Valentin Calls for Board Outreach. Geiger: Board Handled Yanofsky News Wrong.

WPCNR Daily Mirror. Special to WPCNR May 8, 2002, 2:00 PM EDT.Five WPCNR correspondents delivered similar assessments ofthe Board of Education candidates debate held Tuesday evening at The Women’s Club in White Plains.

Five CitizeNetReporters said insurgent candidate Maria Valentin presented extremely well Tuesday evening, and said she called for Board of Education outreach to all neighborhoods.

They noted incumbent Larry Geiger with 18 years on the Board of Education possessed impressive knowledge and articulate understanding of district issues, saying that Geiger was eager to serve another three years and that the district had to “look to the future.”

They report William Pollack calling for “new blood,” and that Bob Tuck announced he was only going to serve one term on the Board.

Geiger and Sules Talk About the Yanofsky Departure.

Correspondents report that in a response to a question about Dr. Yanofsky’s departure, Larry Geiger said the Board could not give all the details because it “was a personnel matter.” He did say that the Board liked Dr. Saul Yanofsky, but his desire not to serve a full term forced them to seek a new superintendent. Geiger said that “originally it was agreed” by both the Board and Dr. Yanofsky, that it would be “in the best interests of the district” not to announce his departure until sometime last fall.

Another correspondent said Stephen Sules described the decision to seek another superintendent this way: “He (Saul Yanofsky) was the CEO of the organization (School District). When the CEO is becoming ambivalent about his job, it’s the responsibility of the Board to seek another CEO.”

Geiger added that it was a “mutual decision” by the Board to seek another superintendent, because of Yanofsky’s reluctance to serve a full term.

Geiger calls for new P.R. Person.

Mr. Geiger went on record as saying the Board of Education handled the announcement of the Yanofsky departure “poorly,” that they did it “wrong,” and expressed regret for that. So did Sules.

In a related question, a member of the audience complained he had not heard of the appointment of Timothy Connors as choice for Superintendent of Schools, having read about it in the White Plains Watch. Sules said that everyone in the District was notified of the Yanofsky departure, but the challenging candidate, Maria Valentin, who is a homeowner in the district said that was not true, because she had never received such an announcement letter.

More Communication Needed.

Mr. Geiger said he favored appointing a new full-time public relations person to
improve district communication. Geiger, on the subject of communication, said that he was in favor of distributing the “About Our Schools” district newsletter by mail throughout the School District, instead of inserting it in the monthly newspaper, White Plains Watch.

Ms. Valentin, according to our team of correspondents, said she would work to bring the Board of Education into all neighborhoods in periodic meetings to hear first hand concerns of parents and residents in those areas on how Board of Education issues affect them. She used the phrase “Board Outreach” to describe this initiative.

Pollak calls for Support of Connors.

William Pollak said “You can’t say anything bad about this man (Connors). We have to be supportive. He said all the right things.” Pollak also showed a sensivity to the seriousness of issues saying in response to a question about astroturfing Eastview Middle School field, that he was not sure if that was an appropriate question to consider at this time. Ms. Valentin said there were a number of fine soccer fields at George Washington, while Mr. Geiger quickly pointed out that in his position on the Recreation Committee he was in a position to work actively to fill recreation needs, without being specific.

Candidates say they attended Board of Ed Meetings.

In response to a question on how many Board of Education meetings the new candidates Valentin, Tuck and Pollack had attended, no candidate gave a specific number, but all said they had attended some. WPCNR which attends Board of Education meetings regularly has not seen the three challengers as being “regulars” at Board of Education meetings in 2002.

Opening and Closing Statements, Rebuttals, Restrict Content.

Three correspondents deplored the debate format. The format called for opening statements by all five candidates, followed by a question and answer period in which just six questions were asked, with all five candidates responding in turn.

