New Square Man Pleads Not Guilty to Child Sex Accusations

According to the attorney of a New Square man accused of sexually abusing a boy from the age of eight until he turned thirteen, they are planning to challenge the felony charges against him. Attorney Gerard Damiani stated on Wednesday that his client, 55-year old Moshe Taubenfeld, who is a teacher in New Square and the father of twenty children, pleaded not guilty to thirty counts of forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child and sexual assault, as well as a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching. Taubenfeld has been registered as a low level sex offender and if found guilty could receive two to seven years in prison, though Damiani stated his client recently rejected a deal that would have given him less prison time in exchange for a guilty plea, and denies the accusations, which they will be challenging in court. The jury will be selected on September 15 and the case will most likely start soon after.

Rockland’s Bond Rating Upgraded

On Monday Moody’s Investor Service announced the credit rating for Rockland County has been moved from a Baa3 rating to a Baa2, moving the county from dangerously close to junk status to a positive outlook. Moody’s stated some of the reasons for the upgrade in bond status are the larger tax base, the sale of the Summit Park Hospital, and the state’s involvement in the budget that was conditional with the borrowing of $96.4 million. Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe stated the recent cuts in employment and spending, as well as increases in taxes are paying off. Moody’s also warned the county in their report to watch finances closely in the event of a delay in the sale of SUmmit Park. According to Rockland’s Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat, Rockland is soon to borrow $41 million in general funds for projects and debt, but the county is on the right track to get back to a levelA bond rating. County Executive Ed Day stated the positive rating means cheaper interest rates on future loans as well as great news for the county.

PSC Postpones Surcharge Filing Date

According to James Denn, a spokesman for the Public Service Commission the agency is requesting that United Water New York postpone the filing date for a surcharge proposal that would increase the bills by $60 a year and, according to the company, would help them regain $56 million they spent on the proposed desal plant so far. An email from Denn on Friday stated that the PSC would like more time to review the surcharge. The company, who’s spending of the $56 million has been questioned in the past, stated that they agreed to the new date, which will be November 30, and they will not be taking any action on the plant until they are reimbursed for the money they have already spent, despite the PSC’s suggestion they continue their pursuit of permits. Alden Wolfe, Chairman of the Rockland County Legislature, stated that Unite Water spent money before the project was approved and the spending costs should not go to ratepayers.

Colton Elementary Sale Finalized

The East Ramapo School District completed their sale of Colton Elementary School to the Bais Malka Congregation and the Hebrew Academy for Special Children, who use the school as Yeshiva. District officials announced on Thursday that the $5.1 million sale was finalized after East Ramapo discussed the sale thoroughly with New York state education officials, and will generate income while freeing the district of liability for the property. The sale was postponed for a year and a half in 2011 when residents claimed the original price of $6.6 million was less than the property is worth. Education Commissioner John King allowed the sale to move forward, and earlier this year a judge ruled the district would deduct $1.5 million in rent credit due to the Yeshiva from the $6.6 million sale, making the final price $5.1 million. The district is hoping to sell Hillcrest Elementary School this year as well, recently authorizing it at a meeting. The building would be sold to long-time tenants Congregation Avir Yakov of New Square for $4.9 million. The previous sale of the property was cancelled when it was discovered the appraiser had accepted a $5,000 bribe from the Yeshiva to undervalue the appraisal on paperwork. If the sale goes through the district would have about $10 million in real estate revenue for the next school year.

Summit Park Sale

County Executive Ed Day stated at a press conference on Wednesday that the sale of the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center will officially give the county $10 million, which will go towards the deficit. The $36 million earned from the sale will be split to pay off various costs including $12 million in health care coverage and leave due to county employees who are leaving the payroll, $4 million to move the county Medical Examiner’s Office, clinics, and the Department of General Services, and $2 million for closing costs. The remaining $10 million will be put towards the $30 million deficit. According to the new owner Shalom Braunstein of Monsey, who runs Sympaticare LLC., his first step as the new administrator will be to meet the patients and get to know them, stating at the conference, “It’s 321 residents, this is their home and it’s about understanding their home and working with them to make sure their home is something they love.” The transfer of ownership is waiting on approvals from the state Health Department. Currently there are two lawsuits attempting to block the sale, the first filed by Northern Services Group, another buyer. The second was filed by the Rockland Civil Service Employees Association, stating it was to protect jobs and benefits for the workers who are being offered the opportunity to apply for positions with the new owner.

