Orange County News Roundup, January 27

By Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
January 27, 2016 Updated: January 27, 2016

Wright Steps Down as Chair of Stewart Airport Commission

Long-time chairman of the Stewart Airport Commission, James Wright, will not seek the chairman’s post which he has held for more than 30 years, reported the MidHudsonNews. Wright will remain on the commission as a member. At their January meeting on Jan. 26, Wright said, “It is time for a change.” Louis Heimbach will take over as chairman. Heimbach praised Wright as “the glue that held the commission together all these years.” Paul Quartararro was selected as the vice chairman. When the state owned and operated Stewart in the early 1980s, the commission was created to provide advice and consent to the Department of Transportation.

County Welcomes New Americans at Naturalization Ceremony

County Clerk Annie Rabbitt administered the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony on Jan. 20 to 90 people from 34 countries. Acting Supreme Court Justice Carol S. Klein presided and Andy Komonchak, Executive Director of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, was guest speaker. The County Clerk’s office will host three more naturalization ceremonies this year in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (Citizenship and Immigration Services) in April, June and November. “Performing these ceremonies serves as one of the highlights of my job,” Rabbitt said.

School Superintendents Give $224,000 for More Student Breakfasts

A generous grant from the School Superintendents Association will allow more students to enjoy a nutritious breakfast in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, reported the Wallkill Valley Times. The alternative breakfast program which was implemented at the start of the school year allows free breakfasts in classrooms. “When hungry children sit in classrooms, they are less likely to perform,” said Newburgh Superintendent of Schools Roberto Padilla at a school board meeting on Jan. 19. The Food Research and Action Center reported in 2014 that “Breakfast for Learning” children who eat breakfast “show improved cognitive function, attention, and memory” and perform better on standardized tests.

Orange County Resident Tests Positive for Zika Virus

State health officials said three New Yorkers who had recently traveled outside the country have tested positive for the mosquito-born Zika virus. Officials identified the three individuals in Queens, Nassau, and Orange Counties on Jan. 22. Officials wouldn’t say where the people had recently traveled, describing the locations as areas where the “virus transmission is ongoing.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has expanded its warning for pregnant women thinking of visiting 22 destinations, most in Latin America and the Caribbean. The virus has been linked with microcephaly which can leave affected newborns with unusually small heads and abnormal brain development. Officials say one of the patients is fully recovered and the two others are recovering without complications. Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed Zika virus case.

The Associated Press contributed to this brief.


FedEx Mum on Construction Jobs for Montgomery Facility

The Town of Montgomery Planning Board meeting on Jan. 12 brought a solid showing of the Hudson Valley branch of the IBEW 363 electricians union to see who would be called in to work on the 24,000 sq. ft. FedEx facility on Neelytown Road. The Wallkill Valley Times reported that the FedEx project includes parking, offices, and 63 loading docks, on 43.7 acres next to an existing FedEx Freight facility. The 24/7 operation would take in packages from its New Jersey hub and distribute them locally on delivery trucks. “As with all FedEx Ground facility construction projects, including the upcoming Montgomery construction, we select a developer that in turn selects a general contractor for the project. The selection of qualified workers and sub-contractors is solely at the discretion of the general contractor and is not directed by FedEx Ground,” said David Westrick, a spokesperson for FedEx Ground, following the public hearing.

Montgomery Considers Regulations for Alternative Energy Projects

The Montgomery Town Board is drafting laws to regulate alternate energy initiatives such as solar or wind turbine projects, reported the Wallkill Valley Times. At their regular meeting on Jan. 18 board members were asked to look into aesthetics, height, and appropriate zones of potential projects before approval. Town Councilman Dan Dempsey asked to include a requirement to notify the local fire department when a solar panel is installed. He noted that the panels are “live all the time” and a firefighter could be in danger if he doesn’t know the panels are there. Highway Superintendent Charles Woznick said, “They actually help burn houses,” adding that if a firefighter did get on the roof, he would be “energized” by the panels that are always producing electricity, even at night.