Orange County News Roundup, Dec. 16

By Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
December 16, 2015 Updated: December 16, 2015

West Point Names First Woman Commandant

Brig. Gen. Diana Holland has been appointed as the 76th Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, making her the first woman to hold this position in West Point history. Holland is currently serving as the Deputy Commanding General (Support), 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, New York, and will replace Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III.  “It’s a privilege to be part of the team that trains and develops leaders of character for our Army,” said. Holland. Thompson relinquished command of the Corps of Cadets on Dec. 14 as he moves on as Commanding General, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Holland will assume command on Jan. 5, 2016.

Primo Sports Gets Conditional Approval from Chester Planning Board

To a packed crowd at the Dec. 8 planning board in Chester, board members conditionally approved the Primo Sports complex, reported The Chronicle. Several residents who live near the site noted potential noise. The facility will open at 8:30 a.m. daily, with the closing time for activities indoors left open-ended. Co-owner of Primo Sports Jim Lagarde is a former soccer coach from Burke Catholic High School and co-owner with Luca Spensieri is a semi-retired developer. The complex will offer training in soccer, baseball, volleyball, football, lacrosse, and golf. The 25-acre site of the $10.6 million complex is next to the Chester industrial park on Route 94 and will replace Primo’s facility in the Village of Florida.

Hostilities Almost Erupt into Physical Confrontation at Newburgh Council Meeting

Mayor Judy Kennedy threatened to remove councilwoman Gay Lee, whose term ends after this council session, for rowdy behavior during the council’s Dec. 13 meeting, as members considered rescinding a resolution to replace current city manager Michael Ciaravino, whose contract expires in May 2016. The MidHudsonNews reported that some members almost came to blows during the session that was packed by 100 residents. Concerned city residents demonstrated outside City Hall for two hours before the session began to raise awareness for what they believe is corruption at City Hall and to support Ciaravino’s effort to clean up the city’s problems, including misappropriation of funds and sexual misconduct. The group has already contacted the Office of the State Attorney General to meet with a representative next week. 

Walden Board Considers Concealed Firearms for Police

At its Dec. 8 meeting, the Walden Village Board discussed the national Law Enforcement Safety Act of 2004 to allow active and retired village police officers to carry concealed firearms, reported the Wallkill Valley Times. The discussion will continue after the village counsel researches the issue. “In today’s climate, I think the issue of weapons needs to be discussed thoroughly,” Walden Mayor Susan Rumbold said. The law requires cops to recertify once a year at a shooting range with the weapons they would carry.

Cornwall Plaza Brownfield Gets Cleanup

Cornwall Shopping LLC, with oversight from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has cleaned up a four acre parcel at the plaza formerly occupied by a dry cleaner, reported the MidHudsonNews. The plaza now has a bank, pizzeria, laundromat, grocery store, and post office. A restaurant currently occupies space previously used by Cornwall Cleaner from 1970 to 1987.

Heritage Trail Gets Two Grants Totaling $1.5 Million in One Day

The Monroe to Goshen section of the Heritage Trail was awarded $1 million by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency and $500,000 from the Mid-Hudson Valley Regional Economic Agency for an extension. “For residents of the area, it is certainly a highly utilized feature in the existing part of the trail, so it will be something to connect parts of Orange County together,” said IDA Associate Executive Director Laurie Villasuso. Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano said the $500,000 from the state will serve as seed money to extend the trail. “The key on these projects is that they see the benefits to it. They are saying to the city, ‘let’s move it along’,” DeStefano said.

KJ Fraud Case Hits Snag

Attorneys for the alleged key person in a federal case against 15 people from Brooklyn and Kiryas Joel accused of mortgage and welfare fraud have asked the court to give more details on thousands of pages of evidence handed in by prosecutors, reported the Times Herald Record. Defendants were indicted in November, 2014 of collecting $20 million from more than 20 fraudulently obtained loans over a decade. The documents cover 615,000 pages and 39,000 additional documents obtained through subpoenas and searches. Prosecutors state the extended Rubin family and two others exaggerated their income and assets to qualify for mortgages and then used the money to pay off other debts and finance development projects. Yehuda Rubin and his wife are also charged with understating their income for Medicaid and food stamps. Orange County sheriff’s deputy Meredith McGovern arrested Yehuda Rubin for writing bad checks in 2009 and discovered other suspicious activity.

Newburgh and New Windsor Oppose Pilgrim Pipeline

With drinking water contamination concerns, the towns of New Windsor and Newburgh passed resolutions to oppose the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline, which would carry crude oil and refined petroleum products through the communities, reported the Times Herald Record. The municipalities also oppose the state Thruway Authority’s request as lead agency for environmental review and supports the Department of Environmental Conservation instead. New Windsor noted the federal Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration reported spills totaling more than 44 million gallons in the United States between 2003 and 2013. While the company predicts a reduction of rail traffic, environmental watchdogs like Riverkeeper say the pipeline will likely supplement current shipments rather than replace them.

Former Poughkeepsie Mayor Hired as Deputy Commissioner of General Services

John Tkazyik has been named Orange County Deputy Commissioner of General Services. Tkazyik served two terms as mayor of Poughkeepsie and oversaw a city budget of $70 million and a work force of 350. He reduced city spending by $1 million for each of the last four years. The job comes with a salary of $90,000. “He is a proven manager and has a great knowledge of municipal government operations,” said County Executive Steven Neuhaus. Tkazyik’s duties include assisting with the day-to-day operations, overseeing the developing capital projects, assisting with strategic plans, and managing and maintaining shared services relationships. “I look forward to working with County Executive Neuhaus and his administration to help achieve his goals of fiscal responsibility and government reform,” Tkazyik said.


Entergy: Indian Point 3 Shut Down Due to Electrical Issue 

Officials say one of the Indian Point nuclear power plant’s reactors in suburban New York has been shut down due to an electrical disturbance. Plant owner Entergy says the Indian Point 3 reactor was automatically shut down at about 7 p.m. Dec. 14. The company says the disturbance on the non-nuclear side of the plant is related to a high voltage transmission line. There was no release of radioactivity and no threat to the public.The Indian Point 2 reactor was shut down for three days earlier this month due to a tripped circuit breaker. The two reactors together supply about one-quarter of the power used in New York City and Westchester County. The nuclear plant is located in Buchanan, about 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan.