Category Archives: News

The former Bronxville A&P, now an Acme Market at 12 Cedar St., will likely increase its employee numbers according to Local 464 President John Niccollai. Currently the store employs 80 workers.

Acme store replaces defunct A&P

The former Bronxville A&P, now an Acme Market at 12 Cedar St., will likely increase its employee numbers according to Local 464 President John Niccollai. Currently the store employs 80 workers.

The former Bronxville A&P, now an Acme Market at 12 Cedar St., will likely increase its employee numbers according to Local 464 President John Niccollai. Currently the store employs 80 workers.

In Eastchester, the Acme Market located at 375 White Plains Road remains similar to when it was under the A&P banner. Photos/Sarah Varney

In Eastchester, the Acme Market located at 375 White Plains Road remains similar to when it was under the A&P banner. Photos/Sarah Varney

By Sarah Varney
The transition from A&P to Acme Markets for shoppers in Bronxville and Eastchester has been smooth from the standpoint of both customers and employees. And according to United Food and Commercial Workers Union for Local 464 President John Niccollai, the overall change is proving to be a positive one for union members moving from the A&P brand to Acme. 

Local 464 represents employees at the 12 Cedar St. Acme location in Bronxville as well as the Acme store at 375 White Plains Road in Eastchester. Acme Markets is owned by Albertsons, LLC.

The collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the United Food and Commercial Workers, UFCW, and A&P has been kept in place with no changes, Niccollai said. “For all intents and purposes, everyone is keeping what they have. We’re just doing the housekeeping now. Acme has assumed the A&P contract,” he said.

“We like what we see so far,” Niccollai added.

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, declared bankruptcy in late July announcing plans to close 25 stores and sell off the remaining 300 stores. On July 1, Albertson officials announced its intention to buy 76 of them and re-open them under the Acme brand.

For one customer at the Eastchester location, the changeover has meant no difference except for the labels.

For a woman shopping in the produce department at the Bronxville store, the Acme transition has been a good one. “It’s nice and clean. Cleaner than it was and I’m a stickler for that,” said the customer who declined to give her name.

While several employees expressed relief at the conclusion of the transition, one Acme worker said the biggest difficulty has been filling jobs.

“The changeover has been a little bit hard. We don’t have enough people. It’s hard to get people to do this work for these salaries,” he said, declining to give his name.

Niccollai also confirmed the employment situation.

“The A&P stores had barebones crews. They were significantly understaffed. We have postings for 650 jobs that are unfilled at this point,” he said.

The union president said the Bronxville Acme currently has 80 employees. “I would imagine that the number will increase by quite a bit,” he said, but declined to give an estimate.

In terms of employment for UFCW members, the demise of A&P may ultimately be a good thing, Niccollai said. “We really took a tragedy and spun it into an opportunity,” he added.

Niccollai, who has been president of Local 464 since 1981, recounted a similar outcome after the bankruptcy of the Grand Union supermarket chain.

He said Grand Union had 1,200  job openings when Stop & Shop took over, but that the number increased to 2,200 after the
2001 transition.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 
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Prop. 1 victory means earlier budget for Astorino

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will now be required to submit his annual budget a month earlier after a public referendum on Election Day approved pushing the timeline back. File photo

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will now be required to submit his annual budget a month earlier after a public referendum on Election Day approved pushing the timeline back. File photo

By Sarah Varney
Proposal No. 1, a referendum question to move the yearly deadline for the Westchester County executive to submit a budget from Nov. 15 to Oct. 15 for capital projects and back to Nov. 10 for the operating budget was passed overwhelmingly by an 82 percent margin. With 100 percent of Westchester County’s 949 districts reporting as of press time, there were 71,335 votes in favor of the change and 15,146 votes against it.

The earlier deadline will give both community members and members of the county Board of Legislators more time to review County Executive Rob Astorino’s budget and to ask questions.

Moving up the budget dates required a change to the County Charter, which had not been altered since 2000 when the last Westchester countywide referendum was on a ballot.

The proposal is one of 16 ideas that has come out of the Charter Review Commission, a Board of Legislators committee set up in 2011. The commission’s charter was to review the county rules and to make advisements on changes that might benefit the legislative process.

