An Interview with… Mandy Clifford, NFA Dance Teacher

Mandy Clifford. (photo by Michele Wing)

By Michele Wing

Mandy Clifford, Newburgh Free Academy dance teacher, has been dancing for as long as she can remember. Clifford’s dance students have gone on to perform in various productions, including “Hamilton.”

Clifford was born in a suburban town outside of Atlanta, Ga. As a child, Clifford’s mother said she needed an outlet for her energy. She’s been involved in training, performing, and teaching dance ever since.

Starting with ballet and tap, Clifford began competing at age 10, and continued through high school. Encouraged by her instructors to go into performing, Clifford set off for college at Marymount Manhattan to earn a degree in fine arts. While in college, she developed an interest in choreography. But after sustaining a knee injury, Clifford decided to pursue teaching.

“You can only dance when you’re young; those dance years are very competitive and the older you get the more difficult it is,” she said. Clifford continued dancing with a couple of companies and auditioned for parts, but her focus turned toward a career in choreography and teaching. “I have to say, I like it a whole lot more than performing. I like the crafting of it (a production), the building and creativity involved.” Clifford says she likes having a voice in what gets on stage, and having her vision unfold.  She received a teaching certificate, and decided that “performing would be for fun, not for paying rent.”

Clifford started a cooperative student-teaching position at Julian Richmond School in New York City. Because of work commitments and having a rented apartment in Manhattan, she opted to attend college year-round, and was able to graduate a year early with a degree in dance performance and a minor in education and Spanish.

After getting her teaching certificate, Clifford decided to get her master’s in dance education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She obtained a master’s in education with a concentration in choreography.

Around that time, she married her husband, Don, whom she met while at school in NYC. The couple settled back in NYC.

To read the full article see the Feb., 10 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Heavy Snow Wallops Local Area


A severe snowstorm hit Orange County on Feb. 9. More than a foot of snow was reported in various locations. The storm paralyzed the area. Schools were closed, flights were canceled, and local business and government were at a standstill. New Windsor, Newburgh, and Cornwall town halls were closed due to the bad weather. Newburgh City Hall remained open as of early Thursday afternoon. However, a city council work session scheduled for that evening was canceled. A chance of snow is likely again heading into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Seen here is Robinson Avenue near Newburgh Free Academy’s North Campus on Feb. 9. (photo by Mark Gerlach)

Meeting Aims to Calm PFOS Water Concerns, But Fears Remain

Seen here is a photo of Beaver Dam Lake taken from Shore Drive in New Windsor. Residents that live near the lake are concerned about chemicals, such as PFOS and PFOA, which have been detected in the lake and nearby private wells. (photo by Bob Root)

By Mark Gerlach

An estimated 150 Beaver Dam Lake residents attended an informational meeting about chemicals called PFOS and PFOA, which have been detected in various bodies of water in the area, including the lake and nearby private wells. The crowd came to the meeting seeking answers, but many left with lingering concerns.

Washingtonville Middle School’s auditorium was filled about a third of the way for the Feb. 6 meeting.

“I feel like we’re kind of in the dark,” Mary Hyde, 54, of the New Windsor section of Beaver Dam Lake said after the meeting. “We really don’t know what’s going on.”
A northwest portion of Beaver Dam Lake has a high concentration of the chemicals. The perimeter of the lake is called the “yellow zone.” Tests are still underway to examine the extent of contamination in the “yellow zone.”

Beaver Dam Lake has tested positive for PFOS. However, the lake is mostly used for recreational purposes, not drinking water. Eighty-two private wells have been tested in the nearby area, about 24 of which were found to contain PFOS and PFOA.

Where PFOS and PFOA have been detected in private wells, the contamination levels are below the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory of 70 parts per trillion in all but one location, which isn’t used for drinking water, a DEC Fact Sheet said.

A number of residences have added treatment systems to their wells, to eliminate PFOS and PFOA. The state has reportedly picked up the tab for the treatment systems. Shallow wells are generally more susceptible to contamination.

About 800 homes are in the Beaver Dam Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District. Of those homes, approximately 650 use private groundwater wells. The remaining homes receive water from the Beaver Dam Lake Water Corp. Samples collected from the Beaver Dam Lake Water Corp. tested negative for PFOS and PFOA, the DEC says.

To read the full article see the Feb., 10 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Beaver Dam Lake PFOS Contamination Meeting Rescheduled


By Mark Gerlach 

A Department of Environmental Conservation meeting about perfluorinated compound sampling in the Beaver Dam Lake District has been rescheduled for Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Washingtonville Middle School Auditorium, located at 38 West Main St.

The meeting was originally scheduled for Jan. 24, but canceled because of bad weather. The public is invited to attend the meeting.

Research and sampling is being conducted to determine if chemicals, such as PFOA and PFOS, are effecting drinking water in the Beaver Dam Lake area.

State Department of Health and DEC personnel are scheduled to attend the meeting. Residents can call the Department of Health to determine if their well is in an affected area and request a free well water test by calling 518-402-7880.

