Goshen Secure Center Closure Protested by Martucci, Skoufis, Neuhaus, CSEA PEF

Not only jobs, but the future of the facility’s residents are at risk!

GOSHEN, NY (February 25, 2021) – Senators Mike Martucci and James Skoufis joined with Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and the Public Employees Federation (PEF) to call for the preservation of hundreds of local jobs at the Goshen Secure Center. The facility, operated by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, houses 29 boys who committed violent offenses while under the age of sixteen. It is slated for closure as a part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2021-2022 Executive Budget despite past promises to provide a one-year notice to communities.

“This decision will not only put local people out of work in the midst of a pandemic, but it will also move the boys receiving rehabilitation services at this facility farther away from their families,” said Senator Mike Martucci (R-C-I, New Hampton). “Budgets are about priorities and the number one priority on my list is protecting and creating good-paying jobs. The Hollywood tax credit is being extended in this budget to the tune of $425 million. There is no justification for more corporate welfare for Hollywood while the working men and women of CSEA and PEF at Goshen Secure are being put out of a job. I’m asking my colleagues in the Legislature to join us in rejecting its closure.”

Senator James Skoufis (D, Cornwall) said, “I stand with the hardworking union members of CSEA and PEF, as well as my colleagues in government, in fighting like hell to prevent the Goshen Secure Center from being closed. There is no doubt that the state needs to reduce needless expenses, but to go after a vulnerable population and take away good-paying union jobs is flat-out wrong. If closed, the young men dependent on the mental health and rehabilitation services that the Goshen Secure Facility provides will be forced to go elsewhere. This type of change is not only a job-killer and a disruption to the residents but would also force patients to move further away from their families. I’m calling on the Legislature to vehemently reject this proposal.”

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said, “The Goshen Secure Center provides important public safety services for New Yorkers. The employees are professionals who care about and are an important part of our community. I encourage the State Legislature to reject the proposed closure of Goshen Secure.”

CSEA Southern Region President Anthony Adamo said, “Goshen Secure Center’s close proximity to New York City has made it possible for youths to receive regular family visitation, a crucial component in the rehabilitation process. Closing the facility will make it more difficult for families living downstate to visit and may even create economic hardship for these already struggling families, due to increased travel costs. This rush to close Goshen Secure Center is not only shortsighted because of its impact on families, but it’s also unfair and disrespectful for workers who’ve taken on challenging careers in order to help these youths turn their lives around.”

Vincent Carioscia, PEF Division 193 Leader, said, “We urge the Legislature to reject the closure of the Goshen Secure Facility. Now more than ever at-risk youth need a place where they can obtain the specialized services they need. The governor says one of the reasons for the closure is because crime is down, when in fact law enforcement officials around the country are sounding the alarm about a rise in juvenile offenses stemming mainly from the pandemic shutdowns and remote learning. If we don’t help these kids now, they will cost the state more down the line. It’s Goshen’s mission to help young men stay out of trouble and teach them how to lead productive lives.”

S1765, bipartisan legislation supported by Senators Martucci and Skoufis, moved out of the Disabilities Committee recently. That bill would require one-year notice and legislative approval for any closure of an OCFS or State operated mental health facility. The final 2021-2022 state budget is due April 1st and will determine the fate of Goshen Secure and three similar facilities around the state.

BREAKING: “They’re taking the kids! They’re taking the kids”!

City of Newburgh – A small group of residents gathered in the area of 135 Williams Street at about 1:30 this afternoon and watched while the 2 remaining children were removed from the home from which Peter Cuacuas took his last breaths nearly 2 weeks ago. He was brought to Montefiore St. Luke’s Hospital and pronounced dead…efforts to revive him failed. The child who was only 7 years old is said to have been severely malnourished, and possibly starved and shackled, though police said that injuries in the area of his ankles could have possibly been from socks that were too tight.

