Animal Activists Unite, Vow to Help Save Cats

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Colleen Bailey of New Windsor, vice president of Precious Paw, Inc., speaking at a city council meeting about possible solutions to help the city with its feral cat problem. (photo by Bob Root)

By Mark Gerlach

A large crowd of animal activists packed into city hall on Jan. 9 to offer possible solutions to the city’s feral cat problem on Van Cleft Avenue. The city ultimately turned down a proposal from Project Cat, Inc., and is now examining a local veterinarian’s offer to provide her services to the city pro bono. Local shelters and organizations also said they’ll pitch in.

A resolution to hire Project Cat, Inc. for $2,000 was shot down. Only Councilwoman Genie Abrams voted in favor of hiring the organization. “I love cats as much as anyone,” Abrams said. “We’re not voting to kill cats.”
Project Cat is a “non-profit, environmental conscious, animal welfare organization dedicated to assisting felines in need in our local community,” its website says. The non-profit organization says its mission is to “alleviate (the) suffering of cats by providing rescue, shelter and humane care with the ultimate goal of placing them into permanent homes.”

“We adopt out cats. We take them in, fix them up and try to find good homes for them. But there are many cats for which homes cannot be found; feral ones, sickly ones, injured ones,” Gail Mihocko, Project Cat founder, said at a November workshop meeting.
Animal activists, many of which weren’t city residents, attended the meeting to provide alternatives. During public comment, speakers cited concerns with Project Cat’s alleged euthanasia policies.
Veterinarian Laura Stein of Cornwall offered her services, free of charge, to remove, neuter, treat and euthanize, if necessary, the cluster of cats on Van Cleft Avenue. “To hire a random women who is not a licensed professional to trap and kill cats with taxpayer money is appalling to me,” Stein said.

Mayor Judy Kennedy said she was unaware that Stein had offered her services at no charge prior to the meeting. “What we have to do is make sure that people, (who) also have property rights, can live in their homes without cats overrunning the place,” Kennedy said. “Until tonight, until standing right here, I did not hear that there was a vet willing to come neuter cats.”

To read the full article see the Jan., 13 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

SUNY Orange Campuses Close After Bomb Threat

By Mark Gerlach

Both SUNY Orange campuses, Newburgh and Middletown, were closed Nov. 10 after a bomb threat. Local authorities later gave the college an “all clear” message, and deemed the area safe.

“Unfortunately, threats of this nature have become all too common occurrences on college campuses and at many other venues across the country,” Kristine Young, SUNY Orange president, said. “Today, SUNY Orange was the victim of a bomb threat. Thankfully, the members of our College community were never in danger and all are safe.”

The college received a bomb threat for Harriman Hall and the Bio-Tech Building on the college’s Middletown campus at about noon on Nov. 10. The buildings were immediately evacuated, as were adjoining buildings and Morrison Hall.

As a precaution the college was closed and classes were canceled. The Newburgh campus was closed as a safety precaution and to avoid confusion, SUNY Orange Communications Officer Mike Albright said. Middletown police dispatched seven K-9s, bomb sniffing dogs, to search rooms on every floor of Harriman Hall, as well as the Rowley Center, Bio-Tech Building and Hudson Hall. No explosive devices were discovered. The investigation into the source of the threat is ongoing, according to Albright.

The college returned to normal operations on both of its campuses on Nov. 11.

Local Fire Departments March in Annual Parade

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(photo provided)

Many local fire departments took part in the 2016 Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association parade on Sept. 24 in Monroe. The Vails Gate Fire Department, seen here, was represented at the parade. The Vails Gate Fire Department won best overall.

For more photos and coverage see the Friday, Sept. 30 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Primary Day Around The Corner on Sept. 13

Primary elections will be held on Sept. 13. For those outside of the county that day, absentee ballots can be obtained by calling the Board of Elections at 845-360-6500, visiting their website (orangecountygov.com/elections), or in person at their office at 75 Webster Ave. in Goshen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The board’s office will be open for extended absentee balloting on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. until noon.

Here’s what to expect on the ballot:

State Senate challenger Christopher Eachus is solo on the Working Families Party line in Blooming Grove, Chester, Cornwall, New Windsor, City of Newburgh, and the Town of Newburgh, among other locations. Eachus is taking on incumbent Republican state Sen. William Larkin in the general election in November. There will be a write-in space for the Women’s Equality Party for the state senator seat in the same locations.

Robert Freehill and Steven Brockett will be on the ballot for county judge on the Green Party ticket in Blooming Grove, Chester, Cornwall, Hamptonburgh, New Windsor, both the city and town of Newburgh, and elsewhere.

