According to reports a man jumped from the Tappan Zee Bridge early this morning. State Police responded to a call at 5:18 that a man had stopped his car while driving Northbound and jumped. Police, construction employees, and the Tarrytown Fire Department helped pull the man’s body from the river, and transferred him to Westchester Medical Center, where he was officially pronounced dead by the county Medical Examiner’s office. The man’s identity is being withheld until family can be reached.
Ramapo Town Council member Daniel Friedman recently called out, for the second time, an employee of the town who also holds a job within the village of Spring Valley. Bernard Charles Jr. was hired as the Public Affairs consultant, with the town board voting 4-0 to approve the position. Charles’ wife, Brendel Charles is a member of the board as well, though she abstained from the vote. Friedman stated that he voted yes to the hiring, but he had thought that would mean Charles would leave his position as Spring Valley’s Parks and Recreation Director, which pays him $35,000 a year. In order to keep the position Friedman stated that Charles would be required to work at least 30 hours a week, and he questioned how the man could work 65 hours a week as well as sit on the board of the East Ramapo School District and have time to do a complete job. According to Charles’ time sheets for the village he works there from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, and stated that he works for the town after 4:00, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays. The position for Ramapo pays Charles $5,000 dollars a month for developing programs for youth and other members of the community, and running the town’s food pantry, all in the Cultural Arts Center.
Rockland County government officials released a statement regarding proposed increases in fares for the Transport of Rockland, Tappan Zee Xpress, and TRIPS buses. According to the Department of Public Transportation as of June 1st TOR’s cash fares will remain at $2 and TZX’s will remain at $3. The proposed chage will come for reduced fares for eligible riders. The cost will be raised from $0.75 for TOR to $1 and $1 for TZX to $1.50. The TOR E-Saver will cost $20 for 11 rides and the TZX E-Saver will be $30 for 11. Proposed electronic fare discounts available will include an unlimited semester pass for college students, TOR unlimited 7-day E-pass, and a TZX 30-day unlimited E-pass. On the same date TRIPS buses will be raising to $4 per ride and passengers will have the option of buying a book of 10 rides for $30. According to the statement the discounted rates are being raised to better meet industry standards. Officials stated that the county meets requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act by provideing the TRIPS bus services, though adding the regular TRIPS services for people over the age of 60 is optional for them. In order to continue providing these services fares must go up, with the option of bulk discounts. According to Dan Moscato of County Executive Ed Day’s office the fare increases were included in last year’s budget and the raises are not proposed across the board, but only in some services.
The state Education Department is looking to replace the InBloom program with BOSCES information centers to allow districts to keep track of students’ data. State officials recently agreed to disband plans for InBloom, a non-profit company that would present student data to teachers and parents, after many people expressed concern about the privacy of their children’s information. According to Senator David Carlucci BOSCES is capable of holding all of the data, without having to go through a private company, which will give district officials better control over records. The state is set up to receive about 700 million dollars from the Federal government through the Race to the Top contract and has 15 months to reform the education process or they may lose the money. According to the Board of Cooperative Educational Services there are twelve information centers in New York that are capable of doing what the InBloom system would have performed.
The Rockland Social Services Department is requesting a hearing before a second judge after a state judge ruled that students in religious study centers known as kollels who were being paid to answer questions and complete research work are eligible for child care payments. Rockland DSS has claimed that more than $50,000 in child care is going to adult students who are paid a stipend and do not have federal taxes taken out of their paychecks, rather than employees at the centers who have federal taxes deducted. Families in the child care program are provided assistance while looking for jobs. According to officials there are about 511 families with 1,500 children receiving assistance. Susan Sherwood, DSS Commissioner, stated that a state audit of the service raised their awareness to a lack of FICA payments from the student employees, which led them to look into the recipients of the aid. According to records three families challenging the DSS decision to declare them ineligible made about $52,450 between January 1 and October 2013 through their own income as well as medicaid, child care aid, and food stamps. Sherwood stated that the pattern is a clear misuse of the program, which has a waiting list of about 381 families, and the removal 118 families should have been upheld in court.
