Firefighters responded to a call in New City at 11:30 Monday night. According to New City Firechief Jim Avaras the fire started in the attached garage and quickly spread through the three story home to the roof. Firefighters searched the building despite the dangerous conditions and when they were finally able to put out the fire they discovered the body of a man in the garage. The man was pronounced dead, his wife had managed to escape the blaze and was in the yard when first responders arrived. She was taken to Columbia University Medical Center’s burn unit for treatment of unknown injuries. Officials stated they are still investigating the cause, though neighbors reported hearing an explosion.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Attorney’s Office have fined a chicken slaughterhouse in Kyrias Joel for polluting the Ramapo River, which provides drinking water for Rockland and Bergen Counties. Regional Administrator for the EPA Judith Enck stated to the Journal News that various forms of pollution, including animal parts and waste were dumped into storm drains and sewers and the company, Kyrias Joel Poultry Processing Plant Inc, violated the Clean Water Act. The operators were fined $330,000 for violations and stated that there was no intentional pollution going on since, in 2011, they installed a treatment facility that solved waste overflow problems. Federal prosecutors set up guidelines for the company to follow to protect the river, or they could be fined again, anywhere from $100 to $2,000 a day.
On Wednesday morning officials reported that a 3-month old girl who has family in Monsey was killed in Jerusalem when a car drove onto the platform where she and her parents were waiting for a train. Israeli authorities reported that the crash was intentional and are calling it a terrorist attack by a Palestinian man. The baby, Chaya Braun, was in her stroller when the car drove into a crowd of people, and she died later at a local hospital, where her mother Chani Halperin-Braun formerly of Monsey, and father were also taken for injuries along with seven others. Chani’s parents still live in Monsey and residents as well as county officials have expressed condolences and sadness for the family in the aftermath of the tragedy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.