trespass. His bail was set at $20,000.
COUNTY LEGISLATORS CALL IN CONSULTING ACCOUNTANTS TO FINE-TUNE BUDGET
This week County Legislators will be busy fine-tuning the proposed 2013 county budget, consulting accountants Nicholas DeSantis and Alan Kassay of the O’Connor Davies Public Accounting Company. The two have been called in to give an overview of the county budget submitted by County Executive Scott Vanderhoef. They will be assessing the accuracy of sales, mortgage and property tax revenues and look into the county-owned, money drainer, Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Center, which is expected to sell by July 2014. Vanderhoef’s proposed budget calls for a $157 property-tax hike and the elimination of at least 6 county programs and 70 job cuts. Also on the agenda is eliminating funding of the county pharmacy and offering a fourth early retirement program to shrink the workforce by an additional 55 people. The legislature is set vote December 4.
HAVERSTRAW TOWN CLERK CARELLA DIES AT 88
Haverstraw Town Clerk Josephine Carella died Friday. The 88-year-old Carella died with family by her side and will be remember as a politician who truly loved serving the public. She is one of the longest-serving elected officials in the state, starting her service in 1977 and facing few challengers during her 36 years as Town Clerk. A burial service will take place at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Haverstraw. The burial will follow at St. Peter’s cemetery in Haverstraw.
SECOND FEMA UNIT MAKES ITS WAY TO ROCKLAND
A second FEMA unit will be making its way to Rockland this morning. After Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer along with other elected officials toured Peirmont, one of the hardest hit areas in Rockland County and petitioned for a second Mobile Disaster Recovery Center. His request was heard, the Mobile DRC will be parked at the Dennis McHugh Library today, with the location of the Mobile DRC changing based on the local need. Today the mobile DRC will be available from noon to 6p.m. and the rest of the week from 8a.m. to 6p.m.
EAST RAMAPO BOARD OF EDUCATION FINANCE DIRECTOR WILL REISIGN IN MARCH
The Finance Director for the East Ramapo Board of Education announced that he will step down early next year. The Board of Education accepted Michael Ivanoff’s resignation on Tuesday night in a closed-door session. He will officially resign on March 29,2013. Ivanoff is stepping down for personal reasons but will work with the board to tackle the estimated $7-million deficit up until his march departure.
COUNTY LAWMAKERS CALL FOR CHARGEBACK REFORM
On Wednesday four Rockland County lawmakers attacked the Fashion Institute of Technology chargebacks calling for reform to get the state to reclassify it. FIT which is part of the community college system, is costing the county $1-million of the $1.8-million due in community college chargebacks every year. In a news release County Legislator Ed Day released Wednesday, he found it “compelling coincidence” that chairman of the State University of New York board of trustees H. Carl McCall and Joyce Brown who is the President of FIT are married. Day said, “that one cannot ignore when one weighs exactly why FIT is in this unique funding situation.” Spokesman for the SUNY David Doyle said chargebacks are in accordance with state education law. Day who was joined by county officials Cris Carey, Paul Valentine and Luanne Konopko say the state needs to abide by state law and fund the 40-percent it is responsible for. This year the state has funded only 24-percent.
HAVERSTRAW WAL-MART UNDER FIRE
Looks like there are two major opponents of the new Wal-Mart in Haverstraw. The Village of Pomona and a slew of local businesses which include Green Earth Farms Rockland, Paint’N Place, 202 United Development Corp, Parkway Reality, and Good Council Reality filed with the State Supreme Court in New City. Arguing that Haverstraw’s Zoning Board of Appeals has improperly granted parking variances, which would allow the developer to create fewer parking spaces than required. The petitioners are looking for the court’s reversal of the Board’s decision. Both lawsuits listed Mt. Ivy Partners as one of the respondents as well as the Town of Ramapo. The Haverstraw Planning Board is expected to make a final decision November 28th. It is unclear how the lawsuit will affect the process.
CSEA SLAMS PROPOSED 2013 COUNTY BUDGET
With County Executive Scott Vanderhoef’s proposed budget calling for a $157 property-tax hike and the elimination of at least 6 programs and 70 job cuts, one group had a better idea on how to tackle the county’s financial downfall. Rockland Civil Service Employees Association President P.T. Thomas told legislators to eliminate the County Executive’s office and reduce the size of their own board to save millions in the 2013 budget. The CSEA recently signed a new contract that banned the county from laying-off union members for budgetary reasons. In Vanderhoef’s proposed $736.9-million spending plan most of the programs being eliminated are stacked with CSEA members. Vanderhoef defends that job cuts will result from program elimination not individual lay-offs, this avoids a breach of contract. In Tuesday’s meeting, Thomas requested that legislators change the county charter and eliminate the position of County Executive, which would save the county $7.27-million, and to reduce the 17-member legislature to 6 to save another $4-million. The legislature plans to adopt a budget by December 4.
RAMAPO PASSES 2013 TOWN BUDGET: BUSTS STATE’S 2-PERCENT TAX CAP
Yesterday it was reported, Orangetown miscalculated its budget and made it just under the state’s 2-percent tax-levy cap with an average increase of 1.66-percent. Tuesday night Ramapo adopted it’s Budget and didn’t quite have the same luck. The $90.5-million 2013 budget passed with a vote of 3-2, with spending increasing by $8.5-million. Under the 2013 budget, taxes will rise 9.43-percent with taxes for unincorporated areas of Ramapo going up 7.39-percent.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSIDERS MORE CUTS WITH GROWING $7-MILLION DEFICIT
The East Ramapo School District is facing a growing $7-million deficit and is now left to consider the elimination of non-mandated programs and staff to close its budget gap. The most controversial possibility is the elimination of kindergarten. On Tuesday, Superintendent Joel Klein held a meeting at Kakiat Elementary School with more than 60 people in attendance, representing parents, staff, the school board and administrators. In his address he made it clear that he does not support eliminating the kindergarten program, which would affect more than 700 youngsters. Klein has blamed the districts financial problems on the state. In the enrollment-based state-aid formula, the state counts 9,000 public school students but not the 21,000 private-school students in East Ramapo. Other possible non-mandated programs the district will consider cutting are school nurses, shortening the school day, cuts to elementary art and music, and centralizing special services for private-school students.
EUGENE PALMER INDICTED FOR SHOOTING DEATH OF DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Eugene Palmer was indicted on a second-degree murder charge for the alleged shooting death of this daughter-in-law on Monday. Palmer was last seen the morning of the shooting when he confessed to his sister that he shot 39-year-old Tammy Palmer and left money for taxes. The avid hunter took off into the nearby woods of Harriman State Park. 73-year-old Palmer could face 25 years to life if convicted, and if he is found. Rockland District Attorney Tom Zugibe said it was important to indict Palmer to preserve testimony and evidence the Haverstraw Police Department has collected. The indictment also means that there is a warrant out for his arrest.
ORANGETOWN TOWN BOARD UNDER 2-PERCENT TAX CAP AFTER ALL
Last week the Orangetown Town Board passed their 2013 budget, with the property tax expected to rise 4.66-percent. Turns out, the board says the $62.9-million spending plan falls under the state’s 2-percent tax cap. On paper, taxes are set to rise 4.66-percent, the portion of the budget funded by property taxes is calculated by the state to increase an average of 1.66-percent. According to Finance Director Jeffrey Bencik, some of the confusion comes from the way the state crunches its numbers, which makes it technically possible for a municipality or school district to exceed the 2-percent number while staying under the tax cap. Town officials did mistakenly calculate the tax increase after passing the budget November 13. Supervisor Andy Stewart said he was “thrilled” that the 2013 budget did not break the cap.
SHERIFF FALCO PLEAS WITH LEGISLATURE ON BUDGET CUTS
On Monday Sheriff Louis Falco made a plea to the County Legislature to restore $1.4-million in budget cuts to keep Road and Mounted Patrol officers, as well as the jail’s kitchen staff. Vanderhoef’s proposed 2013 county budget calls for a $157 property tax increase, and the elimination of at least 6 programs and 70 job cuts. Falco told legislators that he and the Sheriff’s Department understand the county’s financial crisis but that, “County government must maintain essential services that affect the quality of life of the citizen’s of Rockland County.” For the Sheriff’s Department the proposed budget means cutting 4 officers in the Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol, 5 in the Road Patrol and all 10 of the jail’s kitchen staff.
SON OF EMBATTLED MADOFF ACCOUNTANT COMMITS SUICIDE
The son of the accountant, who helped Bernie Madoff hide his Ponzi scheme, shot himself in his Ohio apartment Thursday. 23-year-old Jeremy Friehling’s suicide comes two years after Madoff’s son Mark, hanged himself with a dog leash in his family’s SoHo apartment. Friehling was the son of embattled accountant David Friehling, who plead guilty in 2009 for helping conceal Madoff’s $65-billion Ponzi scheme. He is due back in court for sentencing this coming April. After writing suicidal posts on Facebook, friends of Jeremy at Ohio State University where he was a medical student, called Ohio Police where they later found him dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Friehling graduated from Clarkstown North High School in 2007 where he was the valedictorian.
SPRING VALLEY TREE TRIMMER CHARGED WITH RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT
A Spring Valley tree trimmer failed to secure a limb, which fell on the roof of a home and landed the trimmer in jail. Ramapo Police arrested 44-year-old Leslie Branch of Spring Valley on Sunday after a Ramapo Police Officer on patrol observed a large limb fall across the roof a Sloatsburg home. The limb then slid off the roof and landed on Route 17 blocking the sidewalk, and both southbound and northbound lanes. No one was hurt, but Police report that the tree trimmer’s “conduct created substantial risk of serious physical injury to others.” Branch was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree. As of yesterday, he is being held in Ramapo Police headquarters on a $100 bail and is scheduled to appear in court December 19.
