New City fire damages home
A single-family home was damaged on Monday evening after a fire blazed throughout the house. The family who resided in the home on Pepperill Court was safely out of the house and no one was injured. According to firefighters, a member of the family called 911 and reported that the bushes in front of the house were on fire. Firefighters rushed to the scene just after 10 p.m. and saw immediately that the fire from the bushes had transferred to the two-story house. There were reportedly heavy flames leaping out of the front of the home. Firefighters from Congers, Nanuet, West Nyack, and Hillcrest responded to the fire. Investigators are still determining the cause of the fire. It appears to have been an accident.
Haverstraw Center hosts 50 teens for overnight event
The Haverstraw Collaborative, a group of local agencies which serves the village, will be sponsoring an event for 50 high school students. They are offering a four-day event called, “Unity in the Community” during the winter recess in the school district for the previous four years. This year, the winter recess is shorter than years in the past, and is only three days long. The Haverstraw Collaborative has decided that instead of trying to fit all the activities into a shorter break, they will postpone their workshops and events until the spring break in April, which is longer. They did still want something to do during the winter break, so the group chose to host an overnight event at the Haverstraw Center called, “All Teen, All Night Lock In.” The event lasted from 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening to 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Dancing, food, and various activities were offered. The first 50 North Rockland students who submitted application forms and received parental permission to stay overnight, were selected to participate.
Pearl River firefighter sustains injuries after fire
William Harris, a volunteer firefighter from Pearl River, was taken to Nyack Hospital on Monday night after he sustained minor injuries at a fire on Central Avenue in Pearl River. Harris reportedly suffered a knee injury while he was fighting a fire that is still under investigation. It appears to have started at McNamara Heating and Air Conditioning around 8 p.m. It only took firefighters about 20 minutes to get the fire under control. According to firefighters, the fire appeared to have started on the wall just outside the building. They had to break through the wall in order to fight the fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The business was closed at the time of the fire, and no one was known to be in the building when the fire started. Harris was transported from the scene by Pearl River Ambulance. Both Pearl River firefighters and Orangeburg firefighters worked together at the scene.
Montebello to receive its own Justice Court
Montebello is working toward operating its own Justice Court, set to be able to do this in the spring. Eight other villages within the Town of Ramapo operate their own Justice Courts already. The village has operated without a court since its conception in 1986, and instead has relied upon Ramapo Town Court to hear traffic cases, violations of zoning and building codes, and other minor criminal offenses. Mayor Jeffrey Oppenheim was reportedly against the idea of a village court in the past, now feels more positively about the idea. In 2004, when Kathryn Ellsworth was mayor, the village board approved a resolution to raise no more than $1.5 million in order to create a space for the village court. The board later learned that the project would probably cost at least $2 million, and at that time chose not to move forward with plans for the village court. Oppenheim said on Monday that “[he] feels there is a legitimate need (for a court) and [his] feeling is that the people in the village deserve the right to elect a justice for their own court.” Oppenheim also reportedly said that Montebello has the room to run the court and create a judge’s chambers within its Community Center. This space was not available in 2004. The village’s Board of Trustees voted 5-0 last week to establish to Office of Village Justice. The total annual budget for the court will reportedly be between $30,000 and $40,000, and will include up to $10,000 for the judges’ combined salaries.
Memorial Service to be held for Sparkill teen killed in car accident
On Saturday, a memorial service will be held for a teenage girl who was killed in a car accident that occurred upstate last weekend. Seventeen-year-old Quincy Marie Hedges, who was described as a talented artist and photographer, had just enrolled for her first semester of college at Rockland Community College. According to State police, Hedges was sleeping the back seat of the car after she and two other high school friends had visited a friend in Albany. Reportedly around 7 p.m., the 2008 Subaru which was being driven by Daniel Brown, 18, also of Sparkill, drove off the southbound lane on the New York State Thruway, spun around and smashed its rear end into a tree about 20 yards from the side of the road. Hedges was not wearing her seat belt, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Both the driver and passenger, Connor Vasquez, 17, of Blauvelt, were treated for minor injuries. According to police, Brown was distracted and took his attention off the road. No charges have been filed at this time. Speeding and slick road conditions could have been other factors in the car accident. The three teens had attended Tappan Zee High School together. Hedges graduated in 2011, and Brown and Vasquez are still seniors. The memorial service for Hedges will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack.
