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Frozen mosquitoes on a slide. Only female mosquitoes will be sent to the New York State lab to be analyzed because only the females eat human blood. Photos courtesy Caren Halbfinger

West Nile Virus found in Westchester

Frozen mosquitoes on a slide. Only female mosquitoes will be sent to the New York State lab to be analyzed because only the females eat human blood. Photos courtesy Caren Halbfinger

Frozen mosquitoes on a slide. Only female mosquitoes will be sent to the New York State lab to be analyzed because only the females eat human blood. Photos courtesy Caren Halbfinger

By CONOR MCKOY
As the summer draws to a close, Westchester residents are once again at risk of contracting the West Nile Virus.

According to the West-chester County Department of Health, several mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus in the county. The positive pool came from New Rochelle, which is one of the 10 sites at which the Department of Health collects mosquitoes for testing.

So far this year, there have been 137 batches of mosquitoes tested with only one positive batch reported.

The reports of West Nile in Westchester came around the same time last year in late August and it wasn’t
until September that the only two human cases of West Nile were reported.

In July, New York City reported its first positive tests for West Nile. Since then, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has tested 2,108 batches of up to 50 mosquitoes and reported 67 positive batches for West Nile Virus.

As of press time, there aren’t any reported human cases of the virus in either New York City or Westchester.

According to the West-chester Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, the reports of West Nile aren’t unusual around this time of year and residents shouldn’t worry.

John Ruggiero, a sanitarian who helps run the Westchester mosquito lab, collects mosquitoes from a Centers for Disease Control light trap.

John Ruggiero, a sanitarian who helps run the Westchester mosquito lab, collects mosquitoes from a Centers for Disease Control light trap.

“This is the time of year when we typically start to identify mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus in West-chester,” Amler said. “While it should not be a major cause for concern, it would be prudent for residents to use
repellents when outdoors from dusk to dawn to avoid mosquito bites altogether.”

Not only are county health officials advising citizens to take precaution, but the Department of Health also has taken measures against the spread of West Nile. Unlike other counties, Westchester chooses not to spray pesticides but looks for other means to deal with mosquitoes.

Since May, workers have been systematically surveying the county, checking for pools of stagnant water where mosquitoes might breed.

“[Westchester County] only applies larvicide to those that hold or have the potential to hold standing water,” Caren Halbfinger, Westchester Department of Health director of public health information and communications, said.

According to Halbfinger, the county then uses its least toxic, most effective larvicide to prevent larvae from developing into full grown, virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Westchester also offers minnows to citizens with ponds around their homes. Minnows, which are small, fresh water fish, feed on mosquito larvae and pupae and offer a natural way to reduce the threat of West Nile. In the past two years, the county has given away over 200 pounds of minnows to the public.

In addition to reducing the mosquito population, West-chester County captures and tests mosquitoes in the area. The county uses two types of traps to lure mosquitoes. The first is a Centers for Disease Control light trap, which uses light and dry ice to emit carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide fools the mosquitoes into thinking the trap is a human and lures them in. The other trap is called a gravid trap, which attracts pregnant, or gravid, mosquitoes in with liquid bait.

The traps are checked on a daily basis and the captured mosquitoes are sent to Westchester’s mosquito lab, located in a building at the county airport in Harrison. The mosquitoes are placed in a freezer, frozen, and then
examined under a microscope. The females are sent to the state lab for viral testing since females are the only mosquitoes that feed on humans and animals. At the state lab, the mosquitoes are tested for West Nile and the results are sent back to Westchester’s Department of Health.

The county Department of Health has recommended residents take precautions against contracting the virus. It’s recommended that citizens help eliminate breeding grounds by clearing their property of stagnant water. To prevent mosquito bites, the Department of Health suggests using bug spray, wearing long-sleeve shirts, long pants and reducing time outside when mosquitoes are active and feeding.

Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz, right, connects with a punch during a February fight at Roseland Ballroom. Cruz is currently 11-0 as a professional.

Cruz back in action

 

Pee Wee Cruz will fight again on Aug. 13 at B.B. Kings in New York City. His opponent has not yet been named.

Pee Wee Cruz will fight again on Aug. 13 at B.B. Kings in New York City. His opponent has not yet been named.

By MIKE SMITH
Port Chester native Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz will be back in the ring in two weeks, co-headlining a fight card at B.B. King’s in New York City.

Cruz, who is currently 11-0 as a professional, will look to keep his perfect record intact–even if he doesn’t know who his opponent will be yet.

Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz, right, connects with a punch during a February fight at Roseland Ballroom. Cruz is currently 11-0 as a professional.

Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz, right, connects with a punch during a February fight at Roseland Ballroom. Cruz is currently 11-0 as a professional.

Cruz was last in the ring on June 22, when he outpointed the rugged Osnel Charles at Foxwoods Resorts Casino. Though he initially eyed a return to action sometime in July, trainer Ryan O’Leary said a deal just couldn’t get done in time.

“His last fight was a tough one, it went the distance,” O’Leary said. “We tried to get a fight on [DiBella Entertainment’s] last card, but the card filled up quickly so we shot for the August date.”

As of press time, Cruz’s opponent has not been announced. According to O’Leary, finding the right opponents is difficult at the moment, given Cruz’s status in the super featherweight division. Although he doesn’t want his charge to move up and take on the top 10 fighters at 130 pounds just yet, putting Cruz in the ring with novices or also-rans would do little to raise his stock or give him the experience he needs to one day vie for a title.

“We’ve got a team of matchmakers on it full time now,” O’Leary said. “We’ve been through about a dozen potential opponents already, but should have someone soon.”

Bryant Cruz celebrates a February win. His trainer, Ryan O’Leary, far left, believes Cruz is right on the cusp of challenging the top names in the division. Photos/Bobby Begun

Bryant Cruz celebrates a February win. His trainer, Ryan O’Leary, far left, believes Cruz is right on the cusp of challenging the top names in the division. Photos/Bobby Begun

O’Leary said he is confident Cruz has the physical skills to tangle with the best the division has to offer—Oxnard’s Mikey Garcia is currently viewed by many to be the division’s top fighter—but he would like to get his fighter a little more seasoning against fighters who have been around before challenging the division’s big names.

“Sometimes with young guys, it’s tough for them to grasp that they belong at this level because the transition from amateurs to pros goes so quick,” O’Leary said. “[Cruz has] never shown me that; he’s never quit, and I’ve never doubted him, but I’d like to see him have three or four good fights before getting up to those top 10 guys.”

Regardless of the opponent, the Aug. 13 bout will be Cruz’s first eight-rounder. While the move up in rounds can prove some fighters’ undoing, O’Leary predicts longer fights will only serve to highlight Cruz’s style even more as he rises through the ranks.

“He’s been ready for eight-rounders since he was an amateur,” O’Leary said. “He’s so relentless, he’s well-conditioned, and it’s
only going to work to our advantage. He doesn’t have that one-punch knockout power, but with these added rounds, I think you’re going to see him earn more stoppages.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 
Legislation approving the installation of red light cameras at up to 12 intersections in New Rochelle and Mount Vernon is awaiting the governor’s signature. Cameras in New Rochelle will likely not be installed until next year. Photo courtesy defensehelp.com

Red light cameras coming

Legislation approving the installation of red light cameras at up to 12 intersections in New Rochelle and Mount Vernon is awaiting the governor’s signature. Cameras in New Rochelle will likely not be installed until next year. Photo courtesy defensehelp.com

Legislation approving the installation of red light cameras at up to 12 intersections in New Rochelle and Mount Vernon is awaiting the governor’s signature. Cameras in New Rochelle will likely not be installed until next year. Photo courtesy defensehelp.com

By KATIE HOOS
Drivers in Westchester County will soon be under the watchful eye of more red light cameras, with New Rochelle and Mount Vernon slated to install the passive traffic enforcers in the coming months.

Following approval from the state Legislature earlier this month, the cities will have the authority to install red light cameras in up to 12 intersections each and use them for the next five years once Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signs off on the legislation.

New Rochelle city officials filed a home rule request last year, which, if accepted, grants individual municipalities the authority to set up their own system of local government without charter from the state.

While the bill awaits the governor’s signature, New Rochelle Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll said the city is still far from seeing the cameras and has more preparations to make.

“We still have to send [the red light cameras] out to bid with a company and determine how many intersections they’ll go in,” he said. “They may go in about six or seven intersections, and we can always move them around if there’s good compliance at one intersection after a while.”

New Rochelle City Manager Chuck Strome said the city will launch a request for proposals, RFP, for a red light camera manufacturer as soon as the governor signs the bill into law, but the RFP process could take a few months and the city will likely not see any cameras installed until next year.

Back in 2012, members of the New Rochelle Citizens Budget Committee asked the City Council to look into installing traffic enforcement cameras in the interest of improved roadway safety.

