Popular Mexican fast food restaurant, Chipotle, has announced it will close all stores for one day on February 8, to address the recent string of food-borne illness affecting 500 people, in 13 states. Founder Steve Ells put out a response to the outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella saying, “The fact that anyone has become ill eating at Chipotle is completely unacceptable to me and I am deeply sorry…Throughout our supply chain, we are implementing high-resolution sampling and testing of many of our ingredients to prevent contaminants, including E. coli, from getting into our restaurants…We have also designed many improvements within our restaurants to ensure our food is as safe as possible. This includes the introduction of additional microbiological kill steps to eliminate microbial risk. Additionally, we are rolling out new sanitation procedures in our restaurants and implementing additional food safety training for all of our restaurant employees.” The popular chain has locations throughout the Hudson Valley in Orange, Rockland, Westchester, and Bergen Counties.
The Rockland Sheriff’s Department conducted a recent investigation leading to the arrest of the president of the Rockland Corrections Officers Benevolent Association. John Cocuzza was arrested on 68 criminal charges, including tampering with business and public records, as well as official misconduct, and was accused of failing to complete his tasks as a corrections officer. Sheriff Louis Falco stated that Cocuzza did not do his job watching inmates on suicide watch and precautionary watch, and instead entered false accounts into records. Cocuzza stated to the Journal News that the union did not support Falco in his recent campaign for reelection, and the reason for his arrest was related to that personal issue, though Falco denied the man’s claims. The union president was one of the highest recipients of overtime, along with vice president Richard McNichol who resigned from his position in lieu of receiving similar charges.
Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State address on Wednesday, including the budget proposal in his speech for the second year in a row. Along with proposing ethics reforms and a 15% limit on outside income for state legislators, Cuomo also discussed his plan for the $145 billion 2016-2017 budget, which will increase spending in New York by 1.7%, remaining under the 2% spending cap. The Governor’s focus was on funding and ethics throughout his address, adding to tourism and putting $125 million into parks, as well as pledging to make New York coal-free by 2020. Discussing education and the economy school funding will increase $991 million for this year, Cuomo proposed $300 million in tax credits for small businesses as well as the much contested topic of the minimum wage increase, and a $26 billion to the MTA and $22 billion for upstate infrastructure. There will be no toll increase for the Thruway and Tappan Zee Bridge until 2020, which includes the first couple of operating years of the new bridge as well. The Legislature has until March 31 to adopt the budget.
According to Rockland County officials the 911 system has been revamped. The $2 million project at six departments makes it easier for residents to contact law enforcement using new technology and introducing cellphones as a form of communication during emergencies. The new system called next generation 911 and has replaced the outdated enhanced 911, which utilized eight call centers countywide that allowed dispatchers to pass the information on. Now the system has more information on. Now the system has more information on the caller, locations, and has a new set up making it easier and faster for dispatchers to determine the type of situation being called in. Residents can also send pictures and text messages if they are in a scenario that requires them to remain quiet.
Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State Address on the heals of last night’s State of the Union from President Obama. Cuomo outlined his proposed $144 billion budget to go to top priorities like school aid, transportation, and ethics reform, all while staying under his self-imposed 2 percent cap. Schools would receive $24 billion in aid while separate funds for the MTA and upstate road and bridge repair would get $26 billion and $22 billion respectively. Cuomo also spoke of creating a $5 billion Clean Energy Fund for the state over the next 10 years while also mentioning reducing coal dependence to eventually eliminate the carbon-emitter by the year 2020.
Drivers on the New York State Thruway Northbound were greeted in morning traffic when a tractor-trailer carrying a crane hit a bridge overpass and knocked it onto the roadway. The trailer hit the Hungry Hollow Road bridge overpass in Chestnut Ridge around 9 a.m. causing heavy delays as lanes were closed until the crane was removed from the road. The driver of the truck was not injured. The bridge was closed down from Hungry Hollow Road from Oriole Road to Old Nyack Turnpike by the Rockland County Highway Department to inspect it’s integrity due to the incident.
Local real estate authority, The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, released information today that shows that Putnam, Orange, Rockland, and Westchester Counties all experienced an increase in home sales with some also seeing high listing prices compared with pre-recession numbers from 2006 and 2007. Orange County saw the best numbers with an overall increase of 26% over last years sales among single family homes, condos, coops, and 2-4 family homes. Rockland County improved 16% from last year with all property types seeing high average median sale prices. Putnam County saw a 35% increase in condo sales and 133% in coops from only 3 sales in 2014 to 7, last year. Westchester median prices stayed the same for the most part with a 32% increase in 2-4 family homes over the previous year. The numbers show the economy may be leveling off with interest rates remaining low and officials believing the Fed overnight rate will not have a negative effect going into the 2016 market.
A dentist from Haverstraw is facing sexual assault charges after an investigation showed that he was molesting his patients. Dr. Girish Desai was arrested by Haverstraw Police following accusations that he allegedly touched two women while they were being seen in the chair. The dentist pleaded not guilty and was released on $10,000 bail and police are asking anyone with information to call 845-354-1500, as they believe there may be more victims.
Suffern Police and officers from the Rockland Sheriff’s Department responded to an address on Park Ave on Monday evening, after they received a call from a man who said he was in distress and thinking of ending his life. Officials stated that around 5:30 PM they sent out an automated warning to nearby areas and evacuated residents of apartments neighboring 39-year old Timothy Murphy, who was reportedly armed and suicidal. After about two hours of attempted to negotiate with the man SWAT officers broke into the apartment and found him there with an illegal AK-47, an unregistered handgun, and a small amount of marijuana. After defusing the situation police arrested and charged Murphy with felony counts of criminal possession of a weapon, as well as misdemeanors and violations for the guns and drugs. He was taken to New City Jail and is being held on $10,000 bail.
On Wednesday it was reported that at a Tuesday night East Ramapo School Board meeting members agreed to postpone rehiring a lobbying firm that recently assisted the district in fighting a proposed bill that would give a monitor veto power. In a report submitted by the state appointed team of temporary monitors led by Dennis Walcott, it was recommended that the district receive further funding, but only with a permanent monitor with veto power. In the wake of the report state and school district officials have already begun debating on whether to fight again or accept the recommendations. At the meeting parents spoke out about hiring lobbyists Patricia Lynch Associates, many saying that the $42,000 it would cost should be used for students or supplies for classrooms. Now reports from those who attended are saying that towards the end of the meeting after an executive session members of the board agreed to hire back the firm, which costs them $42,000 a year.