No questions were asked about the new school budget, for example, or how the candidates would deal with a budget that has been going up consistently. No questions were asked about test scores, the minority achievement gap, the aging elementary and Middle School plants, the referendum.

One correspondent, a veteran observer of League of Women Voters debates was highly critical of the lack of content produced by the League of Women Voters debate format.

He described the debate as “watered down, tight-collared, tight-laced, so structured, so repetitive, it becomes routine, and little more than just a chance to have coffee with them.” This observer, who has seen a number of such debates, said the format should be far more free-wheeling so candidates could respond informally, and “tell me what you’re about.”

Valentin, Geiger present strongly.

This same impartial correspondent observing the debate said that “Maria Valentin should be elected in a landslide. She has the experience in the classroom, in administration, and other areas, giving her skills that could make her very valuable to the Board. Geiger with his corporate experience, deserves one more term.”

Two other observers for WPCNR said Valentin was the only candidate who showed any “passion” for the Board of Education position. One correspondent quotes her as saying “I really want to do this. I want this position.” This correspondent said “she’s the only bright light up there.”Another correspondent said Valentin defined the issues facing the district very well in her opening statement.

On the other hand, two of our contacts reported Robert Tuck did not read a prepared opening statement, and appeared to be adlibbing his opening remarks, not having a grasp of the issues. At the close of the debate, Tuck said he was only going to serve one term because he was getting old. Candidate Pollak acknowledged he was getting old but he was “ready to rumble.”

Over fifty persons attend. To be televised May 17 through 20.

Observers agreed that between fifty and seventy persons attended, but a person who attended the raucous community meetings during the Yanofsky departure controversy last fall, said “there was no passion and that’s disturbing to me.”

The debate, according to a spokesperson for Channel 73, the Board of Education Channel, will be telecast at 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM, beginning
Friday, May 17 and running twice nightly on May 18, May 19, 20 and 21st.

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School District Declares Half Days for Middle School June 11 to 14

WPCNR Morning Sun. May 8, 2002. 8:30 AM EDT, UPDATED 2:00 PM EDT: The City School District responding to PTA and teacher complaints about the amount of time teachers are taken out of class to evaluate eighth grade assessment test results has declared a series of half-day dismissals during the regular school week, June 11 to 14.
Parents should be receiving written notice of the new schedule in a letter from their respective schools shortly.

The new schedule will have students dismissed from Highlands and Eastview at 11:15 AM for the four school days beginning Tuesday, June 11 and ending June 14. Monday, June 10, is a regular full day schedule.

The decision to schedule the surprise half-days was made in response to lobbying by the White Plains Middle School PTA which has complained about the lack of meaningful, productive classes during times when regular instructors are taken out of class to evaluate the test results of the eighth grade State Assessment Tests in Social Studies, Technology, and Science.

Eight to 13 Full-Time Teachers Coopted for Grading Tuesday through Friday.

On Monday, June 10, still scheduled for a full day of school, 8 teachers will be out to grade the Technology Assessment. On Tuesday, the eight will again be out grading the Technology results. On Wednesday andand Thursday, the 12th and 13th of June, 13 teachers will be out of class to grade the social studies assessments. On June 14th, 12 teachers will be taken out of the Middle Schools to grade the Science Assessment.
Middle School Teachers have complained to parents that serious learning does not take place in the Middle Schools during the week when daily teachers are taken away from their classes. Parents of Middle School students took up the teacher-generated complaint at two public meetings in March and April, and as a result of their efforts, the Board of Education has agreed to the week of half-days.

The close of school is unaffected by the scheduling of the new half-days. Middle School will still be open June 24 and close June 25, as scheduled.

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Amy Paulin’s Albany: STAR Program Enhanced for Seniors

Amy Paulin’s Albany: By Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. May 7, 2002, UPDATED May 8, 2002: Assembywoman Paulin reports the agreed-on new NYS Budget enhances the STAR program for Seniors by giving them a cost of living increase, and making available $10 Million more for property tax relief.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) today announced that the tentative state budget agreement will improve the School Tax Relief (STAR) program by ensuring that a senior’s STAR eligibility is protected from cost-of-living increases. The budget also simplifies the program for seniors.

