County Bans Campfires in County Parks

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WPCNR Friday Night Final. From Westchester County Department of Communications. August 16, 2002:As a result of the increased risk of fire caused by drought conditions, County Parks Commissioner Stanley G. Motley today announced a ban on fires at all county parks. Barbecues are not affected, if fired up in permanently fixed grills.

“Due to the unusual lack of rain this summer, many parks have become excessively dry,” Motley said. “We ask all visitors to use common sense in helping to protect our parks and to take such precautions as fully extinguishing barbecue coals and cigarettes.”

Motley noted that charcoal and propane fires will only be permitted for cooking in permanently-fixed grills.

The Parks Department will continue to monitor conditions on a daily basis and will re-evaluate the ban if any appreciable rainfall occurs.

For further information, contact the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation at (914) 864-7000.

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ASA National Women’s Softball Championship at Stratford, CT. Continues

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WPCNR PRESSBOX. August 17, 2002:The Stratford Brakettes with four of the nation’s top softball pitchers take on a field of 13 teams from around the nation this weekend in the ASA National Softball Championships in Stratford, Connecticut.

In last night’s opening action, the Brakettes defeated the Iowa Dynasty 5-2, behind Cat Osterman and play the Adirondack Ice Saturday afternoon at 5:30 PM at DeLuca Field. For all of last night’s results, go to www.brakettes.com, and click-on “brackets.”



LONG TALL LEFTY, Cat Osterman, of the Stratford Brakettes, is just one of the top windmill pitchers you’ll see in action beginning this evening in Stratford Connecticut’s, DeLuca Hall of Fame Field as the ASA National Softball Championships get underway with 14 women’s teams from around the nation. She is shown pitching a shutout against the Adirondack Ice last week. The Brakettes won the Northeast Seaboard Women’s Fastpitch League Championship last weekend.
PHOTO BY WPCNR

The championships will feature the now 74-1, (no, that is not a misprint), Stratford Brakettes against a field that includes the California Hurricanes, featuring some of the top players from southern California, the St. Louis Saints, Iowa Dynasties, Celina(Ohio) Suns, and Elite Force from Illinois.

DeLuca is reached by traveling to Exit 30 on the Connecticut Thruway, exiting to Lordship Boulevard, following it to the Cricket Hot Dog Stand, making a left, and you’re right at the ballpark. In action tonight are the California Hurricanes in Game 1 at 6:30 PM, and the Stratford Brakettes in Game 2 at 8:30 PM. Admission is $6 for the elite doubleheader. Action continues all weekend long with the Championship Monday evening.

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Fisher Hill Group Home Opponents Ask Zoning Board to Reverse Building Permit

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WPCNR Evening City Star Reporter. By John F. Bailey. August 15, 2002: The Walworth Avenue Neighbors Committee has launched a legal effort to prevent the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services from converting 139 Walworth Avenue into a foster home for teenagers from broken homes. It has asked the White Plains Zoning Board of Appeals to deny the Building Permit issued by the City Building Department to the JBFCS to prepare the home for occupancy by 10 teenagers.
Their complaint is scheduled to be heard at the September 4 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

In the appeal, filed with the city August 9, the neighborhood organization asks the Zoning Board of Appeals to revoke the Building Permit on the grounds that the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services needed to acquire a Special Permit Zoning Variance, or undergo a siting review process, provided for under the state mental hygiene law, and that “the Building Department exceeded its authority,” in granting the permit.

The complaint, in addition, asks the Zoning Board to revoke the Building Permit on the grounds that “the proposed operation of this facility is not remotely similar to a natural family, nor to the state-created families described in the relevant caselaw.”

The brief explains: “there will be no house parents in residence at 139 Walworth, ” and that, “no adult staff would reside there even part-time. Instead, the staff would come and go from the site, and a single staff member will be on the premises during the night shift between 11 PM and 7 AM.”

As a result, the argument contends, “This staffing arrangement does not meet the definition of “family” under Section 2.4 of the White Plains zoning ordinance,” which describes a family as a person who is a relative or a householder caring for a reasonable number of children, likely to be found in a biologically unitary family.

The appeal contends that a Siting and Review Process under the Mental Hygiene Law was required before a Building Permit could have been granted. The brief cites two case rulings in 1978 and 1984 supporting their position.

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City Hall Denies JPI In Process of Selling 300 Mamaroneck Property.

