The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, on West 25th between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas caught fire last night at approximately 7 p.m. and very quickly grew to a four-alarm according to fire officials. Candles had been lit in the church for the Easter services. Serbian Orthodox follows the Julian calendar and celebrates Easter later than Western churches. The priest had left the building for a bike ride after several days of religious celebrations. A caretaker for the church arrived just after the blaze began. According to sources he was treated for smoke inhalation. At one point, the heat was so intense it caused the windows to blow out and eventually the entire roof collapsed. In 1968, the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and that same year the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission gave it landmark status. The commission wrote of the church in 1968, “its special character, historic significance, and aesthetic interest and value of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York make it irreplaceable.”
On Saturday, in the Bronx, The Reverend Daniel J. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, anti-war activist, and poet, died. Berrigan was known for being a member of the Catonsville Nine a group of Catholic activists who burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War. On May 17, 1968 they went to the draft board in Catonsville, MD and took 378 draft files, dumped them in the parking lot and poured home-made napalm over the files, and set them on fire. The action made Rev. Berrigan both admired and scorned. He was listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, landed the cover of Time Magazine and in prison. In 1980, Berrigan founded that Plowshares Movement, an anti-nuclear protest group. He is the author of 50 books, a teacher, and a university educator. Daniel J. Berrigan was 94.
Starting tonight at 9pm thru 2pm Saturday there will be one lane open on the Northbound Tappan Zee Bridge – three Northbound lanes will be closed — due to construction work on the New NY Bridge. Construction will continue on Saturday from 9pm to 2pm on Sunday. Drivers should expect severe delays between 6am – 2pm on Saturday and Sunday. All lanes going southbound will be open during the entire weekend. The Rockland County Department of Transportation will operate a normal Saturday TappanZeexpress schedule. The Rockland-Westchester bus service does not operate on Sunday. Rockland County Executive Ed Day is adding additional buses on Saturday over the Tappan Zee Bridge. Day noted, extra buses will be put into service as needed in an effort to keep as close to the schedule as possible during the construction delays. Day said, “This is going to be a very difficult weekend for people who are driving between Westchester and Rockland”. “We hope to make it a little easier by putting these extra buses in service.” Buses are a great way to reduce the traffic burden. Drivers can park at the park and ride at lot J at the Palisades Center Mall and take the express bus – no parking permit is required.
Did you know statistically 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness in a given year? That’s equivalent to approximately 60,000 residents in Rockland County who may be ill, or have a relative, friend or co-worker who is suffering. Rockland Sheriff Lou Falco says he must address mental illness issues daily in county jail. This weekend the Rockland Legislature is taking a stand to raise awareness. On Monday, May 2nd at noon on the steps of the Allison-Parris County Office Building at 11 New Hempstead Road in New City, you can join Rockland County Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe, Sheriff Falco, and Rena Finkelstein, President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and other mental health experts and elected officials as they raise awareness to fight the stigmas that discourage people from seeking help for mental health issues. NAMI Rockland is an Affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the largest, grassroots mental health, self-help and advocacy organization in the country. NAMI members and volunteers consist of individuals living with mental illness, relatives, friends, and advocates working together to improve the lives of people affected by mental illness. For the first time in Rockland, special ribbons will be hung to show support. Ribbons will also be available for distribution during the event.
The Spring Valley fire department is celebrating this week as they are finally receiving the funding needed to overhaul outdated and worn equipment. On Tuesday, Trustees passed a bond that dedicates $1.3M for updating gear and infrastructure. New turnout gear protective clothing is expected to arrive in the next 90 days. The department is applying for a new fire truck that will be equipped with new safety features and radio equipment. In February, a $6.4M bond was passed but was consequently overturned and sent back for a re-vote as the language on the bond needed to be reworked. Now that the bond has passed, the majority of the money will be allocated for repairing and repaving the roads in the village. The work will take place over the next three years.
In Los Angeles, CA on Thursday federal prosecutors announced felony charges against the brother of the man responsible for the San Bernardino terror attack along with two Russian sisters for marriage fraud designed to skirt immigration laws. The fraud was discovered while authorities were investigating the terror case. Syed Rizwan Farook, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and armed with assault rifles and pipe bombs, on December 2nd carried out a terrorist attack on a social services center in San Bernardino, CA killing 14 people and wounding more than 20 others before being killed by authorities in a shootout. Yesterday’s charges were filed against 26-year old Mariya Chernykh, and her sister, 31-year old Tatiana Farook, and Mr. Farook’s brother, 31-year old Syed Raheel Farook. All three have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting release on a bond. The trial is scheduled for June 21st.
The U.S. Parole Commission has denied the parole of Mutulu Shakur, also known as, Jeral Wayne Williams, the convicted mastermind of the October 20, 1981 Brink’s Robbery that left three dead. Brink’s Guard Peter Paige was killed during a $1.8M dollar armored car heist at the then-Nanuet Mall, now the Shops at Nanuet. Nyack Police Officers Sgt. Edward O’Grady and Officer Waverly “Chipper” Brown were killed during the escape attempt in a shootout at the Mountainview Road entrance to the state Thruway in Nyack, where a permanent memorial to the men is located. Shakur was arrested in 1986 and sentenced in 1988 for his role in the robberies and killings by a self-proclaimed revolutionary group known as “The Family”. He was sentenced to 60 years and the judge recommended no parole be granted. Under the sentencing rules in effect at the time, “mandatory parole” is required after 30 years unless a parole hearing determines the prisoner would commit new crimes or had repeat, serious violations of prison rules. Rockland County Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe stated, “While this crime was committed nearly 35 years ago, for many in Rockland, it remains as fresh and as painful as the day it happened.” He added, “This attack – an attack on our entire society – left three families without their fathers, sons and husbands. The convicted killer can never be allowed to serve less than the full federal sentence for planning and carrying out this violent crime. I am satisfied that the Parole Board took a hard look and came to the rightful decision to deny the release.”
Last Saturday afternoon, a brush fire sparked in Ulster County at the Sam’s Point Preserve. The fire has consumed over 2000 acres and continues burning this morning. According to The Journal News, Debbie Scogna, who is part of the ladies auxiliary for the Tarrytown Fire Department, has organized a drive to support firefighters who are in need of bottled water, socks, toilet paper and chain saws. If you would like to support our firefighters you can drop-off the items at the Consolidated Engine Company at 177 Sheldon Avenue from 7 to 10 p.m.
On Wednesday, authorities announced the “largest gang takedown” ever launched in New York, filing charges against 120 people alleged to be members of two gangs in the Bronx. Later that day prosecutors said, approximately 90 of the defendants had been taken into federal custody and 30 others were still being sought. Court documents state the gangs were responsible for at least eight murders. They were arrested and arraigned in Federal District Court in Manhattan with a range of counts including racketeering and narcotics conspiracies. In a news conference United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara said the two gangs used social media “to promote, protect and grow their ranks,” such as posting on YouTube and “bragging about their criminal endeavors. According to Bharara the investigation started back in December 2014 due to a rise in violence at the Eastchester Gardens public housing complex.
Subpoenas were delivered yesterday to the offices of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio from federal and state prosecutors regarding a series of ongoing investigations into fund-raising activities. United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara and the Manhattan district attorney’s office delivered the subpoenas. A counsel for the mayor’s office said in a statement, “City Hall has been subpoenaed” she added, “We are fully cooperating with the investigation. The mayor has not been personally served.” The actual content of the subpoenas has not been released at this time.