“STAR plays an important role in whether many New Yorkers – especially seniors living on fixed incomes – can afford their homes,” Paulin said. “The Assembly was determined during budget negotiations that we continue to make New York a better, more affordable place to live. Improving the STAR program is key to that effort.”

Protecting STAR savings for seniors

According to Paulin, the budget includes a provision that would account for cost-of-living increases based upon the rate of inflation – automatically raising the income eligibility levels for seniors receiving enhanced STAR benefits.

Enhanced STAR saved eligible seniors in Westchester County an average of $2,290 last year – the cost-of-living increase will mean an additional $10 million in savings for seniors statewide.

“This program has helped many seniors keep the homes they’ve worked so hard to maintain,” Paulin said. “Unfortunately a small increase in household income has caused some homeowners to lose these important savings – and possibly their homes. This budget will ensure that small increases in income don’t jeopardize the STAR benefits seniors rely on.”

Other STAR improvements under the budget include easing application requirements for seniors and providing extensions for homeowners who fail to meet a STAR deadline due to a death or illness in the family, or other extenuating circumstances.

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Council Approves Bike Signs, Budget gets 1 Comment. NYPH Hearing Continues.

WPCNR Common Council Reporter. By John F. Bailey. May 7, 2002. 2:30 PM EDT: The Common Council despite vociferous opposition from Robert Ruger and Robert Levine, members of the Traffic Commission, voted 4 to 3 to install 225 Bicycle Route Signs throughout White Plains at a cost of approximately $14,000 in Community Development Funds. George Gretsas denied that this was a prelude to marking out bicycle lanes on White Plains streets.

The Public Hearing on the proposed 2002-03 $103 Million budget was opened. Only Lyn Lubliner, President of the League of Women Voters made a comment. A series of three more Council meetings, with the Capital Projects Board on May 8, the Budget Advisory Committee on May 13, and Decision Night on May 20, will be held for Budget tweaking prior to the planned adoption of the Budget on May 28.

The Hearing on the New York Presbyterian Hospital biotech/proton accelerator plan was held open another month, with Allan Teck, President of CCOS calling for rescinding the designation of portions of the hospital property as landmark status, advocating placement of the biotech facility on the golf course portion of the property, which currently has landmark status. Concerned Citizens for Open Space originally lobbied for that designation of the property in the past. Marc Pollitzer of the North Street Civic Association, called on the council to explore with the hospital a “meaningful approach” to rezoning the property. One other commentator spoke against the project.

The Council meeting produced the lowest turnout in spectators in three years: 12.

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Geiger, Sules, Pollak, Tuck, Valentin Contest Two Board of Education Seats

WPCNR Daily Mirror. By John F. Bailey. May 2, 2002. 11:00 AM EDT: Two present members of the Board of Education, seeking reelection to the Board for the next three years will be challenged by three at-large candidates in the Board election May 21 for the two seats up for election.
Michelle Schoenfeld reported to WPCNR Wednesday afternoon that the five candidates are:

Photo by WPCNR

*Incumbent Larry Geiger, a marketing executive and incumbent BOE member since 1984, is seeking his seventh term on the Board. Mr. Geiger was on the Board when the White Plains Choice Program was adapted. He supported the need and the execution of district Technology Upgrade of the 1990s, helped steer the Board to Saul Yanofsky’s selection as Superintendent of Schools in 1989, and strongly supported the high school renovation. His tenure encompasses almost twenty years of growth and positive change for the White Plains School System. His wife wrote a definitive history of White Plains High School.

Photo by WPCNR from the Internet, used with permission.