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WPCNR Evening City Star Reporter. By John F. Bailey. August 15, 2002: George Gretsas, Executive Officer for the City of White Plains, denied today that JPI, developers of The Jefferson at White Plains was in the process of “shopping the property” as has been rumored about the city in recent weeks by Highlands residents.
Gretsas maintained that JPI has told the city the property is not for sale and that they were still in the process of selecting a new general contractor. He said that JPI had assured the city that as soon as a new contractor was signed, the project which has not seen any activity for approximately three months, would resume.

Rumors of the creation of a second “hole-in-the-ground” at 300 Mamaroneck Avenue as a result of JPI’s dispute with their former contractor, were discounted by city hall sources, as were other rumors that height was being added to the project, and that there were natural geological factors(rocky subsurface) necessitating a change in the design of the project.

A city hall source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that it was their understanding that JPI had invested too much money in the project to pull out of the endeavor at this point, and were committed to the apartment complex.

Paul Crisalli, local spokesman for JPI, was contacted for confirmation of JPI’s intentions, but as of Thursday evening, had not contacted WPCNR.

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Jennifer Schaffer Moves Up to Commish of Mental Health. Friedman Retires.

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WPCNR County Clarion-Ledger. From Westchester Department of Communications. August 15, 2002.:Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Schaffer will take over as head of the county’s community mental health department when Commissioner Steven Friedman retires on Aug. 26, County Executive Andy Spano announced today.
Schaffer, who has served as deputy commissioner for 12 years, said she is eager to take on her new responsibilities and hopes to see the department offer even more innovative treatment and rehabilitation programs in coming years.

“Under Steve Friedman’s leadership, Westchester County has established an extensive array of services for mentally ill, mentally retarded, developmentally disabled and chemically abusing persons,” Schaffer said. “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to continue to develop and work with this service system that is among the best anywhere in the country.”

Spano extended his congratulations to Schaffer as he expressed appreciation to Friedman for his efforts in creating a compassionate yet efficient department that shows how much can be accomplished with strong planning and determination.

“During his tenure, we were able to build a system of services that is helping people throughout the county lead a higher quality of life,” Spano said. “I can think of no one more qualified than Dr. Schaffer to take over that role and continue the progress that’s already well underway.”

Friedman said that when he first joined the Department of Community Mental Health in 1973, he never thought he would stay for 29 years. Serving as commissioner for the last fourteen years, he noted that the final years have been the best.

“Our system of services has grown, changed and adapted to the changing needs and expectations of Westchester’s residents,” he said. “The system understands its responsibility to first serve those most in need. I am very proud of what we have all accomplished through the cooperative efforts of county government, the offices of the state Department of Mental Hygiene, voluntary providers, families and consumers.”

Friedman said he applauded Spano’s decision to have Schaffer take over as commissioner.

Schaffer, a Briarcliff Manor resident, has been deputy commissioner since 1990. She previously served as executive director of the Middletown Psychiatric Center and deputy director of a state Office of Mental Health regional office that included six state-run psychiatric centers. With a PhD in Applied Research in Psychology, she is also a clinical assistant professor of psychology at New York Medical College.

“Her vast experience with the Office of Mental Health, Middletown Psychiatric Center and as deputy commissioner of our department provide her with unique and tested skills,” Friedman said.

Westchester’s community mental health department has long been recognized for its innovative approaches to providing services. The department runs four state licensed outpatient clinics, helps homeless adults in the shelter system, operates alternative to incarceration programs and develops and coordinates programs and services for children, adolescents, adults and their families affected by alcohol and substance abuse, mental illness, mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

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Con Ed Asks for Residents to Conserve Electricity

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WPCNR County Clarion Ledger. From Westchester County Department of Communications. August 14, 2002: With the forecast of hot, humid temperatures for the rest of the week, County Executive Andy Spano is urging residents and businesses to heed ConEd’s call to reduce their electricity use.

“Con Edison is anticipating heavy loads on their power networks and is asking for our help to ease up on the high demand for electricity in Westchester County,” Spano said. “Take these simple steps to reduce energy consumption by turning off all non-essential appliances. At the same time, you should keep yourselves hydrated. This is especially important for the elderly, small children and people who are ill.”

The following energy-saving steps are recommended:

• Turn the air-conditioner off when you leave your house

• Set your air conditioner thermostat at no less than 78 degrees

• Use dishwashers, washing machines and dryers only with full loads, very early in the morning or very late at night

• Use a fan instead of an air conditioner in a well ventilated area. Close blinds or shades to keep the sun from heating up the room.

