Ramapo busing reduced for private schools

Ramapo Central School District has decided to trim transportation offerings for the fall to private school students. A group of parents is questioning the motives behind the decision thinking it’s part of a plot to oust the religious Jewish community from the area.

The district has provided busing for non-public schools for years but rising costs due to an increased number of students in private schools has lead seeking alternative motives of transportation.  There used to be multiple morning and afternoon bus routes but after the cuts there will be one morning route and one afternoon.  The new bus schedule will also include only one point for drop off and pick up regardless of number of buildings on campus.

Deputy Superintendent Stephen Walker said the cuts to transportation still comply with state law, requiring transportation for all students within a 15-mile radius. Andrea Jaffe, the parent of a yeshiva student, said the cuts “reek of something else.”

She also said there’s a “discomfort with changing demographics in neighborhoods.” Jaffee also said the community is exploring legal options against the school district if needed.

Haverstraw man to acquire permit for chicken coop

A Haverstraw man is on the verge of acquiring the village’s first chicken permit after a local law allowing residents to raise the animal was recently passed.

Ariel Moronta was inspired when he saw the chickens at Tractor Supply Co. in Stony Point.  Moronta is now the owner of several nearly full-grown chickens and is expecting eggs in about half a year.

Village building inspector Ruben Berrios said that the permit process is so new that he is still figuring out the minutiae.  Berriops did say that Moronta’s set-up is in order and he should be receiving his permit soon.

Requirements for Moronta include the chicken coop being at least five feet from the property line and 25 feet from the residence.  There is also a five chicken maximum and the roosters, the males, are not allowed to crow.

Moronta said he just wanted to know where his eggs were coming from and that this neighbors are “pretty cool with it.”

Tampon tax eliminated

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation last week that eliminated state and local sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

Sen. Sue Serino, a Hyde Park Republican, and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, initiated the legislation. The sales tax on these products has been in place since state sales tax was first initiated in 1965.

New York is one of the first states top rid of sales tax on feminine hygiene products, which is expected to save women an estimated $10 million.

Pokemon fad sweeps nation

Pokemon, the game that burst onto the scene 20 years ago has become popular once again.

The famous franchise was revamped with a smartphone app titled Pokemon Go released July 6.  The game places virtual pokemon in public where players can walk around with the app open and catch the creatures.  Players also raise and train the pokemon in the game.

The game has essentially forced people to get off their couches and go outside to play the game since walking around is required.  The game has brought many players together and has actually gotten people to go outside and get some sort of exercise.  Players have been spotted in abundance in downtown Nyack and at the Palisades Mall.  People are more likely to play in more densely populated areas.

If you decide to leave your house and see anyone aged 11 to 30 walking around with their phone out and intensely watching their screen chances are they are playing Pokemon Go.

ABLE Act signed by Cuomo

Last week, Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) act into law.

Making the bill into law will accelerate the process of initiating the ABLE Act, which was signed in December 2015.  The ABLE Act would allow individuals with disabilities the ability to create a tax-exempt savings account used for maintaining medical expenses to help for a better quality of life.

“By enacting this legislation, it gives the comptroller the ability to fast track the implementation of this legislation which will give us a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities,” Carlucci said.

DNC rocked by scandal as convention opens

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee has decided to resign after a multiple leaked emails showed party officials plan to sabotage the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Nearly 20,000 emails were posted to WikiLeaks over the weekend.  WikiLeaks did not reveal their source but the committee said Russian hackers infiltrated their computer systems last month.

The emails showed a clear bias the committee had towards Hilary Clinton and their desire for the former Secretary of State to be the next president of the United States. Many emails confirmed what the Sanders campaign had been saying all along: the party was conspiring against him.  Sanders supporters were thrilled by Schultz resignation.

Schultz will step down from her position at the conclusion of this weeks convention and Donna Brazile, a vice chairwoman of the committee will succeed Schultz in an interim role through the election.

Spring Valley firefighters deliver baby

Spring Valley Fire Chief Ken Sohlman and other volunteers did more than put out a fire Tuesday; they helped deliver a baby.

The firefighters were cleaning up a simple gasoline spill on Union Road around 10 a.m. when a taxi came speeding to the scene. The driver had a female passenger in labor in the back seat of the cab.

Sohlman, Lt. Jason Dennison and fire truck driver Eric Mann helped the woman out of the taxi and placed her on the ground.  The mother’s contractions were only a minute apart when she arrived. They then waited for nature to do what it was intended to do.

“When we got her on the ground the baby’s head was already appearing,” Sohlman said.  “She pushed the baby out.”  The baby boy was born around 10:15 a.m.

Spring Hill Ambulance and Rockland Paramedics Services arrived and checked out the mother and newborn before taking them to Nyack Hospital.

State efforts to help maintain school secular education

A recent LoHud article explained a pair of bills in the New York State legislature designed to improve private school education was stalled when the session ended in June.

“My bill will definitely be re-introduced,” Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, said.

Zebrowski, along with Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, worked on bills to improve the basic education of children in private religious schools. According to some parent and former student claims, some students have been denied a basic secular education including English.

