Hillcrest Elementary back on sale after nullification of prior deal
The East Ramapo Central School District is now tasked with striking a new deal to sell Hillcrest Elementary School, which it placed on the market after the school’s controversial 2010 closure. The new effort is a response to a recent state court ruling upholding the cancellation of a sale to Congregation Avir Yakov which the state argued was a sweetheart sale made at a price much lower than market value. However, the District is still set on a sale, offering $4.85 to a new buyer. The school’s value was estimated to be around $3.2 million by appraiser Avi Vardi, who now faces criminal charges for receiving bribes from the Congregation in exchange for a lower appraisal. The market value has been assessed at $9.16 million as of 2012, with an assessed value of $3.1 million.

Delhomme backtracks on building inspector demotion
Following a warning from Rockland County’s personnel commissioner, Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme announced he does not intend to demote Deputy Building Inspector Walter Booker. In an inter-office memo, Delhomme announced the promotion of Deputy Fire Inspector Manny Carmona to a managerial role. By extension, this would mean curennt fire inspector Walter Booker would be demoted from his position. However, County Personnel Commissioner Joan Silvestri warned Delhomme that the decision was a violation of civil service law. According to Silvestri, Carmona is an assistant building inspector who only occasionally takes over as deputy and the move would constitute work outside of Carmona’s job description. According to Delhomme, the memo was meant to be taken as a proposal rather than a final change.

Palisades man arrested for drunk driving in Nyack
Charles Hekl, 30 from Palisades, was arrested early Sunday morning for driving drunk in Nyack. After noticing that Hekl’s headlights were off and that he was driving at a high speed, Orangetown Police pulled him over. After noticing Hekl had slurred speech and the scent of alcohol on his breath, they administered a number of fielld sobriety tests, all of which thhe suspect failed. Hekl was brought to the Orangetown Police Headquarters, administered a breathalyzer test which he also failed and charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and various other traffic violations. He is set to appear in Nyack Justice Court on March 18.

State troopers seize 12 pounds of marijuana
State Troopers seized 15 pounds of marijuana in Wallkill on Friday evening and arrested four New York City residents in an unusually large drug bust for Orange County. Those arrested are Jahfari A. Jones, 22, Hakiym L. Colon, 22, Candace A. Cannon, 19 and Dashana I. Vailes, 19. They have been arraigned in the Town of Wallkill Court and stand charged with first-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Troop F, which also polices the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Rockland and maintains a station on Thiells Mt. Ivy Road in Haverstraw, stopped the car in Wallkill’s Orange Plaza parking lot. Upon searching the vehicle, they discovered the marijuana along with a substantial sum of money.


Attorney General settles with formal NARAL president over embezzlement
The State Attorney General announced on February 14 that it had reached a settlement with former NARAL-NY Pro-Choice president Kelli Conlin, who had been accused of siphoning money from the organization for her own personal use. Conlin has agreed to pay $20,000 in restitution to the non-profit and will no longer be eligible to serve as a fiduciary in any non-profit organization registered in New York. The restitution is not included in a larger $75,000 payment made by Conlin as part of a criminal plea deal struck with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2012 . Conlin used funds from another organization she led, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, to pay for luxury items and services which included expensive shopping sprees, the rental of a vacation home in the Hamptons, personal travel expenses, dinners at high-end restauraunts, and meals from local takeout restauraunts in Manhattan.

Ex-con convicted of brutally beating Haverstraw man
William Lewis, 29 of Haverstraw, was convicted of assault and attempted murder by a jury for a vicious attack on one of his neighbors just nine months after the perpetrator had been released from prison. Lewis, who had previously served nine years in prison on an unrelated robbery charge, attacked another resident of the New Main Street Hotel in December 2012. He beat the man with a guitar, stabbed him with a broken lightbulb and strangled him with a cord, actions which earned him a sentence of 15 years behind bars. The victim spent two weeks in a coma and sustained fractures to his skull, right eye socket and two ribs. Additionally, the victim suffered permanent damage to his vision in one eye. Lewis and his attorney plan to appeal the decision on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

East Ramapo appoints new school board member
The East Ramapo School Board approved Harry Grossman as the newest member to fill the nine-person board in a 5-1 vote last Monday.. Grossman, a 15 year resident and IT operations management consultant, is taking over for MaraLuz Corado, who resigned in December. Before this appointment, he has held teaching positions with a yeshiva in Orange County and Yachad in Teaneck, NJ and has worked with Empire State Development Corp. and the Jewish Museum. Six of the nine members of the board were present for the vote, with Trustee Pierre Germain casting the sole vote against the appointment.

State begins initiative to provide college education for prisoners
A new statewide program might soon allow prisoners in 10 state institutions to pursue college degrees in an effort to better prepare them for release and readjustent into law-abiding societty. The program will spend about $5,000 educating each prisoner, pushing them a degree which will take two and a half to three years to complete. The state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) has supported the use of private funds to educate indiiduals since the state’s discontinuation of PELL and TAP grants in 1994 and 1995. A working model in 2007 seeks to establish partnerships with colleges in the same geographic regions as prisons. The request for proposal (RFP) for the new program is expected to be issued on March 3, followed by a response period from educators associated with college courses in prisons.

Third JPMorgan employee commits suicide within one month
A 33-year-old junior investment banker with JPMorgan jumped off the roof of his Hong Kong office on Tuesday, the third employee of the firm to do so within the past month. The man, who coworkers confirmed was employed with the financial giant, went to the roof of the 30 story office shortly after lunch. Police attempted to talk him down, but did not succeed. Before the most recent death, JPMorgan reported two other likely suicides. Gabriel Magee, a vice president with the bank’s technology arm, jumped to his death in London on January 28, while Ryan Henry Crane, an executive director, was found dead of a likely suicide in his Stanford, CT home. JPMorgan is not the only institution to experience recent suicides of high-level emloyees. Russell Investments chief economist Mike Dueker was found dead alongside a Washington highway, while former Deutsche Bank senior risk manager William Brokesmit hanged himself in his London home.

American Lung Association backs CVS decision to end tobacco
The American Lung Association recently published an op-ed from Harold P. Wimmer which strongly supports CVS Caremark’s decision to move away from the sale of tobacco products in an effort to boost its image as a health-centric business. Calling the move “a great milestone,” Wimmer explained CVS was making a monumental move by deciding to phase out the sale of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products at all of its locations. “We at the American Lung Association commend the company’s leaders for their decision and urge more retailers to follow CVS Caremark’s brave lead, and help eliminate tobacco-caused deaths and disease by pulling tobacco products from their own shelves,” Wimmer said. CVS Caremark announced on February 5 that it intends to halt tobacco sales at over 7,600 locations across the U.S. by October 1 of this year It is the first national pharmacy chain to do so.

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