The State has asked Rockland County to perform fire inspections at 49 private schools according to Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski. A core team of four former or current Rockland fire chiefs will carry out the inspections and all are state-certified code enforcement officials. The schools are located all over the county with the majority of them in Ramapo and Spring Valley. The inspections will begin Friday, according to Day. Both Zebrowski and Day have been calling publicly for the state to take action to improve the safety in private schools after the schools failed to comply with regulations. Failure to meet fire codes puts children and staff at risk and also endangers the lives of first responders. Day said, “There is one set of rules and everyone has to follow them,” he added, “No one is exempt”. New York State Department of Education commissioner MaryEllen Elia requested that Rockland County inspect 26 schools that have not filed safety reports despite being asked to do so repeatedly. She also asked the county to re-inspect 23 schools that had been inspected by the Town of Ramapo Fire Inspector, Adam Peltz. Four of those schools had been cleared for fire safety by Peltz and later were discovered to have serious fire safety violations. Ramapo Town Supervisor, Christopher St. Lawrence and the town board voted last night to assign Peltz to Assistant Fire Safety Inspector as part of the disciplinary charges against him. Peltz has admitted to the poor inspections. The board also appointed Michael Lepori as fire inspector and Ian Smith as deputy building inspector. According to St. Lawrence, the new positions will help the town “work on any of the backlog” for inspecting homes and schools. Inspections are expected to be completed by the end of June.
SUEZ Water, formerly United Water, announced yesterday that the most recent quarterly test results received on May 24 indicate the company’s drinking water is in full compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard for trihalomethanes or THMs. On March 31, the company notified customers by mail that it had slightly exceeded the standard. THMs are by-products that form when chlorine used to treat drinking water reacts with organic material that is naturally present in source water. Chlorine prevents water-borne illnesses such as typhoid and cholera. According to SUEZ, one of the measures taken to reduce concentrations of THMs was adding more groundwater to the affected area and targeted flushing programs. “ Chris Graziano, Vice President and General Manager of SUEZ New York stated, “We treat violations very seriously and our intensive efforts to address this exceedance were successful.” Customers who have questions can call SUEZ at 845-623-1500.
The third U.S. Legoland may be landing in Goshen. The Times Herald-Record reported Wednesday that several adjacent properties on Harriman Drive, off exit 125 on Route 17 are in purchase negotiations for the park. Representatives of Merlin Entertainments, the owner and operators of Legoland, visited Orange County several times last year. Negotiations over sale prices with several landowners began this month, according to Executive Steve Neuhaus. A Legoland spokeswoman, Julie Estrada, said the company would not have a comment for some time. According to town officials the mega theme park would create approximately 1,000 jobs in Orange County and create economic development opportunities for restaurants and small businesses in the area. Legos the popular plastic construction toy since 1949 has created a global subculture that has led to movies, games, competitions and six Legoland Amusement Parks. The other parks are located in Denmark, England, Germany, Malaysia, and two in the U.S. — California and Florida. New York may be the next Lego building block.
There will be suspension of road and bridge construction projects on New York State highways from 6 a.m. on Friday, May 27th to 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 31st, in order to accommodate travelers during the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend. Some work may continue behind permanent concrete barriers or for emergency repairs. A detailed schedule of Thruway lane closures through the holiday weekend is available at: http://www.thruway.ny.gov/travelers/laneclosures/index.shtml
In March Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a six-step plan for combating the Zika Virus. Yesterday, the Governor announced the launch of an aggressive public awareness campaign to educate New Yorkers on the dangers of Zika. The ads will run in English and Spanish on more than 40 television stations statewide; billboards and poster will be seen on subways, buses and travel websites, and will continue through the mosquito season that runs from April through September. Already, more than 7,000 larvicide tablets have been distributed to eliminate Aedes mosquitoes potentially carrying the virus. There is an information Helpline at 1-888-364-4723 as well as a dedicated website (https://www.ny.gov/programs/6-step-new-york-state-zika-action-plan) for resident information. Scientists have not yet determined if Aedes albopictus mosquitos – the type in New York – transmit Zika. There are 70 different species of mosquito in New York State and Aedes make up 3-5% of the total population.
