Orange County News Roundup, Nov. 25

By Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
November 25, 2015 Updated: November 25, 2015

Comptroller Wants Improvements in Mamakating Bookkeeping

The state comptroller’s office has found fault with some of the Town of Mamakating’s bookkeeping practices. Interfund advances reported in the 2014 financial report erroneously totaled more than $1.2 million because cash balances for the town-outside-village general and highway funds continued to be reported in the town-wide funds, reported the MidHudsonNews. The bookkeeper did not record the transfer of those funds to the reserves in a timely manner or record town-outside-village general and highway fund cash balances in the accounting records. The comptroller recommended that the town use interfund advances only when an operating fund is in need of short-term cash and ensure interfund advances are properly reconciled throughout the year and repaid.

Free PJ to Middletown Shuttle Open for Spay/Neutering Services

On Wednesdays after Dec. 2, a free shuttle service will take dogs from the Port Jervis/Deerpark Humane Society to the Animal Rights Alliance’s (TARA) spay/neuter clinic in Middletown, and back again. The shuttle will pick up dogs at 7 a.m. at 202 Route 209 in Port Jervis. After surgery, the shuttle will return dogs to the shelter the same day for pick-up between 4 and 5 p.m., reported The Chronicle on Nov. 23. Neutering/spaying, rabies shots, and ear cleaning prices are based on weight and sex of the dog. Dog owners can get a further discount with state proof of residency provided two days ahead of shuttle date. Dogs must be leashed or in a carrier. Call 845-856-3677 or stop by the shelter any day except Monday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

State Police Roll Out ‘Send Something’ App

Superintendent Joseph D’Amico and DHSES Commissioner John Melville announce the launch of the “See Something, Send Something” mobile app in New York on Nov. 23. The app allows a person to take a photo of suspicious activity on their smartphone and send it automatically to law enforcement. D’Amico said the app has tips on identifying suspicious behavior. The app goes to the state’s intelligence center which is run by 20 loal agencies. The tip will be vetted, analyzed, and if appropriate, assigned to the right agency. D’Amico said the app does not replace 911 calls but can be used for incidents related to homeland security. “Everybody has a phone,” D’Amico said. “We are trying to put [the app] in the pockets of all New Yorkers to be able to help us in keeping them safe.” The submission is time stamped and the phone number is displayed, although the center will respect confidentiality.

County to Have DWI Checkpoints Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Police will crack down on impaired drivers from Nov. 25-29 in Orange County. Thanksgiving Eve, sometimes referred to as “Black Wednesday,” is unofficially considered the busiest bar night of the year. The county’s Stop-DWI Coordinator Craig W. Cherry said, “Family and friends are on the road to celebrate the holiday with loved ones. Make sure that you have a plan to get home safely. Officers will be extra vigilant for impaired drivers this Thanksgiving season to ensure your safety.”

Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem. The initiative is promoted by the state STOP-DWI Association with additional funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and implemented by the STOP-DWI Foundation. The statewide campaign will also target the holiday season in December. “We will have extra patrols out to make sure that our roads and highways are safe,” said County Executive Steven Neuhaus. Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

DA and County Sheriff Pull in 25 Fraud Offenders

The District Attorney’s office and county sheriff’s department have arrested 25 defendants charged with welfare fraud in its fourth enforcement, called Fall Fraud Enforcement. Those arrested are charged with more than $230,000 in theft of public assistance benefits including food stamps and Medicaid.

The county’s investigative unit of Social Services worked with the sheriff’s office and district attorney to make the arrests. Investigators reviewed files of public assistance benefit recipients suspected of fraud, interviewed recipients, and forwarded cases to the District Attorney’s office for further investigation. Food stamp fraud accounted for $108,043 of the thefts.

Since the actions began in June, 2014, DSS has also collected $157,248.81 from recipients who voluntarily paid back benefits that they received but were not entitled to. Those recipients repaid those funds after being contacted by DSS civil investigators, without any additional arrest or prosecution by the Sheriff’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office.

Legislative Committee Approves $11 Million for Portable Radios

The County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee on Nov. 19 approved a request by the Emergency Services Department for $11 million in additional funding to provide public safety agencies with Motorola mobile and portable radios.

