Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Newsworthy Notes from the week

City escapes second default judgment; teachers get a new three-year contract
Newsworthy+Notes+from+the+week

 Peekskill avoids second default judgment

The Riley Building on South and Division Streets.

Peekskill has avoided a second default judgment that would have meant a defeat in a lawsuit without getting their day in court.

The owners of the Riley Building sued the city in October of 2022, claiming building inspectors delayed granting a certificate of occupancy for two years because of religious discrimination against Shia and Chaim Lebrecht, Hasidic Jews who own the property. According to court papers, a certificate of occupancy was issued on Oct. 27, 2023.

Because then city corporation counsel Timothy Kramer did not respond to the complaint in time, a federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs could seek a default judgment and win a settlement without the city defending itself.

However, on Jan. 4 federal Judge Nelson Roman ruled that, because the plaintiffs are filing an amendment to their original complaint, the default judgment verdict is moot and the case will continue.

Peekskill had to pay a $1 million default judgment last year in another case where Kramer did not respond to the complaint on time.

District, teachers agree on three-year contract

The Peekskill School District and the Peekskill Faculty Association approved a three-year contract that extends until June 30, 2026. The Board of Education approved the deal at its regular meeting on Jan.9.

The new contract provides teachers with an annual two percent increase in addition to step increases based on experience and degrees. Teaching assistants and nurses also receive two percent increases.

Teacher longevity bonuses are increased to $2,500 from $1,991.66 and sick leave of 17 days per year can be accumulated up to 215 days, an increase of 15 days.

Teachers at faculty meetings held in school facilities conducting union business will no longer be responsible for security if no janitor is available. Parent teacher conferences are increased to three from two per school year.

Active employees will contribute 16.5 percent to the cost of their health insurance plan, rising to 17 percent in 2024 and 18 percent in 2025. Retirees will pay the same percentage of the last year of employment in years two to seven of their retirement  with no contribution after the seventh year.

According to state data from 2022, the average teacher salary in the Peekskill district was $103,873. Principals averaged $152,246 and central administrators averaged $223,599.

The top district salaries in 2023 were Dr. David Mauricio, superintendent, $298,491 and Cynthia Hawthorne, assistant superintendent for business, $238,708. Forty-two other employees made between $150,000 and $200,000.

 

Officer Sgroi retires from Peekskill Police Department

Peekskill Police Chief Leo Dylewski and retired officer Pam Sgroi.

Police Officer Pam Sgroi has retired after 21 years of outstanding service in the Peekskill Police Department.

Sgroi wore many hats, becoming a certified School Resource Officer, D.A.R.E Instructor, Youth Academy Instructor, Child Passenger Safety Seat Instructor/Installer, a Gang Resistance Education and Training Instructor and a Learning Enrichment After School Program Instructor.

She was also a Certified NYS Police Training Instructor, tasked with administering the agency’s training curriculum. Officer Pam also instructed at the Westchester County Police Academy, where she trained new recruits in the topic of domestic violence.

“Anyone who knows Officer Pam, knows that the secret to her success was taking care of the Peekskill community, especially our youth population,” Peekskill Police Chief Leo Dylewski wrote on the department’s Facebook page.

She is accredited with playing a vital role in the creation of the Peekskill Police Department’s Community Policing Unit, since its inception and redeployment in 2022.

“She put her heart and soul into Community Policing, which would become her greatest accomplishment and the foundation for her extraordinary legacy with the City of Peekskill. Pam, thank you for the 21 beautiful years service you have dedicated to the City of Peekskill and the community members,” the Chief wrote.

 Red Devil hoopsters, wrestlers keep on winning

Peekskill wrestler Naseer Johnson won the Wrestler of the Week in a poll conducted by Lohud.

Peekskill High’s high-flying boys varsity basketball team extended their winning streak to seven games last week with wins over two local rivals.

On Jan. 9, the Red Devils beat visiting Lakeland 69-49. Jaden Chavis once again led the way with 25 points, followed by Zeke Jones with 15 and Travis Brown with 13.

Two days later the team scored a 72-63 win at Hendrick Hudson, again led by Chavis’s 27 points. Jones added 20 and Amir Thames scored 13. The Red Devils are now 10-1 on the season.

Red Devil wrestler Naseer Johnson won honors as Lohud Sports Wrestler of the Week in a poll conducted by the newspaper, taking 43.4 percent of the vote with the strong support of his local fans.

This past week, Johnson won the 190-pound title at the Eric D’Agnese Memorial Tournament in Somers with a pair of first-period pins.

In the semis, he defeated Lohud top-five ranked Justin Daniyan of Somers/North Salem in a 6-3 decision. In the finals, he avenged an earlier loss to returning Section 1 Division II champ and Hen Hud’s state-ranked Kyle Peske with a 6-2 victory.

Peekskill funeral home acquires Clark Funeral in Yorktown

Curry Giordano Funeral Home on N. James Street.

Curry & Giordano Funeral Home in Peekskill is the new owner of the renamed Clark & Giordano Funeral Home in Yorktown. The funeral homes are family owned and operated, a rarity in today’s corporate ownership in the industry.

Peekskill also has three other family-owned homes – Joseph F. Nardone, Jeremiah Edwards and Dorsey-Carlone funeral homes.

Owner Joe Giordano Jr., a fourth-generation director, grew up in the family’s funeral home, learning the business from his father Joe Sr., still an important part of the firm. Joe’s wife Danielle and their daughters Viviana and Emmie play an integral role in the funeral home operations. Joe is a Yorktown High graduate and Yorktown resident.