Neighbors had immediately shared serious concerns that two other children were left in the house and have vowed to hold vigils each Wednesday until they find out what happened to Peter, and what will happen to the 2 other children. It is not clear at this time whether the two children removed today from the same home are from the same family. Today they were removed, ostensibly by Child Protective Services.

Resident Natasha Dennis and a friend took this video. She exclaimed

“There must be a God out here today.
Tbey’re taking the kids. They’re taking the kids!

Pausing for a moment, she added “Should have been done a long time ago.”

Photos are from video taken at the scene.

City of Newburgh Hires New Fire Chief

The City of Newburgh is pleased to announce the hiring of Francis “F. J.” Spinelli as Chief of the Fire Department. Chief Spinelli comes to Newburgh after completing a 28 year career with the Hartsdale Fire District in Westchester County, NY. Spinelli’s extensive experience in the emergency services started over 40 years ago as a volunteer and includes serving as the Director of the Westchester Career Chief’s Fire Academy. Chief Spinelli spent the majority of his tenure in the fire service in senior leadership as a career Deputy Fire Chief. In addition, Spinelli serves as a NY State Fire Instructor, and an active member of the NY State Incident Management Team. “Chief Spinelli brings extensive fire service knowledge, a public safety background, professional expertise, and leadership skills to his new role at the City of Newburgh,” states City Manager, Joseph Donat. “I am confident Spinelli’s proven track record and many successes will carry over to his work here in Newburgh and prove to be an asset to our community.” Known for his problem solving and team building ability, Spinelli served as Command Staff of the Westchester County Special Operations Taskforce for over seven years, coordinating and building a team of over 11 career fire departments for response to critical incidents in the region. He stated, “I look forward to working with members of the community, local businesses, City government, police department and our agency members to develop a strategic plan for the future delivery of fire and emergency services in the City of Newburgh.”

Councilmembers Mejia and Sklarz participated in an interview with Spinelli last month, and were both impressed by the experience and attitude he brings to the table. Councilmember Sklarz stated, “We welcome Chief Spinelli to Newburgh and look forward to him providing leadership to a department whose members keep us safe. With his experience in management, it is our hope that he will establish measures to monitor and control overtime expenditures to keep this spending within budget.” Councilmember Mejia applauded the hiring and commented similarly on his managerial experience when she stated, “Welcome Chief Spinelli to the Newburgh family. We are proud of our fire department and I look forward to growing the department by collaboratively managing overtime to create fulltime positions.” Mayor Torrance Harvey echoed the warm welcome provided by his colleagues and offered his best wishes to the Chief and members of the Fire Department, “ Congratulations Chief Spinelli. We all look forward to working with you in your significant leadership role in our Public Safety Department. Welcome to Newburgh!”

Mr. Spinelli has a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Service Administration from SUNY Empire State College, a Masters of Public Administration from Marist College, and is a Certified Chief Fire Officer (CFO). A lifetime resident of the Hudson Valley, Mr. Spinelli resides in the Town of Newburgh with his wife, Kathleen, and their multiple rescue dogs.

Vails Gate Firemen Remember Fallen Brother

Vails Gate Firemen Remember Fallen Brother

Thirty-five years ago, on February 14, we lost Vails Gate Fire Department firefighter Sean P. McGuire during a working structure fire in New Windsor. Last Sunday I joined my fellow department members to honor the memory of our friend and fellow firefighter as we do each year on its anniversary.

