The Persuasions Look for an Echo This Weekend

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WPCNR WESTCHESTER VARIETY. December 2, 2002: A capella Doo Wop Live will be presented by The Persuasions this weekend in Yonkers at historic St. John’s Church, Getty Square, Yonkers. The vintage doo-woppers will be performing Crhistmas and Gospel Classics at 3 PM Sunday, December 15.
Westchester County is in luck. The Persuasions will be performing a new holiday tradition, featuring Christmas and Gospel classics performed by the legendary a cappella doo wop group on Sunday, December 15, 2002 at 3:00 P.M. Tickets are $20 adults, $18
seniors, $15 children.

Rap evolved in the ‘hood while a cappella found harmony in the stoops
of Brooklyn or the ground floor of the 5-story walk-ups that dotted The Bronx way back when.

It began in 1961 for The Persuasions. The Persuasions released 18 albums through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, until the genre suddenly acquired mainstream popularity as an outgrowth of rap.

The Persuasions were “Chirpin'” (also the name of one of their albums) while struttin’ their vocal dexterity.

Mix Magazine wrote that, “The Persuasions are four parts of one voice, one spirit.” Cash Box proclaimed, These all-vocal,
instrument-free heroes paved the way for today’s platinum a capella acts, Take 6 and Bobby McFerrin, as well as the retro-hip-hop styles of Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd.”

Or, as Tom Waits once said, “These guys are deep sea divers. I’m just a fisherman in a boat.”

Their film documentary, Spread the Word: The Persuasions Sing A Capella drew nothing but praise from coast to coast. The film airs periodically on PBS. The Fred Parnes documentary is a funny, moving,
and invigorating look at a vocal group that is one of America’s national treasures¦ Actually, I can think of one greater remedy for despondency; if The Persuasions happen to be playing around town, go see them. No film could possibly capture the sheer joy and
energy of the group live.”

Ticket purchase may be accomplished by sending e-mail to PPAC or by telephone at 914.964.8977. The performance will be held across the street from the newly restored PPAC (Philipsburgh Performing Arts Center) at historic St. John’s Church, located at One Hudson Street, in
the heart of Getty Square, in Yonkers, NY.

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Hockey Night: New York Raptors Host East Coast Special Hockey Clubs

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WPCNR PRESS BOX. November 30,2003: At Hommocks Rink in Larchmont, the New York Raptors played host to the Albany Cougars, New York Raptors, New Jersey Daredevils, Rochester Ice Cats and Washington Ice Dogs in a roundrobin Holiday Tournament Saturday night. Don Kerr and the Mamaroneck Youth Hockey Association donated the icetime so these 88 special players could compete against each other.

RAPTORS RAPPING ON THE DAREDEVILS-COUGARS DOOR: Hockey action shows Rich Egan trying to jam the puck in from point blank range in the 5-5 nightcap of the hockey doubleheader. Some two-hundred parents and family from three states enjoyed a buffet supper as the ice action in the “Heart League” unfolded.
Photo by WPCNR Sports

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Hockey Night: Sommer Nets 7 Goals. White Plains Stuns Rye, 8-5.

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WPCNR PRESS BOX. November 30, 2003: The White Plains Hockey Tigers trailed Rye 3-1 going into the Third Period at Ebersole Rink Saturday night. In the first 4 minutes of the third period, the Tigers turned into the Montreal Canadians of the 1950s, and Tommy Sommer turned into Maurice “Rocket” Richard. Sommer scored 5 of the Tigers’ 6 unanswered goals in 4 minutes, stunning Rye to win their second game of the Tigers Thanksgiving Invitational, 8-5. Tommy added 1 more later to record 7 goals scored, a double-“Hat Trick”.

FLYING TIGER: Tommy Sommer No. 16 swoops by Rye’s Goaltender stick high in triumph after racing on left wing and blasting his 6th goal behind the hapless Garnet, to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead with 11 minutes to go in the Third Period. The Tiger was on fire in the first 4 minutes of the third period, scoring 5 goals.
Photo by WPCNR Sports

It was the most incredible team and individual performance this hockey fan has ever seen.

There were the Tigers playing a close tight-checking defensive game, kept at bay by Rye’s disciplined position hockey system, and trailing 3-1 going to the third period.

Rye had taken the lead on two power play goals in the last 5 minutes of the second period, and as a fan, you were not prepared for the Tiger team that hit the ice to start the Third Period.

