“Operation: Game Over” catches sex offenders preying on victims through online video games

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently that more than 3,500 accounts of registered sex offenders in New York state will be removed from online video game platforms as part of “Operation: Game Over,” an initiative that huge corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers, and Sony, will participate in. This is a first-of-its-kind effort to protect children from predators on video game networks in the state. Schneiderman said, “We must ensure online video game systems do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators. This means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming networks as a vehicle to prey on underage victims.” Under New York state law, convicted sex offenders must register all of their e-mail addresses, screen names, and other Internet identifiers with the state. That information is then made available to specific websites so that they are able to remove the predators, if deemed necessary. The companies listed above have agreed to purge the accounts.


Plans for Haverstraw village ballpark concession stand temporarily halted

The village of Haverstraw is looking for volunteers to contribute to the building of a concession stand at the Corporal Manny Lopez Municipal Ball Field. The field has been operating since 2010, but would like to build a concession stand. The construction, however, has been stalled because of a lack of funding. The committee is hoping that residents and small businesses in the area will help out by lending their time and talents. A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled to be held on April 21. Local architect Jeorge Lopez is designing the structure, and also plans to organize volunteer tradesmen, such as framers, roofers, and masons. The goal is to complete the project over a period of four weekends. The ball field was named after Army Cpl. Manuel “Manny” Lopez, a Haverstraw native and the first Rockland soldier to be killed in the war in Iraq. The young man, who loved to play baseball, died in April 2005. The field is home to several local softball leagues and teams, including Quisqueya, Sports Club, the Haverstraw Little League, the Haverstraw Fire Department League and the Rockland Rebels.


Rockland participates in Great American Cleanup

Over 3,000 Rockland County volunteers will be participating in the Great American Cleanup over the next several weeks, helping to clean up local parks, waterways, and roadsides. The 2012 Great American Cleanup, coordinated locally by Keep Rockland Beautiful, was launched on Monday and started with the cleanup of the Nauraushaun Brook which runs near Route 59 in Nanuet. Sonia Cairo, the executive director of Keep Rockland Beautiful, said that 200 to 250 cleanups will be taking place this spring, with about 3,000 people of all ages volunteering their time and energy. This year, emphasis is being placed on community cleanups which are meant to unite teams to clean up litter in specific areas and also to nurture a sense of community. Keeping Rockland Beautiful is also launching a new School Bag-A-Thon program that will get students and families to participate in a day of community service while raising funds for their schools. The Great American Cleanup is not just meant to help clean up local areas, but also serves as a means of educating others about the effects of littering on the overall ecosystem.


Clarkstown police investigate recent egging incidents

Clarkstown police officers have been searching for the people who egged two houses and 22 parked cars with eggs in Congers and Harrison and a teacher’s car in Bardonia over the weekend. The eggings were reportedly first noticed early on Saturday morning when a South Congers Avenue homeowner called police after seeing several eggs on his home. The officer found nine cars on the street that had been splattered with eggs. Another complaint was filed by a resident on South Harrison Avenue, and the officer found 13 additional cars and another house which had been egged. The car located in Bardonia was owned by a Clarkstown South High School teacher and was in the teacher’s driveway. The police believe that the teacher was targeted. The other eggings seemed random to police, but they are still investigating. If anyone has information regarding these incidents, they are encouraged to call police at 845-639-5800. Store owners who recently sold large quantities of eggs to teenagers are also urged to contact police.


Subcontractor cracks underground gas line in Suffern 

The entire eastern section of Suffern, near Good Samaritan Hospital on Route 59, was without natural gas earlier this week after an Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. subcontractor cracked a connection to an underground line, causing gas to be released into the atmosphere. The windy conditions did not help the situation at all, but rather spread the gas quickly. O&R supervisors determined that no evacuation was necessary after National Field Service hit a connector on a 2-inch steel gas line at the intersection of Campbell Avenue and Route 59 in Suffern. Suffern police responded to the scene. O&R shut down the gas within 28 minutes of the initial incident. The shutdown of gas service impacted Good Samaritan Hospital, the Tagaste Monastery and the Suffer Library. Good Samaritan reportedly switched temporarily to oil in order to provide food and other services to its patients. Service was restored within a few hours.