The East Ramapo School District board members voted 5-0 at Tuesday’s meeting to settle a lawsuit they have been fighting against the two Yeshivas renting the Colton Elementary school building. The district has been in court with the tenants since May 2011, when a 6.6 million dollar sale of the building to Congregation Bais Malka and the Hebrew Academy for Special Children was questioned by a resident for being undervalued. The Yeshivas filed claims that they were owed rent credit by the district and have been in court for some time, with East Ramapo deciding to settle the property is now able to be sold. This year’s budget for the East Ramapo District includes 5 million dollars from the sale of the building, and officials stated that if they don’t sell the site by June 30 they will take out a revenue deficiency note. In December 2013 State Education Commissioner John King approved the sale, claiming that the resident who came forward did not have proof that the property was worth a higher value.
State Senate Assembly members passed the 137.9 billion dollar budget on monday, with 45 minutes to the deadline, making this year’s the fourth consecutive on time budget. According to Governor Andrew Cuomo this budget includes a 1.5 billion dollar property- tax rebate along with 1.1 billion dollars in education aid. State officials also voted to delay the parts of the Common Core program. An agreement was met over the weekend, and the official budget was passed by the senate at 10:15 Monday night and an hour later by the Assembly. Many of the bills passed with support from both parties, and Cuomo stated that the budget is aimed at tax cuts to help homeowners and businesses in New York.
According to Tappan Zee Constructors, the group working on the New Tappan Zee Bridge project, one of the barges used to hold equipment at the site got free from its mooring on Sunday afternoon and traveled down the river. The barge was noticed by a resident of Piermont around 4:00 PM, when he called into Piermont Police who responded, along with boats from the construction group, at 4:45 to catch the barge. According to Brian Conybeare, an advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo on the project, the Thruway Authority is looking over the procedures used by TZC when it comes to safety, especially the moorings. The company was also ordered to place GPS tracking systems to all the barges, since this is the third incident since September. According to a statement released by TZC officials the moorings are checked at least four times each shift, the one that got loose had been checked 45 minutes prior.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day officially named the new Economic Development Director, releasing a statement earlier this week. According to his announcement, Day named Calherbe Monel of Spring Valley to the position, which he states is one of the most important roles in getting the county’s financial status back on track. The job pays $85,000 a year and will ask the business man to expand the businesses coming to Rockland County. Monel has worked at Lascomp Institute in Montvale, New Jersey where his job was to maintain and build on businesses and marketing. He most recently worked as an IT Business Specialist for the Clear Channel in White Plains, as well as the Executive Director of the not for profit group Christians United for Haiti, Inc. Day stated that Monel will assist in growing the economy and bring in top businesses to Rockland County. Monel ran for Spring Valley Mayor in November and holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management, as well as certificates in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, and Neighborhood Leadership and Development. He is also currently pursuing his Masters in Business Administration from New England College.
Local activists and members of the Legislature are taking issue with a meeting that County Executive Ed Day had with a group of developers planning the Tuxedo Reserve. The Related Companies are building 1,195 single- family homes, condos, and townhouses on the Sloatsburg/ Tuxedo border and have been attempting to connect to the Advanced Water Treatment Plant in Rockland Sewer District No 1. In 2004 the Legislature passed five resolutions stating that no one can connect to the system unless approved by the board, leading some members to question Day’s involvement. Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe stated that the Legislature should have been involved with the meeting since they are a part of county government and have a say in the decision process. Community members also stated that they should have been allowed present if the County Executive were going to talk about the towns. According to John Kwasnicki of Sloatsburg residents were not told about negotiations, though they spent years fighting the project, which he stated will bring more pollution, traffic, and drainage issues. Day stated that the meeting was held simply to organize facts and see if the sewer district’s board backed the idea and no agreements were made at the meeting. According to Day the company was offering the district money as well as 2 million dollars to the county, and if the county, and if the county can find a way that would be less harmful to the environment it would be good to consider.