According to the Rockland County Sheriff’s office they are taking stricter steps to help prevent issues with trains shipping crude oil and other hazardous materials. Recently Governor Cuomo ordered that companies and local government review their emergency plans, since shipments of crude oil have significantly increased in recent years. On Tuesday a train derailed in Kingston, New York, that had passed through Rockland County. The train had only been carrying sand, but in December a train car carrying oil was hit by a truck in South Nyack, which didn’t derail. According to Sheriff Louis Falco this incident is what caused him to want to regulate train traffic within the county more. Oil is transporte dby about eighty to one-hundred cars on two trains travel through Rockland daily and Sheriff Falco stated that he would like to keep track of that, informing police, fire officials, and ambulance workers incase of a spill. Since last week the Sheriff’s office has been using radar checkpoints to register the speed of locomotives as they pass through, at the request of assistant director of Rockland Office of Fire and Emergency Services, Dan Greeley, who stated that the speed limit fifty miles per hour, but should be much less. Senator Charles Schumer agrees with Greeley, stating that they are pushing to have the limit reduced to forty in populated areas. Sheriff Falco stated that a list should be shared with local officials referring to any hazardous materials that train cars are carrying daily, and CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan responded that the railroad would be open to the idea and already have a program online known as SecureNow which tracks trains and provides information on the contents of cars.
East Ramapo School District has been awarded a grant for their Pre-K program that will bring the current amount of $371,250 for this school year to $675,000 for next school year. As long as the district follows state set performance standards they will receive the grant, which allows them to enroll about 150 more Pre-Kindergarten students to the free program and will extend the current program that enrolls 100 students to five hours. According to Arnie Warmbrand, the coordinator of the program, at least 150 four- year olds have been on the waiting list for the last two years and this grant will allow them to provide an education for all of them. Warmbrand stated that a study has shown that Pre- Kindergarten programs allow children, especially low income children, to succeed in their academic lives.
In March six villages in Rockland County will be holding elections though only three of them have more than one candidate running. Four candidates in South Nyack; Alain Leinbach, Andrew Goodwillie, Ann Hekker, and Erik Simon; will be running for the two- term position of Trustee, which pays $4,000 a year. Running for South Nyack Village Justice is Dennis Lynch who is looking to hold on to his postition for another four- year term that pays $10,000 a year. Upper Nyack’s Village Justice race will put Duncan Rogers Lee II against Phyllis Ingram for the $8,000 a year job. Two trustee spots will be filled by Joseph Diamond and Karen Tarapata. In Hillburn George J. Cotz will challenge incumbent Village Justice Brian D. Nugent for the four- year position that pays $9,785 a year. Three other villages that are having unchallenged elections are Grand View, for trustee seats; New Hempstead, for trustee seats and Deputy Mayor Fred Brinn will be filling the position of Mayor Larry Dessau; and in Wesley Hills, also for trustee seats.
An accident on the New York State Thruway at exit 16 in Orange County led to the death of a 53- year old New jersey man who worked at Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory in Rockland. Mark Becker worked as a scientist at the Columbia University Observatory Program known as the Center for International Earth Science Information Network studying human impact on the environment by mapping environmental trends for various public health programs. According to the New York State Thruway Authority, the accident occurred in the Northbound lanes near Woodbury at 10:46 on Wednesday morning, involved a thruway plow truck, and resulted in six other individuals suffering non-life threatening injuries. Police have stated that they are further investigating.
A 23- year old man was arrested and charged with two counts of seventh- degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of hypodermic instrument, both misdemeanors, as well as a misdemeanor count of petty larceny. John J. Sullivan the third from Waterbury, Connecticut was caught stealing various items from the Travel Plaza in Sloatsburg on Friday after a State Trooper recognized his car. During a search the troopers found hypodermic needles with heroin residue and cocaine in pipes along with the stolen items. Sullivan will appear in Sloatsburg Village Court at 5:00 PM Wednesday.
On Tuesday Judge Barry Warhit told a disbarred New City attorney that he will be going to jail when he is sentenced on April 1. Joel Grossbarth appeared in Rockland County Court on Tuesday for charges that he received in March 2013 of felony counts of second- degree grand larceny and one count of second- degree forgery, after he was arrested for stealing money from twenty clients over five years. According to Warhit, Grossbarth had promised to pay back the debt in June, paying $297,086 leaving $849,470 unpaid. Warhit stated that Grossbarth has had plenty of time to pay and the courts are waiting for a promised $250,000 bail and three payments of $200,000 from his mother. Prosecutor for the case, Gary Lee Heavner stated that the court will not be accepting his promise of payments as reason to continue adjourning the case, and he will be sentenced on April 1.
The State Thruway Authority has added new signs to the South Nyack Exit 10 ramp at the Thruway to inform drivers that they are going the wrong way. According to a Thruway spokesman Shane Mahar, the signs use Doppler radar to register when a car is approaching the wrong way on the exit ramp and flashes an LED message to the driver and can be seen in both darkness and daylight. The Thruway Authority made the move to better alert drivers following the July accident in which 69- year old Michael Schechel of Haverstraw drove South in the Northbound lanes that killed 56- year old Hannah Ayeh- Brachie of Hillcrest and injured her husband, Newman Ayeh- Brachie. The accident is still under investigation by State Police and according to the Rockland District Attorney’s office it could take six to nine months to complete an accident reconstruction report.
Pothole repair on the New York State Thruway today means that the two right lanes on the stretch of road between Rockland and the Tappan Zee bridge were closed from 7:00 Monday night to 6:00 AM Tuesday morning and the two left lanes will close tonight from 7:00 PM to 6:00 AM. According to the Thruway Authority they are not working for a quick fix, but a lasting one, so they are milling the highway’s surface and will replace pavement two inches deep for three- miles in all four lanes. The Authority stated that this is the most difficult stretch so far and delays this morning and tonight can be expected.
A state Supreme Court Judge ruled on Monday that Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme did not have legal ground to remove Vilair Fonvil from his position as Trustee and Deputy Mayor. Justice Margaret Garvey issued a restraining order reinstating Fonvil and preventing Delhomme from removing him for the time being. The order also states that Miguelino Joseph, who Delhomme appointed to the Trustee position on Friday, has no right to make actions as a Trustee until the court makes an ultimate decision. Two weeks ago Fonvil, as well as Trustees Emilia White and Asher Grossman hired Dennis Lynch to represent them and their decision on the board in court if necessary. Lynch stated that Garvey’s decision was unusual, but if Fonvil was removed Delhomme would instantly gain majority control of the board. Lynch’s firm is currently investigating the Mayor’s purchase of a 2014 Ford expedition at the village’s expense, which he uses as his official vehicle. The board will be meeting tonight at 8:00 PM and the case will be heard in court by Justice Gerald Loehr on March 6 at 10:00 AM.
Teachers in the Hudson Valley have recently expressed distaste for a major part of New York State’s Common Core program. Teachers have stated that the Annual Professional Performance Review is not doing what it was set up to, which was to make firing bad teachers easier for districts. Part the system, known as APPR, takes twenty percent of students’ test results, twenty percent of district assessments, and sixty percent teaching observations, and grades a teacher on how well their students are performing. According to Ken Mitchell, Superintendent of South Orangetown Schools, the state will have a hard time pushing Common Core as long as the evaluation process for both teachers and students is centered around testing results. Legislators in the Lower Hudson Valley have recently called for a two- year freeze on using tests to determine placement for students and teachers.