Wizard Boys Clinch Swim & Dive Conference Title

By Sue Carlson

History was made at the Washingtonville High School Natatorium this week when the Varsity Boys Swimming and Diving team went undefeated (5-0) in conference match-ups, out swimming and diving conference rivals. The boys dove into their 6-week shortened season January 19th, training six days a week under the direction of Head Coach, Jim Frisbie, and Assistant Coaches, Dan Wargo and Dawn Sroczynski, with one team goal in mind:  a banner.“This season may not look like every other season, but I can guarantee you that none of us will ever forget it,” stated Coach Frisbie, who arranged with the school to have the virtual meets streamed live for parents who are not permitted by Section IX to sit in the stands.Traditional “Senior Night” program was also held virtually with eight seniors being recognized for their dedication to the varsity program. Seniors were given shirts, and other swim related gifts from their families.” Frisbie added, “This season doesn’t look the way we expected it to look, but we are trying to treat it the same way we would under normal circumstances.”  Led by senior captains, Brayden Dwyer, Ryan Lerner, and Mason Rowlands, the boys knew in a virtual competition, it would be vital to motivate each other. “Motivation had to come from within this season more than ever,” shared Lerner, “I am proud of our team. We banned together and lifted each other up in a fanless, crowdless, noiseless pool.  We pushed each other, we swam hard, and we waited…to see how our times paired up against our opponents.Hearing we might be losing out on our season and then having states canceled was devastating,” added Dwyer, “It was something we had worked so hard for a long time.  After losing County last year by less than two points, there was nothing we wanted more than to come back this year and finally put a banner on our wall.

“When I found out that the season was being postponed and states canceled, I kept training everyday so I could help out my team as much as I could to do something special with the season that we do have,” commented Rowlands.  

When asked what the shortened season meant to him, Coach Wargo reflected, “History making. What these boys have and can accomplish this year is six years in the making, since our seniors joined the team as 7th graders. They can leave WHS knowing that they have accomplished something no other boys’ swim/dive program has done.” Coach Frisbie added, “I want to thank the boys for being so committed to the team.  There are a lot of rules that need to be followed each day and this group of guys have done so with class.  They have made their parents and our school and community proud.  I am grateful that we were able to share this season together!”
The Boys Varsity Swimming and Diving team will take their final positions on the block and board on Saturday, February 27th, as Section IX holds a virtual championship. Wizard boys will band together one last time and take a second shot at making school history.


(Photos provided by Briana Marin)

Caption 1:  Handshakes and high-fives are set aside in Covid-19 times. Seniors Ryan Lerner and Mason Rowlands “elbow bump” – a new sign of sportsmanship across Section IX.

Caption 2: Team Picture: (First Row) Raymond Roa; Luck Sanchez; Ryan Lerner; Tony Mantali; Christopher Czenszak; Aaron Gonzales; Brayden Dwyer; Jason Gannon; Mason Rowlands; Owen Dwyer; (Second Row L-R):  Coach Dawn; Coach Wargo; Majed Watad; Jeromy Finnigan; Adrian Rivera; Brian Hitnariansingh; Cooper Wright; Ryan Godfrey; Sebastian Powzaniuk; Tyler Briceno; Jackson Vinarub; Adam Kellman; Jack Donlon; Coach Frisbie; Not Pictured:  Aaron Hamilton and Thomas Bertocchi.

A Gift For A Good Man

Newburgh – When Councilwoman Patty Sofokles herd that Newburgh resident George McNeil had been cleaning his neighborhood block every week and doing a spectacular job, and that he was scheduled to go into the hospital for surgery, she invited him to come to her office and surprised him with a Gift Certificate. It was just a little special sign of respect, but something to look forward to when he was able to go home and recover.

One Step At A Time: Mount alumna finds continued success after spinal injury

Newburgh –  Like many professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanna Sheppard of Brookhaven, N.Y. wakes up each morning and goes to work virtually – in her case, as a Client Services associate for Morgan Stanley. But Sheppard, a 2016 graduate of Mount Saint Mary College, took an extraordinary path to her seemingly ordinary life.