NEW TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE UPDATES
In June it was announced that in October the Thruway Authority would implement a 45-percent toll hike on commercial trucks. It is now November and no such hike has occurred. An expected end-of-the-year meeting with a major rating agency is expected to take place as the Thruway Authority struggles to maintain its credit rating. After postponing several meetings, the Thruway Authority has not indicated when it would take up a toll increase. One thing is for sure, in June two of the major municipal credit raters lowered their outlook for the Thruway, which could lead to a rating downgrade. This would cause problems for the thruway when financing the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Both credit raters expressed the need for increased toll revenue and were concerned over how it will finance a $5-billion replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge. The Authority has applied for a $3-billion federal loan to help pay for the bridge, but has not come up with a plan if the federal money doesn’t come through. As for details of the designs being considered for the new T-Z Bridge, it is not clear when the public will see the plans. Officials say, they have to be careful not to violate federal law regulating contract negotiations, but a winning bid for the project should be announced before the New Year.
COMMISSIONER OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WILL RETIRE
After 12 years as Commissioner of the Rockland County Department of Health, Joan Facelle is stepping down. On Thursday night, she announced that she will officially retire at the end of January 2013. Facelle will be retiring at a time where 5 other high-level Health Department employees will step down, as well as the proposed 2013 budget’s 13 position cut of Health Department personnel.
COUNTY WORKERS DEFEND THE NEED FOR PROGRAMS
It is indeed tough times for the county, which is tackling a $96-million deficit and credit rating that is one level above junk status. With that comes the need for cuts. Rockland County workers defended their jobs at the Allison-Parris County Office Building, fighting for the programs they believe have made a difference in the lives of residents. The Rockland County Legislature conducted a budget review of the departments of General Services, Highway and Health Thursday. Under Vanderhoef’s proposed 2013 county budget, the departments face 35 job cuts, an additional elimination of 35 jobs in other departments and includes a $157 property-tax hike. The county legislature will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7p.m. Tuesday at the Allison-Parris County Office Building. The board is set to vote on the budget December 4.
NORTH ROCKLAND PROPERTY OWNERS RECEIVE EXTENSION ON SCHOOL-PROPERTY TAX
Some North Rockland property owners will catch a break thanks to super-storm Sandy. Governor Cuomo Ok-ed an extension the district applied for to extend school property-tax installments, which were due November 5. Under the executive order, these residents have until November 26 to pay up. District Treasurer Laurie Walser said, North Rockland didn’t apply for the extension in response to complaints from taxpayers, but decided to take advantage of the option.
LEGISLATORS SCHOENBERGER AND DAY ANNOUNCE THEY WILL RUN FOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE
The race for County Executive has unofficially begun with legislators Ilan Schoenberger and Ed Day announcing they will seek the office. Both have said they are motivated to run to do the best job possible on behalf of the people of Rockland. There are still other potential candidates that are still deciding whether to enter the race. The Journal News reports that rumor has it; Vanderhoef will take a job before his term ends on December 31, 2013. If this should happen, the democratic led county Legislature will name a replacement. That replacement must then run for County Executive for a full four-terms. Schoenberger, chairman of the county’s Budget and Finance Committee will hold a fundraiser December 6 and Day will hold his fundraiser on December 11 to raise money for their County Executive campaigns.
ORANGETOWN VOTES ON TOWN BUDGET
Orangetown’s Town Board voted to pass their $62.9-million budget for 2013. Board members made the roll-call vote just around 11p.m. voting unanimously to override the state’s 2-percent tax cap and raise the tax levy by 4.8-percent. Tuesday night, the board also approved cuts, chiseling more than 30 line items totaling about $350,000. Also approved, was taking an additional $250,000 from the reserve fund.
VANDERHOEF LIFTS 10 GALLON GAS RESTRICTION
County Executive Vanderhoef announced Wednesday that there will no longer be restrictions on the amount of gasoline or diesel purchased and sold in Rockland. Following mega-storm Sandy, Vanderhoef imposed a local emergency order limiting the amount of fuel purchased to 10 gallons per-vehicle per-day. The decision was made after consulting with emergency officials and law enforcement.
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES STATE PANEL TO INVESTIGATE UTILITY COMPANIES
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he will create a state panel to investigate utility companies’ response to super-storm Sandy and other past major storms. Cuomo signed an executive order to create a commission to review New York’s power delivery companies’ preparation before major storms and response and communication during emergencies as well as their management structures. The commission’s responsibility will also examine overlapping responsibilities of the New York Power Authority, The Long Island Power Authority, the State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the Public Service Commission.
E. RAMAPO STUDENT STABS FELLOW PEER
An East Ramapo student was arrested Tuesday after allegedly stabbing another student on a BOCES-bound school bus last week. Clarkstown Police said the bus was traveling to the BOCES Hilltop School in Haverstraw on November 7th when a fight broke out between the two students, resulting in one stabbing the other in the back with a pocketknife. Both students, under 12-years-old, were taken to the hospital. The victim suffered a puncture wound to the back, and the suspect had a cut to the hand. The suspect was issued a Family Court appearance ticket equivalent to a charge of second-degree assault.
ORANGE COUNTY COUPLE SENTENCED TO PROBATION AFTER STIFFING WAGES
An Orange County couple was sentenced Tuesday to probation after paying off underpaid wages and forfeiture money. Diane and Kenneth Deaver owners of Scheneley Construction Inc. underpaid workers about $600,000 for three municipal sewer jobs in Rockland County and several contract in Orange County. Kenneth Deaver was sentenced to five year’s probation and must complete 210 hours of community service. Diane Deaver will serve three years probation and 110 hours of community service.
HUMAN LABOR TRAFFICKING SENTENCING POSTPOSED
A human labor trafficking and assault sentencing for a New City woman, was postponed Tuesday. 57-year-old Parveen Jagota faces one to three years in prison for burning her daughter-in-law with a hot iron and exploiting her. The 25-year-old victim testified against her husband and the Jagota family for brutally assaulting her physically and sexually after she came to the United States for an arraigned marriage in 2008 from India. Judge William Nelson convicted Parveen Jagota of felony labor trafficking and second-degree assault for burning the victim with and iron as punishment for poor work. The sentencing was rescheduled for December 18th.
RBA: REPORT OF ROCKLAND FINANCIAL MESS RELEASED MONDAY
On Monday, a 35-page report on Rockland’s financial mess was released. The Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, an independent financial think tank looked into factors that contributed to Rockland’s financial free-fall that has left the county in a $96-million deficit. The Rockland Business Association sponsored the report for a whopping $20,000. Researchers for Pattern for Progress suggested projecting sales- and mortgage-tax revenues based on year-to-date receivables instead of over-estimating sales and mortgage taxes which from 2005-2011 added up to $82.7-million. Other advice was to only budget revenues that were actually in place instead of needing state approval, and to strongly consider the future of Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center, which has drained the county of $139.39-million from 2006-2012. Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, chairman of the Legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee declined to comment because he has not read the report yet.
28-YEAR-OLD MONSEY MAN DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT
A 28-year-old man died Monday after his car crashed into a center guardrail on the New York State Thruway. As he got out of his vehicle, he was fatally hit by another car. Nicholas Kcira of Monsey lost control of his 2003 Honda Civic just before
3a.m. Monday under foggy conditions, in the southbound lane near Exit 14. Sgt, John Antonelli of the State Police said the car then spun out of control and ended up in the left lance along the shoulder with its engine dislodged. Kcira then got out of the car when a 2008 Lexus heading south hit the Honda and Kcira. Kcira suffered head injuries and was pronounced dead at 3:37 a.m. in Nyack Hospital.
SENATOR SCHUMER VISITS PEIRMONT
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer toured Piermont’s historic waterfront village Monday. The area was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy that lead to Schumer calling for FEMA to deploy a “Mobile Disaster Recovery Center” to the village to help business owners and residents. He also wants the federal government to cover the projected $33-billion statewide cost of damage.
FEMA ASSISTANCE FOR ROCKLAND RESIDENTS
Rocklanders had their chance to sit with FEMA representatives. As of Friday night 2,009 Rockland residents registered for FEMA. The registration process starts at a FEMA location where storm victims have access to telephones and computers to register for assistance. With employees from FEMA and other agencies at hand to answer questions. For those who qualify an inspector will contact them within five to seven days after they register. After the inspection, an electronic funds transfer would take place within three to five days. Assistance is available for damages to personal property and primary residences. Vacation homes are not eligible. Today at Provident Bank Park FEMA will be available on the Second Floor Community Room from 8a.m. to 8p.m. 7 days a week until further notice.
CLARKSTOWN AND HAVERSTRAW INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES--TOWN BUDGETS APPROVED
Clarkstown’s Town Board voted to override the state’s 2-percent tax cap, as expected, and approved a $137-million spending plan for 2013 that imposes a 6.2-percent increase on property owners. The decision came after a two-hour public hearing followed by a unanimous vote. The Town Board blames about 3%, $2-million of the tax increase on cost-shifting by Rockland County with $1-million for the County’s Police Narcotics and Intel Task Forces, $600,000 for community college chargebacks and $450,000 for elections. Haverstraw Town Board also adopted their 2013 budget a $2.9-million or 11-percent increase. Under the proposed $40.2-million spending plan taxes for a Haverstraw homeowners will go up by 8.86-percent. The board has approved a local law to break the 2-percent tax-levy cap. Elected officials and department heads will receive a 1.75-percent salary increase under the adopted budget. Other town employees except police officers will get a 2-percent raise.
