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Hudson Valley News

 The union that represents some 100 workers at Monticello Casino and Raceway in Monticello has signed two agreements with Empire Resorts, operator of Monticello Casino and Raceway in Monticello.

The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council and Empire Resorts’ subsidiary Monticello Raceway Management, Inc. have signed a five year agreement with the existing employees at the casino and raceway, which includes annual salary increases, set wages for new hires and addresses employee contributions toward health benefits.

Hank Gross / WAMC

Responding to two instances of mob violence against police officers in just the past few days, the Newburgh Police Benevolent Association came out Tuesday with a demand for answers and action from the Newburgh City Council to protect its police force.

Among the issues brought up by Teamsters Local 445 Principal Officer Adrian Huff was an insufficiently staffed department, especially at night.

Hank Gross / WAMC

By the end of the year, the financially troubled Westchester Medical Center is expected to face a $60 million deficit and members of the County Board of Legislators Tuesday expressed their concern for the health of the patients, employees and the hospital.

One-third of all of the MTA’s claims resulting from flood and wind damage from last year’s Tropical Storms Irene and Lee were from crippling of the Port Jervis Line, which had sections decimated with rail beds washed out and rails torn up and left as twisted masses of steel.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said $65 million in losses were suffered by the entire transportation system.

Halfway through the year, Westchester County Government is facing a $29.7 million deficit.

County Budget Director Lawrence Soule chalked it up to the continued effects of the weak economy and related continued low income in sales tax, mortgage recording tax and other revenues, as well as increases in union settlements and retirements on unsettled contracts, and higher than projected healthcare costs.

The warmer weather early this year saved the county some $2 million in costs, Soule said.

Orange County Executive Edward Diana has just over a month before he must present his proposed 2013 county budget to the legislature.  He has prided himself with bringing in fiscally conservative spending plans with little to no property tax hikes.

Michael Hein
Hank Gross

Roads maintained by Ulster County will not be treated with brine used from fracking wastewater.  County Executive Michael Hein signed legislation Thursday at the county highway garage in New Paltz banning the brine from being used on county roads.

The byproduct of fracking will not be used on our roadways,” said Hein. “The truth is that the environmental costs are off the charts. Their bargain is bad and the price is too high.”

County Legislator Kenneth Wishnick, a New Paltz Democrat, introduced the legislation.

Residents of Columbia County will soon have a Reverse 9-1-1 system in place... the new notification technology will be deployed as soon as possible. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

This week the Columbia County Board of Supervisors agreed to implement a new CodeRed emergency notification system. Although widely reported as "a response to the TCI chemical fire in Ghent" - Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Tom Lanphear says plans were in the works before the fire broke out.

A New York state supreme court judge has ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's controversial payroll mobility tax is unconstitutional. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed back in 2010 by officials in Nassau County. Several other municipalities in the Lower Hudson Valley, Putnam and Westchester and Putnam counties among them, later joined the lawsuit to have the MTA tax overturned.  

A State Supreme Court justice in Nassau County ruled on Wednesday that the MTA payroll tax is unconstitutional. The tax has been levied on all employees in Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as the five boroughs of New York City.

Businesses and not-for-profits in the entire MTA region have been screaming bloody murder since the state legislature imposed the tax to help bail the New York City transportation system out of its massive financial woes.

As the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, parent corporation to The Kingston Hospital and Benedictine hospital, both in Kingston, work up their plans to close Kingston Hospital and consolidate its healthcare services under one roof at Benedictine, a new purpose for Kingston Hospital may be emerging.

Mayor Shayne Gallo told that he is having discussions with companies about converting Kingston Hospital into a medical college.

If the Orange County-owned Valley View nursing home is not sold to a private company soon, the county faces a large property tax increase and layoffs next year. That was the warning Tuesday from County Executive Edward Diana.

Diana stopped the funding for the facility as of July 1, but county legislators extended it through September. In the meantime, they have been reviewing four proposals from private companies to buy the facilities with no decision to date.

Diana told that without a sale very soon, drastic measures will have to be taken.

This week, many of the nation's leaders in STEM education are heading for Mt. Kisco-based company "It’s About Time"... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

Rep. Chris Gibson
..:: WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas ::..

Mid-Hudson farmers brought their concerns to state and federal lawmakers at a forum at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson Monday night.

Chief among their concerns was the lack of affordable land access for farmers, said Lindsey Shute of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Three Democratic Hudson Valley state lawmakers applauded a new law that will provide mandate relief to BOCES systems by generating new revenue and saving taxpayers money.

“The new law will be a great opportunity for BOCES to not only share their innovative educational curricula and programs with schools, facility and students outside the state, but also less the burden on taxpayers by raising revenue from other sources beyond New York,” Assemblywoman Sandy Galef said on Monday.

Senator David Carlucci also said the relief will provide benefits for BOCES.

Governor Andrew Cuomo formalized the state's request for federal support to build a new bridge replacing the Tappan Zee on Monday by signing a letter of intent to Washington. Addressed to US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, it acts as an application for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) funding. The bridge is projected to cost over $5 billion.

Controversy continues in the wake of the TCI chemical fire early this month in West Ghent. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has the latest...