About 14 years ago, Sheppard dove into her pool from the middle, expecting to coast along the slanted floor to the deep end. Instead, she hit the concrete head-on and cracked her C5 vertebra in half. Were it not for her younger brother, she would have drowned. When doctors saw the first x-rays, they were not very hopeful. For months, it seemed that Sheppard’s autonomy had been left in the depths. But as her family, coworkers, and Mount friends can tell you, the accident was just a new beginning for the determined young woman.  Some of Sheppard’s right hand and right leg remain partially paralyzed, but it’s become less of an obstacle and more of an inconvenience over the years. As a freshmen in 2012, she walked to class aided by crutches. As a senior in 2016, she walked across the commencement stage unaided. Today, she can be found working out at her local gym on her own. While it’s certainly a big part of her life, Sheppard’s injury does not define who she is.“My spinal cord injury doesn’t affect the big picture,” Sheppard noted. “It affects my everyday life – it’s hard to walk, it’s hard to do everything, but I still do it.” Recently she had been advocating for spinal cord injury awareness, including serving as an ambassador for The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

About a year ago, Sheppard reconnected with Lawrence T. Force, a Psychology professor at the Mount and director of the college’s Center on Aging and Disability Policy. Force’s son, Patrick, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2019. In response, the Force Recovery Foundation was created to be present for individuals and family members on the spinal cord recovery path through the implementation of “Transformational Care” – that is, compassionate family support, knowledge-based advocacy, and innovative medical interventions. The foundation can be found online at www.theforcerecovery.com  

CAPTION 1 and 2 (2016): About 14 years ago, Hanna Sheppard suffered a major spinal injury. When she began taking classes at the Mount in 2012, she walked using a pair of crutches. At Mount Saint Mary College’s 53rd annual Commencement, she walked across the stage unaided. Photo by Lee Ferris.

Blooming Grove Steps Into Community Solar

By Edie Johnson

A project that has been sitting in the wings for several years finally broke ground. McCarthy Solar has been busy for the past 2 weeks grading, filling for a gravel driveway, and setting up erosion control around a roadway into their 2 megawatt Community Solar project that goes from Round Hill Road back through a wooded area toward Rena Marie Circle. The project will cover 22 of the site’s 169 acres. There are plans to buffer any visual impact with trees and the contract includes decommissioning should it  ever be necessary.

Town of Blooming Grove’s last February meeting was short and to the point.  With additional snow a nearly daily occurrence, there was continued praise for the Highway Department. Steve Amante, who represents Ward 6, noted that Central Garage has contributed much with their good equipment maintenance, saving the department in repair costs.  Highway Superintendent, Wayne Kirkpatrick, noted that while they had done exceptionally well over the past two years with the environmentally friendly and effective molasses and distillate mixture, and had saved $83,000 least year, they had been running very low on salt after the last two storms the salt issue was resolved over last weekend with a delivery of $1,700 Tons. Molasses helps keep the slip prevention materials in place, especially on steep hills.

Tom DeVinko, who represents the Village of Washingtonville Ward 2, said that Village elections are set for March 15.  He added that the Village’s budget had passed, with a 0% increase. Chuck Quick, Ward 3, noted that the SuperBowl Soup & Crackers fundraiser had been very successful, and that they are continuing to sell bricks for the Inclusive Playground. Sonia Ayala, Ward 4, reported that the Highway Department has continued to assist for broken water mains at a great savings, when they can. Police have been asked to crack down on Village of South Blooming Grove buses, which have been backing out into Museum Village Road and elsewhere.  They have, however, been moved from permanent parking in front of the Village Hall and that it improves the appearance there greatly.

Controversy continues over some changes in the Town Planning Board.  During the Zoom meeting, several residents connected to comment about the changes, which included reduction of the board member numbers to 5 and replacing the Planning Board attorney.  Johanna Kiernan said that the members have always been held in high regard, that there had been advantages to having the Town Board and Planning Board operate independently, and that legal fees had been paid out of applicant fees. Bonnie Rum asked what the specific benefit the changes would be to residents. Supervisor, Rob Jeroloman, responded that after a Public Hearing at which the potential changes had been discussed, board members decided to reduce the number to 5 to be in line with most other towns, and to use the Town Attorney instead.  In these difficult economic times, he said, “When research had been done about applicant fees in the Village, we found legal precedent that said a Town cannot burden the applicant with 100% of attorney fees.” 