Blooming Grove:

Philip Canterino and James O’Donnell will be on the ballot for the Conservative, Independence (District 2), and Republican (District 2) line for an Orange County Legislator seat.

Cornwall:

Michael O’Connor and Lynn A. Beesecker will vie for the Conservative and Independence lines for town justice.

City of Newburgh: Dorcas Brown, Joseph Fogarty, Yvonne Garriques, and Jason Alfred will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District One. Voters can pick two candidates.

Hilary Rayford, Roxie Royal, Daniella Jones, and Benilda Armstead-Jones will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Charline Boyle, Mark Carnes, and Zina Woody will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District Three. Voters can pick two candidates.

Jerry Maldonado, Luis Fonseca, and Gay Lee will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s First Ward, District Four. Voters can pick two candidates.

Nancy Colas, Kevindaryan Lujan, Ramona Monteverde, and Nadene Speer will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee in the city’s Second Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Lillian Burgarelli, Jason Muller, Jonathan Jacobson, and William Hernandez will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee in the city’s Third Ward, District One. Voters can pick two candidates.

Judith Kennedy, Mary Phillips, Mary Keller, and William Keller will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Third Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Owen Fraser, Deborah Danzy, and Tamle Hollins will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Third Ward, District Three. Voters can pick two candidates.

Regina Angelo, Lori Angelo, Robert Sklarz, and Roberto Orduna will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Third Ward, District Four. Voters can pick two candidates.

Karen McCarthy, Mary Korchinsky, Jeffrey Gardiner will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Fourth Ward, District One. Voters can pick two candidates.

Patricia Sofokles, Candace Nicholas, and Lisa Dally will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee for the city’s Fourth Ward, District Two. Voters can pick two candidates.

Cindy Holmes, Anissa Williams, Gabrielle Hill, and Yvondra Sims-Bruce will compete to be a member of the Orange County Democratic Committee in the city’s Fourth Ward, District Four. Voters can pick two candidates.

Washington Lake Water Levels to Be Reduced

By Mark Gerlach 

Water levels in Washington Lake are being reduced to avoid further perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, contamination, which has been detected in the lake at levels exceeding Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation hired a contractor to lower Washington Lake’s water levels, DEC spokesperson Sean Mahar said in an Aug. 22 email. Reducing the water levels will help avoid PFOS contamination spilling over the lake’s dam and polluting other water sources. After treating the water with portable granular activated carbon treatment units, it will be discharged from Washington Lake to Silver Stream, Mahar said.

The contractor was on site on Aug. 22 “to start mobilizing equipment and begin preparation work,” a letter from Martin Brand, DEC deputy commissioner of remediation and material management, to City Manager Michael Ciaravino said.

“The plan is designed to reduce the water levels in Washington (Lake) to avoid a release of PFOS contaminated water over the spillway and into the (Quassaick) Creek watershed in the event of an extreme weahter event,” Brand wrote. “This option will also treat the water to remove PFOS and thus not contribute contaminants to Silver Stream.”

To read the full article see the Friday, Aug. 26 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

 

Emergency Room Closure Stirs Public Indignation

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Area residents, as well as elected officials, voiced concerns about a recent announcement from St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital that its emergency room in Cornwall will close in October. The concerns were stated at an informational meeting held by the hospital at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor on July 25. Seen here is a fleet of ambulances packed into St. Luke’s emergency room parking area in Cornwall. (photo provided)

By Laura Giner Bair

Area residents expressed feelings of disappointment, anger, and distrust this week after St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital announced that its emergency room in Cornwall would be closing in October. However, the closure is necessary for the hospital to comply with healthcare reforms and alleviate debt, according to St. Luke’s.

“It’s going to be a burden on us,” Michael Bigg, chief of the New Windsor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said about the closing. Bigg is also vice president of the Cornwall Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “What are they going to close next?”

St. Luke’s outlined why they are closing the facility at a meeting held at Anthony’s Pier 9 on July 25. Closing the facility would help the hospital comply with national guidelines that require healthcare providers to coordinate efforts to prevent illness and harness costs, which were set in motion by the Affordable Care Act, and allay financial concerns. The state is requesting that hospitals scale back “unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits by 25 percent,” a press release from St. Luke’s announcing the closure said.

By closing the emergency room, the hospital can maintain other services at the Cornwall campus, hospital executives said. Closing the Cornwall emergency room would allow St. Luke’s to accomplish its “goal of keeping the Cornwall campus alive,” Joan Cusack-McGuirk, the hospital’s interim president and chief executive officer, said.

