Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Newsworthy Notes from the Week

Social worker’s attacker faces second-degree murder charge; Borbely Farms owner dies at 70

Jenkins faces upgraded murder charge after victim dies

Maria Coto was attacked in May and died in June without recovering from her injuries.

The alleged killer of Westchester County social worker Maria Coto will have charges against him upgraded to second-degree murder following Coto’s death on June 19.

Hasseem Jenkins, 31, of Peekskill, has remained in custody at the Westchester County Jail since his unprovoked assault against social worker Maria Coto on May 14 in an apartment in a building at 900 South St. He was arrested at the scene after witnesses called police.

Following Coto’s death, a spokesperson for the Westchester County District Attorney’s office said, “The DA’s Office will pursue all appropriate charges given the change in circumstances.” A new indictment will be sent to the grand jury with the upgraded charges against Jenkins. His next court date is scheduled for July 17 in White Plains in front of state Supreme Court Justice Larry Schwartz.

Jenkins “… repeatedly punch[ed] [Maria] Coto with his fists and did repeatedly kick Ms. Coto with heavy boots … above the head and body causing Ms. Coto to sustain severe brain bleed, swelling of the brain, and multiple facial fractures …” according to the complaint filed by the Westchester County District Attorney’s office. 

A vigil in Coto’s memory was held June 26 outside the Westchester County office building where co-workers, family members, representatives from her union, and County Executive George Latimer gathered to remember Coto as a warm, caring, and dedicated social worker and friend. She was 56 years old.

“She loved her job, but there were also a lot of challenges and she never shied away from talking about that either,” said Coto’s niece Victoria Gutierez. “She was so close to retiring, and now that’s been taken away from her.” 

Funeral services for Coto were held on Saturday, June 29 at Whalen & Ball Funeral Home in Yonkers.

Steven Borbely, 70, former owner of Borbely Farms

Steven Bruce Borbely, a life-long Peekskill resident and former owner of the Borbely Farm on Frost Lane, passed away on Saturday, June 15. Steve was preceded in death by his parents, George Joseph Borbely and Ruth Rose Borbely of Peekskill. He is survived by his wife Michele (Starr) Borbely of 47 years, his children Steve Borbely, Christine Borbely, and Michele Corkum, along with his brother George Borbely and his six grandchildren.

Steve was born Sept. 2, 1953 in Peekskill where he grew up and attended Peekskill High School. For most of his life Steve and his family owned, farmed, and managed Borbely Farms on Frost Lane, which gave his family and countless families years of joy filled memories.

Steve worked at IBM for over 20 years. He also held jobs coaching high school golf at Kennedy Catholic, and working at various golf courses. In recent years, Steve held multiple jobs at West Point and FedEX.

Steve had a passion for the game of golf, it has always been in his family from an early age starting with his father and older brother. In addition to golf, Steve enjoyed food, a fine cigar, the music of Motown, Barbara Streisand and more. Steve and his wife would go on long motorcycle rides ,which they both thoroughly enjoyed.

No matter who you were, what your background was or where you were from, Steve could connect with you and make you smile or laugh. He had the gift of gab and a great interest to interact with everyone and anyone that crossed his path. His charming effects disarmed and were amused by many, and his friends truly loved him for it.

Summer food for kids 18 and under open through August 8

Summer Meals, a free-food program of the United States Department of Agriculture, is serving meals for kids and teens from July 1 to August 8 in Peekskill.

This free program is open to all children in the community 18 and younger. No enrollment is needed. Food is served Mondays thru Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Peekskill High School (open site)
  • Dunbar Heights (open site)
  • *Oakside Elementary School (closed site)
  • *Parks and Rec Day Camp at Peekskill Middle School (closed site)
  • *City of Peekskill Youth Bureau (closed site)
  • *Camp for the Arts at Woodside Elementary (Closed site)

*Closed sites are only for children attending that program. For more information, call  (914) 737-0201 ext. 3725.

Future farmers sought for summer experience in Peekskill

The Peekskill Regeneration Farm at Lepore Park is looking for applicants for summer youth employment. Applicants should be ages 18-25 who have an interest in learning regenerative farming practices and working closely with local community organizations.

The Peekskill Regeneration Farm is a part of the Ecological Citizen’s Project‘s (ECP) Regenerative Communities program, a local nonprofit organization that demonstrates local solutions to global problems. 

The Regenerative Communities project trains new farmers and places them on land in Hudson Valley communities to establish public food gardens as a launching pad to regenerate communities through increased food security and sovereignty, increased economic security and wealth through community-owned renewable energy, the promotion of land and nature access, and growing civic power.

Training of Regenerators happens on Longhaul Farm in Garrison during the summer season. Together they learn farming skills, self-sufficiency skills, community engagement skills, and share various interests and passions with each other. 

Meanwhile, the ECP works to secure land in urban spaces in the Hudson Valley that are underutilized and where we see potential for regenerating community. 