* Incumbent Stephen Sules, an insurance agent, who is seeking reelection to a second term on the School Board. He was elected in 1999. Mr. Sules, a softspoken thoughtful voice, has consistently supported achievement and supported initiatives to improve test scores, physical school projects, and the high school renovation.

Photo by WPCNR.

*Challenger William Pollak, a lawyer, who pioneered the Coachman “Homework Center.” Both his chlidren have attended White Plains Schools. He is a candidate of the White Plains Alliance for Vision in Education(WAVE), and a critic of the Board of Education handling of the decision not to renew Superintendent of Schools Saul Yanofsky’s contract.

Photo by WPCNR from Campaign Brochure.

* Challenger Robert Tuck, owner of a White Plains bicycle shop, husband of a teacher in the school system, long active in working with city youth and citizen at large who twice has run for Common Council unsuccessfully for the Republican Party.

Photo by WPCNR.

*Challenger Maria Valentin, a lawyer, and former popular and effective teacher in the White Plains High School throughout the 1990s. Another candidate supported by White Plains Alliance for Vision in Education (WAVE), she is a strong advocate for the Parent Choice Program, and has first-hand, effective knowledge of the contemporary school learning environment in White Plains.

Who can Vote.

Any legal resident and registered voter of White Plains is eligible to vote in the School Board Election May 21st, and in casting ballots for these candidates, they should vote for two candidates for the Board, because two seats are up for election.

First contested election in two years.

Michell Schoenfeld said that this was the first contested Board of Education election since 1999. Prior to that, she remembers “we always had contested elections.”

Schoenfeld said she distributed ten petitions to persons interested in running for the Board of Education.

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a debate between the five candidates to held at The Women’s Club of White Plains on Ridgeway Avenue, next Tuesday at 7 PM.

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Popular White Plains Umpire Suffers Serious Eye Injury in Field

WPCNR PressBox. By John F. Bailey. May 2, 2002. 10:30 AM EDT.: Jimmie Wolf, the man who organized umpiring for the upper ranks of amateur baseball and softball leagues in Westchester County, Rockland and Dutchess Counties, colleges and the White Plains Little League, suffered a serious eye injury yesterday while umpiring a college game in the field.
He is resting at home, but is out of action for weeks, perhaps months.
Wolf, according to his wife, was hit in the eye by a thrown ball while calling action on the basepaths in a college game yesterday. He was hospitalized after the incident, and is now resting at home. Julie Wolf told WPCNR last night that they are hopeful he will recover 100% vision in his eye. Meanwhile, she told WPCNR, his first concern was that “his” games would be covered. She was scrambling to cover games last night.

Wolf organized the science of umpiring over recent years so that leagues could make one call to him, and he’d assign an umpire or crew to the games for reasonable fees. His umpires showed up, called before games and kept control of the game, and most of all knew the rules.

In the White Plains Little League, handling senior games and majors games, we always knew that Wolf would have the umpires there. The Umpire would be good. The game would be under control.

Jimmy professionalized umpire assignment by setting fees, at the beginning of the season, making sure umpires were paid a reasonable fee, and evaluating their competence, only taking on umpires on his staff he felt were good arbiters. He worked games with new recruits to teach them the tools of the arbiter’s trade.

His umpires are even-tempered men and women who bring a touch of class and big league professionalism to every game they call, thanks to Jimmie’s leadership.

It is a tribute to Wolf’s sense of duty to “The Game,” that he was pressuring his wife last night to make sure his own personal umpiring assignments were covered, while in great personal pain.

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Sharpener to the Stars: Fred Kohler, Blade Master to White Plains Skaters.

WPCNR Pressbox. By John F. Bailey. May 1, 2002. 3:00 PM EDT: The man who used to sharpen Dorothy Hamill’s figure skates sharpens the skate blades for White Plains figure skaters with one-of-a-kind precision instruments he designed 35 years ago.