The county Health Department has opened a “Stay Cool” hotline at (914) 813-5620 to advise residents on the symptoms of heat stress and recommend some of these safety tips:

• Stay in cool indoor areas like air-conditioned malls, movie theatres and libraries especially during the hottest part of the day between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For listings of “stay cool” locations in Westchester County, please visit Westchester County’s website at www.westchestergov.com or call the Health Department during business hours at (914) 813-5000.
• Drink enough water and avoid hot foods, heavy meals and alcohol.

• Wear loose-fitting clothing

• Avoid strenuous activity

• Take a cool bath or shower to quickly cool down

For more information, please visit the Westchester County website at www.westchestergov.com.

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Labor Coalition Touts Bradley. Calls Matusow Tax Position

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WPCNR Afternoon Tribune. By John F. Bailey. August 14, 2002: The White Plains Labor Coalition, representing the police, firefighters, teachers and the CSEA, endorsed Adam Bradley Wednesday as their choice for Assemblyperson in the 89th District.



WHITE PLAINS LABOR LINES UP FOR BRADLEY: On the steps of the Public Safety Building, the White Plains Labor Coalition stood behind Adam Bradley in his race against Naomi Matusow. L to R, Jim Carrier, of the WPPBA, Duncan McRae, head of the WPLC, Mr. Bradley, and Bob Bogart of the retired firefighters.
Photo by WPCNR


Citing incumbent Assemblyperson Naomi Matusow’s refusal to support the White Plains sales tax, Duncan MacRae, head of the Coalition, Jim Carrier of the White Plains PBA, and Bob Bogart of the retired firefighters, spoke on Bradley’s behalf. MacRae said the Coalition was contemplating reaching out to other labor groups in other towns in the 89th district to acquire their support for Mr. Bradley.

McRae said this was the first time the White Plains Labor Coalition had ever endorsed a candidate in the primary. He said, “It is egregious to us that Naomi Matusow won’t support our sales tax.”

Jim Carrier, President of the White Plains Police Benevolent Association, said that without the ½% sales tax, the city police and fire force would be exposed to the possibility of layoffs, and a property tax increase: “Our choice (Adam Bradley) is easy and we support him.”

Bob Bogart, speaking on behalf of the retired firefighters, said, “We interviewed Naomi Matusow three times and each time she vehemently refused to even consider the question of supporting the sales tax. She said she felt it would hurt her with the Republican constituency in her district. Now there is no Republican running against her. What’s her excuse now?”

Mr. Bradley said, “The city workforce support as a whole, I really appreciate the White Plains Labor Coalition endorsement in the Democratic Primary (September 10). In the past White Plains has been blessed with excellent representation. (Former Assemblyperson) Audrey Hochberg sponsored the original ½% sales tax. White Plains sales tax is 7-3/4% less than Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle. It is a small price when you realize that White Plains, a city of 50,000 residents, we have to provide services for 250,000 people Monday through Friday. It is unfair to require us to accept a 30% property tax increase, or lay off police and firemen, (if that ½% is not supported).

Bradley: Matusow “irresponsible.”

He continued to say, “It is absolutely irresponsible of a state legislator to neglect obvious needs of their communities.”

Bradley added that the county faced a $102-109 Million budget gap, and possibly a 29% hike in the county property tax to close the gap. “We need to protect the property owner in this county.” He said he would listen and work “to serve the needs of each community” in the 89th district.

Up to 100 police and firefighters could be laid off.

Mr. MacRae added at the cose of the news conference that up to 100 police and firefighter might be trimmed from the two departments in White Plains if the city did not raise the property tax to make up for the ½% shortfall.

Matusow Changes Indian Point Position.

Commenting after the news conference on Ms. Matusow’s upcoming Indian Point Forum on Risks, August 21, Adam Bradley pointed out that Mrs. Matusow, who previously had said she favored decommissioning Indian Point if alternative energy sources could replace the power lost from closing the point, and this week called for closing Indian Point “immediately”, is echoing his personal political position.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Bradley said, referring to Matusow’s strengthening her Indian Point closure stance. He took the opportunity to criticize her for not knowing that White Plains High School was scheduled to be a decontamination station in the event a radiation leak occurred and persons had to be bussed out of the Indian Point area.

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Drought Restrictions Still In Force. Reservoirs 7% Below Normal Capacity.

