Eastchester Review to roll out new website

 

east-constructionThe website for The Eastchester Review is currently under construction and a new website is in the process of being created to provide viewers with an enhanced digital version of our newspaper. This new website has been in the works for more than a month already and is set to launch, under the same domain name, in the coming weeks. The new eastchesterreview.com promises to offer a fresh look, improved functionality and a uniqueness that has long been missing from our online presence. Speaking on behalf of the company,  we’re excited to put the old, archaic site to bed in favor of launching something new, fresh and worthy of complementing our traditional print product.

All you have to do is stay tuned.

-Christian Falcone, editor-in-chief

Eastchester Review to roll out new website

 

The website for The Eastchester Review is currently under construction and a new website is in the process of being created to provide viewers with an upgraded digital version of our newspaper. This new website has been in the works for more than a month already and is set to launch, under the same domain name, in the coming weeks. The new eastchesterreview.com promises to offer a fresh look, improved functionality and a uniqueness that has long been missing from our online presence. Speaking on behalf of the company,  we’re excited to put the old, archaic site to bed in favor of launching something new, fresh and worthy of complementing our traditional print product.

All you have to do is stay tuned.

-Christian Falcone, editor-in-chief

Rye councilwoman preps for state Senate run

Rye councilwoman preps City of Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, a Republican, plans on launching a campaign for state Senate. Killian will try to upend popular Democrat George Latimer. Both candidates live in the city of Rye. File photofor state Senate run

City of Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, a Republican, plans on launching a campaign for state Senate. Killian will try to upend popular Democrat George Latimer. Both candidates live in the city of Rye. File photo

By CHRISTIAN FALCONE
Julie Killian, a city of Rye councilwoman, will try to do what no other Republican has been able to: beat George
Latimer.

Killian announced that she pl-
ans to seek the New York state Senate seat for the 37th District currently occupied by Latimer, a Democrat, at a Rye City Republican Committee meeting last month, the Review has learned. She is in her first full term on the Rye City Council and earlier this year was appointed deputy mayor. Killian, a mother of five, first joined the council in 2012 after being appointed to the seat following a vacancy.

Tony Sayegh, a political analyst for Fox News and News12 Westchester, said the 37th District, which stretches from the city of Yonkers north to the town of Bedford, is one of the Senate’s very few true swing districts in the state, meaning that either political party could wrestle control in a given election cycle. “It really requires somebody who is independent in some respects,” he said, adding that it’s also a very diverse district.

Sayegh, also a Republican strategist, has already been retained by the Killian camp as she prepares to officially launch her candidacy with an announcement expected on Friday, after press time. According to Sayegh, she has been listening to people’s issues and gaining a better understanding of the district.

“Julie is trying to understand all of the concerns and slowly we’ll be rolling out some of the solutions to those problems,” said Sayegh, adding that as far as a platform, it’s still too early for Killian to start talking specifics.

But the analyst said, based on her record of service, Killian is viewed as a problem solver. “She knows how to build consensus, she’s worked across the aisle [and] she has been a thoughtful leader in the realm of public policy,” he said.

Killian, 54, has been a member of the Westchester County Charter Revision Commission, a group established to recommend changes to the county charter, as well as New Yorkers for Growth, a PAC that promotes fiscally responsible policies in the state.

In Rye, she has served on the city Finance Committee, been a volunteer in the Rye school district, and a supporter of the Rye library, Rye Historical Society and Rye Arts Center. Her latest project was helping to launch an anti-drug coalition in Rye in 2015.

“Julie is a positive person, that is one thing that overwhelms you when you talk to her,” Sayegh said. “I imagine she will stand up for issues she believes are right and also draw a contrast where there is a difference of opinion.”

Conversely, Sayegh criticized Latimer by calling his record of bipartisanship hollow, adding that he has voted with the Democratic leadership more than 98 percent of the time. “He has aligned himself with the Bill DiBlasio New York City agenda,” he said, referring to the liberal mayor of New York City.

For Latimer, 62, the criticism is nothing new, as he seems to always be the target of state Republicans, who want to maintain control of the Senate. The senator told the Review that he has a bull’s-eye on his back.

“It’s because I don’t have personal wealth,” he said. “I have lived within my means. Given the fact that my salary as an elected official is all the income I have, that is not a lot of money in a place like Rye. It’s probably laughable to people [with] successful business careers. [Republicans] know they can always outspend me.”