Spring Valley House Fire

Spring Valley Firefighters responded to a call on Tuesday around 3:00 PM for a house fire. According to Spring Valley Fire Chief Bob Johnson, there was heavy smoke coming from the home and volunteers found three children and their mother on their way out of the burning building. Rockland County Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren stated officials are investigating the cause and whether of not the house had been illegally converted, since firefighters found six bedrooms with at least ten beds, one room converted from the house’s original dining room. No one was injured in the blaze but the house was destroyed, displacing seven adults and five children from two families.

Clarkstown Men Arrested For Stealing AC Units

According to police two men from Clarkstown were arrested and charged after they were caught allegedly attempting to steal copper piping from the inside of an air conditioning unit on the roof of a vacant building on North Middletown Road. Police stated on Monday that they charged Kenneth and Kevin Hoyt, who police believe are 30-year old twin brothers, with trespassing violations, a felony count of second-degree criminal mischief and misdemeanor counts of possession of burglar’s tools and petty larceny. When police arrived they stated the Hoyts had used a ladder and taken apart several units. The men were arraigned in Clarkstown, Kenneth’s bail set at $4,500 and Kevin’s at $1,500.

Residents May Expect Taxes on Noise-Reducing Grant

Residents near the Tappan Zee Bridge construction site had been expecting the project to pay for noise protection by offering $1.7 million community grant set up by the Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors for noise reducing windows to those who applied in Grandview, South Nyack, and Tarrytown. According to Brian Conybeare, Special Advisor to Governor Cuomo, 24 of 57 eligible homes have taken the offer and about 13 of them have received checks. Recently the recipients have been informed that the money may be considered taxable by the state and federal governments. Conybeare stated that those who are hoping to receive a check, or already have, are informed that they should speak with their financial advisors about potential taxes. Officials stated the IRS may also be able to answer questions. Now residents are worried that they will have to pay the bill for the grant money offered to them. Three condominium complexes made a deal with the project in 2013 to get money for sound-reducing windows and doors, and now they may have to pay taxes as well.

Arrest Made in Theft of Donations; Family Receives Support After Toddler’s Death

Police arrested a 17-year old boy in the theft of a missing jar that held donations set to be delivered to the family of 20-month old Dominic Mero who was killed last weekend in the parking lot of his Rose Avenue apartment complex from an older sibling and a pickup truck hit him while backing up. Police have stated that the 33-year old driver will most likely not face charges for the accident. According to Spring Valley police the jar which held donations from the community to help the Mero family cover costs of the ffuneral and other expenses, was stolen Monday night from the Rose Avenue Deli by Daeshawn Outerbridge. The jar was recovered but the $300 it contained was not and the boy has been charged with misdemeanor petty larceny. A new jar was placed at the deli, which a clerk states now contains about $200. On Thursday the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council stated they will be delivering a check to the Maple Avenue Cemetery, where Dominic be buried, for $2,250 to cover the burial costs obtained by donations from the community.

Summit Park Sold

Rockland County Executive Ed Day announced on Wednesday that the Summit Park Nursing Home and Care Center has been sold to Summit Park Acquisition Group, a private owner. According to the deal signed by county officials and the Rockland County Health Facilities Corp, the LDC in charge of the sale, the current county workers at the hospital can apply for positions with the new employer and all residents of the center are able to stay. Day stated that the sale will bring the necessary care to patients while helping the county’s financial situation for the long term. Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe stated some of the $36 million made off the sale will go to reducing the $30 million deficit in the form of a resolution stating the revenue left after debt service and liabilities will go to the deficit. Susan Sherwood, the Chairwoman of the LDC stated that the new owner has experience operating nursing homes and that knowledge will be able to bring in more patients and give quality care to them as well as existing patients. The Rockland Civil Service Employees Association is attempting to block the sale, members stating workers’ jobs need to be protected.