Hank Gross

Hudson Valley Correspondent
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POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County government’s financial picture is better than last year’s, but not as good as it was prior to the recession in 2007. That word came Thursday from county Budget Director Valerie Sommerville, who briefed the Budget and Finance Committee of the county legislature.

Sommerville told lawmakers the expected economic recovery has not been as rapid as anticipated.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Steven Rector, the acting Dutchess County Human Resources commissioner, is County Executive Marcus Molinaro’s choice to be full commissioner.  Rector has been “a trusted adviser for a long time,” the county executive said.

Rector was his legislative director for two years when Molinaro was a state assemblyman.

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ALBANY – Legislation that would prohibit smoking outdoors on the grounds of hospitals and residential healthcare facilities has been signed into law by the governor.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D, Suffern), prohibits smoking outdoors including within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit or within 15 feet of the entrance to or exit from the grounds.

At residential health care facilities, patients or guests of patients, will be allowed to smoke outdoors in a designated smoking area.

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WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D, NY16) wants to know why gasoline pump prices, which appeared to have stabilized and even dropped slightly earlier this summer, have risen again.

Lowey notes that oil company profits continue to climb at a time when people holding minimum wage jobs cannot afford to drive to work.

The House member said part of a solution is to require higher gas mileage on automobiles.

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KINGSTON – As the clock keeps ticking, the likelihood of the governor calling a special session of the legislature diminishes and that means any hope of passing legislation to allow Ulster County to keep its sales tax at its current level fades.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill said if it does not make it before lawmakers this fall, it will come up early next year. But, county officials say they need the one percent sales tax exemption ASAP or the county will lose about $5 million in revenue.

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Democrat current and past staff of the Dutchess County Board of Elections have charged that the 46 felony count indictment against Democrat Elections Commissioner Frances Knapp was “politically orchestrated” by the Republican Party.

An email electronically signed by Victoria Perry, Knapp’s current deputy, and Daniel French, her former deputy, as well as Kim Ferese, Ira Margulies, Steve Gold, David Gill, Kelly Hetrick, Devon DeFiore, Alida Ransom, Debbie Tierney, Ron Tice, Laura Weinel and Beth Sweeny, was sent from Perry’s personal email account.

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ALBANY – Hudson Valley Assembly Members Frank Skartados (D, Milton) and Didi Barrett (D, Hudson) have expressed their concern over a rate hike at Metro-North train station parking lots.

The two lawmakers wrote to MTA and Metro-North officials saying the hikes are unfair to families, especially those struggling to make ends meet.

They said the rate hike and an earlier recent one, “create an unfair burden for Hudson Valley families who rely on the MTA,” said Barrett.

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KINGSTON – The HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley president and CEO since November 2008, David Lundquist, has resigned from the Kingston-based organization.

Lundquist’s resignation was in effect Tuesday, July 23.  The hospital board accepted it on Thursday.

Along with the board of directors’ announcement of his stepping down, it announced the appointment of David Scarpino as acting president and CEO.

Scarpino joined Kingston Hospital in 2006 as chief financial officer, and in 2009 was appointed chief financial officer of HealthAlliance.

WAMC Photo

WASHINGTON – Camps, children’s organizations and not-for-profit groups that hire employees or use volunteers need better access to background checks for those potential workers, Senator Charles Schumer said Wednesday, so he is pushing legislation that would let employers gain access to federal criminal background checks.

In the Hudson Valley alone, there are over 1,800 registered sex offenders and roughly 100 related crimes last year.

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HIGHLAND FALLS – Petra Muhammad hasn’t been seen or heard from since January 13, 2006 and Highland Falls Police are still actively investigating this cold case.

Until her disappearance, the native of Granada would talk to her husband’s aunt, Ruby Alexander, on a daily basis. That communication stopped back then and on February 2, 2006, Mrs. Alexander reported her niece missing.

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