Orange County lawmakers will take up a resolution on Wednesday that urges the state to delay implementation of bail and court reforms or amend them before they take effect in just a few weeks.


The four-page resolution going before the Rules, Enactments and Intergovernmental Relations Committee duplicates a statement adopted by the Warren County Board of Supervisors and circulated to other counties. It lists numerous objections to requirements enacted this year and set to begin on Jan. 1 that prohibit holding criminal suspects on bail for many offenses and requires prosecutors to share evidence with defense lawyers within 15 days of an arraignment.


The resolution argues the changes could endanger public safety and saddle counties with large new costs. Among the remedies it suggests be made in an emergency legislative session in Albany or by executive action: preserve judges’ ability to set bail for any crimes; extend the evidence-sharing deadline to at least 45 days; and apply that discovery reform only to misdemeanors in 2020 and add felonies in 2021.


If enacted by the Rules committee on Wednesday, the resolution would go to the full Legislature for approval on Dec. 19.


- Chris McKenna


O&R’s neighbor fund offers emergency energy bill help


PEARL RIVER - O&R’s The Neighbor Fund provides critical home-heating assistance for those O&R customers who find themselves unable to pay their home-heating fuel bills because of emergency financial conditions.


One-time, $250 grants are available for electric customers and for heating fuel customers. Grants from The Neighbor Fund are awarded to pay for home energy costs no matter what type of fuel is used: electricity, oil, natural gas, propane, wood or coal. The grant money does not have to be repaid, and there are no age limits or income guidelines to be met.


To qualify for The Neighbor Fund grant, individuals must have an account with O&R, and must already have exhausted all governmental resources available for financial assistance.


For assistance, contact The Salvation Army offices in Spring Valley (845-352-9577), Middletown (845-343-0821) or Port Jervis (845-856-3214).


The Neighbor Fund community outreach centers are also available at RCDC (845-352-1400), Kiryas Joel Social Services (845-783-7656), Village of Kiryas Joel Community Service (845-783-8300) and the Community Outreach Center at (845-356-9600) or Rockland Community Action (WestCap) (845-728-0688).


County launches online tool for bus, train rides


Orange County residents now have a website to help them plan trips by public transportation by entering their starting points and destinations and seeing the times and routes for various bus and train connections.


The county Planning Department created and announced the website - RideTransitOrange.com - on Friday. County officials are encouraging residents who use the site to comment on it by email at feedback@transitorange.com or by phone at 845-615-3850. The site includes contact information for transportation services that require reservations before a trip.


- Chris McKenna


Warwick Town residents can dispose of fallen limbs


The Town of Warwick has opened a brush pile at Union Corners Park on the sports-field side for wood from downed trees and limbs as a result of the recent storm.


The drop-off point - for wood only - is to the right side upon entering the parking lot.


State starts building Minnewaska Park visitor center


Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that construction has started on a 5,000-square-foot visitor center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve that will cost the state and Open Space Institute $6.1 million.


The visitor center on the Shawangunk Ridge will hold classroom space and exhibits for programs that teach visitors about the park's natural and recreational features. It also will provide bathrooms and drinking water for the roughly 500,000 people who use the Ulster County park each year.


The state is covering $3.1 million of the cost. The Open Space Institute has raised $2.5 million and has launched a public campaign to collect the remaining $500,000.


- Chris McKenna


Chester Planning Board continues review of two proposals


CHESTER - The town of Chester Planning Board made no final decisions Wednesday night on two applications that have ruffled some feathers in the town.


The board set a public hearing for Feb. 5 at Town Hall on the renewal of a permit to mine shale in the town of Chester. The original 2012 permit, for a proposed mine near the bottom of Durland Hill off Black Meadow Road, expires Dec. 18. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is the lead agency for environmental review of the proposal, but site plan approval is needed from the town in order to proceed. The public hearing is part of that site plan process. Chester Hill Holding would excavate 1.1 million cubic yards of shale from about 30 acres of the 47 acres it owns near the bottom of Durland Hill.


"Broccoli Patch," a 7,800-square-foot catering hall and distillery proposed for two acres on Sugar Loaf’s main street, will return before the board to answer more questions that came up at Wednesday’s meeting. Board members questioned issues including garbage removal, storage of dry grain and disposal of used grain. Developer Lewis Donnelly also plans to fit on the property a 25’-by-40’ cottage, a water silo, and parking for approximately 300 people. The property is two-tenths of a mile north of the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center.


- Jane Anderson