Hank Gross

Hudson Valley Correspondent

MONTICELLO – Gordon Jenkins has officially stepped down as mayor in the Village of Monticello following a state Appellate Court decision ordering his removal.

Seven people were killed Tuesday evening when a Harlem Line Metro-North train struck an SUV on tracks near White Plains, New York. Twelve people were injured. Six people on the train and the female driver of the SUV died in the crash when the vehicle caught fire, resulting in the first car of the train also burning up. Several hundred people were onboard at the time of the crash.

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MARLBORO – Several Marlboro High School students, who are or were members of the varsity football team, and their parents, have filed a federal complaint in US District Court calling for the head coach to be fired.

The lawsuit, against coach Richard Ward, School Superintendent Ray Castellani and the Marlboro Central School District, alleges Ward verbally and physically abused the boys on his football team and that Castellani and the school district knew about it and did nothing to stop it.

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WARWICK – Former Orange County Republican Party chairman John Hicks died Sunday at the age of 70.

Hicks, a well-known attorney also served on the Warwick Town Board in the past.

Current GOP Chairman Robert Krahulik said Hicks had “a passion” for politics.

“Without him, God only knows what state the party would be in today,” Krahulik said.  “A lot of people owe him a great indebtedness for getting them where they are today.”

Current Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said Hicks was his best friend and mentor.

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WASHINGTON – The US Department of Transportation has approved a $1.6 billion loan to help finance construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River between Westchester and Rockland counties.

The funding comes from the DOT’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

Governor Andrew Cuomo called the loan “a huge win for New York State.”

The issue of tolls to cross the new twin-span remains up in the air, the governor noted.

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WHITE PLAINS – The Westchester County Board of Legislators Monday night authorized the county to reserve 50 percent of the county’s almost $7.9 million federal funds for use by local municipalities for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

Legislature Majority Leader Peter Harkham said the measure, when signed by the county executive, would allow eligible municipalities to submit spending proposals that would use Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds to implement Green Community Program projects for properties.

KINGSTON – Proposal Number One on this year’s ballot pertains to a constitutional amendment that would allow casino gambling in New York State.

State Senator John Bonacic, (R, Mount Hope) as chairman of the Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering is more intimate with the issues than most other officials.  Bonacic outlined the proposed amendment and detailed the ramifications at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Kingston Thursday morning.

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MIDDLETOWN – An increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums and pension costs for city employees will make it tough for Middletown to develop a 2014 budget, Mayor Joseph DeStefano said. But, he is optimistic that he will be able to bring in a spending plan under the state’s 1.66 percent tax cap.

DeStefano put much of the blame on state officials.

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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.

Senator Charles Schumer
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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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.

Courtesy of NYS Assemblyman Kevin Cahill

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

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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