BLADE MASTER FRED KOHLER sharpens skates in his Haverstraw workshop.
Photo by WPCNR

Your reporter met Fred Kohler at his home in Haverstraw Monday, when he was recommended by one of my daughter’s skating instructors. It’s the way Fred Kohler, 75, gets his clients. Strictly word of mouth. If you’re not landing your “Axels,” or bobbling your spins, one sharpening by Fred and bingo, the landings become pinpint, the spins “on a dime.”

“Leading Edge” of Skate Sharpening.

After a pleasant drive up the Palisades Parkway and into the rapidly growing community of Haverstraw we arrived at Mr. Kohler’s attractive home and were welcomed into his very neat little garage workshop. Little did we know this was the “leading edge” of skate blade sharpening in the world.

MEASURING THE BLADE POSITION, Fred Kohler uses a centering device to assure a precisely-positioned blade.
Photo by WPCNR

His “workshop” features a machine lathe with grinder wheels. Boxes of skating boots were stacked in precise order to the ceiling and some autographed photographs of well-known figure skaters whose skating blades Mr. Kohler sharpened: Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungeon, the pairs skaters and the American Champion, Elaine Sayak were just two of the photos of skating icons on his wall.

We met Mr. Kohler, a slight man in his seventies, thin with spectacles, Monday morning. He is “The Sharpener to the Stars.”

Troubleshooter on the Edge.

In his German-American accent, Mr. Kohler asked to look at my daughter’s blades. With his naked eye, he said he did not see how she could skate on these blades, or spin, because there was a bump in the spin area at the tip of the blade.

MEASURING THE HEIGHTS OF BLADE EDGES, with his own custom “Edge-O-Meter,” The Sharpener to the Stars discovers if edges are in sync.
Photo by WPCNR

Next, to my amazement, Mr. K. reached for an instrument that appeared to be a stop watch, that he precisely fitted onto the skate blade. (For skating amateurs, a figure skating ice skate blade is hollowed out in the center to create two edges, an inside edge and an outside edge.)

It turned out to be a gauge, (what the WPCNR, always in search of nomenclature will call an “Edge-O-Meter”) , which Kohler used to measure first the inside edge, then the outside edge. He showed me the difference in the needle positions, the readings confirming that one edge of my daughter’s skateblade was twice as high as the other edge, way out of whack.

Takes the Guesswork Out of Sharpening.

“I designed these instruments, and built them myself,” Kohler explained. “The gauge checks the edges that every edge is exactly the same height.” Kohler explained.

I asked if this would make a difference in my daughter’s ability to land her jumps. Kohler said absolutely:

“Because the skater if they have an edge higher or lower would have a hard time to get at that lower edge. They have to be exactly the same height.”

When a figure skater lands a jump, depending on the jump, the jump would require a landing adjustment depending on which edge (inner or outer), she landed on. My skater had trouble landing her axel three times over the weekend, and she never misses them, so Mr. Kohler’s analysis made a lot of sense.

Created for His Daughters’ Skates.

Kohler turned on the machine lathe/grinder device. Locking the boot into a custom mount, he proceeded to bring down the edges. By hand he brought them back with his own personally designed hand sharpening instrument. Mr. Kohler developed his sharpening tools when his daughters skated..

ONE OF KIND TECHNOLOGY: Kohler’s Edge measurement gauge, what WPCNR calls an “Edge-O-Meter,” on the left, is used by Kohler to synchronize the height of the blade edges. He uses the hand edge-sharpener at right to bring up the edges, and checks them with the gauge.
Photo by WPCNR

Both of Mr. Kohler’s daughters were figure skaters. He created his instruments because when he had his daughters’ skates sharpened in New York, they were never right:

“When my daughters were skating, we had to go to New York for skate work. Sometimes when we came home, something was wrong with the skates. So, back to New York. So, I figured there had to be a better way. I started doing it for them. Then I did it for friends. And before I knew it I had people from all around. I had a lot of skaters.”