Jaffee co-sponsored Zebrowskis bill then proposed her own which was co-sponsored by state Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland. The aim of the two bills proposed by Zebrowski and Jaffee is to enforce a 1928 law requiring private schools to provide a “substantially equivilant” education to public school according to LoHud.

Police save man from Bear Mt. suicide attempt 

Police were able to talk a suicidal man out of jumping off the Bear Mountain Bridge late Sunday night.

The unidentified 21-year-old was spotted walking up one of the suspension bridge’s cables. According to troopers the situation was very touch and go because the man “literally dangled from the cables several times.”

Officers spent two hours trying to talk the man down from the cables. When he came down he was taken to Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, New York for a mental health evaluation and his family was notified according to police.

Ramapo PD save with Narcan 

When police responded to a home in Sloatsburg for a medical emergency, they determined the unidentified woman was suffering from an overdose. Officers administered Narcan, an opioid antidote administered through the nasal passage, and the patient began breathing. “Narcan has turned out to be an excellent tool,” Capt. Marty Reilly said. “It has resulted in many lives saved.”

Pomona man assaults person in 7-Eleven lot 

A 28-year-old Pomona man has been charged with simple assault and assault by auto following an attack in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Bergen County. The suspect, Michael Santo, was released pending a court hearing according to Detective Sgt. James DePreta.

Witnesses told police Santa “repeatedly truck the (other) driver” then hit him with the car, knocking him to the ground, according to DePreta.

Harrison Police Department to show leniency to heroin addicts

The Harrison Police Department in Westchester County is changing the way it interacts with heroin users.

“If you walk in the front door of our headquarters and you bring your drugs, you bring your paraphernalia, no problem,” Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccini said. “No arrest. No interrogation. And I will guarantee you that I will have somebody do everything they can to get you assistance.”

As the number of heroin overdoses continues to rise in New York State, police units are trying different ways to combat the epidemic. “Every now and then you’d see heroin but now it’s just heroin all the time,” Sgt. Frank Massaro, who has worked with the Harrison Police for 14 years said.  He’s “never seen this much heroin.”

West Nile mosquitoes detected in Orangeburg

Mosquitos infected with the possibly fatal West Nile virus have been found in Orangetown.

There haven’t been any reported cases of the virus in 2016. One person in Rockland was infected in 2015 with 52 human cases statewide, resulting in one death.

The state health department confirmed the collection of infected insects the week of July 10. Rockland Health Department Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Rupert said department mosquito control teams would continue to treat all known mosquito breeding sites throughout the summer.

The chances of getting sick when bitten are small and not everyone infected with West Nile Virus will actually become ill.  Symptoms usually appear three to 14 days after being bitten.  Symptoms include flu-like illness and neurological issues.

People are asked to take precaution when staying outside for extended periods like keeping their bodies covered.

Korean War vet was held captive at nearby motel for 5 years

Police in Highlands, New York, minutes north of Rockland County, arrested a man for allegedly holding an 81-year-old war veteran captive in a motel room for almost five years. During this time the suspect stole the victim’s social security benefits and sold his vehicle.

The suspect, Perry Coniglio, 43, was arrested at the U.S. Academy Motel at 41 Main St. in Highlands following a video submitted to the police showing him abuse the victim. He was been charged with unlawful imprisonment, grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon, endangering an incompetent person, menacing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

According to Police Detective Joseph Cornetta the victim, David McClellan, a Korean War-era Navy corpsman, was held prisoner and barely fed. “Through eyewitness accounts and videos, you can clearly see this individual was taking advantage of a mentally incompetent person, and he exercised control over that person with brute force and intimidation,” Cornetta said.


Heartbreak in Suffern Continues to Help Others with Crotty Foundation

Six years ago a tragic car accident took the lives of two Suffern High School students. Vincent Crotty, 18, and Christopher Konkowski, 17, two of the high school’s baseball players were killed. The Vincent Crotty Memorial Foundation was created in their memory.

This foundation shows what a small town can do to help others, and how tragedy brings people closer together. Lizanne Fiorentino, a long-time board member, remembers the first “Wing Nite’”which took place about two months after the accident.

“It gave us a purpose, a way to channel this palpable pain and grief,” she said. Her daughter was dating Crotty at the time of the accident.

This year’s Wing Nite was held on June 4, 2016 and will host an annual Softball Tournament on Aug. 11 until Aug. 13.

In 2016 the foundation donated funds to multiple organizations and causes including the Suffern Fire Department, the Suffern “DARE” Toy Drive and $7,000 to Touching Bases, a program in Rockland for handicapped adults. Over $40,000 was donated last year from the foundation.

Potential Budget Gaps for New York State

A financial plan released from the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli shows the state faces potential budget cuts in upcoming years. The gaps result from state spending increases and tax reductions and using temporary resources to pay recurring costs.

“New York’s rainy day reserves are at low levels compared to many states and the use of temporary resources to meet recurring expenses contributes to the state’s potential outyear budget shortfalls,” DiNapoli said in a press release.

The release states that DiNapoli’s report estimates these budget gaps will not occur until 2018-19 budget, but the potential gaps average less than $5 billion annually over three years.

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