Fort Lee police officers arrested 54-year-old Spring Valley resident, Nachman Breier, on Monday night on a charge of third-degree invasion of privacy. The arrest comes following an investigation into an early morning prowler on May 18th reportedly looking into windows at the Skyview Motel on Bergen Boulevard. Police have identified Breier as a beverage deliveryman who is suspected in similar incidents in Bergen and Rockland County according to a statement from Deputy Chief Timothy Ford. One motel guest told officers that an unknown man opened the hotel room window and took cell phone photos of him and his wife while they were naked. Another couple reported to officers that a man opened the window to their room, moved the curtain aside and reached into the room attempting to photograph them as they were engaged in sexual activity. Police said the man ran off when spotted. Later, authorities identified Breier, who was seen driving in a black Toyota Sienna minivan with a New York Volunteer Ambulance Service license plate. Fort Lee Police Department Detective Bureau is seeking additional information. You can call 201-592-3510.
Memorial Day is the time we honor those brave men and women who died in service to our country and many have already started to travel to friends and family today – making it one of the busiest travel holidays of the year. State Police and local law enforcement will be increasing patrols to combat drunk and impaired driving this weekend. The initiative starts on Friday, May 27th and will run until Monday, May 30th. Drivers can expect to see sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols. State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico says, “As you plan your holiday weekend, we remind motorists to: Drive sober, put on your seat belt and put down your smart phone. State Troopers will be highly visible this weekend and will have zero tolerance for impaired, reckless and distracted drivers.” In 2014, drunk driving killed 317 people and injured more than 5,600 others in New York State. Another 188 people were killed in drug-related crashes. Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles as part of the crackdown. Concealed Identity Vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once their emergency lights are activated. If alcohol is part of your Memorial Day weekend plan ahead and select a “designate” driver. Drunk driving kills 10,000 people nationwide each year and is preventable.
The largest investment in MTA infrastructure has been approved. The $27 billion 2015-19 MTA Capital Program has received final approval from the Capital Plan Review Board. The approval will lead to the purchase of 2,340 buses and 1,450 subway cars, advance an initiative to build four new Metro-North stations in underserved areas of the Bronx and bring Metro-North service to Penn Station. Other improvements will jumpstart the extension of the Second Avenue Subway to East Harlem; enhance the LIRR by adding a second track along 18 miles between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma; revitalize and upgrade stations; create a new fare payment system to replace the MetroCard; enhance the East Side Access project so LIRR riders will be able to travel into Grand Central Terminal. It is expected that in the fall the first contract will be awarded.
One of the four men suspected of the October 29, 2013 Wells Fargo Bank robbery has been arrested. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, 25-year-old Giovanny “Gio” Marte, of the Bronx, “committed a dangerous violent bank robbery in broad daylight” he added, “This frightening crime occurred more than two years ago, but thanks to the tireless efforts of the FBI, the Yonkers Police Department, and the NYPD, this defendant will now be held to account in federal court.” The men are accused of firing shots and stealing more than $300,000 from the Wells Fargo Bank located at 500 Odell Avenue in Yonkers. Marte appeared in White Plains federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith, and is being held without bail. He is charged with conspiracy, bank robbery and a firearms offense. There is no word yet on the other three suspects. In 2014, on the one-year anniversary of the crime, New York State Crime Stoppers offered a $2500 for information leading to an arrest. There was no mention of the reward on Monday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he is advancing legislation to close the LLC loophole in New York State. Cuomo has introduced eight bills – one for all political offices and one for each of the state’s elected offices – requiring that limited liability corporations be treated as traditional corporations, capping political contributions at $5,000. The bills would prevent LLCs from circumventing disclosure requirements and ensure that businesses do not wield an outsized influence in politics and elections across the state. The LLC loophole is widely open to abuse – with companies regularly taking advantage of the gap in state law to set up numerous LLCs to donate millions of dollars to political campaigns, candidates for public office and elected officials. The Governor has tried to pass legislation before to no avail. “Pass all of them, or as many as you’d like” stated Cuomo, “but at a minimum, pass the one impacting anyone running for the office of the Governor. I will go first – pass it and I will sign it into law today.”