Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Newsworthy Notes from the week

Driver indicted in Dec. 31 fatal car crash; Gillibrand’s office accepting funding requests

Driver indicted in New Year’s crash that killed Peekskill man

Franklin Saquicela Siqua

A Westchester County grand jury has indicted Edisson Quichimbo-Guayara, 20, from Newark, N.J. for leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, a felony, for his actions in a Dec. 31, 2023 crash that killed Franklin Saquicela Siqua, 24, of Peekskill. 

Quichimbo-Guayara was arraigned on Feb. 22 before Judge George Fufidio in Westchester County Court and bail remains set at $6,000. His next court date is March 7.

The defendant faces a minimum of no jail to a maximum of 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison. He could also receive probation or a conditional discharge.

First responders were called in Croton at about 2:32 a.m. on Dec. 31 to Route 9 North, just south of the Croton Point Avenue exit, where a man was lying in the roadway. He was transported to Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla, but pronounced dead, according to Croton police.

Saquicela Siqua  is survived by his wife: Evelyn Reino; his children: Samantha and Alisson Saquicela; his parents Luis Saquicela and Carmelina Sigua; his siblings Ana and Carlos; and nephews, brothers-in-law, and other relatives. A viewing was held at his home in Ecuador and the funeral mass followed on Jan. 31 in Banos, Ecuador. 

Senator seeks submissions for federal grant money

Every year, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand submits funding requests to the Senate Appropriations Committee for state and local community projects across New York. This money helps fund everything from the development of affordable childcare facilities to mental health services to ecosystem restoration – and much more.

Ahead of the fiscal year 2025 appropriations process, she’s soliciting input from New York government and nonprofit leaders seeking funding for their projects. Appropriations requests can be submitted until Wednesday, March 13 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Under guidelines issued by the Senate Appropriations Committee, each Senator had the opportunity to submit CDS requests for their state for Fiscal Year 2024. Only a handful of projects may actually be funded and are restricted to a limited number of federal funding streams; only state and local governments and eligible non-profit entities are permitted to receive funding.

Requests may be submitted via Senator Gillibrand’s website.

Questions? Contact [email protected] 

Red Devils move to semi-finals in County basketball tourney

The 2023-24 Peekskill Boys’ Varsity basketball team continues to make their own mark on the program’s glorious history by moving onto to their next challenge, a 4:45 p.m. game against Eastchester on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the County Center in White Plains in Section 1 Class AA boys basketball.

A win on Tuesday would vault Peekskill into the Finals to play for the Golden Ball Championship Trophy on Saturday, March 2 at 7:15 p.m. Their opponent in the final would be either No. 1 ranked Yorktown or No. 4 Suffern, who match up Tuesday after the Peekskill (2) vs. Eastchester (6) tilt.

Peekskill advanced to the semi-finals with 59-50 win over Poughkeepsie on Feb. 22 at a rocking PHS gym packed with fans. Jaden Chavis continued his outstanding season, scoring 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. This was the first time Peekskill made it to the County Center tournament since 2013.

Finding fine African fare in Peekskill

Downtown Peekskill is home to a top-rated African cuisine restaurant, named among the best of the best in Westchester.

Ofori’s World Cuisine, at 982 Main St., received the high ranking from Westchester Magazine’s review of dining choices throughout the County. The magazine writes: 

“As its name suggests, this restaurant serves more than African cuisine. A Food Network Season 35 “Chopped” finalist, Chef Lawrence Ofori’s cooking is also inspired by Mexican, Italian, Indian, and Caribbean cultures. But growing up in Ghana and influenced by his grandmother, Ofori has a penchant for cayenne, allspice, curry, and ginger. Ofori previously operated via food truck near the Jefferson Mall until his full-service restaurant opened in March 2023.”

The full review is available online.

Peekskill Clean Up March 2 at Central Ave., Charles Point 

The Peekskill Clean Routine Team has two cleanups scheduled for Saturday, March 2, weather permitting.

At 10 a.m., for approximately two hours, they will have a cleanup at McGregory Brook, off Central Avenue next to the Petals Garden. This cleanup is for experienced volunteers only, and is not pet-friendly nor kid-friendly, due to the flowing brook and rocky terrain.

At 11 a.m., for approximately two hours, they will have a cleanup at Charles Point Park, across the street from the Holiday Inn Express. This cleanup is for anyone and everyone and is both kid-friendly and pet-friendly.