AUDITORS WARN EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ACT QUICK ON BUDGET
Auditors are warning the East Ramapo School District to address their budget fast, before it’s too late. Independent auditors at the O’Connor Davies firm reviewed the district’s finances during the 2011-2012 school year and found that the district had an operating deficit of $13.4-million and in order to try to balance the budget, wiped out $9-million from its reserve fund in June, leaving the district to finish the year with a $1.78-million deficit which has risen to an estimated $6-million. Last spring the district passed a $191.9-million budget, which included layoffs and program cuts to stay under the state’s 2% tax-levy cap. After reviewing the 2012-2013 budget, accountant Scott Oling, found that the district should expect to receive less in Medicaid reimbursements than it budgeted for. The district has received $600,000 annually from Medicaid reimbursements and in this year’s budget included $2.7-million of Medicaid reimbursements in their budget. Oling warned that the district must develop a plan to pay down the deficit and avoid adding to it before the state is forced to take over. Another option is to borrow money to pay off its debts.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATORS PROPOSE NEW LAW TO AID BUDGET
Rockland County legislators are expected to bring a new law to the table at the legislature’s budget and finance committee meeting on Tuesday. The Rockland County Deficit Reduction Act will address the county’s $96-million budget deficit and county taxes spent on state-mandated programs. The main sponsor is Legislator Ilan Schoenberger who said the proposed law would require the county to set aside $10-million annually and use the money to pay down the $96-million deficit. Before implementing a law the county hopes to obtain state approval to increase its portion of the state tax and borrow $80-million to pay down the majority of the deficit using the sales tax to pay down the deficit-reduction bond.
LOCAL EMERGENCY ORDER OF 10 GALLON PER VEHICLE PER PERSON STILL IN AFFECT
You may notice that 2 hour gas lines have disappeared. Actually, most gas lines have disappeared, but County Executive Scott Vanderhoef announced Thursday that he is extending the local emergency order of 10 gallons per vehicle per day. The order has been in effect since November 2 and includes portable fuel containers, but not wholesale deliveries to gas station retailers like Costco, emergency vehicles and commercial businesses. Vanderhoef said, “State and Federal officials indicated to me that additional time is needed to restore infrastructure and gas supplies”. Vanderhoef also added that Rockland County still remains in a State of Emergency.
EARLY MORNING INCIDENT ENDS PEACEFULLY IN PEARL RIVER
An Orangetown man, who said he was going to “take down” the Hilton Pearl River at Blue Hill Plaza, peacefully surrendered to police early this morning. The disturbed man called police around 3:30AM, spoke to Sgt. Thomas Schultz, claimed to have an Uzi sub-machine gun, and threatened to hurt himself and damage the Hotel. No weapons were found and the man was admitted to Nyack Hospital.
NOR-EASTER KNOCKS POWER TO 10,000 O&R CUSTOMERS
Wednesday’s nor’easter knocked out power to about 10,000 Orange and Rockland customers. The storm dropped between 3 and 7 inches of snow over Rockland, with high wind gusts a top concern for weakened tree limbs dangling over Sandy vulnerable power lines. O&R spokeswoman Maria Pollard said about half of the customers who lost power had service restored by 9:30p.m. An additional 4,300 customers remain without electricity as a result of super-storm Sandy. O&R deployed its own crews to deal with power losses related to the nor-easter with priority going to emergency service facilities.
PEARL RIVER MAN KILLED DURING SANDY TO BE BURIED SATURDAY
The Pearl River man killed during mega-storm Sandy will be buried Saturday. His funeral was postponed until his wife Lise Chanin was released from the hospital after suffering serious head injuries. During monstrous storm Sandy 51-year-old Jeffery Chanin, his wife, and three children were inside waiting out the tropical storm in their family room when a tree came through the roof of their Robin Street in Pearl River. Daughters Chloe and Danielle suffered from minor injuries and were released on the same day. Tim, the younger son, was not injured and called 911. The older son, Eric Chanin a Pearl River Fire Department Volunteer, was on duty when the call came in. The service will be held at 10 a.m. at the Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church with the burial to follow in the Rockland Cemetery in Sparkill. There will be no visiting hours.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: LEGISTLAURE TO START REVIEWING COUNTY BUDGET
Super-storm Sandy and the nor-eastern have forced the Rockland legislature to cancel budget review sessions three times, two times last week due to Sandy and Wednesday evening due to the nor’easter. A breakdown of the proposals in the 2013 budget will still take place in a more consolidated manner. The County Executive is required to file a proposed spending plan by October 23. Legislators must adopt a plan by December 7. The 2013 $736.9-million proposed budget plans to raise property taxes $157, cut public safety and health programs and outsource 70 county jobs. A public hearing is set for November 20.
PRESIDENT OBAMA WINS RE-ELECTION
The Democratic Party sang the blues last night. President Barack Obama won re-election, winning the electoral vote 303-206 with the close margin victory of 49.4% - 49.1%. Despite a weak economy and unemployment at 7.9%, Obama defeated Governor Mitt Romney in all but one battleground state, taking big win states Ohio, Virginia and Colorado. Romney won 1 out of the 11 most contested battleground states rolling up South Carolina, with Florida still outstanding. A tough lose for the Romney/Ryan camp was Michigan, where Romney was born and where his dad served as governor. Obama did call Romney after the results were in to congratulate him on a “hard-fought” campaign and said he looks forward to sitting down with Romney to “talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”
ROCKLAND COUNTY ELECTION RESULTS
Ellen Jaffee (D)- 97th Assembly District
Annie Rabbitt (R)-98th Assembly District
James Skoufis (D)-99th Assembly District
Senator William Larkin (R)-39th Senate District
Senator David Carlucci (D)- 38th Senate District
Nita Lowey (D)-17th Congressional District
Sean Patrick Maloney (D)-18th Congressional District
Ken Zebrowski (D)-96th Assembly District
ROCKLAND BRACES FOR ANOTHER STORM
Gear up Rocklanders we are in for another storm. This storm is expected to bring rain on its trip but worse winds and heavy gusts at high speeds. Yesterday, Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren, voiced his concern about the nor’eastern expected to hit Wednesday. Wren said during the meeting at the Allison-Parris County Office Building in New City that, “Much of Orange and Rockland system is strung up temporarily and could come down very easily if we get sustained winds or heavy gusts.”
VANDERHOEF GIVES ROCKLAND POWER UPDATE: GOVERNOR CUOMO WILL KEEP UTILITY COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE
County Executive Vanderhoef gave an update at the Allison-Parris County Office Building in New City Monday. He estimates that there are still 11,300 Rockland customers without power as of this morning. Lt. Governor Robert Duffy was also in attendance and promised the full resources of the state to help Rockland handle its power outages and gasoline shortages. Duffy also came with a message from Governor Andrew Cuomo that he will hold the utility companies accountable through investigations after the state returns to some kind of normalcy.
GAS SURGE CALMING DOWN IN ROCKLAND
Another problem facing Rockland is getting gas into the county. According to Rockland County Sherriff Louis Falco tanker trucks refuse to deliver gas from New York City to Rockland without a police escort. Falco said things have simmered down at the pump, crediting the 10-gallon per vehicle ration put in place by Vanderhoef on Friday. Rockland Consumer Protection Chief Terry Groddelfinger said his office is still actively checking gasoline stations for price gouging and any tree-cutting or yard maintenance company found gouging will be held accountable as well.
VOTING IN ROCKLAND
As our attention turns from Sandy to Election Day Tuesday, here are some things to keep in mind. First vote! Polling sites will be open from 6a.m. to 9.p.m. Second, Clarkstown Districts 40, 53, 60 and 69 are the only districts affected by the storm. Instead of voting at Woodglen Elementary School you have been relocated to New City Elementary School. Third, The Board of Elections wants to advise voters that if your polling site does not have electricity you will be given a paper ballot to fill in your choice of candidates and place it in the emergency ballot box to be counted in a bipartisan manner later. For the most part, polling sights will have generators from state and local emergency operations for sites without power. If you have any questions call The Rockland County Board of Elections at 845-638-5172
FEDERAL SENTENCING FOR NEW-CITY AUIDTOR IN MADOFF PONZI SCHEME POSTPONED
The federal sentencing for the New-City based auditor who helped Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff has been rescheduled for April. David Friehling was suppose to face federal judges October 26, but because of his cooperation with federal investigators has been postponed till April. Sentencing has been adjourned for Friehling several times since his 2009 guilty plea to nine federal charges of helping Madoff’s $65-billion fraud. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Friehling is expected to testify against Daniel Bonventre and other Madoff employees. Bonventre is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States as well as multiple counts of securities fraud, and falsifying records as a broker-dealer and as an investment advisor.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION EVALUATES O&R
A week after mega-storm Sandy and still 354,418 Rockland County residents are without power with more and more people becoming less understanding and more frustrated with utility companies. Among those angry with what seems to be slow progress is Governor Andrew Cuomo who still has no power in his New Castle home and threatened utility companies saying that it is wholly unacceptable to have these delays and that he will “find utility companies that can do a better job”. In a press release by Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski’s office Sunday evening, it seems like something is being done about the matter. Senior staff members and engineers of the Public Service Commission were on site and will remain on site for the duration of the storm restoration. With that came improvement in the number of personnel in the field and communication of expected restoration times. Following storm restoration O&R will be evaluated by the PSC on preparation, restoration efforts and communication.
TRANSIT AFTER THE STORM PICKING UP
School may be out for some children but not work for many adults. The good news is today’s commute should be easier for Rocklanders. For the most part traffic lights have been restored, streets cleared and if you use mass transit things should be going back to normal. The Pascak Valley line remains suspended due to severe track damage. Pascak commuters will be allowed to use their Metro-North monthly and weekly tickets on the Tappan ZEExpress service connecting to Metro-North Tarrytown. For a full rail schedule for service on our side of the river check the NJ Transit website at www.NJTransit.com. Also, if you do travel NJ Transit there is no service to or from Hoboken. All Rockland County transit buses are operating with no fare collected today.
WRCR Hurricane Sandy aftermath update:
Relief is in sight for the gas shortage. Gas is being delivered to the distribution facilities. However you should still limit usage and only drive when necessary. The County executive has issued an emergency order restricting purchases to 10 gallons.
Shelter is available at Rockland Community College and the Stony Point Conference Center: Transportation is available to the shelters through the Trips Bus of Rockland. You can call info Rock for information on scheduling transportation at 364-2020 free of charge.
