“Good Job!” City’s Best Looking Ballplayers Go for 6th Title in 7Yrs

Hits: 0

WPCNR Press Box, by John “Baseball” Bailey, 3/13/02, 10:30 PM EST: There’s a quiet dynasty in town that’s had a better record than the New York Yankees the last six years, and never received a parade, championship signs, or a big recognition ceremony.

When you spell “softball,” you spell it W-H-I-T-E P-L-A-I- N-S.

THE WHITE PLAINS TIGERS CHAMPIONSHIP SOFTBALL TEAM. Tryouts over, Ted O’Donnell’s club heads to Virginia next week. They are getting ready to defend their League 1A Championship. The veteran team has won two championships in a row and five of the last six “A” titles. The champions (24-4 last year), will be together for their final title run as a team this spring in a tougher league. Coach O’Donnell is at far right. Coach John Roselli at far left.
Photo Courtesy, Ted O’Donnell White Plains Tigers

WPCNR interviewed Tiger mentor, Ted O’Donnell, “O’D” as his players call him, at his WPHS office to get his perspective on the “Champions nobody knows.”

O’Donnell is entering his seventh year as varsity softball coach, and he cannot say enough about his players’ dedication to getting better in their sport. His bushy steely gray reddish hair, soft-spoken voice, and perpetually sunburned complexion just says brands him a student of the game. Softball is his sport.

O’Donnell looks like Earl Weaver, the Baltimore Oriole Manager of the 1970s. And he’s been just as successful. O’Donnell is the former Junior Varsity coach who built the “feeder” system that created the “quiet” dynasty. It is his system that equipped White Plains girls to play fastpitch softball better, more consistently than any other program in the county.

The Quiet Coach Talks.

He doesn’t like to talk about himself, giving the credit to his players and their work ethic. O’Donnell, however pioneered encouraging girls with the talent to play at higher levels, and play summer travel ball. He brought in a new windmill pitching style, the California Drag. This style enabled the Tiger pitchers to dominate the county the last five years.

He gave such a pride and love of playing ball to his players that they play it all year round, just to get better. They love playing ball so much that all practice six days a week, play all summer, and deep into fall. They do drill after drill, many of which O’Donnell designed. They hone their trigger- step-explode hitting styles. They work at it.

The Quiet Players Do the Winning.

The White Plains Tigers show you how it’s done on the field, at the plate, and how to conduct yourself on the field. More than any other White Plains team, (all known for their good sportsmanship), the softball team sets the standard for conduct during a ball game. Nothing ruffles them.

Losses are quietly suffered, and any loss encourages them to just work harder. In fact, when the Tigers lose, they are at their best. They don’t take it personally. They don’t throw gloves. They don’t make excuses. They take responsibility.

Wanting to get better.

O’Donnell attributes the start of the championship run to when he was the Junior Varsity coach for six years prior to taking the Varsity job in 1995. He said he always felt White Plains had the talent to be a competitive team. In his time at the JV helm, he started a summer softball travel team and acquired players willing to “devote a lot of extra time developing their game…year-round.”

He and John Roselli won three consecutive titles after O’Donnell took the Varsity job. Roselli’s daughter, Kristin, was their dominant pitcher as a ninth grader.

All Softball. All the Time.

“Year-round” is the key to O’Donnell’s success. His players think and play and work at softball all year. He feels that to field a really good varsity program, you have to select the best athletes for the team, regardless of grade in school.

If they can play up to the varsity level, he brings them up. The result is there is no varsity learning curve. He gets three good varsity years out of them. Has a brief rebuilding year, where his players still win and is ready to win it all again. The only year they did not win the title was 1999. They lost to Ursuline 1-0, and 3-2 to lose the title by one game. That was an “off year.”

A veteran team poised for their final run.

This year the “Tiger Ten,” features seven seniors, one junior and three sophomores. He feels he will select two players from the Junior Varsity to bring up to complete the team, but has not decided on them yet. He prefers the players to play as much as possible.


This year the Tiger duo of crafty lefty Senior Jesse Orfe and sophomore Tara Pollard will split the wind milling. Orfe is coming off a 12-2 year in ’01, with a 0.77 Earned Run Average. Orfe’s poise, pitch selection and cool demeanor recall Whitey Ford, if Whitey Ford could windmill. Pollard, the straw-haired sophomore right-hander was also 12-2 with a 1.09 ERA. Last year Orfe and Pollard pitched 98 and 96 innings respectively. They averaged one walk a game.

This year the duo may be better. O’Donnell worked both pitchers with Olympic pitcher Lorie Harrigan, over the summer. (Hannigan pitched a no-hitter against Canada in the 2000 Olympics.) Harrigan, who uses the Drag, has refined the Drag to where she strides about three quarters across the power line to the plate to give her more speed. O’Donnell likes this theory.

