Timelines: May 24, 2012

Governor Ends Fingerprint Requirement For Food Stamp Recipients
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday, May 22 that New York State will end its finger imaging requirement for food stamp applicants. This will help simplify the application process and remove a barrier to reducing hunger, he said. Cuomo hopes, according to his 2012 State Message, to increase participation in the food stamp program, remove barriers and eliminate stigma surrounding it.

Cuomo cited statistics which say one in six children in New York State are living without enough food. However, 30 percent of those eligible for food stamps, over 1.4 million people, are not receiving them, which leaves over $1 billion in federal funds unclaimed every year. Finger imaging has been known to deter participation in the Food Stamp Program due to its negative connotations, including the perceived implication of criminality.

“There is never an excuse for letting any child in New York go to bed hungry,” said Cuomo. “For too long requiring finger imaging from those eligible for food stamp benefits has created an unnecessary barrier to participation in the program, causing a negative stigma and keeping food off the table for those in need. By removing this barrier, additional New Yorkers in need will be able to access the benefits they deserve without having to submit to this unneeded and burdensome requirement.”

Tax Collections Down from 2011, But Higher than Anticipated
Tax collections for the first month of the State fiscal year of 2012-13 fell by $336.3 million from a year ago, but were $485.9 million higher than Financial Plan projections, according to the April 2012 Cash Report released Tuesday, May 24 by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“It is encouraging that as we start a new fiscal year tax collections are exceeding expectations,” DiNapoli said. “Revenue is above initial projections, but it’s too soon to determine if this is a trend or an anomaly. Collections exceeded projections at this time last year, but revenues deteriorated in later months and additional budget-balancing actions were required. The economy is still very uncertain, and there are still risks to the state’s revenue stream.”

The complete April cash report can be found at: http://osc.state.ny.us/finance/finreports/cash/monthly/april12.pdf

Young Woman Killed in Car Crash
Ava Marie Hegarty, 19, of Chester was killed Monday, May 21 when her car rolled over on County Road 106. Investigations continue on the cause of the crash. But Stony Point Fire Department’s Public Information Officer and former Fire Chief Ed Geary confirmed that she died as a result of being pinned beneath her sedan. Hegarty was alone in the car and no other cars were involved. Although it’s not certain if weather was a factor in the accident, road surfaces that night were wet.

Movies Will Make Return to Nanuet
A new movie theater is to open in Nanuet this fall, more than a dozen years after the last one closed. The new shopping complex on the site of the Nanuet Mall on Route 59 will house a 12-screen cinema, which will include a “premium experience” theater for 2-D and 3-D films, officials announced on Monday, May 21. The theater will be a two-story building, next to a fitness center, restaurants, upscale fashion retailers and a Fairway Market.

Neighboring businesses, especially restaurants, are looking forward to the new addition, hopeful that it will bring new costumers. In recent years, all movie houses and smaller theaters have been closing down, leaving only the multiplex at the Palisades Center Mall, the Clearview Cinemas in New City and the single-screen Lafayette in Suffern. “Regal brings something different to the table,” according to Ryan Hidalgo, who is overseeing the Nanuet mall redevelopment for the Simon Property Group. “It’s a more upscale experience. And there is definitely a desire on the part of the community for more options.”

Target Practice Hits Neighbor’s House
Ramapo police charged Michael MacLeish with firing a rifle into his neighbor’s family room. MacLeish, 58, was target shooting early Monday morning, when one of his shots broke the window of a home about 75 to 100 yards away, on Marian Drive, according to police. No one was injured, but the homeowners heard the shot and called the police.

When police came upon MacLeish with his rifle, eh admitted that he owned a .22-caliber rifle and had been the one to fire the gun. He was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree criminal mischief, both felonies. In addition, he was charged with violating a Montebello law prohibiting discharge of a firearm within boundaries of the village.

Man Avoids Prison, Wife Brutally Mistreated
Vishal Jagota, 34, was sentenced on Tuesday, May 22 on a charge of assaulting his wife, and received three years of probation and 220 hours of community service. He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to stay away from his wife. Jagota was the first of three of his family members to be sentenced by Judge William K. Nelson. His family members were found to be beating, overworking and controlling the 25-year-old wife, who came from India in an arranged marriage.