Dry Ice is being distributed today between 11-1pm at Rockland Lake North
People to People at 121 West Nyack Road has food available today from 11-1pm. They are not open Sunday. Their number is 352-2121
St. Joseph's Church in Spring Valley has teamed up with United Way, People to People and the Haitian American Cultural Social organization to offering hot food, Coffee & Cocoa today from 11-4pm.
Warm food is also available at the Ramapo Cultural Arts Center in Spring Valley 12:00 lunch 4pm dinner.
Finally Since FEMA had included Rockland as part of the major disaster declaration, Senator Carlucci's office has FEMA packets available at the senators office in Nanuet you can call their office at 623-3627. They are also seeking volunteers too help distribute the FEMA packets. It is recommended you take photos, date and document the damage.
THE HUNT FOR GASOLINE -- LONG LINES AND POSSIBLE GOUGING
The hunt for gasoline in Rockland in on! Since Wednesday, gas stations have either had no power, ran out of gas, or motorists are left waiting on long lines to fill up. State Senator David Carlucci said his office has received many complaints about gas stations that were charging more than $5-a-gallon for gas even though the price at the pump is more than a dollar less. Rockland’s Director of Consumer Protection, Terry Grosselfinger warned price gouging will not be tolerated. His office looked into the reports visiting two gas stations checking receipts and found the accusations did not pan out. Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski came up with a plan to help speed up fueling at the pump -- limit gas purchases to 15 gallons per customer for the next 48 hours. His office reached out to Governor Andrew Cuomo and County Executive Scott Vanderhoef to impose a temporary ration through an executive order. Vanderhoef is asking residents to voluntarily conserve.
FEMA TOURS ROCKLAND TO DETERMINE SANDY DAMAGE
A FEMA team made a trip to Rockland Thursday to tour the county and determine whether Sandy caused enough damage to qualify for aid. Both U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer urged FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate to approve a state request to designate both Rockland and Westchester Counties as disaster areas. If designated a disaster area, Rockland can expect aid for public projects such as roads and public buildings. For family households this means temporary shelter for residents of destroyed or heavily damaged homes. Grants to replace personal property and cover transportation, medical, dental and funeral expenses.
1,000 NATIONAL GUARD MEMBER MEET IN ROCKLAND FRIDAY
1,000 members of the National Guard will be in Rockland this morning at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Suffern. The troops will be meeting with Orange and Rockland Utilities. A groups of 500, with one group meeting at 7 a.m. and the second group meeting at 7p.m. O&R plans to use the National Guard units as a sign of presence and security to protect residents from potential live downed wires.
26 SPRING VALLEY FAMILES LEFT HOMELESS AFTER BLAZE
26 families are homeless after a fire engulfed a section of a co-op community Tuesday evening in Spring Valley. The fire started at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the H-building of the Valley View Apartments. According to Spring Valley Fire Chief Lawrence Bolson, the 13-alarm fire took 21/2 hours before getting the flames under control. Three firefighters were hurt, with one volunteer being treated at the scene and two at the hospital for minor injuries. Police Chief Paul Modica says fire and police investigators are looking into a candle setting off the blaze or when electrical power was restored. None of the residents were injured and the building is closed down due to smoke and fire damage.
SCHOOLS LEFT WITHOUT SNOW DAYS AFTER SANDY-STATE MAY INTERVENE
After 5 days of no school for students on Friday due to Sandy’s devastation, most districts are in the same position. They’ve already used up their snow days and there’s still 8 months left of school. Many districts are now nervous they may have to shut down schools again because of normal winter storms. Many districts will have to shave off vacation time to keep within the New York State requirement that districts be in session for at least 180-days. The State Education Law requires that districts that have used up their snow days must exhaust vacation time before State Education Commissioner John King can consider giving waivers of up to five days from the 180-day requirement. The only way to avoid such measures would be the state legislature. The legislature has the power to allow school districts that have used up their “snow days” to get a break from New York’s requirement. All eight Rockland County districts have decided to close for the rest of the week due to no power or response of when roads will be passable and safe for school buses.
ROCKLAND COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: FOOD SAFETY GUIDELINES
The Rockland County Department of Health advises residents who have lost power to follow these food safety guidelines:
*The freezer section, try not to open the freezer door if you can avoid it. A freezer that is half full will hold food safely up to 24 hours, a full freezer 48 hours.
*Refrigerator Section, pack dairy products, meat, fish, eggs and left overs into a cooler surrounded by ice or a styrofoam cooler.
*Condiments are safe and may last a few days without refrigeration.
*Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food before cooking or eating it.
*Discard any items that have come in contact with raw meat juices, flood water or sewage- they are considered contaminated.
WIFE OF PEARL RIVER MAN KILLED BY FALLEN TREE IN CRITICAL CONDITION
The wife of the Pearl River man killed by a fallen tree in their family room remains in critical condition. Lise Chanin suffered serious head injuries and is being treated at Nyack Hospital. Daughters Chloe and Danielle suffered from minor injuries and were released on Monday. During the monstrous storm the family was inside waiting out the hurricane in their family room when a tree came through the roof of their Robin Street home in Pearl River. Tim the younger son was not hurt and called 911. The older son, Eric Chanin, a Pearl River Fire Department Volunteer, was on duty when the call came in. Fire Chief David O’Brien told him to stand down as his fellow fire fighters rescued his family cutting the tree off his mother and sister. When rescuers found his father 51-year-old Jeffery Chanin it was too late. Jeffery Chanin was a retired New York City Sgt. Lise Chanin works for the Village of Chestnut Ridge.
ROCKLAND COUNTY PICKING UP AFTER SANDY
Slowly Rocklanders are picking up the pieces Hurricane Sandy left behind, but for some the storm left behind devastating damages. Water front properties in many cases have been destroyed. The Nyack Boat Club lost 30 boats with one ramming into the River Club Restaurant along Burd Street. The Tappan Zee Bridge re-opened Tuesday morning, The George Washington Bridge opened that afternoon, but even with crossings ready for rush hour traffic many street lights are still without power and local roads blocked due to mazes of down wires and fallen trees. Service remains suspended for MTA subway service and Metro-North Railroad.
BOIL-WATER ALERT IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS
The Rockland County Health Department and United Water issued a boil-water alert at 11:25p.m. Tuesday for residents living in the following areas…
Village of Peirmont on Route 9W
Village of Grandview on Route 9W
Tree Line Terrace
Old Mountain Rd
Shady Side Ave
ORANGE AND ROCKLAND UPDATE: COULD TAKE 7-10 DAYS
Orange and Rockland Spokesman Mike Donovan says customers who lost power may not see light for 7 to 10 days. O&R had more than 200,000 customers without electricity and has been able to restore power to 24,000 customers as of Wednesday morning. The process could take weeks to complete and months to rebuild damages Sandy caused, which is being referred to as the worst storm in the company’s more than 100 year existence.
HURRICANE SANDY EXPECTED TO HIT EAST COAST CITIES HARD
Hurricane Sandy has stayed on the predicted path that is expected to take over major East Coast cities which include Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. What makes this storm especially dangerous is that it is predicted to collide with another weather system creating a megastorm that is expected to endanger up to 50-million people for days. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning through 6 p.m. Tuesday, predicting winds of 35 to 45mph with gusts of up to 75mph. We can expect the highest winds this afternoon and evening. A flood watch is in effect for Rockland County with residents of sections of Stony Point and Piermont already being asked to evacuate with high winds, rain and tidal storm surges expected later tonight.
COUNTY EXECUTIVE VANDERHOEF DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY
County Executive Scott Vanderhoef has declared a State of Emergency in Rockland County, after President Obama OK-ed Governor Cuomo’s Federal Emergency Declaration for the State. A State of Emergency gives Vanderhoef added power to respond to emergencies which include ordering residents to stay off the roads. He has already ordered the opening of the Rockland County Emergency Operations Center in Pomona. Remember to keep emergency lines free. Only call 911 in case of an actual emergency. Local police departments can provide information on their main telephone numbers.
Stony Point 786-2422
Also be sure to call in with any power outages…
Orange and Rockland 877-434-4100
UTILITY WORKERS AND NATIONAL GUARD CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS
As the monster makes its way up the coast, utility companies have called in their reinforcements and more than 1,000 National Guard troops are on-call prepared to report to duty. All Rockland County schools have been cancelled. Classes for Tuesday will be decided today. Public transportation services have been suspended. By 7 p.m. Sunday, even the MTA started shutting down the subway, buses and commuter railroads. Orange and Rockland Utilities Spokesman Mike Donovan announced the company has mobilized its entire workforce of 1,000 employees to work around-the-clock shifts until the storm clears.
PREPARING FOR FRANKENSTORM
As we prepare to face this frankenstorm later today there are a few things you may want to check on your list.
Make sure to…
*Have spare batteries
*A week’s supply of non-perishable food and water including one gallon of water per-person per-day
*Two coolers, one for food, the other for ice
*A manual can opener and eating utensils
*Pet care items
* A list of local emergency numbers and utility numbers
*Personal items and a first-aid kit
*Extra cash, banks and ATMs may not be available during the storm so remember to take out some cash
*Keep important documents in waterproof containers
*Set of tools
*Fill up gas tanks for all vehicles
SON STABS FATHER IN HAVERSTRAW
A 24-year-old man was arrested Thursday morning after stabbing his father during a fight. Louis Estrella is being charged with stabbing his 44-year-old father with a kitchen knife in Haverstraw. Lt. Martin Lund said the incident happened around 6 p.m. Wednesday evening with the argument starting inside and ending outside, turning into a stabbing. The stab victim suffered a knife wound to his right arm but is not considered life-threatening. Estrella was arrested after being treated for minor injuries from the fight. Both were taken to Nyack Hospital for treatment. Estrella was arraigned on felony charges of first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He is being held on a $50,000 bail in County Jail.
