The Coast Guard announced this week that they approved a two-mile safety zone around the Tappan Zee Bridge construction site. The area is along the Rockland County shoreline where the barges and other pieces of construction equipment are moored, and will be marked by buoys and patrolled by the police and the Coast Guard. The previously set up Regulated Navigation Area, that is patrolled by the Coast Guard will be separate from the safety zone. The RNA allows boaters to travel through the area, which extends 500 yards both north and south from the current Tappan Zee Bridge, but only at a maximum speed of five knots and the Coast Guard can ban boats during construction.
According to officials the town and the village of Haverstraw have applied for $100,000 in state aid to fund a study of whether it would be financially worth it to combine courts or continue having police work with three separate court. The village got rid of their police force in 2005 and since then the town’s police have been working cases with courts for the town, village, and West Haverstraw. According to Supervisor Howie Phillips the study would be completed to determine how much money and time would be saved if officers did not have to travel farther distances with suspects, less time spent traveling would mean a more efficient system for officer coverage for residents. According to village law a suspect must be arraigned in the respective village court, so currently police must drive a suspect from headquarters in Garnerville to one of the three courts, instead of using the closest courthouse, officials estimate that the time spent with a suspect would significantly drop from an hour and a half. Mayor of West Haverstraw John Ramundo stated that he supported doing the study but the four village trustees against it. Mayor of the village of Haverstraw, Michael Kohut, stated that consolidating would make the police force more efficient,and the study can’t hurt and may even make the village eligible for a tax rebate from Governor Cuomo’s tax freeze program for 2016.
State Supreme Court Judge Gerald Loehr made a ruling on the dilemma in Spring Valley on Wednesday morning. Last month the village was facing the closure of its summer camp at the Louis Kurtz Center after the clerks office stated that they had not received the proper paperwork in time. Mayor Demeza Delhomme blames Youth Director Sonia Barton, whom he had earlier suspended from the position, though she stated that the mayor told her someone else would take care of it due to her suspension. Delhomme stated that he set up an agreement with the Martin Luther King Center to hold a program there, and at a July 2 meeting Trustees Vilair Fonvil, Emilia White, and Asher Grossman voted to reinstate the original program and to hire Barton as an independent contractor. Delhomme and Deputy Mayor Anthony Leon were absent from the meeting but were ordered by Loehr to honor the resolution. The trustees hope the camp will start July 14 will allow fifty children to attend for no cost. Barton stated that she is not sure yet whether she will be accepting her former position as youth director because she is worried about her situation with Delhomme, and was unable to further comment, though her union representation stated appropriate legal action is being taken.
Haverstraw Police, fire departments, ambulance corps, and a Rockland hazmat team responded to a chemical spill at Barr Laboratories in Pomona on Tuesday evening. According to officials a scientist working at the labs under contract was mixing a liquid solution with powdered Potassium Cyanide when it boiled over and splashed onto another scientist’s face around 4:50 PM. By 6:45 the situation was under control and all victims were taken care of. Rockland’s Deputy Fire Coordinator Chris Kear stated that the facility’s decontamination unit was used and the man was conscious during emergency response and was transported to Nyack Hospital. Kear stated that the two other scientists exposed to the spill were treated, as well as four volunteer firefighters with the Hillcrest Department. Potassium Cyanide is a potentially lethal substance, which hinders the ability to use oxygen, but according to Denise Bradley, Vice President of Teva Pharmaceuticals, who operates the lab, the facility was cleaned and treated and was working normally Tuesday night.
According to police reports the pools recently built for a religious summer camp were vandalized over the weekend. Ryan Karben, the lawyer representing Camp Shalom based out of New Jersey, one of four pools, which are located at the CHestnut Ridge Middle School which the camp is renting for $125,000, was slashed in seven different places. Karben is asking that the police investigate the vandalism as a hate crime, especially when the camp claims harassment towards its workers and on social media sites. According to Detective Sargent John Lynch with the Ramapo Police they are questioning neighbors in search of potential witnesses and information and looking for security footage that could identify the person or persons involved. Last month the camp faced out-lash from community members when the allegedly began construction on the above ground pools without the proper permits. Last week the County Health Department stated that they would allow the camp to build and now they are just waiting to complete a full inspection of the finished pools so that campers can swim. According to Catherine Quinn, Associate Public Health Engineer for Rockland County, the department received emails with complaints of food and garbage littering the property, though when inspected nothing was found. Ramapo Police ask anyone with information on the incident call 845-357-2400.