But Latimer, who is seeking his third term in the Senate, said there is a reason why he has been consistently re-elected.

“I don’t think anyone has proven they care more about the people they represent than I do, day after day,” he said.

Latimer has never lost an election, winning 14 consecutive races dating back to his one term on the Rye City Council in 1987.

Killian’s campaign is likely to be well-financed with a high level of organization and full of support from some of the top Republicans throughout the state.

However, the last time the GOP put an all-out assault on Latimer, it backfired.

In 2012, with Latimer seeking the Senate seat following the retirement of longtime Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, a Democrat, the state Republicans ran Bob Cohen, who nearly defeated Oppenheimer just two years prior.

Many pundits predicted 2012 was Cohen’s time.

Cohen and Latimer battled it out before a statewide audience. The duo set the record for campaign expenditures in a state race at the time; the Cohen campaign spent more than $4 million on attack ads, including radio spots and TV commercials. But Latimer won the seat in surprisingly easy fashion, with 54 percent of the vote, and celebrated his hardest fought victory to date.

In 2014, Latimer defeated Republican Joe Dillon, a late entry who didn’t launch his campaign until July.

The district encompasses the cities of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle and Rye; and the towns of Eastchester, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Rye, Bedford and North Castle.

Candidates are elected to the Senate for two-year terms with an annual base salary of $79,500.

Killian could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: chris@hometwn.com

 

Senegal puts Mamaroneck High School on the map

Mamaroneck High School sophomores Colin Lavin, left, and Tim Sommer, far right, pose for a selfie with a trio of Cem Lambaye students. Just 30 students can be accommodated on the trip to Senegal. Photos courtesy Jamie Schiff

Mamaroneck High School sophomores Colin Lavin, left, and Tim Sommer, far right, pose for a selfie with a trio of Cem Lambaye students. Just 30 students can be accommodated on the trip to Senegal. Photos courtesy Jamie Schiff

By SARAH VARNEY
A few members of the Students for Senegal Club at Mamaroneck High School used to think that lions ran wild in the streets of the West African country of Senegal, but now that the organization has been around for four years, they know better. In this country, too, dangerous wild animals are kept in nature preserves far from populated areas.

While the distance between Senegal and Mamaroneck is about 4,000 miles, the gap has been bridged by AP Chemistry teacher Amary Sek, a Senegalese native who left his country 40 years ago.

Sek, who spearheads the high school club and its 24 members, recently traveled to the country over the winter holiday break to deliver books and other goodies. The club makes the trip to the village of Lambaye every two years, Sek, who grew up poor in the village, said.

Students for Senegal started out as a small club in 2009, and is now a separate nonprofit organization that strives to foster cross-cultural exchange and extend the gift of education to the people of Senegal, according to its website. Since its inception, the organization has raised more than $75,000 and has sent more than 30 preschoolers to school in Lambaye. The organization has also expanded chapters to Hommocks and Fieldston middle schools.

Students for Senegal evolved from the childhood stories Sek used to tell his students after school. Although Sek left Senegal years ago, his memories of growing up are fresh.

“I would tell [students] stories about how I grew up, how things were in my village,” he said. “More and more students would come and listen, and then one day a student came up with the idea to have a formal club.”

Since its inception, the club has undertaken numerous fundraisers and charity drives and has raised a total of $100,000 toward its goal of building a Learning Center for Lambaye. The Learning Center will have a women’s center, a preschool and a meeting room. The students organize all the fundraisers themselves, Sek said. Once a year, they hold a gala event as their biggest fundraiser.

Sophie Miller, an 11th-grade member of Students for Senegal, hangs out with a group of middle schoolers in Lambaye. Group members say they feel like rock stars when they arrive at the village.

Sophie Miller, an 11th-grade member of Students for Senegal, hangs out with a group of middle schoolers in Lambaye. Group members say they feel like rock stars when they arrive at the village.

Lambaye currently has a population of nearly 13,000, but Sek said economic conditions are not so different from the way they were when he was growing up there, and that the area is still quite poor.

Senegal is a country about the size of South Dakota, sandwiched between Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Mali, with a population of 13 million. A secular Muslim country, 52 percent of the population is under 19 years old, according to a 2013 census.

While the value of an education is understood in more populated areas of Senegal, such as Dakar, the capital city, the message has been slower to trickle down to more rural areas like Lambaye, Sek said.