According to New Rochelle Police Department figures for 2013, the department issued 342 red light violations in 2013 and 357 red light violations in 2012.

In April 2013, the city launched a 48-hour trial period testing red light cameras from Arizona-based manufacturer Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.

“There were a lot of violations to justify doing this,” Carroll said of the trial period. “That’s why we went to the next step.”

Redflex installed cameras in the intersections of North Avenue and Huguenot Street, Main Street and North Avenue, Main Street and Webster Avenue, and Webster and Lincoln avenues following police department recommendations.

These intersections, according to Carroll, have a history of a high number of traffic violations and accidents, particularly accidents involving pedestrians.

More than 100 traffic violations were recorded across the four intersections, including running red lights and illegally turning right on red during the 48-hour period.

“Obviously, it puts people on notice…to be more aware of red and yellow lights,” Carroll said of the cameras. “There have been mixed reviews, and we’re taking them into consideration.”

Some critics believe municipalities are more interested in the camera’s revenue generation than safety.

Currently, Yonkers, New York City, Rochester and Nassau and Suffolk counties are the only locales in the state with red light cameras. Westchester’s largest city, Yonkers first installed the cameras in 2010 and has them set up at 25 intersections. The cameras issue around 16,000 tickets a month. The Yonkers red light cameras generate nearly $4 million a year in revenue, half of which goes to the camera’s manufacturer, American Traffic Solutions, according to city officials.

While Strome said the amount of revenue to be generated by New Rochelle’s red light cameras is still undetermined due to the uncertainty of how many intersections in which the cameras will be installed, the intention of the cameras is focused on improving safety, not bringing in revenue.

“This is not about being a revenue generator,” he said. “It’s really for public safety.”

In both Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, red light
camera violations will be considered a civil penalty and will fine the vehicle’s registered owner $50, since only the license plate would be photographed, not the driver of
the vehicle.

CONTACT: katie@hometwn.com

 
2014square

Unopposed, Paulin focused on gender equality

State Assemblywoman  Amy Paulin

State Assemblywoman
Amy Paulin

By CHRIS EBERHART
Republicans have had a tough time finding candidates to oppose several of Westchester’s more prominent Democratic state representatives.

As of press time, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Scarsdale remains unopposed. While Paulin, 58, waits to hear if she will be contested in this year’s election, she’s been passionately pushing her human trafficking bill and fighting for the Women’s Equality Agenda, a 10-point plan, which is now a nine-point plan, proposed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the 2013 State of the State address, which seeks to end discrimination and inequality based on gender.

One of the bills originally included in the Women’s Equality Agenda—a bill that “protects victims of domestic violence from being charged with and prosecuted for violating their own orders of protection”—was enacted into law in 2013.

Because her human trafficking bill has been lumped into the Women’s Equality Agenda as one of the remaining nine points, Paulin has been thrust into the center of the debate in favor of the Women’s Equality Agenda.

Paulin’s human trafficking bill—Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act—originally introduced in 2012 as a standalone bill and later included in Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda, would create harsher penalties for human trafficking by changing the crime from a nonviolent felony to a violent felony, which raises the minimum sentence from one to three years to four to nine and the maximum sentence from eight to 25 years to 12 to 25 years, respectively.

Other provisions of the bill revolve around protecting the victims of human trafficking from being prosecuted as prostitutes, which is a typical occurrence, according to Paulin, and the bill makes it easier for prosecutors to make a case against traffickers.

In June 2013 and January 2014, The Women’s Equality Agenda passed in the state Assembly. But the Republican-majority Senate refused to pass the agenda as a whole last June because of the abortion-strengthening bill, instead opting to pass nine of the 10 agenda points—including the human trafficking bill—as separate bills.

The abortion bill would allow a woman to have an abortion after the first 24 weeks of the pregnancy if her health is at risk; allow licensed healthcare practitioners, not just physicians, to perform abortions while protecting those who perform the abortion from criminal prosecution; and make the decision from the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade a New York law, which would align New York State abortion law with federal law.

However, the Democrat-led Assembly refused to break up the agenda last year, essentially saying the entire agenda gets passed or nothing gets passed.

Paulin said the order of protection bill—like many of the bills in the agenda, pre-existed the package put together by the governor—“slipped through” the Assembly without the house realizing it was part of the Women’s Equality Agenda, which was why it was separated from the other nine agenda points and enacted into law.

Paulin has pushed to break up the rest of the agenda into nine separate bills to be voted on and enacted into law individually.

