Timeline: May 17, 2012

Airmont Fills Mayor’s Position For Now

The village board decided to appoint a former Airmont trustee, Veronica D. Boesch, to fill the position of Mayor, which was left vacant when Mayor Dennis Kay died sudden last month.

Kay, 65, was in good health, according to his family. And it came as a great shock to everyone when he was found dead in his home on April 15.

Boesch, a retired teacher elected to the village board in 2007, expressed her sorrow in losing Boesch. “Dennis was a wonderful person,” she said. She referred to him as kind, generous, soft-spoken and fair. She said she hopes for a smooth transition now as she takes the position of mayor until the next election in March.

Vermont Drug Dealers Caught on N.Y. Thruway

Two women, a couple from Rutland, Vt., were arrested Saturday morning at a Sloatsburg New York State Thruway rest stop for possession of drug paraphernalia, two grams of marijuana, 600 decks of heroin and 400 Oxycontin pills, a prescription painkiller.

Samantha Thuman and Danielle Jankowski, both 23 years old, were napping in their 2002 Chrysler 300 in a no-parking area of the rest stop at 2:15 a.m. Troopers went to the car to investigate and enforce the parking law and found the drugs in the car.

The two women are charged with felony counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with the intent to tell, misdemeanor seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and a violation count of unlawful possession of marijuana. They are currently being held on $50,000 bail in the Rockland County jail in New City.

Cutting Post Office Hours to Save Money

The U.S. Postal Service has proposed cutting hours at several Lower Hudson Valley post offices instead of closing some locations in order to save money.

The locations in discussion for cuts include: Ardsley-on-Hudson, Lake Peekskill, Purdys, Shenorock, Hillburn and Piermont. Each of these post offices will have its retail window open for six hours a day instead of eight.

Other cutbacks, if needed, include contracting with local businesses to run post offices from nearby offices. Community meetings will be schedules to hear ideas and opinions from locals.

Continued Investigations in Spring Valley Stabbings

Two stabbings occurred late Friday, May 11 in Spring Valley with no arrests made yet.

The first was in the Highview Apartment complex, 83 Fred Hecht Dr., at about 10:30 p.m. The second occurred at about 11 p.m. on Columbus Ave., near North Main St. Both victims are expected to survive.

Police say the stabbings appear to be isolated incidents and unrelated to the string of burglaries and assaults in the area recently.

Largest Bike Ride Through Rockland, Sunday

This Sunday, May 20, about 5,000 bicyclists will race through Rockland.

There are two Italian-style groups riding: the Gran Fondo New York, a competitive 110-mile race, and the Media Fondo, a noncompetitive 60-mile ride. In its second year, with twice more than last year, the event is currently the largest bicycle ride in the New York region.

Riders will be coming from 70 countries and 47 states, all riding from the George Washington Bridge north to Bear Mountain State Park via Route 9W and back to down to Weehawken, N.J.

Cyclists will be required to obey traffic laws and share the road with vehicles, or risk being disqualified. Police officers from Orangetown, Clarkstown, Haverstraw and Stony Point will be directing traffic at busy intersections.

Surveillance Photo Captures Robber

Clarkstown police released a surveillance photo that depicts the masked gunman who robbed $800 from the Shell gas station at 53 Route 59 on Monday, May 14.

According to police, the 5-foot-7 black man ran north towards the Waldron Terrace apartments and Pine Street and Highview Court after robbing the convenience store at gunpoint.

He is suspected to have been carrying a .38 caliber black semi-automatic handgun. No one was injured.

Police and tracking dogs could not find the suspect. According to the photo, he was wearing blue jeans, a black zippered sweatshirt, white sneakers, white gloves, a baseball cap with a red brim and a camouflage bandana over his face.

Police ask that any information be given to Detective John Fredericks at 845-639-6197.

Sacramento Stressed Over Taxes

On Thursday, May 10, Governor Jerry Brown of Sacramento, Cal. made a pitch for higher taxes and plans on putting it on his ballot in November.

Due to lagging tax revenue and high spending there will be steeper cuts than anticipated.

The new budget proposal is unknown just yet, but there it is expected to include large cuts to the health and welfare programs.

“Essentially anything in the safety net is up for grabs right now,” said Vanessa Cajina from the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which advocates for the poor.