The chemicals were found in sampled Beaver Dam Lake surface water and tributaries in June. However, the lake isn’t used for drinking water. Water sampling of private wells in the area has been ongoing. Recreational use of the lake is all right, according to the DEC.

To read the full article see the Feb., 3 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

New Windsor Volunteer Ambulance Corps Holds Installation Dinner

XX Ambulance Corps 2663.JPG

The New Windsor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, or NWVAC, held its annual installation dinner on Saturday, Jan. 28. NWVAC responded to 3,124 calls last year, with an average response time of slightly over six minutes. Its members volunteered more than 24,000 hours.

Seen here are NWVAC Top Responders (from left to right): Marvin Kent, Deborah Gesner, Tom Kotzias, Alishba Singh, Kris Mastrorocco, Karl Manhardt, Dawn Marshall, Darlene Nash, Vincent Engenito, and Tyler Huff. The award was presented by Michael Bigg and Courtney Polkowski. (photo provided)

To read the full article see the Feb., 3 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.

Washingtonville Budget Passes 3-to-2

Residents Call It “Sham”

Washingtonville’s village hall teemed with 150 vocal residents on Jan. 30 for the second 2017 budget hearing, which trustee Joe Bucco called “Fake Budget 2: The Sequel.” He and trustee Tom DeVinko voted against the budget, while Mayor David Heintz and trustees Joe Galante and Ed Figueroa voted for it. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

The Village of Washingtonville’s final 2017 budget presentation saw 150 residents pack village hall on Jan. 30 as Mayor David Heintz and trustee Joe Galante announced they brought the tax increase down to 1.5 percent. But residents called the budget “a sham” and the numbers presented as “fake.”

After a contentious Jan. 25 meeting, Galante had given the budget to trustee Joe Bucco and said, “I’m done.” On Jan. 27, a group of 10 professional certified public accountants, all volunteers from the village, joined Bucco from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. to try to make sense of the budget, which had gone from a possible 12 percent to a revised 5.7 percent increase, but many line items were deeply flawed, according to the CPAs. They concluded that the budget appeared to be made of “artificial numbers.”

Bucco said he was not surprised at their conclusion, describing it as “the same fake budget the board has been passing each year.”

Resident and trustee candidate Rich Calore, a property manager, said: “It’s a mess. The CPA ladies need to see all the old reconciliations to figure out where the money has been going. They tried to do it on Excel spreadsheet to find out exactly what we’re dealing with and how to see numbers that reflect reality, but that’s going to take a lot more time.”
CPAs Amy Chaing and Margaret Griffin asked specific financial questions, which Heintz and Galante did not effectively answer. Heintz insisted a municipal budget was different from a private budget, but residents applauded Chaing when she argued that numbers were numbers, and that the budget pointed to deep inconsistencies, missing sums and major question marks. Other residents pointed to gaps in the village’s reserve funds. The CPAs crunched numbers and concluded that the real tax increase is actually 7.2 percent, not the 1.5 percent Heintz and Galante presented.

Kevin Radday, owner of Betty’s Country Kitchen, suggested that the incoming administration have a professional accountant oversee the yearly budgets. Trustee Tom DeVinko agreed, saying, “There’s a lot of talent in our village and we really do need an accountant-type comptroller, municipal or private, or else a group of citizens assisting the board as a volunteer task-force.”

To read the full article see the Feb., 3 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.


Moffat Library Construction Continues

The Moffat Library is currently a construction site. Seen here is the east side glass-walled rotunda, which will be the children’s area. New slate roofing tiles can be seen to the right. (photos by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

A lot has been going on at the iconic 1887 Moffat Library building in the heart of Washingtonville after its groundbreaking last April, according to its board of trustees. After years of securing funding to save the severely water- and time-damaged historic building, and after much groundwork was laid in planning and organization, the expansion and renovation is finally visible to people driving through town, thanks to an open view of the construction.

The west side entrance will face the new parking area

Standback Construction of Washingtonville, owned and run by longtime resident Robert Amend and sons Tom and Jim, is handling the renovation and expansion. They were also the main muscle and organizational expertise behind the quick move in fall 2011 of all Moffat’s books and documents to the library’s temporary location in Campbell Hall to avoid ruin by water and mold. Standback did the interior construction of the temporary location, which is owned by local Washingtonville company Advance Testing. The space was offered to the library at a greatly-reduced rent immediately after Hurricane Irene.

The east side glass-walled rotunda will be the children’s area. New slate roofing tiles can be seen to the right.

“The clock tower will be completely restored,” Standback’s Tom Amend said. (Tom’s first child, daughter Hannah Rose, was born Dec. 1). “It will be done in place, via a lift, since it’s too structurally vulnerable to remove and re-secure.”

One of the fireplaces and the extensive time and water damage in the old interior.

