Hudson Valley News

Hank Gross

The three county executives on the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council announced on Thursday their intention to vote yes at the next session to include the new Tappan Zee Bridge project in the region’s long-range plan.

A unanimous vote qualifies the project for federal funds.

Westchester Executive Robert Astorino, Rockland Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and Putnam Executive Mary Ellen Odell committed to signing off on the plan.  Astorino said that decision was reached after talks with Governor Cuomo.

Hank Gross

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota visited Dutchess County this week on a "goodwill mission" of sorts - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports:

The MTA owns the Metro-North Railroad which operates the Hudson and Harlem lines in Dutchess County. Joe Lhota  told a crowd of about 200 business people at a County Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast that "It's a new day at the MTA."

Apple Drought

Aug 16, 2012

The cherished autumn tradition of Apple Picking is off to an early start in the Northeast as growers deal with aftershocks from wacky spring weather that hammered fruit crops - three state Assemblymen are calling  for a special session of the Legislature to pass a tax relief bill for New York’s apple farmers.

Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

Hank Gross

Joseph J. Lhota, the new leader of the MTA told Mid-Hudson business people on Wednesday that the transportation agency is negotiating the possibility to bring Metro-North's Hudson and New Haven branch trains to Penn Station, part of a reciprocal agreement which would allow LIRR service to Grand Central. That’s where Metro-North’s service terminates.

A lot of “complicated” details must be worked out with the Long Island Railroad, which uses Penn Station, Lhota said.

Hank Gross

Union workers held a rally outside the Dutchess County Office Building Wednesday afternoon, criticizing IBM for taking public tax incentives while they say Big Blue created no new jobs.

The event culminated with a mock “Hall of Shame” award presented to the corporation, formerly one of the largest local employers.

In continued downsizing, IBM recently laid off 25 custodial staff at its East Fishkill facility.

A fictional character, dressed up like the millionaire from the board game Monopoly, accepted the medal on behalf of IBM, while mocking taxpayers.

A Hudson Valley woman has been sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for trying to kill her 72-year-old mother after telling her "you're a dead lady tonight." WAMC's Dave Lucas has details.

Local media outlets report that Lois Lubrano was sentenced in Ulster County Court in Kingston on Tuesday, two months after she was convicted of attempted murder and attempted assault.

Authorities say the 42-year-old fired a shotgun at her mother in June 2011 during an argument at the home they shared in Napanoch, 70 miles south of Albany.

State police say a 14-year-old girl is in critical condition after she ran into the side of a moving vehicle while trying to cross a Hudson Valley road. More from WAMC's Dave Lucas.

Troopers say a 51-year-old man was driving on a road I the Columbia County town of Greenport shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday when the girl attempted to cross the road and ran into the vehicle.

She was taken to a local hospital before being transferred by helicopter to Albany Medical Center, where she's listed in in critical condition.

Troopers say they don't expect to charge the driver.

Hank Gross

After over a year of negotiations, Ulster County and its 1,300 member CSEA have reached a tentative agreement on a new four year contract. 

The contract includes no pay raise in the first two years, a 1.75 percent raise in the third year, 2013, and a two percent raise in the fourth year, 2014.  The pact dates back to January 1, 2011 and extends to December 31, 2014.

The TCI Fire that lit up Columbia County skies earlier this month has left a lot of questions in its wake - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief  Dave Lucas reports

When the TCI plant in West Ghent went up in flames on August 1st, plumes of thick black smoke and a series of explosions forced the imposition of emergency measures across parts of Columbia and Rensselaer counties in New York and Berkshire County in Massachusetts.

Courtesy NOAA

A federal buyout program will take 40 Greene County properties and turn them into permanent "open space" - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

The owners of 40 parcels of land that incurred irreparable damages as a result of Tropical Storm Irene have applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a federal buyout

Assemblyman Pete Lopez explains the buyout plan falls under FEMA's Flood Mitigation Program

Under the buyout plan, property damage totaling at least 50 percent of the land’s value makes the parcel eligible to be bought out through FEMA

The Westchester County Public Service Department’s electronic booking information system will be made available to other counties in the region.

The Public Safety and Security Committee of the Westchester County Board of Legislators gave its approval for the program which will allow for inter-municipal agreements with municipalities in the counties of Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess to access its electronic fingerprinting and digital booking photographs.

Public Safety Chief Inspector Martin McGlynn briefed the committee that identifications can go beyond facial recognition.

The Fiscal Accountability and Strategy Team (FAST) put in place by Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro is projected to save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars. The effort is designed to work with fiscal staff in county departments to find cost savings and efficiencies in the government within the limited resources available.

Molinaro launched the FAST team as part of his effort to close a $40 million budget gap going into 2013.

A Westchester County woman is expected to get probation after pleading guilty to endangering a child who died at her illegal home daycare. WAMC’s Dave Lucas reports.

The Journal News says Maria Villaloja of Ossining will be sentenced Oct. 31. She pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor last Thursday.

Charges against her husband were dismissed in May. Prosecutors said he was not home when the April 2011 tragedy occurred.

City of Kingston

Officials in the city of Kingston say repair work is expected to begin today on an expanding sinkhole that opened along a busy street. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports…

The sinkhole, formed in April near a city intersection, is being blamed on a leaky tunnel 75 feet deep that was constructed by New York City about 100 years ago.

It is projected that development of a whitewater park on the Delaware River at Port Jervis could begin next year provided sufficient funding is secured.

The City of Port Jervis is seeking $200,000 to $250,000 from the state to draft design plans and gain the various approvals that would be needed.  Then, the job of securing the real money to build the park – estimated at about $1.5 million – would begin and city Economic Development Director Kathleen Hendrickson said they will seek grants and private money.