He has fine-tuned Orfe’s and Pollard’s motions to give them a little more speed. Instead of striding straight to the plate in their California Drag motion, the coach, at Hannigan’s suggestion is having his “Koufax-Drysdale Team” “stride into the power line” with their stride leg about “three-quarters to bring more of their hips into the pitch.”


Behind the plate is senior Ciara DiFrancesco, the All-Section Catcher, and Hudson River Bandit, who will be backed up by Sophomore Jessica Issaacs. Jessica was the starting third sacker in 2001. This year when DiFrancesco is catching, Issaacs will play third, and when Issaacs is catching, Ciara will be on the hot corner.

Around the Horn

Out at shortstop will be senior, Cristin Pasqua, the All-County First Team Second Baseperson in 2001. O’Donnell describes her as having “excellent lateral movement, a strong accurate arm, with speed” to get to tough chances.

Moving to second base when she is not pitching is Tara Pollard, who can hit as well as pitch. When Pollard is pitching, impressive sophomore Kelly O’Neill will be at second base.

At first base is the statuesque (5’ 10”) and fearless Kathryn Fitzmaurice, a senior who stands in to choke off the bunt almost on top of the plate. She reacts incredibly fast getting back to take a throw or cut off a grounder in the first base hole with a great stretch. She is in her third year on the varsity.

Senior Picket Duty

The Tiger outfield is a trio of seniors.

Out in Centerfield, this is our last year to watch the graceful, far-ranging Leslie Busch cover “O’Donnell’s Bluff.” Leslie is a four-year starter, who made All-County First Team in 2001.

In a testimony to just how good she covers gaps, goes and gets’em, and shoestrings ‘em, Leslie has won a softball scholarship at SUNY Albany, a Division I school, next year. O’Donnell is very impressed with Leslie’s achievement saying Division I scholarships are very tough to get.

Flanking her in left field is senior Cyndi Carnaghi, the Hudson River Bandit, and another four year starter for Ted. He describes Cyndi as having a good arm and a good glove.

Cyndi, he says, played on an elite fall softball team, the Jersey Girls playing clubs in Delaware, California, Texas and Florida.

Out in right field is senior Kara Younkin in her second year on the varsity. A member of O’Donnell’s Rockland Stix summer team, he describers her as very committed.

A freshman making the team this year is the Little League standout, Candace Abbott, and Illinois native, who performed extraordinarily in the Little League Senior Softball Division last year.

Virginia swing coming up.

The team will be traveling to Virginia the weekend of March 23, to start a spring training swing playing top teams in the South to get ready for their opener April 5 at Ossining.

O’Donnell’s White Plains Fastpitch organization funds the trip through his clinics and fundraisers to charter a bus to take the team on down. The coach describes the Virginia Swing as a great bonding experience, good training conditions, and stimulating competition.

“The weather there is a little warmer. We get to play teams we would never see normally. Virginia’s got very very tough softball teams,” Ted said. “I set the games up against the top teams they have to offer. Last year we didn’t score a run in any of the scrimmages. But we were competitive. But that’s how good the pitching was. They’re a few weeks ahead of us, but we ended up the number 2 Class A ranked team last year and lost 2-0, and really played well.”

A Tougher League Awaits

This year the league has been trimmed to include the usual suspects: New Rochelle, Ursuline, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, and stranger in town, Yorktown has joined the league.

Dropping out of the league are the weaker clubs: Mount Vernon, Gorton, Roosevelt and Lincoln. It will mean playing five competitive teams twice instead of the Yonkers schools which were usually breathers in the schedule. It will be tougher to win it all. But the Tigers love good competition.

O’Donnell has also scheduled Pascack Valley, the Horace Greeley Tournament, North Rockland, Arlington, and wraps up the season with the Morabito Tournament which he describes as the top high school tournament in New York State, with Horseheads, Cornwall or John Jay as scheduled opponents.

O’D’S OTHER CLUB, THE ROCKLAND STIX: Many players from his Tiger roster, played in the AAU Nationals in the summer of 2001, splitting 8 games against what O’Donnell described as “all-star teams” from around the country. They enjoy playing the best. The season of 2002 is the last year White Plains will be able to see this great team together. Enjoy them. They will be talked about for years to come in terms of “Remember when?”
Photo Courtesy, Ted O’Donnell, White Plains Tigers

“Good Job”: the Praise that Pays.

Coach O’Donnell closed our talk expressing his admiration and respect for the dedication and commitment to the game that his players have shown him over the years.

He said they were totally unselfish, outstanding individuals, dedicated, who are dedicated to filling whatever role is asked of them. They just win, baby.

The quietest bench in softball.

A factor in the Tigers’ poise is the way O’Donnell manages them: He never yells at them for a mistake.

