Orange County News Roundup, Sept. 7

September 7, 2016 Updated: September 7, 2016


Moody’s: OC’s Finances Improve From Negative to Stable Outlook

Moody’s Investors Service gave Orange County’s finances an Aa3 rating and a stable outlook, it announced Sept. 2.  The County received an Aa3 rating on its debt last year as well, but a negative outlook.

“The Aa3 rating incorporates the county’s below average reserves which are expected to stabilize and then increase in the near term. The rating also factors the modest debt and pension burden, large tax base that has recently stabilized after consecutive years of contraction,” the Moody’s report said.

Moody’s affirmed an Aa3 rating on the county’s $219.6 million in outstanding debt, down from $283.9 million last year, the credit agency reported. 

According to Moody’s website, they are “a leading provider of credit ratings, research, and risk analysis” and  and do ratings in over 130 countries. 

Four People Face Multiple Charges for Illegal Hunting in Mount Hope

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said on Aug. 18 that Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Chris Lattimer responded to a call from a New York State Trooper who believed the occupants of a truck he stopped in Mount Hope had been poaching deer.

Lattimer said they confirmed that they had shot at a buck and missed. All of the vehicle’s four occupants gave written statements confirming they were poaching deer, and a .308 bolt action rifle was seized. The four were given appearance tickets for using a light with an unsecured gun in the truck. The shooter was given additional appearance tickets for hunting deer with artificial light, possession of a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, hunting deer during closed season, and illegally harassing/pursuing deer. The charges will be heard in Mount Hope Court.

Cops: Man Accused of Running Over Tot Had Suspended License

WALLKILL—Police say a driver with a suspended license backed over a toddler who had been retrieving a ball, killing the child.

Authorities say 1-year-old Joshua Gutierrez was run over at his parents’ car-repair shop in Wallkill the afternoon of Sept. 5.

The boy, whose family is from the Village of Bloomingburg in neighboring Sullivan County, was taken to a hospital by his mother and was pronounced dead.

Police arrested a 31-year-old man and charged him with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

The reason for the man’s suspension wasn’t immediately available. He works at the car-repair shop.

From The Associated Press

Newburgh School District to Offer Free Breakfast and Lunch to All Students

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District announced on Aug. 31 that the entire district will offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. The district is taking advantage of the federal Community Eligibility Provision program, which allows children in high poverty areas to eat for free.

In order to apply for free school meals in the past, schools would have to collect and process individual applications for free and reduced-price meals. 

“Healthier students perform better academically. We are working to ensure that hunger does not stand in the way of any child’s potential for excellence,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Roberto Padilla in a press release.

$65,160 to Go Towards OC Airport Safety Standards

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced a federal investment in the Orange County Airport of $65,160 on Sept. 1. The money will go towards efforts to ensure the airport complies with new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety standards—removing obstructions like trees and building structures, and ensuring lighting and paint complies with FAA regulations.

The first investment goes towards a study to assess possible physical obstructions to safe air travel around the airport, especially tall trees.

Public Comment Period Extended on Hudson River Anchorage Sites

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced that the comment period for the new anchorage sites on the Hudson River has been extended until Dec. 7, three months later than the original Sept. 7 date. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said on Sept. 1 that the change was made after he and other congressional leaders contacted the Coast Guard to extend the public comment period over the proposed Hudson River anchorage sites. The Coast Guard’s proposal would permit the construction of ten new anchorage sites for commercial ships traveling on the Hudson River.

“My friends and neighbors in the Hudson Valley have a fundamental right to make their voices heard on large-scale projects such as proposed anchorage sites–especially when the sites in question would reduce our beautiful river to a parking lot for oil ships,” said Maloney in a press release.

Two OC Residents Return Home After Fighting Idaho Wildfire

A 20-member New York firefighting crew that helped fight the Pioneer Fire in Idaho returned to New York the afternoon of Sept 5. They helped contain a 180,300-acre wildfire, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a press release. The team was composed of Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) forest rangers, employees, and volunteers. Among the crew were Forest Ranger and Squad Boss Scott Sabo and Forest Ranger and Squad Boss Trainee Philip Parlier of Orange County. 

The crew fought the wildfire alongside crews from 42 other states. The New York team helped create control lines to contain the flames, cleared materials from the path of the fire, and assisted with burn out operations. They endured temperatures that reached almost 90 degrees on a daily basis.


St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital Pauses Application for ER Closure

St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Cornwall has agreed to halt its application with the state’s Department of Health to close its emergency room, set to take effect Oct. 1, the hospital announced on Sept. 1.

After public outcry and pressure from officials at the state, county, and local levels, the hospital said in a press release that the application will be put on hold until “questions about the Cornwall Campus Emergency Department transition and access to care are addressed with our local leaders and elected officials.”

Area residents and officials expressed concern that closing the Cornwall ER would overburden the already overburdened St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, and will increase travel time for people needing life-saving treatment. They decried the lack of public input on the decision, complaining that the hospital’s Board of Trustees had made up their mind by the time the public was told, and only a little-publicized town hall was given for residents to voice their concerns.

A similar scenario played out three years ago when the Board of Trustees tried to cut night hours for the emergency department citing financial reasons.The hospital eventually bowed to public pressure and did not reduce the ER’s hours, but it’s financial difficulties remained.  The hospital estimates a full closure of the hospital’s emergency department will save $3.2 million annually.

By Holly Kellum


New Law Allows Farm Vehicles to Travel 25 Miles on Highways

Assemblywoman Gunther announced Sept. 1 that a new law she sponsored will allow farm vehicles to travel up to 25 miles on public highways from the point of sale to the farm. The law is meant to help people save money by not having to find other means to transport their farm vehicle home.

“Our farmers are struggling, and the cost of transporting a tractor or other equipment by trailer from where it’s purchased back to the farm is unnecessary, burdensome, and, quite frankly, illogical,” said Gunther in a press release.

Farm vehicles were only permitted to travel between portions of a farm, to a local landfill, or to a repair shop.