Within 10 seconds Tommy Sommer had poked in a rebound on the far side in a two-Tiger breakaway, to make it 3-2.

Fifteen seconds later on an identical 2-on-1 play, Sommer did it again to tie the score 3-3. Incredibly before a minute and a half had gone by another Sommer sizzler from the head of the far circle had given the Tigers the lead, 4-3. Rye pulled their goalie.

Sommer’s wingmen and forecheckers were swarming the Rye nets skating like the Flying Frenchmen of the great old Montreal Canadians of the 50s. It was an overwhelming, beautiful thing to see.

At the 12 minute mark, Sommer poked home another rebound to make it 5-3.

Not since the Boston Bruins scored 6 goals in the first 4 minutes of the Third Period against the New York Rangers in 1958, had I seen anything like this.

White Plains Coaches Howard Rubenstein and his assistant were shaking their heads after the game, one coach said he had never seen anything like it, “Amazing,” he said, “Simply amazing.”

The Tigers were 2-0 in the tournament, and Coach Rubenstein was refusing to take calls from Ranger Coach Bryan Trottier, inquiring about Sommer’s availability for the next Ranger game.

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Tiger Stand Stymies Stepinac, 19-14. Crusaders Are Denied 4 Times Inside 3

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WPCNR PRESS BOX. By John F. Bailey. Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2002 UPDATED 11:00 PM EST: Three big touchdown plays by Spencer Ridenhour, Darrell Mack, twice, and a classic goalline stand by White Plains, held off the innovative passing game of the Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders today before over 1,500 fans at Parker Stadium, as the Tigers won 19-14 in the Annual Turkey Bowl Classic.

FIRST DOWN! Spencer Ridenhour strains to the 13 yard line for the clinching first down on 3rd and 1 at the Tiger 12, with little over a minute to go in the football game, to clinch the Turkey Bowl. The Tigers ran it out of trouble after holding Stepinac off at the goalline to deny them the winning touchdown. Ridenhour had a 91 yard touchdown run for the Tigers first touchdown. Darrell Mack, in his last game for the Tigers, had a 76-yard run for a touchdown, and a 45-yard touchdown pass reception in the marvelous contest.

After trailing 19-7 at halftime, the Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders pulled to within 19-14 midway through the third quarter on a 15-yard drawplay up the middle with Frank Scuderi carrying the mail untouched into the endzone, to make the score 19-14 with the extra point.

The score was set up by an interception of a Mike DeVere pass by Yonkers’ Rich Pedilla as he waited on Mike’s flat pass to the near flat intended for Evan McGuire, cut in front of Evan on the near sideline, picking him off, returning the ball to the White Plains 35.

After a running play was futile, on the second play from scrimmage, Greenburgh’s Wendell Barbour, the talented scrambling quarterback in the Fran Tarkenton tradition, hit White Plains’ own Billy Flooks with a 21-yard crossing pattern to the far sideline, putting the Crusaders on the Tiger 15.

On the next play, Barbour delayed to the fullback Scuderi, completely fooling the spread Tiger secondary. Up the middle the “Bronx Batterer” cruised for the touchdown that put the Crusaders back in the game with 9:18 left in the Third Quarter. 4 plays and a touchdown. Three plays, 7 points.

Stepinac Stalls the Tiger Ground Forces

The Crusaders stopped the Tigers on the next series, with Spencer Ridenhour’s short punt (He slipped on the frozen tundra), setting the blue and scarlet up on their own 42. Tiger fans were apprehensive.

They had every reason to be, with QB Barbour mixing up flat passes to the White Plains ends, Griffin Nugent and Billy Flooks, Stepinac moved to the White Plains 25. Barbour to Nugent for 14 yards. First Down on the WP 46. Barbour to Nugent for 18 yards.

First down on the WP 27, where the Tigers stopped them on downs as two passes to Nugent fell incomplete. The Tigers had held off the challenge for the lead. It was the second time the Tigers had stopped Stepinac in the red zone. In all on the day, Stepinac only converted once in 3 tries after reaching the White Plains 25.

TIGERS RUN CLOCK. The Tigers running game settled things down when Ridenhour rumbled for a first down to the Tiger 35, and QB Mike DeVere trapped, rolled and picked his way for another first down to the Tiger 46. Then the Crusaders toughened up and stopped the Tigers on downs at the Crusader 48. Forced to punt, the Tigers coughed up the ball to Stepinac on the Stepinac 35. Ridenhour punted extremely well most of the morning on the frozen field, handling snaps deftly and getting kicks off with reasonable 30 yard distance from scrimmage.
Photo by WPCNR Sports

The Drive.

