According to a recent report issued by the Public Transportation Safety Board, a division within the New York State Department of Transportation, the driver of a Breaga Transport Bus that caught fire and was evacuated on February 8, and the dispatcher that he contacted, are at fault for the incident. The report states that the driver was unable to identify the situation and take actions to prevent the fire. According to reports filed by Brega at the time of the incident the driver smelled burning and got off the bus to check the outside, then called his dispatcher, and when the driver reached Pearl River he heard a dripping noise followed by an explosion in the right rear wheel well and the fire. The state’s report also points to the dispatcher, stating that they did not have the skills to make a decision to evacuate the bus immediately and take it out of service, when the driver first reported the smell. County Executive Ed Day’s spokesman Scott Salotto stated, “Despite apparent negligence by Brega personnel, we expect additional training and safety practices put in place by the operator will prevent similar incidents in the future.” After the incident a proposal to spend nearly $300,000 a year on daily washing for the bus was presented by Legislator Patrick Moroney, creating controversy within the County Government and residents, some who believe it is a waste of funds, others who believe it is a necessary safety expense. The Legislature is meeting Tuesday, where they will have the opportunity to override Day’s veto of the proposal and stated that they will make the decision public by Friday.
Police responded to an accident in Stony Point on Friday night after receiving calls that a car had crashed into a utility pole, leading to a power outage in several areas of town. Stony Point resident 17-year old Sean Delgado was arrested and charged with driving while impaired, a misdemeanor and assault in the second and third degrees, both felonies after his car went off the road. In the accident a 17-year old passenger was thrown from the car and suffered critical injuries, responders took him to Nyack Hospital before he was transferred to Westchester Medical. Two other passengers were taken to Nyack Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
County officials are announcing plans for the water problems faced by Rockland. The Chairman of the Legislature Alden Wolfe and County Executive Ed Day, will be speaking at a meeting open to the public tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 at Rosary Hall in Dominican College 500 Western Highway in Blauvelt. The meeting will open discussion with the new nineteen member task force chaired by Democratic Legislator Harriet Cornell. Earlier in the year the Public Service Commission declared that the need for water wouldn’t be urgent until the year 2020, and United Water New York should not pursue building plans for their proposed water treatment plant on the Hudson River until the need was present. This allowed opponents, such as the Rockland Water Coalition, time to create conservation platforms that will involve protecting wetlands and groundwater, and other solutions. The task force includes county officials, local business owners, school officials, and United Water officials who will be presenting their thoughts on solutions at tonight’s meeting, as well as hiring a new coordinator after the 30 minute public participation session.
New York State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli released his evaluation on New York communities’ fiscal statuses for 2013. According to his reports Rockland was ranked as the most fiscally stressed municipality in the state for the second year in a row. Dinapoli stated that the review is meant as a warning and to promote discussions between the residents and government officials to find solutions to the issues. County Executive Ed Day stated that the reports are not surprising, people elected him to fix the economic problems Rockland faces and with Moody’s recent promotion to a positive outlook the county can continue making making steps toward an “A” rating. The Comptroller’s report was compiled based on 23 financial and environmental factors and involved !,043 New York communities, with a total of 35 described as stressed. The County Executive is set to release his budget proposal for 2015 next month.
According to East Ramapo school board president Yehuda Weissmandl, the district will be working with a new government relations team to help them obtain state aid. Weissmandl stated that they hired lobbyist Darren Dopp of the firm Patricia Lynch Associates as a media consultant to handle press-related issues in June, around the same time Hank Greenburg was appointed as the district’s fiscal monitor by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The district signed a seven month long contract with the firm, playing $7,000 a month. Dopp stated that his goal is to help district officials and residents work together toward getting money for students and programs.
According to the Rockland District Attorney’s office a three- month investigation into local drug dealers has led to the arrest of nineteen people. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated that the undercover investigation targeted street-level dealers, not users, and that two people in the county have died from heroin since his team announced a plan to fight drug abuse last week. Along with the nineteen arrests the DA’s office and Rockland’s Drug Task Force seized five guns, ammunition, cash, oxycodone, powdered cocaine, crack, and heroin. All suspects have been charged with felony counts of third-degree criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance and face up to nine years in prison.
According to Ramapo Police, a 25-year old man was arrested last week for allegedly attempting to sexually molest a young boy. Police Sargent Brian Corbett stated that Abraham Widenbaum, who lives in a group home for developmentally disabled adults, was charged with first-degree attempted sexual abuse and luring a child, a felony, and a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child, when he used candy to lure the 6-year old boy from his yard on Wedesday evening to an empty room at a nearby synagogue. According to police the boy ran home when he was asked to bring back a friend and informed his parents. Police found Widenbaum on Friday evening, and arrested him without releasing details of what occurred in the room, and held him at Rockland County Jail on $75,000 bail. He will return to court on Tuesday. The arrest follows unrelated reports of attempted lurings in Nanuet and Blauvelt and police urge that parents remain vigilant with their children.
According to Ramapo Police an 18-month old girl was killed after being hit by a minivan in Chestnut Ridge on Friday afternoon. Police stated that Judy Danzinger was struck by a minivan being driven by a 19-year old Monsey girl, as she was paying on her street with about ten other children. The toddler died at Westchester Medical Center around 10:00 AM on Saturday morning. Witnesses stated that the van was backing up at about five miles an hour and bumped into the young girl, causing her to tip over and hit her head on the ground. According to Ramapo Police Sargent Michael Higgins the driver will not face charges, but the investigation was continuing as of Saturday.
According to Clarkstown Police they are investigating reports that a man attempted to lure a young boy into his car on Wednesday afternoon. Police stated that around 4:45 PM the boy was walking on Carrie Lane in Nanuet when a man in a white SUV, whose description was not available, attempted to draw the boy towards the car. The boy ran away and the car left. Police are investigating and ask that anyone with information call the Clarkstown Department at 845-639-5800.
The Environmental Protection Agency stated recently that they would be rejecting seven out of twelve of the Tappan Zee Bridge related projects New York State officials had planned on playing for with a $511 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. In a letter from Joan Leary Matthews, the Director of EPA Region 2’s Clean Water Division, state officials were informed that if they use the money for projects the EPA has deemed ineligible the costs would be disallowed. This means that $481.8 million of the loan was disallowed, including $110 million to be used dredging the river, and $65 million for removing the current bridge. EPA officials and environmental advocates agreed that the proposed spending projects did not fit what the loan is meant for, which is sewer improvements and clean water projects. Governor Andrew Cuomo stated on Tuesday that they would be appealing the decision of the agency. Officials have 30 days to do so and Cuomo stated that regardless of the outcome the construction of the bridge will continue, since they were not depending on the money for the project. Government and Thruway officials have yet to inform residents of Rockland and Westchester how much they can expect tolls to cost on the new structure.