New Square mayor dies at 91
Mates Friesel, the first and only mayor of the Hasidic enclave of New Square, died on August 1 at the age of 91.
Friesel had been mayor since the Village of New Square was incorporated in 1961, maintaining the role until his last two-year term in November 2013. Friesel, whose time as mayor was among the longest in the country, maintained his position due to wide popularity and a lack of viable challengers to his position. It is expected that Deputy Mayor Israel Spitzer will take over for Friesel.
Friesel’s storied career began long before New Square when he traveled from Poland to Brooklyn after the Holocaust and helped established the first Orthodox Jewish community in Ramapo with former Grandd Rebbe Yaakov Yosef Twersky. Since then, the village population has expanded to almost 7,000 and Friesel became a powerful voice in both local and national politics, even meeting with former President Jimmy Carter during his term of office.
The mayor also presided over the village’s numerous controversies and scandals, including the contentious plan for a poultry plant on Route 45 and a federal investigation into theft of government funds which led to convictions for several New Square officials.
Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle to plead guilty to child porn charge
Jared Fogle, 37, who rose to fame as Subway’s official pitchman after he shed hundreds of pounds eating only the fast food chain’s sandwiches, pled guilty on Wednesday to charges of child pornography and statutory rape.
The mascot’s home was raided last month after a TV reporter in Florida went public with comments Fogle allegedly made expressing attraction to pre-adolescent girls. The subsequent investigation unearthed explicit text messages sent by Jared to a Subway franchisee suggesting he had paid for sex with a 16-year old girl. Other electronics and paperwork were also seized from Fogle’s home.
The raid and guilty plea came two months after Russell Taylor, who ran Fogle’s charitable foundation, was charged for possession of 500 images of child pornography.
Fogle became famous in the late 1990s while at the University of Indiana. The pitchman was running a lucrative pornography rental service out of his dormitory and dropped from 445 pounds to 200 pounds in the space of a year after eating mostly Subway sandwiches from a franchise that opened on the first floor of his building.
Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin gets four year sentence
Jasmin, 51, was sentenced in federal court for taking $5,000 from Moses Stern, a former developer and fraudster-turned-FBI informant. Stern offered the money and a 50 percent stake in a kosher catering hall project in Spring Valley in exchange for the mayor’s political support for the project. Her Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret was also snared in the sting, pled guilty, and was sentenced in June to three years in prison.
The enforcement action was taken as part of a larger crackdown on public corruption statewide. Six local and state politicians were convicted in the broad corruption scheme, including former State Sen. Malcom Smith, who was accused of trying to buy the Republican nomination for the New York Mayoral race.
Drug-resistant “super lice” discovered in Hudson Valley
Strains of lice resistant to traditional treatments have been discovered in the Hudson Valley, just in time for back-to-school season.
According to the American Chemical Society, the lice have been discovered in 25 states, including New York. Tests conducted on lice populations by Dr. Kyong Yoon of Southern Illinois University found that 104 of 109 populations had high levels of gene mutations that render them resistant to pyrethroids, a common chemical in insecticides used in over-the-counter lice treatments. In New York, 50 to 90 percent of lice have the mutations.
Though resistance to pyrethroids is becoming more common, treatments still exist to rid lice from hair. If over-the-counter or natural remedies fail, prescription treatments might still prove useful. Common insecticides that work against different biological processes in lice include Dimethecone, Spinocad, and Ivermectin.
Lice can only be transmitted by close contact, but unlike other parasitic organisms, they do not transmit diseases and are a nuisance rather than a serious health concern.
First women graduates from Army Ranger training
In a first for the U.S. Army Rangers, two women have successfully completed the elite program’s famous Ranger School.
Capt. Kirsten Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver completed the arduous 120 day training program alongside 94 male graduates at Fort Benning in Georgia. They are the final two women remaining of 20 who qualified for the prestigious program, which trains soldiers for leadership positions with an extreme regiment of long, sleepless hours, exposure to inclement weather, physically-taxing hikes and team-based combat training.
Though both women initially failed the physical requirements of the first few days, they were given an option to make another attempt, something available to men and women who excel in some areas of training but fall short in other areas which might still be subject to improvement.
Women became eligible for the program for the first time this April, when the Army began to examine ways to integrate women into combat roles. Though Griest and Haver have not yet been cleared for positions in combat units, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter is expected to rule on whether or not any positions should remain closed to women by January 1.
Former DeBlasio financial backer considering run against NYC mayor
A former financial backer of NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio has publicly expressed the possibility that he might run as a Democratic challenger against the incumbent mayor in 2017.