After White Plains had stopped Stepinac on downs and was forced to punt again, Stepinac got the ball back on their own 25 with 8:30 to go in the contest.

Given new life, the short scramble and pass game that Wendell Barbour, Grif Nugent and Billy Flooks had been working to torment the Tiger secondary the whole day, got into high gear, and drove 72 yards in 13 plays and came up just short of a miracle.

This was a classic sequence, replete with amazing third down plays. Barbour to Flooks for a first down on the 35 on a third down play. Barbour on a scramble run for a first down on the White Plains 45 on a do-or-die 3rd and 13. Barbour finding Nugent in the near flat, and the nimble Nugent deking and dodging and feinting tacklers on a first down play to the Tiger 36.

The dogged Tiger secondary zone was being skillfully sliced apart by Barbour’s accuracy and ability to elude the Tiger pass rush, giving either Flooks or Nugent to time to work themselves free. On 2nd and 1 from the Tiger 36 with 4:13 to go, Barbour rolled right almost in the grasp of two Tiger rushers only to hit Flooks in the left flat who turned up field and cruised to the Tiger 25.

On the very next play, the snarling Tigers covered the pesky Flooks-Nugent combination, but the pass rush could not get to Barbour who faked four or five tacklers out of their cleats in an amazing combination rollout-quarterback draw and scramble dashing all the way up the middle to the Tiger 3 yard line. Incredibly the Crusaders were knock-knock-knocking on Heaven’s Door.

The Stand

First down the Crusaders handed off to Scuderi up the middle. No dice, losing two yards.

Second down, Barbour scrambled right threw left. Incomplete.

Third down, Barbour dropped back, two Tigers were coming on, he pitched the ball forward and we believe it was Nugent getting the ball back to the three.

The Crusaders called timeout.

The Immaculate Knockdown

On the final play, Barbour threw to the right into endzone traffic trying for Nugent in Coffin Corner, and without maneuver room, the Tiger secondary was all over him, Mike Lane knocking the pigskin to tundra to deny the bid, according to Mike’s dad who was sitting behind me.

It was a Goal Line stand to remember.

The Tigers took over on downs and ran out the clock. Spencer Ridenhour carried three times to chew out a first down on the 13 with a minute to go to avoid a punt from the Tiger endzone.

BIG PLAYS IN FIRST HALF ELECTRIFY THE MULTITUDES: The defensive drama of the second half was in direct contrast to the offensive dazzle of the opening stanza. Here the standing room only crowd takes in the action.
Photo by WPCNR Sports

After Stepinac was stopped on their first series, Frank Scuderi intercepted Mike DeVere’s pass to the near sideline at his own 40 yard line and returned it to the White Plains 15. On 4th down at the Tiger 9 Barbour hit Nugent high in the back of the endzone, and he could not hang on to the ball, ending that drive.

Ridenhour Rumblin’ and Stumblin’ 91 yards to Glory

After the touchdown drop, Spencer Ridenhour on a simple off tackle play emerged from a pile of blue jerseys and was gone racing 91 yards up the middle being pursued by a posse of Crusaders and outrunning his nearest pursuer for 6 points and the first score. The point by Tony Ciarmella made it 7-0.

Mack’s 76-yard run makes it 13-0.

Stepinac and White Plains each exchanged punts. In the early going in this game, the White Plains line easily handled the Crusader running game, and the Barbour-Nugent-Flooks aerial madness had not gotten in gear.

When Stepinac coughed the ball up on downs again with 9 minutes to go in the half, the Tigers took over at their own 26. Handoff: Darrell Mack. The senior halfback bounced into the line darted right down the sideline and the race was on down the far sideline. They did not get him, and the Tigers were on top 13-0, on a 76-yard run off tackle. Tiger fans were complacent.

Not for long.

Coach Mike O’Donnell cranked up his Air Barbour game and within seconds Grif Nugent had slipped behind the Tiger deep man, and with no Tiger within 10 yards of him caught Wendell Barbour’s lofted pass and gleefully romped to a quick 6. The point made it 13-7, with 8:41 to go in the half.

Crusaders denied at 3-minute mark.

Taking the ball over at their 23, Stepinac drove to their 49 yard line, when Barbour hit Nugent for a 31 yard pass play setting them up at the Tiger 19. After one play, Barbour found Flooks at the 15, it looked as if Stepinac was going to tie it up.