S. ORANGTOWN SUPERINTENDENT CRITICIZES STATE EDUCATION REFORMS
South Orangetown Superintendent Kenneth Mitchell isn’t too happy about the state’s high-profile education reforms and has written a harsh report criticizing the “grand and costly experiment.” Mitchell maintains that the teacher-evaluation system and new Common Core learning standards are too expensive and focused on standardized tests. Mitchell says, “In an effort to raise scores, schools and districts are already reducing instruction in the arts, music, and other non-tested resources, such as social workers or counselors.” According to a report released by the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz. Rockland Districts in 2011 projected a four-year cost of almost $10.9-million to implement the reforms while only receiving a total of just under $400,000 in Race to the Top Funds. Mitchell wrote in his report, that in order to meet these costs and stay under the new property-tax cap, districts are forced to shed additional staff, defer maintenance projects and put off educational programs.
THE COUNTY AND UTILITIES PREPARE FOR “FRANKENSTORM”
The County and utilities have started preparing for Hurricane Sandy that is expected to touch-down sometime early next week.
After conference calls with the National Weather Service and town representatives, Rockland County Emergency Services Coordinator Gordon Wren believes Rockland will experience heavy rain, significant tidal force and possible gale force winds.
Now according to the U.S. Government’s National Weather Service, gale forces are extremely strong sustained winds averaging 39 to 54mph. Two major concerns for Rockland are leaves blocking storm drains and the Lake Deforest Reservoir which is currently at 99-percent.
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski’s office has requested that United Water explore all options including increasing releases from Lake Deforest to lower the water level in order to protect West Nyack residents. Gordon Wren said emergency planning officials in the county plan to meet or conference today to get an update on the latest weather information and coordinate, prepare and plan for the storm. Wren encourages residents to think about what they would need now before they are actually needed.
PRESERVE RAMAPO PURSUES PETITIONS IN COURT
In late summer Preserve Ramapo collected thousands of signatures and two petitions to include the expansion of the town board and creation of a town ward system on ballots for next month’s general elections. Ramapo Town Clerk invalidated their petitions leaving Preserve Ramapo to pursue the matter in court. The group believes these proposals will create a better system of checks and balances. Town Clerk Chris Sampson invalidated the petitions late Tuesday due to the concerns of several town residents which formally objected to the petitions claiming that there were duplicate signatures, some were illegible and concern over whether some signors were even registered to vote in Ramapo. Decisions on petitions must be made by the town clerk 30 to 45 days after submission. The group submitted the petitions September 6. On Wednesday, before sate Supreme Court Judge Margaret Garvey, Preserve Ramapo member Michael Parietti argued that the town stone-walled the decision in order to prevent the proposal from appearing on the November 6th ballot. This isn’t the first time Preserve Ramapo has tried to establish a ward system. In 2003, 2004 and 2005, the group petitioned for the system, and each time was rejected by the town.
STATE AWARDS ROCKLAND COUNTY WITH $72,000 FOR STOP-DWI PROGRAM
County Executive Scott Vanderhoef announced Wednesday that the New York State Stop-DWI Foundation has awarded the county $72,000. Rockland County’s Stop-DWI program will use the money to increase police crackdowns to reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths. There will be an especially high presence of officers during the holiday seasons.
LAWRENCE TAYLOR DEFENDS HE DID NOT FORCE TEEN INTO SEX
NFL legend Lawrence Taylor faced a Manhattan jury Wednesday, admitting to the court that he paid for sex with a prostitute in Rockland County in 2010, but denied accusations that he knew the prostitute was a teen runaway. Taylor is serving six months probation after pleading guilty last year to misdemeanor charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing an underage prostitute. His accuser, Christina Fierro, then 16-years-old, claims an abusive pimp forced her to have sex with Taylor for $300. Now she is suing Taylor in federal court.
VANDERHOEF RELEASES PROPOSED 2013 BUDGET
Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef released his proposed 2013 budget on Tuesday. The Budget would increase county property taxes by an average of $157, cut health and public safety programs, outsource 70 county jobs and offer retirement incentives to another 55 workers. Vanderhoef made it clear that an increase in property taxes was the only fee increase and that staff reductions were driven by the need to meet an additional $33-million in state mandated costs. Of the program cuts, the elimination of funding to the Rockland County Sherriff’s Mounted Unit, which would account for five jobs and four members of the Sherriff’s Road Patrol and another six jobs from the Highway Department. Vanderhoef also mentioned the elimination of programs and hiring outside vendors for radiology and laundry tasks at Summit Park, security duties at county facilities and food services at the county jail. All together, these changes would result in job losses for 42 workers. In addition, the budget proposes shutting down the county pharmacy and eliminating six county health department programs, which employ 13 people. The county is under a no-layoff clause through December 31, 2013 with the Civil Service Employees Association, Rockland Management Association and the Doctors Council. Since the county would eliminate entire programs instead of conducting individual lay-offs, there is no breach of contract. CSEA President P.T. Thomas plans to file a lawsuit if union members are negatively effected by the proposed program cuts. A public hearing on the budget is November 20th. Legislators must adopt a plan by December 7th.
ROCKLAND PROSECUTORS AND HAVERSTRAW POLICE SEEK GRAND JURY INDICTMENT ON EUGENE PALMER
Eugene Palmer has not been found, it’s not even sure if he is still alive, but Rockland prosecutors and Haverstraw Police plan to seek a grand jury indictment, charging the 73-year-old grandfather with murdering his daughter-in-law. The indictment would allow a Rockland Criminal Court Judge to issue a warrant allowing police agencies nationwide to detain Palmer for any reason. The idictment, according to Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe would also preserve police evidence and Witness testimony. A grand jury could hear the case as soon as next week.
ZEBROWSKI HOSTS SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE MEETING
On Tuesday, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski hosted a small business roundtable meeting at the RCC extension Center in Haverstraw. Zebrowski provided more than 30 local business owners with information on various resources they may not have been aware of. Business owners also spoke about issues like, property taxes, government regulation and access to capital. Zebrowski said collaboration between small businesses and elected officials would help create a business friendly environment.
VAN HITS 5 NEW SQUARE GIRLS
Five New Square girls were injured Monday after a van jumped a curb. The girls one 7-years-old and four 9-year-olds were playing on a driveway and neighborhood sidewalk when the white Ford van veered off the road and struck the girls. The 7-year-old and two 9-year-old girls were seriously injured and taken to Westchester Medical Center. One of the three was treated and released Monday. The 7-year-old suffered a compound fracture to the femur. One of the 9-year-olds suffered a head injury. Officials say both girls suffered critical injuries but are believed to be in stable condition. The other two girls were taken to Nyack Hospital where they were released the same day. The driver of the van, 42-year-old Rachid Elasri of Spring Valley was not injured. The crash may have been the result of a mechanical malfunction. Drugs and alcohol are not believed to have played a role in the crash. Elasri told officers at the scene that he lost control of the van that is owned by the Monsey business Five Star Home Medical Supply. He has not been charged in connection with the accident, police are still investigating the crash. Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence praised all the emergency responders for their quick action treating all the girls at the scene and transporting them within 10 minutes. St. Lawrence personally thanked Jacob Goldmuzer, a veteran paramedic from New Square, for his heroic efforts and life-saving action.
TWO PEOPLE STABBED IN SPRING VALLEY
Two people were reported in being stabbed late Monday night in Spring Valley. The incident occurred at about 11:32 p.m. on Church Street where officers found two stabbing victims and a blade with blood on it. Police roped off an area near the Ayla Auto Repair And Service Station. As investigators examined evidence at the scene, three men were interviewed by police in the service station parking lot. Investigators took pictures inside the service station parking lot and on the street focusing on a pile of bloody clothes and several areas of blood trails. Village Police could not offer much detail on the “active investigation” but confirmed at least one person was taken to the hospital.
UPDATE: Arrests have been made.
JV FOOTBALL GAME TURNS AGGRESSIVE OFF THE FIELD
A Rockland/Putnam football game went into a heated overtime…kind of. On Friday night, Brewster Police were called in to ref a heated argument between Spring Valley and Brewster’s Junior Varsity Football teams. When police arrived, not only was the game over, but also the heated verbal spat that never turned physical. Spring Valley High School and Chestnut Ridge Middle School Athletic Coordinator Bill Pilla was not at the game, but says that his department is trying to find out what happened. According to Brewster Superintendent of Schools Jane Sandbank the fight was between some parents in the bleachers it is unclear what started the confrontation, but Brewster Police Sgt. Joseph Malorgio said Spring Valley players were escorted from the area and back to their bus.
17th CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES GO HEAD TO HEAD
On Sunday, candidates for the 17th congressional district, incumbent Nita Lowey and challenger Joe Carvin went head to head at Rockland’s Jewish Community Center. The candidates took the stage for 50 minutes to answer questions submitted by the audience. Republican candidate Joe Carvin railed against the federal budget deficit arguing that Lowey’s record on entitlement and spending has hurt jobs, driven up the deficit and that entitlement programs long-term costs, he calculates at $6-trillion under Lowey. Democratic representative Nita Lowey focused more on health care. Democratic representative Nita Lowey focused more on health care, making points about the proper role of government in healthcare, linking Carvin to Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Medicare policies that would shift future retirees to private insurance in 2023. Although the spotlight was on Carvin and Lowey, Frank Morganthaler running on the independent line on the November ballot called We the People had what could be argued the line of the night closing “I’m an independent candidate, I’m not controlled by an party. I’m controlled by you.”
