County Top Cops Honored

Orange County was  finally able to honor its  2019 Top Cop, Deputy and Trooper Award recipients with a small luncheon. Town of New Windsor PO Ryan Sussman, Former Town of Newburgh PO Jackson Sewitt, Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Matthew King and Justin Forbes, NYSP Troop F Troopers James Ward and Matthew Hughes, and Troop T Troopers Melintha Hewage and Alex Grant each received awards. A special award was dedicated to the OCSO Explorers Post 5110 advisors and members. The STOP DWI Mid-Hudson Regional Top Cop Trooper Donald Savino was also recognized and awarded for his 103 DWI arrests. Orange County STOP DWI was happy to have recognized and awarded all the law enforcement officers for their time and dedication to DWI arrests,  keeping local roads and highways safer for us all.

Nothing New Here – Cornwall Football WINNING!

Some things happily rarely change, and this was true last week as Cornwall persisted at the last 7 on 7 football league at Frozen Ropes Rock Sports Center in Chester. Familiar faces and football lights were different than in other years, but there were plenty of smiles and ‘high 5’s’.

Cornwall is undefeated and going to the playoffs this week.

(Lots more photos of this game in this week’s Orange County Post)

Story and photos by Lynn Brewer Fern

Chabad Hosts Celeb Chef for Thanksgiving Cooking Event

Chabad’s Jewish Women’s Circle enjoyed a special evening with celebrity chef Susie Fishbein at “Everything but the Turkey.” Fishbein, named one of the most influential Jews in America, is the author of 9 best-selling Kosher Cookbooks.

The virtual evening was made extra special by each participant receiving a Gourmet Tasting Box which included a variety of Fishbein’s recipes, both from the demonstration as well as others from her cookbooks. Turkey Taco Egg Rolls with dipping sauce, Chestnut-Mushroom Soup, Apple Galette Crunch, Pumpkin Muffins, specialty cookies and a “L’Chaim” iced treat were enjoyed by the more than seventy participants of the event. All were gifted with a beautiful “Modeh Ani” prayer card to emphasize the Thanksgiving theme of gratitude.

The event was co-hosted with Chabad of Orange County, directed by Rabbi Pesach Burston and Chabad of Suffern, directed by Rabbi Shmuel and Devorah Gancz.  “Our communities are geographically close, and we have done events together in the past” says Gancz.  “In these times which are lonely for so many, it’s wonderful to once again introduce our communities and enjoy an evening together.”

In keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, Chana Burston shared thoughts about the Jewish perspective of gratitude. Devorah Gancz of Suffern shared inspirational ideas about gratitude, and introduced celebrity chef Susie Fishbein.   Fishbein taught three original recipes, each with unique variations.  She also introduced many novel cooking techniques as well as her favorite cookware.

“It was exciting to interact with Susie in her home-style kitchen setting – the kitchen in which she created recipes for her nine bestselling cookbooks,” said Hillary Cohen, of Middletown.  “Thank you so much for the fantastic demo and all the delicious goodies,” wrote Jodi Cohen, of Highland Mills.  “The Gourmet Tasting Box brought a more personalized feeling to a virtual experience,” says Chana Burston.  “We are all in our separate homes, at separate computers, yet enjoying the same food together as Susie demonstrates the recipe – it creates a feeling of togetherness and community.”

Chabad expressed appreciation to Stacey Finkelstein of Middletown and Sharon Stern who assisted Chana and Devorah in preparing the Gourmet Tasting Boxes. The evening dedication was sponsored by Dr. Suzanne Brown Berkowitz of Warwick.

Riverkeeper – Clean Sweep & Some Big New Commitments

Riverkeeper tends to work quietly in the background, and then “BAM”, they come up with new and wonderful things they have done for the environment in and around the Hudson River Valley.  Recently they announced a new mission, some big grants, and a new President.

In just one day, here’s what Riverkeeper and volunteers achieved on October 17, 2020, during the 9th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep:  1,100+ volunteers were involved and   67 projects were completed,  16.6 tons of debris removed including 1,880 pounds of recycling, plus other large debris (including scrap metal, shopping carts, 50-gallon barrels, plywood, and ropes), 98 tires removed,  399 trees or native plants planted or maintained,  and hundreds of pounds of invasive plants removed.