Ridenhour to the Rescue.

Then Barbour, looking for Nugent on the goal line threw it over the middle and Spencer Ridenhour picked it off at the goaline, lit out for the far sideline and we went the other way. The big greyhound returned the pick 101 yards, only to have it called back for a clip on the Stepinac 31.

DeVere to Mack

After a penalty, Mike DeVere drifted back, having enough time to take a Regents, and found Darrell Mack at the Crusader 25 in the near flat, complete! Mack spun, busted a move on his would-be tackler, leaving him spinning like a top. and followed a convoy to the endzone for a 42-yard touchdown pass and run. His second touchdown of the quarter. The half ended, 19-7, White Plains setting the scene for a second half to remember.

Most intricate passing game this season.

The Crusaders, finishing the season at 4-6, played a terrific game and unofficially we have Wendell Barbour passing for over 200 yards. Coach Mike O’Donnell’s plays involving his brilliant ends Flooks and Nugent were intricate, sophisticated and well executed against a bigger Tiger line. Barbour, Flooks and Nugent are all Seniors, and their final game was one to remember.

The Tiger defense was brilliant in the first half and hung on doggedly to contain the relentless air game in the second half.

THE WHITE PLAINS HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND, under the direction of Leslie Tompkins produced college quality marching entertainment before the game and at halftime, forming a “WP” and a big “W” at halftime with a fine rendition of “Mr. Touchdown,” big brassy themes from “Shrek,” “Austin Powers,” and a choregraphed “Jungle Boogie.” The White Plains Cheerleaders warming up for the Cheerleading Championships Monday performed high-jinks.
Photo by WPCNR BandCam

Press Notes

The crowd was a big one, arriving well before game time and we estimate the crowd to be approximately 1,500 persons.

In pregame ceremonies the Turkey Bowl Game was dedicated to Reverend Monseignor John J. O’Keefe for his ten years of leadership of Archbishop Stepinac, and Frank McMahon, the recent inductee to the White Plains High School Hall of Fame.

The White Plains Tigers completed the season with a 7-4 won-lost record. Senior Darrell Mack had perhaps his most spectacular game as a Tiger with two touchdowns.

We say so long to Seniors Tony Ciaramella, Terrell Smith, Matt Jones, Adam Reiss. However, coming back will be Spencer Ridenhour, Mike DeVere, Evan McGuire, Sean McLaughlin, Mike Lane, Ike NDuka and the usual suspects for a great run next year. They’re learnin’.

THE BAND IN A “WP” PLAYS THE WHITE PLAINS ALMA MATER, start of a perfect football day.
Photo by WPCNR BandCam

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Heroes Are Forever: James Bond is Cool.

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS VARIETY. Movie Review by Rob Barrabee of The Yonkers Tribune. November 27, 2003:Above all else, James Bond is cool. He’s cool in the way he orders his martinis. He’s cool in the way he seduces his women. He walks cool, he talks cool, he even gets beaten up cool. In Die Another Day, the latest addition to the 40 year-old James Bond franchise, his coolness shifts into an even higher gear; his coolness, in fact, carries the film.
While making its way towards the climax, for example, Die Another Day devotes a good deal of its time to, surprise surprise, a car chase. Almost unbelievably, though, I would actually venture to say that, in this case, it’s time well spent. Car chases are perhaps the most overused element in all of action film, but James Bond’s car chases are different. They are better. How come? Coolness, pure and simple.

James drives an incredibly cool car (an Aston Martin, with all the best fixins); he drives it in an incredibly cool locale (the icy plains of Iceland); and, most importantly, even while driving, he behaves in a manner that can only be described as, you guessed it, cool (at a crucial moment in the chase, Bond’s car flips, and, as it does so, viewers are treated to a close-up of his face.

His expression shows no signs of even the least bit of distress; he is calm, collected, and cool, even in the midst of this life threatening car accident. He sits in a flipping car exactly as he would sit in the padded chair of a ritzy hotel dining room, pondering the wide selection of entrées).

All of this coolness is why I watch James Bond movies. It is why companies like Ford and Sony happily fork over millions for the privilege of placing their products somewhere inside James Bond’s world (Die Another Day reportedly has over $120 million in product placement deals). It is why, after forty years and twenty films, James Bond is still going strong.