The Town has hired 2 new part-time police officers and that brings the police force back to 13.

WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT WILL BE DONE? – 7-Year-Old Peter Cuacuas Feared Starved To Death And Shackled

City of Newburgh communities and their neighboring towns are grieving, and angry.  On top of the stress of families coping with the COVID-19 crisis and the worries about how their own children are handling it, they have worried and tried to help neighbors.  There is collective shock over the discovery that last week that 7-year-old Peter Cuacuas who was brought to Montefiore St. Luke’s Hospital was not breathing, and brought in non breathing, malnourished and many saing he appeared to have starved to death, and with marks on his ankles that may have been made by shackles.  Within a day, another child just 12 years old in New Jersey was also found shackled and chained. But that boy was “lucky”. He was still alive.  The child in the City of Newburgh was not as lucky, and was dead when a caregiver brought him to the hospital.  People in the City are outraged. They want to know how this could happen.  Did anyone follow up from his school at Temple Hill Academy? Or was he never even registered?. Did anyone notice how long the boy had not been seen? And what about CPS (Child Protective Services).  Had they been notified, as one resident on social media commented?  And of the concerns being shared, perhaps the greatest is “What is happening with the other 2 children who were in the home?”, and “Are my children and my neighbors’ children going to be safe?”

Asked if any follow-up by Orange County Officials is going to include any additional measures that can ensure that any school child is not present at his/her in-person or video school session for more than a day would from here on be subject to a child welfare check, the County Executive’s office responded,”The death of any person is sad, a child of course, is the saddest. Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”

The District Attorney’s office has announced the a Grand Jury Investigation is planned.

The Newburgh community understands that a criminal investigation cannot be discussed, at risk of nullifying results of a trial, if there is one.  But they still want answers, are holding vigils at the home on Williams Street, and ask that their community be kept in everyone’s prayers. One of the residents organizing the vigils  said  on Wednesday afternoon, “Myself and others will be holding a vigil marking one week since our beloved seven year old angel has left our community under unknown circumstances. As the community angrily and emotionally waits on answers; those of you whom work during the day are invited to attend this evening and each Wednesday going forward until we’ve received some answers.”  Others are adding comments to the hashtag #Save the children, and wondering if two children can be found in shackles and chains how many more might there be.

Newburgh Armory -St. Mary’s Outreach- February Giving Day, Friday, February 19, 2021 -Gate Opens at 9AM

BRING 4-5 TOTES OR A CART! WHILE SUPPLIES LAST

CHOOSE:Oil, Deodorant, Wipes, Soap, Toothpaste, Kleenexes, Dish Detergent, Shrimp, Cocktail Sauce, Italian PizzaMix, Pumpkin Pie, Beef, Chicken, Pork, Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Ham, Hot Dogs, Pork and Beans, Eggs, Sausage, DeliItems, Canned Tuna, Canned Chicken Breast, Pickles, Frozen Entrees, Whipped Cream, Butter, CheddarCheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Yogurt, Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese, String Cheese, Orange Juice, Milk, Coffee, Tea, Pecans, Walnuts, Blueberries, Carrots, Onions, Apples, Pears,Peaches, Applesauce, Potatoes,Peanut Butter, Jelly, Bagels, Crackers, Rice, Beans, Mac & Cheese, Stuffing,Soup, Applesauce,Granola Bars, Oat &Cornflakes Cereal, Mac &Cheese, Mayonnaise, Condiments,Spaghetti, Sauce, Canned Fruits &Vegetables, Candy, Cookies,Chips, Biscotti, Pudding, Snacks, Vitamins, Diapers, Baby Items, COATS,Clothes, Housewares

PLEASE PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING

Location: Armory Unity Center321 South William Street, Newburgh, NY 12550

ONE MEMBER PER HOUSEHOLD ONLY!

PLEASE BRING AN ID AND ANY KIND OF BILL.

God Bless! St. Mary’s Outreach: 845-541-8144