The group had an incredibly successful cleanup at the Riverfront Green in January. Come be part of something wonderful and rewarding in your community and meet new neighbors and friends at the same time!

Bags, gloves, and water will be provided at both locations.  More information is available on the group’s Facebook page.

Lights! Camera! Peekskill Film Festival!

The Peekskill Film Festival is accepting film submissions for this year’s festival, July 26 to 28 at the Paramount Hudson Valley. For those who would like to participate, please submit your work online by the June 1 deadline.

Founded in 2015, the Peekskill Film Festival (PFF) screens a first-rate mix of features, shorts, documentaries, and animation. In addition to screening the best and brightest in indie film, the PFF hosts workshops with Emmy-Award winning artists and filmmakers, parties, panel discussions, and an entire day dedicated to student film — all centered in the historic Hudson Valley Paramount Theater, a beautifully restored, 1,100 seat, 1930’s jewel located in the heart of Peekskill’s arts and restaurant district.

Diverse voices from the world over are welcome. Underrepresented voices, films, and subjects including women, POC, and the LGBTQ+ community are encouraged.

A portion of proceeds and all sponsorships benefit the cultural programming of The Field Library. The PFF and its filmmakers strive to provide scholarship and filmmaking opportunities for underprivileged filmmakers. More information is available on the festival’s website.

 District 17 remains intact in latest Congressional map proposal

The saga of New York’s contentious, court-entangled battle over drawing election districts continues into a second year with another attempt by the board in control to redraw the lines again.

After an extended battle before the 2022 election, a judge appointed an independent monitor to draw non-partisan district lines. That election saw Republicans gain narrow control of the U.S. House of Representatives by taking four seats from Democrats.

One of those seats was won in the 17th Congressional District, where Peekskill resides. The GOP candidate Mike Lawler defeated incumbent Democrat Sean Maloney by 1,820 votes out of 285,430 cast.

The proposed new 2024 district lines don’t seem to change the 17th District in any significant way. Those lines, proposed by the State Election Commission, now go the state legislature and could still wind up being challenged in court, by either party.

The primary election in New York is June 25. Mondaire Jones, who served a term in Congress in the former 17th District before it was redrawn in 2022, is expected to be the Democrat’s nominee.

With the Republicans holding a slim three-seat majority in the U.S. House, New York’s 17th District promises once again to be a national election battleground.

Monthly rent-wage gap grows in Hudson Valley region

The need for affordable housing has never been greater, and the rate of adding those units continues to fall behind the need, according to a new report from the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress.

“This year’s report continues to underscore an irrefutable truth: even with long work hours or multiple jobs, most renters in our region struggle to pay for rent and modest living costs,” the report says. “Over the past five years, rents across our region have increased by anywhere between 25- 45 percent. With inflation hitting a 40-year peak in 2022, the basic costs of living – food, transportation, healthcare, and more – are also out of reach.” 

According to the report, the average Westchester resident working 40 hours per week and spending 30 percent of their income on housing can afford to pay $1,388 in monthly rent.  With the average one-bedroom apartment renting for $1,669, a monthly gap of $281 exists. For a two-bedroom, the monthly rent gap is $641.

“The solutions to our affordability crisis are not simple, and they cannot focus on one corner of our civic structure alone. State and federal governments must work to ensure that our hardworking neighbors are compensated fairly. To meet the demand for housing, state and local governments must adopt significant changes to land-use and housing policies that support the kind of development that is affordable for our residents,” the report concludes. 

The complete report is available here

Housing Authority closes wait list 

The Peekskill Housing Authority closed its waiting list on Feb. 1 after taking applications beginning on Jan. 3. The Authority received 400 new applications to the waiting list.

The list opened for apartments ranging from two bedrooms to five bedrooms. The average wait time to be interviewed for housing is approximately two to three years.

The Peekskill Housing Authority (PHA) owns and manages housing for low-income residents at affordable rents. The Public Housing (PH) program provides rental assistance to qualified low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, and is a federally funded program overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). PHA currently has 273 units scattered throughout the City of Peekskill at Bohlmann Towers, Dunbar Heights, and Turnkey units. As of January there were 11 vacant apartments and an occupancy rate of 96 percent.