The Usual Plot

Shifting from coolness to “as usuals,” the film’s plot, as usual, is stuffed full of ludicrous political intrigue (North Korea, South Korea, US interference, demilitarized zones, blah blah blah). As usual, the film’s characters never show more than kitchen-sink depth (which is not much). As usual, the action sequences vastly overshadow both the ludicrous plot and the shallow characters (more on that later).

As is becoming usual, Pierce Brosnan plays Bond with style and flare (all that aforementioned coolness would not be possible without him). As is altogether unusual, the film’s trademark Bond girl (played by Halle Berry) is quite a fighter in her own right (although she still manages, on a couple of occasions, to get herself into classic Damsel-In-Distress situations).

Returning to as usual, the villains of the film (played by Toby Stephens, Rick Yune, Rosamund Pike, and Will Yun Lee) are delightfully quirky and delightfully wicked (a killer satellite dish, diamonds-in-the-face, et cetera).

Q and M (John Cleese and Judi Dench) are, as usual, scene stealers, and Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) is completely infatuated with her boss, as usual.

In the previous paragraph, I commented, among other things, on the frequency of action sequences in the film. To better grasp this frequency, I have set up a comparison, and the comparison is this: relatively speaking, there are more action scenes (chases, explosions, shoot-outs, sword fights, cliff dives, et cetera) in Die Another Day than there are “as usuals” in the previous paragraphs. Get the idea?

Lack of Mystery

Because of all the chases, explosions, shoot-outs, sword fights, cliff dives, et cetera, the element of mystery in James Bond movies has become increasingly sparse. It is still there, of course, just not as much as it should be. To make up for this shortage, I have included in this review (along with the last paragraph’s “comparison”) a mystery of my own. For the very first time, I have written into a review a legitimate spoiler, but it is shrewdly hidden. If (and only if) you have already seen the movie, feel free to go back and see if you can find it.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, forget about my spoiler and get to the theater fast, because, despite its numerous flaws, Die Another Day is pretty cool.
Die Another Day, directed by Lee Tamahori. Written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, John Cleese, and Judi Dench. Running time: 123 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for action violence and sexuality).

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All you “Items” Out There Can Now Register as Unmarried Couples

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WPCNR COUNTY CHRONICLE-LEDGER. From Westchester County Department of Communications. (EDITED) November 27, 2002:As of Wednesday, unmarried Westchester couples who would like to have their relationship recognized and documented may take advantage of the new domestic partner registry with the County Clerk’s Office. Here’s how an unmarried couple may register:
County Executive Andy Spano called the registry “an important step in formally recognizing the many individuals who share a family life in a committed, mutually interdependent relationship apart from marriage.”


While couples registered with the Domestic Partner Registry are not guaranteed access to benefits available to married couples – such as health insurance — the registry will make it easier for those willing governments and employers to dispense such benefits fairly, he said.

The Westchester County government and the State of New York already extend health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. So too do many large corporations, numerous non-profit organizations, colleges and universities and some Westchester municipalities.

Each person registering will get a certificate that can be used when applying for these benefits. Under the law, a registered partner is also entitled to the same rights of visitation accorded to spouses, next of kin or family members at any correctional facility, hospital, nursing home or health care facility in Westchester.

County Clark Says They Are Ready

Said County Clerk Leonard Spano (who is not related to the county executive), “My office has worked to ensure that the domestic partnership registry will seamlessly be integrated into the services currently provided. Our systems and our staff are fully prepared to begin the new registrations.”

Steps Required

Under the law, couples who wish to register as domestic partners must fill out an affidavit – which must be notarized — and go to the County Clerk’s office. The cost is $35.

The domestic partnership registrations will be done in the Legal Division of the County Clerk’s Office (110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Room 330). Office hours are 8 a.m.-5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. No appointments are necessary. For further information, contact 914-995-3070 or visit the County Clerk’s website at . The affidavit will also be available at this site.

Among other requirements:

• The partners must be at least 18, unrelated by blood and share a common household.

• They must attest to the duration and financial interdependence of their partnership.

• Persons are eligible to register if they live in Westchester or at least one partner is employed by the Westchester County government.

• If the couple breaks up, they must file a Termination Statement with the County Clerk.

Here are the specifics on how to register a domestic partnership:

1. Establish eligibility

• The partners must reside in the County of Westchester, or one partner must be employed by the County of Westchester.

• Each partner must be 18 years of age or older, unmarried and competent to enter into a contract.

• The partners must not be related by blood in a manner that would bar marriage under the laws of the State of New York.

• The partners must share a common household.