O’Donnell once told me that raising your voice at a player makes them unwilling to risk getting yelled at again. He feels yelling at the girls makes them tentative, afraid to make the same effort, or a greater effort for the next chance or at bat, or next pitch, in fear of failure.

Yelling just insults them, he feels. Instead, he always attempts to say what they did well first, before making a suggestion on how they could execute better next shot.

The “Good Job” Coach.

O’Donnell’s trademark chatter during the game is “Good job. Good job. Good effort. Good eye.” with a lot of “get-em next time’s.” He rarely ever loses his control during a game.

His total emotional balance is reflected in his players’ demeanor. Players do not question his moves. They do not pout when taken out or substituted.

There have been a lot of “Good Job’s” the last six years.

Make your plans to see the best.

The Home Opener at O’Donnell’s Bluff at the High School is April 8 against Scarsdale at 4:15 PM. You all come on out.

The White Plains Tigers Varsity Softball Schedule

March 23-26: Virginia Swing
Friday, April 5: At Ossining, 4:15
Saturday, April 6: at Minisink Scrimmages
Monday, April 8: SCARSDALE, 4:15
Monday, April 15: ROOSEVELT, 4:15
Thursday, April 18: NEW ROCHELLE, 4:15
Friday, April 19: MOUNT VERNON, 4:15
Monday, April 22: CLARKSTOWN NORTH, 4:15
Thursday, April 25: at Ursuline, 4:15
Saturday, April 27: The Horace Greeley Tournament Doubleheader at Horace Greeley
Sunday, April 28: Horace Greeley Tournament Doubleheader at Horace Greeley
Monday, April 29: MAMARONECK, 4:15
Wednesday, May 1: at Yorktown, 4:15
Friday, May 3: at Scarsdale, 4:15
Saturday, May 4: CLARKSTOWN SOUTH, 11:00 AM
Monday, May 6: at New Rochelle, 4:15
Thursday, May 9: URSULINE, 4:15
Saturday, May 11: NORTH ROCKLAND, 11:00 AM
Monday, May 13: at Mamaroneck, 4:15
Wednesday, May 15: YORKTOWN, 4:15
Saturday, May 18: Morabito Tournament, at Port Chester playing Mechanicsville at 9 AM, and Cicero North or Brewster, time TBA
Sunday, May 19: Morabito Tournament, 2 games, times TBA
Friday, May 24: Sectionals Opening Round
Tuesday, May 28: Quarter-Finals
Thursday, May 30: Semi-Finals
Saturday, June 1: Finals

2002 White Plains High SchoolVarsity Softball Team Roster

3 – Jesse Orfe** 12th
11 – Candace Abbott 9th
12 – Cristin Pasqua** 12th
13 – Leslie Busch** 12th
15 – Cyndi Carnaghi 12th
19 – Ciara DiFrancesco 12th
21 – Tara Pollard 10th
26 – Kara Younkin 12th
31 – Kathryn Fitzmaurice 12th
34 – Jessica Isaacs 11th
36 – Kelly O’Neil 10th
Head Coach: Ted O’Donnell
Assistant Coach: John Roselli
** Denotes Co-Captain

Photo by WPCNR

Posted in Uncategorized

Common Council Hears First Reading of Police/ Fire Study Authorization

Hits: 0

WPCNR MATINEE NEWS, UPDATED by John F. Bailey, 3/13/02, 2:00 pM EST: After receiving a revised proposal from the Center for Government Research (CGR), the Common Council heard the ordinances authorizing an $84,000 study of the city Police and Fire Departments. No councilperson commented on the revised proposal submitted by CGR last week.
The Council will meet again Friday morning at 8:30 AM to hear the second readings and vote on the authorization of the study that will study the fire and police operations, and exclude emergency services from the study.

No Comment.

Last Wednesday, the council raised the issue of the competency of the CGR-recommended fire department expert, who it was revealed had only managed a volunteer fire department in his work experience.

This troubled the Council.

Councilman Tom Roach discovered this situation, through a routine casual question. Charles Zettek, Jr., Director of Government Management Services, and Project Director for CGR, revealed that his fire department consultant had managed a fire department but not one that was unionized.

Last week, Councilman Robert Greer expressed reservations about an expert passing judgment on a professional, union-run fire department without the experience of running such a department.

Zettek agreed to seek out a fire department consultant with more heavyweight professional fire department background.

Zettek’s most recent proposal issued Friday finds big time fire guy.

In the new proposal, Zettek writes that CGR plans to use James Harrington, described as being “active in the fire services for over 30 years, which included 19 years working for I.S.O., and worked with CGR on the New Rochelle Fire Station Study, as well as having conducted fire department studies as an independent consultant.”

Second “Fire Hire” Sought.

Zettek reports in his final proposal to the Council that “CGR also intends to use a veteran who has served in a large city fire department and has working knowledge of the requirements of the professional fire service in a union environment.”