County Legislator Sheila Marcotte, an Eastchester Republican, reviewed the referendum proposal as chairwoman of the legislators’ Budget and Appropriations Committee, as did county Legislator Virginia Perez, a Yonkers Democrat, as chairwoman of the Legislative Committee. Both expressed support for the proposal prior to Election Day and the Westchester League of Women Voters also gave the referendum the green light.

Not surprisingly, Marcotte was pleased with the approval of the referendum. “This was a no-brainer. It’s just a matter of good government. I’m delighted,” she said.

The 2015 budget for Westchester County is $1.8 billion. The 2016 proposed budget is due Nov. 15, as the change to the charter will not take effect until the 2017 budget cycle and according to published reports there is currently a $25 million shortfall.

A representative from Astorino’s office said the county executive had supported the change.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 
One eager participant in the pumpkin roll and broomstick race takes her turn on the obstacle course at the elementary school’s Halloween festival.

Daniel Warren has some Halloween fun

A demonstration by Jean Claude Lanchais, executive director of the Hive Living Room + Bar restaurant at The Renaissance Hotel.

CPW holds annual fundraising event

On Monday, Nov. 9, Cerebral Palsy of Westchester held its annual Taste of Westchester food and wine tasting event at The Renaissance Hotel in Harrison. The event showcased more than 20 of the area’s finest restaurants and chefs. The evening also included a cooking demonstration from Hive Living Room + Bar as well as a wine and food pairing by Aries Wines & Spirits. All of the proceeds benefit CPW’s mission to ensure that children and adults with disabilities receive needed services and enjoy activities regardless of the level of their abilities.

Jessica Kirson, of “Last Comic Standing” fame, spends her night making the audience a part of the show.

Ladies Comedy Night cracks smiles at RAC

Kim Berns, a Rye native and the night’s opening comedian, gets musical with her final bit of the night.

Kim Berns, a Rye native and the night’s opening comedian, gets musical with her final bit of the night.

“She Said What?” Ladies Comedy Night returned to the Rye Arts Center as comedians Kim Berns, a Rye native, Karen Begreen, previously featured on “The View,” and Jessica Kirson, previously featured on “Last Comic Standing,” took the stage for a sold-out audience on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Switching from topics of motherhood to dating, the comedians lifted the night’s audience into laughter that didn’t stop until the last comic left the stage.

Some audience members, whether they wanted to or not, even became part of the evening’s performance. During Kirson’s set, the comedian decided to address some audience members that were laughing particularly loud.

“I love you guys,” she said. “You’ve laughed at literally everything I said.”

Jessica Kirson, of “Last Comic Standing” fame, spends her night making the audience a part of the show.

Jessica Kirson, of “Last Comic Standing” fame, spends her night making the audience a part of the show.

This past event marks the eighth year in a row of the Rye Arts Center’s Ladies Comedy Night, which has been a smashing success since its inception in 2008.

-Reporting by James Pero

 

 

 

 

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Sigma Alpha Mu unwelcome at SUNY Purchase

 

 

Purchase College

Purchase College

By James Pero
Purchase College has never been known for its Greek life; primarily because, unlike most other universities, it’s never had any. 

But for the first time in the SUNY school’s history, a group of students is actively sowing the seeds of what they hope could be the college’s first-ever school recognized fraternity; Sigma Alpha Mu, otherwise known as “Sammies.”

Ari Vizzo, 19, a sophomore studio composition major at Purchase, as well as the currently unrecognized fraternity’s treasurer is—with his 14 fraternity brothers—intent on bringing Greek life to the school in an official capacity; even if most members of the student body don’t want them there.

“A lot of kids aren’t in support of us being here,” Vizzo said.

Since its inception, Purchase College has never been especially welcoming to fraternities and sororities. Founded in 1967 as a bastion for the visual, performing and liberal arts, its goal was to foster an environment in which all cultural identities could flourish.

According to Ernie Palmieri, vice president of student affairs at Purchase, neither fraternities nor sororities were a part of that vision.