• The partners must be in a close and committed, financially interdependent personal relationship and intend to remain in the relationship.

• The partners must be each other’s sole domestic partner, have no other domestic partner and intend to remain each other’s sole domestic partner.

• Neither partner can have terminated a domestic partnership within the last 60 calendar days.

• The partners must agree to file a termination statement in the event that the domestic partnership is terminated.

2. Complete an affidavit of Domestic Partnership Registration

• The affidavit is available in the Legal Division of the County Clerk’s office at 110 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Room 330, White Plains, NY 10601 and on the County Clerk’s website at

• Both partners’ names and their home address must be clearly printed.

• Both partners must sign the affidavit and the signatures must be notarized.

• If eligibility is based on employment, the name of the county department in which one partner is employed must be clearly printed.

3. File the Affidavit in the Office of the Westchester County Clerk

• There is a $35 filing fee payable by certified check, money order (payable to the Westchester County Clerk) or cash.

• The partners will receive 2 certified copies of the Affidavit and the Certificate of Domestic Partnership.

• The County Clerk’s office is open from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

• To file by mail, you must also include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

For further information, contact Chief Deputy County Clerk Mary Delaney at 914-995-4499.

History of the Statute

The legislation to establish the registry was proposed by County Executive Andy Spano and approved two months ago in a bi-partisan vote of the Board of Legislators. It applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, who may register with the office of County Clerk Leonard Spano.

To date, over 40 jurisdictions in the United States have established such registries, including New York City, Albany, Rochester and Ithaca.

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Bioterrorism Plans Announced by County

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WPCNR County Clarion Journal. From Westchester County Department of Communications. (EDITED) November 26, 2002.County Executive Andy Spano, Rep. Nita Lowey and County Health Commissioner Josh Lipsman today unveiled the county’s comprehensive bio-terrorism plan and announced nearly $100,000 in grants to fund seven projects as part of that plan.
The following seven bio-terrorism grants were awarded today to help the county respond in the event of a biological, chemical and/or radiological event:

• $12,500 to Westchester Medical Center, Trauma and Emergency Services to develop a web-based emergency preparedness portal for health care providers to coordinate and inventory available resources – hospital beds, medications, supplies etc.

• $15,000 to Westchester Medical Center, Trauma and Emergency Services to establish a portable emergency triage station demo project to be used to evaluate mass casualties.

• $15,000 to Westchester Medical Center, Trauma and Emergency Services to purchase equipment and to establish and train rapid response teams to deal with mass decontamination.

• $14,450 to Phelps Memorial Hospital, Emergency Life Support Programs to develop and offer county EMS providers a 32-hour course on decontamination.

• $15,000 to New York Metro 2 Disaster Medical Assistance Team to train para-professional and professional volunteer teams to respond to biological, chemical and radiological emergencies.

• 15,000 to the Westchester Chapter of the American Red Cross to train volunteers to help feed, shelter and clothe the public in the event of a public health emergency.

• $10,000 to the Westchester County Medical Society to find ways to coordinate and create an emergency communications network for private health care providers using state and county web-based resources.

$1 Million More to Come

The mini-grants represent the first of several initiatives in the entire bio-terrorism plan. The balance of the $1 million will be spent on the following projects:

• A secure Internet Health Alert Network to allow medical professionals to share information to help identify early outbreaks or unusual occurrences of illness.

• An All-Hazards Emergency Response Plan, expanding on the County’s existing plan, will be developed to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks with biological, chemical, or radiological agents.

• Two Tabletop Exercise Training Drills. The first will test Health Department staff’s ability to detect, identify and respond to a public health emergency; in this case a pandemic flu. The second will test the All-Hazards Emergency Response Plan using representatives of public health agencies, emergency management, medical response, and public safety.

• Hospital Emergency Room Evaluations. Architectural engineering firm of Bernstein and Associates will look at hospital emergency rooms’ ability to triage and decontaminate large numbers of patients in the event of biological, radiological, or chemical contamination, as well as to handle even a single case of a particularly contagious illness such as smallpox.

This analysis will give hospitals an idea of what changes are needed to help them improve response to a massive terrorism event.

• Upgrade Westchester County’s Lab Facility to a Bio-Safety Level-3. The Valhalla lab will be renovated and new environmental monitoring equipment purchased to make it one of the most sophisticated in the state.

This will allow the laboratory to conduct on-the-spot testing in the event of chemical or biological terrorism locally.