It is common for fathers to take one or more of his children away from a home village to the city to become street vendors. “There is an exodus of many of the men,” Sek added. “They are leaving their wives and kids behind and often they are not given support.”

Like many African countries, the culture is warmly receptive to visitors. “They are honored when someone comes to visit. They make lots of food; there is dancing. It is a very big deal,” Sek said.

Jamie Schiff, a senior member of Students for Senegal, bears out Sek. “Their [Senegalese hosts’] welcoming attitude and the way in which they received us was like nothing we’d ever experienced before,” she said.

Students for Senegal has donated thousands of books in both English and French, Senegal’s official language, and have founded a small library at the school.

The Students for Senegal Club gathers beneath its logo. The club at Mamaroneck High School currently has about 40 members. Photo/Sarah Varney

The Students for Senegal Club gathers beneath its logo. The club at Mamaroneck High School currently has about 40 members. Photo/Sarah Varney

One of Sek’s stories fostered “Smiles for Senegal,” a 2015 drive that collected hundreds of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste for their peer students in Lambaye. When Sek mentioned using a stick as dental floss, the Students for Senegal Club discussed how to promote dental health in the country.

Since the club’s involvement with the students at Cem Lambaye, the passing rate for students taking the critical exam that enables them to move on to high school has increased from 30 percent to 70 percent.

Mamaroneck High School students in the Students for Senegal Club benefit from their involvement as well. “You can see your efforts pay off firsthand,” junior Molly Nodiff said.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 

Pango parking app takes off in Bronxville

Although nearly all of Bronxville’s 1,200 parking meters now bear the Pango logo, but a brief survey of passers-by indicates that many residents are not aware of the mobile app. Photo/Sarah Varney

Although nearly all of Bronxville’s 1,200 parking meters now bear the Pango logo, but a brief survey of passers-by indicates that many residents are not aware of the mobile app. Photo/Sarah Varney

By Sarah Varney
The move by Bronxville residents to use Pango, the mobile app to pay for parking, is steadily gaining ground with nearly 500 transactions logged since Dec. 18. Village Administrator James Palmer dubbed the period between then and Jan. 1 as a “soft implementation” that gave the village and Pango time to troubleshoot software or user problems.

“It’s absolutely gaining traction every day especially when you consider the holidays,” Palmer said.

Currently, nearly all of the village’s 1,200 coin-operated meters are now tagged with the Pango emblem that informs parkers that a meter’s code is part of the company’s database. The app was created to give users an alternative way to pay, Palmer said.

The plan to implement Pango was first announced in Octo-
ber 2015.

The Israel-based app is free for Android and Apple smartphone users. Area residents can use it to pay for parking or add more time to a space they’re already using. By creating an account with a credit or debit card link, the Pango app handles the transaction automatically.

But the app won’t enable meter feeding. “It only allows you to go up to [the] limit on that particular meter,” Palmer explained.

The history of parking enforcement in Bronxville is surprisingly colorful.

“It’s militant here,” Mary Anne Healey said. Healey, a Bronxville resident who was born and raised in the village, recalled a particularly notorious meter maid who was tough to avoid. “Around the holidays, the local merchants used to hire people dressed up as elves to feed the meters and avoid tickets,” she said. “I think [Pango] could be really useful.”

Patrons of Pondfield Road will now have the luxury of parking with a pay-by-phone app. File photo

Patrons of Pondfield Road will now have the luxury of parking with a pay-by-phone app. File photo

Several other bystanders said they heard of the app but had not yet downloaded it.

“I will try it. I’m not good at downloading apps, but I’ll try,” said one shopper who declined to give her name to the Review.

Palmer said the village will be doing more outreach with the Bronxville Chamber of Commerce to help spread the word about Pango. Also, starting Jan. 1, all on-street parking meters will require payment from
8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Parking lot spaces will continue to be free after 6 p.m.

However, enforcement of the new hours of operation has been tabled until the chamber and village officials hash out the expanded meter hours, Palmer said.

Although excited about Pango, the chamber is opposed to the new evening meter enforcement and has requested that the policy be reconsidered by the village.

“Fortunately, our village officials are highly dedicated to the business district and are never reluctant to reverse a decision if convinced to do so,” Susan Miele, director of the chamber, wrote in an email to the Review.