Last month Riverkeeper announced a new “Strategic Plan” with additional statements of vision and “A commitment to communities and life in the Hudson River watershed,” including a first-ever statement of core values, in which the organization commits to facts, science and community voices as the foundation of its work, among other principles.”

In late October, New York’s DEC Conservation Commissioner, Basil Seggos announced $855,000 for communities in the Hudson River Estuary.

In other big Riverkeeper news  last month, its current President and Riverkeeper, Paul Gallay, announced he will step down in June of next year.” He has been President since 2010.  A search committee will look for a successor.

Riverkeeper Sweep Brewery Partnership – with this year’s COVID-19 challenges, the Sweep partnered with breweries in the area (about 75 of them) and their brewery partners have donated a free beverage for every 21 and older volunteer at any of their three dozen participating breweries and bars. They encouraged reciprocal support by asking the volunteers to bring some extra cider or beer home for their families.

Real Estate Sales Soar

Real Estate Sales Soar

By Edie Johnson

It was Sir Isaac Newton who said “Every Action Has An Equal Reaction”.  The COVID Pandemic is no exception.  To say that the Real Estate Market in our area is “HOT” is quite the understatement.  And the better the sales get, it seems the word of mouth between city and country just has more and more people joining the Parade.  From New York City and its nearby suburbs out to where there are fewer crowds, more space and cleaner air, they all want to be where there is simply a better chance to survive.

We saw this week that refrigerated morgue trucks still sit in a row near the City, filled with bodies from the first wave of this Pandemic, and city-dwellers are experiencing not only a 2nd wave of virus, but some accompanying PTSD (especially since hospitals in the area are not only treating virus patients but the many people who are experiencing serious and long-term aftereffects, the “Long Haulers”).

In the nitty gritty of this rush for housing, word on the street is that people are not even offering the asking price for Orange County homes.  They are offering considerably above asking prices and getting into bidding wars.

Liz Schwartz Ridgeway of Rand Realty in Goshen says that rather than negotiate prices many buyers are looking to negotiate terms like either skipping inspection or having a home inspection for information only.  They are also asking for flexible closing timelines.  The Rand Realty Mortgage Chart shows that even though home prices have significantly increased in the short term, required mortgage payments are just about as low as they have ever been.

Some banks and lending companies are offering interest rates in the 2% to 2 1/2% range.

Debbie Schiraldi, a Sales Rep for REMAX in the area, says  “People looking are offering huge down payments, and there isn’t enough inventory.  As representatives we are complying 100% with the Governor’s mandates for PPE and protocols.  Bottom line is that if you do not have any kind of pre-approval you are not going to see a house.  The days of just looking and tire-kicking are over.”

And how do ‘the locals’ feel about this influx of “City People” to the country life.  Some are glad for the potential additional tax revenue because of new renovations, new homes and the higher taxes that may help offset the 30% or worse sales tax revenue numbers towns have seen since COVID began.  Others dread the city folk coming because of traffic and the high learning curve often seen of property management task management.  And they say that more new city dwellers will only bring in tax advantages if they have fewer school age children.  Otherwise, they say, higher school taxes will only negate potential property tax savings.

The next wave officials are hoping for is a soar in new and recovering business in the area.  While “Closed” and “For Sale” signs are in the dozens in many communities because of virus protection orders, fears, and even lack of supplies and workers willing to chance encountering the public all day,  big business is indeed booming.   Legoland is on a fast track in Goshen, Amazon’s new Warehouse in Montgomery and Delivery Station in New Windsor  are offering well over a thousand jobs.  The Amazon Delivery Station is seeking 100-150 workers at their 227,000 facility.  County officials just did a formal groundbreaking for the largest warehousing  the county has ever seen on Route 17M, and there are Amy’s Kitchen and Medline as well.  The job opportunities are skyrocketing, but many of the public wonder how much of the tax benefits of these huge mega companies will disappear with huge tax breaks,  and they mourn the current status of small business in the County.  They also wonder what these jobs promoted as “good paying” actually offer, and while there certainly is a range one source quoted Amazon as offering jobs averaging $32,156 which is barely a living wage in most municipalities across Orange County.