The proposal as received, we believe on Friday of last week, reports “CGR has several candidates for this service and is currently negotiating with them. The city will be notified of the person selected once that person becomes a part of the CGR team for this project.”

Other Metro Areas to be Studied. Budget Impacts of Alternatives to be Modeled

The CGR study in addition to studying the present Department of Public Safety structure in White Plains, will go to other areas and attempt to find governments similar enough to White Plains, and then identify those factors that are unique to White Plains that have to be considered in any comparison analysis. CGR will identify a range of comparable municipalities to use in the study to put White Plains’ performance, service, cost/performance and cost/service performance parameters into perspective, and relate these parameters to alternative management structures.

Study to provide a model of a separate police and fire department.

CGR is expected in their study to compare the present combined police-fire operation to a “separate Police and Fire department model, and possibly other models, if they appear applicable to the White Plains/New York environment.”

Budgets to be Projected.

The money question is expected to be answered by the study. CGR states, it will be important to use cost and performance data over a multi-year time period and that it plans to develop recommendations based upon an analysis of trends within the comparables, and to make reasonable projections for the next 5 to 10 years.

The study is expected to take 12 weeks.

The Common Council will meet in the Mayor’s Conference Room at City Hall again at 8:30 AM to hear the ordinances a second time.

Posted in Uncategorized

Teen Halfway House Plan Shocker to Fisher Hill; City Investigates.

Hits: 0

WPCNR Matinee News UPDATED by John F. Bailey, Filed 3/13/02 2:30 PM: WPCNR learned Tuesday evening, that Fisher Hill residents are alarmed over acquisition of a residence, 139 Walworth Avenue, by the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. Neighbors fear the home will be used to house youths with criminal pasts. The Mayor’s Office stepped into the matter today.

139 Walworth Avenue: Site of possible group home for emotionally disturbed youth under the care of Jewish Board of Family and Children’ Services.
Photo by WPCNR

Reacting to neighborhood contacts, the Mayor’s Office said it is in the process of scheduling a neighborhood meeting to discuss the issues. They reported they are working to learn more about the proposed use from the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services.

Meanwhile, the Building Department Mulls Usage Clarification.

GENTRIFIED STREET: Walworth Avenue, just off the Bronx River Parkway, showing residences neigboring proposed Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services site.
Photo by WPCNR

WPCNR learned Wednesday morning that the usage of the 139 Walworth Avenue residence, located in a gentrified section of Fisher Hill just off the Bronx River Parkway, is in the process of being classified by the Building Department, where the application now sits. The Building Department has not gotten back to WPCNR on the issues involved in the classification.

A use as of right IF…

A knowledgeable WPCNR source within the city, familiar with such matters, said that occupancy depended on the number of residents planned. He said, if the residence houses a designated number of residents who “will live as a family,” they qualify as a “group home, single family residence” under the law, without obtaining a special permit, variance, or Common Council approval.

At issue, this source said is how many residents, what their health status is, and whether they are under the Department of Social Services as a “Domiciallary Care Facility” or the State Department of Health jurisdiction as a “community residence.” We await a Building Department statement on the matter.

Our source also added that this home was intended to replace the JBFCS group home closed by construction of the Clayton Park apartments in the Eastview section of the city, though he did not know if it was for the same residents.

Flyer Making Rounds

In a yellow flyer being distributed to residents, the Fisher Hill Association is asking the Common Council to follow through on the previously announced city plan to declare Fisher Hill “an endangered neighborhood.”

The flyer asks concerned citizens in the Fisher Hill area to write Common Councilmen and call the Mayor to “request them to introduce resolution stateing that Fisher Hill has more than its fair share of special needs housing and illegal rooming houses and they wish to discourage any further proliferation of this housing in our area.”

Check of Assessor’s records reveals mystery purchaser.

According to Claire Orlando, she had noticed that the residence at 139 Walworth Avenue was being renovated. It appeared to be being converted into small single rooms. She noticed that a person from the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services entered the house one day.

She said she checked the City Assessor’s Office land records and found that the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services was the new owner of the home. She inquired, ( it is not clear who told her the following information), and was told that the home was being planned as a residence for young persons whom she was told were troubled, but who would be “medicated.”

A stealth move.

Ms. Orlando told WPCNR that the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services has since refused to confirm the nature of the intended residents or their psychiatric condition. Orlando said the residents were not mentally disabled, but were young adults with a tendency toward disturbed behavior.

At the time we learned of this effort by Fisher Hill, the organization offices were closed and could not be reached to confirm their intent for the property.

As far as WPCNR has been able to determine, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services has not attempted to communicate with Fisher Hill residents about the proposed home.

About the new owner.

