Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Newsworthy Notes from the week

Illegal pot store fined $15 million; Hen Hud names new assistant superintendent

                          Upstate retailer fined $15 million for illegal sales                                 

New York prosecutors used the state’s newly empowered tools to attack illegal marijuana sales and fined an upstate illegal seller $15 million.

The state is demanding that David A. Tulley of Wayne County pay back 90 percent of his illegal cannabis sales, assessing him a $10,000 a day fine for each day he sold cannabis without a license and $20,000 a day for continuing sales after being ordered to cease the illegal sales.

“This significant fine sends a clear message to illicit operators that the state will vigorously enforce cannabis regulations to ensure the safety and integrity of the industry,” said Daniel Haughney, director of enforcement for the state Office of Cannabis Management.

“This is a pivotal moment for New York state, demonstrating our unwavering dedication to upholding the law and rooting out illegal operators from our communities, your time in town is up.”

Tulley claimed he “gifted” the pot products to customers he gave advice to on cannabis use in his eight unlicensed cannabis stores.

Bear Mountain section of Appalachian Trail repaired

New York State Police photo of flooding last year.

The Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain State Park reopened for Memorial Day weekend 2024 and the previously closed sections of the Major Welch and Suffern-Bear Mountain trail also opened to hikers.

Massive floods last July forced closure of the park for two months, destroying trails and damaging structures. Nearly $40 million of repairs to sewer, water, bridges, drains and park roads were completed by the New York State Office of General Services, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Repairs were also made to the Appalachian Trail from the top of Bear Mountain to the Bear Mountain Inn. The work was directed by the NY-NJ Trail Conference using volunteer labor from West Point and others and was funded by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC).

Bear Mountain’s section of the Appalachian Trail was the very first to be constructed along the now 2,190+ mile path. The trail continues through the nearby Trailside Museums & Zoo and over the Bear Mountain Bridge. The Bear Mountain section of the A-T will celebrate its 100th year in 2025.

Bear Mountain State Park is one of 21 parks and 9 historic sites in New York and New Jersey that are operated by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC).

Established in 1908, Bear Mountain is one of the oldest State Parks in New York. The park receives some 2 million annual visitors who come to picnic, hike the Appalachian Trail, swim at the pool, visit the Zoo, and more. PIPC works with the New York State Office Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to manage these parks for public recreation and to protect natural and cultural resources.

Visit for more information.


Probation plea deal accepted in Lent motorcycle death

Richard Lent

Peekskill resident Richard Lent, 34, died in a motorcycle accident on Route 9 in Croton on July 15, 2023. Now a volunteer Croton firefighter has accepted a felony plea deal admitting that he left the scene of the accident in return for five years of probation.

The police report of the accident declared that Lent was driving recklessly at excessive speed and did not assign blame to the Croton firefighter, Nicholas Edwards-Ambos, for the fatal accident.

Detectives found a side mirror at the accident scene and traced it to Edwards-Ambos, who admitted he knew there was an accident and failed to report it.

The plea deal, negotiated by the Westchester County District Attorney’s office, was accepted by State Supreme Court Justice James McCarty. Formal sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Lent worked as a mechanic at Little Bear Wheel Alignment in Montrose. He leaves behind two daughters.

 Suit claims religious beliefs got her fired over flu shot

A former radiation therapist at Hudson Valley Hospital Center has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming she was fired in January for refusing to take a mandatory flu shot on religious grounds.

The employee, Agnieszka Kracke, claims in court documents that she began working at the hospital in 2019 and accepted the annual vaccine but struggled for years with her conscience over her decision.

Kracke claims that the hospital considered her departure a resignation but she alleges she was fired for her eventual refusal to continue with the annual inoculation. She says her religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic and a letter from her priest should exempt her from the hospital’s rule.

She made more than $100,000 annually for her last two years of employment and wants back pay and her job back.

Sweet sounds from Hillcrest players at Spring Concert

The budding young musicians at Hillcrest School presented their Spring Concert to the delight of all on May 21 at the high school.  The musicians have been hard at work all school year practicing for this performance.

The music students at Hillcrest are instructed by two music teachers: Mrs. Lester, Band/Chorus/General Music and Ms. Ojeda, Orchestra/General Music.