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WPCNR County Clarion-Ledger. From Westchester County Department of Communications.August 14, 2002:As residents head into the dog days of summer and begin traditional family vacations, County Executive Andy Spano issues a reminder that Westchester remains in a drought emergency with mandatory restrictions on water use.
Westchester gets 85 percent of its water from the New York City water system. The region has been hurt by an unusually dry July and August, with only 1.8 inches of rain in July and only a three-quarter inch of rain since August 1, instead of the historical average of 4.2 inches in July and 4.0 inches for August.

Reservoirs approximately 7% below normal capacity.

Reservoirs are currently 75 percent filled, The system storage is in the low 80s compared to normal levels of 87 percent, and has have not fully recovered from the dry fall and winter when capacities were as low as 40 percent.

“It will take significant rainfall to bring these reservoirs to what is normal and desired for mid-AugustJuly,93” said County Executive Andy Spano. “We must continue to conserve water now to make sure that there is enough water for the very near future.”

“I am contacting all mayors and town supervisors regarding continued enforcement of water restrictions. We all must do our part to use our water wisely and limit non-essential water use. An increase in consumption could result in even further restrictions,” he continued.

“I am sending out letters to all restaurant owners in Westchester County reminding them to continue their practice of conserving water and providing water to diners only on request,” said Spano. July and August are typically the months when water usage rises.
Current drought restrictions include:

• limit lawn watering to the hours of 5-9 am and 7-9 pm on an odd-even schedule: odd-numbered addresses water on odd-numbered days and even-numbered addresses water on even-numbered days;

• Require business and non-residential wpcnr_users of more than 1,000 gallons per day to devise and implement plans to reduce water use by 15 percent;

• Bar the use of a hose to wash sidewalks, driveways and automobiles.

For a complete list of residential and business restrictions and other water saving tips, please visit the county website at www.westchestergov.com.

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CONSERVATION VOTERS ENDORSE NAOMI MATUSOW FOR RE-ELECTION

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WPCNR News Reel. From New York League of Conservation Voter. August 13, 2002:The New York League of Conservation Voters, a statewide environmental group, announced today its early endorsement of N.Y.S. Assemblymember Naomi C. Matusow (D) for the 89th Assembly District in Westchester County.
“Naomi Matusow is clearly an environmental leader, and the New York League of Conservation Voters enthusiastically supports her re-election,” said Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the NYLCV. “The League believes that Matusow will continue an excellent voting record that reflects her strong commitment to environmental issues.”

“I am honored and delighted to receive once again the endorsement of the New York League of Conservation Voters. It is gratifying that my commitment to environmental protection, preservation of open space, improvement of air and water quality and opposition to un-checked urban sprawl has been acknowledged. Every citizen of the 89th A.D., can rely on me for continued leadership on these crucial issues,” said Assemblymember Matusow.

Matusow was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1992. In 1998, Matusow guided a bill that established the Clean Drinking Water Revolving Fund and negotiated the Pesticide Reporting bill through the N.Y.S. Legislature. In 2000, Matusow authored a law requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt stringent air emission standards for personal watercraft.

Matusow has played a principal role in the N.Y.S. Assembly in sponsoring pro-environmental legislation. On recycling, Matusow introduced a bill to expand the definition of the term “beverage” in the state bottle bill to include non-carbonated drinks. Matusow also sponsored a bill that would make considering means of alternative energy mandatory for energy performance contracts.

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New Superintendent Debuts at Board of Education; Will Change Format in September

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WPCNR School Days Diplomat Courier. By John F. Bailey August 13, 2002. White Plains new Superintendent of Schools was introduced at his first Board of Education meeting Monday evening, and announced a new format for the monthly meetings. He said he was looking forward to addressing his goals for the district with White Plains teachers September 3, receiving the Board of Education’s input over the next month and sharing his goals with the public at the new twice-a-month September 23 Board of Education meeting.



TC TAKES THE REINS: Dorothy Schere, President of the Board of Education, introduces Timothy Connors at the beginning of last evening’s meeting. Mr. Connors thanked the Board and the community for asking him to take the job of Superintendent. He said he had visited every school building, met with the custodial staffs, and was very impressed with their concern and commitment to maintaining the school facilities. He said he was looking forward to meeting with the entire staff of the district September 3. He is currently seeking a home in the city, he said, but presently is still commuting from Connecticut.
Photo by WPCNR


Mr. Connors suggested and the Board of Education agreed to meet twice monthly during the school year, the second and fourth Mondays of the month. He also advised moving the starting time of the Board’s meeting to 7:30 PM from the current 8 PM “Pledge of Allegiance” time. The Board concurred.

