Supervisor Gromack Outlines Proposal for Mall Security

Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack along with Deputy Supervisor Shirley Lasker and Police Chief Mike Sullivan gathered outside the Palisades Mall this afternoon to outline the Supervisor’s proposal to request a funding increase for security measures throughout New York State malls. Supervisor Gromack addressed the clear and present dangers from terrorist groups that exist against malls across America, “It’s not a secret that they view malls as a high risk area. And it’s not a secret and municipalities across the state have had to put more and more resources to protect our malls. The proposal that we are submitting to the governor of the state of New York and our state legislatures is a measure that we believe will have an important effect on supplementing the security of malls around the state.” The proposal calls for state funding for malls greater than 750,000 square feet, specifically requesting $2 million for malls from 750,000 to 1,000,000 square feet and $2.5 for malls greater than 1,000,000

This equates to total expenditure for New York state at $94.5 million, yearly. Gromack made clear that the funding would go toward adding security personnel and not for holes in the town budget, remarking that the budget is indeed stretched thin. The Palisades Mall at 1.8 million square feet is the third largest mall in New York State which would receive $2.5 million and the Shops at Nanuet at just under 900,000 square feet would receive $2 million. An estimated 34 million combined shoppers visit these two malls each year and by receiving an additional 6-7 officers, Deputy Supervisor Shirley Lasker believes that would free up resources for the community. Police Chief Mike Sullivan stated that the funding will allow for more training and additional staff which will work directly with mall security in all circumstances.

Lacey Spears Will Appeal Verdict

In ongoing news on the trial against Lacey Spears, the former Chestnut Ridge mother who was convicted in the murder of her son on Monday, will be seeking to appeal the guilty verdict. Lawyers declared on Tuesday that they will be fighting the charge of second-degree murder against their client, who was arrested after being blamed for the January 2014 death of her five-year old son Garnett, caused by fatal doses of sodium in his blood. The prosecution and Westchester County District Attorney stated that they are confident that the appeal will not go through. Spears faces 25-years to life in prison and will be sentenced on April 8.

Algonquin Pipeline Approved by FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Algonquin Pipeline on Tuesday, issuing a certificate that will allow Spectra Engery to construct their planned natural gas pipeline. Many residents throughout the Hudson Valley have protested the project, stating that it would harm both the environment and property values in the area. According to the agency the pipeline would stretch from New York to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, to carry natural gas from Ramapo to those areas. Recently the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Indian Point operators released studies that show there would be no threat to, or from, the pipeline where it nears the power plant. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has to issue permits for the project in New York before work can begin.

Rockland Teachers Protest Cuomo’s Education Reform

On Monday, local teachers from the Clarkstown, North Rockland, and Nyack districts with union leaders protested Governor Cuomo’s education overhaul announced from his State of the State address this past January. This crackdown on teacher evaluation is now based on 50 percent test results and 50 percent on classroom observation. Other choreographed rallies were taking place in Albany and Newburgh of teachers who all believe the state’s approach to reform is separate from the reality of classroom learning.Tenure will also be harder to attain as teachers will have to maintain an “effective” or “highly effective” rating for five consecutive years to achieve the designation. In a statement, a spokesman for the governor’s office said, “The governor is fighting to reform a system that spends more money per student than any other state in the nation while condemning hundreds of thousands of children to failing schools over the last decade.”

Gaming Commission to Award Licenses to Casinos

The state Gaming Facility Location Board met on Friday to discuss the various proposals for casinos in New York. The board voted on 16 of the bids in December, rejecting 13 for reasons ranging from concerns for the environment and financial issues. On Friday the board continued to further look into the concerns, agreeing with the original decision to approve only three. Though proposals for casinos in the lower Hudson Valley were rejected in December, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently requested that the Gaming Commission open bidding for a Southern Tier location, which the board endorsed, and would officially be open next month for 90 days. Now with three bids decided for the Catskills region, Finger Lakes, and Schenectady areas of New York the Gaming Commission will begin to review and eventually grant licenses for the winners.

