Orange County Climate Solutions Week Fair – Goshen – This Sunday

In celebration of the Hudson Valley’s first Climate Solutions Week, Orange County Department of Planning is hosting a Sustainability Fair on Sunday October 24th from noon to 2pm at the Village Green (by the fountain) at the 5-corner intersection of Main Street and NYS Route 207.  Please join us to learn about composting, energy, electric bikes, invasive species, and even help build a bee hotel. Cornell Cooperative Master Gardners will be on site to answer all  your gardening questions and demonstrate how to build a backyard composter. More activities still being confirmed!

FREE! All welcome. Great for adults and kids.  No rain date.

Be sure to visit HVClimateSolutionsWeek.org to learn about additional events occurring around our region. Contact Kate Schmidt with any questions at KSchmidt@OrangeCountyGov.com

RIBBON CUTTING AT DESMOND CAMPUS

On Thursday, October 14, 2021, the Town of Newburgh will be holding a Grand Opening Event at the Desmond Campus, located at 6 Albany Post Road, Newburgh, New York, 12550. The ribbon cutting is planned for 12:00 p.m. noon.

The Town of Newburgh received a grant from the William and Elaine Kaplan Family Private Foundation in September of 2020 to purchase this 29-acre property from Mount Saint Mary College.

In accordance with the late Mrs. Alice Desmond’s wishes, the Desmond Campus currently provides educational classes to seniors.

Town of Newburgh Supervisor, Gil Piaquadio, has invited the public to attend the event.

Youth Football Takes Off In Washingtonville

Washingtonville High School hosted the Washingtonville Youth Football & Cheerleading League (WYFCL) at their 10/2 Varsity Game against Monroe.  All of the children from the Football and Cheerleading teams from WYFCL were in attendance for the game and had the opportunity to be called out at halftime and enter the field through the Touchdown Club Tunnel.  The Mighty Mites team, ages 5-7 years old, ran several plays on the field for the Washingtonville and Monroe fans.  It was a truly memorable day for all of the children involved with this honor and recognition from the Washingtonville High School program.  Monroe won the game 28-13 over Washingtonville.

Jamie Ferrazzano
WYFCL President

Elizabeth Vazquez Receives LoBiondo Scholarship

Newburgh – on September 27, Juliana and Anthony LoBiondo presented a Scholarship Check for $600.00 to Orange County Community College freshman Elizabeth Vazquez. Elizabeth was one of dozens of students at NFA who applied for the Marie and Mariano Muyot Memorial Scholarship. The Guidance Department at NFA administers the scholarship and chooses the recipient, said Juliana Muyot LoBiondo, an attorney in Newburgh and daughter of the late Mariano and Marie Muyot.

The scholarship is awarded to an NFA student each year, who will be attending community college the following fall.  Mariano Muyot had been attending college in the Philippines when he answered the call to join the U.S. Navy at Subic Bay in Manila. He went on to serve in the Navy for seven years, ship side, said LoBiondo.  He was still in the Navy when he married his wife, Mary McCaffrey and when his two children were born. He became a US citizen by serving in Vietnam, specifically the Gulf of Tonkin.  He moved to the United States and began working for IBM.  “To finish up his college degree, he attended Dutchess County Community College and finally got his associates degree in 1971,” said Juliana MuyotLoBiondo.  “He went on to live a happy successful and productive life and he was able to do that because of Dutchess County community college. That is why the scholarship is awarded to a student who will be attending community college. In addition, my mother was a former Spanish teacher and very involved with ESL and the Hispanic community.  We ask that NFA give special consideration to students with a Hispanic background.  It’s especially fitting that we are able to make this award during Hispanic heritage month.” 

 “We are proud of Elizabeth and wish her all the best,” said Anthony LoBiondo.  “She was an outstanding student at NFA and is currently studying to become a dental hygienist at Orange County Community College.”

Caption 1 – Mariano Muyot, during his Navy days, holding baby Juliana Muyot, 1966

Caption 2 – Photo of Marie and Marie Muyot in 1967, Mariano was on shore leave from the Navy, visiting his family in Beacon.

Caption 3 – Photo of Elizabeth Vazquez (L) receiving $600.00 scholarship check from Juliana and Anthony LoBiondo, lawyers.  Photo taken at LoBiondo Law Offices.

Blessing Of Creatures Held In Newburgh

Newburgh – On Sunday, October 3, Father Bill Damroth, Pastor of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Newburgh, was at St. Francis of Assisi Church. He repeated what the patron Saint of the Church did during his lifetime – Bless all of God’s creatures, especially the animals. Since Monday, October 4 is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the traditional blessing of animals was held on the weekend.