The town of Clarkstown Highway Department has hired a new full time confidential secretary for Superintendent Wayne Ballard. On Tuesday Ballard announced that Legislator Frank Sparaco was awarded the position, which pays $103,600 a year, after the former secreatary of 16 years, Nancy Willen, unexpectedly made the decision to retire. Sparaco is facing criticism for the position, many stating that Willen earned her salary over a period of time, and the Legislator should be started at a lower salary. The job offers health care as well as contributes to his pension, though Sparaco stated that he will not be joining the town’s plan because he already receives health care with the Legislature. Sparaco previously worked as consultant services representative for the Highway Department, earning $78,000 a year with no benefits. At a meeting on June 10 the board approved Republican Councilman George Hoehmann’s proposal to cut the position, stating that due to the town’s budget problems cuts are necessary. A recent projection by Comptroller Edward Duer and Deputy Comptroller Mary Maloney for 2015-2018 has shown Clarkstown is facing a $6 million shortfall, which will not be prevented by property taxes and other forms of revenue will not keep up with spending on services.
Firefighters responded to a call at 162 Main Street in Nyack Wednesday Wednesday evening. The bottom floor of the four story building is a bakery, the top three are residential, and according to tenants there was a massive lightning strike around 7:30 PM, which appeared to be the cause of a fire starting on the third floor. Police report that everyone made it out of the smoke filled building without injuries and by 8:30 the situation was under control. Workers from Orange and Rockland Utilities began work to restore power to a reported $3,300 homes that were out, most in the Haverstraw area. More storms are expected this afternoon and evening due to Hurricane Arthur traveling up the East Coast.
The East Ramapo School Board voted 7-2 on Tuesday night to rehire the law firm Minerva and D’Agostino. Last year a lawyer for the firm, Christopher Kirby, verbally attacked a parent at a meeting, going on a profanity filled rant. Part of the incident was filmed and released over the internet, leading to backlash for the firm, and a promise from the board that they would fire them and look for new representation. Board President Yehuda Weissmandl stated after the incident, almost a full year ago, that they would retain the law firm during a transition period. The board stated at the meeting that they had a difficult time finding a qualified replacement. The district has a budget of $600,000 for legal representation, though fees have risen as high as $3 million in the past. Following the controversy surrounding the district, County Executive Ed Day released a statement that he is calling for the resignation of board President Weissmandl. Day stated on Wednesday morning that without trust Weissmandl has created a bigger divide between the board and the community. The statement reads, “He cannot reasonably expect to manage a school district when each and every word he utters going forward will be measured by the word he did not keep. In short, his leadership position is now untenable, and his resignation is clearly indicated.”
According to the Public Service Commission, United Water New York decided on Monday to go with a two-year deal which will allow them to raise rates by 19.6% the first year and 7.4% the second, meaning customers’ bills will go from $714 to $783 the first year and to $840 in the second. The company was originally asking for an increase of 28.9% or $21.3 million in revenue, though the PSC decided to allow the the minimum by state law, only 13.3% at most. Ramapo Town Supervisor Chris St.Lawrence is a vocal opponent of the United Water rate hike proposal and stated that he will be filing for a rehearing, since he is disappointed that there was any raise at all. The new rates take effect today as well as the company’s newly implemented monthly billing, which will go through a three-month transition. Currently customers are paying quarterly. The PSC also ordered United Water to solve spending problems to prevent future rate hikes.
The Village of Spring Valley held an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss the $1.8 million insurance policy renewal that was set to expire today. At last week’s Tuesday meeting the trustees and mayor could not agree on passing the renewal because the information on the deal was not given with enough time to review. Without insurance the village would essentially have shut down because the policy covers property, such as buildings, and all operations, such as police, emergency workers, public works, and workers compensation. At the meeting set up by Mayor Demeza Delhomme for Friday at 2:00 PM Trustee Asher Grossman stated that he had wanted to speak with the village’s insurance provider, Binder Insurance, before agreeing to spending taxpayer money. Leonard Binder, of the agency, stated that the increase from last year’s $1.67 million is because to this year’s $1.8 million is because of claims in worker’s comp and police liability. The resolution passed 3-1, Trustee Grossman voting yes, Trustee Anthony Leon voting no, and Trustee Emilia White absent. Grossman stated that he voted to approve, though he would like more time to look at the policy, and Leon stated that he disagreed with the wording of the document.