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), according to its website, has treated social problems for over 110 years. It bills itself as “one of the nation’s largest and most respected nonprofit mental health and social service agencies,” serving more than 65,000 New Yorkers with 185 community-centered programs, residential facilities and day-treatment centers, employing 2,200 employees: professional social workers, licensed psychologists, and psychiatrists, and clinical support personnel in continuing day treatment and residential treatment centers. A corps of 2,000 dedicated volunteers work with our staff to help ease the burdens that strain and disrupt lives.

JBFCS is supported by two heavyweight charitable agencies: The United Way, and the UJA-Federation of New York.

Posted in Uncategorized

No Delgado-Hockley Decision Today. Maybe Thursday

Hits: 0

WPCNR DRIVETIME EDITION, Filed 3:30 PM EST: The law clerk for the New York State Court of Appeals reported this afternoon that there would be no Court of Appeals decisions today, meaning that Glen Hockley and Larry Delgado, will continue to wait in suspense for the State’s highest court to resolve the election impasse. Laurene Tacy of the Court of Appeals advised that decisions might come Thursday, but not necessarily the Hockley/Delgado decision. The Court has had the case since February 14.
Obviously, the state’s highest seven justices may be wrestling with the case more than they expected. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, Justices George Bundy Smith, Howard Levine, Carmen Ciparick, Richard Wesley, Albert Rosenblatt, and Victoria Graffeo have been grappling with the historic case since mid-February, when attorneys expected swift resolve of the case.

As 2 PM decision came and went, and no decision was available, the suspense now mounts for Thursday when some decision(s) are promised by the spokesperson for the court, Laurene Tacy.

However, those justices may be having the same trouble that WPCNR “justices” had. In the second-most-responded-to WPCNR Poll, we encountered widespread disagreement among White Plains CitizeNetReporter readers as to how the judges should rule.

A total of 78 votes were cast in the WPCNR Poll, “If You Were on the Court of Appeals How Would You Rule Hockley-Delgado Case?

A total of 29 persons or 37% said they would uphold the original trial court decision calling for an election in District 18 among all 6 council candidates.

While 31 persons or 39.74% said they would declare Glen Hockley the winner, saying the lower courts erred.

Only 8, or 10%, said they would uphold the Appellate Court decision which called for a citywide election between just Hockley and Delgado only.

The final group of 10 said they would define the impact of procedural errors in Case filings (13%).
Obviously the more folks thought about this, the more complex the issues surrounding the case became.

Perhaps the justices who actually have to makethe decision have had the same experience.

Posted in Uncategorized

Amy Paulin’s Albany: Tougher Sex Offender Law Awaits Governor’s Signature

Hits: 0

Amy Paulin’s Albany, Filed from the Office of Amy Paulin, White Plains Assemblywoman, 3/12/02: White Plains legislative voice in Albany, Amy Paulin reports today that the New York State Assembly has passed her legislation that will improve the state’s sex offender registration system. Having cleared both houses of the legislature, it awaits Governor George Pataki’s signature.


“Megan’s Law is helping keep New York safe from sexual predators,” Paulin said. “The measure we passed today will make the law even stronger by helping protect our communities from sexual predators who might otherwise slip through the cracks.”

Identified Sex Offenders from other states will have to register upon arrival. Targets offenses.

Paulin’s legislation would require sex offenders registered in other states to register in New York if they intend to work or attend school here. It also adds more sex offenses to the list of crimes requiring registration.

In addition, the measure would:

• ensure lifetime registration for sexual predators;

• require sex offenders to notify the registry if they attend or work for any higher educational institution in New York State; and

• require law enforcement to notify appropriate local authorities if a registered sex offender moves into the community.

“The new provisions allow New York to comply with federal requirements and continue our eligibility for federal grants aimed at reducing violent crime,” Paulin said.

“Strengthening Megan’s Law will help keep us safe from the criminals who would prey on our loved ones.”

The legislation is part of Paulin’s continuing effort to crack down on sex crimes. She sponsored a law that classified copycat versions of the date rape drug gamma hydroxybutrate acid (GHB) as a controlled substance (Ch. 565 of 2001).

Commonly known as ‘liquid ecstasy,’ GHB is often used as a sedative by sexual predators and young people. Paulin’s law bans drugs and chemicals that metabolize into GHB when ingested.

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of the 88th Assembly District represents the city of White Plains in Albany. She reports regularly to WPCNR on issues affecting White Plains. You may reach her at (914) 723-1115, in Westchester, or in Albany at (518) 455-5585, or e-mail the Assemblywoman at paulina@assembly.state.ny.us.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gilda’s Club Hosts Lymphoma Q & A Session for April

Hits: 0

WPCNR Health Herald, Filed 3/12/02: Dr. Morton Coleman will be leading an Ask the Doctor about Lymphoma program at the Gilda’s Club Westchester presented by the Lymphoma Research Foundation, April 16, from 6 PM to 8 PM.
The Gilda’s Club is located at 80 Maple Avenue in White Plains. There is no fee to participate but we ask that attendees RSVP by April 2nd to Jami Hansel at 914-644-8844.

