Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Newsworthy Notes from the week

PCSD tax hike stays below cap; PHS students excel at county competitions

School tax hike proposed at 2 percent, remaining below cap

Dr. David Mauricio.

Dr. David Mauricio, Superintendent of Schools for the Peekskill City School District, explained the proposed 2024-25 district budget that residents will vote on, Tuesday, May 21.

“Residents will be asked to vote on two propositions – Proposition #1: The annual PCSD Budget, and Proposition #2: the establishment of the 2024 Capital Reserve for the purpose of performing districtwide capital improvements. 

“Our 2024-2025 budget will keep our tax levy at 2 percent, which is under the allowable tax cap of 2.18 percent. Our budget-to-budget increase is 6.35 percent this year. Our homeowner’s annual impact is $69.08, or $5.76 per month.

“Next year at the elementary level, we look forward to adding a teacher at Oakside Elementary and eight special education aides throughout our schools to support our students’ needs. At the secondary level, we are excited to introduce our new P-TECH [Pathways in Technology Early College High School Program] and Smart Scholars grants, which will bring our high school students access to college and career opportunities. We will add additional staffing at both Peekskill Middle and High School, including a new music teacher at the High School to help expand our band, chorus, and orchestra offerings.

“In order to maintain and further upgrade our facilities, we have also budgeted $500,000 to add new floors in classrooms at Woodside and Hillcrest elementary schools, as well as other abatement needs, as we continue to modernize our schools each year. 

The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at its May 7 meeting. School Board Elections are May 21, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., at Peekskill High School.

Proposed 2024-2025

  • Budget: $123,052,908
  • Budget Increase: 6.35%
  • Tax Levy: 2%

PHS students excel in Business Olympics, Science & Engineering Fair

Peekskill High School’s team won the Westchester Business Olympics.
Peekskill High School Science Research students won several awards at the Westchester Science & Engineering Fair.

Peekskill students came out on top, winning first place at the 2024 Business Olympics, hosted by African American Men of Westchester (AAMW) and Morgan Stanley.

Tackling a Harvard Business Study on AI, they had to rank and explain how different uses of AI could augment human creativity. Focusing on divergent thinking as the key factor, their presentation impressed the judges, ranking first among ten Westchester school districts.

Peekskill High School is excited to add another first-place trophy to their collection. Students will receive gold medals and laptops at a dinner hosted by AAMW next month. The students who participated were: Hannah Iddir, Marlene Melendez, Jemell Acosta, Martin Palomeque, Melvin Duran, Janira Martinez, Tanali De Paz, and Eliana Reyes.

In another competition, the Peekskill High School Science Research program produced several winners at the 2024 Westchester Science & Engineering Fair (WESEF). Students’ studies are completed under the guidance of Ms. Erum Hadi, Peekskill Science Research teacher. 

Juniors: Sebastian Curillo won the NASA Earth System Science Project Award for his research on the “Novel Invasive Control Method Against Black Swallow-wort Root Crowns Through the Use of Bags and Light Availability.” Megan Flores won the NASA Earth System Science Project Award for her research “The use of Lichen as a Bio-indicator for Air Pollution in Urban v. Suburban Areas.” Jemell Acosta won the Teatown Young Environmentalist Award for her project “The Effects of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products on Freshwater Zooplankton.”

Seniors: Melvin Duran won the Creative Approach to Research and ranked 4th place with $250 prize for his three-year research project on “The Effects Of Social Media On Body Image.” Diego Sari won the Expanding Knowledge in Science award with a $50 prize for his two-year project on “The Effectiveness of a Recycling Education Intervention at the High School.” Additionally, Janira Martinez won second place at the Tri-County Virtual Science Fair for her project: “The Impact of Social Media Influencer Food Advertising on High School Students’ Food Choices.” 

African American history celebrated at historic event on May 11

“The Freedom Movement: Preserving and Celebrating African American History” will be held on Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Peekskill Central Firehouse, 1141 Main St.

Following a reception, a panel discussion featuring the descendants of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Hawley and Harriet Green, and John Jacob “Rifle Jack” Peterson will be moderated by Professor William Sales, Jr., Professor Emeritus and past chairperson of the Department of African American Studies and director of the Center for African American Studies at Seton Hall University. An audience Q&A will follow the panel discussion.

