Pomona Middle School Approved for Emergency Repairs

The East Ramapo School District’s Board of Education voted on Tuesday night to approve emergency repair for Pomona Middle School. According to District Clerk Cathy Russell, the ceiling in the auditorium is considered a safety hazard for faculty and students when it was discovered this month that it began separating from the roof, so the board voted to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation to demolish and rebuild it. The district will most likely replace the ceiling at a different time, which will cost about $300,000 or more, and will be spending $19,905 in repairs in repairs in time for the school year to start on September 4.

Shopping Center Case Between Pomona and Haverstraw Ordered to Continue

State Supreme Court Justice Victor Alfieri made a decision recently on the Town of Haverstraw’s plans to build a shopping center on property that would place it on Route 202 right on the border between Ramapo and Haverstraw and would include a new Walmart. The Village of Pomona filed several lawsuits against Haverstraw, one after developers were allowed variances by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals that would enable the to build less parking than town code ordered. Alfieri made a decision that this case would continue if the village wins the overall case against the town. Pomona’s suit states that the town zoning board did not complete appropriate environmental research. The judge also denied Haverstraw’s request to dismiss one of the seven lawsuits against them. Pomona is also appealing a decision made by Justice Gerald Loehr on the approval of proposed development.

New Grants Allow School Districts to Lessen Written Tests

According to the New York State Education Department Rockland BOSCES was among three schools state wide to be awarded the teaching is core grant which would support art and music teachers in offering daily tests that coincide with the Common Core curriculum, rather than written tests. Since the Common Core took hold in New York State districts have had no way to keep track of students’ progress or teacher evaluations for subjects such as art, music, and gym, so the Student Learning Objectives were instituted and written tests were handed out the first and last weeks of the school year. With the new grants the SLO’s were on a list of tests districts can eliminate from the curriculum. Rockland BOSCES Assistant Superintendent Charlene Jordan stated that new model will keep track of students’ learning with the help of parents and the community. Officials from several districts seem to agree this means less testing for the school year and a more open environment for children to learn in.

Accident on Route 45 Caused by Deer Through Windshield

On Thursday morning the Ramapo Police stated that the driver of a Toyota Camry was taken to Nyack Hospital in critical conition after hitting a 180 pound buck that went through the windshield of car and landed in the backseat. According to police 30-year old Elmer Adilio of the Bronx was riving along Route 45 in Spring Valley on Wednesday night when the deer came through the front of the car, leading to the driver crashing into a utility pole. Detective Lt. Mark Emma stated that the man may have been hit by a hoof or another hard part of the deer and he suffered serious injuries to his head and neck. The car was also carrying 36-year old Emerita Najarro, also of the Bronx, who received injuries to her chest, face, and neck, though police stated they were non-life threatening.

Parents React to Pomona Middle School Extended School Days

An informational meeting Wednesday night brought hundreds of parents to Pomona Middle School to hear news on the East Ramapo District’s choice to extend the school day by two hours. The district announced in July that they had received a grant from the state Education Department to fund an extended learning period, which will lengthen the day by two periods, a ninth and a tenth. In response to many parents’ anger at the short notice of the changes, Pomona officials stated that they were informed of the grant much later than expected and only had about three weeks to organize the new school days. Various parents at the meeting brought up concerns such as their children walking home at the later hour, and now being unable to participate in after-school activities such as sports. The final dismissal bell for the coming school year will now go off at 5:21 PM instead of the original 3:14 PM for seventh and eighth graders. Principal Christine Alfonso stated that the school is attempting to keep parents and students informed and will be sending home reminders and more information as the school year gets closer. Several parents stated they understand change, and some are happy about it, saying their children deserve the opportunity to learn more and expand future opportunities by raising their grades.

Wrong-way Driver Investigation Continues

Police released the names of the two drivers who were killed in an accident that backed up traffic on the New York State Thruway for nearly two hours on Tuesday while officers investigated the crash. According to Police Captain Richard Mazzone the accident occurred when off-duty NYPD officer, 32-year old Richard Christopher of Suffern, drove South in the Northbound lanes on his morning commute around 7:00 AM and hit 59-year old Airmont resident James DeVito head on. Police stated that both men were pronounced dead at the scene and neither vehicle had any passengers inside. Officials are continuing investigating where Christopher entered the Thruway, the accident occurred between Exits 14B and 15, and were also waiting for toxicology reports as of Tuesday night.

New York State Thruway Accident

Police have reported that a major accident on the New York State Thruway at 7:00 AM this morning resulted in the closure of all Northbound lanes as officers investigate the cause and emergency workers continue working to clean the scene. Police stated that the accident occurred when an SUV and a pickup truck crashed head on after one of the vehicles was seen driving the south in the northbound lanes. Police also stated that the accident was fatal and both male drivers of the vehicles were reported to be killed in the crash.Authorities stated the Thruway will most likely remain closed for an extended time and traffic is being rerouted at Exit 14B to Airmont Road and motorists are urged to take an alternate route.

Legislators Vote to Wash County Buses Daily

The Rockland County Legislature voted 13-3 on Wednesday to approve a request made by Pearl River Legislator Patrick Moroney, that the county’s buses be washed daily, which will cost more than $300,000 for the remainder of 2014. In February a TOR bus caught fire and was evacuated, leading to Moroney researching the cause. Moroney stated that the results prove fires can start in the undercarriage of the vehicles and cleanings can help prevent them. Witnesses stated that the fire in February started in the back right wheel well, which coincides with the results from studies. In the $70 million contract Rockland signed with Brega Transport in November, it is required that each bus gets washed at least once a week, meaning the county will have to find money for the 62 buses to be washed daily. Some legislators, including Michael Grant, who voted against the resolution, stated concerns about where the $500,000 $800,000 for 2015 will come from. According to Moroney there is a surplus of funds in the Department of Public Transportation which will be used for 2014 and the county will have to wait and see, but the daily washings are for public safety.

Ramapo Men Arrested had Connection to Mob

On Thursday a unit led by the Rockland District Attorney’s Office and the FBI arrested two men with connections to the mob on charges of racketeering and conspiracy. 61-year old Daniel Pagano of Ramapo was arrested at his home along with an assoiciate, 49-year old Michael Palazzolo who was also charged with conspiracy to commit extortion. According to prosecutors Pagano is a captain in the Genovese crime family, involved in illegal gambling, loan sharking, and making threats to gamblers to obtain money for leaders of the organization. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated the unit has been investigating the men since 2009 using eavesdropping warrants and obtaining evidence. Pagano faces twenty years in prison and Palazzolo faces as many 40 years. Pagano’s attorney Murray Richman stated that his client pleaded not guilty and will most likely be using his home on Cherry Lane as collateral for bail.

Pearl River Vandalism Continues

More vandalism has been reported in Pearl River, a week after a family’s home on North Lincoln Street was attacked with anti-semitic graffiti. According to Jim Van Houtan Farms on Sickletown Road, on Sunday morning at 8:30 workers discovered that over the weekend vandals plastered anti-semitic graffiti consisting of swastikas and other forms of profanity on greenhouses, as well as destroyed cash registers, sprinkler heads, tore down the flagpole, overturned potted plants, and released the garden center’s fifteen-year old rabbit who found her way back the next day. Van Houtan stated that he is not Jewish, which makes him and police wonder if those responsible are ignorantly searching for something to draw. Orangetown Police stated they are investigating the incident and are unaware if there is a connection to the attacks on North Lincoln.