Another Spring Valley Break-in

Police are investigating another house break-in reported in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood this past weekend.

In the past two weeks, nine homes in the predominately ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Blueberry Hills have been attacked late at night by what is suspected to be a burglary crew.

“There is a lot of nervousness and anxiety in the community,” said Detective Sgt. James Noble of the Orthodox Jewish residents.

The burglaries fall into a pattern. They all occur after midnight when the families are asleep, the perpetrator(s) sneak in and quickly take whatever they can grab and walk out. If it turns out to not be worth much, they drop it on the property as they leave. Reported stolen items include purses, laptops, cellphones and silver utensils.

Police are waiting for forensic results on evidence taken from the break-ins and do not have any descriptions of the thieves yet.

N.Y. Regulators Attack NYRA

The New York Racing Association’s board of trustees appointed a new president, after much scandal, and is being told by regulators they could lose their operating franchise if things don’t change.

The last president, Charles Hayward, was ousted for pari-mutuel takeout levels. And the new president, Ellen McCalin, was appointed on May 14 but it violates the NYRA bylaws and is “entirely inappropriate.”

Officials requested an end to the daily payments made by Genting New York, the operator of the Aqueduct Racetrack video lottery terminal casino to NYRA. Instead those funds should go to the state lottery agency that oversees racetrack-based casinos. According to the monthly financial report by the lottery division, NYRA received about $4 million in April for operating and capital expenses from Aqueduct.

Officials said in a letter about NYRA, they will either act in the best interest of racing or risk being replaced by a new entity to run its racetracks.

Gunman Robbed Parkway Gas Station

Early Wednesday morning, a gunman robbed the Citgo gas station near Exit 5 along the Palisades Interstate Parkway, according to police reports.

The gunman walked in around 2:25 a.m. with a black handgun and forced the cashier to go into the bathroom. No one was injured and there is no information yet on how much money was taken.

Accidents Close Lanes

On Wednesday morning, the Tappan Zee Bridge’s left lane on the Westchester-bound side was closed due to a car accident.

Prior to the bridge accident at 9:20 a.m., a tractor-trailer’s cab separated from its trailer while driving on the New York Thruway southbound near Exit 9. The truck accident stopped traffic for about 10 miles, all the way to the Garden State Parkway exit. Within an hour the truck was cleared away.

Firefighters Call Fine of Illegal House “Lenient”

The owner of an illegally subdivided house that subsequently burnt down in April was fined $500 and firefighters are disappointed at the leniency. Sam Ehrenthal, the landlord, claims to not have known or approved of the illegal apartments in the house at 485 W. Central Ave. in Spring Valley, and therefore Ramapo officials reached an out-of-court agreement.

“While the owner is ultimately responsible for his property, we believe he didn’t have any knowledge of what went on,” Ramapo Town Attorney Michael Klein said.

Manuel Lliguichusca, the main tenant in the house is accused of doing the construction work, according to Klein. In addition, Lliguichusca is charged with leaving his 4-year-old son alone at home while he ran errands, a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. He is due back in court on June 5.

More than 10 people were living in the house and the construction done to create multiple apartments made it dangerous for firefighters and other rescuers. Volunteer firefighters monitoring illegal housing cases disagree with the settlement. Rockland Deputy Fire Coordinator John Kryger sees the settlement as the landlord getting away with a small fine for a major violation of safety.

Valley Cottage Native Taken Too Soon

Valley Cottage resident Robert John Bertolacci Jr., or “Bobby,” died unexpectedly at the age of 21 while at Nyack Hospital on Saturday, May 12. Police are still investigating the death. They are waiting for toxicology and autopsy results.

Bertolacci graduated from Nyack High School in 2009, where he played football and baseball. He was well known for his athletic skills and friendly disposition. He was attending Arizona State University, where he was studying criminal justice and hoping to pursue a career as a police officer.

“Just an absolutely fabulous kid,” said Vincent Barone, whose son played baseball with Bertolacci. “Everyone loved him.”

He is survived by his parents, Karen and Robert Bertolacci Sr.; two sisters, Christina and Taylor; his grandmothers; aunts; uncles; and cousins. The funeral took place on Wednesday at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Congers.

His family asks for memorial donations to be sent to the Robert J. Bertolacci Jr. Nyack High School Scholarship Fund, 88 S. Broadway, Nyack.