Timeline: August 9, 2012

New Plant in Haverstraw up for Debate
GenOn, a Haverstraw energy plant that has been involved in ongoing negotiations with the Town of Haverstraw concerning taxes, recently proposed building a new natural-gas power plant at the Bowline Generating Station under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Energy Highway” initiative. GenOn, formerly known as Mirant, owns the Bowline facility, which currently has two plants built in the 1970s that are only used when absolutely necessary. They are one of 85 organizations that have applied for the initiative.

If the project is approved, the new 775-megawatt new unit would generate electricity more efficiently. The impact on the Hudson River would be minimized. Cleaner air would be emitted. Construction for the plant would cost about $1 billion. Currently, Bowline pays about $10.5 million a year in property tax. But GenOn has complained that it is too much and are trying to get it reduced by 97 percent. If the new plant is built the tax percentage will change after negotiations are made.

Rockland Family Shelter Exec Dies
Lynn Sheinkin, deputy executive director for Rockland Family Shelter, died Thursday, August 2 after battling cancer. Sheinkin, 69, was a long-time fighter for equality and women’s rights. Even though she was struggling with cancer, she didn’t stop working at the shelter until about two months ago.

She began working at the shelter in 1999 and became deputy executive director for programs and services in 2006. Sheinkin was also in charge of the Rockland County Stop FEAR (Family abuse, Endangering women and children, Abuse of all kinds, Rape and sexual assault) Coalition and coordinated the project DELTA (Domestic violence prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliance) starting in 2006. Under DELTA, she began a student-led program to deal with issues of dating, abuse, sexism, racism and bullying. Sheinkin received the Caroline Lexow Babcock Award for her amazing contributions to the community.

She married David Sheinkin in 1964, just after graduating Brooklyn College. They have four children together: Rachel, Stephen, Ari and Sara. David died in an airplane crash in 1982.

Spring Valley Gunfire, Bullets Enter Children’s Bedroom
Early Sunday morning, gunfire erupted on a Ramapo residential street and bullets entered a home where children were sleeping. Although the bullets came close, no one was injured. At least two bullets entered the residence at 4 Ibeck Court in Spring Valley where two girls, ages 13 and 14, and two boys, ages 14 and 16, were sleeping. Two shots hit parked vehicles in the area.

Sherine Gordon had been hosting a party with family and friends. She ran from the backyard into the house when she heard the shots. Once she made sure the children in the house were not hit, she called the police. Alphie Anderson, her brother, was walking down the hallway, past an upper-floor bathroom, when a bullet came by just missing his head. He screamed to the family to get down.

The shots came from a semi-automatic weapon from the parking lot of the Meadow Lane apartments on West Eckerson in Spring Valley, according to police. Police are still in search of suspects. They are not sure if it was one gunman firing rapidly or two gunmen. No motive has been discovered, but police are pretty certain the shots were not targeted at the residents or guests in the house and not random.

East Ramapo Parents Sue School District
A class-action lawsuit is being brought by nearly 200 East Ramapo public school parents against the Board of Education for repeatedly misusing public funds. These residents claim that the board’s officials have repeatedly schemed to use public funds to support private religious institutions and have separated special education by race.

With the help of the public interest law firm Advocates for Justice and the organization’s attorney Arthur Schwartz, a 60-page document was filed in federal court on Tuesday, August 7. The parents are asking the state education commissioner to remove the five-member board majority, the five Orthodox Jewish board members. They’re also asking the state to create a position to be filled by the state to watch over the board’s activities.

This board, the parents claim, have allowed funds to be used for religious books and programs. And they hold a majority on the board and therefore other voices do not get heard. Those being sued include: Superintendent Joel Klein, Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Special Student Services and Funded Programs Elie Wizman, the district attorney, Albert D’Agostino, the five current members who are part of the Orthodox and Hasidic majority: school board President Daniel Schwartz, Vice President Yehuda Weissmandl, Moses Friedman, Moshe Hopstein and Eliyahu Solomon.

Strange but True: Bloomberg Pushes Breast-Feeding Program for New Mothers
Beginning on September 3, New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg will begin a new program of pushing new mothers to breast-feed instead of using formula. This is a voluntary program, called “Latch on NYC.” Of 40 hospitals, 27 have already signed on.

As part of this program, the city will be keeping track of how many formula bottles hospitals purchase and use. Formula will be stored in locked boxes. Whenever a mother receives a bottle, she will also be given educational information on why she should breast-feed instead.

VCS Exec to Retire at End of Year
Deborah Cary Murnion, the executive director at VCS, Volunteer Counseling Service in New City for 15 years, announced she will be retiring at the end of 2012. The VCS board of directors is looking for a replacement and hope to find one by January 2013. VCS provides services to Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties, including child abuse prevention; services to older adults and their families; counseling for domestic abuse victims, perpetrators; educational programs, and more.