(Sales Charts from Patterns for Progress, Mortgage Chart from Rand Realty)

In City Of Newburgh, Dreams Come True

By Edie Johnson

Working with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, Yolanda’s Family, seen above at the entrance was able to have a sneak peek at their future home.  Many of us have learned about the hard work and great successes that have come through Habitat For Humanity.  But in case anyone doesn’t know the full extent of hard work required to make a success like this happen, it goes like this:  Applicants for a Habitat home go through a rigorous application process.  They then spend anywhere from 250 to 500 hours earning “Sweat Equity” so they are in effect earning the home.  This work occurs on construction sites at their own and other applicants’ future home sites as well as many hours of volunteering at Habitat’s Relief Store where home goods are shared.  When the Sweat Equity is about half done (and many of us who have purchased homes that are not brand new, can relate to the steep hill of accomplishment of renovations, adaptations, repairs and landscaping involved in any home purchase). At this point, when half of the work is done,  the family is welcomed for a visit at the site of their future home.  But they still have months more of sweat equity to accomplish as well as taking challenging home ownership classes that will ensure their future success. This includes classes about obtaining a mortgage, and lessons in minor carpentry, necessary landscaping requirements, and generally how to care for the home in the long future ahead.  The new homeowners will have mortgage and tax payments to make just like every other homeowner

This family, with all of the Sweat Equity they have put in,  has already shown an ability to do the work of being a homeowner and their performance is a measure of the happy future they will likely experience as well as the gratefulness they feel toward Habitat for helping them to find the home of their dreams.  Habitat usually works with about 8 families at a time, and so while working on the construction of each others’ residences to be, they become somewhat of a community of their own.  This home is dedicated to the memory of a beloved family member.

On a true “Thanksgiving” for Yolanda’s family,  It looks like ‘The Sky’s The Limit’  in their beautiful home to be.

Orange County Community Dev. Giving Out Over $1M In CDBG Grants

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Community Development Director Nicole Andersen have announced that nine municipalities will receive a total of more than $1 million through the 2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). These awards will enable communities to address local needs by pursuing a variety of infrastructure and ADA accessibility improvements along with projects benefitting seniors. 

“The County continues to partner with municipalities to ensure they can access federal grant programs,” Neuhaus said. “Through our Office of Community Development, we pursue meaningful projects to better the lives of Orange County residents. Today’s Community Development Block Grants will help committed local leaders across the County improve roads, drainage and water systems, and ensure access to public facilities for everyone. With local budgets challenged by COVID-19, these funds will have an even greater impact.”

Added Andersen: “I would like to thank the members of the CDBG Advisory Committee, our staff, and our partners in County Government for their thorough and thoughtful review of this year’s applications despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of Community Development is proud to efficiently steward these federal dollars into the County supporting diverse projects in our municipalities that are now needed more than ever. From infrastructure upgrades to accessibility, these awards will help communities prepare for the future by building a strong foundation for residents and businesses.”

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program enables local governments to undertake a variety of projects intended to create suitable living environments and generate economic opportunities principally for people with low to moderate income. CDBG funds are allocated annually to Orange County through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by the Orange County Office of Community Development. Since its inception in 1974, the CDBG program has improved the lives of millions of Americans by addressing the development needs of communities across the country.

2021 Orange County Community Development Block Grant Awards

Town of Blooming Grove: ADA Compliant Senior Center Construction – $340,000

Town of Cornwall: ADA Sidewalk Improvements – $125,000

Town of Deerpark: Old Cahoonzie Road Paving – $125,000

Village of Highland Falls: Senior Center Improvements – $125,000

Village of Otisville: NYS Rt. 211 Watermain Replacement – $125,000

Village of South Blooming Grove: Prospect Rd. Drainage Improvements – $100,000

Town of Wallkill: Greenway Terrace Drainage and Pavement Improvements – $125,000

Town of Warwick: Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center – Adult Day Program – $25,000

Town of Woodbury: Senior Center ADA Doors and Library ADA Entrance and Parking – $125,000

Hall Of Honor Expansion Brings Dignitaries

Dignitaries came from all over last Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the new Purple Heart Hall of Honor expansion on Temple Hill in New Windsor.  Among those present were CE Steve Neuhaus, Pat Larkin, Orange County Post Publisher, Everett Smith, and Board President Don Clarino.