East Ramapo School Board President Resigns from East Ramapo School Board
East Ramapo School Board President Daniel Scwartz announced that he would be resigning on Monday, making him the most recent in a string of departures by officials from the divided school district. Schwartz explained he left because “Personal and business obligations” prevented him from acting effectively on the board. However, neither Schwartz nor others representing the school district elaborated on those reasons and Schwartz specifically denied any wrongdoing. Schwartz, who has been on the school board for two years and held the position of president since July, presided over a controversial administration which had a strained relationship with parents. Controversies included an ongoing class action suit against Schwartz and other board members alleging the board funneled public money to private Jewish schools and the prior resignation of board members Suzanne Young-Mercer and Stephen Price over alleged intimidation by other board members.
Car Fires Temporarily Close Slinn Avenue in Ramapo
A head-on collision on Slinn Avenue on Sunday caused a car fire, requiring the closure of the street as fire crews worked to combat the blaze. The accident occurred when one of the drivers attempted to pass a parked car, striking the second car head on as it traveled in the opposite direction and causing both vehicles to catch fire. In response, the Spring Valley Fire Department was called to the scene and put out the fires. An investigation into the crash was also launched. The driver of the vehicle which caused the accident and the three occupants of the other vehicle were treated for minor injuries, with the latter three admitted to local hospitals. The driver was given a summons for driving as an unlicensed operator.
Spring Valley Board Twice Approves Legal Expenses for Jasmin and Desmaret
The Spring Valley Board of Trustees recently approved the hiring of the law firms of Sokoloff & Stern and Burke, Miele & Golden to defend embattled mayor Noramie Jasmin and deputy mayor Joseph Desmaret, but required two votes to approve the measure. The final vote was cast on Friday, April 12 after a controversy on Tuesday over the phone-in vote of trustee Anthony Leon, which is prohibited by state law. The second vote was scheduled after a Newsday reported approached Village Clerk Sherry Scott to ask if the phone-in was legal. In effect, public funds will be used to pay for the law firms, which will be retained at the rate of $200 per hour as they help the town comply with federal subpoenas and compile information on phone records, audio and videotapes. Though the funds will be public, trustee Demeza Delhomme explained they would not come from the village’s coffers.
State Troopers Distance Themselves from Cuomo’s Gun Control Laws
In response to growing complaints about the NYS SAFE Act pushed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association recently issued a statement attempting to distance state troopers from lawmakers. The statement emphasized that “Troopers are simply tasked with the lawful mandate to enforce the laws of the state, regardless of their personal opinion of such laws.” It is an uncharacteristic statement from law enforcement and seems to suggest police are receiving an unusual amount of difficulty as they attempt to enforce the law. This is not the first warning by state law enforcement regarding the SAFE Act. Before the State Troopers, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association questioned both the scope of specific areas of the law such as the broad definition of assault weapons and law enforcement ability to enforce the new regulations.
Even After Corruption Charges, Jasmin Attempts to Push Questionable Village Budget
Following a contentious meeting of the Spring Valley Village Board last Tuesday, a vote on the village’s 2014 budget was postponed for further review despite efforts by embattled mayor Noramie Jasmin to pass the budget that night. After closing the public comment on the budget, Jasmin attempted to call a vote, which included a 1-1.5 percent tax increase for village residents and a vague, suspicious $100,000 item labeled “Mayor’s Project.” In response, village trustee Demeza Delhomme sparred with Jasmin over the necessity of passing the measure that night and threatened to walk out of the meeting to forestall the vote. In spite of Jasmin’s efforts, the meeting adjourned without a vote. Delhomme and trustee Joseph Gross promised to analyze the budget to identify any inaccuracies or suspicious items and have until June 1, when a budget must be passed.
Good Samaritan Aids Police Officer Injured in Confrontation with Teens
An Orangetown police officer who was attacked by two teens on Nyack’s Main Street during an arrest on Tuesday was aided by a local shop owner, allowing him to recover and subdue the suspects. The officer appeared on the scene in response to an initial report from a taxi driver of a fare dispute with the teens, one aged 16 and the other 17. After one teen attempted to escape, the second allegedly attacked the officer and was joined by the second. A business owner driving along Main Street stopped and pulled one of the teens off, allowing the officer to subdue both suspects. The officer was admitted to Nyack Hospital for injuries to his neck, back, hands and knees. The two teens were ordered to remain in jail pending a hearing.
Five More Shops Confirmed for Shops at Nanuet
Online job postings have confirmed the presence of five additional businesses at the upcoming Shops at Nanuet, adding to the growing list of known stores at the new shopping center at the former site of the Nanuet Mall. The new shops will include a Bonefish Grill, a national seafood chain, and Teavanna, a shop which specializes in exotic teas and tea sets. Three clothing and accessory stores were also announced, including The Limited, Vera Bradley, and Brighton Jewelry Accessories. Developers have previously confirmed businesses which include a Fairway and Regal Cinemas and continue to make announcements as leases for individual stores are executed. The $150 million project continues to proceed as scheduled and is set to open in October 2013.