25-YEAR-OLD SPRING VALLEY MAN INDICTED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER
A 25-year-old Spring Valley man was indicted on felony charges of attempted murder and possession of a weapon after stabbing a woman multiple times. A grand jury charged Robert Williams on Friday with trying to kill a 24-year-old woman in late September. Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe says he is accused of approaching the woman from behind and stabbing her multiple times in the back, arm, stomach and face with a knife. The victim who knew Williams, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Westchester Medical Center. Williams was charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
CONGERS/VALLEY COTTAGE AMBULANCE CORPS HOLDS DEDICATION
After more than 10 years of trying to get a new, more modern building, the Congers-Valley Cottage Ambulance Corps. officially held its dedication ceremony Saturday for its new location. The state-of-the-art building, located at 122 Kings Highway in Congers, is 9,350 square feet. The previous building, which was 6,500 square feet, was located at the same place, and demolished earlier this year. The corps operated out of a building on Route 9W in the interim. The day featured talks by current and former ambulance corps members and town officials and the building was open so guests could visit. The building was made possible thanks to the corps and Town of Clarkstown teaming up to pay for the building, which cost a little less than $3 million.
PRISCILLA’S WEEK 7 VARSITY ROUND-UP
Friday night was all about big hits for the Gryphons, wearing the Mounties down and bringing home the Supervisor’s trophy. Their first time taking the trophy home. Ramapo’s Lefran Belizaire has a big running game for the Gryphons with 108 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The defense allowed only 18 yards rushing. Suffern’s Chris Grangnani was sacked six times with Gryphons tackle Jason Senat leading the D for two sacks. Grangnani kept Suffern in the game with Richie Horowitz catching five for 83 yards and Gabe Cohen catching four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Gryphons Randy Etienne was 4-for 8 passing for 67 yards and a touchdown pass to Shaquille Muscadin. Final score 26-14 Ramapo. Rockland played OK Friday night with North topping White Plains 34-21 and North Rockland beating Arlington 20-1. Nyack had a tough run against Poughkeepsie getting demolished 42-7. South fell to John Jay-East Fishkill 27-10. Saturday, a better day for Rockland with the solo lose coming from Pearl River losing to Hen-Hud 27-17. The rest all winners, Tappan Zee vs. Horace Greeley 27-6. Spring Valley vs Peekskill 28-14 and Nanuet vs Croton-Harmon 41-7. For other news the Section 1 playoff schedule was released Sunday with Nanuet and North Rockland continuing in post season.
Section 1 playoff schedule
Class A quarterfinals
No. 3B Hen Hud (5-2) at No. 2A Sleepy Hollow (6-1), 3 p.m.
No. 4B Poughkeepsie (6-1) at No. 1A Harrison (7-0), TBA
No. 3A Saunders (6-1) at No. 2B Somers (7-0), 6 p.m.
No. 4A Panas (5-2) at No. 1B Brewster (7-0), 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 26
Class B semifinals
No. 4 Croton-Harmon (4-3) vs. No. 1 Our Lady of Lourdes (7-0) at Overlook Park, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Nanuet (5-2) at No. 2 Pleasantville (5-2), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27
Class AA semifinals
No. 4 John Jay-East Fishkill (5-2) at No. 1 New Rochelle (6-1), 1:30 p.m.
No. 3 Mamaroneck (6-1) at No. 2 North Rockland (6-1), 1:30 p.m.
Class C semifinals
No. 4 Bronxville (4-3) at No. 1 Woodlands (7-0), 1:30 p.m.
No. 3 Dobbs Ferry (5-2) at No. 2 Rye Neck (6-0), 1:30 p.m.
Class D semifinals
No. 3 Palisade Prep (2-5) at No. 2 Haldane (2-4-1), 1:30 p.m.
No. 4 Yonkers Montessori (0-6) at No. 1 Tuckahoe (4-2-1), 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 30
Class A semifinals
At higher seed:
No. 3B Hen Hud-No. 2A Sleepy Hollow winner vs. No. 4A Panas- No. 1B Brewster winner
No. 4B Poughkeepsie-No. 1A Harrison winner vs. No. 3A Saunders-No. 2B Somers winner
Saturday, Nov. 3
All games at Mahopac High School:
Class D championship, 2 p.m.
Class AA championship, 5 p.m.
Class B championship, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4
All games at Mahopac High School:
Class A championship, 1 p.m.
Class C championship, 4:30 p.m.
AT LEAST TWO ROCKLAND COUNTY SCOUT MASTERS ON BOY SCOUT “PERVERSION FILE”
So-called “perversion file” were released by the Boy Scouts of America Organization by order of the Oregon Supreme Court. Several local men’s names showed up on the list. The files detail instances of alleged sexual abuse by Scout Masters, with Scout Executives dismissing Scout Masters on alleged inappropriate behavior, but not reporting the incidences to local authorities. Lower Hudson Valley cases are among the Boy Scouts molestation-allegation files, including Rockland County with at least two incidences on record within the years of 1965 through 2004. The data base included a case in Suffern in 1965 and Spring Valley in 2001.
JUDGE QUESTIONS WHETHER YELLING IS A CRIME
A village judge had one question Thursday evening…is yelling a crime? Justice Alan Simon ordered a prosecutor and defense attorney to provide legal opinion on whether or not Village Board Trustee Anthony Leon can be charged with a non-criminal harassment violation for allegedly threatening, cursing and lunging at trustee Demeza Delhomme during a Board of Trustees meeting late September. The verdict? Yelling is not a crime. Simon cited that there is a separation of the three branches of government and government officials are allowed to yell and scream at one another without fear of being slapped with a violation.
RED AND TAN WILL HAVE ROUTE TO MIDTOWN STARTING NOV 26
Move over Coach USA there is a new bus in town. Starting November 26, Red and Tan is rolling out their new express bus route to Midtown. Red and Tan currently has 12 express busses operating on the 49. After Thanksgiving that number should rise to 16 buses, costing commuters $300 for a 40-ticket book.
ROCKLAND CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER RESIGNS
Rockland County’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Taff resigned Tuesday, the same day his four-year term was up. According to the County Executive’s office, Dr. Taff decided to step down from his full-time administrative duties to, “devote more time to his private consultation practice for forensic medicine and pathology, teaching and writing.” Recently, there was a vote of no confidence from the Rockland Police Chief’s Association claiming Taff didn’t show up at crime scenes, and alienated police with his management style and lack of communication. Taff was also on doctors and organ donation groups bad side for putting up what they considered unnecessary roadblocks for families considering organ donations. In one instance, Taff told local hospitals that his office would not participate in the organ donation program, arguing that his investigations have been delayed to let medical teams remove organs for transplant. Taff earned a yearly salary of close to $163,000. Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Laura Carbone will serve as the acting Chief Medical Examiner. Dr. Taff will stay on as a forensic pathologist consultant to the Medical Examiner’s Office and Department of Health on an as needed basis.
RAMAPO RESIDENTS VOICE CONCERN OF NEW SQUARE ANNEXATION
Wednesday evening, about two-dozen residents made there way to a public hearing on the controversial proposal to annex privately owned land to the village of New Square. Applicant Favish Langsam and four landowners plan to develop and improve ramshackle properties. If passed the land that is now zoned for single-family residences will be developed into multifamily housing to accommodate the growing densely populated Hasidic village. The property consists of six parcels along Route 45. Currently, four parcels are occupied by tenants with no word of plans for their future. Residents who spoke before New Square and Ramapo officials at the hearing, questioned the impact the potential development could have, listing traffic, public safety, sewer and water infrastructure, and the East Ramapo School district as concerns. The 6.87 acres annexation requires the full support of the Town and Village Boards. Board members now have 90 days to review the proposal but can make a decision before then. Comments on the proposal will be accepted through October 29.
POLICE AND CADAVAR DOGS SEARCH FOR EUGENE PALMER AFTER HIKER REPORTS AN ODOR IN WOODS
More than 20 police officers and eight cadaver dogs trailed the woods of Harriman State Park in search of Eugene Palmer who family members believe to be dead. Eugene Palmer the 73-year-old man wanted in the shooting death of his daughter-in-law Tammy Palmer has been missing for 23 days since he fled with no sign that the experienced hunter is still alive. Officials picked up the search again on Wednesday after a hiker reported a strange odor on the south side of Willow Grove Rd. The teams went out that morning and returned empty handed with each dog covering 40 acres each, fanning more than 300 acres in total. Haverstraw Police Chief Charles Miller says he has not ruled out Palmer being dead, but cannot close the investigation without a body.
RAMAPO POLICE CHIEF HIGHEST_PAID LOCAL EMPLOYEE IN THE STATE
Ramapo Police Chief Peter Brower is listed as the highest-paid local employee in the state. He earned $321,719 according to payroll records in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. According to Chief Brower’s contract, his base salary is $219,914 with his longevity increments amounting to $31,305, add it up that’s a total of $251,219. Included were retroactive pay for about 18-months it took to settle his current contract and lump-sum payments for unused time. Brower has served as Ramapo Police Chief for the past six years and in the police force for over 40 years. Supervisor Christopher ST. Lawrence praised Brower but was quoted in saying “He won’t be on the top of the list next year.” Clarkstown had the highest average salary of any local agency, with police officers averaging $179,689 salary. Seven of its workers are among the top twenty highest-paid workers in local government in New York.
EAST RAMAPO MEETING PERSISTS AFTER THREAT OF BEING CANCELLED
A community meeting at Ramapo High School almost had the front doors locked on them. The non-profit organization advocating for change headed by Cassandra Edwards received word the day of that East Ramapo Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein requested the meeting not be held on school grounds. Edwards reassured Klein that the meeting was not about the recent class-action lawsuit filed against the district, which accuses the district of using public money for the defense of school officials in several ongoing legal matters. The meeting went on as planned with discussions focused on the child welfare system and finding solutions to the challenges facing East Ramapo.
$3-MILLION LOTTERY CASES ENDS IN MISTRIAL
Lady Luck strikes again for the three men accused of stealing $3-million in lottery winnings from an illegal immigrant in Spring Valley. After more than three days of deliberations. The 12-member jury’s vote was dead-locked at 8-4 in favor of acquitting the Hickory Street deli owner Riaz Khan and store clerk Atif Ali and Mubeen Ashraf. Judge William Nelson declared the case a mistrial sparing Ali, Khan and Ashraf first-degree larceny raps.
