Rockland Resident Cleared of Ebola Risk

According to county and health officials a Rockland resident who returned to the United States from Liberia on October 5 was held in quarantine for 21 days while waiting for potential Ebola symptoms. On her arrival back to Rockland County woman was released to her home for a voluntary monitored isolation period of three weeks and after not showing symptoms was cleared of any Ebola risks. County Executive Ed Day defended the decision not to inform the public until yesterday of the unidentified woman’s quarantine, stating that the county’s plan was put in place even though, at the time, there was little to no chance that she had been exposed, as she was not showing symptoms, and it was best to avoid county-wide panic.

Armed Robberies in Haverstraw and Orangeburg

According to police a customer at the Chase Bank on Route 9W in Haverstraw was robbed in the parking lot on Tuesday morning. A woman reported that two black men wearing black shorts and hoodie sweatshirts pulled a handgun on her while she was making a deposit around 8:00 AM. No one was reported injured and the men ran away with the cash and police began the search for them using a helicopter. Also on Tuesday morning police responded to an unrelated call reporting an armed break in at an apartment in Orangeburg. According to police a couple living in an apartment above the Cloverleaf Inn on Western Highway were in their home at 2:00 AM when two men forced their way in with a handgun and punched the man in the head, while the woman locked herself in the bathroom. Police stated that she escaped out the bathroom window onto the roof of the porch, and the suspects did not find what they were looking for before leaving. Police are still investigating both robberies.

East Ramapo Fiscal Monitor Reaches out

According to a letter obtained by the Journal News, Hank Greenburg, the fiscal monitor assigned by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to watch the East Ramapo School District has expressed concern surrounding the district’s recent plans for developing programs geared towards immigrants. At an August school board meeting Superintendent Joel Klein made remarks stating many non-English speaking students take advantage of what schools offer, such as vocational skills, meals, and learning the language, though they are not likely to obtain a diploma, leading to the district’s high dropout rate. These statements led to anger and protests from many residents, some asking for Klein’s resignation. In the letter from Greenburg to Klein, he asks the district for a layout of the plan that would allow some of the students access to programs. On Friday Klein released a letter to parents apologizing for the statements made at the school board meeting, stating that he did not mean to disrespect the students and their communities. Klein also stated on Friday that a transitional plan for students may still be in talks.

Rockland County Sheriff Opposes 2015 Budget Cuts

At a demonstration held in front of the Rockland County Office Building in New City, officers from the Sheriff’s Department including Sheriff Lou Falco, and members of the Rockland PBA expressed their opposition to County Executive Ed Day’s proposed budget that would cut 37 patrol officers. The proposal calls for 111 county positions to be cut, saving 6.8 million dollars, while only raising property taxes by 1.67 percent for the average homeowner. Falco stated at the conference, held on Friday afternoon, that cutting patrol officers would risk public safety, especially at a time when the county has seen an increase in drug overdoses and crimes. According to Falco the cuts would be to specialized patrol units, such as mounted, marine, and street patrols. Speakers and officials asked attendees on Friday to write to the County Executive and Legislators opposing to the position cuts.

2015 County Budget Proposal Released

County Executive Ed Day released the proposed budget for 2015 on Thursday, presenting major cuts in jobs and funding. The $772 million budget proposal will remove 111 jobs from county payroll, by cutting all 37 positions of the Sheriff’s Department Mounted and Street Patrol, as well as positions within other departments and the outsourcing of 33 jobs currently covered by the county. This will save the county $6.8 million. Day’s budget also proposes to cut funding for various contract agencies and non-profits, which will result in about $3.3 million in savings. Day’s plan is to continue paying off the county’s deficit, using an increase in property taxes of $1.67 per month for the average homeowner, to lower it by $10 million next year. The county has seen double digit tax increases of 10,18, and 30 percent in the last three years and can expect just a two percent increase for 2015. According to Day the budget is not political stating “We are making the tough decisions to thoughtfully reduce the size of this organization while maintaining essential services.” He will be holding public forums to further discuss the budget on October 22 at 7:00 PM at Fieldstone Middle School and November 20 at 7:00 PM at the Suffern Free Library.

Lacey Spears Appears in Court

The Chestnut Ridge woman who is accused of killing her five-year old son by poisoning him with salt was seen in court in White Plains on Wednesday. According to Judge Robert Neary’s ruling the case is ready to move forward to trial after ordering that the evidence against Lacey Spears was obtained legally and can be used in the case. Spears became an interest to police in January, when health care workers at Westchester Medical Center reported that five-year old Garnett Spears died because of high levels of sodium in his system. According to investigators part of their evidence is a feeding bag that Lacey used to help the often sick Garnett receive nutrients through a tube. The bag was brought forward by a neighbor who stated the young mom asked her to dispose of it, and investigators found high levels of sodium inside, leading them to believe that Spears was purposely poisoning her son and may have suffered from Munchausen By Proxy causing those who suffer from it to harm their child for attention. Judge Neary ruled that the trial will begin on October 23.

State Officials Plan Tappan Zee Bridge Tolls

Senator David Carlucci announced a plan at a press conference in Tarrytown on Tuesday that would give residents of Rockland and Westchester Counties a discount for crossing the new Tappan Zee Bridge, stating, “If we can’t afford to cross the bridge it will be devastating to our economy.” In the past year the Senator has made clear his plans for new laws that will fight toll evaders as well. New York state loses about $30 million a year to people who do not pay for passing through tolls. According to Carlucci, he is working with lawmakers in Albany to create a plan, in which residents would receive a $250 tax credit for those who file as a single tax payer and $500 for those who file jointly. The plan will also allow residents of both counties to receive a discount on the toll, which according to speculation, could be as high as $15.

Partial Deconstruction of Tappan Zee Bridge Begins

According to spokeswoman for Tappan Zee Constructors, Carla Julian, the company has started the process of removing part of the current bridge. Julian stated that crews have begun removing 500 feet of the Westchester side of the bridge to make room for the new landing, as well as a colum and footing, and the section can be safely removed without harming the structure. According to officials the column is being removed to make room for the foundation of the new Northbound lanes and the work will be completed by crane at night. The I Lift New York super crane arrived last week and will assist in the dismantling of the current bridge, which project officials stated will mostly take place in 2017.

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.

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.