Fr. Damroth, an animal lover himself, has 4 dogs, several cats and birds of his own, mostly obtained through the animal shelter, and was thrilled to see the large variety and number of dogs brought for the blessing. He has several bird feeders throughout the property. There was one small kitten among the brood. One couple stated their dog was stressed and couldn’t attend the event, so they stood in proxy for her.

There were no problems with the various breeds of dogs although they barked aloud to let each other know they were there. Unfortunately, the extremely loud music emanating from the Armory drowned out the ceremony somewhat; however, Fr. Bill said the appropriate prayers and blessings overplayed the unnecessary noise.

The owners brought their beloved animals from various locations. The farthest point traveled was by a family, from Pennsylvania.  When questioned as to why they came so far, the matriarch of the family said initially this was her Church and she was married here but then moved to Pennsylvania. Their two sons said they wanted their puppy, Blaze, to get his first blessing here.

Her sister, who lives in the Newburgh area, came with their puppy, Jett. Both Jett and Blaze are new additions to their families so both were brought in for their first blessings. Jett’s owner said today’s event was bittersweet since they used to bring their first dog, Malachai, every year to be blessed until he passed away.

Fr. Bill commented how the numbers have been increasing every year and that he is very happy to see how much compassion exists for animals. St. Francis of Assisi must be jubilant in knowing his love for God’s creatures is still thriving among the difficulties in today’s world.

Article & Photographs by James R Formato

Vigil Held To Remember Murdered Cab Driver

City of Newburgh – On Saturday October 2 on North Miller Street there was a vigil for Cab Driver Arbayza DeCruz who was robbed and shot to death on September 30.  Relatives, friends, family members and several cab drivers all met to remember a man that was just trying to make extra money driving a cab. On September 30 at around eight-thirty at night that all ended when someone robbed and shot him. City of Newburgh Police were called and attempts to save his life were made, but he died at Montefiore-St Lukes Cornwall Hospital. Pictures, candles, and balloons were set up on tables to remember the him.


 

Everyone at the vigil prayed together. His sister Juana Bendezu held a picture of Arbayza while standing next to his brother Mario Arbaiza. Karen Mejia, Ward One-city council member talked about the gun violence in the city and said she hopes to have it stopped. Chief of Police Anthony Geraci, Newburgh’s second in command, said that the violence has to stop and everyone in the community needs to get involved. He noted that he was at the shooting that night and watched city officers doing what they could to try to save Arbayza’s  life, and that “It was a shame that it happened”. He also spoke of the agencies that are working on the case and that the ATF has offered a reward for information and arrest. Family members thanked everyone for attending and requested that they stay and have some food that was provided

A Choice Between  Scenic Views & Cheap Electric?

By Edie Johnson

Community Solar continues to grow in popularity as people tighten their financial belts and try to cut costs.  Whether it’s a stand alone system, a rooftop display, or membership in a community solar group, it definitely offers the opportunity to cut monthly electric costs, and as a more healthy environmental alternative than oil, especially if the homeowner doesn’t go on an electric use spree when they receive their vastly lower monthly Orange & Rockland bill.  It might be as low as half or more of what they would otherwise spend on heat, air conditioning, lights, pool heating and other electric use (especially if they use electric for a significant portion of their heat). But do we have to trade our beautiful views for this benefit?

This week Blooming Grove’s Town Board discussed a request from Orange & Rockland, which has been constructing a large community solar array off the eastern stretch of Round Hill Road, for either a zoning change or Special Use Permit that would expand their substation on the Western end of Round Hill Road, in order to be able to handle the extra electricity that the solar array will create. They will bring a temporary mobile substation that can assist in the process. But the long term plan is an expansion including the adjacent property, which they would purchase for the purpose.  The existing substation is already a non-conforming use according to code.  Town attorney Brian Nugent said that as an existing non-conforming use it can expand within that site as long as it stays on the parcel.  But expanding to adjacent property would require either a Special Permit or Zoning change to the town’s “NNI” (non-nuisance industrial). He was asked to write a letter of opinion on the matter. This particular application includes only 3 additional transformer poles….but that’s just ‘for now’.

Two issues could complicate the process, both at this site and in the many other community solar arrays popping up throughout the county. In an area that is surrounded by significant unused acreage the substation has little impact on the environment or neighbors.  But if an NNI variance is granted it could open the door and set a precedent to requests for NNI variances on the additional adjacent vacant properties, much of them om wooded and scenic areas including some protected views and a scenic byways, surroundings similar to many other substations that were put in “out of the way” spots.