The pay-by-app system is currently in use in several municipalities in Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg and Scranton. Similar app-based parking systems are currently in use in New Rochelle, parts of Yonkers and Mount Vernon.[Palmer added that parking kiosks are probably the next step in Bronxville’s parking plans.  Parking kiosks with pay stations are probably the next step in Bronxville’s parking plans, Palmer said.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 

Mamaroneck to draft local pet store law

 

Pet store owner Richard Doyle has been arrested for animal cruelty, selling a diseased animal, and, most recently, witness tampering. Doyle owns several stores including Best Breeds Puppies and Kittens in the village of Mamaroneck. Photo courtesy Danbury Police Department

Pet store owner Richard Doyle has been arrested for animal cruelty, selling a diseased animal, and, most recently, witness tampering. Doyle owns several stores including Best Breeds Puppies and Kittens in the village of Mamaroneck. Photo courtesy Danbury Police Department

By KILEY STEVENS
The village of Mamaroneck has begun drafting a local law to regulate pet stores, loosely based on the regulatory laws of Suffolk County.

This recent push for legislation surfaced in August when residents began protesting a village pet store, Best Breeds Puppies and Kittens on Mamaroneck Avenue. Residents claimed that the animals at the shop were not properly cared for, and that their breeding origin was questionable, with some protestors believing the dogs came from puppy mills, establishments that breed puppies under inhumane conditions.

The owner of the shop, Richard Doyle of Mahopac, N.Y., has had a series of run-ins with the law, including being charged with three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and one count of selling a diseased animal. One of the storefronts, located in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., has since closed. One of the counts for animal cruelty involved Doyle performing unlicensed eye surgery on a dog.

In December 2015, he was arrested at one of his other storefronts, American Breeders in Danbury, Conn., on two felony counts of witness tampering following an investigation conducted by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control Division and the Danbury Police Department, according to Danbury Police Lt. Chris Carroccio. Carroccio said that while the Department of Agriculture was interviewing two witnesses in the animal cruelty case, they became suspicious when both witnesses gave identical written statements. Danbury police were able to determine that Doyle had instructed both witnesses how to write their statements, Carrocio said.

Now that New York state allows local governments to enact a local code, village Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, believes it is up to Mamaroneck to ensure that pet stores are operating ethically, which will be a major part of the proposed legislation. Another part of the proposed law will include protecting the consumer in the event that a diseased or unhealthy animal is purchased.

Donna Dickerson organized two rallies which took place on Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, 2015, at the Best Breeds storefront on Mamaroneck Avenue.

Donna Dickerson organized two rallies which took place on Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, 2015, at the Best Breeds storefront on Mamaroneck Avenue.

“I think it is the business of this village to protect the animals that are here,” the mayor said at a recent Board of Trustees work session.

Local municipalities were previously not allowed to enact local laws regarding pet stores and puppy mills.

Rosenblum said the proposed law would be used to open a public hearing for residents to make suggestions, and that the village’s Board of Trustees would amend the law as they saw fit.

Rosenblum added that the draft of the law should be ready to be discussed at the village board’s next regular meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11.

Rosenblum also wants to ensure that part of the law states that under no circumstance may someone who has been convicted of animal cruelty or anything of the like open a pet shop in the village of Mamaroneck.

CONTACT: kiley@hometwn.com

Protesters stand on Mamaroneck Avenue to rally against the owner of a local pet store last August. File photos

Protesters stand on Mamaroneck Avenue to rally against the owner of a local pet store last August. File photos

 

Broncos sharp in decisive win

Natalie Kister goes 19 points in Bronxville’s 73-39 win.

Natalie Kister goes 19 points in Bronxville’s 73-39 win.

Ellie Walsh dribbles through traffic on Jan. 5. Bronxville is now 7-2 on the season.

Ellie Walsh dribbles through traffic on Jan. 5. Bronxville is now 7-2 on the season.

Alyson Schultz brings the ball upcourt against Edgemont. Photos/Mike Smith

Alyson Schultz brings the ball upcourt against Edgemont. Photos/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH
After a long layoff, the Bronxville girls basketball team took the court on Jan. 5, hosting the Edgemont Panthers in both teams’ first contest of 2016. Although Broncos’ head coach Donny Lucas expected his team to be a bit rusty, it didn’t take long for the Broncos to find their rhythm, as they dominated the Panthers en route to a 73-39 win.

Natalie Kister led Bronxville with 19 points and Maggie O’Reilly netted 15 as the Broncos pulled away in the second half, overcoming a slow start that saw the Panthers keep pace through the first 10 minutes of regulation. By halftime, the Broncos had built a 35-26 lead that continued to grow as all but one active Bronxville player recorded a point in the second half.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Bronxville had not played since Dec. 22.

