According to State Police a Westchester man was arrested following an accident that left one woman dead. Around 10:00 Saturday night, a Jeep being driven by a Carmel woman was turning left after exiting a parking area, and cut off Dodge Caravan being driven by 57-year old retired Carmel police officer Richard O’Keefe, who struck the Jeep. The vehicle overturned, killing 54-year old Fran Gheralducci of Somers, who was riding in the backseat and was pronounced dead at the scene when first responders arrived. O’Keefe was arrested after it was detected by police that he was driving while intoxicated and was charged with felony counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter. He and his passenger were not injured and the other three people in the Jeep were taken to Westchester Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. The former police officer and Carmel Town Board member will be seen in court on December 1.
On Monday the New York State Board of Regents requested an increase in state aid for schools in the 2016 budget. In the proposal board members are seeking a 10% raise in spending, to lessen the burden of districts that cannot afford to keep up with faculty contracts, the minimum wage, programs for students, and healthcare. The desired increases of $2.4 billion would give education in New York a total of $26 billion in spending for the coming fiscal year, which begins April 1 and $2.1 billion of it would be used in formula aid, while $434 million would go to the Gap Elimination Adjustment and $300 million to additional programs.
According to police they are searching for a group of men who allegedly vandalized the home of a Spring Valley man on Sunday morning. The man reported to police that he and his family were all sleeping around 3:30 AM when they heard windows shattering. The group of men allegedly broke five windows around the building by throwing rocks from their vehicle and reports stated that the house has been targeted before. According to police a home on another block was also vandalized that night and they are investigating whether it was a malicious attack or a prank and ask anyone with information on the individuals involved or the incident call the Spring Valley Police Department.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino released his proposed budget for 2016 on Friday. In order to prevent tax increases the $1.8 billion dollar proposal calls for 25 layoffs as well as cutting 60 vacant positions and funding for several nonprofit organizations of up to 70%. Astorino stated that he will veto any counter proposal that raises taxes for residents, and to make up for the gap in spending the county will borrow $11 million to be paid back with $60,000 a year, and defer $3 million in pension obligations. The Legislature will begin over the budget this week, and has until December 27 to approve it.
The CSEA, which represents workers throughout Rockland, has filed a suit against the county in an attempt to block the closure of Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Home. The suite claims that County Executive Ed Day violated the County Charter by not working with the Legislature to make the decision, also stating the County Charter would have to be amended before the Legislature can move forward on the closure. In late September the sale of Summit Park to a private company was terminated by the buyer, who cited a failure by the county to maintain the property and previous lawsuits from the CSEA, as reasons for ended negotiations. The deadline to close the facility is the end of December, before the 2016 budget takes effect, since Day stated there is no room in the proposal for the $800,000 it costs per day to run the hospital and care center. A spokesman for the CSEA stated they are acting on behalf of the employees and residents that will be affected. About 61 residents remain in the nursing care center and the hospital has already been shut down. The County Executive will be hosting a town hall style forum regarding his proposed budget and other important issues tonight at 7:00 PM, at the Valley Cottage Library.
The Rockland County District Attorney’s office hosted a forum along with the county NAACP, at the Palisades Center Mall on Thursday night, where they discussed the tensions between police and residents. Members of the community had the opportunity to speak out about what they feel or have seen and how to improve public relations, following police related incidents of violence throughout the nation. County officials and community leaders spoke before the crowd to bring ideas of how law enforcement and residents can work together to decrease and prevent further situations of potential discrimination in Rockland.
Firefighters responded to a home in Hillcrest on Wednesday night, to find flames in a second floor bedroom. A neighbor of the home on Harmony Drive called 911 around 9:45 PM after the family residing in the house smelled smoke, and firefighters found a closet in the bedroom had caught fire. They contained the flames in the bedroom and quickly had them out, with minor damages to the building. No injuries were reported and the family was forced to temporarily relocate. Fire Inspectors and the Sheriff’s Office are investigating what caused the closet to catch fire.
According to state officials Entergy Corp., the operator of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, has not been awarded a Coastal Zone Certificate, which is required for the facility to continue operating on the Hudson River. Secretary of State Cesar Perales sent a letter to Entergy, officially declining their request for the certificate, stating that the plant’s location has been draining resources from the Hudson River for forty years, as well as being in a close proximity to New York City and residential areas and two seismic faults. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a hearing to make a decision on the certificate and relicensing the plant. Entergy officials stated they don’t need the certificate to continue operating, though Perales stated in his letter if changes are not made to the facility the negative impact on the environment will continue. Governor Andrew Cuomo and various state officials have been fighting the relicensing of the plant in an attempt to eventually shut it down completely.
State University of New York officials have requested an increase in funding from the state, as the Legislature works to approve a 2016 budget by March. According to the request, the SUNY system, which consists of 64 schools, is seeking a 14% increase in aid, as well as approval to continue to raise tuition by $300 a year. Working with a $1.6 billion budget for 2015, SUNY schools saw a decrease in enrollment by 3.5% over the past five years, and a continued increase in tuition. Chairman of the SUNY board H. Carl McCall stated that with the increase in funding schools will be better able to serve faculty and students. If the request is approved state aid would increase to $1.8 billion dollars, and the budget for SUNY would increase to $8.8 billion.
Police responded to an accident in Stony Point on Wednesday afternoon, after reports of a turned over tractor trailer. Around 1:15 PM an overweight truck carrying logs was making a turn on Route 9W near Tomkins Avenue and Walnut Street, when it rolled and struck a utility pole, spilling it’s contents as well as diesel fuel. No injuries were reported and the Stony Point Fire Department and Rockland Hazmat Unit responded to assist in cleaning the scene. It is unclear if the road has been reopened, as crews work to repair the poles, and investigations continue into what caused the tractor trailer to flip.