The panel will feature: Ernestine Martin-Wyatt, a Tubman descendant; Kevin Douglass Greene, a Douglass descendant; Green descendants Gerald Brown and Wilamina Green Brown; and Ellie Moshier and James Taylor, Peterson descendants. 

The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and seating is limited. To register for this historic event, email [email protected]. For more information, visit

Please park in the James Street Parking Garage or at an on-street meter. Parking is free on Saturdays. Cars parked in the Crossroads Shopping parking lot will be booted or towed.

Presented by the Peekskill Business Improvement District, City of Peekskill, and Sisters in Support, with support from the Peekskill Business Improvement District.

Swimming season starts soon at Depew Park pool

Veterans Memorial Pool will be open for the season in just a few weeks. To purchase or renew your pool permit, please visit the Parks and Rec office between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (extended office hours to be announced soon). For more information, call (914) 734-7275.

All residents must have an ID card issued by the Peekskill Parks and Recreation Department to enter the pool facility. The cards are for both seasonal and daily passes. Two forms of ID are needed to prove residency. Acceptable forms of ID are a driver’s license, car registration, household bill (telephone, cable, Con Ed).

See the fee schedule below.

Sundays in the Park with bikes, family and friends

Bicycle Sundays has returned to Peekskill. Enjoy a ride with family and friends on the roadways in Depew Park every Sunday through Nov. 3 from 7:00 a.m. to noon. 

Roadways will be blocked off to motorized vehicles. Parking is available in the pool parking lot; cars must enter from Union Avenue.

For more information about Bicycle Sundays, please contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (914) 734-7275.

State grant will help job seekers, English-language learners

A $30,000 state grant awarded to The Field Library last September through the efforts of state Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg will help fund technology and a Spanish-language collection to support new readers, job seekers, and English-language learners. A portion of the funds will be used to fund citizenship-preparation programs to prepare immigrants in their pursuit of U.S. citizenship. 

“We want to thank Assemblywoman Levenberg for her generous contribution to our library and to the 95th District as a whole. We are very excited to take these next steps to support our community,” the library wrote.

Levenberg is a member of the Libraries and Educational Technology committee. When announcing the 10 grantees she said, “At this moment in time, libraries provide so many different types of support. Beyond just promoting literacy, which is valuable in and of itself, our libraries have truly become community centers, and we are fortunate to have so many great ones in A[ssembly] D[istrict] 95. It is a pleasure to support innovative programming that will improve the lives of my constituents. These grants will help ten worthy organizations contribute even more to our communities.”

The reality of the state of energy in New York

The ambitious green transition that New York state leaders have charted faces many challenges as detailed in a report in the Albany Times-UnionFor example, last month the Indian Point decommissioning process stalled when Holtec International filed a lawsuit against New York State. 

“At the same time, the promised renewable energy that would replace Indian Point’s emissions-free energy has not come to fruition. Instead, New York City has seen an increased reliance on gas-based electricity, a step back from reaching the state’s climate goals,” the Times-Union reports. “[Gavin] Donohue, with the independent power producers group, said that since the closure of Indian Point, fossil fuel generation has increased from 39 to 49 percent, with emissions also increasing.”

According to figures in the report, New York has four nuclear reactors — all operated by Constellation Energy Corporation — that produced 22 percent of the state’s electricity in 2023.

During the same period, hydroelectric energy generated 23 percent of the electricity in the state, while wind energy produced 4 percent and solar energy less than 1 percent. Other sources, including methane and refuse energy, produced 2 percent.

Gas and oil, and a combined use of the two fossil-fuel sources, made up nearly 50 percent of the state’s electricity generation in 2023, according to an annual report from the New York Independent State Operator, a not-for-profit that manages the state’s electrical grid and marketplace.

The complete article is found here  (subscription required).

Oley and Chuck’s celebrates 50 years in Peekskill

Chuck Roberts’ family: son David, wife Paula, Chuck, and daughter Karin.

The sign on the two-story brick building at the bottom of Central Avenue says Bar & Grill, but the business inside has been much more than that for the past 50 years.

The generations of patrons who enter Oley and Chuck’s Rainbow Bar & Grill go there for a cold beer and some good food. But they quickly become part of a family that now spans decades of fathers and sons and family members who share their daily lives and memories.

On Saturday, May 4, a group of regulars who help out at the bar, along with hundreds of the Oley and Chuck Rainbow Bar family, gathered in the parking lot to do what they always do. Have some good food, drink some beer and talk among great friends.