“Early on, Edgemont hit some of their open shots and our defense wasn’t there, maybe because we were off for two weeks,” Lucas said. “But as the game went on, we woke up at some point.”

Bronxville exploited Edgemont’s defensive pressure throughout the game, turning the Panthers’ full-court press into several fast-break points. According to Lucas, the ability to run the floor has been a strength of the Broncos all season long.

“We’re very athletic; we’ve got a bunch of soccer players and bunch of lacrosse players and a few basketball players,” he said. “But unlike today, where we scored a lot, sometimes we can have a bit of trouble executing in half-court.”

At 7-2 on the season, however, the Broncos haven’t seemed to suffer too much when the tempo slows down.

“When you have just two losses, to Irvington and Valhalla, that’s not bad,” Lucas said. “We hoped to be right where we are.”

Lucas is confident that his team can build upon its quick start in January, and the Broncos seem poised to do that, especially once they get healthy.

“We still have some injuries to a few guards, but we’re hoping to get them back soon,” Lucas said. “But in the meantime, we’re getting good experience; we have 11 players on the roster and we go 11 deep.”

The Broncos will need all hands on deck on Jan. 8, when they host Putnam Valley and Cornell-bound center Reena Olsen in what will be Bronxville’s first real test of the new year.

“They have a 6-foot-3 center, they’re committed, they’re disciplined,” Lucas said. “They can cause some havoc, but hopefully, in our gym, we can handle it.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 

Column: Misery loves company

On Jan. 3, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills dashed the Jets’ playoff hopes with a 22-17 win over Gang Green. For a Giants fan like Sports Editor Mike Smith, the Jets’ loss was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible NFL season. Photos courtesy Wikipedia.com

On Jan. 3, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills dashed the Jets’ playoff hopes with a 22-17 win over Gang Green. For a Giants fan like Sports Editor Mike Smith, the Jets’ loss was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible NFL season. Photos courtesy Wikipedia.com

I swear that I’m not a spiteful person, but when it comes to sports, it seems like a healthy dose of “schadenfreude” is sometimes unavoidable.

Last Sunday, while watching my New York Giants put the finishing touches on a dreadful 6-10 season—and Tom Coughlin’s coaching career—the only thing that gave me any sort of comfort was seeing the Jets’ season come to an equally disastrous end.

I know. I’m a bad person.

The truth is, even for a Giants fan, this wasn’t a hard Jets team to root for. After jettisoning swagger-y blowhard Rex Ryan in the offseason, Gang Green was under new management in the form of Todd Bowles, a coach cut from the same cloth as the no-nonsense Coughlin. They played hard-nosed defense, had the franchise’s most explosive offense in more than a decade and had a likeable—if not imperfect—signal caller under center in Ryan Fitzpatrick. What’s not to like?

But jealousy is a strange emotion. I came into Week 17 with every intention of rooting for the Jets to beat the Bills—now helmed by Ryan—and clinch a playoff spot. But as the two 1 p.m. games unfolded, I found myself almost subconsciously cheering each Buffalo third-down conversion, delighting in the growing despair of the Jets fans around me.

I guess part of it is the residual resentment built up from the Rex Ryan regime. I never had strong feelings one way or the other about the franchise before Rex took over, but his tenure was marked by the kind of bravado and boastfulness that doesn’t engender a lot of goodwill from opposing fan bases.

But mostly, it had to do with the Giants’ failures. If I had to watch my team blow chance after chance and miss yet another postseason, why should anyone else—let alone people I have to see every day—have the right to be happy?

Am I being juvenile? You bet. But at least I’m not alone.

Throughout the course of the game, I was communicating with some friends in a group chat, the majority of whom were Giants or Eagles fans, and had no real stakes in the Bills-Jets game. Only my friend Mike, a season ticket-holder for years, swears allegiance to New York’s other team. But as Fitzpatrick’s interceptions doomed the Jets, you would have thought the rest of us were members of the so-called “Bills Mafia.”

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin lost his job after another bad season for Big Blue. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, the only silver lining is that the Jets aren’t in the playoffs either.

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin lost his job after another bad season for Big Blue. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, the only silver lining is that the Jets aren’t in the playoffs either.