Jagota’s mother, Parveen Jagota, and his sister, Rajani Jagota, will be sentenced in June and are facing harsher sentences. The judge found the two women guilty of labor trafficking and physical abuse. They confiscated her passport and green card, threatening her if she did not do as they said.

According to the wife, Parveen burned her with an iron and Vishal bit her face as part of her punishments.

Vishal’s father, Arman Jagota, 62, was not charged with labor trafficking or physically abusing the women. Vishal could have been sentenced a year in the county jail on the third-degree assault charge, but prosecutors asked Nelson to send him to jail for 60 days and then place him under probation. Defense lawyer David Narain said that the charges were a misdemeanor and should not result in jail time.

O&R to Trim Trees
Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc., working with Asplundh Brush Control Co., will begin an intensive tree-cutting project in Orangetown this June. The work is set to take four weeks and cover: Hoffman Lane, Convent Road, Moehring Drive, Goehring Curve, Western Highway, Campus Drive, Mountainview Avenue, Old School Lane, Orangeburg Road, Highview Avenue, Greenbush Road, Route 303, Route 340, Hagan Court, Knight Court and Sergeant Wilding Way.

In the past, this project and O&R, and its parent Consolidated Edison Inc., have been criticizes for removing trees and brush. Home-owners were appalled when the work was done and their trees were taken down and lawns destroyed. However, O&R argues that it’s to prevent power outages. But O&R agrees to continue discussing with the community in order to try and come to a resolution.

Head of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Leaving
Gregory Jaczko, the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will be resigning as soon as his replacement is lined up, he announced Monday, May 21. This announcement was made after colleagues called Jaczko a bully in public. They criticized Jaczko and sent a letter to the White House in October expressing their “grave concern” with Jaczko’s behavior and actions.

“This is right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman who will keep a strong focus on carrying out the vital mission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” said Jaczko, whose term was supposed to expire next year.

New Memorial for Fallen Soldiers
Local officials, county residents’ veterans groups and families of veterans gathered at the Rockland County Courthouse on Sunday, May 20 at the new plaque honoring four Rockland residents killed in the Iraq War. The four soldiers are: Marine Cpl. Steve Vahaviolos, 21, of Airmont; Army Capt. Phillip T. Esposito, 30, of Pearl River; Army Spc. Justin R. Garcia, 26, of Valley Cottage; and Army Cpl. Manny Lopez III, 20, of Haverstraw.

Jerry Donnellan, Rockland’s Veteran Services director, spoke at the unveiling, “They gave their today so we could have tomorrow.” At the conclusion of the ceremony, family members of those killed came forward and placed white roses at the base of the memorial.

Small Business Workshop
Rockland Economic Development Corp., Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and County Clerk Paul Piperato hosted a free workshop for small business owners on Tuesday, May 22 at the Rockland County Office Building in New City. County and state agents were there to inform and help with programs and services including business planning, loans, financial assistance programs, market analysis, marketing strategy and more.

Cash Tribute Band Plays to Vets
Ramapo and the Frederick Hecht Post No. 425 of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA will hold the annual “Tribute to Our Heroes” concert, this year featuring the Folsom Prison Gang, a Johnny Cash tribute band. The concert starts at 1:20 p.m. on June 3 at Suffern High School, 47 Viola Road. Active duty military personnel and veterans get a free ticket. General admission is $10. Call Phil Tisi at 845-357-5100 ext. 201 for more information.

Inventor of TV Remote, Dies at 96
Eugene Polley, an inventor who created the wireless television remote control, died on Sunday, May 20 in Downers Grove, Ill. at the age of 96. Polley began his career at Zenith Electronics Corporation in the stockroom but raced through the engineering ranks, inventing the Flash-Matic in 1955.

The Zenith Flash-Matic was the first ever device which allowed television viewers to turn on and off, change channels or mute the sound without having to get up from their chair.

The device, which looked like a snub-nosed revolver, had a dial that users would turn in order to change the channel. The remote made viewers less captive, able to change the channel more easily, but also it made viewers lazier, able to sit comfortably without having to march between the couch and dial. According to an interview with Polley in 2002, he compared the remote control to the next best thing after flush toilets and “almost as important as sex.” For the invention, Polley received a one thousand dollar bonus. And soon after, his device was replaced with one made by his colleague, Robert Adler, which was more enduring and efficient.