New York State has kick off the 2016-2017 skiing and snowboarding season and has announced the Whiteface Mountain will open on Thanksgiving Day followed by Gore and Bellayre Mountains on Friday. Every winter season, skiing and snowboarding at New York’s 51 mountains attracts millions of visitors and generates $1 billion for the state’s economy.
If you are going out to buy your Christmas tree after you Thanksgiving feast, New Yorkers are encouraged to buy local Christmas trees and support tree growers across the state this holiday season. Every year, the state assists hundreds of farms statewide, connecting them with new markets to support the $8 million NYS Christmas Tree industry. This year, in celebration of the holidays, three Upstate trees were selected to be displayed at the New York State Capitol in Albany and at Rockefellar Plaza in New York City.
The Associated Press is reporting this morning that fans of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade who come to see the soaring SpongeBob and Snoopy balloons may get a far less heartwarming sight this year: giant dump trucks filled with sand. More than 80 city sanitation tricks will be used at intersections and other strategic spots along the 2.5 mile parade route to create an imposing physical barrier to terror. John Miller, New York Police Department’s top counterterrorism official said, “You can ram a New York City Sanitation Department sand truck with a lot of things, but you’re not going to move it.” Authorities remind everyone there is no confirmation of a credible threat and they have repeatedly urged spectators to come and enjoy the parade. The event kicks of on Thanksgiving Day at 9am at 77th Street and CPW and ends with celebrations at Macy’s Herald Square. Streets will return to normal at approximately noon time. And if your staying home you can enjoy the live broadcast on NBC and Verizon will live-stream.
County Executive Ed Day has announced five actions he is putting in place regarding the county Department of Human Rights and Office of Community Development. First, Dr. Penny Jennings will remain in an administrative role in the Office of Community Development. She will continue her work analyzing how public funds have been allocated and used in that county’s office. Second, Myrnia Bass-Hargrove has been assigned to oversee the departments of Human Rights and the office of Community Development and she will continue to serve as Rockland’s director of Community Relations. In this capacity Bass-Hargrove and Dr. Jennings will be able to collaborate. Third, the county has begun legal action against PAL Auto Sales (51 route 9W, West Haverstraw) and three members of the Palladino family, who represent a Community Outreach Center (11 Remsen Avenue, Ramapo) for their failure to repay loans derived from taxpayer funds. Fourth, effective immediately no Community Block Grant programs will be funded without review and approval of both the county attorney and county auditor. And finally, the county will use a forensic accountant as necessary to audit the Office of Community Development. Day said, “We will not be deterred from holding agencies and businesses accountable for the public finds that they are granted.”
The latest Legislative Update has been released. Legislators approved agreements with 17 local care provider agencies who provide seniors with personal care such as bathing and toilet help, medication reminders, light housekeeping and laundry services, as well as paying bills so seniors may stay in their homes. The program overseen by the Rockland County Department of Social Services with $800,000 they spend reimbursed by Medicaid. At the last meeting, residents and nonprofit organizations spoke out publicly about funding cuts in the County’s proposed 2017 budget. Keep Rockland Beautiful, Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Rockland, Rockland YMCA were among those seeing cuts to their funding. Legislators approved four measures that allow Rockland Community College to be reimbursed 50% of the costs associated with updates at the college such as carbon monoxide detectors, emergency repair of a heating system, replacement of a roof at the Field House, and upgrades to efficient energy systems. Also on the update, Gillian E. Ballard has been appointed to the Rockland County Environmental Management Council working to effect environmental improvements and awareness. Ballard is known for her work as President and CEO of Rockland County Big Brothers-Big-Sisters. And finally, with yet another unfunded mandate put in place the Legislature has approved a resolution that would aid childcare providers. The vote calls on Governor Cuomo and the state Senate and Assembly to implement the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, or CCDBG. For more information:Rockland.gov
And as you head out to enjoy your family holiday the Ready Campaign at Ready.gov has few hints and tips for having a safe holiday experience. If you driving a long distance to family make sure your car is stocked with First Aid Kit, a flashlight, a spare charger for phones and tablets – these can all be handy if you run into weather or travel delays. If you’re working in the kitchens remember to keep little ones safe from sharp objects and hot surfaces and use a thermometer to make sure the turkey is cooked through. For more information Ready.gov has designed a Holiday Social Media Toolkit to help friends and family be safe and have a great holiday too. For more information and that toolkit: www.ready.gov/holiday-toolkit
For the first time in its 70-year history, the New York Division of Veterans’ Affairs will hire Veterans Benefits Advisors to exclusively assist Veterans in Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, including the Veterans Homes operated by the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York. This pilot program will support veterans in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with benefits, programs, and services earned as a result of their military service. The intention is for veterans to have a much needed centralized point of contact for nursing home administrators when they connect with a Veteran or Veteran’s family member who needs assistance with applying for federal and state Veteran’s benefits.
On Friday, County Executive Ed Day got a review of his proposed 2017 Budget for Rockland County by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. While the recommendations by the Comptroller are non-binding they may be used as a source of guidance as residents and the legislature consider the approval of the budget by December 7. According to DiNapoli’s report of Day’s $704.5 million budget the comptroller saw two grey areas: the budget does not show a plan for lowering debt and it doesn’t account for salary increases from the finalization of impending contracts. According to Day’s report the good news is that the 2015 debt of $16 million is expected to drop to $10 million by January 1. DiNapoli’s report says, “the county must have a plan to reduce this deficit over a specific period of time. The 2017 proposed budget does not include provisions for this.” Also, ten unions are now negotiating collective-bargaining agreements. Salaries are expected to increase and Day’s budget does not make provisions for the increase. DiNapoli’s report recommends that the county, “consider the potential financial impact of contract settlements when finalizing the 2017 budget.” Day says noting union salary increases in the budget would affect negotiations. On the upside Day’s proposed budget projections for revenue and expenditure’s were found to be “reasonable” and stays beneath the tax cap. In his defense Day said, “The core part of the report affirms that my administration has stopped the poor practices of the past that nearly bankrupted us, that our revenues and expenditures are reasonable and accurate. And unlike the legislature, which spent millions of dollars I put aside for deficit reduction in my first budget, we are in fact driving the deficit down by an average of over $10 million per year over the last three years”.
The AP is reporting this morning that Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say that a Romanian man, 42-year-old Alin Carabus has pleaded guilty to committing bank fraud. Prosecutors say 16 people were charged in the “skimming” scheme. They stole bank account information by installing secret card-reading devices on ATMs throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, and elsewhere. The information was used to create thousands of fraudulent ATM cards, which were used to withdraw millions of dollars from customers’ bank accounts. The scheme defrauded institutions out of at least $5 million overall and impacted thousand of customer. Carabus faces up to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced February 23.
There will be a public hearing on the proposed changes in fares and crossing charges by multiple transit authorities: the MTA, LIRR, Metro-North, New York City Transit, MTA Bridges & Tunnels to name a few. For those of us here in Rockland County, if you would like to hear the proposed hikes, or not, in Bus, Train, Bridge and Tunnel crossings you can attend a live meeting on Thursday, December 15 from 4-8 p.m. (Hearing begins at 5 p.m.) at the Crowne Plaza Suffern, 3 Executive Blvd., Suffern, NY 10901 and the meeting will gather in the Ballroom. If you can’t attend there are ways to comment by email, letter, or 3-minute video testimony – go to MTA.info