Hudson Valley News

 Labor Day is the one day in America that the country’s workers are saluted. Many have the day off as government offices, banks and other facilities are closed. The day is a big shopping day with a great number of people working, though.

Paul Ellis-Graham, president of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation notes it is the unions that brought workers to where they are now.

Hank Gross

 

Elected officials called out to the New York State Transportation Department to expedite the process of funding a partial rebuild of the Forge Hill Bridge in the Town of New Windsor on Thursday, which has been closed from storm damage since Tropical Storm Irene hit almost exactly one year ago.

The designing and rebuilding of the bridge, which includes adding abutments to the road surface, is expected to take about two years and cost roughly $2 million, which will be 80 percent funded by the Federal Highway Administration, and 20 percent by Orange County.

Hank Gross

While Republican incumbent for New York's 19th Congressional District Nan Hayworth celebrated the presidential nomination of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on Thursday evening with a fundraiser in Newburgh, protesters against the policies and practices of the GOP formed outside bearing signs and slogans.

Hank Gross

 The city administration in Poughkeepsie must come up with $3.6 million in cuts to balance its 2013 budget. Mayor John Tkazyik announced on Wednesday that the financial problems facing all local municipalities won’t disappear overnight and may be around for at least the next five years.

With diminishing property tax collections, sales tax and mortgage taxes coupled with rising personnel costs, Tkazyik said the city will have to face some stark facts.

 The union that represents some 100 workers at Monticello Casino and Raceway in Monticello has signed two agreements with Empire Resorts, operator of Monticello Casino and Raceway in Monticello.

The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council and Empire Resorts’ subsidiary Monticello Raceway Management, Inc. have signed a five year agreement with the existing employees at the casino and raceway, which includes annual salary increases, set wages for new hires and addresses employee contributions toward health benefits.

Hank Gross

Responding to two instances of mob violence against police officers in just the past few days, the Newburgh Police Benevolent Association came out Tuesday with a demand for answers and action from the Newburgh City Council to protect its police force.

Among the issues brought up by Teamsters Local 445 Principal Officer Adrian Huff was an insufficiently staffed department, especially at night.

Hank Gross

By the end of the year, the financially troubled Westchester Medical Center is expected to face a $60 million deficit and members of the County Board of Legislators Tuesday expressed their concern for the health of the patients, employees and the hospital.

One-third of all of the MTA’s claims resulting from flood and wind damage from last year’s Tropical Storms Irene and Lee were from crippling of the Port Jervis Line, which had sections decimated with rail beds washed out and rails torn up and left as twisted masses of steel.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said $65 million in losses were suffered by the entire transportation system.

Halfway through the year, Westchester County Government is facing a $29.7 million deficit.

County Budget Director Lawrence Soule chalked it up to the continued effects of the weak economy and related continued low income in sales tax, mortgage recording tax and other revenues, as well as increases in union settlements and retirements on unsettled contracts, and higher than projected healthcare costs.

The warmer weather early this year saved the county some $2 million in costs, Soule said.

Hank Gross

Orange County Executive Edward Diana has just over a month before he must present his proposed 2013 county budget to the legislature.  He has prided himself with bringing in fiscally conservative spending plans with little to no property tax hikes.

Hank Gross

Roads maintained by Ulster County will not be treated with brine used from fracking wastewater.  County Executive Michael Hein signed legislation Thursday at the county highway garage in New Paltz banning the brine from being used on county roads.

The byproduct of fracking will not be used on our roadways,” said Hein. “The truth is that the environmental costs are off the charts. Their bargain is bad and the price is too high.”

County Legislator Kenneth Wishnick, a New Paltz Democrat, introduced the legislation.


Residents of Columbia County will soon have a Reverse 9-1-1 system in place... the new notification technology will be deployed as soon as possible. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports


This week the Columbia County Board of Supervisors agreed to implement a new CodeRed emergency notification system. Although widely reported as "a response to the TCI chemical fire in Ghent" - Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Tom Lanphear says plans were in the works before the fire broke out.


A New York state supreme court judge has ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's controversial payroll mobility tax is unconstitutional. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed back in 2010 by officials in Nassau County. Several other municipalities in the Lower Hudson Valley, Putnam and Westchester and Putnam counties among them, later joined the lawsuit to have the MTA tax overturned.  