“Since the inception of the college in the late 1960s, the founding administration at the time did not want fraternities or sororities to be part of Purchase College’s campus culture,” he said. “This in part was due to the problems experienced at other college campuses around the country with Greek organizations during this time period.”

Now, he said, keeping in tradition with the original founders of the school, Purchase College plans to continue the same policy.

“The following administrations since the college’s founding have maintained this policy to the present day,” he said in a prepared statement.

In addition to Purchase’s long tradition of eschewing fraternities and sororities, official school policy states that no group or organization can discriminate based on gender, religion, or any other variety of factors, making fraternities like Sigma Alpha Mu—which requires that its members identify as male—much more difficult to gain recognition at Purchase compared to other universities.

According to Vizzo, despite the obvious appeal to being recognized by the university—school funding and resources chief among them—he said he would like the non-discrimination provision of recognized organizations to stay.

“While [school recognition] would be amazing…I don’t want that discrimination policy to be changed,” he said, noting that changing such a rule could open the door for gender-based and other forms of discrimination.

Still, such obstacles haven’t stopped the group of 14 students from pushing forward to legitimize their fraternity’s colony at the school. According to Vizzo, the brothers hope that soon their fraternity will become chartered with Sigma Alpha Mu’s national organization.

“We’re a colony,” Vizzo explained, noting that such a distinction is the official first step towards a legitimate fraternity. “They let you run things as if you are a chapter until we prove we can handle things on our own.”

Since word of Sigma Alpha Mu’s presence on campus has spread, a significant portion of Purchase’s student body has rallied to prevent the fraternity’s foray into campus life. According to, Cassidy Hammond, a junior anthropology major at the college and president of FORTH, the school-sanctioned feminist club, the sentiments from students have been far from welcoming.

“There’s a large group of the population that says ‘No, we don’t want [a fraternity],’” Hammond said. “A lot of people come up to me and are like…‘I think it’s really dangerous.’”

According to Hammond, much of the student body’s concern has centered on the issue of safety, which critics of the fraternity say could be jeopardized by bringing an institution like Sigma Alpha Mu to the campus.

While rattling off disconcerting statistics about sexual assault, hazing, in addition to drug and alcohol abuse, Hammond explained that fraternities can bring a myriad of problems to campus life.

“I don’t think of them as inherently dangerous people,” said Hammond referring to the members of Sigma Alpha Mu. “I think the institution [of fraternities] is really dangerous.”

Though the unrecognized fraternity is still somewhat new to the campus, Hammond said that discussions between members of FORTH and Sigma Alpha Mu have already occasionally turned into full-blown confrontations.

During a meeting held by FORTH in which members were invited to discuss their sentiments about a fraternity coming to the college’s campus, Hammond said members of Sigma Alpha Mu made an unexpected appearance that turned contentious quickly.

“It got pretty intense,” she said, adding that the meeting digressed into an argument between about 10 fraternity members and 15 FORTH members after concerns over the fraternity were voiced.

Vizzo stated that similar confrontations have erupted when members of the fraternity were approached by students while playing music on campus.

Whether or not Sigma Alpha Mu will go on to become officially recognized is still very much in the air according to Vizzo, who cites the student body’s backlash and many administrative boundaries as major obstacles.

This, however, won’t stop him and his brothers from pushing forward with the idea.

“The end goal is not really official university recognition,” said Vizzo. “It would be more the student body wanting to work with us and join us.”

CONTACT: james@hometwn.com

 
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Rosenblum wins contentious re-election

 

 

Republican Mayor Norman Rosenblum hugs his sister, Judy Cohen, upon receiving news of him and Trustee Louis Santoro being re-elected to village office. Rosenblum won 53 percent of the vote over his Democratic opponent Dan Natchez, according to Westchester County Board of Elections results, as of press time. Photos/Bobby Begun

Republican Mayor Norman Rosenblum hugs his sister, Judy Cohen, upon receiving news of him and Trustee Louis Santoro being re-elected to village office. Rosenblum won 53 percent of the vote over his Democratic opponent Dan Natchez, according to Westchester County Board of Elections results, as of press time. Photos/Bobby Begun

Re-elected Mayor Norman Rosenblum gives his victory speech on Nov. 3 at the Elks Lodge in Mamaroneck.

