Timelines: July 5, 2012

Rockland County Launches Travel & Entertainment Guide
Rockland County Tourism & Local Development’s launched its first ever 2012 Travel & Entertainment Guide.

This 50-page guide includes listings of Rockland’s tourist attractions, including parks, hotels, historic sites, theaters, arts organizations, farmers’ markets, restaurants and more.

As part of this effort, Rockland Tourism & Local Development is now offering free advertising to businesses, event makers and tourist attractions on its website, rocktourism.com. Ads will be posted on the website on a first come, first serve basis.

“We’re excited to increase our outreach and bring even more tourists and visitors here to our beautiful county,” said CJ Miller, coordinator of Tourism & Local Development. “We believe this is an effective, creative way to leverage our grant dollars and drive our tourism and business economy to get the word out about all there is to do, see and enjoy here in Rockland.”

Pharma Giant Pays Big in Largest Health Care Fraud
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) agreed to pay $3 billion for its engagement in various illegal schemes related to the marketing and pricing of its drugs. GSK will also pay $2 billion in damages and civil penalties to compensate for the corporation’s illegal conduct as part of a national settlement with New York, 42 states, the District of Colombia and the federal government. In addition, GSK pled guilty to federal criminal charges for labeling drugs and FDA reporting. New York’s Medicaid program will receive over $146 million in recoveries from GSK.

GSK engaged in unlawfully marketing drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration by making false representations regarding the safety and efficacy of certain drugs. The company also offered kickbacks to medical professionals.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced on Monday, July 2 that GSK was not above the law and would be penalized. “GlaxoSmithKline’s misconduct was breathtaking in its scale and scope. As a result of today’s landmark settlement, this pharmaceutical giant will now be held accountable for putting corporate profits ahead of the safety of the public,” said Schneiderman. “There are no excuses for deceptively marketing unapproved drugs to children, offering kickbacks to health care professionals and ripping off the taxpayers by defrauding Medicaid and other programs.”

Thunderstorm Reeks Havoc
After extreme heat over the weekend, Sunday brought thunderstorms. Fires and power outages followed. According to Orange & Rockland Utilities’ website, about 100 homes in Suffern lost power along with several in Sloatsburg and Blauvelt.

Lightning stuck a tree in West Nyack, which ignited a small fire in a nearby shed. A Pearl River woman was taken to the hospital after a container of chlorine she was trying to close blew open when it reacted with the rainwater. Her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Road Rage Leads to Death
Annetta Billingy, 63, of Teaneck, N.J. was killed after being projected from the back-seat when the car crashed as a result of a road rage incident. John Emili of New City and Thomas Vanderweit of Saddle Brook, N.J. were chasing each other, weaving between cars, headed north on the parkway through Bergen County.

Emili, a power weight-lifter and former Clarkstown North High School football player, was driving a Honda Pilot. He moved into an exit lane in order to try to pass Vanderweit in his Chevrolet Trailblazer. But Emili lost control of the car and swerved across the parkway, hit the guardrail, overturned and hit the side of the Trailblazer.

Billingy, who was in the back of Emili’s car, was killed. Both drivers were charged with vehicular homicide and multiple traffic violations. They are being held in the Bergen County jail on $100,000 bail. Investigations are underway to determine what led the two drivers to engage in this reckless behavior. They had no prior relationship.

New Energy Efficient Technology Comes to N.Y.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Monday, July 2 that the New York Power Authority Board of Trustees has approved $30 million to advance market development of new energy technologies. This will help support the growth of New York’s clean energy economy and reduce costs and improve efficiency at public facilities statewide.

The funding will come over a five-year period and will focus on the deployment of commercial energy efficiency products and systems that are not widely available.

“With the NY Works program launching job-creating projects in all corners of the state, these funds will help the state continue to provide low-cost, affordable power to businesses big and small, while also investing in projects to improve energy-efficiency at public, commercial, and residential buildings across the state. This new technology will improve air quality and the reliability of the electric power system here in New York, while lowering energy bills and helping the state further solidify its place as the nation’s leader in the clean energy economy,” said Cuomo.

Grandmother Swims Just Short of Cuba to the Florida Keys
Penny Palfrey, a 49-year-old grandmother, stopped just 26 miles short of completing her quest to be the first woman to swim unaided from Cuba to the Florida Keys, a more than 100-mile trip. She swam nearly 41 hours, beginning on Friday near Havana, Cuba.

Palfrey was stung by jellyfish and watched out for hammerhead sharks as she swam without a shark cage. But what ultimately did her in were the notorious currents of the Florida Straits. Her support team consisted of more than a dozen navigators, handlers and medical personnel escorting her on the 44-foot catamaran Sealuver.

Cop-Hating Haverstraw Perp Might Get One Year
Richard Canjura of West Haverstraw was convicted of violence towards police officers at a New City bar in January 2011. Clarkstown officers responded to a report of a fight at the French Quarter bar on South Main Street in New City on January 1, 2011. The officers ordered everyone to leave the bar.

Canjura exited the bar, but returned for a plate of food. He ignored continued commands to leave, then cursed and threatened the police officers. Five officers attempted to place Canjura under arrest. He attempted to fight back. None of the officers were seriously injured.

Canjura was convicted of one count of resisting arrest, a class “A” misdemeanor; one count of disorderly conduct, a violation; and one count of harassment in the second-degree, a violation. He is scheduled for sentencing on September 12 and faces up to one year in county jail.

Fuel Spill at Chrysler Dealership in Clarkstown
A tanker truck at the Rockland Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership on Route 304 sprang a leak and spilled about 50 gallons of engine fuel. Officials say it was contained to the dealership area. Fire officials and the Rockland County Hazardous Materials Team were on the scene.

Gas Main Ruptured in New City
On Monday, July 2, a road crew contractor working for Rockland County struck and ruptured a gas main on New Hempstead in New City. The crew was working on a $32 million project that includes widening the road to accommodate curb installations, drainage improvements and sidewalk additions.

Nearby residents were alerted after the smell of gas was reported. Orange & Rockland Utilities turned off the gas that fed the pipes by 1 p.m., according to spokesperson Michael Donovan. Firefighters responded and remained at the scene throughout the afternoon. No one was seriously injured.

Law to Publicize Bacterial Levels in N.Y. Waters
The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act was passed last month by the Legislature. Hopes are that Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign it. The act requires quick reporting of sewage spills and leaks.

Riverkeeper released a report last year that found recreational users of the Hudson had a slightly more than 20 percent chance of coming in contact with sewage. Currently, big spills make the news, but smaller discharges into the water are not reported. Many users of the waters for swimming and boating believe a law should be in place enforcing communication.

Pursued Man Caught on Tappan Zee Bridge
Jermal Lincoln, a 22-year-old Bronx man wanted on a sexual assault charge in Newburgh, was stopped by a South Nyack-Grand View police officer on the Tappan Zee Bridge after police chased him from Orange County. Lincoln was being pursued by Newburgh police, who were investigating a sexual assault of a woman earlier that morning in the vehicle Lincoln was driving. When the man was first stopped in Newburgh, he handed the officer his license and then sped off through a construction zone.

At least five police agencies participated in the chase. The police chased him down the Palisades Interstate Parkway and the New York State Thruway. The man is accused of throwing a gun out the car window, according to police. The car was spotted getting onto the Tappan Zee Bridge and police slowed the toll collecting and set up a roadblock.

Lincoln was taken to the state police barracks in Tarrytown after he was arrested at the bridge. He is charged with reckless driving and multiple motor vehicle violations. The initial sexual assault case remains under investigation. No injures were reported.