The Westchester’s Poinsettia Tree Raises $6,000

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Special to WPCNR: Westchester County’s first-ever Poinsettia Tree fundraising event at The Westchester in White Plains raised more than $6,000 for St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center for Children in Ossining.
Added to this success is an early invitation from mall management for St. Mary’s to hold this unique two-week event again next year, establishing what could become an annual Holiday tradition at The Westchester.

THE POINSETTIA TREE TO BECOME A “WESTCHESTER TRADITION:” The first-ever Poinsettia Tree at The Westchester succeeded in raising $6,000 for St. Mary’s Rehabiliation Center for Children in Ossining.

Individuals and corporations throughout the area made donations by sponsoring some of the 400 poinsettia plants on the 15-foot tree. All monies collected are going directly to St. Mary’s, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing long-term health care for children with special needs and disabilities, from birth to 18 years.

“We are so pleased with the outcome of this event, and so grateful to all of those who helped make St. Mary’s a brighter place for the Holidays,” said Eileen Chisari, Vice President of Administration at the Rehabilitation Center. “We want to say a special ‘thank you’ to The Westchester for partnering with us on this beautiful display during their busy Holiday season, to WHUD Radio (100.7 FM) for its promotional support, and to Cushman & Wakefield Inc., a major sponsor of the event.”

St. Mary’s also received a special gift from an Ossining couple who made a $300 donation in lieu of buying presents for each other this year. “This couple has a special needs daughter themselves, and when they saw the Poinsettia Tree in the mall, they decided to help. We are very grateful to them,” said Ms. Chisari.

Debbie Scates, Director of Marketing for The Westchester explained that it was only natural that they extend the invitation to St. Mary’s to return again next year, since the unique Holiday fundraiser has tremendous potential to help needy children for the years to come. “Both customers and retailers really enjoyed the Poinsettia Tree, plus it added a wonderful touch to our Holiday d├ęcor,” she said. “We were particularly pleased to sponsor several poinsettia plants and support St. Mary’s raffle, and we look forward to working with them again.”

Many of The Westchester retailers also sponsored poinsettia plants and donated more $350 in gift certificates for a raffle drawing, which went to a lucky Tarrytown resident.

St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center for Children, a 44-bed subacute, inpatient facility is a member of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, which serves the entire New York metropolitan area. Other participating members include: St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, a 97-bed inpatient facility in Bayside, NY; St. Mary’s Home Care Programs; St. Mary’s Medical Day Care Program; and St. Mary’s Case Management Programs.

St. Mary’s is New York’s premier provider of complex medical care and intensive rehabilitative services to children with special healthcare needs from birth to 18 years of age. This event is sponsored by St. Mary’s Foundation for Children. For more information about St. Mary’s, please call (914) 333-7018 or visit the St. Mary’s website at

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New WPCNR Poll: Help the Appellate Court Out on Delgado-Hockley

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The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Department in good old Brooklyn USA, has declared a stay, holding off on the continuation of Election while they consider Glen Hockley’s appeal of Judge Nicolai’s decision calling for a new election.

The majority of respondents last week disagreed with court decision to stay the election.

Take our latest poll and tell us what you think the justices in Brooklyn should do.

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FLASH!: Appellate Court Stops District 18 Vote.

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Flash!:The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in Brooklyn has granted Adam Bradley’s Motion for a Stay Pending Appeal on behalf of Glen Hockley, calling off the Continuation of the Election planned for Tuesday in District 18. The Board of Elections will send a notice to all 366 voters notifying them of the calling off of the election.
Chief Court Attorney for the Appellate Division, April Agostino, told WPCNR that the Bradley Motion to stay enforcement of Judge Francis Nicolai’s ordered “Continuation of Election” on December 18 has been granted.

Common Council cannot seat either candidate in meantime

The order though granting a stay, significantly “stays” the Board of Elections from certifying the Delgado-Hockley results, and more importantly, “stays…those candidates from taking any steps towards the filing of an oath of office,” effectively, legal sources close to the case report, prohibiting either candidate from being appointed to the Common Council in January, pending a resolution.

Sources close to the case, seem to think that Appellate Judges Gabriel M. Krausman, William D. Friedman, Sandra J. Feuerstein, and Robert W. Schmidt, may be leaning towards another “remedy,” such as a new citywide election.

