Orange County News Roundup, Dec. 9

By Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
December 9, 2015 Updated: December 11, 2015

Exit 122 on 17 Reconstruction Completed

Work has been completed on the $75 million reconstruction of an exit on Route 17 that’s part of the ongoing effort to upgrade the highway to federal interstate standards. State officials announced on Dec. 8 that the three-year project to reconstruct Exit 122 in the Town of Wallkill is finished. The work included building a new bridge across the highway and realigning nearby streets. More than 200 miles of Route 17 has already been re-designated I-86.

From The Associated Press

Neuhaus Elected to CEA Board

Cited for bringing youthful energy and purpose, Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus was elected to the board of directors of County Executives of America (CEA) at its quarterly meeting on Dec. 4 in Washington, D.C. Neuhaus joins a 28-member board whose members serve at will. The board votes on all CEA legislative and administrative policies, and represent the 700-member organization at various events, including meetings at the White House and Congress. “CEA provides a voice on a variety of issues and trends that are important to local governments,” Neuhaus said.

52,000 Lose Power

Power has been restored to most of the 52,000 homes and businesses in Orange and other counties and in Pennsylvania that were darkened on a holiday-season night, Dec. 5. Orange & Rockland Utilities spokesman Michael Donovan says equipment malfunctioned around 7:30 p.m. in an electric transmission substation in Middletown. Fewer than 3,000 customers remained without power early Sunday, Dec. 6. Among those affected was the Galleria at Crystal Run in Wallkill.

From The Associated Press

Indian Point Nuclear Plant Shut Down

One of two reactors at the Indian Point nuclear power plant will be closed for a couple of days following a shutdown over an equipment issue. “It was a relatively minor equipment issue and we expect to have the plant back online within the next couple of days,” Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said in an email on Dec. 6. The Indian Point 2 reactor was shut down at around 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5 after several control rods lost power. Entergy reported no radiation was released into the environment. A spokeswoman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said an inspector for the agency was at the site the next day monitoring Entergy’s activities to understand the cause and make any needed repairs. The state Department of Public Service also was headed to investigate the situation at the plant in Buchanan, about 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The plant’s other reactor, Indian Point 3, remained running.

From The Associated Press

Legislature Approves 2016 County Budget

The Orange County Legislature approved the county’s 2016 budget on Dec. 3 in an 18-3 vote as well as a resolution allowing taxes to be raised in a 20-1 vote. Christopher Eachus (D-New Windsor) urged his fellow legislators to vote down the budget citing wasteful spending that would burden tax payers.  Mike Anagnostakis (R-Town of Montgomery, Walden, Town of Newburgh) pointed out that if they voted down the budget it would revert to the county executive’s budget “which is even worse.”

Menorah of 230 Cupcakes

Every year for the past twelve years, the Chabad Center of Orange County hosts an event for the first day of Chanukah with a new draw each year. This year it was a wooden menorah with roughly 230 cupcakes on it, set up in the Galleria Mall in Wallkill on Dec. 6. Two cakes were balanced at the top and had to be lit with ladders.

Sheriff Gets $21,000 Raise

The county legislature voted 13-8 to approve a $21,000 raise over 13 months for Sheriff Carl DuBois, who makes $120,00 a year. This was despite a pay freeze the legislature agreed to in 2013 for themselves and other elected officials and paying 12 percent for health insurance to save costs. The argument for raising the sheriff’s compensation was that his salary was low, both compared to that of sheriffs in neighboring counties, as well as police chiefs in Orange County, and even lower than employees under him. The sheriff  manages over 400 employees. By housing immigration detainees in its jail this year, the Sherrif’s Office brought the county $15 million.

Canterino Sworn In

Philip J. Canterino was sworn in at the Dec. 3 meeting of the Orange County Legislature as the representative for the 21st district covering the Town of Blooming Grove, the Town and Village of Goshen, and the Town of Wawayanda. He was selected after former legislator Shannon Wong, a Democrat, stepped down to take a position with the New York Civil Liberties Union in White Plains. Canterino served on the Goshen Town Board for over 22 years, and was voted into the legislature by the boards of the municipalities he now represents.