County legislature Moves Forward on Pascack Brook Bypass Culvert Project
The County Legislature voted to authorize the bidding process for the Pascack Brook Bypass Culvert Project in Spring Valley, opening the way for the selection of a contractor and moving the long-awaited even closer to completion. The project, which aims to control flooding in the areas of Stonehouse Drive, King Terrace, Francis Place and Union Road, received approval from both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The approvals were obtained with the efforts of the legislature working in concert with the Rockland County Drainage Agency. Construction will proceed under the supervision of the Drainage Agency. According to Legislator Aron Wieder, the bidding process is expected to move quickly, with construction beginning in the summer of 2013.
Monsey Child Struck by Car
A 3-year-old Monsey boy was struck by a car on Wednesday, sustaining serious injuries which required hospitalization. The boy was walking with his mother on the sidewalk along Rita Avenue shortly after 6 p.m. when the child ran out into the road for reasons which are currently unknown. He was struck by a Monsey man, 32, and sustained internal injuries and possibly broken bones. However, the child was conscious and alert at the scene when emergency personnel arrived. After the incident, the boy was brought to Westchester Medical Center, where he was transferred to their Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on Thursday. Police said that no tickets had been issued to the vehicle’s driver.
Al-Qaeda-Linked Terror Plot Thwarted in Canada
A tip from the Canadian Muslim community and joint operations between various Canadian law enforcement groups and Amtrak investigators led to the arrest of Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, who allegedly planned to sabotage passenger trains bound to New York from Toronto with the help of Al-Qaeda affiliates. Esseghaier and Jaser, neither of whom are Canadian citizens, scouted out potential sabotage locations. However, police stressed the plans were not a threat to the public at that time. According to RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, they received “directions and guidance” from Iran-based Al-Qaeda members, but the Iranian government itself did not appear to be behind the scheme. Though this is Canada’s first plot with an Al-Qaeda connection, it is not the first terror case on Canadian soil. In 2006, two dozen Toronto men were accused of planning to plant bombs targeting various locations and eleven were convicted. The attack is not believed to have any connection with the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Police Search for Tennessee Nuclear Plant Shooter
Following a brief shooting at the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant in Spring City, Tennessee on Sunday, TVA officials are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to find the man behind the attack. At 2 a.m., the assailant took a boat up the Tennessee River to the plant, walked onto the property and fired upon a security guard, who was not injured. After the guard called for backup, the man boarded his boat and escaped. The TVA classified the incident as an “unusual event,” the lowest of four emergency classifications, and stated the reactor core was never in danger. Still, the plant’s security was heightened until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Gay Couple who Abused Adopted Children Heading to Trial
Married Connecticut couple George Harasz and Douglas Wirth pulled out of a previous plea deal with prosecutors and will go to trial for at least two instances of sexual abuse. Harasz and Wirth stand accused of repeatedly raping and sexually abusing two of their nine adopted children, ages 5 and 15. Three other children under their care also came forward to report alleged abuse, possibly leading to more charges. In response to the allegations, prosecutors intended to pursue felony sexual assault charges, but pursued a plea deal which would have suspended their prison sentences and imposed probation instead. Prosecutors cited the difficulty of pursuing a case of rape with a lack of forensic evidence as a reason for the decision. Initially, Harasz and Wirth were to be sentenced last Friday after taking the plea deal, but withdrew from the agreement in a surprise move. They are set to appear in court again on June 5.
5 Dead, 1 Injured in Illinois Shooting
A shooting in Manchester, Illinois—a strict gun-control state—on the morning of April 24 resulted in at least five people dead and one injured—a child, who was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. As an outcome, multiple surrounding-town schools went on lockdown. The killing spree happened inside of a public housing complex on East Street. A suspect is in custody.
New York and New Jersey to Approve Historic Bridge Construction Program
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Governor Chris Christie have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to approve a historic bridge construction program at the April 24 meeting of its Board of Commissioners. The program includes three of the bistate agency’s bridges that link New York and New Jersey, with two of the three being substantial, large-scale projects that include building a new bridge to replace the current span and raising the roadway of an existing bridge. The bridges are the Goethals Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge and the Outerbridge Crossing, all of which connect Staten Island to northern New Jersey. Together, the projects will create upwards of 5,000 construction jobs; generate more than $600 million in wages; and more than $2.5 billion in economic activity for the region. It is the first time in more than 80 years that the agency will build a new bridge and the first time ever that engineers will build a bridge’s roadbed above the existing roadway, while traffic continues to flow on the deck below.
Accused Mississippi Man Paul Kevin Curtis was “Richard Jewelled”
Paul Kevin Curtis, of Corinth, Mississippi, who was accused of sending threatening letters containing ricin (a toxin derived from castor beans) to President Barack Obama and two other officials on April 17, has been released from jail. Authorities now say evidence in the case does not stack up against him and the charges have been dropped. It looks quite possible somebody purposely framed Curtis, said Curtis’ attorney. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened: In 1996 Richard Jewell was falsely accused of bombing the Atlanta Olympics. As a result, he sued several news outlets.