Washingtonville Rocks Witchingtonville Community Halloween Party

By Edie Johnson

True to form, the Village of Washingtonville threw quite the Halloween Party on Saturday. Hundreds came to Vern Allen Park, many in jaw-dropping costumes. As the band played classic tunes the crowd joined in, singing and dancing the afternoon away. The array of people included an infant in a first costume practicing her walking skills while dads pulled other little ones around in wagons. One young lady had a dog dressed as a goat on a leash (well, actually it was a real goat named “Moonbeam”). And a couple of young girls waddled around in such realistic duck costumes that it was a challenge to figure out how they did it. In the playgroud princesses climbed the slides in their gowns, while Spiderman watched. and older siblings helped their brothers and sisters. Craft tables included some elegant wood ethings from Sundance Wood Carvings, candles, and beautiful Halloween wreaths.

See this week’s Orange County Post for more photos of Washingtonville’s biggest party ever. They love to show what “Community” means!

Halloween Blast in “Da Ville”
” Singalong – Dancealong ..in Vern Allene Park …. Hey, hey baby…”
First Halloween

Photos and video by Edie Johnson

Safe Harbors Receives Support from Rhinebeck Bank

At their Newburgh branch opening on September 29, 2021, Rhinebeck Bank President & CEO, Michael Quinn, presented Lisa Silverstone, Executive Director of Safe Harbors of the Hudson with a $10,000 check in support of Safe Harbors Green; a half-acre park at the corner of Liberty Street and Broadway which serves as an essential community green space and venue for a plethora of cultural engagement activities. Safe Harbors greatly appreciates the ongoing generous support of Rhinebeck Bank and welcomes them to the neighborhood.

Children’s Halloween Celebration Held At Kristie Babcock

New Windsor Recreation Department held their annual Halloween Party at Kristie Babcock Park on October 15. Every child received a pumpkin. There was  pumpkin painting, hay rides, and haunted houses.

New Windsor, Vails Gate Fire Department had their fire engine and ladder truck on display. New Windsor Police  and New Windsor Ambulance Service, and  Cub Scouts all had their vehicles decorated for Halloween. Every station gave out candy. There was a long line for the hay rides.

Others were busy giving and receiving candy throughout  the park.while they waited for a contest planned to judge the best costumes in each age group.  (Photos by Bob McCormick)

Washingtonville  Girls Varsity Tennis Takes Championship

After becoming Division 2 Champions, the Washingtonville Varsity Girls Tennis team fought a hard battle against Warwick on Friday night. The team battled under the lights in a 3-3 deadlock, with Ella Dueck prevailing 6-4 in a wild third set, putting the final score at 4-3 for Washingtonville and winning Team County Championship. A day later, this amazing group of players, who battled all year to reach this moment  pulled out the win against Walkill: Washingtonville Varsity Girls Tennis are Section IX Team Champions!!

A big shout out to Seniors – Kelly McGoldrick, Ava Graziano, Leah Allegro, Amber Poganik and Emma Rudzinski – who made this possible. With this exciting win the team advances to the State Tournament!

Round Hill Substation $30M Expansion

Blooming Grove – Orange & Rockland workers have been busy this week beginning their planned expansion of the existing substation on Round Hill Road between Routes 94 and 208.  Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said that O&R presented the project on the basis that the grid in the area needs upgrading, both because of structural components that are old, and to be able to handle the increase in volume that will be coming in from the new Community Solar project about a mile away.  New criteria will have to be met providing some berms and landscaping mitigation between the newly added property and Round Hill Road.

While residents in the area may have to listen to a lot of noise while the clearing on the additional 10 acres that were just purchased as well as the existing site, there may be future advantages in keeping the wooded areas and wildlife corridor behind the expansion free from any high density building.  The project was referred to the town’s planning board for a second review.  Attorneys will have to work out the zoning assignment since both options (Special Use Permit or Non-Nuisance Industry) present some issues.  Planning Board member Johanna Kiernan said it might be advisable to consider a new zoning category designed specifically for utilities.