Kohler has never patented or marketed his “Edgeometer,” or his skating instruments, though he gave one to the Chinese figure skating organization twenty-two years ago when they were developing their figure skating team for the first time. Perhaps the rapid rise of Chinese figure skaters is a direct result of “The Kohler Edge.”

Grinding Away Shabby Sharpenings.

Kohler enjoys a reputation among skaters who have used him as the absolute master of “the skater’s edge.” One of my daughter’s instructors has been having Kohler sharpen her skates since she was 7 years old. Kohler laments that other professionals sharpening skates in the area are simply not paying enough attention to their important work:

“First of all, I think, most of those people don’t take enough care, or don’t have enough training to do it that accurately. Secondly, they don’t have the gadgets that I have.”

Previously my daughter’s skates were sharpened by hand. We asked why Kohler uses the machine grinding on the skates: “I do machine sharpening and hand-finishing. You have to get that old sharpening down first with the machine. You have to get the old sharpening down to a dull edge, then you have to put a new hollow into the blade. You have to be careful not to take too much off the blade, because those blades are very expensive. This is like a hobby to me.”

So “Edgy”, Skaters Send Kohler Their Skates from All Over the World.

Kohler said he has professionals sending him their skates from faraway places who pay for overnight shipping to get their skates back with the coveted “Kohler Edge.” The overnight shipping costs more than his sharpening.

The reason: the Kohler Edge works.

While I was visiting, Mauro Bruni’s mom, called up Mr. Kohler. Bruni, a well-known young man who learned to skate at Ebersole Rink in White Plains, and competes nationally, competed in Luxemburg, Germany recently, and finished second. Mrs. Bruni called to personally thank Mr. Kohler for the skate-sharpening, which she felt contributed to her son’s strong finish possible.

Monday evening my daughter took to the ice with her new “Kohler Edges.” Previously, whenever my daughter had her skates sharpened she was cautioned by instructors to break them in a little and not sharpen skates right before a show. This time, the blades showed a difference right away. Jumps were landed crisply. Spins solid.

Her analysis: “They’re really good, Dad!”

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WPCNR County News Service. From Westchester County Department of Communications. May 1, 2002 8:00 AM EDT:County Executive Andy Spano announced yesterday a public education campaign to make sure that parking spots reserved for the handicapped are only used by the handicapped. Mr. Spano also introduced a new fleet of paratransit vans to transport disabled citizens.
And as part of the county’s long-time commitment to providing adequate transportation to the disabled and elderly, Spano also announced that the county has acquired 18 new paratransit vans, as replacements for older models that have logged hundreds of thousands of miles transporting people with disabilities.

“By making sure our handicapped parking spaces are used properly and that our paratransit vans are available, we go a long way to ensuring that disabled people can work, shop and enjoy public amenities like restaurants and theaters,” said Spano. “More importantly, this helps people keep their independence.”

A Closer Look at Who’s In the Blue Spaces

The campaign dealing with handicapped parking is aimed at reminding the public that only people with the proper identification on their vehicle may use these restricted spaces and that the access aisle near the restricted spot (a blue zone) is needed by those using wheel chairs.

Video Training for Police

In addition to a public education campaign aimed at the other motorists, the county has prepared a video for area police departments to heighten their awareness about the need to enforce these restrictions.

Spano said, “Over the years, the county’s Office for the Disabled has received thousands of complaints about parking. The three most common complaints are: no handicapped parking (or not enough) at a particular site; inadequate enforcement of handicapped parking laws; and misuse of permits by non-disabled people, including family members, friends and even thieves. Enforcement of parking laws is the responsibility of the local municipalities, but we hope that our education efforts will have a real impact and, ultimately, make life easier for people with disabilities in Westchester.”

Full Court Press

Westchester’s education program involves:

• A video developed by the county Communications Office with the Office for the Disabled that will be distributed to the chief elected officials and police departments in every Westchester municipality, to educate them about the spirit and the letter of the Vehicle & Traffic Law, and to raise awareness of the importance of strict enforcement of handicapped parking rules.

