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Hudson Valley News

Hank Gross

Plans to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge took a major step forward with Tuesday’s announcement that the Federal Highway Administration has issued a record of decision approving the state’s plans for the structure. The federal approval completes the last step in the review of the project’s environmental impact, allowing the state to move forward with implementing a plan to build the new bridge.

Public officials from the federal, state and local levels as well as business and construction leaders hailed the announcement.

Prosecutors say a former suburban New York political leader has pleaded guilty in a residential mortgage fraud scheme. WAMC's Dave Lucas reports.

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore says former North Castle GOP Republican Chairwoman Loronda Murphy pleaded guilty to the felony charges on Tuesday.
Murphy and a co-defendant operated a mortgage closing company in Armonk, N.Y. in 2009.
Prosecutors say they ran what amounted to a Ponzi scheme.

Dave Lucas / WAMC

Business and Community Leaders gathered today in Poughkeepsie to hear proposed plans for expanding economic Power of the Walkway Over the Hudson... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was there and files this report.

 Increased awareness of the signs and treatment of Lyme disease are among the recommendations of a special task force created by the Ulster County Legislature.

The report was presented to Legislator Robert Aiello, chairman of the Health Committee.

Among the recommendations were a medical provider survey to establish baseline data for educational needs for program development and development of an education conference for medical providers for treatment and diagnosis of the disease.

Hank Gross

State Senator Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie has been declared the winner in the Republican primary election, defeating Conservative Neil DiCarlo when all of the absentee ballots were tallied. He won by 107 votes.

DiCarlo will appear on the Conservative line in the November election along with Democrat Terry Gipson.

The new 41st State Senate District includes portions of Dutchess and Putnam counties.

A man who admitted helping his girlfriend commit suicide — by jumping with her off the Tappan Zee Bridge — has been sentenced to probation. WAMC's Dave Lucas reports.

The Westchester County district attorney's office says 45-year-old Christopher Shears will be getting continued mental health treatment rather than jail time.

Shears jumped last year with 29-year-old Alfa Choice after stopping their car on the Hudson River bridge. Both were from Ithaca.

Hank Gross

A five-year capital plan has been endorsed by the Sullivan County Legislature. The bottom line tops $18 million.

County Manager David Fanslau says there is a no fat in the plan.“Reduced dramatically the amount of capital programs that would be initiated in 2013. We also have reduced the amount of capital programs that would be funded out of the operating budget in 2013 as compared to 2012,” he said.

Hank Gross

Hundreds of elected officials and supporters gathered Sunday evening at the Diamond Mills ballroom in Saugerties, to celebrate the career of Maurice Hinchey. The veteran congressman will be retiring in January because of health reasons.

The $100-per-plate annual fall dinner list of attendees comprised a Who's Who of local politics. The venue represents a departure from the traditional Kingston destination for political functions. Organizers desired a spot closer to Hinchey's hometown, and also a showcase for alternate catering destinations throughout the area.

Several inmates in a New York jail have filed a $500 million lawsuit because they're not allowed to use dental floss. More from WAMC's Dave Lucas

In a federal lawsuit first reported by The Journal News, the Westchester County inmates claim they're losing teeth and suffering pain.

They claim that the jail acknowledges the need for floss and that other jails permit flossing.

The lawsuit names the county and its corrections commissioner, among others.

New York City Subways.

At a time when Metro-North commuters are facing a possible 32 per cent fare hike, a report by the MTA's Inspector General has found Metro-North and the Long Island RailRoad are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars each year because workers in the field are illegally idling their vehicles - WAMC's Dave Lucas reports

In New York State the maximum vehicle idling time is 5 minutes.

An audit found vehicles idled for a combined 20,000 hours each month, wasting over $800,000 a year.

In his ongoing effort to reduce a projected multimillion-dollar budget deficit for 2013, Dutchess County Executive MarcMolinaro is capping the amount of sales tax revenue distributed to its municipalities at $25 million. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

Dutchess county was projected to share $29.5 million this year. But the County Executive intends to drive down the overall cost of government.

That initiative powers Marc Molinaro's 2013 budget proposal, aimed at starting a multi-year transformation of Dutchess County Government.  

Ulster legislators were not ready to vote on a resolution directing the clerk of the legislature to post information that would assist municipalities in enacting local ordinances prohibiting hydraulic fracturing.

Most lawmakers are on record opposing fracking in the county, but they could not come to agreement on whether the resolution on the agenda was quite ready for prime time.

Democrat Richard Parete said it wasn’t.

Anti-fracking signs

The cost of fracking to harvest natural gas in New York would be high in terms of both the effects on the environment and the costs to the public, according to a report issued Thursday by Environment New York.

The group’s director, David VanLuven, said New York would face the same negatives as other states have when fracking was permitted.

The hamlet of Livingston Manor is devastated again. This week’s flash flood washed out bridges and damaged over two dozen homes.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther called the governor’s office and toured the devastation with state Transportation and Environmental Conservation officials and representatives of FEMA.  She said the residents of the hamlet can’t go on like this with repeated massive flooding.

Hank Gross

Six community colleges in the Hudson Valley are included in a consortium of 30 SUNY two-year schools that will receive $14.6 million to fund worker training and education programs that will help unemployed workers learn skills essential to securing local jobs in emerging industries.