Fire in Blauvelt

Around 6:20 Sunday night firefighters from six departments fought the snow to respond to a fire on Pine Glen Drive in Blauvelt. When they arrived volunteers found a male resident outside and two women in their 70’s and 80’s leaving the house after a neighbor called police when they saw the flames coming from the residence. According to officials the two women were attempting to put the flames out themselves, instead of calling 911, and that both of them suffered minor burns, but did not need hospitalization. The house was severely damaged and investigators reported that the fire was caused by a candle that lit a curtain and spread through the attic.

Lacey Spears Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder

635609025051658330-jl030215spearsverdict9Lacey Spears, former Chestnut Ridge resident on trial for the death of her 5 year-old son, has been convicted of second-degree murder. Jurors convened this morning and delivered their verdict a little after noon today after deliberating all of last Friday as well as Thursday evening. It appeared jurors were leaning toward this charge over the first-degree manslaughter charge when they had asked the judge to define “depraved indifference” last Friday, an element of second-degree murder under the New York Penal code. Evidence and testimony from medical personnel asserted the only explanation for the high sodium level that ultimately caused Garnett’s death was forcing salt through his feeding tube. Prosecutors had argued that Spears and did it for attention, and called it “nothing short of torture.” Prosecutors chose not to pursue a case based on Spears suffering from munchhausen by proxy, a rare psychological disorder in which parents intentional harm their children for the attention, believing the evidence was strong enough to stand alone. In a press conference after the conclusion of trial, Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said her confidence was high that that when defense appeals, the conviction would be upheld. She also stated that her office would ask for the maximum penalty of 25 years to life. Spears’ sentencing is set for April 8th.

Indian Point’s Unit 3: Scheduled Temporary Shutdown

stock-footage-indian-point-energy-center-unit-on-the-hudson-river-in-buchanan-new-yorkA press release by Entergy, owner of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant Facility in Buchanan, New York, outlined a shutdown of one of the two domed energy units for $50 million in refueling and inspection projects expected to employ 1,000 more workers and bring an economic boost to the surrounding community. Unit 3, which had been online since it’s last refueling outage two years ago in April, consistently generated electricity at around 99 percent of that time period. The press release also states that the facility generates, “approximately 2000 megawatts of electricity for homes, business and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County.” In speaking with the Senior Lead Communications Specialist at Entergy, Patricia Kakridas clarified that these outages are very routine, coming once every two years and lasting approximately one month. Unit 3’s outage will have no effect on Indian Point’s other operating unit, Unit 2, which will continue full power service.

Spring Valley Officials Looking to Fund Fire Department

Spring Valley fire officials are raising concerns about the state of equipment after three trucks were forced to receive repairs. Much of the department’s equipment is aging and broken down, and volunteers are urging village officials to do something about the lack of equipment. Mayor Demeza Delhomme stated that he will be putting funding for the department into his proposed budget for 2015, which must be approved by April 30, and Trustee Vilair Fonvil stated that he would approve a $2-3 million bond for new equipment and vehicles, and Trustee Asher Grossman agreed that new funding is necessary. The village has a history of disagreements between Mayor Delhomme and the board of trustees, and some residents and volunteer firefighters have claimed that plays a part in their lack of funding. The trustees voted no on the Mayor’s recent proposal for twelve additional building and fire inspectors, stating there was not enough information to pass.

Jury Continues Deliberating Spears Case; Could See Decision Today

A jury is set to continue deliberations today after sitting in discussion all day on Friday, asking to see evidence and testimonies once more in the case against former Chestnut Ridge mother Lacey Spears who is accused of killing her son with fatal levels of sodium in January 2014. The jury began deliberating the case on Thursday and continued Friday, watching video evidence brought forward by the prosecution, which shows Spears and her five-year old son Garnett head into the bathroom and soon after the young boy getting visibly sick in his hospital room. The jury spent most time with the video, but also referenced charts of sodium, and testimony by a friend of Spears. Jurors also asked the judge for a definition of “reckless and depraved indifference”. Spears is waiting for the jury’s decision on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

Snow Closings Updated Regularly

Please click on the image below to view all snow closings for Rockland County.