On Monday afternoon the Spring Valley Village Board of Trustees met to discuss Mayor Demeza Delhomme’s proposal to fire ten full-time employees. The mayor presented the idea to use just over $600,000 to hire three assistant building inspectors, two fire inspectors, and five code enforcement officers, as well as the recently proposed four part-time fire inspectors. The board voted not to pass the proposal with a 2-2 vote, Trustee Anthony Leon and Mayor Delhomme voting yes, Trustees Vilair Fonvil and Asher Grossman voting no, and Trustee Emilia White abstaining. Fonvil and Grossman stated at the meeting that setting aside $600,000 made no sense and, though safety and code enforcement are important, the decision should wait until an expert’s report can be filed. White stated that she needed to speak with the village Treasurer first, who did not attend the meeting. Delhomme set the emergency meeting after two separate suspicious fires destroyed one illegal boarding house and one illegal dormitory in a yeshiva last week.
JUst after midnight on Saturday morning, firefighters responded to a house fire on Johnson Street in Spring Valley. According to officials the building was acting as an illegal boarding house, with eight families living there, and faced multiple violations including having no smoke alarms inside. All fourteen adults and four children, one a newborn baby, were able to get out of the building before the fire spread, but have been left homeless by the blaze. The Redcross is caring for the families and investigators stated there will be a summons for electrical violations filed against the landlord. Less than two days before the fire on Johnson Street, a building housing a Yeshiva and Dormitory on Funston Avenue was also destroyed by fire. Officials stated that the fire, which started on the back porch, appears to be suspicious and both could have been prevented if regulations had been followed. The Yeshiva had dozens of students living in the attic area, and fire officials are once again raising concerns of illegally converted buildings, which create life threatening problems for firefighters and those living there. No summons have been filed against the yeshiva as of yet, and investigations into the cause are ongoing. Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme set a Village Board meeting for 2:00 Monday afternoon to discuss hiring four part-time Fire Inspectors.
The two young men involved in a car crash at the intersection of Scotland Road and Scotland Hill Road in Chestnut Ridge on Wednesday have been identified. According to police, the driver, 20-year old Stony Point resident Frank Squilla, was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern for treatment of major injuries after his car went about 40-feet off the road and hit a tree around 3:40 AM. The man’s 19-year old passenger, Jake DiMarsico of Thiells was treated for minor injuries and released. Police are still investigating what may have caused the crash, and no charges have been filed.
Officers with the Rockland Sheriff’s Department arrested two men on Saturday who were accused of driving on fields at Rockland Community College and tearing up the ground. Brooklyn resident 22-year old Samuel Benedek and 27-year old Moshe Amsel of Lakewood, New Jersey were arrested with misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief and on Tuesday police stated that the charges will be upgraded to felony counts of third-degree criminal mischief, because the men allegedly caused $1,700 in damages to the turf after doing donuts across the lawns and being caught by college security. Benedek and Amsel were released without bail and will be seen in Ramapo court on January 13.
Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme suspended village Building Inspector Walter Booker on Monday, after claiming that the man had failed to follow policies that he implemented in May. Booker stated to the Journal News that he was escorted from the building by police after he tried to explain to the Mayor why he was opening checks, even though the new policy states that all checks sent to departments are to be handled by the Treasurer’s Department. The policy was put in place earlier this year after Delhomme stated the Building Department misplaced a check. On Monday when Booker was told to leave the building Delhomme called the Spring Valley Police because he said Booker refused to leave. The Mayor also defended his decision to suspend Booker, stating he did what’s best for the village.
Ramapo Police responded to a call on Friday night to find an accident between a Honda motorcycle and a Nissan Maxima on Pascack Road. Around 9:00 PM 17-year old Chestnut Ridge resident Richard Quezada was returning home from visiting his girlfriend and their three-month old son when his motorcycle collided with the car. Police and emergency responders stated that the Ramapo High School student died at the scene, and there were no signs of drugs or alcohol involved, though they are investigating the speed of the motorcycle and whether or not the drive of the Nissan failed to yield to right of way. No charges have been filed against the driver, who sustained minor injuries. According to police, Quezada was driving the short distance back to his home, with only a permit, which requires supervision of a licensed 21-year old. Police are continuing to investigate the cause.
According to Clarkstown Police a pedestrian was hit by a car on Wednesday night. Police arrived at the scene on Route 303 near the Palisades Center Mall and the Nyack Motor Lodge to find that a man, reported to be 29-years old, had been hit by a car around 5:30 PM in the northbound lane of the road. The driver was cooperating with police, and was uninjured in the accident. Officers with the Clarkstown Police Accident Reconstruction Unit were at the scene investigating the cause. It is unknown where the man was coming from and he remains unnamed in reports. Police stated that he was taken to Nyack Hospital and then transferred to Westchester Medical Center for a serious head injury and multiple fractures.
A professor at Rockland Community College, who was accused of stealing money from the college, and the union that he was president of, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday. 61-year old Hackensack, New Jersey resident, Clifford Garner, who has been teaching English at the school since 1993 and has been a faculty member since 1986, was accused of stealing $200,000 from the Rockland Community College Teachers Union as well as billing the college for $3,000 in expenses for trips to Europe with students. He faces charges of first-degree offereing a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records, and third and second-degree grand larceny, which could result in a sentence of 15-years in prison. Garner will be seen in court again on January 27 and was released on $50,000 bail.
County Executives Ed Day of Rockland and Rob Astorino of Westchester held a press conference on Monday to discuss the construction and cost of the New Tappan Zee Bridge. At the conference the County Executives stood together and announced their plan to use $1.95 billion of a $5 billion settlement between banks BNP Paribas SA and Credit Suisse Group AG and New York State to pay for half of the construction and help to keep tolls down for residents who have a commute. The $3.9 billion project began construction this year, and both Astorino and Day believe using the settlement money, which would cover half the cost, will keep tolls about the same as they are now. Day stated that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office is considering every available option for funding, including the bank settlement, and the state Legislature would need to approve it before the money could be used.
According to officials a house fire in Monsey on Friday night led to the displacement of five children, their mother and father, and grandmother. Firefighters from the Hillcrest, Spring Valley, Monsey, and Thiells Departments responded to the home on Tauber Terrace around 5:00 PM to find flames on the first level of the two story home. Officials stated that the fire started from a lit Menorah on a wooden table and the family attempted to put out the flames before escaping the house all unharmed. The home was completely destroyed and one firefighter was treated for burns on the scene.