RCC: SENATOR DAVID CARLUCCI PUSHES BILLS TO LOWER COLLEGE COSTS
Senator David Carlucci met with students, parents and school administrators at Rockland Community College Monday to garner support for his plans to lower college costs. Carlucci plans to make college more affordable by focusing on three proposals. The first proposal would be creating a list of private lenders that provide low-cost loans at the best rates and with the best repayment options for students. Second, Carlucci is also proposing two tax credit programs that are already in play but would be changed a bit to help New York students. One tax credit would encourage students to stay in New York after College, by offering graduates a tax credit equal to their college expenses over a four year period at $3,000 a year. The other tax credit would place state deposits with participating lenders at lower rates so they could offer loans to students attending in-state colleges about 3-points below market rates. These loans would be capped at $7,500 a year, $30,000 in total. Lastly, a program that would allow parents or student to prepay one third of the annual tuition cost over 12 years for SUNY and CUNY schools. Parts of these proposals were included in legislation he co-sponsored in the state senate, passed unanimously in the senate and stalled in the assembly.
EAST RAMAPO SCHOOL DISTRICT HIT WITH ANOTHER PETITION
The East Ramapo School District has been slapped with another petition, this time the petition aims to block the Board of Education from using public money to defend school officials in several ongoing legal cases. On Friday, the petition was served on the district asking the State of Education Commissioner to grant an “emergency stay” on up to $2-million in district money in what is believed to be used for legal costs to defend the board members. The petition is backed by public interest firm advocates for justice, the same firm which filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 200 parent plaintiffs against the district this past summer.
LOCAL CRIMES AND UPDATES
After more than five hours of deliberation the jury is out on whether or not three men are guilty of stealing $3-million in lottery winnings from and illegal immigrant living in Spring Valley. The 12-member jury took the case late Thursday started deliberating on Friday and could not decide if Atif Ali, Riaz Khan and Mubeen Ashraf were guilty. If found guilty the trio face felony first-degree grand larceny charges. In February, Elfido DeLaRoca bought a winning ticket in a Hickory Street Deli owned by Khan, also where Ali and Mubeen worked. The men used DeLaRoca’s immigration status into scaring him to cross out his name and let all sign it and control the winnings. The jury will continue deliberating today at the County Courthouse in New City.
On Monday, a Stony Point woman pleaded guilty to a federal tax evasion charge. Margaret Viola who owned Rojo Salon in New City was charged after prosecutors said she failed to pay $14,700 in income taxes and $68,000 in payroll taxes from 2004-2008. Her sidekick stylist Donna Maglione of Nyack plead guilty to keeping large parts of their income off the books in late September. Viola will be sentenced on February 25. She faces up to five years in prison with a maximum fine of $250,000.
STATE SLAPS COUNTY WITH ADDITIONAL $30-MILLION MANDATED COSTS
The state slapped on an additional $30-million to the county’s already struggling budget. County Executive Scott Vanderhoef broke down the costs saying $15-million is for increases the county must make to contribute to cover state pension plan costs, $9-million in county jail increases where the state mandated the hiring of an additional 15 guards this year and $3-million for increases in Medicaid. The additional mandated costs make it impossible for Vanderhoef to stay under the 2-percent tax cap. What we can expect are service cuts and consolidations as Vanderhoef focuses on balancing and preventing a huge property tax increase. The deadline for the proposed 2013 county budget is October 23rd.
CHESTNUT RIDGE RAPE SENTENCING POSTPONED
Sentencing for the four boys found guilty of raping a 14-year-old girl and sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl was postponed Friday. Judge Sherri Eisenpress delayed the sentencing of the four boys because forensic psychological evaluations for the boys by Rockland County Department of Health were not completed. The four boys ages 12 -13 were found guilty in September of gang-raping a 14-year-old girl and sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl over several days in June. Two of the boys are scheduled for sentencing October 26 and the other two are due in court November 2.
ROCKLAND CELEBRATES COLUMBUS DAY IN TAPPAN
A replica of Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria sailed through Tappan yesterday, as the parade named after the explorer attracted several thousand people. Spectators waved flags and cheered from sidewalks as some 40 organizations, including high school marching bands and local dignitaries, turned out on the sunny autumn day to pay tribute to their Italian-American heritage. Over its 35-year plus history, the parade has been held at different locations, most recently in Haverstraw and Nanuet. This year’s turnout, estimated at about 2,000, made it one of the larger celebrations of Italian-American culture in the area.
PRISCILLA’S WEEK 6 VARSITY ROUND-UP
Week six of varsity football, Nyack played Yorktown for their homecoming game. Both teams were 2-2 in the league coming into the game giving the winner of this game breathing room in the standings. On their first possession, Yorktown drives 65-yards on nine plays, QB Mariano fires a pass over the middle to DelBene for the first touchdown of the evening. The Huskers were not able to convert the extra point, leaving them with a 6-0 lead. Nyack answers back with Jordan Mews throwing for 35-yards to Henry and the extra point, taking the lead 7-6 and holding it till the end of the first. Coming back from halftime, Yorktown’s Erik Meyreles returns the opening kickoff to the 50-yard-line and four plays later scores on a 9-yard carry score 16-7. Nyack answers back with senior Derwohn Bartley marching down the field for 37-yards, cutting the lead to 16-14. Yorktown’s next possession not so pretty, with a fumble, six penalties from both teams and a personal foul called on Nyack on what would have been a Yorktown fourth down. Yorktown pulls through with Mariano finding DelBene again, in the back of the end zone, upping the lead to 23-14, which ends up being the final score. For other varsity scores and the only win for Rockland Friday night, North Rockland kills Ramapo in a 37-14 victory. South falls to Mahopac 19-14 and Tappan Zee losses to Rye 30-20. Saturday, three dominant performances by Albertus Magnus who beats Yonkers 63-20. Clarkstown North takes the W over Mount Vernon 26-6 and Nanuet with a blowout game against Roosevelt 43-0. Two close games with Spring Valley losing to Saunders 19-18 and Suffern falling in overtime to Ketcham 43-42.
VALLEY COTTAGE MAN SENTENCED TO 25-YEARS FOR SHOOTING NEIGHBOR
A Valley Cottage man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempted murder and assault Thursday. In August of 2011, 53-year-old Eric Goods shot his neighbor Edward Kern in the head and chest. Kern a 33-year-old New York City schoolteacher has just greeted Goods who lived across the hall in the Mountainview Condominiums on Sierra Vista Lane when he was shot. Supreme Court Justice William Kelly gave Goods the maximum sentence of 25 years each on assault and attempted murder charges, and 15 years each on a number of other charges. All sentences will run together with five years probation after his release. Jurors convicted Goods of a list of charges in August.
FAMILY OF NUN KILLED BY FALLING CLOSET SETTLES AT $900-THOUSAND
The family of the 90-year-old nun who was killed by a falling closet four years ago has settled its wrongful-death lawsuit. The lawsuit settled for the $900-thousand with the county, the company that manufactured the freestanding closet and the company that installed it to make the payments. According to the lawyer representing the family Kenneth Pryor, Rockland County will pay the largest portion because they were the most responsible. Sister Mary Daniel was a patient of the Summit Park of the Summit Park Nursing Home. She was found with a 200-poun, 7-foot-wide freestanding closet unit on top of her. Sister Daniel was bleeding profusely but still conscious when she was discovered. She died seven days later on September 7, 2008 of a fractured skull at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
RAMAPO POLICE OFFICER NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE OFF FOR WEDDING DAY
A Ramapo Police Officer may not be able to fully enjoy his wedding. Police Officer Modestino Guisto Jr. is out on disability and under departmental orders, he has to stay home from 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday. Those add up to the eight hours that constitute his shift. As an officer on line-of-duty disability, he gets paid tax-free, including all raises and benefits, but cannot take time off. Guisto went on disability leave in June of 2011 after being injured in a training exercise involving the department’s new Taser stun guns. As part of the training, officers must experience being stunned. One of the electrified dart shot Guisto in the back where he suffered an injury to the cervical area of his neck. Ramapo Police Chief Peter Brower and department officials aren’t giving him a free pass to enjoy his special day. State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey has been asked to intervene and order that the Ramapo Police Department allow Guisto to enjoy one of the most important days of his life without interference.
COUNTY EXECUTIVE VANDERHOEF WILL NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION
County Executive Scott Vanderhoef will not seek re-election in 2013. He made this announcement Wednesday evening during his annual fundraiser. He told supporters that county finances had nothing to do with his decision. In fact, he felt that if he did run for a sixth four-year term he would win. With one year and three months left, he decided to make his announcement now to give the Rockland Republican Party time to back a strong candidate. What’s next for the County Executive? Well he hope to return to the private sector.
LANDOWNERS LOOK TO ANNEX 7 ACRES TO NEW SQUARE
A group of landowners are looking to annex 7 acres to the Village of New Square. Favish Langsam of Monsey has submitted a petition to annex six parcels of private property in Unincorporated Ramapo for the village’s growing Hasidic population. If approved, the annexation of the property would allow multifamily housing to be built on the what is now zoned for single-family residences. New square and Ramapo officials will meet Wednesday October 17th at 8 p.m. in Ramapo Town Hall for a joint public hearing on the petition. In order for the application to be passed, both boards must approve. They have 90 days to make a decision.
NANUET SCHOOL DISTRICT TO FACE TOUGH DECISIONS TO KEEP CLASS SIZES AND PROGRAMS
The Nanuet School District is forced to face tough decisions to maintain its current class sizes and programs. On Tuesday evening’s Board of Education Meeting, Superintendent of Schools Mark McNeill outlines a proposal, which included teacher layoffs, grade reconfiguration, reorganizing buildings and a reduction of busing. The district expects to save $1.8-million of the $3.5-million it has to cut to balance its budget. The remaining money would come from the districts reserve fund.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATURE’S ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE VOTES UNANIMOUSLY TO REOPEN 2006 RATE CASE
Wednesday evening, the Rockland County Legislature’s Environmental Committee voted unanimously to support the request of Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee to ask the New York State Public Service Commission to reopen the 2006 rate case. The case required United Water New York to add to its supply leading to the proposed Hudson River treatment plant in Haverstraw. The Committee is voting to request a reopening of the proceedings after new information has been revealed.
