Nyack to send direct notification to residents during times of emergency
Following the failure of NY-Alert to notify thousands of residents after local water was found to be tainted back in June, the Village of Nyack began to look elsewhere for a means of efficient communication. Now, while continuing to use NY-Alert, the village will be the ones to relay the messages, rather than the county, who previously had control. One of the main reasons for sticking with NY-Alert rather than changing over to a private system is that it is free. The 10 proposals from private companies offering to provide emergency alert systems ranged from $7,000 to $15,000 a year. The village may try NY-Alert for six months under the newfound control and see if it works. If it proves to remain inefficient, they may still consider a private organization.
“GoDaddy” gets backlash for SOPA support
Major website host GoDaddy.com threw their hat in the ring in support of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), and then took it out after many people decided to boycott their site. SOPA, also known as H.R. 3261, is an anti-piracy bill that would block websites accused of providing pirated material. The Federal government has yet to vote on the bill, which will be decided on soon. A thread on social news website Reddit.com requested that users who have domain names hosted by GoDaddy to drop the site. Reddit users pledged to drop their GoDaddy services on December 29. An estimated 34,000 domains were pulled from GoDaddy as of December 24, and the numbers are still rising. Many other major companies including AOL, Twitter, Yahoo, and Wikipedia are opposed of SOPA, though they all agree that piracy is a problem. Because of the mass withdrawal of services, GoDaddy overturned their support of SOPA on December 23. Time will tell if GoDaddy is forgiven for their behavior.
NYS teacher evaluation agreement not reached
Governor Cuomo is expected to announce a new commission to look into the public education system in New York after school districts and teachers unions failed to agree on how to evaluate teachers. The evaluation of teachers is essential to New York State; the state would qualify for millions of dollars in federal funding if it had evaluations. Cuomo recently said, “Teacher evaluations are critical to ensure our kids have high quality teachers in the classroom because performance counts. I am disappointed that agreements could not be reached to impose teacher performance evaluations at some of our troubled school districts across the state. Students lose twice because of this failure. First, the failure to reach agreements on teacher evaluations forces these schools to continue to operate without true accountability, which would ensure students receive a high quality education from high quality teachers. Second, these schools will also lose out on millions of dollars in much needed federal aid. I urge all involved to get back to the table immediately, put their differences aside and put the kids first. They should agree on an evaluation system that improves performance and prevents the loss of more than one hundred million dollars this year for these schools across the state.” Opponents to teacher evaluations say that current evaluation standards have little to do with actual performance and don’t contribute very much to the education system for the cost it takes to plan and implement them.
Teen robbers apprehended
Four Clarkstown teens have been arrested after a string of early morning burglaries. At around 2:20 a.m. last Wednesday, Clarkstown police responded to a report of a burglarized home on Pepperill County Road. The homeowner noted that there were two cell phones missing and the back door of the home was unlocked. The next robbery was on Arcadia Drive, and the owner said he was missing a television, and his front door was unlocked. Following an investigation, police arrested 18-year-old Victor Lleshaj, Timothy Mekhlin, Michael Volosyuk, and Jean Zuleta, all of New City. All four were charged with second-degree burglary, a felony, and two counts of misdemeanor petty larceny. Zuleta is also looking at an additional charge of second-degree burglary. Mekhlin was released on $1,000 bail, while Lleshaj, Volosyuk, and Zuleta are being held on $2,000 bail in Rockland County Jail.
Trial for parents accused of beating baby to death steps closer to verdict
The trial of the Haverstraw couple, Michael Aviles, 42, and Lissette Capellan, 22, accused of allegedly beating their 5-month-old daughter, Michelle Aviles, to death, is expected to reach closing arguments soon. The non-jury trial continued Wednesday at the County Courthouse in New City before Judge William K. Nelson. Little Michelle died on the afternoon of December 16 at Westchester Medical Center from fractures to both sides of her skull and ribs. Her body was covered in bruises. Prosecutors are trying to prove that it was Aviles who killed the baby while Capellen stood by and allowed it to happen. Both deny hitting the baby, but state that the other put the baby to bed that night and woke up around 1:00 a.m. to find the infant unresponsive. They both say they left for the Hospital at 1:30 a.m. from their home at 153 Hudson Avenue, but didn’t arrive at Nyack Hospital until 4:22 a.m. Evidence suggests Aviles had been drinking rum the evening before the baby died. He himself has said he may have hurt the infant, but has no recollection. Dr. Alan Tuckman testified for the prosecution saying that, although people may not remember actions taken while they were drunk, they are aware of what they are doing while they are drunk. Emergency-room nurses have testified that they immediately suspected child abuse when they noticed extensive bruising and injuries across the baby’s body. On January 16, Dr. Charles Welti will tell the court that the based on the forensic evidence, Michelle was beaten within 90 minutes of when the couple brought her to the hospital.