Grant awarded to study Hollow Brook drinking water

New York state has awarded $1.8 million for 26 projects to help communities along the Hudson River estuary improve water quality, enhance environmental education, and advance stewardship of natural resources. Most of the recipients are in the Hudson Valley and Capital Region.

The Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Hudson River Estuary Grants Program implements priorities outlined in the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda 2021-2025. Over its 21 years, the program has awarded 643 grants totaling more than $28 million. Funding is provided by New York’s Environmental Protection Fund, which enables land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects, according to a DEC statement.

Local grants include:

Riverkeeper Inc.: $59,543 for “Nutrient Analysis in Peekskill Hollow Brook, a Regional Drinking Water Source,” a project that will use DEC’s Loading Estimator of Nutrient Sources tool to estimate point and nonpoint (meaning, widely distributed) phosphorus contributions in the Peekskill Hollow Brook watershed, to inform drinking water-source monitoring and protection or clean water plan development for the city of Peekskill and other stakeholders.

Town of Cortlandt: $50,000 for “Town of Cortlandt and Village of Croton Intermunicipal Natural Resources Inventory,” for the town of Cortlandt and the village of Croton to complete an intermunicipal Natural Resources Inventory for both communities, to identify critical natural resources and to develop preservation and management strategies.

Hudson Valley Stream Conservancy: $114,920 for “Sprout Brook Dam Removal Phase 2: Final Planning, Deconstruction and Stream Restoration,” which will complete the Sprout Brook Dam removal and stream restoration and will restore aquatic connectivity to the stream for migrating fish and eels. 

State comptroller might be holding your money for you

The New York state comptroller’s office is overseeing $15 billion dollars worth of unclaimed funds. Banks, insurance companies, and other institutions are required to turn over the contents of inactive or abandoned accounts. 

More than 39 million accounts for New Yorkers have money waiting to be claimed and so far in 2024, $63 million has been returned. Thousands of the unclaimed funds have Peekskill addresses. 

The Comptroller’s Office has an online database to check to see if you are owed money as low as $20, dating back to 1985. A name may show up here but not at the comptroller’s website. If you find your name here but not in the state’s website, you’ll need to call 800-221-9311 to file a claim.

To file a claim for one of these accounts, visit the comptroller’s website. A person can also make a claim through the mail: The New York State Comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds, 110 State Street, Albany, NY 12236.

County offers scholarships for lifeguard training

Westchester County Parks, in partnership with Westchester Parks Foundation, is offering 10 scholarships to local students to fund Lifeguard Certification courses for those who want to work as a Westchester County Parks Lifeguard this summer. 

In order to be considered for the scholarship, students ages 15+ are encouraged to write in explaining why they want to become a Westchester County Parks Lifeguard and why they will benefit from the experience. Submissions should be at least 250 words and emailed to: [email protected]. Deadline is Friday, March 15. 

Those awarded will be notified via email by Monday, March. 25. Those awarded with the scholarship will be expected to work at any of the following facilities: Croton Point Beach in Croton-on-Hudson, Glen Island Beach in New Rochelle, Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains, Sprain Ridge Pool in Yonkers, Tibbetts Brook Pool in Yonkers, Willson’s Woods Pool in Mt. Vernon.

PAA offers member artists place at Baxter’s Pharmacy

The Peekskill Arts Alliance (PAA), with funding from the Peekskill Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), is seeking artwork from members of the Peekskill Arts Alliance for a curated installation on the wall of Baxter’s Pharmacy. Selected artwork will be scanned and printed on vinyl as a composition installation including multiple artists.

Artwork should be created specifically for downtown Peekskill at Baxter’s Pharmacy with the following theme in mind: “A Day in Peekskill.” Artists should think of the city of Peekskill and all it has to offer (diversity of people, music, food, and architecture) when submitting an interpretation of this theme. Artists may use pre-existing images or create site specific new works.

Please submit three images for the curatorial committee to choose from. One image per chosen artist will be used. Images must be submitted by March 29 to [email protected]. Artists will be notified of their selection by April 12.

The Baxter’s Pharmacy installation will include 12 panels by artists that will be assembled as one large quilt like vinyl banner. Each artist will receive an honorarium of $350. 

The Making Connections curatorial committee will review all eligible artist submissions. The committee includes representatives from the Peekskill and Westchester art community. The composite installation will then be reviewed by a DRI Overview Committee and then will be submitted to the City of Peekskill Common Council for final approval.

About the Contributor
Jim Roberts
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.