Construction has begun on the new cashless toll system for the Tappan Zee Bridge. On the Rockland side in South Nyack, drivers heading south to the bridge will drive under the steel bars with cameras mounted that will register the EasyPass in each car, instead of having people stop at cash booths, which can lead to serious traffic problems on the Thruway. Those who do not have an EasyPass in their car will have an image taken of their license plate and will receive a bill in the mail for the cost of the toll, which Thruway Authority officials recently stated will remain the same for 2016. The all-electronic toll collection system is expected to be up and running by April of next year, and members of the newly formed Tappan Zee toll task force will continue to study traffic patterns and costs to determine a price for the tolls on the new bridge, while state officials work to determine better ways to prevent or punish toll evaders.
According to prosecutors in the case against a group of men arrested in 2013 for abducting husbands and coercing them into religious divorces, the court hearings are coming to an end. The gang of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men were arrested and charged with traveling in interstate commerce to commit extortion, following an undercover investigation by the FBI, in which agents acted as wives and family members looking to hire Rabbis Martin Wolmark of Monsey and Mendel Epstein of Brooklyn who were in charge of the gang, who would abduct their husbands. On Monday 32-year old Moshe Goldstein was sentenced to 48 months in prison after admitting that he and the other men would then take the husband to New Jersey and use cattle prods and other forms of violence to force them to offer a “get” or a religious divorce to their wives. David Hellman and Simcha Bulmash were also sentenced to 44 months and 48 months in prison on Tuesday, with more members set to be sentenced Thursday, including 42-year old Ariel Potash of Monsey.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he disagrees with Republican members of governments’ attempts to block Syrian refugees from entering the state. Cuomo stated that it does not fall on state government to decide who to allow in, and they must allow the federal government to make the final decision. Various officials have urged Cuomo to take a stand against allowing refugees in, following the terror attacks in Paris last week. According to information compiled by the Journal News from the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, in 2015 forty-eight Syrian refugees came to live here, before that just three had arrived since 2011. Cuomo stated on Tuesday,”The day America says ‘close the gate, build the wall,’ then I say take down the Statue of Liberty because you’ve gone to a different place.” The Governor stated he stands by the Federal Government’s belief that they can screen incoming refugees, as long as it’s done right.
Police stated that a man was struck and killed by a vehicle in Valhalla on Monday, while walking along the road. According to Mount Pleasant Police around 8:00 PM the unidentified 60-year old was walking on Grasslands Road near Westchester Community College and was hit by the car driving by. He was pronounced dead by officials following the accident.
Police responded to an accident on Snake Hill Road in West Nyack on Monday. The road was closed in both directions after a truck carrying gravel overturned around 9:00 AM. The driver was taken to Nyack Hospital for minor injuries and not other vehicles were involved, though the police kept the road closed to investigate the incident and clean the debris that spilled across the two lanes.
According to State Police a Westchester man was arrested following an accident that left one woman dead. Around 10:00 Saturday night, a Jeep being driven by a Carmel woman was turning left after exiting a parking area, and cut off Dodge Caravan being driven by 57-year old retired Carmel police officer Richard O’Keefe, who struck the Jeep. The vehicle overturned, killing 54-year old Fran Gheralducci of Somers, who was riding in the backseat and was pronounced dead at the scene when first responders arrived. O’Keefe was arrested after it was detected by police that he was driving while intoxicated and was charged with felony counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter. He and his passenger were not injured and the other three people in the Jeep were taken to Westchester Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. The former police officer and Carmel Town Board member will be seen in court on December 1.
On Monday the New York State Board of Regents requested an increase in state aid for schools in the 2016 budget. In the proposal board members are seeking a 10% raise in spending, to lessen the burden of districts that cannot afford to keep up with faculty contracts, the minimum wage, programs for students, and healthcare. The desired increases of $2.4 billion would give education in New York a total of $26 billion in spending for the coming fiscal year, which begins April 1 and $2.1 billion of it would be used in formula aid, while $434 million would go to the Gap Elimination Adjustment and $300 million to additional programs.
According to police they are searching for a group of men who allegedly vandalized the home of a Spring Valley man on Sunday morning. The man reported to police that he and his family were all sleeping around 3:30 AM when they heard windows shattering. The group of men allegedly broke five windows around the building by throwing rocks from their vehicle and reports stated that the house has been targeted before. According to police a home on another block was also vandalized that night and they are investigating whether it was a malicious attack or a prank and ask anyone with information on the individuals involved or the incident call the Spring Valley Police Department.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino released his proposed budget for 2016 on Friday. In order to prevent tax increases the $1.8 billion dollar proposal calls for 25 layoffs as well as cutting 60 vacant positions and funding for several nonprofit organizations of up to 70%. Astorino stated that he will veto any counter proposal that raises taxes for residents, and to make up for the gap in spending the county will borrow $11 million to be paid back with $60,000 a year, and defer $3 million in pension obligations. The Legislature will begin over the budget this week, and has until December 27 to approve it.
The CSEA, which represents workers throughout Rockland, has filed a suit against the county in an attempt to block the closure of Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Home. The suite claims that County Executive Ed Day violated the County Charter by not working with the Legislature to make the decision, also stating the County Charter would have to be amended before the Legislature can move forward on the closure. In late September the sale of Summit Park to a private company was terminated by the buyer, who cited a failure by the county to maintain the property and previous lawsuits from the CSEA, as reasons for ended negotiations. The deadline to close the facility is the end of December, before the 2016 budget takes effect, since Day stated there is no room in the proposal for the $800,000 it costs per day to run the hospital and care center. A spokesman for the CSEA stated they are acting on behalf of the employees and residents that will be affected. About 61 residents remain in the nursing care center and the hospital has already been shut down. The County Executive will be hosting a town hall style forum regarding his proposed budget and other important issues tonight at 7:00 PM, at the Valley Cottage Library.