Orange & Rockland Utilities is alerting the community that the company’s 1,100 employees will be on readiness status this afternoon in anticipation of possible electric and gas system damage due to Hurricane Joaquin. The employees will be on alert whether O&R’s Storm Watch will be upgraded to Storm Alert by 6 p.m. this evening. Officials are projecting the hurricane’s trajectory has moved farther east and will not make direct landfall in the area, however and rain could soften the ground and make trees unstable, becoming easy to topple by high winds. The press release states that the first-response team is ready to make any repairs due to storm-related damage. To report outages, visit the O&R website at oru.com or call customer service at 1-877-434-4100.
Upper Saddle River Police are reporting over 44 pounds of unused prescription pill medications collected during the Drug Enforcement Agency National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day from last Saturday. Chief Patrick Rotella explained that events such as these should reduce the misuse and abuse of prescription medications that affects the community. The Chief also mentioned that discarding unused, unwanted, or expired medications to police headquarters will curb the prevalence of improper disposal which pollutes the environment. Across the county, the national event which began in 2010, roped in over 2,000 pounds of prescription medication.
Another decision has been released on the fate of the Ramapo ward vote in Rockland County. According to the court papers submitted by State Supreme Court Judge Margaret Garvey, the vote on September 30, 2014, rejecting a ward system, would be upheld. The vote was challenged by a group of activists who claimed in their suit that some voters were turned away from machines. Garvey stated there was a lack of evidence provided in the suit, though Michael Parietti, one of the challengers stated they will be appealing the judge’s decision.
At a meeting on Thursday at Nyack Village Hall, residents were given the opportunity to speak about proposed development on the Hudson River waterfront. Currently the plan for TZ Vista, submitted by developer Helmer-Cronin Construction, is to build three, six-story buildings with 120 units and underground parking, on the four-acre lot, though they are asking the village board for a text amendment that would allow them to build beyond the 40-foot height restriction. Those who attended the meeting had mixed opinions on the proposal, many supporters stating that the complex would be a tax ratable as well as help to bing in more development in the village, while others expressed the idea that the style of the building would not mix with surrounding architecture. Another option submitted by the developer was three, four-story buildings with wood and brick facades, which would blend with the village’s existing style and remain under the height regulations.
The United States Congress announced on Thursday that the Zadroga Act expired overnight. Nearly 33,000 people are still effected by 9/11 related issues health issues, and the act ensured medical care to those first responders. NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been working some time to get Congress to make the program permanent, and stated that the decision not to extend the law, which was enacted in 2010, will create “enormous anxieties and fears in the minds of very sick people.” Many of the health issues caused by being not he scene of the September Eleventh attacks on the World Trade Center can arise years after, and proponents of the act stated it is needed to ensure treatment to those who’s insurance or worker’s compensation has run out or past it’s statute of limitations. Patients can still receive treatment, but officials with the program stated they will most likely be forced to begin shutting down next summer, and will face problems as early as February.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day released his proposal for the 2017 budget at a press conference on Thursday. The $723 million plan would increase the tax levy by 4.95% or $4 a month for residents. On Wednesday announced that the deal to sell the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Home for $32 million, was terminated by the buyer, and so the budget was unable to remain in the state mandated 2% tax cap. In the proposal cuts would be made by laying off county employees, including 288 who will lose their positions at Summit Park when it is closed by the December 31 deadline. On top of the hospital workers, 38 jobs will be eliminated in several departments, as well as the blacksmith and veterinary services for the mounted unit in the Sheriff’s Department, which will save the county about $156,000. Day stated that many employees are also accepting an early retirement incentive program and the vacant positions will not be refilled. A $17.5 million payment must be made to the county deficit this year, and according to Day, overall spending is expected to go down by $40 million in this year’s budget, due to the closing of Summit Park. Along with the cuts and tax increases, the County Executive proposed a $1.8 million community college chargeback to towns for residents attending colleges outside the county, as well as the sale of the Sain Building in New City for $4 million. Day stated, “This is a responsible fiscal plan that begins the historic redesign of county operations. Our goal is to create an affordable government. We’ve made the hard choices to set our county on a path to prosperity.” The Legislature stated they will be going over the proposal thoroughly and this year is the first year the budget was submitted by its new October 1 deadline rather than its original October 23 date, which gives members an extra three weeks to review. There will be two public forums to further discuss the budget, one on Wednesday October 14 at 7:00 PM at Farley Elementary School in Stony Point, and another on Monday November 16 at 7:00 PM at the Valley Cottage Library.
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus held a conference on Wednesday where he presented his proposal for the 2016 budget. Neuhaus stated that the budget will focus on cutting taxes and would use the county’s $15 million surplus, which could become a deficit. The proposal remains within the mandatory state tax cap and, according to Neuhaus, will not require cuts in services or layoffs and the county will bring in $3.1 million on the sale of property in Wallkill, Goshen, Hamptonbourgh, and the city of Newburgh. The biggest announcement of the evening was that the attempt to sell the Valley View Center for Nursing Care that has been ongoing for four-years has ended, and the facility will remain county-owned. Neuhaus stated that while the county will not be selling the nursing home, there is the possibility of selling or leasing 62-acres of land surrounding it. In the $725.3 million plan the property tax levy will increase by 2% and the county would increase spending on tourism to $1 million and on a rape-crisis program by $85,000 though overall spending will go down by 1%.
According to Rockland County officials the sale of the Summit Park Nursing Home has been terminated by the buyer. Sympaticare LLC was set to finalize the purchase for $32 million on Wednesday, but instead County Executive Ed Day announced at a press conference that the sale would not be going through. Day released a statement informing residents, “We had hoped Sympaticare would play a role in stabilizing the financial future of Rockland County by acquiring Summit Park and investing millions of dollars to upgrade its services, provide care and keep jobs in Rockland County. Things did not work out the way we had hoped.” The company, owned by Shalom Braunstein of Monsey, released statement through their lawyers that the sale was terminated due to pending litigation and the LDC’s failure to meet conditions in the final agreement. The county is now working to come up with a plan to transfer 182 patients to another facility before December 31, which is when Summit Park, is now expected to close. Despite the need to close the hospital, legislator Chairman Alden Wolfe stated in a press release on Wednesday that Braunstein notified members of the Legislature via email and informed them that there is still a possibility of the sale being completed, he just needs more time and was “willing to negotiate a new closing date but the county refused to negotiate.” Wolfe urged that the Executive and Legislative branch must remain united to ensure the purchase goes through. According to officials Sympaticare must pay a $4 million termination fee.
According to a report by the Journal News, the Orangetown Police Department is investigating a suspected suicide that took place this afternoon across from Tappan Zee High School in Orangeburg. Lieutenant Michael Shannon explained that the school was put on lockdown around 1 p.m. to preserve the scene. South Orangetown Superintendent Robert Pritchard clarified that the unnamed individual was a student at the high school. The details of the incident are limited at this time.
After a three year investigation, 36 year-old Bryan Calcott, is being held at the Bergen County Jail for bringing 109 packages totaling 25 pounds of marijuana into New Jersey from Oakland California. The San Francisco native was arrested in Lakewood, Colorado last month and was returned to New Jersey last Sunday. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Narcotics Task Force, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshall’s Service of Northern California worked in tandem to put out a search warrant for Calcott’s arrest in 2012 after questioning him at the airport the day he arrived. He left Teterboro airport before the warrant could be executed. Calcott is being held at the Bergen County Jail on $250,000 bail after being charged with possession with the intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.