Brian Court Residents Have A New Temporary Road

Blooming Grove – Residents at Brian Court became somewhat stranded after Hurricane Ida blew out the bridge between their homes and Clove Road when the rush of water essentially crushed both the culvert and roadway.  With some of the residents able to park alongside of the road entrance, and a temporary footbridge, they have been “making-do” since the hurricane, but at great inconvenience.  This week the town’s Highway Department went above and beyond, and with a lot of cooperation were able to install a real temporary road.  The culvert will still have to be replaced, so there is still much work to do, but the people who live there can now return to some kind of normalcy. Last night at the regular October Town Board Meeting the council voted to go ahead and award the bid for the new box culvert fabrication and delivery, to the lowest responsible bidder, A&R Concrete Products LLC, for an amount not to exceed $52,500.

The cost is expected to eventually be covered by FEMA hurricane disaster funding; however, the town will have to cover the cost up front before reimbursement, and that will be reflected in the tax levy.

Skoufis Tours Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks

Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) joined Senator José Serrano, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation; Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development; leadership from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation; and the Palisades Parks Conservancy for a tour of Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks last week. The group reviewed a new proposal for a unified and reinvigorated multi-season, multi-use destination that could better support the two parks’ nearly 3 million annual visitors. 

Assessing the extensive damage still unresolved from 2011’s Tropical Storm Lee and subsequent storms, Skoufis called for a swift reconstruction and reopening of Sebago Beach. Once a hugely popular destination for summer fun, Sebago Beach served countless local families and Hudson Valley visitors for six decades as one of three public beaches within Harriman State Park. The beach’s decade-long closure has resulted in overcrowding in other parts of the park, especially as locals have sought outdoor recreation to battle the effects of pandemic isolation. For nearly half a decade, Skoufis has led the campaign to reopen Sebago, fighting for state funding and working with local stakeholders to assess the damage and identify a path forward. Funding in this year’s state budget was allocated for preliminary environmental studies and early planning efforts. 

The legislators and NYS Parks also toured other recreational areas to review proposed facility improvements to Reeves Meadow, Silver Mine, Anthony Wayne Recreation Area, Bear Mountain’s large play field, and Hessian Lake.

“We cannot allow Sebago Beach to be lost to the elements when so many families have known its potential as a recreational treasure,” said Senator Skoufis. “After over a year of pandemic-related isolation, we know that mental health and physical health are inextricably bound together, and creating safe, healthy environments for residents to relax and enjoy themselves is critical. I am thrilled to see Parks leadership putting forth a unified vision for Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks, and I urge the state to carve out any resources necessary to ensure safe swimming, boating, hiking, and socializing can continue here in years to come.”

“As Chair of the Senate Committee on State Parks, I believe that access to nature provides real physical and mental health benefits,” said Senator Serrano. “As we seek to connect even more New Yorkers with parks, it is essential that we preserve, protect, and enhance our green spaces, making them safe and accessible for all. Harriman and Bear Mountain are a refuge for diverse communities across the city and state, providing an ideal setting for countless recreational activities. I thank New York State Parks for setting their sights to the future of these parks, and Senator Skoufis for his strong advocacy and commitment to ensuring that New Yorkers can enjoy these wonderful green spaces for generations to come.”

“Parks provide essential services year-round,” said Assembly Member O’Donnell. “They give kids opportunities to engage in hands-on learning activities, improve our green infrastructure, and support public health. I am proud to oversee the Assembly’s Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts, and Sports Development during this critical time in our pandemic recovery. Revitalizing all of our parks—including Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks—is key to charting a new path forward. Senator Skoufis has been a consistent champion of parks, and I look forward to working with him to ensure they remain fully accessible to the public.”

Washingtonville Wizards Cheerleaders Make Strides For Breast Cancer

Washingtonville  Varsity & JV Cheerleaders not only walked in the March “Making Strides for Breast Cancer”, they also cheered on all of the participants and were able to donate $625 as a team to breast cancer research. Great job Lady Wizards.