The Complete Decision & Order on Motion:

Motion by the appellant to stay enforcement of an order of the Supreme Court, Westchester County, dated December 6, 2001, pending hearing and determination of an appeal therefrom.

Upon the papers submitted in support of the motion and the papers submitted in opposition there to it is

ORDERED that the motion is granted and enforcement of the order dated December 6, 2001, is stayed pending hearing and determination of theappeal; and it is further,

ORDERED that pending hearing and determination of the appeal, the Westchester County Board of Elections is stayed from certifying the results of the election insofar as it relates to Larry Delgado and Glen Hockley for the third contested seat of the White Plains Common Council and those candidates are stayed from taking any steps towards the filing of an oath of office.


WPCNR was impressed by the handling of media inquiries by the Appellate Division who responded courteously and swiftly to WPCNR followups on this case.

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A Son Reflects on Mike Graessle’s Career

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Mike Graessle’s son on Mike Graessle, the Planning Man.
As the son of the retiring commissioner, it’s nice to see an article that recognizes some of my father’s contributions and timeless patience. Just a couple of factual corrections; Michael Graessle is by no means resigning, he’s just retiring after being in government for 36 years – starting out as a draftsman for the White Plains Planning Department. His time in Port Chester was as more than a Planning Commisioner, in fact he was the Village Manager, a position requiring him to tap into all of his planning and managerial skills. He leaves as he came in, quietly and as a true gentleman. I’m fortunate to have such a role model in my life. I get the feeling that such a father is becoming a rare breed.


Christopher Graessle

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Judge Nicolai: Absentees OK in Dist. 18–THEN APPELLATE COURT STAYS ELECTION

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UPDATED DEC. 17: URGENT! DISTRICT 18 VOTER NOTICE– NO ELECTION TUESDAY:Judge Francis Nicolai, Administrative Judge of the New York State Supreme Court, 9th District, ruled Thursday to allow absentee balloting among the 366 voters eligible to vote in the upcoming Tuesday “Continuation” of the election in District 18, reports Jeffrey Binder, Larry Delgado attorney. However, the election itself was stayed Friday by the Appellate Court. No Election Tuesday.

Meanwhile in Brooklyn Fridy, the Appellate court heard Glen Hockley’s Appeal to overturn Nicolai’s “continuation of the election” decision, and granted a permanent stay, stopping the election, pending review of the appeal

Delgado Walking the District, Reports Voters Notified

THE DISTRICT 18 “366” WERE READY: Larry Delgado, the Common Councilman who will be forever immortalized by Judge Nicolai’s “Continuation of the Election” decision in White Plains, (shown here announcing the historic decision last week at Republican Headquarters), told WPCNR Thursday evening he has been walking District 18 and voters have received their Board of Elections notices. They were all set to vote until the “stay” came down from the Appellate Court Friday.

Asked their mood, Councilman Delgado said voters he has met in the neighborhood, are “anxious to recast their vote. I’ve never seen this before in any election.”

Voters do not feel upset at the Hockley challenge

Delgado, asked if voters resented the Hockley/Bradley challenge to the extended election, said:

“They’re more surprised why there would be a challenge to having a fair election where voters decide which candidate they prefer. They expect that elections will be fair.”

Asked if he expected bullet voting, Delgado said the persons he talked with were eager to recast their vote the way they originally cast it November 6, five weeks ago, in his opinion.

Meanwhile, Back in Brooklyn, U.S.A.:

The briefs are in.
Mr. Delgado reported both sides filed their briefs Thursday afternoon as directed.

Today, In Appellate Court, Second Department on Pierpont Street in Brooklyn, the Hockley/Bradley appeal of Judge Nicolai challenge may be heard by a panel of four judges.

White Plains’ Jeffrey Binder, one of Mr. Delgado’s election specialist lawyers, told WPCNR Thursday evening that the motion for a permanent stay of the election pending appeal heard Thursday in Appellate Court was postponed until today.

Binder said the Appellate Judges could grant the stay, (postponing the election while they ruled), deny it, or simply ignore it, choosing to rule on the appeal either Friday morning, afternoon or perhaps Monday, or even ruling after the election. “You just don’t know what they are going to do,” Binder advised.