According to real estate magnate Don Peebles, DeBlasio has disappointed him with his policies on taxes, charter schools, and relations with the NYPD, business interests and Governor Cuomo. Characterizing the mayor as hostile to business and financial success, Peebles said it would be “irresponsible” to do nothing and would likely self-finance his own campaign.
Peebles, who is worth $700 million and contributed $9,675 to DeBlasio’s 2013 campaign, runs his company partly from a Midtown office owns homes in downtown Manhattan and plans to buy a new location on the Upper West Side. He has also raised money for Bill Clinton and served on President Obama’s national finance committee.
Police: ‘Road rage’ incident in Suffern leads to felony DWI charge
SUFFERN – A Garnerville man has been charged with felony DWI under New York’s Leandra’s Law after an investigation of a “road rage” incident on Friday in Suffern, according to Suffern police.
Police Chief Clarke Osborn said the 33-year-old driver, Sergio Armas of 25 D Hasbrouck Road, is accused of driving while intoxicated while he had a 13-year-old boy as a passenger in his 2007 Toyota truck. While DWI is a misdemeanor for a first offense, Leandra’s Law elevates the charge to a felony when a child is a passenger at the time of the incident.
Osborn said Armas apparently became angry when the driver of a vehicle in front of him on Orange Avenue hit is brakes while coming into Suffern from Hillburn. Armas drove his truck very close to the rear of the other car’s bumper, continually flashed his hi-beam lights at the driver and even pulled up along side of him cursing and throwing things at the vehicle, Osborn said.
The victim in the incident alerted village police by calling 911 at 9:50 p.m. and Police Officer Dan Kiernan located the cars involved and witnessed part of the incident, Osborn said.
Foreclosure rates high for Mid-Hudson Valley
Foreclosure rates for the counties of Putnam and Rockland have jumped in recent years even as they have leveled off in other areas of the state, according to a recent report by the State Comptroller. According to the report, the statewide average for properties in a county subject to foreclosures is 1.13 percent. Rockland and Putnam Counties have rates of 2.26 percent and 2.1 percent respectively, making them among the most impacted in the state.
Statewide, annual foreclosure rates remain higher than their pre-recession figures, but have begun to drop. In 2014, 43,863 new cases were reported, down from 46,696 cases in 2013.
Realtors in Rockland have reported that home ownership in the Hudson Valley-particularly in Rockland and Westchester-is an expensive prospect due to unwieldy property taxes. Banks have also contributed, making it harder for “short sales” were underwater mortgagers can sell a home for less than what is owed on the mortgage.
Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter found safe in New Jersey
Following reports that her daughter Chelsea, 17, had gone missing last week, actress and South Nyack-Grandview resident Rosie O’Donnell and authorities announced on Tuesday that the teen had been found in New Jersey.
Chelsea O’Donnell left her Nyack home on August 11 with a 6-month-old therapy dog in what police described as a runaway teenager situation. According to police, Chelsea was taking medication for a psychiatric disorder, but there was no single incident that seemed to provoke the departure.
South Nyack-Grandview Police managed to find Chelsea when they informed authorities in Bargenat, New Jersey that the teen might be in the area. Police subsequently checked a residence thought to be the location and found Chelsea at the home of a male she had recently met.
CDC investigates plague case in California
The Center for Disease Control is investigating a second possible case of plague which was likely contracted by a camper in Yosemite National Park, the second such infection in the state this year. According to the CDC, the Georgia resident visited Yosemite, the Sierra National Forest, and surrounding areas early in August. This is the second case of plague in California, the first being an LA County child who was hospitalized and is now recovering after catching the disease in Yosemite in Mid-July. Two fatal cases were also reported in Colorado this year.
Plague, which has been blamed for the “Black Death” that wiped out a third of Europe’s population in the 14th Century, is often found among wild rodents in the Southwest and can be transmitted through fleas that carry the disease after biting an infected animal. Though the CDC stressed campers and others visitors should take precautions to avoid exposure to infected animals, they added the disease is extremely rare in America. An average of seven cases are reported nationwide each year, with 42 cases reported in California since 1970.
Bangkok bomber part of terror network
A bombing that killed 20 people at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine on Monday was allegedly committed by a member of a terror network.
Police released a sketch of a bespectacled man of possibly mixed ethnic origin they identified as a prime suspect using witnesses and security footage. The suspect was observed leaving a backpack at the shrine, a popular tourist destination and Hindu holy site.
According to Bangkok Police Chief Somyot Poompanmoung, the attack is believed to be the work of more than one person and almost definitely a “network” of Thai citizens. No motive has been identified and no organized groups have come forward to claim responsibility.
Others in the security footage are also being sought by police. In addition, a separate, non-fatal bomb attack on Tuesday is being investigated as an incident potentially linked to the shrine bombing.