To date, they’ve put down roots in the Peekskill Regeneration Farm at Lepore Park in Peekskill, at The Sanctuary Healing Farm & Gardens at Crystal Lake in Newburgh (in partnership with Scenic Hudson) and at the Pershing Avenue Neighborhood Farm in Poughkeepsie (in partnership with Poughkeepsie Farm Project and Scenic Hudson). 

Apprentices graduate from their first summer of farming with access to land to steward and a community to nourish. They are doing the long, dedicated, heartfelt work of regeneration of the soil, our ecology, and community bonds.

For more information, or to apply visit the website.

Peekskill taking applications for fire inspector position

The City of Peekskill is seeking a full-time Fire Inspector for the Building Department.

This appointment will begin on a provisional basis. The appointee must take and pass the Fire Inspector civil service examination when it is next given, in addition to being reachable for appointment from the resulting eligible list to continue employment with the City.

Interested applicants should submit a letter of interest, City of Peekskill Employment Application, and résumé to the City of Peekskill Human Resources Department, 840 Main Street, Peekskill, NY 10566. You may also submit this material via email ([email protected]). Employment Applications can be obtained from the Human Resources page on the City’s website.

There are no residency requirements to participate in the application process, but preference in appointment may be given to qualified candidates who have been City of Peekskill residents for at least 30 days before the effective date of appointment.

See the job description for a complete list of duties and responsibilities. 

Lincoln Museum Youth Summer Series continues July 13

Master Storyteller Jonathan Kruk helped the Lincoln Depot Museum kick off its “Lincoln Kids and Family” series of programs on Saturday, June 21. Jonathan’s stories on Lincoln visiting our area were captivating and told only as he can. 

The museum plans on having Jonathan back in the future to share more of his amazing stories. The next Lincoln Depot Museum program in the youth series will be on July 13 where participants learn about The Life of a Union Soldier in the Civil War.

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].

Seniors awarded scholarships by Hudson Valley Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital awarded its annual auxiliary scholarships to graduating seniors who intend on pursuing a career in the health field.  This year, seven students from local high schools each received a $2,000 scholarship.

The scholarships were awarded to:

  • Barbara Chisolm, Peekskill high School ’24 – University of Connecticut, Psychology
  • Jazmin Alvarez, Peekskill High School ’24 – Pace University, Nursing
  • Ariana Okoth, Peekskill High School ’24 – Harvard, Perinatologist
  • Dennis Crowell, Putnam Valley High School ’24 – University of Massachusetts Amherst, Physician Assistant
  • Amelia Kupper, Haldane High School ’24 – Boston University, Public Health
  • Mary Boateng, Peekskill High School ’24 – University of Rochester, Pharmacy
  • David DiLapi, Putnam Valley High School ’24 – Baylor University, Physician

Real-world experience prepares students for career path

A new program teaching workforce skills is connecting students with artists and businesses.

“Apprentismith,” a program founded by Glenn Smith, is aimed at finding opportunities in local neighborhoods to create real-world experiences where apprentices work side-by-side with seasoned business professionals on actual projects.

Clients who donate their projects to the ApprentiSmith Program enjoy a reduced rate on Smith’s firm’s agency fees which is picked up by local sponsors like banks, philanthropic entities and civic organizations.

Smith was the founder, and managing partner of My Dissertation Doctor, GFS Design Group, and PriceValueRugs, focusing on community revitalization, entrepreneurship, training, and innovative workforce readiness programs.  

Further assistance to youth in the form of continuing education funds, donations from sponsors and patrons, as well as providing material, technical, informational, and job-counseling are also offered. Apprentices are asked to come back, and pay-it-forward by helping the next cohort succeed. 

One project that Peekskill High School students are working on is a redesign of the Cortlandt Colonial’s website. The website will soon receive a fresh look thanks to the talent and dedication of these young apprentices.

“The kids not only work on the projects and the applications, but they actually get to go home with a computer and a full suite of the applications, so they can take these skills into the real world,” said Smith.

Office accepting applications for service academy nominations

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office is accepting applications for nomination to the following service academies: the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, and the U.S. Naval Academy. (The U.S. Coast Guard Academy does not require congressional nominations).

Students who are selected receive a free undergraduate degree from one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation – service academies are tuition-free and include full room and board. After graduation, students receive a commission as an officer. 

By accepting an appointment to a service academy you will be committed to at least five years of service after graduation.

To be considered for a service academy nomination, students are required to submit short essay answers, an official transcript, and three letters of recommendation (one must be from a mathematics or science teacher). Copies of SAT/ACT scores will be accepted but are not required.

The application for nomination opens in July and the deadline to submit all materials is Oct. 13, 2024. 

Sen. Gillibrand also encourages students to also seek nomination from Senator Schumer, their congress member in the House of Representatives, or other possible nomination sources, such as the Office of the President and Vice President, and the Secretary of the Army, Navy or Air Force. If you receive a nomination from one of these other sources, please let her office know immediately.