“This new interoperable communications system will enhance emergency services and emergency response times to those in need,” said County Executive Steve Neuhaus. When approved by the legislature on Dec. 3, five county departments and 100 first responders will receive the radios. The project will go live in 2017.

The complete project provides seven new tower sites to improve radio coverage, back-up connectivity with Rockland County and GPS for every radio. It will also provide in-building radio coverage for the new county government center, the adjacent court facility, and radios for all hospital emergency rooms in the county. Walter Koury, commissioner of emergency services, said, “It will be utilized by public safety agencies throughout the Hudson Valley, extending from Westchester to Columbia counties.”

Pine Bush School District Ponders Unexceptional Test Results

School administrators and teachers on Nov. 17 presented the Pine Bush Board of Education with results that need to improve, reported the Wallkill Valley Times. In math, students in grades 3-7 performed on average slightly better than the statewide and countywide reports but test results tanked in eighth grade. Donna Gleidel, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the district is responding with extra support for ninth grade Algebra and middle school math. Gledel said the state offers a toolkit to encourage parents not to allow students to opt-out of tests, of which almost 20 percent of the student population took advantage of.

Rotting Culverts Cause Lake Drive Bridge Closing Next Year

Newburgh Engineer Jason Morris says Lake Drive Bridge will close next year, reported the Wallkill Valley News on Nov. 18. The bridge carries Lake Drive over the Quassaick Creek and leads to the main entrance of the Lake Street Apartments complex. “It is a twin, metal-pipe arch culvert bridge built around 1970,” said Morris. “The problem is the inverts of the two culvert pipes are rotted out. So, the bottom portion of the pipe rusted away and the culvert pipe has begun to fold in on itself.” The rust has affected the structural stability of the bridge, he said.

Newburgh Council Votes to Replace City Manager; Residents Disagree

In a 4 to 3 vote on Nov. 9, the Newburgh City Council will start a search for a new city manager to replace current manager Michael Ciaravino, hired last year, reported the Wallkill Valley Times on Nov. 18. The vote does not mean Ciaravino is terminated. That requires a super majority of five council votes. The vote follows a controversial incident involving a disability investigation for Newburgh Police Lt. Peter Leach.

Newburgh residents packed the city council meeting on Nov. 23 to give a loud and raucous support for City Manager Michael Ciaravino, reported the MidHudsonNews. The search for a new manager has been led by outgoing councilman Cedric Brown, both publicly and behind the scenes. Brown ran the meeting and refused to allow Ciaravino to deliver his regularly scheduled report. Ciaravino supporter Councilwoman Karen Mejia called for a vote to allow the manager to speak. The motion was seconded but the vote was initially refused, but eventually was tied 3-3.

Wallkill’s Own Lady Liberty

Local vets have funded and had installed a six-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty at Purple Heart Memorial Park the week of Nov. 8. The park in Wallkill is near the Disabled American Veterans Tunnel at Silver Lake Scotchtown Road. Principal fundraiser for the statue was Mike Cody, who has supported vets in Wallkill.

Pilgrim Pipeline Applies for Path Along Thruway

Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings LLC has proposed to install a pipeline from New Jersey to Albany along the New York State Thruway Authority, reported the Times Herald-Record on Nov. 18. The pipeline’s path will cross through the town and city of Newburgh. The plan calls for about 80 percent of the 116 miles in the state within the Thruway’s right of way. Environmental group Hudson Riverkeeper opposed the plan. The company responded that a pipeline would be a safer alternative to rail or barge transport. The pipeline would carry about 200,000 barrels daily in each direction for crude and refined oil products.

Maloney Backs Guarantees on Refugee Protocols

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY18) stated his support on Nov. 19 of adding a certification process to existing federal refugee protocols in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Paris. He made the following statement on the American SAFE Act of 2015: “Our nation has long stood as a beacon of freedom, but after the events of the last few weeks some leaders have given into fear and turned their backs on refugees. I don’t believe these refugees—the overwhelming majority of whom are women, elderly, and children—threaten our communities or national security. So instead of slowing the program or pausing it, the Administration should agree to immediately certify refugees if they pass the current extensive screenings and we should all refocus on actual threats.”

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