Sikh Murder in Milwaukee Raises Security and Awareness
Sikh communities all over the United States are asking for vigilance and better public understanding of their religion after six members were shot and killed at a temple in Wisconsin. Police have been sending extra security to all Sikh temples. The shooter has been identified as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran. He was shot and killed by police during the attack.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter what religion you profess you have a right to be safe in your homes, in your places of worship and on the streets of New York City,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg outside the Sikh Cultural Society in New York.

Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims, they say. And since 9/11, they have faced numerous hate crimes and suffered unemployment, bullying and profiling. Sikhism is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. It originated in Punjab, between Pakistan and India. Sikh men often don’t cut their beards and cover their heads with a turban. There are about 250,000 to 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S. today.

Rockland Ordered to Hire More Correction Officers
Rockland County was mandated by the New York State Commission of Correction to hire 15 new correction officers for the county jail. The state is not adding any funding for these hires and with the county’s finances so far in the black, this means an additional $1.1 million annually will come from taxpayers to pay for these new positions. County Sheriff Louis Falco is hoping that over the next year or two about 40 officers will retire and the staff will be reduced.

Two Sex Offenders Move to Clarkstown
Two convicted sex offenders moved to Nanuet, Cassidy Armistead and Christopher Popolizio. Armstead, 37, now lives at 31 Cottage Place in Nanuet. He is a level-two offender with moderate risk to reoffend. He was convicted January 2007 for sexual abuse of a 21-year-old woman.

Popolizio, 21, now lives at 6 Sunnybank Drive in Nanuet. He is a level-two offender and a student at Dominican College in Blauvelt. He was convicted in December of sexual misconduct with an 18-year-old woman and sentenced to six years of probation. Under state law, sex offenders are required to report their living address to the local police department. The police can release this information to the local schools and facilities that involve children.

New City Library Board Fights Postpone Progress, Leaves Positions Vacant
Fighting among the New City Library’s board members has resulted in no budget plan and empty positions. The library has just over a month to complete its budget and no movement has been made in that direction. There is currently no bookkeeper, business manager or long-term director. The interim director, Marianne Silver, has declined the position on a permanent basis. The board met Tuesday, Aug. 7 to discuss hiring a bookkeeper, but discussing a business manager will wait until August 16. No efforts have been made yet to find a new executive director.

New Drug Law on Bath Salts and Synthetic Drugs
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday, August 7 a new regulation making it illegal to sell or possess bath salts or other synthetic drugs.

The new regulation, issued by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and approved by the Public Health and Health Planning Council, will expand the list of prohibited drugs and chemicals to include dozens of substances now used to make synthetic drugs. Any owner or seller of synthetic drugs will be charged with possession of an illicit substance. Violators may face fines of up to $500 and up to 15 days in jail.

Over the years, there has been a rise in synthetic drug use in New York. In 2011, there were 39 reported emergency room visits in upstate New York as a result of bath salts. In 2012 so far, there have been 191 of these visits. When consumed these synthetic drugs can produce dangerous effects, similar to cocaine and amphetamines, including hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, violent behavior, chest pains, increased blood pressure and increased heart rate.

Holmes’ Psychiatrist Contacted Police Prior to Shooting
James Holmes, of the Arora, Colo. shooting, was seeing a psychiatrist who claims to have told police officers weeks prior that she was worried about her patient. Holmes, 24, pled guilty to shooting and killing 12 people and injuring 58 others in a movie theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises.”

According to his psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, she warned authorities twice that Holmes was a possible threat to others. Fenton is a member of the University of Colorado’s threat assessment team. She claims to brought her concerns to the university police and to members of the Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team but no investigation was done.

Holmes dropped out of his doctorate neuroscience program about six weeks prior to the attack on July 20. Holmes has been charged with 142 crimes, including 12 counts of first-degree murder with deliberation and 12 counts of first-degree murder with extreme indifference.

Standard Chartered Shares Fall After Allegations
On Monday, August 6, New York regulators accused Standard Chartered, a major British bank, of helping Iran avoid sanctions by concealing billions and by Tuesday, August 7ththe bank’s stock fell more than 23 percent on the London Stock Exchange.

The New York State Department of Financial Services accused the bank of conspiring to hide 60,000 transactions with Iranian clients, a total of $250 billion, from 2001-10. Standard Chartered is facing up to $5.5 billion in costs, fines, lost revenue, and damage to the bank’s reputation. Federal regulators and the U.S. Department of Justice could bring charges against the bank for violations of bank security laws and anti-money laundering regulations.

Two Gunmen in West Haverstraw, No Injuries
Two men allegedly accosted two pedestrians with gunfire and then drove away Tuesday morning on Chapel Street in West Haverstraw. No one was injured by the gunfire, according to police.

By the time the police arrived on the scene the two shooters were gone. The two men who were accosted were still on the street but did not cooperate with the investigators. Their names are not being published because they are considered victims. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Haverstraw Police Department (845) 354-1500.

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