The other issue is therefore the potential impact on important scenic views.  A view is no longer scenic if it has dozens of telephone poles crossing it and with wires from each to the other.  The views that have brought painters and photographers to the area for over a century will be gone in another decade if the ever-increasing need for electric power and provision of more and more solar forever harms the beauty of the area’s scenic views. unless the utility companies either stand up and do the right thing by offering to bury poles and connections  in sensitive environmental areas, or the utility regulators require them to. Some states, including Alaska with its vast areas of parkland, require all of the utility lines to be buried in those sensitive areas.  Municipalities are very limited in control over the public’s wish to have lines buried. If Alaska can do it, why can’t we? It will take a concerted effort and ongoing pressure  by the public at the state level  to get it done, especially since all power companies usually need to do to get approval for expansion is go to the state regulating authority and “show a need for it”. Blooming Grove still has 3 very special views…the ‘jewels’ that many people come to town because of (the Moodna Trestle, the Woodcock Mountain View, Round Hill Overlook, and 4 spectacular sites of historic farmland)…can we afford to lose any of them? What will Orange & Rockland do over the next 10 years to make this added electricity available, without destroying the nature of the land, especially since they are reaping big financial benefits from delivering this solar generated power?

(Note: The author, Editor Edie Johnson, lives on this stretch of Round Hill Road)

Latino Democratic Committee Annual Dinner Dance

On Saturday, October 2, the New York State Attorney General Letitia James was the Keynote Speaker at the Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County Annual Dinner Dance.  Leadership awards were presented to Cándida Bidó (Community Activist), Norma Ramirez, and posthumously to Edwin Ramirez, Sr.  Norma and Edwin are the founders of the Hudson Valley Latino Scholarship Fund.    New York State Attorney General was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from the Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County. (photos provided)

Caption 1 – Award given to the AG – (left to right) LDCOC Chair, Sonia Ayala, NYS AG Letitia James and LDCOC Co-Chair Mary Olivera

Caption 2 – Latino honorees – (left to right), Edwin Ramirez Jr., New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Candida Bido.

“JUSTICE FOR PETER” – LETITIA BRAVO CHARGED WITH 2ND DEGREE MURDER


City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose Gomerez and Orange County District Attorney, David Hoovler stood shoulder to shoulder at Police Headquarters and announced what the public has been waiting for since last winter … murder charges in the death of 7-year-old Peter Cuacuas.  The child had been locked in a room until he was starving and malnourished.  His caretaker (who authorities believe is his mother and girlfriend of Peter’s father, Arturo Cuacuas, 56) brought Peter to Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital  on February 10, 2020  where he was pronounced dead. Community members held vigils and lit a memorial of candles for him for months.

Bravo was charged on Friday with Second Degree Murder.  Arturo Cuacuas was charged with Criminal Neglect Homicide.Bravo is currently in the Orange County Jail. DA Hoovler said that with current court backups it could take a year to come to trial, but there is a Court Date for a hearing on October 26.  Bravo will be kept in jail unless she comes up with $250,000 cash bail, $900,000 full secured bond, or $1.5 Million partially secured bond.  The sentencing for Bravo’s Second Degree Murder charge is 25 years to life in prison. Arturo Cuacus is facing a sentence of 9 months to 1 1/2 years.  Hoovler said the lesser charge was because the parental agreement put the caregiving responsibilities on Letitia Bravo, and the father saw Peter only one day a week when Bravo brought Peter to Arturo’s apartment.  Still, Hoovler shook his head and said it was obvious that something was wrong with Peter and his father should have seen that and done something, ““He weighed 37 pounds, and he was 7 years old. I don’t think there needs to be much more said than that,” Hoovler said..  Both Hoovler and Gomerez spoke fondly about the young boy and the horrific tragedy of his death. Gomerez made comments in English and then repeated them in Spanish, saying, 

City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose Gomerez


“We never forgot about Peter Cuacuas and their family.Sometimes these cases are complex. Sometimes they are difficult.Sometimes it takes a little time.We in the City of Newburgh Police might be a little short staffed in human resources,but we are rich in human talents.”


Hoovler thanked the new Commissioner for hosting the Press Conference, State Police, Child Protective Services, the entire Newburgh Police department for their diligent work and a lot of overtime, and the Detective assigned to the case for the extra time and effort that they put into this case, “It does not go unnoticed.”

(Original Story from last winter)

Cover story correction: Legislature Female Chairs include 2021 Katie Bonelli AND in 2009 Roxanne Donnery

This week’s Orange County Post cover said that Legislator Katie Bonelli is the fist Orange County Legislature Chairperson. Actually, democrat Roxanne Donnery was also a Chairperson of the Legislature in 2009. We regret the error.

Both have had a huge impact on Orange County government. The error occurred after a search of whether Donnery was ever County Executive, which she attempted in 2013, Steve Neuhause won in a hard fought contest with a 12% majority.

Whether Bonelli retains the Chair position for 2022 will be determined during reorganization in January.