• Satellite Hook-up for Area Hospitals will provide real-time audio and video communication to allow hospitals to communicate via satellite with health department facilities and other health care professionals for rapid response to unusual outbreaks of illnesses.

• Training for Mass Care Volunteers. This would create a team of trained volunteers to assist in triage and coordinate public reception centers, register the public, administer medications or vaccines, and assist with logistical tasks related to mass care.

• A Volunteer Database to track and monitor credentials and readiness of volunteers trained in mass care.

• A Patient Database/Intake Form will be developed for use at reception centers or triage centers to assess the individual’s need for medical care. This will allow staff to track patient treatment and or release status, as well as referrals for hospital care or follow-up.

Rapid Response Decontamination Team.

A rapid-response decontamination team and an emergency preparedness web portal, both to be created by the Westchester Medical Center, were among the projects to be funded as part of a larger county plan to prepare for bio-terrorism.

The county plans initially to spend more than $1.8 million on nine projects. One million of that money comes from federal funds secured by Lowey and announced last January.

The Leaders Speak

“Even before Sept. 11, we knew that Westchester’s unique characteristics — its reservoirs, its nuclear power plants and its major corporations – made it a potential target,’’ said County Executive Andy Spano. “We had already begun working on a bio-terrorism plan and were working to improve our emergency response plan for Indian Point. After Sept. 11, the urgency of what we were doing became clear. Thanks to Nita Lowey, we have the funds we need to expedite our emergency preparedness plans.”

“Today we are announcing the first of several actions we will be taking to make sure we are ready to respond if there should be a radiological, biological or chemical attack. I want to thank Nita Lowey for providing these funds to help us train first responders, to inventory our resources and coordinate emergency efforts. It is our hope that we will never have to test these plans.’’

Lowey on the Grants

Said Nita Lowey of the funding, “The events of September 11 and the anthrax attacks that followed have forever altered our sense of security.”She added, “I have worked to make homeland security a top priority in Washington, but the best way to ensure our community’s safety and help Westchester residents regain confidence is to continually upgrade our local public health services.”

” With the funds I secured,” Lowey continued, ” County Executive Spano has been able to put in place a comprehensive emergency response plan that will better prepare our first responders, establish a 21st century health communication system, and recruit and train needed volunteers.’’

Health Department Responds

Spano said the grants announced today are part of an ambitious blueprint mapped out by the health department with the cooperation of the Department of Emergency Services to try to coordinate public health emergency preparedness in the county.

One of the largest projects will be to upgrade Westchester County’s Department of Labs and Research so sophisticated testing that now has to be sent to state labs can be done quickly in the event of biological or chemical terrorism.

Dr. Lipsman said that the funding provided by the federal government has allowed the health department to strengthen its bio-terrorism efforts without hurting other health department projects. He said the health department will use the initial $1.8 million in federal and state money to fund the bio-terrorism project in 2002 and 2003 and expects to receive additional funds in future years.

Lipsman’s Analysis

“I am pleased to see all of these initiatives being supported by federal funding as they are crucial to strengthening the infrastructure of public health and our capacity to respond to a bio-terrorism scenario,” said Dr. Lipsman. “This funding allows the Health Department to develop its preparedness for a bio-terrorism event without lessening the resources available to deal with our every day public health activities.”

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D.A., Officials to Tour Schools to Advise on Perils of Teen Drinking

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WPCNR AFTERNOON TRIB & POST. From Community Crime Prevention Bureau. (EDITED) November 26, 2002:A permanent advisory council comprised of 15 community leaders from across Westchester will work together in a coordinated effort to explore the causes and recommended solutions for the escalating problem of underage drinking. A panel of educational experts, including Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, will tour high schools throughout the county in January to heighten awareness of the dangers of teen drinking.

Six Month Plan

The advisory council will meet on a regular basis over the next six months to share ideas, practices and resources. Their findings will form the basis of a second major conference planned for April 2003. A successful conference was held with a panel of Westchester community leaders who discussed the drinking issue on November 7 at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.

The concept for the permanent advisory council made up of the
original conference panel members emerged from that symposium.

Concerned D.A., Doctors, Educators to Tour High Schools Across Area in January

In addition to creation of the advisory council, a subcommittee of council members, including: District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, medical professionals from the council and educators will begin visiting high schools across Westchester to present a special program focused on the real physical dangers posed by binge drinking.

This outreach program, which will begin in January, will include a powerful educational video on alcohol and substance abuse — Dying High: Teens in the ER.