A State Supreme Court justice in Nassau County ruled on Wednesday that the MTA payroll tax is unconstitutional. The tax has been levied on all employees in Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as the five boroughs of New York City.

Businesses and not-for-profits in the entire MTA region have been screaming bloody murder since the state legislature imposed the tax to help bail the New York City transportation system out of its massive financial woes.

Hank Gross

As the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, parent corporation to The Kingston Hospital and Benedictine hospital, both in Kingston, work up their plans to close Kingston Hospital and consolidate its healthcare services under one roof at Benedictine, a new purpose for Kingston Hospital may be emerging.

Mayor Shayne Gallo told MidHudsonNews.com that he is having discussions with companies about converting Kingston Hospital into a medical college.

Hank Gross

If the Orange County-owned Valley View nursing home is not sold to a private company soon, the county faces a large property tax increase and layoffs next year. That was the warning Tuesday from County Executive Edward Diana.

Diana stopped the funding for the facility as of July 1, but county legislators extended it through September. In the meantime, they have been reviewing four proposals from private companies to buy the facilities with no decision to date.

Diana told MidHudsonNews.com that without a sale very soon, drastic measures will have to be taken.

This week, many of the nation's leaders in STEM education are heading for Mt. Kisco-based company "It’s About Time"... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

Rep. Chris Gibson
..:: WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas ::..

Mid-Hudson farmers brought their concerns to state and federal lawmakers at a forum at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson Monday night.

Chief among their concerns was the lack of affordable land access for farmers, said Lindsey Shute of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Three Democratic Hudson Valley state lawmakers applauded a new law that will provide mandate relief to BOCES systems by generating new revenue and saving taxpayers money.

“The new law will be a great opportunity for BOCES to not only share their innovative educational curricula and programs with schools, facility and students outside the state, but also less the burden on taxpayers by raising revenue from other sources beyond New York,” Assemblywoman Sandy Galef said on Monday.

Senator David Carlucci also said the relief will provide benefits for BOCES.

Governor Andrew Cuomo formalized the state's request for federal support to build a new bridge replacing the Tappan Zee on Monday by signing a letter of intent to Washington. Addressed to US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, it acts as an application for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) funding. The bridge is projected to cost over $5 billion.

Controversy continues in the wake of the TCI chemical fire early this month in West Ghent. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has the latest...

Many residents in the vicinity of the burned out TCI facility believe the system of checks and balances failed - and they're looking to government leaders for reassurance - within a day or two after the fire questions were being raised about the way locals were notified about the inferno and the possible contamination dangers from any residue after it was extinguished.

A transportation board has approved a plan to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge. WAMC's Dave Lucas has more.



The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council approved the project on Monday.

The county executives of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam said previously they would vote in favor of the project.

Their vote was crucial for the project to qualify for federal funds.

Under the current plan, the bridge will have a dedicated bus lane during rush hours.

New job numbers released by the New York State Labor Department are fueling some optimism - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports...


The figures show private-sector employment in the Hudson Valley increased by 16-thousand 500, or 2.2 percent, to 761-thousand-900 during the 12-month period ending July 2012.

The Putnam-Rockland-Westchester metro area experienced the greatest job growth at 3.1 percent. That area ranked third of the 14 New York state metro areas rated by the state Department of Labor.

Some 15 years ago, there was discussion about the possibility of extending Metro-North’s commuter service on its Hudson Line beyond its northernmost station in Poughkeepsie. The idea of going further north to Rhinecliff died.

There are currently no plans to extend the service now, but Metro-North President Howard Permut said other work is underway on that stretch of rail, which is also used by Amtrak.

Home Sales Up In July

Aug 17, 2012

 Home sales rose year over year in July in both Rockland and Orange counties, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.  Both single-family and condominium sales increased for the year ending in July as well as year-to-date in both counties.

Rockland County saw the larger gain in single-family home sales year over year at 30 percent while they rose by eight percent in Orange County. 

So far in 2012, in the first seven months, home sales rose by 10 percent in Rockland County and by three percent in Orange County.

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.

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