Orange County News Roundup, Feb. 24

February 24, 2016 Updated: February 24, 2016

County DA Wants to Highlight Social Host Law

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler wants money to publicize a new law approved by the county Legislature, reported the MidHudsonNews. Lawmakers recently approved the so-called Social Host Law after firefighter Justin Speights was killed while trying to break up a fight at a New Year’s Eve party in the Town of Crawford. The law holds homeowners responsible for allowing alcohol to be served to minors. “We will be asking for a small appropriation of $20,000 that will be used to reach the community through public service announcements, through fliers and mailers sent to schools and after-school programs dealing with the issue that we have of underage drinking and social hosting,” the DA told the online media. Promulgation of the law would begin next year.

Metro-North President Backs Rail Link to Stewart

Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti told that a link with Metro-North rail service could help to develop more passenger use at Stewart Airport. “I have already spoken to the county administrator on that,” Giuletti told the online media. He noted that Air Canada might be coming to Stewart. “I know they would like to go and see that,” Giuletti told  “I say that is one of the ongoing negotiations to see where that goes.” He said that rail tie-ins support airport use. An Air Canada spokesman told MidHudsonNews that the airline is always looking at new routes “and a spokeswoman for the Port Authority, which operates Stewart, said the agency talked to several airlines about attracting new service to the Newburgh facility.”

Poverty Rate in Decline RECAP COO Says

RECAP (Regional Economic Community Action Program) Chief Operating Officer Michele McKeon told MidHudsonNews on Feb. 19 that Orange County’s poverty rate has dropped from the previous year. McKeon spoke outside the soon-to-be-completed Mill at Mill Street in Middletown. The project is building 40 workforce apartments and the Fresh Start Café, which trains people to work in the restaurant industry. McKeon said the county’s present poverty rate is 12.6 percent, which is about 46,000 out of the county’s population of 374,000.

Three Dealerships Awarded Best Value Contracts

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Commissioner of General Services James P. Burpoe announced on Feb. 11 that the county has awarded its first Best Value contracts to three local car dealerships—Phil’s Ford in Port Jervis, W.S. Healey Chevrolet/Buick in New Hampton, and Robert Green Auto and Truck Inc. in Monticello. The state-sponsored program encourages local businesses to offer cost effective services in the county’s bidding process. The county used the Best Value Procurement (BVP) process to secure bids for 20 fleet vehicles. Howard Kuperman, general manager of Phil’s Ford, said, “This program sends a positive message that our county government is interested in working with local businesses, which provide jobs, pay taxes, and recirculate revenue in our own communities.” Paul Healey, president of W.S. Healey, won the bid to supply the vehicles.

County Youth Participate in State Legislative Day

Members of several county youth groups met with state representatives in Albany on Legislative Day. Young people met with Sens. Bill Larkin and John Bonacic, and Assembly Reps. Aileen Gunther and James Skoufis on Feb. 9 to share their experiences in youth programs. They also took the opportunity to advocate for continued funding toward positive youth programs that operate through the state’s youth bureau system. Youth groups that participated included the county Youth Bureau’s Youth Advisory Board, Safe Homes of Orange County, Town of Wallkill Police Youth Coalition, Junior Leadership Orange, and the Middletown Mayor’s Youth Council.

Utility Warns Customers About New Billing Scam

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation has been alerted to a new approach to a billing scam: Perpetrators have recorded the utility’s automated message to deceive customers into believing they have called Central Hudson. “These criminals call customers and falsely indicate that a balance is due, saying utility services will be disconnected unless payment is made immediately,” said Charles A. Freni, senior vice president of customer services. “Customers returning these calls using the autodial feature on their telephones or by calling the provided phone number are connected to the perpetrators, and will hear a recording of Central Hudson’s automated message. Pressing an option key connects the caller to a customer service impersonator, who then demands payment,” he said. Freni advised customers not to provide any personal information and to contact Central Hudson directly at (845) 452-2700 or 1-800-527-2714, not to use the number provided by the perpetrators, and call their local police.

Safe Harbors Buys Half Acre in Newburgh for Park

Safe Harbors of the Hudson has purchased a half-acre parcel for $246,000 near City Hall to develop an urban park, reported the MidHudsonNews on Feb. 18. The project has raised $212,000 of the needed $250,000 in a capital campaign and will start this spring. Safe Harbors’ Executive Director Lisa Silverstone told the online media that despite the location of its residential building and the soon-to-be built park in the city’s east end, she does not anticipate any problems of loitering or vandalism. “We have absolutely zero problems in our building,” Silverstone said.  “We have beautiful public artwork all over the building. We put out flower boxes. We put out holiday trees. Nobody messes with the building and there is really not a problem with any of the activity around our building. I think if you bring something beautiful to the community and you respect the community, you get that respect back.”

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