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White Plains Tigers Run Through Harrison Huskies

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The White Plains ice hockey club rocked the Harrison Huskies 9-0 at Ebersole Ice Rink.
Leading the scoring drive with 2 goals was center Steve Levy. He was helped with five first high-school career goals from David D’Marco, Andrew Barnett, Max Mulligan, Mike Abelsson and Danny Fendler. Eden Friedman, Christopher Mignardi and Keith Fricke helped out with assists.

“We felt good going in, and we feel good coming out,” says second-year center Christopher Mignardi. The Tigers took a 6-0 into third period, and held steady all the way through. Mike Kushman and Brent Mickol tag-teamed for the shutout, combining for 26 saves.

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The Chief Turns In His Badge.

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The Mayor’s Office announced Thursday that John M. Dolce, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, has submitted his retirement papers to Mayor Joseph Delfino.
The man, whom White Plains Police Officers reverently call “The Chief” submitted his resignation to the Mayor personally on Tuesday.

In a statement to WPCNR today, George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer confirmed that Commissioner Dolce and Commissioner of Planning Mike Graessle had both tendered their retirement papers to the Mayor.

Hickey will serve as Interim Commissioner pending a search.

Mr. Gretsas reported that Mr. Dolce’s last day will be December 28, at which point Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety, Daniel Hickey, will be appointed Interim Commissioner while the city conducts “a nationwide search” for a successor.

Gretsas said that Deputy Commissioner Hickey will be considered a candidate for the permanent position.

A subdued George Gretsas reflects on the Dolce legacy and tradition of law and order in White Plains

Gretsas said the Mayor understands Mr. Dolce’s decision, and that Mr. Dolce has been a “tremendous asset, and has made great contributions to the city.”

Gretsas reflected, “Under Mr. Dolce, the White Plains Police Department has been recognized as one of the best police departments in the state for its cutting edge crime fighting techniques, and flexible ability to police a city that swells to 250,000 persons during the workday and returns to 50,000 residents in the evening, using effective management techniques.”

Presided over the Police Department that Police Departments hire from

Based on this reporter’s observation, Commissioner Dolce created a unique police department that polices without being obtrusive, enforces with respectful authority, and presents a model officer to the community.

THE CHIEF HAS LEFT THE BUILDING: Public Safety Commissioner John Dolce will retiring December 28 after 36 years with the city. The Commissioner planned and designed the Public Safety Building on Martine and Lex.

Other Police Departments across Westchester County lure White Plains Police officers away because of the extensive training they receive under the Dolce course that creates a White Plains Policeman.

Ahead of the curve, Respectful of its citizens.

Mr. Dolce has always been “ahead of the curve,” on technology advancement, having recently installed computer identification procedures and equipment upgrades that allow his force a full range of tools to serve and protect and prevent and apprehend. The performance of his police and fire departments have shown it.

Recently, Mr. Dolce complained when Washington D.C. refused his department a grant for upgrading of the police walkie-talkie system, because the government officials said New Rochelle and Mount Vernon need it more, White Plains is too well equipped. This, from the U.S. government.

Communications and response time on Mr. Dolce’s watch has always been swift, and the police take every citizen’s call as important. When a person wants the police, an officer is dispatched, no matter what, a hallmark of the Dolce legacy. White Plains citizens count on this and they expect it.

They perform with discretion and poise: the best example of this is when a bear wandered about the streets of White Plains several years ago.

Instead of shooting the animal, police monitored the bear, assured it did not hurt any citizen and humanely subdued the ursine perpetrator. Dolce’s officers’ handling of an incident was professional and measured, something White Plains children and this reporter, at least were duly impressed.

Creator of a police and fire department the citizens love.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary during political seasons, the police and fire departments under Commissioner Dolce perform with camaraderie and mutual respect, bravery and efficiency.

They treat citizens of White Plains courteously and correct gently, and always maintain their poise and professionalism. White Plains Police officers can make receiving a $100 wrong turn traffic ticket a pleasant experience, because of their demeanor. (I know, I received one on Church Street.)

White Plains citizens young and old have such respect for the police, that the police can control crowds of thousands as in the recent candlelight vigil without a massive show of force.