Early Saturday morning, Brett Wallace of Pearl River broke his neighbor’s car windows and then threatened violence if police were called to the scene. He locked himself inside his house on South Henry Street in Pearl River. Wallace, who is 40, surrendered at 7:20 a.m. after over two hours of attempts by police negotiators, backed by SWAT officers, to communicate with him. The neighbor had confronted Wallace at approximately 4:49 a.m. when he saw that his car windows were broken. Wallace reportedly then ran into his house and said he would become violent if police came to the scene. Because of his threats and the fact that he locked himself inside his house, police called in the Rockland County Rescue Entry and Counterterrorism team, including an officer who was trained to negotiate in such situations. Wallace finally came out of the house on his own, peacefully. During the period of time in which Wallace was locked in his home, police contacted dozens of residents near the home through the reverse 911 system and warned them to stay away from the scene. Wallace was charged with a felony count of third-degree criminal mischief related to vandalism of a car. The charge covers property damage of $250 or more. The reason for Wallace’s vandalism of the car is still under investigation.
Members of Rockland-based gambling ring sentenced
Several members of a Rockland-based multimillion-dollar gambling ring have been sentenced, including a husband and wife. Alfred Fea, 46, received a 27-month federal prison sentence, and his wife, Tracey Kosierowski-Fea, 42, will serve three years’ probation after the federal judge rejected the recommendation of up to a year in prison from prosecutors. They have been sentenced on federal charges which resulted from a county investigation into the organized crime-linked gambling ring. Reportedly, Alfred Fea’s father, Frank, supplied a great deal of the money for the operation, which involved lending money to people at illegal interest rates. This was according to court documents which were filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. Frank Fea, who is 72 and a resident of Upper Saddle River, NJ, also has a reputation of being a mob associate. He is scheduled for a sentencing on similar gambling and loan-sharking charges on March 16. Afred and Tracy Fea, both residents of Orange County but owners of the construction firm which is based in Rockland, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to defraud the country. They also reportedly pleaded guilty to a charge of loan-sharking conspiracy of extensions of credit by extortion and conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business. The couple ran a sports gambling operation through a wire room konwn as “Eagle DP” in Costa Rica along with loan sharking for over a year. All three of the Feas were arrested in June 2010 as part of an investigation by the Rockland Intelligence Center. The investigation, at the time, led to raids of 12 locations in Rockland, Orange County, New Jersey, and the Bronx. Officers reportedly seized gambling records, $376,081 in cash, 18 weapons, $3 million in bank accounts, nine electronic slot machines, poker chips, computers, and six very nice vehicles.
Men charged for stealing clothes from charity bin
A Clarkstown cop caught a Long Island man with potentially incriminating evidence, and the 50-year-old suspect was still trapped inside the scene of the crime. Pedro Acosta, the suspect, was caught in the charity clothing bin where he and his friends had allegedly been stealing clothes. The Clarkstown police officer reached Acosta, from West Babylon, to find him still sitting in the clothing bin, and he was later reunited in county jail with his friends who had told him to stay there in the bin. Acosta and his two friends were charged with misdemeanor counts of petty larceny for stealing clothes from the large donation bin for a fire department at the Stop & Shop parking lot in Nanuet. Police were keeping an eye on the bins, and one officer saw a large commercial truck at 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday, stop near the bins. After two men drove off, the officer decided the check the bin. After kicking it, and shining a flashlight inside, he saw a man inside. Acosta was pulled out of the bin and then arrested. Then his friends, Yhery Vaca, 34, and Wilber Sierra-Araque, 30, were also arrested. The three were sent to the Rockland County jail after arraignment by Clarkstown Justice Craig Johns. Acosta was on $500 bail, Sierra-Araque in $1,500 bail, and Vaca on $2,000 bail. They are all scheduled for a Justice Court hearing on March 14. The men are suspected of taking clothing from other bins in Clarkstown, though these suspicions are still under investigation. The stolen clothes were in decent shape and could have brought in between $1,000 and $2,000 when sold in thrift shops, according to police.
Ramapo school buses to receive upgrades
School buses that serve East Ramapo and Ramapo Central schools are set to be upgraded this spring. A grand from the Environmental Protection Agency will be used for this purpose. Chestnut Ridge Transportation, a member of the Trans Group, was awarded the EPA grand and given the option to either replace and/or upgrade the school buses in the East Ramapo and Ramapo Central school districts. Approximately 40 buses that serve East Ramapo and approximately 39 that serve Ramapo Central, will be installed with diesel oxidation catalysts and direct-fired heaters which will reduce engine exhaust and eliminate idling time while buses heat up on cold mornings.
Info for Camp and Recreation guide being gathered
Information Rockland is gathering information for its “2012 Guide to Summer Camps and Recreational Activities for Children.” The guide will list local camps and also reportedly will have contact info and brief descriptions for each program. Organizations, schools, and towns and municipalities are encouraged to call 845.364.2020 in order to put their information in and be listed in the guide. “Information Rockland” is the county’s referral service for health and human services. If residents are interested in helping out but are not sure of what to do, they should call the number above. Representatives are available to help and offer information Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information can be found at www.informationrockland.com.