Public Forum Moved Up.

Connors, speaking in his dulcet tones, proposed a new format for the Board meetings, which the Board also agreed to. Under the new Connors “Agenda,” Mr. Connors would give a Superintendent’s Report prior to the start of the summary action items, and after he gave his report, the public would be invited to speak out on any issues relating to the forthcoming summary action items. The Board agreed to this format change by acclamation.

Members of the public would be given up to 20 minutes to speak on any matter, with individuals limited to 3 minutes, even if it were not on the agenda.

Of 85 new positions, only 7 remain unfilled.

Connors said the School District was in good shape to open the school year with only seven positions, one of them a science position at the Middle School, the other a biology teaching position at the high school, and a special education position still to be hired. The remaining four positions of are a secretarial nature.

Board OK’s hiring of Bassano’s spouse, Despite Tratoros objection.

In an uncomfortable moment, Michelle Tratoros, Board Member, asked that consideration of Janine Bassano as a teaching aid be tabled. Ms. Bassano is the wife of new Board Member, Peter Bassano.

Ms. Tratoros and William Pollak, Board member asked for an explanation of how Ms. Bassano came to be considered at the same time as Mr. Bassano was appointed to Richard Bernstein’s expired term. It was explained that the hire of Ms. Bassano (at the Eastview Middle School as a Teaching Assistant), was done independently by the school, which had no idea that Mr. Bassano was under consideration for appointment to the Board of Education, at approximately the same time. The hire was not discovered until forwarded to personnel on the 22nd of July, and Mr. Connors said he had not become aware of the hire until August 6.

Mr. Bassano said he “owed the Board an apology for not being sensitive,” on the issue that this wife was applying for a position at the same time he was.

Board members Susan Kirkpatrick and William Pollak were satisfied with this explanation, and Dorothy Schere said it was “an unfortunate coincidence.” With Bassano recusing himself from the vote, the Board voted 5 to 1, with Ms. Tratoros voting “No,” to approve the hiring of Ms. Bassano for the position.

Board approves $30,000 “Redo” of New High School Entrance Floor Tile.

The Board of Education approved a “fix” agreed-to between the District and Tratoros Construction, the contractors on the high school renovation, in which the terrazzo flooring from the Administrative offices to the new entrance of the high school is cracking.

Richard Lasselle explained that a “hidden condition” underneath the new marble tiled “terrazzo” was causing the new tile to crack. Lasselle said an independent testing firm had identified the condition: a compound on top of the existing concrete in the entranceway that the new terrazzo floor was failing to adhere to, causing the cracking.

William Pollak queried Lasselle as to why the contractor was not responsible, and Lasselle said the school’s specifications did not specify that any excess floor covering be removed down to the concrete, and that an independent testing firm had identified that a “hidden condition,” a material attached to the concrete had caused the condition.

A la carte prices of food to rise in the cafeterias.

The Board approved a rise of a la carte items in the district cafeterias, but the prices of breakfasts and lunches would remain the same. Price increases were not announced last night.

Trainer service now available to athletic teams.

The Board of Education voted to approve up to $25,000 with Pro Sports Physical Therapy to provide an athletic trainer for athletic events.

District “On the Money” in Pegging Assessment Refunds.

Richard Lasselle reported the district had finalized tax certioris for the 2001-2002 year at $978,346.55, when it had been expected the district would have to give back $1,000,000 in certioris.

In other matters–

The Board hired KG & D architects, the firm that designed the high school renovation, to begin decisn for the $3.6 million capital projects program approved last May by the voters.

The Board of Education handed out Commitee Assignments to its members. Assignments of note included: Dorothy Schere will liaison with the PTA Council; Michelle Tratoros will represent the Board with the city’s Youth Bureau; Donna McLaughlin will take the city’s Recreation Advisory Committee assignment; Maria Valentin will take the Westchester Putnam School Boards assignment.



The 2002-03 BOARD OF EDUCATION: Left to Right: Maria Valentin, William Pollak, Donna McLaughlin, Mr. Connors, Dorothy Schere, Susan Kirkpatick, Michelle Tratoros, Peter Bassano, and Clerk to the Board, Michelle Schoenfeld. The Board will meet twice monthly. Next meetings are September 9 and September 23 at 7:30 PM.
Photo by WPCNR

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