The Curry family has a long history in Peekskill as funeral directors, dating back more than 100 years. For over 50 years, Edward “Ned” O. Curry, 3rd operated the funeral home and then in October 2018, Ned retired and sold the business to Joseph Giordano Jr.

Like the Curry family, the funeral home has been a long-standing part of the Giordano family. Ralph Giordano first started his family’s funeral home in Harlem in 1923 after emigrating from Italy. Shortly after, he opened a second location in the Bronx. In 1967, the Harlem location closed, and the Bronx location became the sole funeral home for the Giordano family. The funeral home was passed down through generations and continues to service the Bronx today.

Levenberg Town Hall in Peekskill scheduled for Feb. 8

Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg

State assemblywoman Dana Levenberg will hold an Open Topic Town Hall meeting in Peekskill on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Field Library.

“Constituent input is very important to me,” Levenberg said. “In 2022, as a candidate for this office, I pledged to continue my predecessor’s tradition of holding town halls toward the beginning of each legislative session. I have increased the number of meetings to seven, with at least one meeting in each of the towns in the district as well as the city of Peekskill.”

Dates, times and locations of the others are: Environmental Town Hall: 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25 at the Ossining Public Library.

Open-Topic Town Halls: Feb. 10: 10 a.m. at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library and 1 p.m., at the Croton Free Library

Feb. 15, 7 p.m. (Virtual session – register to receive the link at https://bit.ly/February15TownHall.)

Feb. 17: 10 a.m. at the Julia L. Butterfield Library and 1 p.m. at the John C. Hart Library

Levenberg’s office is hosting a food drive for Feeding Westchester starting Jan. 25 and through Feb. 29. Food drive collection boxes will be available at each Town Hall event and participants are encouraged to bring items.

Constituents who prefer to send written comments, can use the online contact form to share opinions on state legislation and other issues. The contact form can be found at https://bit.ly/AD95Comments.

Community mourns loss of German Shepherd K9 officer

The Peekskill Police reported that the department’s K9 officer, Charlie, died following an off-duty accident on Jan. 6. No details of the accident were released.

The German Shepherd was the first K9 hired in two decades when the unit was restored in 2017. He and handler Officer Anthony Nappi worked on assignments together from tracking to evidence recovery.

“K9 Charlie’s impact went beyond cases solved; his presence ensured the safety of PO Nappi and all of our fellow officers,” the Department wrote in a statement. “The work that this team did allowed for the closing of cases that would otherwise have remained unsolved or been unable to prosecute due to missing key evidence.”

Charlie was adept at both evidence recovery and tracking, according to the department, which asked for the support of the Peekskill community as they mourn his loss.” Rest in peace Charlie boy, we love you, and thank you for your service,” the department said.

Dangerous intersection produces another crash

Crash at Washington Street and Hudson Avenue last Tuesday night. (Peekskill Walks photo)

Another car crash happened at the corner of Washington Street and Hudson Avenue on Jan. 9, a dangerous intersection where speeding drivers and a steep hill create ongoing dangerous conditions.

Peekskill Police did not respond to a request for details about the incident.

On May 27, 2017, a pedestrian was killed at the site when a Honda driven by Maria Inga collided with a parked Toyota on Hudson near the Washington Street intersection. The Toyota was pushed onto the sidewalk killing Zolia Zhingre and injuring several other pedestrians, according to court documents.

Plans to open a daycare center at that intersection are now being considered for approval from the city Planning Commission.

Antonia Arts celebrated diversity of holidays

Antonia Arts’ had its 3rd Annual “Home for the Holidays” show on Dec. 28 at The Artist Spot at 925 South St. the home-base for Antonia Arts, Inc. and is located at 925 South Street.

The show included a celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diversity, and “The Nutcracker.”

“The idea is that everyone celebrates the holidays with their own rituals, and I wanted to celebrate that diversity,” said Scarlett Antonia.

This summer, Antonia will stage her 4th Annual “Oz Land Festival” in downtown Peekskill, including a full day of live musical and theatrical performances by youth and adults, including Antonia’s youth performance troupe, “The Wiz Kidz.” It also includes street vendors and folks dressed in costume, to honor and celebrate the “Great American Fairy Tale.”

For 2024, Antonia is working on main stage productions and the development of a theater company entitled, “The Victory Theater Company.”

Briefly …

The Field Library is redesigning its website. Give your ideas about improvements or changes to the current website by going to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WPBVXLC.

New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblymember Dana Levenberg will host a “Coffee and Conversation” from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the BeanRunner Café. RSVP to [email protected]

Black History Month Nomination forms are available to nominate outstanding African American members in the Peekskill community. Complete this form by Friday, Jan. 26.

Home sales in Peekskill fell 24 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023 (16 sales vs 21) compared to the year before, according to figures from Houlihan Lawrence. The median price increased by four percent to $487,500 from $469,000.

Peekskill residents: To report nonfunctioning traffic signs, broken street lights, potholes, or issues with Peekskill sidewalks/streets, visit the City website at https://cityofpeekskill.com/610/Report-a-Concern

About the Contributor
Jim Roberts has been in this business for more than 35 years (hard to believe) and still learning every day. A third-generation Peekskill resident, he started as a lowly researcher at the Westchester Business Journal in 1986 and learned how to be a reporter from many veterans in the field. He’s worked in private companies, Connecticut state government and wrote for the Co-op City Times for 10 years before retiring from full-time work in 2019. Roberts wants to contribute to building the Herald into a news website for residents who care about what’s happening in Peekskill.