ORANGETOWN LOOKS INTO SELLING OFF SEWER DEPARTMENT
Orangetown board members sat down Tuesday, hoping to hash out what cuts and increases were needed to make the 2013 budget--or get as close to it. Supervisor Andy Stewart has already proposed the closure of Broadacres Golf Course, shrinking the Police Department and last week's big news -- an estimated 9.19 percent tax increase. While these options were revisited, selling off Orangetown's sewer department came up. Board member Paul Valentine argued that selling the Department of Environmental Management and Engineering which has about 40 employees would allow the town to pay off its debt and begin the cleanup of the former Rockland Psychiatric Center Property. Other options that were brought up were freezing capital outlay programs, ending the use of town cars for employees and eliminating the town receiver of taxes in 2014. The board will continue discussions October 23 at 8 p.m. at Town Hall. The deadline to pass the budget is November 20.
T-Z SELECTION REVIEW TEAM TAKES SHORT CRUISE OF NEW BRIDGE ROUTE
This morning the selection review team that will help decide who will design and build the Tappan Zee bridge will take a short cruise of the crossing's route. The eleven member selection and review team has been offered to take a quick look at the current bridge and then trace the route where the new Tappan Zee Bridge will be. The boat will leave from the thruway's dock in South Nyack. On board to answer questions will be staff from the New York State Thruway Authority and consultants on the project.
BARDONIA GAS/CONVIENIENT STORE PROPOSAL SCRATCHED
A proposal to build a gas station and convenience store in Bardonia has been scratched. After demolishing three buildings on site, Rockland County developer Eric Bergstol applied for a gas station and QuickChek mart in April of 2011. He cancelled two appearances before the Planning Board and never rescheduled. From the start Bardonia residents were not happy about the size of the operation arguing the project would disrupt the community, increase traffic and hurt local business. The Clarkstown Planning Department is now looking to replace the site with a pharmacy such as CVS or Rite Aid.
IN-PERSON VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE THIS SATURDAY
If you are planning on voting in the November 6th general election, Saturday is the last day to register to vote. If you haven't done so already or officially changed your address , the deadline for in-person registration is Saturday, October 13th. The Rockland County Board of Elections Office will be open on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mailed registration application must be postmarked by October 12 and received by October 17.
CLARKSTOWN SEEKS CLEANUP PLAN FOR CRUM CREEK AND LAKE LUCILLE FROM DEVELOPER
Clarkstown wants the State Department of Environmental Conservation to impose a cleanup plan on the developer responsible for allowing silt to flow into surrounding streams. Both the DEC and the Ramapo Building Department have instituted a stop-work order on Monsey Developer Joseph Herskowitz. Herskowitz’s Sky Ridge development is close to 19-acres off Buena Vista Road in Unincorporated Ramapo near the Clarkstown border. He faces violations from both agencies for failing to comply with storm water controls that have allowed silt to flow a mile and a half downstream into Crum Creek and continuing on to Lake Lucille. In the forefront is Rockland County Legislator Ed Day who has asked the DEC to take strict action against the developer. Like Clarkstown, he has called on the developer to present a plan that will remove sediment and silt in the waterways and the lake. Herskovitz is due in Ramapo Town Court October 16. His summons cites that he started construction without putting erosion control measures in place and didn’t obtain a land disturbance permit from the town.
ROCKLAND LEGISLATORS LOOK TO REOPEN UNITED WATER RATE CASE
Rockland County Legislators are looking to reopen a 2006 rate case that required United Water New York to add to its supply, leading to the proposed Hudson River treatment plant. Legislators want to ask the state to require a legislative hearing and issues conference. This trial-like proceeding would allow for sworn testimony and the introduction of evidence of United Water’s proposal to build and operate the plant. The current plan is to construct a plant off the shores of the Hudson in West Haverstraw where United Water can draw and treat the river water and supply Rockland County customers. Concerns with the plant include the ability to remove contaminants from the water, sludge the plant would produce and the cost of operation.
SPRING VALLEY POLICE OFFICERS HELP COVER DEFENSE BILLS FOR FELLOW OFFICER
A Spring Valley officer charged with excessive force against a suspected robber who attacked him is getting financial support from his fellow policemen. The Spring Valley Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is hosting a fundraiser to try and cover the costs of Officer Oscar Lopez’s defense bills. The fundraiser called “10-13” after the police code “assist a Police Officer” will be held October 20th from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Haverstraw Elks Lodge. Spring Valley Police and Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe’s office are charging Lopez with a felony count, accusing him of going beyond self-defense when hitting robbery suspect Fritzdat Gilot 11 times on the head and body with his baton. The Charge against Lopez stems from moments after his initial defense, when he is accused of using force on Gilot that exceeded his authority under law.
A EAST RAMAPO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PATROL PARENT IS A LEVEL 1 SEX OFFENDER
One of the parents who confronted trespassers at Grandview Elementary is a level 1 sex offender. East Ramapo officials have filed a police complaint against 47-year-old Keith Meyers of Spring Valley, who has been banned from East Ramapo school grounds since September 2010. Meyers was pinched in 1999 for his involvement in buying two pornographic videos featuring children from an undercover officer. He served three year’s probation after pleading guilty. Meyers will remain a level 1offender, the lowest of three levels until 2019. On Tuesday, Meyers with several other parents were patrolling Grandview Elementary School grounds in Monsey, confronting dozens of pedestrians who were using the property as a shortcut and asking them to find another route. The school district is now seeking trespassing charges against Meyers.
NEW YORK STATE THRUWAY AUTHORITY HITS SPEED BUMP IN UNCOLLECTED TOLLS
The New York State Thruway Authority has been hitting a bit of a speed bump. Gannet’s Albany Bureau retrieved information that the Thruway Authority’s finances have been hurt after not being able to collect tolls and fines. It is reported that since 2007, there has been $35-million in uncollected tolls and that only $7-million of it have been recovered through a credit agency. The Tappan Zee Bridge is giving the Thruway Authority the biggest problem, between 2007 and 2011 nearly 80,000 passenger vehicles and trucks didn’t pay the 5-dollar round-trip toll, adding up to $7-million in uncollected fines and tolls. The New York state thruway authority is considering a 45 percent toll increase on trucks making business groups and state lawmakers critical of the proposition. They defend uncollected tolls are one reason why any toll increase should receive further review.
3-YEAR-OLD BOY FALLS 25-FEET
A 3-year-old boy fell 25-feet off a set of bleachers during Saturday afternoons Spring Valley/Nyack game. The child understandably fell asleep during the blowout game and slipped through the one-and-a-half foot gap between the railing and seat. Rockland Paramedics, Spring Valley Police and Spring Hill Ambulance Corps. responded to the scene. The tough toddler was transported to Nyack Hospital where doctors made a final call that he suffered from no serious injuries.
PRISCILLA’S WEEK 5 VARSITY ROUND-UP
Week five of varsity football, rivals Clarkstown North and South went head to head under the lights on Friday. North opened the scoring in the first with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Frank Regalbuto to Ricky Straniere in the second senior Zach Johnson answers back for the Vikings, returning a punt 44 yards for a touchdown, tying the game. South took the lead for good in the third on a Ryan McManus quarterback sneak, scoring on fourth-and-inches at the 1-yard line. Game goes to the Vikings who did a great job running the clock out behind Johnson who had 40 of his game-high 62-yards on the final possession. Final score 14-7. The team also walked away with the Supervisor’s Cup for the second consecutive year. Overall Friday night looked good for Rockland football with Tappan Zee beating Panas 13-7. Suffern taking the W against Scarsdale 35-28 and the solo lose by Pearl River losing to Harrison 32-7. Saturday games, North Rockland beats White Plains 17-7. Nanuet takes a close game from Westlake 17-14 and Nyack beats Spring Valley 21-6.
PRINCIPAL SUING CATHOLIC CHURCH OVER GENDER DISCRIMINATION
A former principal of St. Anthony’s school in Nanuet is suing the Roman Catholic Church for alleged gender discrimination. Joanne Fratello filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Archdiocese of New York alleging she faced gender discrimination in the workplace and was then removed from her job when she complained about it. The divorced single mother and practicing Catholic alleges her problems started in 2010 when Rev. Joseph Depnai took over the parish. In June 2011 the lawsuit claims Deponai falsely accused Fratello of having an affair, based on her having coffee and lunch with the male facilities manager. After complaining to Deponai and his supervisors of the adultery accusations her contract was not renewed. Fratello is seeking a court order to get her job back and for payment for damages and legal fees.
CARLUCCI HIGHLIGHTS 5-POINT JOBS PLAN
On the campaign trail, State Senator David Carlucci made a quick stop in Orangeburg Thursday to highlight his 5-point jobs plan. Carlucci detailed his plan presenting the August statistics that showed a statewide unemployment rate of 9.1 percent and a combined rate of 7.5 percent for Rockland, Westchester and Putnam Counties. Carlucci’s plan includes a 20 percent cut for small businesses to reduce their rate from 6.5 percent to 5.2 percent. Tax credits for employers who hire workers who have been unemployed for 60 days or longer with increased incentives of up to $10,000 for those hiring veterans. Carlucci also said he will fight to repeal the 18A assessment on utility bills that has been described as a hidden tax which was put in place in 2009. Carlucci is seeking a second two-year term in the state Legislature, representing the newly configured 38th senate district. He would represent Ramapo, Orangetown and Clarkstown in Rockland County and Ossining in Westchester County.
NYACK KEEPS FRIDAY NIGHT