All students at Hillcrest are given the opportunity to participate in band.  The band begins in 4th grade and continues into 5th grade.  There is a beginning band and a concert band.  Both bands include approximately 60+ students.

Instruments offered include the flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, and percussion.  Each participant receives a small group lesson once a week, and is expected to attend a large ensemble rehearsal once a week. The students perform in 2-3 concerts each year, as well as smaller venue performances.

If a student shows that they are excelling at their instrument, they are given the opportunity to perform a solo for the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Solo Festival in the spring.

 Second man guilty in shooting death of Brickhouse

Ricky Brickhouse

Omar Williams, 21, the second of three men charged in the shooting death of Ricky Brickhouse last January, has taken a plea deal that will sentence him to seven years in state prison.

Brickhouse,35, was shot and killed on Jan. 29, 2023 in a dispute over a woman involving Arnold Fernandez. Fernandez pled guilty to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter and faces 15 years in prison in when he is sentenced in August.

The day of the shooting, Brickhouse called police while standing at John and Spring streets as he saw Fernandez drive up. A shot struck Brickhouse before police could respond, fatally wounding him.

Three men – Fernandez, Williams, and Errick Lowe – were stopped and arrested after a car chase on the Sprain Brook Parkway a half-hour after the shooting in Peekskill. Lowe took a misdemeanor plea with conditional discharge and will avoid punishment if he stays out of trouble for a year.

It remains unclear who fired the fatal shot as DNA on the weapon matched both Fernandez and Williams. Williams admitted to bringing the weapon into the car and pled guilty to that while Fernandez pled guilty to causing a death while acting with others. He was the only one charged with homicide.

Brickhouse is remembered for a dream to one day operate a soul food restaurant and for his strong bond with his family, including a niece, nephew and siblings.

Juneteenth flag raising, parade and festival in Peekskill

Peekskill’s Juneteenth Celebration is less than a month away! Join the celebration beginning with the Juneteenth Flag Raising at City Hall on Thursday, June 13 at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Juneteenth Parade and Festival in downtown Peekskill on Saturday, June 15 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Downtown Juneteenth Festival starts at 1:30 p.m. featuring food trucks, vendors and partner tables. Entertainment will include BaseCamp R&B band, the Harvard Scholars, Peekskill S.T.A.R.S., the Magic Soul Drumline and many more.

Grand Marshals for the parade are Dr. Gienetta Phillips, Kenneth A. Phillips and Todd M. Scott. Event sponsors include the City of Peekskill, Peekskill Youth Bureau, Waste Innovations, NY Presbyterian Hospital, ArtsWestchester, Swann Business Solutions and Fidelis Care.

Pappas promoted to detective rank by Peekskill Police

The Peekskill Department has promoted Police Officer Kylee Pappas to the rank of Detective. Detective Pappas joined the ranks of the Peekskill Police Department in 2015 and she hit the ground running, according to Police Chief Leo Dylewski.

“Her penchant for detail and investigative skills were acknowledged quite early in her career and over the years she has closed numerous noteworthy cases,” he said.

Detective Pappas is the first female Peekskill Police Officer to be promoted to the rank of Detective in over 20 years. Detective Pappas, hardworking and dedicated, has certainly earned her seat at the round table. Please join us in congratulating this Peekskill native on her well-deserved promotion, and wish her all the best in her new assignment.

 ‘Summer Pass’ for teens at Planet Fitness in Peekskill

Planet Fitness is once again offering its High School Summer Pass™ program, inviting high school teens ages 14 to 19 to work out for free at any of its 2,500+ Planet Fitness locations across the U.S. and Canada this summer, between June 1 and August 31. The Peekskill Planet Fitness is located in the Beach Shopping Center.

All High School Summer Pass participants will have access to free fitness training from in-club certified fitness trainers, free workouts designed specifically for high schoolers in the free Planet Fitness App as well as workout plans available at

Teens can visit to register for the program before gaining club access starting Saturday, June 1. Teens under the age of 18 in the U.S. must register with a parent or guardian online or in-club.

Since the High School Summer Pass program began, Planet Fitness has invested more than $200 million in waived membership dues to promote youth health and wellness and improve the physical and mental health of millions of teens.