Rabbitt spreads word about new laws
Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt is trying to find an effective way to get the message out about new laws. Last year, the state Legislature passed a new law that required drivers to move over to the next lane when they see emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. The law, “Move Over,” includes police, fire and ambulatory vehicles. The law does not, however, include roadway workers. This year, the Legislature unanimously passed a new bill known as Assembly Bill 177-b to further require drivers to move over for any pulled over emergency vehicles, such as those with yellow flashing lights, that they should see. This took effect on January 1. Rabbitt has also worked to bring the new tax relief law for hurricane victims to light. The new law allows local taxing jurisdictions to provide property tax relief to owners of properties that were “catastrophically impacted” by either the storms Lee or Irene. Catastrophically impacted is defined as “property owners who lost 50 percent or more of the value of their property as a result of storm damaged.” Essentially, the law allows for properties to be reassessed for 2011 based on their post-storm conditions and to qualify for property tax reductions for 2011. Rabbitt hopes that in the future, she can find more efficient ways to spread the message about these new laws.
Clarkstown police surround home looking for gunman
Police surrounded a Sunday morning New Year’s party in Nanuet after an armed robber was reported to be inside the home. Police received a 911 call at approximately 6:40 a.m. stating there was a man armed with a handgun who had broken into 3 Albacon Road and stolen cell phones from several party guests. Police rushed to the scene and surrounded the home for hours. The gunman had apparently left before the police arrived and the only person inside the home, the homeowner, was unresponsive to officers. Police eventually entered the home, only to find the owner passed out, unharmed. While no arrests have been made, the investigation continues.
West Nyack teen arrested for house party
A west Nyack teenager has been arrested in connection with a New Year’s Eve house party where underage drinking reportedly took place. Orangetown police responded to a report of a large party on Legends Boulevard, a gated community, around 12:45 a.m. on Sunday. Inside, police discover dozens of beer and liquor bottles. Police spoke with the 18-year-old resident whose parents were out of town for the night. He told police that he has originally invited only 15 classmates from Pearl River High School, but the party quickly got out of hand when many more showed up. Police have not released his name, but did arrest and charge him with the misdemeanor of unlawfully dealing with a child. He is due back in Orangetown Town Court on January 11. Police have notified his parents who were unaware that their son would be hosting a party.
Female college student arrested in Nyack brawl
Mary Cipriano, 22, of 115 New Hempstead Road, was arrested early Sunday after fighting several women outside Pour House Restaurant on Main Street in Nyack. The brawl happened about one hour into the new year when police responded. Cipriano apparently refused to work with police and charged the bar’s security staff in an attempt to regain entry into the bar. She later became combative with officers. Cipriano is a student at Baruch College in New York. She says she was attacked by three other women while waiting at the coat check. Cipriano has also filed a complaint against the arresting officer for making a remark on her appearance moments before the arrest. She is charged with the misdemeanor of resisting arrest and the violation of disorderly conduct, and she will appear in Nyack court on January 31.
Hundreds attend funeral for fatally shot Spring Valley man
Nearly 500 people showed up to the funeral of Herve Gilles, the 48-year-old man who Spring Valley police shot and killed earlier this month. Police responded to a report of a disturbed man at a local bar where they encountered a combative Gilles. An unidentified officer then shot Gilles twice, once in the head and another time in the torso. Upon the initial investigation, the shooting seemed justified as the officer was acting in self-defense. Following toxicology results, a grand jury will hear the case later this month. The funeral service was held at the French Speaking Baptist Church in Spring Valley, in both English and Creole. It was a celebration of Gilles’ life.