Fostering cooperation and teamwork

The ability of police and fire departments to work together as created by John Dolce has been demonstrated year after year. Recently, in the runaway garbage truck incident, the Bryant Gardens fire, the robbery resulting in an officer’s apprehension of a suspect at Mamaroneck and the Hutchinson River Parkway.

Dolce handles problems quietly without press conferences

The Dolce style is low key and action-oriented. His creative use of task forces to police up neighborhood problems discreetly (as on East Post Road rowdism), is a trademark of Dolce’s ability to work with the community in a nonthreatening, constructive way. His innovative use of radar signs is a passive restraint slowing down White Plains traffic.

Another quiet innovation of Commissioner Dolce’s forward thinking is the Officer in the Schools Program inaugerated last year. In fact, there are few communities where the youth hold the police in such high regard, from this reporter’s observation.

A Commissioner who works as hard as his men and women

Make no mistake, Mr. Dolce is a policeman, and though Mr. Gretsas says Mr. Dolce is departing to “enjoy life,” he was the champion people of White Plains looked too because he created two departments of champions.

Dolce’s men and women, fire and police are very good and every one is a personal extension of their Commissioner, John Dolce. Dolce is known to monitor the 24-hour tapes of police calls to maintain his perspective of White Plains police activity, and speak personally to officers about their handling of incidents.

He cannot be replaced. He will always be remembered. He has set the standard.

Thank you, Chief.

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Eastview Performing Arts Choir at The Westchester and WPFD This Week.

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The first Eastview School Performing Arts Choir Tour has performed the first three of five community holiday appearances around White Plains at Macy’s completing a two-stop swing Monday at Education House and The Osborn in Rye, according to Carol Myers, Choral Director.

Next stops: The Westchester at 2:15 Thursday and the White Plains Fire Department Headquarters.
The 17-member Performing Arts Choir, made up of White Plains Middle School students appearing at the annual Winter Performing Arts Festival at Eastview School Wednesday evening for the first time impressed the throng of admiring parents with their precise harmonies and clear, articulated selection of holiday special songs.

ANGELS FROM EASTVIEW SERENADE WHITE PLAINS: The Performing Arts Choir of Eastview School, White Plains regales Macy’s shoppers last week at The Galleria with vibrant, harmonious, distinctive sounds of the season. Carol Myers is directing. They will be performing at The Westchester Thursday afternoon at 2:15 PM and at the White Plains Fire Department at Mamaroneck & Maple at 3:30 PM

The members, all students at the Eastview School for the Humanities are Juliana Bailey, Blair Bernard, Laura Campion, Nina Chillemi, Shani Daniels, Michelle Erskine, Janine Galois, Sally Horowitz, Allison Lau, Samantha Lifson, Nicole Norris, Serena Qiu, Julia Rose, Amanda Telesco, Tonlan Thompson, Susannah Waksberg, and Malorie Walsh.

Their latest stops Monday at Education House and The Osborn in Rye, were very well-received. Appearing in The Osborn Auditorium, the choir resonated superbly with strong presentation, precise articulation, and a warm audience encouraging a vibrant blending of holiday cheer. The elderly residents were seen tapping their feet to the Choir’s “Jingle Bells” medley.

The group will be appearing in their final two venues over the next week:

Thursday, December 20, 2 :15 PM at The Westchester Fashion Mall, White Plains and 3:30 PM at The White Plains Fire Department Headquarters at Maple and Mamaroneck Avenues.

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Board of Education Wants YOU to Work With Them on the Budget!

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Special to CitizeNetReporter from Michelle Schoenfeld: The White Plains Board of Education is calling for citizens to serve on the Annual Budget Committee for the sixth consecutive year. The call for White Plains residents to participate in the budget planning begins the formal process of preparing the 2002-03 school budget. The Board has also announced the dates of public hearings and the countdown to the 2002-2003 Budget.
The ABC is an advisory group which provides input, feedback and suggestions to the District. The Committee is comprised of representatives of more than a dozen various civic and community organizations as well as individuals who have expressed interest in serving. The Board is inviting interested members of the community to join this year’s ABC.

Schedule of Budget Committee Meetings

A series of three meetings will be held with the ABC, the administration and Board: February 6th and 13th, and March 6th. An additional session, for orientation of new members, will take place prior to these three dates, on January 28th.

