East Ramapo School District Protests

East Ramapo residents and school district members have been expressing concern and anger towards remarks made by School Superintendent Joel Klein last month, referring to the children of immigrants. In a video released of a September meeting Klein claims that certain students know that they will not be obtaining a degree and are attending school simply to learn the language and take advantage of lunches and programs. The residents responded to the statements by attending meetings and protests, some asking for Klein’s resignation. Klein stated that his remarks on the diploma program designed to help students who won’t be graduating were “taken out of context”, and the district also recently hired a lobby firm, Patricia Lynch and Darren Dopp, to assist in public relations. On October 8 hundreds of parents and students held a third protest, with growing numbers. Another is set to be held before the October 21 school board meeting at 7:00 PM.

Weekend Accidents; Bear Killed, Building Hit

Orangetown Police responded to a call on Sunday afternoon for an accident in Blauvelt. According to officers just after 12:00 PM a car crashed into a building at the intersection of Route 303 and Route 340. The driver was treated for minor injuries and remains unidentified and the cause has not been reported, though investigators were at the scene. An unrelated accident was also reported in Ramapo over the weekend. On Friday evening police arrived at the scene of an accident in Wesley Hills to find a young black bear had been hit and killed by a car. Police stated the 200 pound bear was crossing Route 202 when it was hit and survived the crash, but died before police responded. Both the driver and passenger in the car were uninjured and the car sustained minor damage.

Road Closed for Spill Cleanup

Clarkstown Police and the Rockland Hazardous Materials unit responded to a call on Thursday where three vehicles were involved in an accident. According to police a truck was involved in the accident around 11:00 AM, spilling about thirty gallons of diesel on Route 303 at the intersection for Palisades Center Drive in West Nyack. Police stated an SUV and garbage truck collided with the tractor trailer when the driver ran a red light. Five people were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and the road remained closed for cleanup until 1:00 PM.

Tappan Zee Constructors Fined for Violations

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Tappan Zee Constructors, the company building the $3.9 billion new bridge across the Hudson, has been fined for permit violations. According to state reports the constructors began working on building large portions of the bridge at a site north of the project, where they are leasing land and will later ferry the pieces South to the actual construction site. Officials for the group Riverkeeper stated in August they observed the company improperly dredging areas of the Hudson near the Albany site and alerted the DEC of possible violations. Director or Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Phillip Musegaas stated that dredging should be continuous movements between the river and barge where materials are dumped, so water and sediment doesn’t drain from the river, but dredging cranes allegedly paused in the process, harming the environment. The company was fined $10,000 for violations and must pay $55,000 to a project for the environment. TZC officials stated that work will continue on schedule, despite the fines.

Rockland Department of Health Offering Flu Shots

The Rockland County Department of Health will be offering flu shots to the community tomorrow, Friday October 10. According to the County’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the vaccine is the best way to prevent catching and spreading the different types of influenza viruses for everyone 6 months of age and up. The clinic is the first of several that the DOH will be holding, officials stating that it is better to be vaccinated in early fall because it takes about four weeks for the antibodies to develop. The clinic will be held from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM in Building A’s Exhibition Hall in the Robert L. Yeager Health Center in Pomona. Vaccines are free for residents over 65-years old and $30 for ages 9 to 64 and attendees must show proof of Rockland County residence. More information can be obtained by calling the Department of Health at 845-364-2520.

Town to Appeal Judge’s Decision on Ramapo Referendum

The Ramapo Town Board announced Wednesday that they unanimously voted to appeal state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey’s decision to invalidate the ward referendum results from the special election that was held September 30. Judge Garvey ordered on Tuesday that the votes be held by the board of elections until today, when they were to be destroyed. If the town decides to remain with Garvey’s decision a new election date will be set for 60 to 75 days from now, unless the board files the appeal before then, which would allow a panel to hold and review the results.

No Legislature Vote to Override CE Day’s Bus Company Veto

The County Legislature appears to have agreed not to override County Executive Ed Day’s veto of the proposal to pay Brega Transport Corp. $300,000 to have the bus fleet washed daily. Members of the Legislature were set to vote Tuesday on whether or not to override Day’s decision, but before the meeting the issue was pulled from the agenda by Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe. Day stated on his Facebook page, “Vetoes do not get pulled as a rule unless the support to override is not there.” and went on to say that he thanks the unknown members who reviews the information provided with his veto. The $70 million contract with Brega requires that the buses be washed a minimum of once a week, and the County Executive stated in his argument that this means the operator would cover the costs of extra washing and maintenance, not tax payers. According to Day’s statements on the social media site, the proposal has been defeated, unless the Legislature holds a special meeting within the next week, which is unlikely.

County Blames Bus Company for Problems

According to Rockland’s Public Transportation Commissioner Douglas Schuetz, Brega Transport Corp. is at fault for several complaints brought against them, such as incomplete records, lost fares, missed trips, and limited maintenance. Schuetz stated in an outline of the issues that Brega has been responsible for 833 missed trips since June, as well as putting buses that are not properly equipped on the road, as witnessed by a Department of Transportation inspector in July when the company allegedly allowed three buses with bald tires continue their routes. Schuetz stated that to solce the problem of missed trips the county could charge the company $500 for each one, which would also help with lost fares. On Tuesday the Legislature was set to vote on whether or not to override County Executive Ed Day’s veto of a decision to pay $300,000 to Brega to wash the bus fleet daily, after February bus fire led to the proposal. However, the item was removed from the itinerary before the meeting began. Schuetz stated that the company did not provide the county with a report of the incident. The state DOT recently released a review of the fire, faulting the driver and dispatcher who were in charge of the bus at the time. Burton Dorfman, Brega’s legal representation, stated that the company was not at fault and was not required by the county to issue a report, though they are willing to cooperate with county officials.

Ramapo Ward Referendum Votes Thrown Out

On Tuesday State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey made a ruling on the chaotic Ramapo ward vote that was held last week. Garvey ordered that a new vote is to be held stating that Ramapo Town Clerk Christian Sampson created confusion for residents by not clearly notifying polling centers who was eligible to vote as well as creating problems with absentee ballots. In Garvey’s 14-page ruling she stated the state law requires that absentee ballots be counted as long as they are recevied by 5:00 PM on the election day, though the town released information that absentee votes will count if they were postmarked by September 28 and received up to a week after the election. The judge impounded votes after last Tuesday’s election, when activists Michael Parietti and Robert Romanowski filed a petition which brought up the possible improper actions in the polling centers. According to Parietti the town misled voters and went around Garvey’s original orders by not clearly announcing voting regulations. Judge Garvey did not order a new date for the election but stated that the votes will be preserved and the Town Board held a meeting at 8:30 this morning, voting unanimously to appeal the decision to invalidate the results.

Stony Point Crash Victim Identified

Police released the name of a motorcyclist who was killed in a crash on Sunday night in Stony Point. According to Lt. Keith Williams, 35-year old Stony Point resident Jamie Conklin was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash that occurred at 8:35 on Sunday night when his 2005 Harley-Davidson collided with the rear of Nissan Altima on Washburns Lane. Police and the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation is still looking into the cause of the crash and the Medical Examiner’s Office is completing an autopsy. Conklin lived with his grandparents on Spruce Drive and leaves a sister, 32-year old Jackie Conklin and a six-year old niece.