She said politics shouldn’t come before victims of human trafficking.

“The men and women who have been commercially sexually exploited—many of whom are children—are subjected to repeated rape, torture and violence,” Paulin said. “The human trafficking bill will provide them with the tools they need to rejoin society and recapture as normal a life as possible.”

But the impasse remains, and the Assembly has until June 19, the end of this year’s legislative session, to pass the bill or the agenda.

As of press time, the Senate passed eight of the nine points of the Women’s Equality Agenda—including Paulin’s human trafficking bill. The abortion bill is the ninth point, and state Sen. George Latimer, a Rye Democrat, said there’s not enough support for it in the Senate to bring it to a vote.

If the agenda or Paulin’s bill doesn’t pass in the Assembly, Paulin said, either could be passed during a special session—if called—or be included in the 2015 state budget. She said, if it doesn’t pass by the turn of the new year, she will reintroduce the bill again in 2015.

As the second legislative session of Paulin’s two-year term is coming to a close, she described her latest term as the state Assemblywoman for District 88, which includes Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Scarsdale, Pelham, parts of New Rochelle and parts of White Plains, as “productive.”

“I have continued to be successful in passing legislation that will help my district and the state. For both 2012 and 2013, I ranked in the top 3 percent of the Assembly for the number of bills that have passed both houses,” Paulin said.

Currently, Paulin is carrying 150 bills, of which one has been signed into law, eight have passed both the Assembly and the Senate and 14 have passed the Assembly, and said she expects several more bills to pass before the end of the legislative session.

Paulin was first voted into the Assembly in 2000 to replace the retiring Audrey G. Hochberg, a Democrat; she beat out Max DiFabio, an Eastchester Republican, in the 2000 election. Paulin has been in the Assembly ever since, which spans 14 years and seven terms.

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com

 

Documenting Germany’s remembrance policy

By RICH MONETTI

The genocide of Jews in Germany is certainly not unique in world history. The Rape of Nanking, Rwanda and Manifest Destiny are part of a short list the perpetrating nations would like to forget.

In one aspect, Germany stands alone and the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center in Purchase offered a recent presentation at the White Plains Library to acknowledge the manner in which the atrocity is remembered as policy by a nation.

“Germans don’t shy away from the Holocaust, they face it head on,” said Steve Goldberg, the Education Center’s co-director of education during his presentation of Monuments and Memorials in Germany: Creation and Controversy.

The memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe resides at the Brandenburg Gate, where the regime’s beating heart once pulsed.

“It’s located at the key Nazi administrative center in East Berlin,” Goldberg said.

Completed in 2005, the memorial follows in-line with the trend that began with the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. Covering 4.7 acres, it consists of more than 2,700 rectangular concrete blocks that resemble coffins of different sizes—not necessarily perpendicular—while the ground and rows are uneven.

“It looks orderly, but it’s not,” Goldberg said. “The regime was obviously discombobulated and irrational.”

The effect of the memorial has taken hold. A remembrance started by Gunter Demnig is spreading across the country.

Stolpersteine, which translates to “tripping stones,” marks the actual spots in bronze cobblestone where Jewish families once lived and the tragic fate that befell them.

“Each one is raised a quarter of an inch above existing stones on streets,” Goldberg said.

Similarly, train stations represent another reminder that Germany doesn’t hide from the Holocaust.

The Memorial to Deported Jews at the Grunewald train station in Berlin stages one of the most haunting reminders of the Holocaust. An 18-meter, rectangular concrete slab, the hollowed-out human figures aren’t hard to equate to the hundreds of thousands of disappeared ghosts they represent.

But the art is not all heartbreak.

Frank Meisler was a youngster who escaped in a pre-war exodus known as Kindertransport. Parents loaded 10,000 children from the Berlin train station en route for survival in England.

“In all likelihood, they never saw their families again,” Goldberg said.

Meisler went on to build five statues to commemorate the transport alongside the daily hustle and bustle.

“It’s amazing how many commuters stop to take a look every day,” Goldberg said.

Interestingly, a nearby 200-
year-old plaque foretold how serious the Holocaust would be in human costs.

Of course, the memorials are not only contained to the Jewish plight.

Gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled and political prisoners are part of the memorial movement. In fact, each child is required to visit the numerous sites and death camps across Germany.

“It’s just a phenomenon you don’t ever see,” Goldberg said.