Public Servant Who Served 63 Years Dies at 90

Matthias “Matt” Schleifer died at the age of 90 in his home in Middletown after serving a combined 63 years for the state and county government. He retired from Orange County government as the Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Health in 2011 where he was for 42 years. Schleifer passed away on Dec. 1.

County Takes Lead Agency on Heritage Trail

The County Legislature passed a resolution at its Dec. 3 meeting declaring the county lead agency on the construction of the 10-mile extension of the Heritage Trail and the SEQRA process. The resolution stated the county had determined the project was a Type 1 action more likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment but that, according to its Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), “the project will have no significant adverse environmental impact.”

Water System Upgrades for Thomas Bull Memorial Park

The county legislature approved up to $465,000 to be bonded to pay for upgrades to the water system in Thomas Bull Memorial Park.

Bridge Upgrades

The legislature approved $400,000 to be bonded to replace the Ford Bridge in the Town of Minisink at its Dec. 3 meeting. The estimated cost of the project is $760,000, with $300,000 having already been appropriated for it. The legislature also voted to bond $500,000 for other bridge upgrades around the county.

SUNY Orange Trustees Approve Disabilities Program

The SUNY Orange Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution during its November meeting authorizing the college to establish the BRIDGES Program that will offer a post-secondary educational experience for students with intellectual, developmental, and autism spectrum disabilities within the Hudson Valley. BRIDGES has the goals of Building educational foundations, Realizing what is possible, Individualizing personal goals and self discovery, Developing confidence and skills, Guiding the process to success, and Empowering young adults in their role as Students.

Thunderbirds Headline 2016 New York Air Show on Labor Day Weekend

County Executive Steven Neuhaus announced on Dec. 1 that the New York Air Show will return to Stewart International Airport over Labor Day weekend 2016 and will feature the renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team. “In just our second year we are honored to have the Thunderbirds select the New York Air Show as one of only 13 civilian air shows they will fly in 2016” said Bryan Lilley, NYAS Director. The Thunderbirds flight demonstration team includes six pilots, flying patriotic red, white and blue F-16s that fly in formation and perform aerial maneuvers sometimes just inches apart.

Goshen Sets Moratorium on Solar Farms

Goshen has halted the building of any solar farms with a six-month moratorium until the town updates it zoning code. “Findings have to be included in the town’s master plan for zoning,” said Town Supervisor Doug Bloomfield. Bloomfield said more developers have indicated they want to set up solar arrays in the town, reported The Chronicle. A public hearing on the proposed law to enact the moratorium on solar farms is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21, at Goshen Town Hall, 41 Webster Ave., Goshen.

County Health Department Gets Funding for HPV Vaccinations

The county’s Department of Health has been awarded a grant from the Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to help local communities increase vaccinations for Human papillomavirus (HPV). Orange County Commissioner of Health Dr. Eli Avila said, “Increasing HPV vaccination rates is a clear example of how diligent public health service saves lives in our communities.” HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. Many vaccine-eligible adolescents do not receive HPV vaccines during visits with their healthcare providers.

Sheriff and DA Speak Out on Carrying Firearms

District Attorney David M. Hoovler and Sheriff Carl E. DuBois responded on Dec. 4 to recent statements by public officials about licensed gun holders: “This country was founded, in part, on the principle that the responsible use of firearms is an important safeguard to our liberty. We have always fully supported the law-abiding citizen’s right to responsibly bear firearms and continue to do so. We have arrested and prosecuted licensed gun holders who have acted recklessly or unlawfully with their firearms. The vast majority of firearm permit holders act responsibly and realize that holding a pistol permit does not make them either police officers or vigilantes. We encourage all licensed gun holders to continue to take advantage of gun safety courses such as those offered by the various sportsmen’s associations, other Orange County gun safety instructors, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which who also offers a civilian tactical handgun training program. Information concerning this program is available at

Choice Words LLC Joins OC Partnership

Choice Words LLC has joined the Orange County Partnership as a new investor. Choice Words LLC was founded in 2010 to provide communications services for nonprofits. The company specializes in grant writing and public relations for a diverse client base, such as Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, People to People, Jawonio Inc., SUNY New Paltz and Walkway Over the Hudson.