Jeep Gazzigli and Gary Horne bought and prepared all the food and planned the day to honor Chuck and his late father Oley. And the hundreds of people who came spoke for the thousands before them who have the same strong feeling for their home away from home at “the bar.”

Gazzigli spoke for the crowd to thank Chuck and his family for 50 years at the Rainbow. “We want to give them a big shout out. Thank you for all the memories and everything you guys gave us. You’re like a family to all of us.

“Twenty-eight years ago I get a phone call from Chuckie saying, it’s not my idea, it’s my dad’s idea, how about you two jerks come work at the bar. And I said, can I drink at the bar and Chuckie told me that’s what the other jerk asked me and my father would never have it that way. And we’ve now been here that long and we appreciate it and we love you guys so much.”

Oley Roberts bought the Rainbow Bar business from Sam Chefalo 50 years ago. After returning home to Peekskill from World War II military combat duty in Europe, Oley worked for many years for the state Department of Transportation and tended bar at night before buying his own bar. He brought his son Chuck on board, who started out by helping his mother Mary with the cooking and tending bar.

Oley and Chuck built the bar into a Peekskill legend that still remains the place to gather and share the good times and the bad. Oley and Chuck’s isn’t fashionable, warm, or fuzzy. The verbal insults fly fast and the thin-skinned don’t survive very long. But Chuck and his father built the typical working man’s bar, where everyone knows each other and cares, and it continues on to this day.

[Chuck is my cousin – Jim Roberts]

Lincoln Depot Museum celebrates 10-year anniversary

The Lincoln Depot Museum Board of Directors held an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, April 27, celebrating the 10th year that the museum has been open to the public. Several area representatives and many members of the public were on hand to help celebrate the milestone.

The museum’s exhibit, “New York and Abraham Lincoln: The Indispensable Relationship,” not only shows the impact of Lincoln to Peekskill and the Hudson Valley region, but to New York as a whole. The importance of New York to Lincoln’s success is also highlighted.

The exhibit will include many new-to-the-public, original artifacts from the Civil War period. These objects include photos and ephemera, original newspapers of critical historical events, jewelry, and a Lincoln Mourning Cockade worn by the public as they mourned the loss of the President in 1865.

The Lincoln Depot Museum will feature a full lineup of events for 2024. The popular monthly program “First Saturdays at the Museum” will return with a variety of historical presentations, some on topics beyond the Civil War era.

Another popular returning program is the “Collector Corner,” where collectors are invited to display their own collections for a weekend in the museum and are on hand to discuss the collection with visitors. These collections are sometimes life-long passions of individuals who are happy to share their experience.

Other activities and events will be planned as the season progresses, including films, musical performances, and living history demonstrations by Civil War re-enactors. On Sept. 21, the museum will hold a special 10th Anniversary reception. 

The 2024 season runs through Nov. 24 and will be open every Saturday and Sunday, excluding holidays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. General admission is $8.00 for non-residents, $5.00 for seniors, veterans, active military, and children under 12. Peekskill residents enter free of charge. Museum memberships are also available. For further information, visit the museum website or call at 914-402-4318.

Remembering the fallen in service to country

As Memorial Day approaches, Peekskill American Legion Post 274 extends a heartfelt invitation to the community to join in a poignant tradition of honoring our nation’s fallen heroes. 

On May 18, starting at 9 a.m., Post members will gather at Assumption, Hillside, and Van Cortlandtville cemeteries to place American flags at the gravesites of our service members. Additionally, on Sunday, May 19, they will meet at First Hebrew Cemetery. 

This solemn act of remembrance pays tribute to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. By participating, individuals will contribute to a gesture of respect and gratitude that echoes through generations.

Participants are encouraged to bring their willingness to honor and remember our fallen heroes. Flags will be provided. Your presence at this event is a powerful statement of unity and appreciation for those who gave their lives for our freedom. Together, let’s ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten.

For more information or to confirm attendance, contact Peekskill American Legion at [email protected] or 914-739-1560. 

Military banners proudly displayed in Peekskill to honor vets

Photo by Joseph Squillante.

The City of Peekskill’s Military Tribute Banner program is once again on display after Department of Public Works employees raised them on streets throughout the city last week. The program honors Peekskill residents’ beloved Veterans, Active-Duty, Reserve, and National Guard members with beautiful military banners displayed in various locations throughout Peekskill, as a way of saying “Thank You” to the brave men and women of the United States military.