Although some village residents are mobilizing to stop Bow Tie Cinemas from turning the Mamaroneck Playhouse into condos, the company has yet to make an official move in that direction. File photo

Playhouse closing sparks movement

Although some village residents are mobilizing to stop Bow Tie Cinemas from turning the Mamaroneck Playhouse into condos, the company has yet to make an official move in that direction. File photo

Although some village residents are mobilizing to stop Bow Tie Cinemas from turning the Mamaroneck Playhouse into condos, the company has yet to make an official move in that direction. File photo

By PHIL NOBILE
Although the celebrated Mamaroneck Playhouse in the center of the village closed in mid-April, concerned citizens want to preserve the nature of the movie theater, thwart the possibility of condos and head development off at the pass.

The Mamaroneck Play-house, purchased by Bow Tie Cinemas in June 2013 with the stated intention of reviving the 89-year-old movie theater, closed its doors this past Easter, leading to concerns from agitated members of the community.

Despite no concrete intentions for the theater’s future, with the company only telling the mayor they planned to develop it into condominiums in April, village resident Carol Akin and members of the new group “Mamaroneck Residents for Protecting the Playhouse” want to ensure the Playhouse continues in its original purpose and not let Bow Tie’s real estate division—Bow Tie Partners—turn the building into anything else.

“We’d love for Bow Tie to have some compassion to a community that is outraged and be willing to work out a compromise,” Akin said. “This was complete deceit, and it hurts me that a corporation feels they can come into the village and take over something as special as our iconic and historic theater and make a decision to completely end the operation as a theater after all these years.”

Akin and others looking to grow a movement against Bow Tie are angry with the approach the company chose in closing the theater.

In April 2013, the company agreed to buy all of Clearview Cinemas’ 41 theaters in the region, with Chief Executive Officer Ben Moss stating “Bow Tie makes long-term commitments in the communities where we own theaters.”

Ultimately, the company came to Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, and other town officials in early April 2014 to let them know the company would cease movie operations in a week’s time and turn the property over to its real estate division to change the building to condos.

“Not only did they not do anything to the theater, but they intentionally let it go,” Akin said. “They wanted this to become less and less attractive.”

With plenty of anger from residents, village officials are still unsure about the future of the theater property going forward as of press time. According to Village Manager Richard Slingerland, the village has had no contact or indication of Bow Tie’s intentions since they were notified in April of the theater’s closing.

“Not much is known by the village at this point,” Slingerland said. “The village does not presently have an application for a building permit, demolition permit, site plan application or other similar or related document. If and when they have an official proposal, application and permit, then we could comment officially on what [Bow Tie’s] plans are.”

If the company does choose to change or demolish the original building, it will be within its rights according to village code.

The building is located in a C-2 district, meaning residential development is allowed pending permit approval from the village’s Planning Board. According to Clark Neuringer, a current Harbor Coastal Zoning Management Commission member, interior alterations or no major exterior changes would not require variances from any of the village’s boards.

“Right now, the zoning ordinance encourages residential development on Mamaroneck Avenue,” Neuringer said. “It’s my understanding there are a lot of people running around concerned they’re going to demolish the building. Until documents are formally filed or they do a presentation or send out a press release, it is all speculation.”

Neuringer, who has served on each land use board or commission in the village in his more than 25 years in the village, said that the Board of Trustees has allowed and encouraged downtown residential building since adopting the encompassing comprehensive plan in 2012.

While Bow Tie’s intentions are in some doubt, Akin and her group are gearing up to combat any potential alterations to the theater. The group is encouraging others to help by emailing Bow Tie owners Ben and Charles Moss directly and actively in the hopes of keeping the character of the theater and village avenue alive, as well as asking anyone with means to possibly help the cause.

“We’re hoping that someone will come forth and offer to buy the theater from them and hopefully they’d be willing to sell it,” Akin said. “We hope that our calls and emails to Bow Tie will have them realize how widespread and strong the feelings are in this community.”

Akin’s group can be found on Facebook, and for more information you can reach her at akin400@aol.com.

CONTACT: phil@hometwn.com

 
BELMONT1

Column: Our kids marched in the big one

Spring Spruce-Up Weekend, March 22 and 23, is fast approaching and I encourage all residents to come out in support of this very worthwhile community event. We will be cleaning our town parks, streams and roadways of garbage and debris. I welcome any suggested target areas and look forward to making Harrison shine as we head into spring. For more information, or to volunteer, please contact my office at 670-3009.belmont

Once again, I had the pleasure of marching with the Harrison High School band as they participated in New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Although the weather was cold, the crowd’s excitement and enthusiasm created a warm and welcoming atmosphere. This year’s festivities included marching bands, pipe bands and bag pipes. Community organizations, cultural associations and political leaders also took part. This parade does a great job in promoting civic pride in our N.Y. metropolitan community. I am proud of our high school students for adding to this sentiment. They did an outstanding job representing Harrison and they should be commended.