Re-elected Mayor Norman Rosenblum gives his victory speech on Nov. 3 at the Elks Lodge in Mamaroneck.

By Sarah Varney and Sibylla Chipaziwa
For the fourth time, Village of Mamaroneck incumbents Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Trustee Louis Santoro, both Republicans, won what turned out to be a tightly-contested re-election. 

The scene at the Elks Lodge on Boston Post Road, which served as home base for the Republican candidates, was jovial as the polls closed and the final ballots were cast. Shortly after 9 p.m. on Nov. 3, a hush fell over the crowd as Santoro read the results as they came in and were recorded on a spreadsheet taped to the wall.

“This is good, guys!” one supporter shouted as Rosenblum’s smile slowly grew and applause became louder as the margin of victory increased.

By around 9:30 p.m., the Republican camp declared victory.

According to unofficial results from the Westchester County Board of Elections, Rosenblum, with 1,728 votes, 53 percent, defeated his Democratic mayoral challenger Dan Natchez, a former village trustee, who secured 1,510 votes, 47 percent.

“This was the most contentious campaign I’ve ever been in since 1980, and what’s prevailed—and what’s more important—is that this is an off-year election. It’s a cross-endorsement of all parties here. [Just] realize that it’s almost 3 to 1 Democrats to Republicans [in the village], so what we have here is support from everyone,” Rosenblum, who will now enter his fourth term as village mayor, told the Review after giving his victory speech.

Amid the hugs, handshakes and cheers, there was also a sprinkling of chatter about a margin of error and the surprising closeness of the trustee race between Santoro and Democratic trustee candidate Thomas Burt.

According to preliminary vote counts, Santoro defeated Burt by only 58 votes.

Santoro told the Review that this fourth election “was close for me.” Burt, Natchez’s running mate, had 49 percent of votes according to the county Board of Elections results, as of press time. “It was a long battle, but we came out on top once again,” Santoro said.

While Santoro and Rosenblum supporters celebrated, the atmosphere about two blocks away at Bar’Lees, on Mamaroneck Ave., was resigned, but optimistic.

For Burt, the results were a bit of a roller coaster ride.

At approximately 9:45 p.m., it looked as though Burt had squeaked out a victory by a margin of 13 votes. There was applause and Natchez congratulated the apparent winner. Just as Burt began to thank his supporters, a local party volunteer spoke up from his monitor and said, “I double counted a district” and with that “whoops,” Burt’s victory speech morphed into a concession to his opponent.

Even before voting ended, Burt was ambivalent about his chance of victory in the trustee race. “I’m hopeful but I have not ventured any prognostications at this point. The interest level in local politics is minimal. It’s a systemic problem with local elections,” he said.

Burt and Natchez ran on a platform advocating a measured approach to development.

“The question is where do you want this community 50 years from now? Do you want to stay a village or do you want it to become a small city?” Natchez said.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com;
sibylla@hometwn.com

 

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Rye Dems edge out GOP for first time in 10 years

 

Democratic Rye City Council candidate Danielle Tagger-Epstein addresses supporters at Morgan’s Fish House on election night while her runningmate Emily Hurd looks on. The two Democrats were able to take two of the three open seats in a split election. Councilman Richard Mecca was the lone Republican to win after being re-elected to his seat.  Photo/Suzy Berkowitz

Democratic Rye City Council candidate Danielle Tagger-Epstein addresses supporters at Morgan’s Fish House on election night while her runningmate Emily Hurd looks on. The two Democrats were able to take two of the three open seats in a split election. Councilman Richard Mecca was the lone Republican to win after being re-elected to his seat.
Photo/Suzy Berkowitz

By James Pero and Suzy Berkowitz
After three malfunctioning voting machines prolonged both voters’ and candidates’ anticipation, the dust has settled over the Rye City Council race, and the unofficial numbers are in. For the first time in 10 years, the city’s Democratic Party—winning two of three open seats—has won an election. 

Democratic candidate Emily Hurd was the pack leader of both Republican and Democratic candidates, reeling in 1,572 votes, more than 160 more votes than her closest competitor, incumbent Republican Councilman Richard Mecca. Her fellow party member Danielle Tagger-Epstein, who came in third among the winning candidates with 1,395 votes, also scored a win for the Democratic Party.

