Orange County News Roundup, November 4

November 4, 2015 Updated: November 4, 2015

Neuhaus Welcomes Funding Requests from Non-Profits

County Executive Steven Neuhaus invited non-profits and other groups combating opioid addiction to come to him if there are gaps in funding for services they offer to the community. “You tell me what we need to do. If we need to put more money in different areas then we’ll do it,” he said at a healthcare symposium that addressed the opioid epidemic on Oct. 30. Overdose from drugs is the first cause of preventable death in the state, said keynote speaker Dr. Corey Waller, an addiction, pain, and emergency medicine specialist and the director of Spectrum Health Medical Group in Lansing, Michigan. He said overdoses have continued to rise in the county and around the country, and that agencies will have to work together if anything is going to change.

Mt. Hope Gets $110,000 for Rec Center and Parking Lot Upgrades

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther announced in Otisville on Oct. 29 that she has secured state funding for more parking at the Mount Hope Senior Center and a remodel of the former community center, reported the MidHudsonNews. Remodeling of the recreation center will use $100,000 of state funds and another $10,000 will be used to expand the parking lot from seven to 39 spaces. “I want the taxpayer money to come back here so I fight tooth and nail to make sure we get these projects,” Gunther said. Diane Loeven, president of the Mount Hope Seniors, said the funding for additional senior parking “creates a much safer environment for everyone.”

Newburgh Joins Suit for $1.1 Billion School Funding Deficit

The City of Newburgh has joined several city school districts to sue the state over a $1.1 billion shortfall for the past five years, reported the MidHudsonNews on Oct. 30. The districts say they should receive the money under the 2007 Foundation Aid Formula. Attorney Gregory Little, who represents the school districts, said the recession is no excuse for the state not to meet its obligations. “The state has no excuse for not providing the money that these districts are entitled to, and that’s what the lawsuit is about.” The school districts blame layoffs they imposed on the state funding shortage. Newburgh says it has been shortchanged $239 million by the state. The district does not have enough social workers, counselors, or academic intervention teachers for its students.

Fundraiser Raises $30K for Safe Homes

Safe Homes of Orange County’s annual fundraising event on Oct. 22 garnered over $30,000 to benefit the agency’s programs for domestic violence survivors and public education. Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, executive director, encouraged guests to help in other ways. “Use your voice when others are silenced. Demand more from our political leaders, sports icons, teachers, role models. Take a side.” Safe Homes works toward the elimination of domestic violence by offering confidential and comprehensive support services to survivors, and by increasing public awareness through education and prevention programs. 

State AG Asks Banks to Expand Access to Underserved Communities 

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Oct. 28 sent a letter to some banks operating in New York State to revise their consumer-screening protocols to ensure that more consumers receive access to standard checking accounts. The Attorney General’s letter is being sent to the following banks in Orange County: Citizens Bank, NA, Empire State Bank, HSBC Bank USA, NA, Keybank NA, Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co., NBT Bank, Orange County Trust Co., The Berkshire Bank, Walden Savings Bank.

“It is critical that low-income Americans—and New Yorkers in particular—have access to mainstream banking services,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. More than $2 million households in New York State lack access to mainstream bank accounts. They are forced to rely on high-cost alternative financial services, including non-bank money orders, check-cashing outlets, and pawnshops. Consumers who use mainstream financial institutions save money, avoid fraud, pay bills, qualify for loans, and build and protect wealth.

AMC Theaters Renovates Galleria Multiplex

AMC Theaters is renovating its multiplex at the Galleria at Crystal Run, reported the Times-Herald Record on Oct. 26. Upgrades include recliner seating, bigger food and drink menu, news screens, audio systems, carpeting and paint. AMC is remodeling 350 theaters. Pizza, chicken fingers, and mozzarella sticks will be available at the concession stand. After renovations are complete, AMC will offer online reservations. Work is planned in two phases. Most of the renovations are planned for completion by Thanksgiving, said Eric Price, general manager of the mall. If work remains, it will be completed after the holiday season.

Port Jervis Line Gets MTA Upgrade

The 66 miles of the Port Jervis line will get a piece of MTA’s $29 billion capital upgrade program, reported Times Warner News on Oct. 27. “It’s not just about the services the MTA provides down here,” said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. “It’s about the goods and services that are provided and paid for that support employment in other parts of the state.” Some extra track will be added to allow trains to pass at key points. Woodbury assemblyman James Skoufis said the additions will be about two miles in length and was happy to announced the upgrade. “To be able to get this amount of money specifically for upgrades in Orange County was a significant accomplishment,” Skoufis said. The upgrades will also start design work on a new rail yard somewhere between Suffern and Port Jervis, possibly in Campbell Hall or Salisbury Mills.

State of Emergency Declared in Newburgh

Michael G. Ciaravino, city manager for Newburgh, declared a state of emergency on Oct. 29 with the discovery of the recent combined sewer overflow pipe collapse at the intersection of Water Street and Second Street. Officials said the street, also known as Marine Drive, is at risk of imminent collapse, reported the MidHudsonNews. The city engineering department in consultation with the state DOT closed the street after a sinkhole six feet wide by 17 feet long occurred beneath the street. “The sewers in that area are made of brick; they are from the late 1800s. From what we’ve seen in the camera work, it appears to have been collapsing for quite a long time,” Ciaravino said.  “There is a tremendous amount of infrastructure that has completely deteriorated in that area so with each storm that has happened for however long this has been happening, there has been a continuing scouring out of the dirt that supports the sewers in that area.”

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