Many residents in the vicinity of the burned out TCI facility believe the system of checks and balances failed - and they're looking to government leaders for reassurance - within a day or two after the fire questions were being raised about the way locals were notified about the inferno and the possible contamination dangers from any residue after it was extinguished.

A transportation board has approved a plan to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge. WAMC's Dave Lucas has more.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council approved the project on Monday.

The county executives of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam said previously they would vote in favor of the project.

Their vote was crucial for the project to qualify for federal funds.

Under the current plan, the bridge will have a dedicated bus lane during rush hours.

New job numbers released by the New York State Labor Department are fueling some optimism - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports...

The figures show private-sector employment in the Hudson Valley increased by 16-thousand 500, or 2.2 percent, to 761-thousand-900 during the 12-month period ending July 2012.

The Putnam-Rockland-Westchester metro area experienced the greatest job growth at 3.1 percent. That area ranked third of the 14 New York state metro areas rated by the state Department of Labor.

Some 15 years ago, there was discussion about the possibility of extending Metro-North’s commuter service on its Hudson Line beyond its northernmost station in Poughkeepsie. The idea of going further north to Rhinecliff died.

There are currently no plans to extend the service now, but Metro-North President Howard Permut said other work is underway on that stretch of rail, which is also used by Amtrak.

Home Sales Up In July

Aug 17, 2012

 Home sales rose year over year in July in both Rockland and Orange counties, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.  Both single-family and condominium sales increased for the year ending in July as well as year-to-date in both counties.

Rockland County saw the larger gain in single-family home sales year over year at 30 percent while they rose by eight percent in Orange County. 

So far in 2012, in the first seven months, home sales rose by 10 percent in Rockland County and by three percent in Orange County.

The three county executives on the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council announced on Thursday their intention to vote yes at the next session to include the new Tappan Zee Bridge project in the region’s long-range plan.

A unanimous vote qualifies the project for federal funds.

Westchester Executive Robert Astorino, Rockland Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and Putnam Executive Mary Ellen Odell committed to signing off on the plan.  Astorino said that decision was reached after talks with Governor Cuomo.

Hank Gross

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota visited Dutchess County this week on a "goodwill mission" of sorts - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports:

The MTA owns the Metro-North Railroad which operates the Hudson and Harlem lines in Dutchess County. Joe Lhota  told a crowd of about 200 business people at a County Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast that "It's a new day at the MTA."

Apple Drought

Aug 16, 2012

The cherished autumn tradition of Apple Picking is off to an early start in the Northeast as growers deal with aftershocks from wacky spring weather that hammered fruit crops - three state Assemblymen are calling  for a special session of the Legislature to pass a tax relief bill for New York’s apple farmers.

Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

Hank Gross

Joseph J. Lhota, the new leader of the MTA told Mid-Hudson business people on Wednesday that the transportation agency is negotiating the possibility to bring Metro-North's Hudson and New Haven branch trains to Penn Station, part of a reciprocal agreement which would allow LIRR service to Grand Central. That’s where Metro-North’s service terminates.

A lot of “complicated” details must be worked out with the Long Island Railroad, which uses Penn Station, Lhota said.

Hank Gross

Union workers held a rally outside the Dutchess County Office Building Wednesday afternoon, criticizing IBM for taking public tax incentives while they say Big Blue created no new jobs.

The event culminated with a mock “Hall of Shame” award presented to the corporation, formerly one of the largest local employers.

In continued downsizing, IBM recently laid off 25 custodial staff at its East Fishkill facility.

A fictional character, dressed up like the millionaire from the board game Monopoly, accepted the medal on behalf of IBM, while mocking taxpayers.

A Hudson Valley woman has been sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for trying to kill her 72-year-old mother after telling her "you're a dead lady tonight." WAMC's Dave Lucas has details.

Local media outlets report that Lois Lubrano was sentenced in Ulster County Court in Kingston on Tuesday, two months after she was convicted of attempted murder and attempted assault.

Authorities say the 42-year-old fired a shotgun at her mother in June 2011 during an argument at the home they shared in Napanoch, 70 miles south of Albany.

State police say a 14-year-old girl is in critical condition after she ran into the side of a moving vehicle while trying to cross a Hudson Valley road. More from WAMC's Dave Lucas.

Troopers say a 51-year-old man was driving on a road I the Columbia County town of Greenport shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday when the girl attempted to cross the road and ran into the vehicle.

She was taken to a local hospital before being transferred by helicopter to Albany Medical Center, where she's listed in in critical condition.

Troopers say they don't expect to charge the driver.

Hank Gross

After over a year of negotiations, Ulster County and its 1,300 member CSEA have reached a tentative agreement on a new four year contract. 

The contract includes no pay raise in the first two years, a 1.75 percent raise in the third year, 2013, and a two percent raise in the fourth year, 2014.  The pact dates back to January 1, 2011 and extends to December 31, 2014.

The TCI Fire that lit up Columbia County skies earlier this month has left a lot of questions in its wake - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief  Dave Lucas reports

When the TCI plant in West Ghent went up in flames on August 1st, plumes of thick black smoke and a series of explosions forced the imposition of emergency measures across parts of Columbia and Rensselaer counties in New York and Berkshire County in Massachusetts.