Debris and bodies found at possible Air Asia crash site

An Indonesian search and rescue team made a tragic discovery in Indonesian waters on Tuesday, pulling debris and three bodies from an area about six miles from the last known location of the missing Air Asia Flight QZ8501.

The flight, which disappeared in the Java Sea off the coast of the island of Borneo, appears to have not survived the disappearance. After a large submerged object was sighted by a military aircraft in the area, a closer examination of the scene turned up the bodies, two female and one male, and the emergency exit of the plane.

An Indonesian official stated the wreckage discovered on Tuesday was almost certainly that of the aircraft, which vanished on December 28 as it was traveling from Singapore to Surabaya, Indonesia. Divers and ships equipped with sonar have been sent to comb the area, which can reach depths of about 100 feet.

The flight carried 155 passengers and seven crew members and included citizens of Britain, France, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea.

Child’s letter to Santa prompts Christmas generosity in North Rockland

A letter written by a small child and attached to a bulletin board outside the Garnerville Shop Rite prompted an outpouring of Christmas spirit from North Rockland residents eager to help a family in need.

The letter, which asked Santa Claus for a bunk bed and stroller for the child’s baby brother, toys and a Christmas tree for her financially-struggling family, was found by Melinda Rivera, 41, and verified to have been posted by a girl from a West Haverstraw family. In response, Rivera posted a picture of the letter on the North Rockland Community Facebook page and quickly gathered support among donors eager to help the family in need.

The gifts were put together and delivered to the Immaculate Conception Church last Tuesday. Later in the evening, the family, which consisted of a mother and three small children, arrived and found the surprise.

The entire donation was provided by 350 donors, who provided toys, clothing, canned goods and the requested Christmas tree.

Suffern PD sells shirts to support slain officers

Suffern Police have begun to sell shirts to raise funds for the families of slain NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

The shirts feature Suffern’s Police insignia, a message stating “Support Law Enforcement” and the badge numbers and names of the late officers . According to them, over 600 shirts have been sold through the Department’s DARE program and Police Chief Clarke Osborne.

Similar fundraisers have cropped up across the city, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the families of the two officers, who were gunned down by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, in Brooklyn before he committed suicide. Brinsley used recent instances of police-related deaths of black males as a rationale for the shooting.

Delhomme suspends Spring Valley’s building inspector

Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme suspended the village’s building inspector on Monday for insubordination.

Building Inspector Walter Booker was dismissed for failing to adhere to a new village policy to turn over all the village’s incoming checks to the Treasury Department. Delhomme stated he had begun intercepting checks bound for Booker because the building inspector was failing to follow the policy, but according to Booker, he needed to see certain checks to be accountable for them.

When Booker arrived for work on Monday, an argument erupted between him and Delhomme. In response, Booker stated he was escorted from the building by police called by Delhomme. According to Spring Valley Police Chief Paul Modica, however, Booker left of his own free will.

Delhomme, a controversial figure in Spring Valley, has frequently butted heads with opponents in the Village and County for frequent dismissals and feuds with fellow village employees. He attempted to fire Booker earlier in February, but was advised against the decision by the county’s personnel commissioner, who argued it would violate civil service law.

Nyack to explore landing sites for ferry service

In an effort to complement an expanded bus system for the new Tappan Zee Bridge, Nyack might revive an old proposal to establish a ferry service from the waterfront village to Tarrytown.

The plan, which is still in a conceptual stage, would likely require the construction of a ferry dock and garage to handle the parking needs of commuters. If it is implemented, it would offer another option besides the new span, one which Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White hopes will provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to private automotive transportation.

No indication has been given of any favored location for the dock. The village is expected to fund parking and transportation studies on the workability of various sites.

A similar plan to build a dock and 500-car parking garage for a Manhattan-bound ferry was pursued in the late 1990s but failed to move forward. The effort, which was made by the state Thruway Authority, prompted an outcry from residents who argued it would create traffic issues in Nyack’s already crowded downtown area.