If you have any questions about the nomination process please contact the New York City office at (212) 688-6262 or by email to [email protected].

More information is available online here.

If interested in pursuing a career in technology or cybersecurity, you might be interested in learning about the Department of Defense (DoD) Cyber Scholarship Program. This is separate from the U.S. service academy nomination process. Click here to learn more.

State providing more funding to Hen Hud school district

The Hendrick Hudson School District will receive an additional $1 million in financial aid in the FY2024-2025 state budget. This funding will be combined with the school aid, Foundation aid, and Universal Pre-Kindergarten funding the district is slated to receive.

The Hendrick Hudson School District lost $8 million of funding in 2021 from the closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Facility in Buchanan, and although the State Legislature and Governor Hochul increased the district aid package considerably in the following year’s budget, an immediate gap remained between anticipated revenue (including state aid) and projected costs. 

An extra $1 million of State Senate funding delivered in August 2022 helped prevent staff layoffs and classroom overcrowding.

“Our commitment to helping the entire Hendrick Hudson school community from the negative impact caused by the loss of tax revenue remains strong,” said New York State Senator Pete Harckham. “The taxpayers in the school district, especially homeowners and small businesses, are facing challenges through no fault of their own, and this additional funding will help ensure students here receive the educational opportunities that they deserve.”

With the Indian Point PILOT agreement with the Hendrick Hudson Central School District decreasing over the next number of years, the New York State Department of Education and Office of the Budget have confirmed that state aid to the district will increase nearly four-fold in the coming years.

For FY2024-2025, the Hendrick Hudson district is receiving $16.4 million in school aid (24.7 percent increase from FY2023-2024), $11.4 million in Foundation Aid (a 26.3 percent increase) and $1.3 million for universal pre-kindergarten slots (a 4 percent increase).

 Black Westchester Magazine launching ’40 Under 40′ Awards

Black Westchester Magazine is launching the first-ever 40 Under 40 Awards, celebrating the young, dynamic leaders making significant contributions to the community across various fields, including business, education, healthcare, arts, and community activism. Nominations are now open and will be accepted until Oct. 31.

Paul Presendieu, vice president of the United Nations Association of Westchester County, will serve as the Nominations chairman. His extensive experience in intersectional community leadership and development makes him an ideal fit for this role, ensuring the selection process is both rigorous and fair.

“We are incredibly excited to launch this initiative and recognize the bright young black talent within Westchester County across numerous industries,” said Presendieu. “Our community is full of individuals who are achieving great things and contributing positively to society. This is our opportunity to celebrate their efforts and inspire future leaders to follow in their steps.”

To nominate an outstanding individual for the 40 Under 40 Awards, please fill out the nomination form.

The selected honorees will be featured in a special issue of Black Westchester Magazine during Black History and celebrated at a public program, details of which will be announced later this year. This event promises to be a memorable evening of recognition, networking, and inspiration.

For more information about the 40 Under 40 Awards or to learn more about Black Westchester Magazine, please visit the website or contact the editorial team.

Peekskill man arrested, charged with felony burglary

Kevin M. Powell, age 37, of Peekskill was arrested on June 20 and charged with burglary in the 3rd degree, a class D felony, according to State Police from the Cortlandt barracks.

On June 18 the New York State Police responded to a residence in the town of Cortlandt for a domestic dispute. Investigation determined Powell was unwelcome at the residence which was not his own and entered an outbuilding attempting to steal property.

Powell was arraigned before the town of Yorktown Court and remanded to the Westchester County Jail without bail pending his next appearance before the town of Cortlandt Court on July 8 at 9:00 A.M., police said.

Bar fight leads to stabbing arrest of Peekskill man

A Peekskill man already facing an arrest warrant on a previous charge is accused of stabbing a victim in a bar fight.

Luis F. Contreras Paredes, 25, of Peekskill, was arrested by New York State Police and charged with assault in the second degree, a class D felony, on May 29.

A state police investigation determined Contreras Paredes engaged in a physical altercation and stabbed the victim at 2141 Crompond Road outside of My Second House Bar.

Contreras Paredes was turned over to the custody of Westchester County Corrections for an active unrelated arrest warrant.

Lobbyists spend $360 million to gain influence in Albany

Lobbying spending in New York state reached an all-time high of $360.6 million in 2023, according to executive director Sanford N. Berland of the state’s Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government (the Commission or COELIG) 

The Commission’s 2023 Annual Report showed lobbying spending experienced another record-breaking year with an increase of 8.765 percent over 2022. The 2023 Annual Report features the Commission’s ongoing work to fulfill its mission to exemplify the highest ethical standards and to foster public trust in government.  

View the report here.

The top ten lobbyists were:

4. GENTING NEW YORK LLC $2,868,000
9. AARP $1,415,216


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.