According to Thruway Authority officials, the opening of the New Tappan Zee Bridge has been delayed. Executive Director of the organization Robert Megna, stated that the first span of the $3.9 billion project was set to open in December 2016, but has now been pushed back to Spring or Summer of 2017. Megan told the Journal News that officials were worried about the changed traffic pattern, with only four lanes open and a sharper turn there would be major delays during rush hour while driver got used to the differences and they should not have to worry about ice and snow on top of that. Megan also announced that there would be no toll increase on the current bridge for next year, and the task force for the new bridge will continue studying toll charges and traffic patterns to determine a cost for the all electronic toll system.
According to an audit filed by O’Connor Davies on the East Ramapo School District budget for this year, there’s over $1 million extra. At Monday night’s board meeting, which was the first for interim Superintendent Deborah Wortham, the company told members that they found $2.4, though $1 million is being used for payments, leaving the district with $1.4 million. Scott Oling, a partner with O’Connor Davies spoke to the board, stating that while the extra money is a good change from last year’s deficit of about $8 million, they are still spending about 99.7% of this year’s budget and the district has yet to implement changes for recommendations made last year regarding bidding on contracts, and the discovery that a former employee who hasn’t worked since 2013 is still authorized to sign checks.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, they will be implementing new security efforts in airports following a Russian Metro Jet crash. Homeland Security announced on Friday that incoming international flights will see an increase in screenings of items through customs, the presence of bomb sniffing dogs, random searches of persons, and hand swabbing, focusing on mainly commercial flights. Though security is already intense for international travelers, after the back box showed the Russian flight went down in Egypt last week was due to an explosion, more screenings will be taking place.
On Thursday Westchester Executive Rob Astorino announced that the county would not be approving a new contract between the Westchester Community College Board of Trustees and employees in the CSEA union. According to Astorino the pay increases of 7% over the first four years proposed in the contract were to high and though the college responded that there would be no need to increase tuition, the executive disagrees. Union officials stated over the weekend that they will be taking legal action, and employees at the college are deserving of the new pay increases due to higher workloads and less staff working there.
The Rockland Police Benevolent Association recently joined multiple other police organizations and supporters in a call to boycott director Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Hateful Eight”, which is set to be released Christmas day. In October Tarantino upset many during a rally against police brutality in New York City, when he said that the killing of an unarmed black man was murder. Phillip Fantasia, the president of the Rockland PBA stated in a press release that the director “used his celebrity to promote a hateful message that unjustly mischaracterized police officers.” Fantasia asked that in support of law enforcement nationwide people don’t go to see the new film as well as future projects. Tarantino stated to the Los Angeles Times that he was misinterpreted, and he does not all cops are murderers. The national boycott asks officers not to provide security, technical advice, or traffic control for any more of the director’s work.
According to a report released by Albany think-tank The Empire Center, if the proposed minimum wage of fifteen dollars an hour is approved it could result in the loss of nearly 200,000 jobs in New York State. By the end of the year the minimum wage for New York is set to increase to $9 an hour and Governor Andrew Cuomo recently approved a $15 wage for fast food workers which will take effect statewide by 2021. Cuomo’s administration is working to get minimum wage for all workers to be approved by 2021 as well, and according to the report released on Thursday the increase would negatively affect residents by forcing businesses to cut jobs. On Wednesday a “Minimum Wage Reality Check” campaign was started by business groups throughout the state to prevent the increase. Supporters of the raise believe that it will create an equal living wage for every worker in New York.
According to police a man was fatally struck by a Metro-North train on Thursday morning. Around 5:30 AM a 30-year old man was found dead on the tracks between the Bronxville and Fleetwood stations in Westchester after he was struck by the Harlem Line train. Officials are investigating the death as an apparent suicide, and have not released the man’s identity yet, as they look into the reasons he may have been on the tracks. The line was delayed for about a half-hour until around 10:00 AM.
According to Ramapo Building Inspector Tony Mallia, who spoke with the Journal News about a house fire in Pomona on Wednesday, the owners did not have illegal apartments in the basement. Mallia stated that following the investigation into the suspected violations officials found that the basement apartment and five bedrooms in the two story home were up to code and despite facing violations two years ago, the owners paid a fine and corrected the issues. Five family members were living in the home along with two individuals that were legally renting rooms. The building was deemed uninhabitable and only one person was home at the time of the 3:00 PM fire but they were not injured.
Hillcrest firefighters responded to a home on Route 45 in Pomona around 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon to find the building in flames. According to Rockland County’s Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren the home was divided into illegal apartments, and had faced previous violations for being illegally altered. Wren stated that the home had apartments in the basement as well as work done to create five bedrooms upstairs and several electrical boxes that had been installed without permits. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire, which they believe began in the kitchen and spread through the two-story home to the attic. Volunteers from Hillcrest, Stony Point, New City, and West Haverstraw managed to put out the flames, though the house was seriously damaged. Only one person was home at the time and they were not injured in the incident. Wren stated they are now looking for the contractors who did the work without the proper permits.
The company that operates Indian Point Power Plant announced that they will be closing another plant upstate. Energy officials stated that they will be shutting down James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego after attempts to negotiate with the state to remain open. According to the release the facility has the ability to power nearly 80,000 homes, but loses $60 million a year, due to other energy options being utilized by residents. The Oswego plant is not the only New York State power plant facing financial instability, though officials stated that Indian Point will not be affected by the decision to close. Despite state officials, including Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent attempts to shut down the Westchester plant because of its dangerous proximity to residential areas and New York City, Entergy is in the process of relicensing the facility. The Oswego plant will most likely close in 2017, though Cuomo stated his office will work to prevent the shutdown in order to save hundreds of employees’ jobs.