The park would be a city facility.

A broken sewer line in Tarrytown sent thousands of gallons of sewage into the Hudson River -  at one point threatening part of the first-ever New York City Ironman triathlon. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has the latest...

The final decision on Indian Point's 20-year license renewal application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has hit another snag... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

The NRC will hold off before approving new licenses for Indian Point (and other nuclear plants)  until the problem of dealing with safety and environmental threats posed by on-site storage of highly radioactive spent fuel is addressed...

Spent fuel has been building up on-site at the 40-year-old Buchanan reactors in the absence of any permanent repository. 

FEMA has decided to grant Orange County over $3.6 million for hurricane damage to the county government center in Goshen. County Executive Edward Diana had originally sought about $7.5 million,
Diana and the State Office of Emergency Management have both endorsed the funding.

The award is a far cry from the $505,290 FEMA first offered the county. It upped that to $534,980, but Diana now said it is because of the perseverance of his administration to challenge the numbers that convinced FEMA to increase them dramatically. 

One of two soldiers killed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on August 8 was a West Point resident.

The Defense Department identified the men as Maj. Thomas Kennedy, 35, of West Point and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Griffin, 45, of Laramie, WY.

Officials said the men died in Sarkowi in Kunar province of wounds suffered when they encountered an insurgent who detonated a suicide vest.

The soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, CO.

More than 1,100 homes in Dutchess County have been added to the government’s list of being at a high-risk of flooding. That could mean that the homeowners will have to pay for mandated flood insurance that can cost more than $2,000 a year. After the recent study by the federal emergency management agency of the flood risk, more than 5,200 properties in Dutchess County are now designated in the high risk category. For more on the new flood maps, WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke with Paul Weberg, senior engineer at FEMA’S New York office.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to wait before approving new licenses for Indian Point and other nuclear plants until it addressed the question of how to deal with safety and potential environmental threats from long term on-site storage of nuclear waste.

The NRC’s decision came after a Washington, DC Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling involving the NRC’s Waste Confidence Decision update.

Doug Kerr

The financial situations in the County of Rockland and City of Newburgh are in such precarious shape that Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli are considering proposals to create a super control board to take over their finances.

Such a board would review the finances of all counties, cities and towns on the verge of bankruptcy.

Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy said while her city has made significant strides in recent months to reduce its deficit and cut spending, there is still much more to be done.

VALHALLA – The Civil Service Employees Association, which represents some 900 workers at Westchester Medical Center criticized the hospital administration for its latest round of job cuts.

The hospital maintains it must tighten its fiscal belt like all other businesses and has also outsourced some of the jobs.

Westchester CSEA President John Staino said on Tuesday, subcontracting workers for lower wages could lower the quality of healthcare.

Tuition at Westchester County Community College will increase by $130 in the new academic year as the County Board of Legislators Monday approved a $27.8 million budget.  Tuition will go up to $4,280.

The vote was unanimous, although Legislator Lyndon Williams expressed concern about the rise in tuition, saying it could place a hardship on those with limited incomes.

Ulster County Legislature

The dispute among Ulster County officials concerning the procedure to redistrict the county legislature may be resolved. County lawmakers and administration met in a marathon session Thursday evening.

The county legislature wanted to provide input in the process; the county charter review commission didn’t want lawmakers involved.

The tentative agreement Thursday centered on asking the state for a home rule measure that would allow the public to call for a permissive referendum on redistricting after the committee comes up with a map.

Local officials in the Town of Fishkill have asked federal representatives in Washington to seek a delay in flood insurance requirements.

Town Supervisor Robert LaColla said the issue was brought to light by local residents.

“Several constituents had come to us to ask about what can be done about their banks requiring flood plain insurance,” LaColla said. “Many of these people have never had an issue, they never put in a claim, they’ve never had water in the building, yet they were being asked to buy insurance at a cost of $300 to $3,000.”

The national aviation radar system will be converted in the future from ground based radar to a global positioning system (GPS) and the Stewart Airport Commission went on record on Tuesday asking the US Department of Transportation and the FAA to consider locating the so-called NextGen operation at the Newburgh area airport.

Commission Chairman James Wright said it would mean lots of jobs and making Stewart a central point for the new radar system.

Mid Hudson News

The Mid-Hudson Sustainability Planning Consortium unveiled its strategy to the public for a regional growth project, called the Regional Sustainability Plan, at SUNY Orange in Newburgh on Monday evening.

Funded by about $10 million from NYSERDA and part of the Cleaner, Greener Communities program put into action by Governor Cuomo last year, the consortium has until Christmas of this year to present an economic roadmap for the seven-county region that will promote job growth as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Authorities say a New Hampshire motorcyclist pulled over for speeding in suburban New York was found to be armed with a pistol. WAMC's Dave Lucas has more...

Police say Stephen Miles, of Derry, N.H., had a Ruger 9mm pistol on him.

According to the Journal News, police said he was going 128 mph in a 65-mph zone when state police pulled him over on Interstate 684 in Bedford on Friday night.

Miles was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of criminal weapon possession and released on $10,000 bail.

He's due back in court on Thursday.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

On the occasion of the release of a report about income taxes on the wealthy by the advocacy groups Americans for Tax Fairness, Citizens for Tax Justice and the National Women's Law Center---  and marking Monday's 47th anniversary of the 1965, signing of the federal law to establish the Medicare retirement health care program by President Lyndon Johnson---  representatives of advocacy and labor groups rallied in Beacon - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was there and files this report.