Hank Gross

Hudson Valley Correspondent

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.


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.

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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.


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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POUGHKEEPSIE – The boil water notice for Poughkeepsie water customers has been lifted.

Mayor John Tkaczyk said a second day of testing showed the absence of Coliform, the bacteria that was found in water samples late last week, prompting the boil water notice and since then, city workers have been treating the water aggressively to clear up the system.

“The two rounds that were taken, we are both clear of chloroform in the distribution system so people can now return to the potable drinking now that the city is up to the potable drinking water standards,” Tkaczyk said.

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GARDINER – New York State Solar Farm, a Gardiner-based renewable energy company, has installed what the company says is the first solar powered gas station and convenience store in the state.

Anthony Sicari Jr., the CEO of New York Solar Farm partnered with CPD Energy Group, owner of the Mobil Chestnut Mart of Gardiner to install the 12.75 kW solar system.

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TOWN OF THOMPSON – The $600 million destination resort project planned by EPR Properties and Empire Resorts Wednesday night won the unanimous approval of the Thompson Town Planning Board.

Town Supervisor Anthony Cellini said afterwards that the approval is “monumental,” given the statewide casino gaming referendum to come before the general public in November.

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KINGSTON – Homeowners may soon be required to make their burglar alarms less sensitive. A new law is being studied in Ulster County that would penalize people for false alarms. The matter came before the county legislature’s Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee Tuesday night, and sparked lengthy discussion.

Committee Vice Chairman Kenneth Ronk said he does not want to fine anyone, but rather authorize to fine them as a deterrent to excessive alarms.

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MIDDLETOWN – Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine officially launched Tuesday afternoon with a ceremony highlighting the ‘win-win-win’ relationship between the college, the City of Middletown, and the region. 

“Demonstrating a continued investment in New York and our students” is how Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy defined it during remarks at the former Horton Hospital in Middletown. 

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TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE – Human remains found in a sealed container behind a false wall in the basement of a vacant home at 720 Vassar Road in the Town of Poughkeepsie could be those of a woman who disappeared 27 years ago.

The remains were found on Friday by a private contractor cleaning out the vacant home on Vassar Road. The owner of the home, James Nichols, 82, was found dead of natural causes on December 27, 2012 after he had not been seen for several days. Town police found the house filled with personal items, debris and garbage.

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KINGSTON – The Ulster County-owned Golden Hill Health Care Facility was transferred Wednesday to the private Golden Hill Planning Corporation. The company is owned by local businessman Dr. Anthony Bacchi, as well as Edward Farbenblum and Martin Farbenblum, who are experienced nursing home operators.

The facility will remain open, providing care for its residents, retaining jobs and placing the property back on the tax rolls.

The company paid $11.25 million for the facility.

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KINGSTON – State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston) addressed the ongoing Ulster County sales tax dilemma at his Kingston office Tuesday afternoon.   The briefing was attended by two deputy county executives who took exception to Cahill's position.

Last week, county and local officials slammed Cahill for tying up the sales tax extension bill with competing legislation.

On Tuesday, the assemblyman was critical of the way they attacked him.

NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

NEW PALTZ – State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli kicked off a Local Government Leadership Conference at SUNY New Paltz on Wednesday.  He told local officials that the State’s economic indicators are certainly more positive than they were two years ago, but when broken down to individual localities there are still significant challenges to face.

DiNapoli released the Fiscal Stress Monitoring System on Tuesday not to point fingers, but to inform the public so they can be more involved in addressing any issues within their locality.

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KINGSTON – The sale of the Ulster County-owned Golden Hill nursing home in Kingston is almost complete.  The county is selling it to GH Acquisition Corp. for $11.25 million.

County Executive Michael Hein said the transfer is in the final stage.

“We are dealing with the very last components of it before there is a final process of transition,” Hein told MidHudsonNews.com.  “We are dealing with the state Department of Health and we expect that to be done any moment.”

MONTICELLO – Sullivan County public officials, business and economic development leaders hope to pursuade Governor Cuomo to site at least one casino in the county.

Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson and Legislator Alan Sorensen penned a letter.  Sullivan County Partnership Vice President Michelle Klugman Resnick and Chamber of Commerce President Terri Ward came up with the idea to shoot a video message read by a number of people.

Resnick said they hope it will get the governor’s attention.

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ALBANY – More than 1,000 protesters gathered at the State Capitol to send the message to Governor Cuomo that New Yorkers don’t want fracking. The action included 130 co-sponsor organizations from medical associations to farmers to the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.