• Distribution by the county of posters and signs reminding people of the law.

• Distribution of “ticket pads” to the public to put on illegally parked cars reminding the owners of the cars that they are parked illegally and that a police officer could have given them a real ticket for the transgression.

Fines Finance the Campaign. Federal Grant for 80% of new van costs

The state is now collecting a $30 surcharge on fines paid on any handicapped parking violations. The Westchester public information campaign is being financed with Westchester’s share of the money.
The new paratransit vans each cost $56,491 — 80 percent of which was paid for with grants from the Federal Transit Administration. The state-of-the-art, raised roof vans are all equipped with wheelchair lifts and high contrast interior design to assist riders with low-vision. Each vehicle can accommodate seven ambulatory passengers and two wheelchair wpcnr_users.

177,000 ParaTransit Trips in 2001

ParaTransit is administered by the County Executive’s Office for the Disabled, with support from the Department of Transportation. There are approximately 4,000 people registered to use the service and last year the county provided 176,536 trips–over 14,000 more than the previous year. As demand for ParaTransit increases, Westchester hopes to increase the size of the county fleet; though the 18 vans that have been launched this month are replacements, an additional 18 are expected at the end of the summer which should allow for expansion of the system’s capacity.

Westchester County provides Bee-Line ParaTransit in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on disability in all activities of state and local government, as well as in the private sector.

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King Komments Galleria Intrigued by Children’s Museum

King Comments by White Plains Councilman William King. April 30, 2002. 3:00 EDT. The peripatetic councilman suggests possible sites for a Children’s Museum in White Plains, and reports the latest “Galleria Spin” from Winnette Peltz, the Galleria General Manager. He reports a department store there within two months.
Winnette Peltz, the Galleria general manager, who was considerably more upbeat, naturally, than the last time I talked to her, which was after the shooting incident there 2 years ago, says she is intrigued by the idea of a children’s museum.

She said she saw such a museum in a converted dept. store in a mall in Poughkeepsie. I will have to go and take a look. She asked me how much space a children’s museum would need and I said I didn’t know, that I seen them in various sizes. I asked whether a store (or a children’s museum), other than a dept. store in the mall, could be 2 levels, as most of the children’s museums I have seen were on more than one floor, and she said there haven’t been any at the Galleria but she has seen them in other malls.

I mentioned to her about my contacting IKEA a few months ago about the Penney’s space which she appreciated. I said IKEA had only got back to me to say they would call me but they never did.

She said there is strong interest in the space, which the Galleria (Cadillac Fairview, the owner of a bunch of malls in the U.S. and Canada) bought from Penney’s last November and that, while they thought they were close to an announcement a few months ago and stranger things have happened in the real estate business, she thought there might be something to announce in the next few months in the way of a new dept. store in the old Penney’s. The new store would shoot for either a Christmas 2002 opening or in Spring 2003.

I think we’ll have to look at other space in the downtown, either existing space or as part of some redevelopment project. Cappelli hasn’t leased its second floor yet. They were going to contact the Children’s Museum of Manhattan after I last spoke to them.

People should take a look at Rochester’s. And, as I have heard, also Providence’s. Baltimore has done some exciting things for kids, too. There are even old exhibits probably somewhere in storage down there from the Baltimore City Life Museum, near the Inner Harbor, which was excellent, but closed.

I would also like to look at Paris’s children’s museum!

William King
White Plains City Councilman

King Komments is a periodic column from the White Plains Councilman carried exclusively by WPCNR.

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Local Girl Plays Palace: Elyse Spies, Hot Ticket Jazz Flutist at Art Council Sat

WPCNR After Dark Nightly. By John F. Bailey with Alex Steinberg. April 26, 2002. 3:00 PM EDT: South Broadway Hipsteress, the disstaff “Herbie Mann,” Elyse Spies, plays a gig in her home city Saturday night at the Westchester Arts Council, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, at 7 PM.