New Windsor Plays For Jett “Macho” Diaz

On behalf of the committee organized to help Jett Diaz, a 13 year old NECSD student recently diagnosed with brain cancer: We are hosting a 5K run walk Jog for Jett on November 6 at 9:30 AM starting at the New Windsor Little League. We are also selling wristbands at $5 each to benefit his family and seeking donations. Please consider an article for the next 3 weeks to promote this fundraiser. Jett “Macho” Diaz, a 13 year NECSD student, has been a Newburgh Knights baseball player for 4 years.  He has always been a team player. Now he needs support from his community, baseball family, and friends. Jett recently received a devastating diagnosis of brain cancer.  Let’s stand with his family as we show him that he will not face this battle alone.The Newburgh Knights, had special shirts made with his nickname “Macho” printed on the back to wear to their fall tournaments. They also wore his number 88 on their helmets in support. See photos below:. 

🎗 Join the 5k race by linking to:  https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/NewWindsor/JogForJett

🎗 Donate at: https://runsignup.com/Race/Donate/NY/NewWindsor/JogForJett

🎗 Purchase a wristband by linking to: https://forms.gle/QcxmqrPjku7WC6Hp8

🎗Purchase a t-shirt or sweatshirt https://colorcubeprintco.printavo.com/merch/jogforjett Baseball teams around the country are wearing Jett’s wristbands in support of him. You can find more information and photos on the Facebook page “Jog for Jett”. Please contact me for any additional information or clarification. Your support of this courageous young


The formal ribbon-cutting at the Town of Newburgh Desmond House Enrichment Center took place last Thursday, October 14, and nearly 100 people came to celebrate.
Desmond House in the Town of Newburgh has stepped up to the plate for many area residents, especially aging seniors and empty-nesters who are looking for fulfillment in their next decade(s), but it has grown to offer programs for everyone.  And it is doing so in a spectacularly beautiful environment. Pulling into the drive, and walking up the pathway to the House feels like stepping into an 18th century dream.  But beyond its beauty the Center provides a wonderful space for an expanded social life, dozens of classes to keep minds young, plus in-house exercise programs,  access to parkland and trails, and opportunities for scheduled trips. The William and Elaine Kaplan Family Foundation provided the Town of Newburgh with grants totaling $1,000,000.00, consisting of $700,000.00 for the purchase of the 29-acre estate from Mount Saint Mary College last year, and $300,000 over three years for the maintenance of the property and programs, said Supervisor Piaquadio.

Mr. William Kaplan and members of the Kaplan Family Foundation cut the Ceremonial Ribbon.  Remarks were made by Town of Newburgh Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio, and other officials who attended, including:  Mike Anagnostakis, Orange County Legislator, representing NYS Senator James Skoufis; and representatives from the Offices of Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, and Jonathan G. Jacobsen, NYS Assemblyman. To show appreciation to the Town of Newburgh Council Members and the Park Commissioner,  Supervisor Piaquadio named a room in the Desmond House after each of them: Betty Greene, Paul Ruggiero, Scott Manley, Anthony LoBiondo, and James Presutti, thanking them for their guidance, support and hard work on the acceptance of this magnificent estate. A room is also named for our late Town Clerk, Andy Zarutskie.

“The Town of Newburgh is eternally grateful to the Kaplan Family Foundation for their extraordinary generosity and vision,” said Town of Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio.  “Classes are now up and running, and we are in the process of restoring the historic outdoor Arboretum, which will be named the William and Elaine Kaplan Arboretum at the Desmond Campus.” Town officials plan to turn the Desmond grounds into a park with up to 2 miles of walking trails, which will be wheelchair-accessible; along with the Kaplan Family Arboretum. 

After the ribbon-cutting, refreshments and live piano music were enjoyed by guests. The event was open to the public.  