“It brings a smile to my face when I see our Military banners displayed throughout Peekskill,” said Peekskill Deputy Mayor Patricia Riley. “Our Veterans should be celebrated and revered everyday. Seeing our loved ones displayed on the banners throughout our beautiful city helps us to remember and be grateful for all the sacrifices that they made for each of us and our freedoms. We must always remember.”

John A. Isabella was a Peekskill City Councilman and former Acting Mayor, in addition to being a veteran. Last year his son, John, Jr., spoke about the banner program with The Herald. “I’m grateful the City of Peekskill is doing this for veterans. My father was a World War II veteran. I’m very honored that my father is being recognized for his tour of duty and his service for our country. I know if he were alive today, he would be truly humble. My father was not about being in the limelight. He did things under the radar for the city of Peekskill, the city that he loved. This is a tribute that I know he would be very proud of.”

Turner Construction staff volunteers at Fred’s Pantry

Each May, in recognition of the founding of Turner Construction Company, the Turner family comes together to build the resiliency of their communities. This year, they are focused on underserved youth as part of their commitment to support and inspire the next generation to pursue careers in the construction industry.

A team of Turner staff, based in New York City, volunteered their time for the Peekskill and surrounding community of Northern Westchester, to unload and pack healthy and nutritious food, and package seed kits at Fred’s Pantry, operated by Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill (CHHOP).

“The partnership with Turner Construction is one based on shared values – that healthy and nutritious food is a human right, and it is fundamental to the growth and prosperity of our young people,” said Cynthia Knox, CEO of CHHOP. “We so appreciate the Turner team making the journey up the Hudson to be involved in our everyday work.”

Janice Haughton, Community & Citizenship Director, said, “We are grateful for our partnership with CHHOP and the opportunity it provides Turner to give back to the communities we serve, live in, and build. Our Turner Team is excited to come back to Fred’s Pantry to support their mission and programs to help those experiencing food insecurity and homelessness.” 

Turner Construction also sponsors and participates in the annual turkey trot and provides herb seed kits to help Fred’s Pantry clients prepare healthy and delicious meals.

Bantam Tools introduces NextDraw™ Series of writing and drawing machines

Bantam Tools has unveiled its latest advancement in proven plotter technology with the launch of the new Bantam Tools NextDraw™ series of drawing and handwriting machines. Engineered for artists, innovators, and educators seeking exceptional versatility and performance, Bantam Tools now offers a trio of new models designed for drawing and handwriting.

“The Evil Mad Scientist team have brought their engineering prowess to Bantam Tools and the new Bantam Tools NextDraw series are proven creative tools that set a new standard in plotters. The Bantam Tools NextDraw series of plotters are exceptional computer controlled machines for innovators,” said Bre Pettis, CEO of Bantam Tools.

Each model in the Bantam Tools NextDraw™ series comes standard with the fast, nearly indestructible, brushless pen-lift mechanism that was only available as an upgrade to legacy models. This system provides a remarkable increase in speed.  As an added bonus, the brushless pen-lift mechanism empowers users to use writing implements that need pressure on the paper, welcome news to lovers of ball-point pens. For those that plot multiple artworks or letters, the auto-homing feature streamlines the user experience while enhancing precision, allowing artists and writers to execute repetitive work with ease and confidence. 

“In the past few months we have been able to implement new firmware features and motion control software that improve the quality of the output while at the same time making everything dramatically faster,” said Windell Oskay, Bantam Tools CTO. “The whole series of Bantam Tools NextDraw machines look great and the new generation of firmware gives a whole new sound to the machine too.”

Proudly FCC certified and manufactured in Peekskill, Bantam Tools continues its commitment to delivering high-quality, reliable products that push the boundaries of design and innovation in the creative industry. 

The tip line is always open at the Peekskill Herald


Have a story idea that you’d like to see a reporter from The Herald check out? Ever think of a question that you wish someone would answer?

We always want to hear from our readers and here’s your way to reach us. Whether it’s a question regarding a specific event, an economic development project, or just a trend you’ve noticed, we want to hear it.

Send us your questions. We’ll review and evaluate the submissions and select those we can answer. We’ll publish the story. Send your question to [email protected]

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.