Morton Coleman, M.D. serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Lymphoma and Myeloma at the New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Campus.

This program is designed to provide patients with important information about radioimmunotherapy treatments that have recently received Food and Drug Administration approval for lymphoma or are currently under late-stage FDA review.

Dr. Coleman will discuss what radiolabeled antibodies are and how they are administered, radiation safety issues, the common side effects associated with antibody treatment and information about ongoing research in radioimmunotherapy.

For additional information about the Ask the Doctor about Lymphoma program or the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s other educational programs and patient services please call 800-500-9976 or visit www.lymphoma.org.

Posted in Uncategorized

Child Care Subsidy Process Difficult for White Plains Daycare Moms

Hits: 0

CitzeNetReporter Sunday Morning News & Comment By Teresa Kramarz, Filed 3/10/02:Sandra Young was 19 when she had her daughter, now 2 years old. She earned $1,000 a month working as a receptionist at St. Agnes Children’s Rehabilitation Center in White Plains, but after paying for childcare she had $350 left to live.
The County of Westchester is one of a few in the State of New York that offer childcare subsides to low-income parents like Young. But getting the government’s help is no easy task.

It’s hard to get.

Parents and childcare providers described the process of qualifying and applying to the subsidies as being long and complicated, and many complained that the Department of Social Services, which administers the program, offers little help to get through it.

Income Qualifier: One Level Fits All Areas?!?!

To qualify for a subsidy, a parent’s income must fall within a certain range of the federal poverty level. For example, following the New York State Eligibility Chart, a family of four earning up to $39,700 a year may be eligible to receive funds under a program called Title XX.

But a federal guideline does not differentiate between varying costs of living across the country.

“It does not make any sense. It’s not the same living in Idaho as outside Manhattan, or in Manhattan for that matter,” said Marcia Corning-Landsman, executive director of the White Plains Daycare Association, a non-profit organization that operates seven local daycare centers serving 400 children.

A vicious cycle?

Many parents also get caught in a vicious cycle. To qualify for a subsidy the parents must be employed, but they cannot secure employment if they do not have someone to care for their children. Meanwhile, childcare centers are not supposed to accept a child until the parents’ subsidy application is approved, said Corning-Landsman.

The application process can be very tough for the parents, and so is getting answers from social services, said Corning-Landsman.

“We have a couple of our staff that, in addition to their regular responsibilities, dedicate much of their time to help parents get through the application,” she added.

Paperwork and more paperwork.

Zotica Medina-Weiner, director of the Early Head Start Program, is one of those staff members. She calculated that she spends 60 percent of her time helping parents with their applications and following up with caseworkers at the Department of Social Services. She has even made her own forms, explaining how to complete the application.

She said parents have often come to her in tears because they were poorly treated and could not get anyone in social services to explain to them what they needed to do.

The Paper Chase.

The applicant must collect documents from different sources including verification of income from their employer, a statement from their landlord, a form from their child’s daycare and, in the case of a single parent, a notarized letter showing the absentee’s parent contribution, said Medina-Weiner.

But because many documents are time sensitive, a delay in securing one can cause others to expire, said Mary Ann Tedesco, executive director of the YMCA childcare program. It is also difficult for parents because many work off the books and cannot get a letter from their employers verifying their employment and income level, she added.

Social Services Sluggish.

Although “social services says it is supposed to take 30 days to process an application, it usually takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days. It typically takes 45 days for parents to hear on the status of their application,” said Medina-Weiner.

Sandra Young waited three months to receive approval. She was lucky, however, because in the meantime she was able to borrow money to cover her childcare costs and go to work.

Others simply lose their jobs because they cannot pay their childcare providers while they wait for a subsidy approval, said Medina-Weiner.

Demand for Child Care Up.

Demand for childcare subsidies has increased dramatically since they were first offered in 1994. Leslie Perdy, of the Childcare Council of Westchester, remembers when they started managing the program in 1994 with a caseload of 400 children per month.

The Department of Social Services, which administers the program now, reported that in 2001 an average of 5,500 children per month received subsidies, said Deputy Commissioner Dennis Packard.

Packard said the application is fairly straightforward and they provide documentation to explain how to fill it. He said they take 30 days to process it, but incomplete documentation from the parent causes delays.

The child can attend daycare once the application is approved. The law specifies “you are eligible for daycare from the day we make an eligibility determination,” said Packard. If parents take their child to daycare before then, they do it as a “business risk.”

Tapping unlicensed providers.