Dave Lucas / WAMC

Governor Andrew Cuomo is has announced the selection of a review team to assist in selecting the final bridge design for the Tappan Zee ... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.



Two of the nation's most influential science journalists are making a special appearance this week in the mid-Hudson area, where they will engage in dialog and debate – Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

Andrew Revkin, author of The New York Times “Dot Earth” blog -and- John Horgan - who  writes the “Cross-check” blog for Scientific American, are meeting Thursday night at the Beacon Institute, where they will discuss the future of technology.

Hank Gross

A handful of New York's top education officials visited Poughkeepsie High School, during a site tour made on Tuesday afternoon.

NY State Education Commissioner John King was joined by Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Regent Harry Phillips, and Chief of External Affairs Dennis Tompkins, to meet with local school administrators.

Together, they dropped in on faculty meetings, several classes, and the school computer lab, where they chatted with students, observing how recent grant money has been allocated.

Superintendent Laval Wilson led the tour.

Flash floods raced through Livingston Manor on Tuesday washing out bridges and roads.

The downtown area was under several inches of water with reports saying the community got some six inches of rain in a two hour period. The Cattail Creek overflowed its banks sending floodwaters into residential and business areas.


County Manager David Fanslau said county roads 149, 179, 96, 123, 19, 81 and 82 in the towns of Rockland, Callicoon and Neversink were closed Tuesday night, but were open and passable to school buses Wednesday morning.

A new report says ripple effects from closing New York's Indian Point nuclear plants could cost billions of dollars a year. WAMC's Dave Lucas has more.

The report from the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute estimates a shutdown would add at least $76 to the average New York household's annual electric bill.

It says businesses and industries would pay much more, and as many as 40,000 jobs a year could be lost.

Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner's plan to remove more trees from his riverfront property in upstate New York is raising concerns among his neighbors and drawing scrutiny from local officials. WAMC's Dave Lucas has more.

The Daily Freeman of Kingston reports that Wenner has already removed about 300 trees from the Hudson River's east bank where he owns a 69-acre estate in the northern Dutchess County town of Red Hook.

Dave Lucas / WAMC

Pattern for Progress is out with its annual housing report - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has details...

In "Housing the Hudson Valley, Unlocking the Opportunities" Pattern for Progress finds the lower Hudson region not much better off than a year ago. Westchester is the only county where the housing market is poised to be getting back on track.

Unemployment rates, foreclosures, short sales and a tightening of mortgage underwriting criteria for both buyer and builder are all slowing economic recovery in the Hudson Valley.

AP Photo

Eighteen of the former patients at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie who came in contact with a traveling technician who infected people at other hospitals with hepatitis C came up clean from the illness at St. Francis. One of the former patients, did, however, have hepatitis C, but it was a strain other than that carried by David Kwiatkowski, who is now under arrest in Massachusetts.

Hank Gross

Folk icon Pete Seeger was the showcase performer at Clearwater's barn raising ceremony, held Saturday afternoon at Rondout Landing.

Scores of volunteers from the Timber Framers Guild toiled since sunrise to build the Kingston Home Port and Education Center, located at the Hudson River Maritime Museum on Rondout Landing.  The shared facility will shelter Clearwater's flagship and crew members during cold weather, and be used by the museum during summer months to build smaller boats, among other functions.


Ulster County is “holding its own” in terms of fighting the gang and drug problem, Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum said.

The sheriff credits the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team – URGENT – created in 2007, with helping to keep a lid on crime.

A day-long barn-raising Saturday along the Rondout Creek puts the finishing touch on a winter homeport for the sloop Clearwater - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

In January, the state announced $400,000 would be given to the Hudson River Maritime Museum to help pay for the construction of a permanent homeport for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. The grant was to be matched by the Clearwater organization and the museum. An additional $125,000 grant was secured --- Clearwater Board President Allan Shope donated timber and architectural services

New York City Subways.

Metro-North commuters are being warned they may have to dig deeper into their pockets - a watchdog group is telling them to prepare for a fare hike of around 32 per cent - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's"Payroll Mobility Tax" or PMT - was approved by former Governor David Paterson in 2009 to avert service cuts as the MTA battled a record deficit. Last month, a judge ruled the PMT unconstitutional.

A security lieutenant at the Indian Point nuclear power complex has filed a $1.5 billion lawsuit in state Supreme Court, claiming the facility is unsecure, and that staffers regularly watch DVDs, play video games and sleep on the job. The suit also claims the plant routinely fails anti-terrorism drills. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

 In the last three days alone, gas prices in the Middletown area rose 15 cents, to well over $4.  How much more they will rise is an unknown. They are increasing at comparative levels across the Mid-Hudson and Catskills regions.

The economy may be showing signs of recovery with increased home sales, but the skyrocketing gas prices put that growth at risk, said Orange County Chamber of Commerce President John D’Ambrosio.

A mid-Hudson Valley airport gets an FAA Award that will be Used to make improvements which in turn will stimulate the regional economy. WAMC's Dave Lucas reports

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U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have announced just over $627-thousand dollars in federal funding is being awarded to Kingston-Ulster Airport to upgrade runway infrastructure. The funding is allocated through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program.