Blue Rock School celebrates 25th anniversary

For 25 years, Blue Rock School has offered a solid education mixed with a strong element of the arts, the environment and community service. It has drawn families from Rockland, Westchester, New York City, and Orange County. This year marks the 25th anniversary with the opening of its arts and nature study annex, which includes music and art studios, a nature study lab, and also a library. The independent day school is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents and currently caters to 98 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Director of development and marking for the school Beth Norman said, “Our goal is to teach children how to think. We give them strategies, but we let them know there are different ways to come to a conclusion.” The school does not require students to take standardized tests or earn specific grades. Rather, teachers access student on an ongoing basis and keep parents up to date on the process. Their goal is create “unfettered learning.” Technology in the classroom is also discouraged, because teachers say it “kills creativity.” For research projects at the school, students are able to use the school’s small library or also local public libraries. Blue Rock opened in 1987 with seven students in a one-room schoolhouse in the Palisades. It was started by Margaret Flinsch, who founded the Princeton Nursery School just a few years earlier. She started it with the idea that a school should nurture children, not just educationally but also in their body, minds and spirits.


Nyack librarian aims to digitize some of Rockland’s history

The local history librarian at Nyack Library Brian Jennings would like to digitize some of Rockland’s historical connection to famed American painter Edward Hopper, and has taken a unique approach to raise the money. His plan was to take microfilm copies of the Rockland County Journal from 1890 to 1892 and put them online so they could be searched for by keyword. The project would cost an estimated $3,000. Jennings decided to seek donations through a site called kickstarter.com, which gets donations for creative projects through “crowd-funding,” in which anybody can pledge small or large amounts of money online. The project is only funded if it meets its financial goal. Kickstarter boasts of more than 10,000 projects which have been successfully funded at a 44 percent success rate. So far, 32 backers have contributed a total of $1,700 to the library project, and Jennings has until 6:07 p.m. on April 22 to raise the remaining $1,300. Although most of the donors are from Rockland, at least two live outside the county.


Nyack High School’s principal and assistant principal to resign 

Nyack High School’s principal and at least one of its assistant principals will leave the school district at the end of the school year. The Nyack Board of Education unanimously accepted the resignations of Principal Joseph Spero and Rudy Arietta. There were no explanations provided for their resignations. Board members said that privacy rules forbid them from discussing district personnel matters. Both Spero and Arietta served in their positions for three years, and their last day will be June 30. As of July 1, the principal of Nyack Middle School, Nicole Saieva, will become the high school’s principal. Spero has not discussed his reasons for leaving, and he does not have a new job. He did say, “Nyack gave me the opportunity to be a principal, which I am eternally grateful for. I’ve enjoyed my three years but I think it’s time to move forward and look for a new challenge.” Arietta was appointed assistant principal at Ardsley High School last month, which will be effective July 1. He worked with the Nyack School District for 14 years, starting out as a social studies teacher.


Spring Valley Community Health Center to hold grand opening

Spring Valley Community Health Center will have its grand opening on April 19. As one of two, federally funded health clinics in Rockland, it will offer medical and dental care to residents who are not able to afford it. The healthcare center is on Perlman Drive in Spring Valley, while the other, which has been open, is on Twin Avenue near the border of Monsey. Both clinics are supported primarily by tax dollars and are open to everyone. The Perlman Drive location is operated by Hudson River Healthcare, which also runs a clinic in Haverstraw. Although the grand opening is set for April 19, many people have already started utilizing the Perlman Drive location. Prior to its opening, many Spring Valley residents had to travel to Haverstraw in order to be seen by a doctor or dentist there. The new center is expected to treat 12,000 patients annually and will offer care for adults and children, as well as dental care and women’s health care.


Brush fire in Harriman State Park

A brush fire on West Mountain in Harriman State Park created smells of smoke in parts of Stony Point. As of Tuesday morning, the fires were still blazing. Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, reported that over five acres had already been burned down by late afternoon on Monday. Park rangers fought the blaze and continued to work after dark. High winds and dry conditions were contributing factors and made the fires dangerous and unpredictable. No homes had been damaged and no injuries were reported as of late Monday. Winds in the Lower Hudson Valley were gusting between 30 and 35 miles per hour on Monday, in some places exceeding 40 miles per hour. Because the wind is expected to decrease, and there is a possibility of rain showers, hopes are high that the fires will dwindle and be easier to extinguish.

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