ELYSE SPIES, JAZZ FLUTIST, KEYBOARDIST, SINGER, COMPOSER SATURDAY NIGHT AT ARTS COUNCIL. Ms. Spies has played The Bottom Line, Triad Theatre, Lion’s Den, Baggot Inn CB’s Gallery, and is in demand at the NYC club scene.
Photo by As Communications LLC

Real White Plains Jazz

Spies lived on South Broadway in White Plains from 1996 to 1997, and is backed by guitarist Art Rotfeld and skinsman, Mike Severino, White Plains residents. Bassist Gary Ptak was born and raised in White Plains.

When Elyse takes the stage at the Arts Council Building Saturday evening, the patrons will be hearing jazz in White Plains by White Plains jazz musicians with a national reputation.

Tickets for her performance at the Westchester Arts Council Building, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue at the door are $15 apiece, a fraction of club prices, are available at the door for jazz aficionados to hear Ms. Spies with her combo of native White Plains jazzmen and lady. Elyse is backed up vocally by keyboard artist, Elleen Nicita of Brewster.

A traveling lady.

Elyse Spies, flutist and keyboard impresarioess, composes her own songs, and has been singled out by The Village Voice no less in favorable reviews.

Her first CD, Trip debuted in 2000, and was requested often on WFUV-FM and WARY-FM. This popularity earned her appearances at many of New York City’s hottest jazz clubs.

Spies attended Purchase College in Harrison, after a youth of many homes, spent singing, composing, playing the flute, studying under Jean Pierre Rampal’s student, Peggie Schecter. When she switched to composition courses at Purchase, consisting of learning recording technology, MIDI, jazz piano, and theory/composition, she changed the tunes she was playing.

Seduced by those cool jazz major.

“The jazz majors had quite the attitude,” Spies remembers. “Many times my musician friends and I would end up in the Music Building ‘trading 8s’ or ‘trading 16s’ on jazz standards. For a classical flute player, this was quite a challenging experience! I started a love-hate relationship with jazz. I was intrigued to learn it, but it was incredibly hard work on a flute.”

Meeting the White Plains “Cats”

“The autumn before my senior year of college, I joined ‘Swahoogie,’ a rock band,” Spies recalls. “The day I was asked to join the band, I went out and bought a keyboard. I went to one of their jams and when they heard I could sing, they let me sing some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ on backup. Eventually, I was singing duets with the lead singer. We played at places like the Elbow Room, Downtime, and New Music CafĂ©’ in Greenwich Village.”

Elyse met up with the White Plains boys, guitarist Arthur Rotfeld and bassist Gary Ptak five years ago when she joined Swahoogie. The musical direction of all three to include an unmistakable jazz inflection, which can be heard on Spies Trip CD.

Drummer Mike Severino has been working with Rotfeld for a number of years.

Spies and backup vocalist/keyboardist Elleen Nicita have been acquainted for several years, teaching music students.

Rock-Jazz Eclectic Elyse.

Spies has song and played keyboard for Terre Roche of The Roches, with whom she played The Bottom Line for a year.

Now, White Plains welcomes back Ms. Spies Saturday night as featured performer with her band as part of the Westchester Arts Council Jazz Series, produced by Donovan Guy.

Spies is living the glamour of the club scene, which she will bring to White Plains Saturday night:

“I was 20 years old and never been to a club before – so the experience of playing in New York City clubs was quite exhilarating,” she reminisces. “I love the crazy scene. Now, I am breaking free and playing all my own material. I am using my classical knowledge, jazz experience, and original songwriting to create music.”

Ms. Spies talents can be heard live tomorrow evening at the Arts Council Building, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue. A limited number of tickets are available at the door.

You can hear her CD on her wesbsite,

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