The Cornwall facility includes outpatient radiology and laboratory services, a medical office building, radiation oncology, an infusion center, and other services and offices.

“We are in an era of healthcare reform… not react to illness, (but to) prevent illness and protect wellness,” Cusack-McGuirk said.

St. Luke’s is operating with a debt of $65 million incurred prior to 2009, Tom Gibney, senior vice president and chief financial officer at St. Luke’s, said. The hospital was denied two state grants this year totaling $50 million. St. Luke’s is reimbursed less than the full amount of care for approximately 77 percent of its patients, Gibney said. The hospital is reimbursed 88 cents to the dollar for Medicare patients, which make up nearly 50 percent of total patients. Reimbursement for Medicaid patients is 66 cents per dollar.

Mark Gerlach contributed to this report.

To read the full article see the Friday, July 29 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

 

St. Luke’s Emergency Department In Cornwall To Close

By Mark Gerlach 

St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital will close its emergency department in Cornwall on Oct. 1, an announcement from the hospital said. The decision was made by the hospital’s board of trustees. The move will “align” St. Luke’s with “healthcare reform trends and initiatives,” a press release from St. Luke’s said.

“As healthcare evolves, we must look at all programs and services to ensure that we are best meeting the needs of our patients in a way that maintains our commitment to quality and is financially sustainable for the entire health system,” Michelle Rider, chair of the SLCH Board of Trustees, said.

New York State is requiring hospitals to cut back on “unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits by 25 percent,” the announcement from the hospital said. Closing the unit will “result in a $3.2 million improvement on the hospital’s bottom line.”

Some do not agree with the decision, however.

“St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital’s proposal was an affront to the community three years ago and it is an affront now,” a brief statement from Assemblyman James Skoufis, who’s running for reelection, said. “The hospital’s plan to close the Cornwall emergency room will not move forward without a fight.”

“I am disappointed that St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital has decided to close its emergency department in Cornwall,” Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said in a statement. “In the past, when community hospitals have been at risk, New York State has stepped in with emergency aid and assistance… I encourage state officials to work with the state (Department of Health) to deliver emergency aid to St. Luke’s, as has been done elsewhere to save hospital services.”

To read the full article see the Friday, July 22 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

False Alarm: Gun Threat A Recording

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Police were notified after office workers overheard a production company conducting voiceovers of a man threatening people with a gun. The incident, a false alarm, caused surrounding buildings to be evacuated and a portion of Route 9W to be closed. (photo by Bob Root)

By Mark Gerlach

A swarm of police activity buzzed at 436 Robinson Ave. in the City of Newburgh Monday afternoon at about 3:33 p.m. Police were reportedly searching for a man threatening people with a gun. However, the threat heard was a recording from a production company working on voiceovers.

The violent recording was heard by nearby office workers, and the police were notified.

Filmmaker Courtney Allen was working with director Shawn Strong and actor Gary Sauer on a voiceover for a web series called “At Risk,” a press release issued by the producer after the incident said. The production company is called Phanatics Entertainment.

Both the city and town of Newburgh police departments responded to the scene, as the building is located on the line between the town and city. A perimeter was established around the building, surrounding buildings were evacuated and traffic on Route 9W was blocked off. SWAT teams searched the offices.

For the complete story see the Friday, June 10 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

 

Alleged Gang Members Charged With Gun, Drug Charges

Nine alleged members of the Yellow Tape Money Gang in Newburgh have been charged with gun and drug charges.

The gang “pumped large quantities of crack cocaine into the streets of Newburgh,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press release. An indictment was unsealed in White Plains federal court on June 1.

The following were charged with narcotics conspiracy: Tyrin Gayle, Laquan Falls, Gabriel Warren, David Brown, Brendan Germaine, Rashun Evans, Laquavious Boykin, Brittany Hall and Christopher Johnson. The suspects allegedly conspired to sell crack cocaine in the Newburgh area from about Oct. 2015 to May 2016, police said. Narcotics conspiracy involves the possession and distribution of 28 grams, or more, of crack cocaine. The charge carries a minimum prison term of 5 years, and a maximum of 40 years.

Evans was also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The charge carries a minimum prison term of five years and a maximum term of life in prison.

For the complete story see the Friday, June 3 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

See Friday’s Sentinel, O.C. Post For Memorial Day Parade Photos, Coverage

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Hudson Valley Regional Police Pipes and Drums marching in the City of Newburgh’s Memorial Day Parade last weekend. (photo by Bob Root)

See the Friday, June 3 Sentinel and Orange County Post for coverage of the Washingtonville, Town of Newburgh and City of Newburgh Memorial Day parades.