Throughout the fall and early winter months of 2016, work on the shell, or “envelope,” of the Moffat building took place, so that interior work could be done during the deep winter. This included pouring concrete for the flooring, securing the original foundations, adding ramps, putting up steel framing and metal roofing and installing some of the windows. It also included exterior brickwork in keeping with the original, and a thorough cleaning of all the original brick. Slate roofing tiles like those originally used in 1887 are currently being installed, replacing the asbestos tiles used during a 1950s renovation.

Framing inside the new main hall.
Standback’s Tom Arnold (right) talks with Moffat Library director Carol McCrossen (left) in the old center hall.
The dark vaulted center hall will now see light from new added spaces surrounding the building’s exterior.









To read the full article see the Friday, Jan. 6 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.






Who Are These Four War Heroes?

Questions surround this memorial located outside of the Salisbury Mills Fire Department. The monument is dedicated to four World War II heroes: Richard Dean Marsh, Carl J. Fleischer Jr., Harry Devitt and Walter G. Burger. Call us to help unearth their stories. (photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)

By Mark Gerlach

The Sentinel and Orange County Post are searching for clues about the background of four war heroes listed on a monument, which is located outside of the Salisbury Mills Fire Department.

The monument, dated 1947, reads: “This tablet is erected as a permanent tribute to those in our community who served in the armed forces of our country during World War II. And in memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice.”
Four men are listed on the stone, including Richard Dean Marsh, Carl J. Fleischer Jr., Harry Devitt and Walter G. Burger.

The men appeared to have returned safely from World War II, and there is no mention that they were killed in action, according to Blooming Grove Town Historian Jeanne Versweyveld.

Versweyveld shared the following information about the men:
Devitt was the son of William and Margaret Devitt. He was born in 1906 and enlisted on April 7, 1942. Devitt’s rank was private. He was single and worked as a carpenter.
Fleischer was the son of Carl and Mary Fleischer. He was born in 1916 and enlisted on July 14, 1942. Fleischer’s rank was private. He was unmarried, and worked in a manufacturing mill producing paper and pulp.

Marsh was born in 1916. His parents are George and Pauline Marsh. He enlisted July 14, 1942 and was single.
Burger’s story is “a mystery,” Versweyveld said, as little could be discovered about him.

The firehouse has been in its current location since 2005. It’s believed that the memorial stone was transplanted from the department’s previous firehouse. However, an attempt to verify this information was unsuccessful by press time.

Requests have been submitted to The Sentinel and Orange County Post to help find more information about these four war heroes. Anyone who’s familiar with their stories is asked to call 845-562-1218, or email

Councilwoman’s Lawsuit Costs City Thousands

By Mark Gerlach

A lawsuit filed by Councilwoman Cindy Holmes last March has cost the City of Newburgh $4,480. The price tag on the city’s total defense costs was confirmed by City Comptroller Kathryn Mack after an inquiry from The Sentinel. The costs are from March 28 until Dec. 31, 2016.

Holmes filed the lawsuit against the city and City Manager Michael Ciaravino after data was deleted from her city-issued iPad. In her lawsuit, Holmes claims she was violated under the 14th Amendment, pertaining to procedural and substantive due process. Holmes said she was surprised on Jan. 8, 2016 to find her iPad was cleared of data, such as documents, photos, emails and other information.

City council members receive iPads for city-related responsibilities. Other council members also had data on their iPads deleted.

Ciaravino said the decision was made to clear the data after a breach that left city information and accounts unprotected.

Street Renamed “John Spear Way” in Washingtonville

Assemblyman James Skoufis and Sen. Bill Larkin joined the Spear Family, St. Mary’s Church pastor Jeffrey Maurer, and local government officials for the unveiling of John Spear Way in the Village of Washingtonville. The portions of Route 208 north and south also known as South Street and Goshen Avenue are now John Spear Way.

“John genuinely cared about the community and devoted his life to making it better. It is gratifying to know that people fondly remember him and the family is honored to have a permanent memorial,” Spear’s wife, Mary, said.

“If there was ever a Washingtonville resident who deserved the honor of having a street named after them, it’s John Spear,” Skoufis said. “John was passionate about making our community a better place for everyone. From serving for 50 years on the village planning board to mentoring multiple generations of children in the CYO basketball program, he touched the lives of so many… The newly minted John Spear Way will serve as a testament to John’s love of the Washingtonville community and a celebration of his life of dedication and service.”

“John Spear was a deeply beloved and respected citizen of the Village of Washingtonville, and was a person who dedicated himself to enriching the lives of local residents,” Larkin said. “Renaming the road in his honor is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated so much of his life to the betterment of his community and neighbors.”

“I would like to thank Senator Larkin and Assemblyman Skoufis for their work here,” Washingtonville Mayor David Heintz said. “John’s life deserves to be celebrated here as a memorial to all the lives he touched for the better.”

After the ceremony, a reception was held at the CYO Basketball building, which was started decades ago by Spear, who passed away in 2015.