Corning-Landsman said that many families find the process too difficult and simply give up trying to get government assistance. They end up choosing a type of daycare they can afford, which means an unlicensed provider that works in potentially unsafe or unsanitary conditions, she said.

But in Sandra Young’s experience, a State licensed provider was no guarantee of adequate childcare. Many times she found her sitter napping and her baby playing alone on the floor. The carpets were dirty and smelled, and the sitter, who did not own a highchair, fed the baby in a car seat on the floor, she said.

“Quality childcare programs are vital to our economy and to the development of children. We know every dollar spent in early childcare saves $5 to $7 in later remediation,” said Corning-Landsman citing a study from the Children’s Defense Fund. “The children are the ones that really lose out.”

Posted in Uncategorized

King Komments:Councilman Patrols Battle Hill. Observes. Suggests B&Bs

Hits: 0

King Komments, by White Plains Councilman William King, Filed 3/8/02: The peripatetic Councilman walked the streets of the Battle Hill neighborhood this week, and noted these conditions.
I walked along Tarrytown Road to City Limits for breakfast and then back the length of Robertson Ave. in Battle Hill. Could I point out a couple of things?

1. Need a trash receptacle or two along Tarrytown Road – there’s one in the parking lot across from City Limits but what about at Chatterton Ave., another at School Street – wouldn’t hurt.

2. There’s what looks to be an old fire alarm box pole or something with a wire hanging out near the intersection of Battle Ave. and Tarrytown Rd. that has been there forever. It’s in the greenspace between the street and the sidewalk. Can we get that out of there? It’s really unsightly.

3. Can a city cleanup crew go into the forested areas near the houses that border the greenspaces along Tarrytown Rd. and pick up all the trash that’s there? This is a major city gateway and should be pristine. Volunteers can help at different times but it would be a big boost if city employees could spend some time on these things so we are not totally dependent on volunteers.

4. I noticed some leftover pavement in the greenspace near the sidewalk along Tarrytown near Robertson. It would be nice if this was ripped up and replanted with grass. Maybe then neighborhood kids could play some informal games of baseball and soccer in this area. I know there has been talk over the years over having some of this space for a veteran memorialization area.

5. There is a lot of litter along people’s fences and walls, etc. along the sidewalks of Harding Ave. Again, can a city crew go off-street a little to pick stuff up? Maybe ask the neighbors in a letter to help volunteer? Ask the neighbors to show up for a cleanup day and see if anyone shows up? They might appreciate the attention.

6. Something could be done with the Harding & Robertson firehouse on the outside – how about coming up with some plantings – could be done at the same time as the ‘neighborhood cleanup day.’

7. There’s an old, white, rusty, ‘bad looking’ guardrail along property on the east side of Harding just north of the intersection of Battle Ave. Can this guardrail, which has served its time, be replaced with a more attractive, residential style wood guardrail? I think wood guardrails should replace the metal ones in residential neighborhoods – a much better look.

8. Ultimately, I think it would be great if the streetlights along Harding and elsewhere on this side of Battle Hill were replaced with a more historic ‘gaslamp’ style of light that would highlight the turn-of-the-century (and earlier) appeal of this neighborhood.

As Tom Roach has imaginatively suggested, this would be a great area for a bed & breakfast or two, close to the train station, if it was rezoned to allow.

(Editor’s Note: There already is an operating Bed & Breakfast in White Plains, Soundview Manor. It advertises on the internet at www.soundviewmanor.com, and is mentioned and pictured in the Westchester County “Westchester Way” lodgings brochure.)

9. The bench on Battle Ave. between Harding and Tarrytown needs to be replaced with one of those new black steel benches like in the Downtown that you have on order.

These are all low-cost items that would together make a difference.

Councilman William King

“King Komments” is William King’s weekly commentary he circulates to city officials and to WPCNR with his observations on neighborhood and city issues.

Posted in Uncategorized

Youth Bureau Sponsors Free Computer Camp on Spring Vacation

Hits: 0

WPCNR NewsReel, Reported By City Hall News Bureau, 3/7/02: The City of White Plains Youth Bureau is very excited to be sponsoring a free mini vacation computer camp at their new technology center located at 11 Amherst Place in White Plains for middle school students.
This computer camp will run from March 25, 2002 through March 28, 2002 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. These 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students will learn how to do a Power Point presentation, surf the Internet and how to do research on the computer. Limited space is available. To register, please contact Raymond Tribble at the City of White Plains Youth Bureau at 422-1378.

FRANK WILLIAMS SHOWING OFF THE YOUTH BUREAU NEW TECHNOLOGY CENTER, where the Vacation Computer Camp will be held. The facility has 12 new computers, and 3 new printers, purchased by the city through community development funds, as part of Mayor Joseph Delfino’s Digital Divide initiative.
Photo by WPCNR

Posted in Uncategorized

Drought Drains. Spano Taps White Plains Louise Doyle H2O Chief. County Prepares.