Protesters came on 30 buses, in car pools, rode bikes and walked. They were joined by former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Actor Debra Winger, and musician Natalie Merchant.

Hinchey called upon the government to do what he said is the right thing.

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WARWICK – A Warwick native, who was killed in Afghanistan last weekend, will be laid to rest at the West Point Cemetery.

LTC Jaimie Leonard was 39 when she was shot and killed by enemy fire while serving in the US Army. A 1997 graduate of the USMA, she was based at Fort Drum.

She was in her third deployment to the region – once in Iraq and twice in Afghanistan, and was the recipient of numerous awards and medals including three Bronze Stars.

Leonard will be interred with full military honors on next Thursday, June 20.

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NEWBURGH – Amid controversy that he was involved with a prostitute, Newburgh City Manager Richard Herbek resigned abruptly on Thursday.

Hours later, the city council named Police Chief Michael Ferrera as acting city manager.

“I’m the police chief and the police chief is my heart, but of course, I am here, I have covered as city manager quite a few times in the past and of course I will be here until I find a city manager, and hopefully it will be soon,” Ferrera said.

Mayor Judy Kennedy suggested an investigation into the Herbek situation may continue.

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CRAGSMORE – A woman, who was flying a Piper P-28 single-engine plane from Resnick Airport near Ellenville to Orange County Airport in Montgomery, made a controlled crash in Cragsmoor shortly after 11 a.m. on Thursday.

State Police said the pilot, Kimberly Striefler, 23, of Greenville, was alone on the plane. She was located walking down a path in a heavily wooded area.

Striefler told police she was attempting to cross over the mountain when she made the controlled landing. She suffered minor injuries and was treated at Ellenville Regional Hospital.

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WASHINGTON – President Obama’s proposed 2014 federal budget includes an additional $100 million for the Department of Labor to spend on programs to better serve veterans and returning serving members seeking jobs.

With Castle Point and Montrose VA hospitals and their outpatient clinics in the Mid-Hudson Valley and nine job centers also located in the region, if approved, the additional funding would provide for more federal services for those job seekers, Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris told MidHudsonNews.com on Tuesday.

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KINGSTON – Perfect springtime weather marked this year's Memorial Day, as thousands of spectators lined the streets of Hudson Valley, New York communities to mark the occasion with flags, honor, parades and ceremonies to honor those who gave their lives for our country.

Hurley's traditional parade kicked off with the boom of musket fire, as a long line of veterans, marching bands, and officials made their way down the hill along Main Street. The procession included fire trucks, wagons, and a long line of vintage Corvettes.


NEW PALTZ – About 350 people took to the streets Saturday afternoon in New Paltz, marching downtown and briefly blocking traffic. They were the Hudson Valley contingent of March Against Monsanto, fighting for genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling of so-called artificially engineered "frankenfood."

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POUGHKEEPSIE – An audit of the City of Poughkeepsie’s books by the state comptroller’s office has found that inaccurate budgeting has created an $11 million general fund deficit. The report also found the city’s debt burden has increased 45 percent over the last five years.

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TOWN OF WALLKILL – Orange Regional Medical Center in the Town of Wallkill will lay off 80 full-time equivalent positions and Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris will lay off 60 full-time equivalent positions. In total, the hospitals must find cuts of $17 million.  Both hospitals fall under the umbrella of the Greater Hudson Valley Health System, which announced the cuts on Monday due to substantial reductions in reimbursement from the federal and state governments and decreases in revenue caused by healthcare reform.

MONTICELLO – Former Sullivan County Legislator David Sager, who was named deputy commissioner of the county Division of Health and Family Services, has been let go.

Sager was hired by Commissioner Randy Parker shortly after he assume the administrative post last fall.

Legislators were saying little specific about the sacking of Sager during Thursday’s monthly legislative meeting.

Democrat Cindy Kurpil Gieger conceded she has general concerns about policy.

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WASHINGTON –  The House Agriculture Committee passed the farm bill with the support of Congressmen Christopher Gibson (R- 19) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D- 18). The bill contains a number of provisions that will benefit New York's Hudson Valley region.

The bill includes Maloney’s Crop Risk Options Plan (CROP) Act that defends the specialty agriculture economy of the region as well as an amendment to help families and communities with flooding in the black dirt region.

ALBANY – New York State, Oneida Nation of Indians, Oneida and Madison counties have signed an agreement settling several long-standing disputes.  The agreement would grant the Oneida Nation exclusive rights to casino gaming in Central New York in exchange for sharing a portion of gaming revenues with the state and local governments.

Under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for legalized gaming, three casinos would initially be approved, which was going to be carved into six regions.