Deal closes for GM site in Sleepy Hollow

An agreement has been reached for the redevelopment of a former General Motors site in Sleepy Hollow, which was purchased by a New Jersey company on December 23 for $39.5 million.

Diversified Realty Advisors of Summit, New Jersey agreed to purchase the 96-acre site, which was the home of a vehicle assembly plant until 1996. The site will be redeveloped for residential and commercial use, including 1,777 residential units and 135,000 square feet of retail space.

The property will likely feature a waterfront park and several major retail outlets and services including a cinema, an urban market, and a 140 room hotel.

New York to lead 17 state coalition for preservation of “disparate impact” housing claims

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on December 24 that his office would join Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to lead a 17 state coalition to preserve existing interpretations of the Fair Housing Act which allow challenges to practices deemed to have a “disparate impact” on protected groups, regardless of intent of those practices.

The states submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the interpretation in the case of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. The case involves such a disparate impact claim, which can be proven by a plaintiff even when no specific proof of discriminatory intent has been found by the court. Proof of unjustifiably discriminatory housing impacts are suitable for such cases to prevail.

Other states which joined New York and Massachusetts include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The Court is expected to hear the case on January 21.

Legislator receives ISIS-style threat

A threatening photo with strong allusions to Islamic State terrorism was reportedly received by a Rockland County Legislator.

Legislator Aron Wieder, D-Spring Valley, stated he had received a photo of an Islamic State beheading with a picture of his face pasted over that of the victim. The letter, which was postmarked from the Monsey address by a sender with the moniker of “Moshe Muhammad,” was sent directly to the Legislature in New City, where Wieder opened it during a legislative session.

After opening the letter, Wieder was excused from the proceedings and consulted with Sheriff Louis Falco, who was at the proceedings. Falco stated an investigation is underway.

If the letter is not a hoax, it could be construed as a hate crime. Wieder is the only Hasidic Jewish member of the Legislature and previously served on the controversy-marred East Ramapo Board of Education.

Passenger tossed from flight after overreaction to “Merry Christmas” remark

A passenger at LaGuardia Airport was ejected after erupting in anger at flight attendants who wished him a “Merry Christmas.”

The man was boarding an 11:40 a.m. flight to Dallas on December 23 when he received the holiday greeting from a gate attendant. After angrily remarking that not everybody celebrates Christmas, he boarded the plane and was met with the same greeting by a flight attendant and flew into a rage.

The crew attempted to calm the man down, but could not stop him from ranting at them. He was eventually kicked off the flight, a move met with cheers and applause of other passengers.

American Airlines gives employees unexpected raise

American Airlines gave both union and non-union employees a unique gift for the holidays on December 23, bumping an expected six percent pay raise for flight attendants up to 10 percent.

The raise, which goes above and beyond the agreed upon pay increases in the airline workers’ union contracts, was announced as a reward for the airline’s success in its first year since its merger with US Airways. At the same time, the raise, an unprecedented boost for airline workers who have endured years of layoffs and pay cuts, might also be a means to mend relationships between unions, who frequently clashed with American’s pre-merger management.

American and other airlines made record profits in 2014, helped along by plummeting fuel prices and stronger demand for air travel as the economy has continued to improve. However, ticket prices remain high as demand continues to increase.

High-level executives and pilots are not covered by the raise. Currently, pilots are in a negotiation deadlock with the airline, which is now offering a 23 percent raise.

Scotland confirms first case of ebola

Scottish government officials confirmed on Monday that a case of ebola had been confirmed in Scotland.

The patient, a healthcare worker who had recently returned from West Africa, where she was assisting with the ebola response. She only learned she had the illness when she arrived home and was quickly quarantined in the infectious disease unit of Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow before being transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in London, the United Kingdom’s designated ebola care center.

Notifications have already been sent out to passengers on the flight the healthcare worker took back from Africa. Authorities confirmed two other individuals who had recently visited West Africa were being tested for the virus, though at least one patient was believed to be at relatively low risk.

The CDC has confirmed over 20,000 infections and 7,842 deaths in connection to the recent ebola epidemic in Africa.

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