Hits: 0

WPCNR NewsReel, from Westchester County Department of Communications Reports, Filed 3/8/02:County Executive Andy Spano appointed White Plains resident Louise Doyle to head the County’s new Water Agency in response to the County’s continuing drought. County water reservoir waterlevels are filled to half of their capacity as of this week. In an average year they are filled to 86%.
Ms. Doyle’s appointment was one of several steps the county government is taking to prepare for a potential drought Ms. Doyle will coordinate the county’s drought effort.

Doyle, a professional engineer, has worked for the county’s Department of Health since 1988, first as a senior engineer and since 1994 as an associate engineer. She has provided engineering supervision of the Land Development Program, particularly as it relates to the implementation of the New York City Watershed Rules and Regulations. She has been a member of the Westchester Water Works Conference since 1983 and has extensive knowledge of Westchester’s water suppliers.

County Executive Readies

Saying he would not wait to act for an “official announcement of a drought emergency” — one that comes from New York City — Spano said the county is gearing up on many fronts on the assumption that mandatory conservation measures are inevitable.

County water reservoir waterlevels are filled to half of their capacity as of this week. In an average year they are filled to 86%.

In the meantime, he reiterated his request that residents and businesses voluntarily conserve water.

“All expectations are that there will not be enough rain over the next few months to fill our reservoirs,” Spano said. “While the official declaration of an ‘emergency’ may not come for 4-10 weeks, we will not wait until then to act. We want to be prepared.”

Public Works Moves to Stop “Water” Leaks

He added, “And we as the county government have taken steps to save as well. Our Department of Public Works has an ongoing maintenance policy to repair water leaks or other water problems as they are reported. County vehicles are not being washed at our county garage, but are being brought instead to outside places that use recycled water. Our county buses are being washed less frequently and with less fresh water and more recycled water. And caution is being used on all county construction jobs to identify water lines to prevent any breakage.”

County Parks Finetunes Plantings

The county’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation will not be doing its usual spring plantings of annuals that use a lot of water.

“In place of these plants, we will place wood chips and a sign that explains that we are conserving water,” Spano said.

Why Westchester Water Depends on New York City Policy

Westchester gets about 85 percent of its water from the New York City reservoir system; therefore it follows the lead of New York City in regards to the water shortage. Westchester and New York City previously declared a “drought warning,” which calls for voluntary conservation and education measures.

The next stage – a “drought emergency” mandates certain water restrictions. These get more severe if the drought persists.

How White Plains Will Have to Sacrifice

Should the prolonged drought continue, and a draught emergency declared, White Plains residents can expect a range of enforced savings from limits on when or if lawns may be watered, cars washed and swimming pools filled and when water may be served at restaurants.

Businesses will have to cut back water use 15-25%.

In addition, if an emergency is declared large, non residential water wpcnr_users must develop and implement plans to reduce their use 15 percent to 25 percent, depending on the severity of the drought.

New County Water Policies

The county government is contacting schools, day care centers, nurseries, landscape associations, municipalities, businesses, landlords and building owners to acquaint them with what the law will require of them if a drought emergency is declared.

Specifically, all businesses and governments that use more than 1,000 gallons of water per day would have to develop a plan to decrease water usage by 15 percent. In the meantime, the county is asking these businesses to check for and repair leaky faucets and pipes and take voluntary measures to conserve.

Restaurants Called on for Voluntary Water Conservation

The county has asked restaurants to participate in a voluntary effort to conserve water by not serving water except upon request. The county has distributed posters and menu cards to restaurants for them to display to explain this policy. If a drought emergency is declared, restaurants would be barred from serving water except upon request.

County Acts to Increase Water Awareness

The county has posted on its website, www.westchestergov.com, water conservation information, and this site will be expanded in coming weeks.

• The county has “blast faxed” letters to all chief elected officials asking them to help promote water conservation, to check for water leaks, distribute water-saving tips posters, post information about water conservation on their own websites and on public access TV.

• The county has contacted the various water suppliers, offering to provide them with “Water Savings Tips” inserts for their water bills.

• The county has printed posters with water-saving tips that it is distributing throughout the county, including to municipal buildings, supermarkets and other large retail stores, businesses and schools.

• The county has prepared and distributed Public Service Announcements for airing on TV and radio urging conservation.

• The county will use its “outbound calling system,” to call Westchester homes with a recorded message urging conservation.

• Previously, the county appointed a Drought Emergency Task Force, whose job it is to oversee some of the public education efforts and establish administrative procedures to enable it to monitor compliance with the county’s water conservation program. The task force, along with the water agency, will work with the business community to formulate and implement water conservation plans.

Information in this report was provided by the Westchester County Department of Communications and edited by WPCNR.

Posted in Uncategorized