For those with some special challenges the Desmond House also helps them link to Meals On Wheels and the County Office of Aging, both of which are glad to assist with travel issues for shopping, hairdresser appointments, doctor visits and the like.  But this place is much more. It is keeping hopes and dreams as well as minds alive. One look will tell you that the “younger enrichees”, staff, friends and family members all get as much out of the experiences as the seniors, and more and more we are learning that new experiences and avenues of education play a major part in keeping us young.

Event Room

Game Room

Other towns are stepping up to the plate with similar programs.  The Town of Chester started plans for their new Senior Center in 2017, and located it behind their new police station. Like other places originally started to keep elderly busy,  It has become a place enjoyed for all ages and all kinds of fun activities, and has even included line dancing.

Just about every room has a fireplace with beautiful mosaic

Blooming Grove has been designing plans for a state-of-the-art Senior/Activities Center for several years, and received a Community Block Grant to fund it.  While the plans are all ready, construction has had delays due to COVID-19 issues over delivery of the steel framing . It will also include a variety of enrichment programs. Blooming Grove Supervisor, Rob Jeroloman,  said he expects a call by the end of this week on a projected delivery date for the construction materials.  The town has a smaller senior center by the Town Hall,  but this new Center, just inside of Lasser Park, is in the perfect spot since the Park is already a hub of community activity  with its active concentric sports fields. It will have plenty of space for enrichment activities with its 6,000 sq. ft. footprint which includes a Community Room, Classrooms and large Kitchen. The park site also includes some views of the Schunnemunk Ridge, and plans are to make just about every section of the park wheelchair accessible. The large  Community Room will be multif-functional, and large enough to offer just about any kind of event.  Cost will benefit from the $340,000 Community Block Grant. Jeroloman said he hopes that this time the materials delivery schedule will hold true so they can begin the foundation work followed by a start of construction in June.

Alice and Tom Desmond married in 1923 and bought their 14-room Mansion and surrounding grounds on Albany Post Road in 1930.  Tom Desmond received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and an Engineering degree from M.I.T.  He was a contractor and engineer, who made a substantial fortune building 129,000-ton cargo ships for the U.S. Government at the Newburgh Shipyards during World War I.  As an engineer, he later supervised the building of skyscrapers in New York City.  Tom Desmond went on to become a NYS senator, and served in the NYS Senate from 1931 to 1959.  During the 1950’s, he was the wealthiest member of the NYS Senate, and gave generously to many causes, including large gifts to M.I.T.   The Desmonds cultivated their beautiful property, including a large private arboretum, for which the Desmonds were well known.  Senator Desmond died in 1972 and Alice Desmond died in 1990.  Mrs. Desmond left the “Desmond Estate” on Albany Post Road to Mount Saint Mary College with the express intent that the college should offer adult-enrichment classes, which the Mount did for decades.  Mount Saint Mary suspended classes at the Desmond during Covid, and announced in August 2020 that it would have to sell the estate for financial reasons and move its classes to the college’s main campus.  “There is no question,” said Piaquadio, “that Mr. Kaplan was the driving force behind what is now the Desmond Center for Community Enrichment.  It was Mr. Kaplan who spearheaded the meetings, in Fall of 2020, amongst Mount Saint Mary leaders and town officials, and Mr. Kaplan who offered the grants to allow the purchase by the Town at no cost to the taxpayers.”

The Town has brought back many staff and instructors who were previously at the Desmond when it was part of the Mount.  There was a “soft opening” of classes during Summer of 2021.  Fall of 2021 has seen a full return to programming, with over 45 classes, many of which were sold out, from Conversational French, to Painting and Art history classes, literature, travel, History, poetry, journaling, Mah-Jong and more.  

Adult Enrichment Classes are open to those ages 18 and up, with discounts available to residents of the Town of Newburgh.  To register for a class, visit the Town of Newburgh Recreation website.

Story and photos by Edie Johnson and Juliana LoBiondo

(See more photos in this week’s Orange County Post-Sentinel)