“Planet Fitness is proud to continue to invest in today’s youth by providing free access to fitness during a critical time in their lives,” said Craig Benson, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Planet Fitness. “Many teens continue to be impacted by the long-term mental health impacts from the pandemic, yet studies show that exercise can have a significant, positive impact on teens’ overall wellness.”

HUD renews $9 million for Peekskill Housing Authority

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved $30 billion in renewal funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV). This funding will help Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) continue to provide assistance to families and individuals who are in need of affordable housing options.

The City of Peekskill Public Housing Authority was approved for $9,049,034 in HCV funding.

“These housing choice vouchers will create stability and certainty for individuals and families throughout the country,” said HUD Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman. “As HUD’s single largest investment in affordable housing, these funds make accessing affordable housing less burdensome for renters, public housing authorities, and landlords.

Since last year, the HCV program saw a $2 billion increase in funding to help maintain housing vouchers for families across the country.

Since 2022, this budget allocation has grown nearly 20 percent (over $4 billion), allowing the value of a Housing Choice Voucher to keep pace with rising rental costs, and helping to make sure that voucher holders can continue to access neighborhoods of opportunity, officials from HUD said.

 Summer heat extremes will test state’s energy capacity

A new report by the state’s power operators warns that periods of extreme heat this summer could tax New York’s power grid beyond its capacity.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) reported that if New York experiences a three-day heat wave with temperatures reaching 95 degrees, the state could experience a capacity deficit of more than 1,400 megawatts. If a heat wave reaches three or more days at 98 degrees, that deficit is forecast to more than double.

A single megawatt of electricity covers the demand of 800 to 1,000 homes. The overall system has a capacity of more than 40,700 megawatts of power sources available.

“This has been a concern for quite some time and now it is a red light concern,” Gavin Donohue, president of the Independent Power Producers of New York, said previously. “We’ve gone from yellow to red.”

Deficient reliability margins would result in emergency operations to try to avoid blackouts and could lead to brownouts and increased reliance on emergency energy purchases from neighboring states or regions.

 Garcia named assistant superintendent at Hen Hud

Steven Garcia has been appointed Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Leadership Development at the Hendrick Hudson School District.

Garcia currently serves as executive director for Human Resources & Leadership in the Pelham Public Schools. He will begin his three-year probationary term with the Hendrick Hudson District on Monday, July 1.

During his 30-year career, Garcia has served as Pelham’s assistant superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Personnel; assistant principal at Byram Hills High School; principal at Valhalla Middle School; supervisor of secondary social studies in Harrison; and a high school social studies teacher. He holds a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.

“Dr. Garcia joins us with a distinguished background in educational leadership and a proven track record of fostering transformative relationships within school communities,” Hendrick Hudson Superintendent Michael Tromblee said in a statement. “Throughout his career, Dr. Garcia has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to enhancing the educational experiences of both students and educators.”

Hen Hud chosen to be part of new education approach

The New York state Education Department has selected 23 middle schools, high schools, and BOCES programs from across the state to participate in the Performance-Based Learning and Assessment Networks (PLAN) Pilot.

Hendrick Hudson High School is one of the schools selected and will focus on career and technical education. Hen Hud will offer an expanded database of summer opportunities; lunch career series; alumni engagement; career days and fairs; job readiness learning experiences; and field trips, according to a published report.

Educators will receive training and professional development to shift their instructional practices and implement high-quality, performance-based approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment. Schools participating in the PLAN Pilot will work together in networks to learn and support each other in implementing performance-based learning and assessment practices.

The networks of Pilot Schools will focus on implementing work-based learning, internships, and career and technical education; approaches designed around a “learner profile” to help students develop a set of attributes through their educational experience; and project-based learning.

The Pilot Networks will primarily be supported by technical assistance centers operated by two contracted professional learning providers, Modern Learners LLC and Questar III BOCES.

In career and technical education, students will learn through internships and work settings. Some classes will have students learn by asking questions and developing critical thinking following the approach of the International Baccalaureate program and Big Picture Learning, both of which develop “learner profiles” for students and incorporate them into their approaches.

Some classes will have students learning through projects, with assessments based on those projects, such as a final presentation, product, or even an event.


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.