The Clarkstown Central School District announced that they have awarded bids on the Congers Elementary School repairs that created controversy last school year. In February residents voted between closing the school and moving the students to various schools in the district, or repairing the cracked wall that officials proved to be a health and safety hazard to students and faculty. The vote approved repairs and the district now states that enrollment is declining, and is expected to continue doing so, though officials have not stated if that will effect the decision to rebuild. The district awarded a $4.3 million dollar bid for contract work in repairs, which could begin this month, hopefully being completed by June 2015. A study completed by Western Suffolk BOSCES showed that many of the buildings in the Clarkstown District are underused and the school board will hold a public meeting on December 17 to discuss the findings.
Ramapo Police stated that they arrested a Sloatsburg man on Saturday morning after they received reports that he held a woman at knife point. According to police around 3:00 AM they arrived at an address on Orange Turnpike to find that 18-year old Edward Feeley had attempted to rob an 18-year old woman of marijuana after they were set to make a drug deal. Police arrested the woman and charged her with a misdemeanor count of criminal sale of marijuana. A witness to the robbery detained Feeley until police arrived and they charged him with felony count of first-degree robbery as well as criminal possession of a weapon and possession of marijuana.
According to a request filed with the Public Service Commission by Orange and Rockland Utilities and numbers compiled by the Journal News, the energy company is seeking a rate increase of $34 a month. Split between natural gas, which would rise by $8.13 per month, and electricity which would rise $26.18, the company would see and increase of $33.4 million from electricity bills and $40.7 million from gas. According to a spokesman for O&R, Mike Donovan, the company is planning a nearly $9 million station in Warwick, Orange County, as well as making improvements to transformers and Smart Grid Programs equaling to almost $18 million, but the company states the improvements will create better service for more than 25,000 customers. According to the company additions to natural gas services are in the works as well, using most of the $40.7 million to replace pipes over an 8-year period and build a new fueling station so delivery trucks can use natural gas instead of gasoline.
United Water New York announced they will be completing work in Haverstraw, West Haverstraw, and Stony Point today, which may result in water discoloration and low water pressure. The company states the changes in color is caused by sediment in the water mains, which poses no threat to users, but they may want to use bottled water or store containers of clean water.
According to County Executive Ed Day the New York State Comptroller’s office has approved of his $772 million proposal for the 2015 budget. Day stated that Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s review of the budget commends the positive action being taken and cutting the deficit while remaining under the state’s two percent tax cap. The budget would raise property taxes by only two percent, but would cut 111 county positions as well as funding for several nonprofits. The review states, “We commend county officials for taking positive action to begin reducing the remaining deficit.” and does not order any corrections be made. The County Executive will be holding a public forum to discuss the budget further on Thursday November 20 at the Suffern Free Library at 7:00 PM.
According to state officials the FBI arrested 15 people, 12 from the family of 29-year old Yehuda Ruben, in a mortgage scam that brought them $20 million. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bhahara the people arrested are from Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Orange and Rockland Counties. The indictments carry 21 charges of conspiracy to make false statements, aggravated identity theft, bank fraud, and theft of public money, on at least 20 loand, in which the defendants claimed to be rich and later pleaded bankruptcy to get out of paying them back, using the money to pay credit card bills, and mortgages on other properties, and personal expenses. 53-year old Monsey resident Pinchus Glauber faces charges of fraud for allegedly obtaining public assistance through foodstamps falsely, as well appraising real estate deals in the scam, and lying about property values, though his lawyer Kenneth Gribetz told the Journal News that Glauber is a licensed appraiser and was only compensated for his job.
The Public Service Committee unanimously denied United Water New York of their request for surcharges on customer bills to repay the $56 million they claim was spent in preparation for the Hudson River water treatment facility. At the meeting on Thursday the PSC ruled that there isn’t a need for the desal plant at this time, and the company was ordered to stop pursuing permits and to take the next six months working on alternative plans such as conservation with the Rockland County Water Task Force. The surcharges would have added $60 a year to resident’s bills and residents and officials who fought the plant consider this a victory. Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski stated that he is looking forward to working on new policies and thanked the PSC for listening to the ratepayer’s side of the argument.
The absentee ballots for two close elections in Rockland County were counted yesterday. In Suffern the results for the two trustee seats were too close to call immediately after the November 4 election, and on Wednesday they showed that Republicans Edward Markunas and Robert Morris beat incumbent Democrats Jo Meegan-Corrigan and John Meehan. In the race for the open seat for District 5 in the Rockland Legislature, Republican Lon Hofstein beat appointed Democrat Barry Kantrowitz by 117 votes.
Correction: In earlier reports it was stated that Kantrowitz won by 46 votes. That was incorrect, it was 117 votes.
Legislator Frank Sparaco, who was arrested on Monday on charges of fraud for allegedly submitting forged petitions to the Board of Elections, was fired from his position as confidential secretary to Clarkstown’s Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard. Ballard appointed Sparaco to the $100,000 a year position earlier this year, and Sparaco had filed his resignation which would have been effective December 31, before the decision was made to let him go. Sparaco is accused of 38 felony counts of forgery and misdemeanor violations of election laws. He will return to court on December 8 and faces a sentence of seven years in prison.
According to Ramapo police a teenage girl reported that a man approached her while she was walking alone to her home in Wesley Hills. Police stated that the man, described as a clean shaven Hispanic man with thinning hair and an average build, was driving his white pickup truck when he passed the 14-year old girl on Kentor Lane, as she walked home from her bus stop around 6:00 PM Monday evening, turned the car around, attempting to lure her into the passenger seat. The girl continued walking and informed her parents and the man drove off. Police ask that parents make their children aware of the danger of speaking with strangers and kids should yell and run away if approached.