Filmed at White Plains HospitalCenter

This chilling documentary, which demonstrates the tragic consequences that often come with drinking, was filmed last spring at the White Plains Hospital Center’s Emergency Room- the busiest in Westchester County.

Pirro Outreach

The District Attorney explained that the advisory board and school program are a direct result of the countywide conference, which was held on November 7. Ms. Pirro, in a statement said,

“It was imperative that we capitalize on the momentum created by the
conference and by the heightened level of awareness brought on by recent serious underage drinking incidents across Westchester. I believe the advisory board and high school visitation program are proactive steps that can help our community in coping with this very complex problem.”

Advisory Council a Gathering of Leaders

The members of the advisory council on underage drinking represent leaders from the business, education, law enforcement and healthcare communities, as well as parents, students and clergy. Joining District Attorney Pirro on the council are:

Sam Abate, Ardsley Village Supervisor & President of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association;

Don Antonecchia, Superintendent, Pleasantville Public Schools;

Richard Berman, President, Manhattanville College;

Dorothy Fallon, School Board President, Bedford Schools (representing Westchester School Boards Association);

Marsha Gordon, President, Westchester Chamber of Commerce;

Dr. Debra Jackson, Superintendent North Salem Schools;

Bruce Kelly, Chief, Community Crime Prevention Bureau, Westchester District Attorney’s Office;

Helana Jaffe, Westchester East Putnam District PTA;

Ann Janiak, Women’s Enterprise Development Center & the Westchester Municipal Officials Association;

George Longworth, Police Chief, Village of Dobbs Ferry;

Donald Marra, Village Administrator, Irvington;

Frank Marte, Westchester Youth Council;

Dr. Franklin Richardson, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon;

Edward Stolzenberg, President & CEO, Westchester Medical Center;

Jon Schandler, President & CEO, White Plains Hospital Center;

Ron Smalls; Superintendent, Southern Westchester BOCES.

First Meeting in December

The advisory council will hold its first meeting on Monday, December 9.
Thereafter, the council will continue to meet on an ongoing basis, leading up to the April symposium at which time the members will discuss their findings. Information about the council’s ongoing work and related information will be posted on the BOCES website.

For more information, please contact Bruce Kelly, Chief of the Community Crime Prevention Bureau, Westchester D.A.’s Office at (914) 995-3317.

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Calling all “Items” Wanting to Register as Partners. Today’s the Day.

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WPCNR County Clarion Ledger. From Westchester County Department of Communications. November 26, 2002:Westchester’s new law allowing non married couples to sign a domestic partnership registry goes into effect Wednesday, Nov. 27. Registrations begin today at the County Office Building.

First-day registrations will take place beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the lobby of the low-rise section of the County Office Building, across from the County Courthouse, 110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., White Plains.
County Executive Andy Spano, who sponsored the new law, and County Clerk Leonard Spano, whose office will oversee its implementation, will speak at the event.

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WPCNR County Clarion-Leger. From Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation. November 26, 2002:Trash collection booms will be installed on the Bronx River Parkway Reservation to trap debris floating along the Bronx River, County Executive Andy Spano announced Monday.
Spano explained that the project is being funded through a $100,000 matching grant from the New York State DEC, and $70,000 worth of in-kind services and $30,000 in capital funds for the project.

“The Bronx River Parkway Reservation runs through the heart of Westchester and is one of the most diverse natural areas in the county,” Spano said. “While these booms will help contain some of the debris, we all share the responsibility of preserving it and ensuring that it remain the pristine resource that it deserves to be for the thousands of residents who enjoy it throughout the year.”

Spano explained that the booms will be installed in the White Plains and Yonkers area of the reservation next winter.

Each boom consists of foam-filled floats that are anchored at the far shoreline on the upstream side of the river, and stretched across to the downstream side on a 45-degree angle, where an 8 x 10-foot collection basket is set.

The booms are anchored on a sliding mechanism that allows them to rise and fall along with the water level of the river. When full, the basket and debris can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds.

He said the problem of bottles, cans, and plastic containers accumulating in the river is not new. Each year, more than 250 tons of trash is collected from the Bronx River, most of which travels downstream and winds up in Bronxville and Crestwood lakes.

In a single day, County Parks staff have removed as many as 10 tires, six shopping carts, and 20, 55-gallon bags of floatable debris from the river.

Spano noted that the Parks Department’s Bronx River maintenance staff will maintain the booms and remove the collected debris at regular intervals.

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