GIFS of plane crashes, butt-fumbles and jubilant Rex Ryan celebrations flooded the chain, as we did our best to pile on to our buddy’s already crummy day.

I may not be proud of myself, but if I can’t be proud of the Giants, watching someone else suffer might just be the next best thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Tyrod Taylor jersey to order.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter
@LiveMike_Sports

 

 

Column: Hopes for 2016

New Year’s resolutions are fine for matters within our own power to control such as what we do to others and to ourselves. But for what is beyond our reach we can only hope and pray for, according to our beliefs. Here are some yearnings that fall now into the category of mere hopes.

I hope that in 2016, we Americans will gain a president-elect with the brains and stamina for this hugely demanding responsibility. Considering the broad range of our present and foreseeable problems, the person we need may not seem to be able to beat the present in our sight. But candidates can sometimes rise above their prospects.

I hope that our organs of government will function successfully in 2016, bringing about lawful and practical solutions that have been thoroughly discussed among the interested parties.

I hope that age-old religious schisms and hatred of other humans, regardless of race, color, creed or beliefs may be defeated by love and kindness and, if that fails, by either a national or international criminal court where the eyes of world might be “the jury of their peers.”

I hope to see a new Rye City Council that swears off the sloppy habit of holding private meetings to discuss the public’s business. Even in the infrequent situations where allowed by state law, private meetings are a blot on our civic reputation.

And I also hope to see a City Council where differences of opinion are welcomed and aired in a spirit of respectful debate, rather than being shunned as some sort of juvenile behavior. Let friendly smiles and good will prevail in City Hall.

And I hope to see continued support for architectural and environmental preservation in our city of Rye and that the only rock-splitting sounds that we hear this year will come from the traditional suburban “garage band” of a guitar, bass and drums and not from any destructive earth-shattering chipping machine.

And I hope to see all members of our community, Republicans and Democrats, white collar and blue collar professionals, women and men, young and old, continue to volunteer their time and expertise on our many boards and committees, our firefighting companies, nonprofit organizations and houses of worship in order to preserve the unique character of this place that we call home.

CONTACT: j_pcarey@verizon.net

 

Column: Honoring Sgt. Lemm and My Community Alert

As many of you know, our community suffered a loss with the tragic death of West Harrison resident Staff Sgt. Joseph Lemm, who was recently killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Sgt. Lemm was cherished by his family and was greatly admired by our community. Through these dark days, I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of love, friendship and faith I’ve witnessed, especially by our residents. I hope that this show of support will encourage those who knew and loved Sgt. Lemm to draw strength from the sense of community we have in Harrison. Thank you to those involved in honoring his memory. I hope we can all find solace in celebrating Sgt. Lemm’s short but meaningful life and remembering better times.

I would like to extend my warmest wishes for a prosperous and healthy new year. I hope you and your family had a happy and festive holiday. I want to thank you for all your support over the last year. The town board has achieved incredible things so far, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in 2016.

As we begin the new year, I am happy to report that Harrison continues to build on the success of the last few years while keeping tax increases in check, sustaining a healthy reserve and maintaining all our basic municipal services. In addition to our improved bond rating from Moody’s, Harrison’s 2016 budget was adopted and remains under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandated tax cap. Advancing this positive trend is a priority and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.

I would like to bring your attention to My Community Alert. This valuable system allows Harrison police officers and other town officials to notify residents in the event of an ongoing emergency. Text messages and emails are sent to registered residents if the Harrison Police Department believes that the community should be informed of a local incident or event. Recently, our Police Department has sent out alerts pertaining to road closures and weather updates, and has warned our community that fraudulent phone solicitations had been reported in our area. Residents can register with My Community Alert at mycommunityalert.net. I encourage all to take advantage of this very useful tool.

Please be aware of the following sanitation notice: Christmas trees may be placed curbside for pickup through Sunday, Jan. 31. Please do not place trees in plastic bags. No holiday wreaths or roping will be collected. Visit harrison-ny.gov for more information.

The library is continuing to offer great programs. I encourage all interested movie buffs to attend our library’s Brown Bag Cinema. Enjoy the new large screen at the recently-renovated Halperin building of the Harrison Public Library. This event is free of charge and is held on one Thursday each month at 1 p.m. Bring your lunch, sit back and enjoy a screening of a film newly released on DVD. Upcoming films include “The Walk” on Jan. 21 and “The Intern” on Feb. 18. Refreshments are provided by The Friends of the Harrison Library.