Republicans managed to win one seat with Mecca finishing in second place in vote totals with 1,408.

With just 48 votes separating fourth and fifth place, both Jeff Taylor, a Democrat, and Jim Culyer, a Republican, were defeated narrowly, accruing 1,366 and 1,347 votes respectively.

Republican candidate Leon Sculti came in sixth, tallying 1,276 total votes.

The small margin separating the top five candidates is likely the closest race in city history.

Further, the results showed the resurgence of the city Democrats, who had clearly taken a backseat to their Republican counterparts in most elections over the last decade. The last time the Democrats had taken an election was in 2005 when former Mayor Steve Otis spearheaded a four-member slate that swept their Republican counterparts. And since 2009, the Democrats had lost 13 of the last 14 city council seats.

Although Wednesday was the candidates’ true day of celebration, supporters of both Democratic and Republican candidates celebrated separately on election night, Nov. 3, in downtown Rye, with Republicans under the dim lighting of Ruby’s Oyster Bar and Democratic hopefuls around the corner at the bright and lively Morgan’s Fish House.

Despite the close race, before the final vote totals were tallied, Mecca appeared relatively at ease.

“I do feel confident,” he said while waiting at the bar for other party members to arrive. “I think people have had many chances to see what kind of person I am by my actions on the council. So, they may have a gripe with me, but at least I’m a known entity.”

Just down the street, prior to election results, Democratic candidate Emily Hurd reflected on her campaign.“I think we ran a positive campaign and in the end, everyone is in it to make Rye a better place,” she said. “It just depends on where you’re coming from.”

Despite months of campaigning and hard work behind them, the candidates had to wait until Wednesday morning for the official results due to three malfunctioning voting machines in election  Districts 5, 6 and 14.

At the Democrats’ gathering, candidates remained optimistic.

“No matter what happens,” Tagger-Epstein told the crowd of friends and supporters, “we will not go silently into the night; that I can promise you.”

At Ruby’s Oyster Bar, glasses clinked and the chatter of the bar quieted down. “The votes likely won’t be in tonight,” announced Republican Committee Chairman Tony Piscionere. “There were some malfunctioning machines at some of the polling stations.”

Despite the anticipation, Culyer, who would go on to lose a close race for the third open council seat, wasn’t surprised that vote totals were stacking up so closely. “We all [expected it],” the former school board president said. As the campaign fervor dies down, the candidates will now have to put their words into action; a task that Hurd says she is more than up to.

“[Now we] start working diligently and tirelessly…to figure out what residents are really asking for,” she said.

With the entry of two Democratic candidates, the Rye City Council will now be split between five Republicans and two Democrats, as Councilwoman Laura Brett and Councilman Richard Slack leave office at the end of the year after deciding not to seek re-election.

Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, was encouraged that the voters saw fit to re-elected his council colleague.

“Rich Mecca was the only incumbent running, and I am gratified that the voters rewarded him for his excellent work on this council,” Sack told the Review. “The other seats were up for grabs, and I can’t recall before such a small margin between all the candidates. I welcome Danielle and Emily to the council, and look forward to working cooperatively with them, as the council continues to work for the good of Rye.”

Members of the Rye City Council are elected to four-year terms with no compensation or benefits.

CONTACT: james@hometwn.com;
suzy@hometwn.com

 
From left, Kiera, 13, Declan 7, Henry, 11, and Patrick, 10, present their final masterpieces on the window display of Candy Rox: a ghost and a minion from the recent 3-D animated film “Minions.”

Rye paints Purchase Street for Halloween

Violet Mallory, left, and Pauline Plummer attempt to scare the crowd at New Rochelle’s Hugh Doyle Senior Center during the Halloween Luncheon on the afternoon of Oct. 30.

Senior center enjoys Halloween festivities

On Friday, Oct. 30 members of the community met on the Hugh Doyle Senior Center for a Halloween Luncheon and parade. Seniors from New Rochelle took the opportunity to dress up in their best Halloween-themed costumes.