According to sources compiled by the Journal News the environmental group River Keeper and Healthy Schools Network released a report on Thursday registering that over 100 tanks of oil being carried by freight trains more than 30 times a week pass by 101 school locations from Rockland County to Albany. The report shows that the schools are often within a mile of the CSX rail line, which carries oil for companies from the Midwest in cars that have been deemed unsafe for transport by federal officials. Officials such as New York Senator Charles Schumer and County Legislator Harriet Cornell, and local parents are calling for new rules to be put in place to protect students from the highly volatile crude oil. Some safety regulations have been put into place in Rockland including a reduction of the speed limit. Parents are asking that the limit be reduced further in school areas and better evacuation plans be put in place for students.
The District Attorney’s office arrested a Rockland Community College professor on Tuesday after an investigation into the man led to the discovery that he was stealing money from the college, and the teacher’s union he was the president of. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated that the 61-year old Hackensack, New Jersey resident Cliff Garner was arrested on felony charges of second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records, and first degree offering a false instrument. Garner has taught English at the college wince 1989, and was accused of charging three thousand dollars in hotel and personal expenses to the school when he attended study-abroad trips with students to England. The investigation, completed by the District Attorney’s special investigation unit, uncovered that over the last four years, Garner stole 200 thousand dollars from the Rockland Community College Federation of Teachers. The professor was arraigned on Tuesday and held on 50 thousand dollar bail, and faces 15 years in prison.
The many nonprofit groups in Rockland County that are facing funding cuts with the $772 million budget proposal for 2015 will be holding a rally on Tuesday. The budget would save $6.8 million by cutting 111 countywide positions including 37 within the Sheriff’s Department. Supporters of Sheriff Lou Falco have staged several protests asking the Legislature to rethink the proposal. 33 positions will be cut in the Department of Social Services, laundry, security, and hospital radiology, as well as 41 jobs in departments that have not been announced. Funding cut from nonprofit organizations will save the county $3.3 million, but cut services given to residents. The rally in support of the nonprofits will be held at 6:00 PM just before the 7:00 Legislature meeting at the county office building in New City.
According to a request filed with the Public Service Commission by Orange and Rockland Utilities and numbers compiled by the Journal News, the energy company is seeking a rate increase of $34 a month. Split between natural gas, which would rise by $8.13 per month, and electricity which would rise $26.18, the company would see and increase of $33.4 million from electricity bills and $40.7 million from gas. According to a spokesman for O&R, Mike Donovan, the company is planning a nearly $9 million station in Warwick, Orange County, as well as making improvements to transformers and Smart Grid Programs equaling to almost $18 million, but the company states the improvements will create better service for more than 25,000 customers. According to the company additions to natural gas services are in the works as well, using most of the $40.7 million to replace pipes over an 8-year period and build a new fueling station so delivery trucks can use natural gas instead of gasoline.
The Public Service Committee unanimously denied United Water New York of their request for surcharges on customer bills to repay the $56 million they claim was spent in preparation for the Hudson River water treatment facility. At the meeting on Thursday the PSC ruled that there isn’t a need for the desal plant at this time, and the company was ordered to stop pursuing permits and to take the next six months working on alternative plans such as conservation with the Rockland County Water Task Force. The surcharges would have added $60 a year to resident’s bills and residents and officials who fought the plant consider this a victory. Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski stated that he is looking forward to working on new policies and thanked the PSC for listening to the ratepayer’s side of the argument.
According to Ramapo police a teenage girl reported that a man approached her while she was walking alone to her home in Wesley Hills. Police stated that the man, described as a clean shaven Hispanic man with thinning hair and an average build, was driving his white pickup truck when he passed the 14-year old girl on Kentor Lane, as she walked home from her bus stop around 6:00 PM Monday evening, turned the car around, attempting to lure her into the passenger seat. The girl continued walking and informed her parents and the man drove off. Police ask that parents make their children aware of the danger of speaking with strangers and kids should yell and run away if approached.
Clarkstown and Rockland County officials are speaking up about Monday’s arrest of legislator Frank Sparaco on accusations that he submitted forged petitions. In the Journal News, Democratic Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner stated that Sparaco should resign from his elected position due to the 40 charges he faces and constituents deserve a legislator who can focus solely on them. Sparaco faces felony charges for false information in petitions as well as falsely claiming he rented a room in his house to two of his cousins to allow them to vote in Clarkstown. Rockland Republican Committee Chairman Lawrence Garvey stated to the Journal News that election reform needs to be implemented now more than ever, and the Republican Party is taking steps to fight corruption. Sparaco was released without bail on Monday and is set to return to court on December 8th.
According to reports the District Attorney’s office arrested Rockland County Legislator Frank Sparaco on Monday afternoon on multiple felony counts of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instruments and first-degree filing a false instrument and misdemeanor misconduct charges. The 38-year old Republican Legislator filed petitions this past summer in an attempt to have his supporters elected to the Clarkstown Republican Committee, in the end losing control of the party to supporters of County of the party to supporters of County Executive Ed Day. According to the District Attorney’s investigation into claims of petition irregularities, they also discovered that Sparaco claimed to be renting a room in his home in Valley Cottage to his cousins, though allegations state that he was falsely doing so to allow the two men to vote in Clarkstown. Sparaco stated during his arraignment that he will be hiring a lawyer and the Judge ordered him to return to court on December 8 and that he be released without bail.
Police responded to a call around 4:00 PM Friday after an SUV lost control and crashed into a building. According to officials a Ford Explorer lost control and crashed into another car that was being moved at an autorepair shop on Route 9W in West Haverstraw. The SUV seriously damaged the building and firefighters responded to save the roof from collapsing. There has been no news on the condition of the driver who was taken to Nyack Hospital, and no one inside the garage was injured.
The Legislature met on Thursday night to review County Executive Ed Day’s proposed $772 million budget for 2015. The proposal would cut 111 county employees to save $6.8 million, including 37 within the Sheriff’s Patrol Units. Thursday’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting drew hundreds of residents and sheriff’s officers to the county office building in New City to protest the County Executive’s decisions and express their support for Sheriff Lou Falco, who has continuously voiced his disagreement with the cuts. According to Falco the layoffs would be done by seniority, which would disrupt county operations provided by specialized units such as arson, mounted, marine, an street patrols, and the bomb unit. Town Supervisors have worried over the past few weeks that the extra cost of losing Sheriff’s officers would fall on their residents. With Day’s budget proposal property taxes in the county would increase by two percent. Over the last three year taxes have increased by the double-digits, and Day stated that though unfortunate, cuts are necessary to get the county in check by paying $10 million dollars as part of the Deficit Reduction Law passed by the Legislature in 2012.