All meetings will be held at 7:30 P.M. at Education House, 5 Homeside Lane. Meetings will include an overview of the budget as well as discussions of key issues and new initiatives.

Anyone wishing to serve on the ABC may call Michele Schoenfeld,
District Clerk, at 422-2071. All of the meetings are open to the public.

The 2002-2003 Budget Calendar

The budget process will continue with a Public Hearing on the
Superintendent’s Proposed Budget on Monday, March 18th, at 8 P.M., and the adoption of a final budget by the Board on Monday, April 1st.

Another Public Hearing will take place on Monday, May 13th, and the annual Budget Vote, along with the Election of Board of Education members, will beon Tuesday, May 21st, from noon to 9 P.M.

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Graessle Resigns After 32 years with City. Habel Appointed Successor

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Updated:Mike Graessle, Commissioner of the Department of Planning for the first four years of the Delfino Administration has announced his retirement. The Commissioner will be taking another position in the private sector in February.

Mayor Joseph Delfino has appointed Susan Habel to succeed Mr. Graessle. Ms. Habel will be officially appointed January 7 with the Common Council expected to approve the Mayor’s choice. Mr. Graessle continues as official Commissioner of Planning through January 4. However, he is taking vacation through January 4, with Ms. Habel, as Deputy Commissioner, covering in his absence, with Mr. Graessle contributing on an “as needed” basis the pair told WPCNR Tuesday evening.

Commissioner Graessle announced his plans to WPCNR Wednesday afternoon when asked about an unusual configuration for the New York Presbyterian Hospital public hearings.

MIKE GRAESSLE’S LAST DAY: Commissioner of Planning Mike Graessle talks things over with WPCNR prior to a farewell party held Thursday afternoon. The Commissioner recalled Alfred Del Vecchio persuading him to come back to work for the city in the second year of “The Mayor for All Seasons” first term. “I was in law school at the time. I didn’t want to come back in the worst way, but the Mayor said, You don’t understand, if you come in you’ll working in the Mayor’s Office. Do it for one year and see.’ Graessle served White Plains for 32-1/2 years.WPCNR PHOTO

“It’s been a privilege to serve the public here in White Plains because it’s a wonderful place to work,” Graessle told WPCNR, “because you can practice your profession at the highest level here and at the most meaningful level. That’s not true in all communities. White Plains is a place you can disagree in without being disagreeable.”

Mr. Graessle said that he would be taking another position in the private sector which will be announced by the firm in February.

Thursday, George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer announced that Mayor Delfino would appoint Deputy Commissioner of Planning, Susan Habel, to succeed Mr. Graessle, subject to Common Council approval.

Mr. Graessle is a fixture in White Plains. He worked for 17 years with the Alfred Del Vecchio administration, as Executive Officer for “The Mayor for All Seasons.” After a brief sojourn as Village Manager of Port Chester, he returned to his old stomping ground with the advent of the Delfino Administration in 1998.

Mr. Graessle is responsible for creating with Mayor Del Vecchio, the shape of White Plains as it is today, through the times of urban renewal. He oversaw the successful introduction of The Galleria, and the transformation of White Plains into a business center, are among his many accomplishments during the Del Vecchio era.

Graessle started with the city in the planning department in various positions as draftsman, junior planner, planner, for 11-1/2 years prior to Mayor Del Vecchio brought him back.

Associated with White Plains old and new

On his watch as Commissioner of Planning, Mr. Graessle has overseen the conception and approval of the most projects of any 4-year administration in city history: The Container Store, the Stop N Shop Supermarket, the Bank Street Commons, the City Center, the Jefferson at White Plains, Clayton Park, while presiding over the first overhaul of the Zoning Code since 1982.

Just as he helped create the White Plains of the 80s, as he rides into the sunset, he is creating the White Plains of the 21st Century.

His leadership, knowledge, smooth generalship and impeccable courtesy and grace under pressure have soothed neighbors, charmed developers into concessions, and persuaded reluctant councilpersons for 32-1/2 years. He has over 36 years of civil service experience.

His tireless efforts have set an example of work ethic for his Planning Department staff which works tirelessly and unselfishly for the citizens of this city.

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