There is exciting news coming from the Harrison Public Library. As the Harrison Public Library Foundation and the town work on developing a new and improved space, our library director, Galina Chernykh, and her staff have been creating ideas for new programming. The library will be offering homebound services for residents who are unable to visit the library due to disability. Patrons may call the library to have books, audio-books, or compact discs delivered to their home. Please contact the librarian at 914-835-0324 if you would like to join this program or have any questions about this service.

The Harrison Youth Council, dedicated to reducing childhood and adolescent use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other harmful substances through prevention and counseling, recently appointed Lloydy Berrouet as a youth and family counselor. Ms. Berrouet brings a wealth of experience to this position and has been a practicing social worker in various local and regional settings. She will assist the council in providing our community with individual, family and group counseling. For more information on Ms. Berrouet or the services offered through the Harrison Youth Council, call the HYC office at 914-835-7500.

Last week, I attended the Youth Mental Health First Aid forum hosted by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Department of Community Mental Health and Westchester Jewish Community Services. The forum covered a range of topics designed to help professionals, including teachers, school staff, coaches and mentors, identify warning signs of a variety of mental health issues common among young people. Enhancing awareness among these professionals will hopefully connect young people to the appropriate health care professional and resolve issues before they reach harmful levels. It was a very informative program and I was glad I was able to attend.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Savor the Flavor, a fundraiser to benefit the Harrison High School marching band and performing arts programs. The evening combined great food with wonderful music and warm conversation. It was a pleasure to see familiar faces and meet new friends all there to support a great cause. Proceeds from this event help to underwrite the costs and provide scholarships for the annual performing arts trip and performances for the 2014-2015 school year. Congratulations to the volunteers on a terrific event.

In closing, I would like to recognize the Harrison tri-county 7th grade boys basketball team. They won in the semi-finals against the Rivertowns and advanced to the finals, where they were defeated by Mt. Vernon. Congratulations to the entire team and Coach Lubowitz for a great season.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, March 21. I will be at the café at Life Time Fitness, located at 1 Westchester Park Drive in West Harrison. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing
our community.

Lisa Jardine

Column: No Longer and Not Yet

“No Longer and Not Yet” is the title of a recently published book by New York City author Joanna Clapps Herman from which she will read at Manhattanville College on March 24. The event is free and open to the public.Lisa-Jardine

If you’ve never been to a book reading, I highly recommend you go to this one. And if you enjoy book readings, you will not be disappointed. Herman’s new book is a collection of short stories that primarily take place on the upper west side of Manhattan, most of which involve fictional residents of an actual building, 370 Riverside Drive, where the author once lived.

“The stories in ‘No Longer and Not Yet’ look at the ways our lives are lived in the split seconds between what is no longer but is still not yet and, although we think of ourselves in larger, mythic narratives, these stories look closely at the ways in which our days are set in the terrain that is the opposite of the vast,” Herman said.

Jardine-Clapps-Herman3Most of the stories in the book take place as our lives do, in the shops, at the kitchen tables, underneath the covers, walking in parks, pushing swings; all places that reveal everyday lives. These stories just happen to be told on the upper west side, a well-known tiny neighborhood inside one of the largest cities in the world.

The stories are woven together seamlessly. The main focus of the book is Tess, her husband Max and their son Paul, who are based on the author, her husband and their son.

“Most of the characters in the book are based on people I know, but only loosely based,” Herman said.

The book opens in Rome, where Max and Tess first meet, but then the stories quickly return to New York City, where they remain until the end of the book. Each story is a separate chapter and can stand alone, but the characters are all connected to one another, either by long-standing friendship or simply just by being a good neighbor.

The stories are all different, yet Herman does a fine job of making them come together to tell a complete story.

The book reminded me very much of Elizabeth Strout’s “Olive Kitteridge,” one of my favorite books of the past decade.

Joanna Clapps Herman

Joanna Clapps Herman

The stories Herman tells are universal. Regardless of where you live now or where you grew up, you can relate to, and identify with, the young mother, or to the childless couple, who believed they were happy and satisfied until a death forces them to re-evaluate. Or maybe it’s the middle-aged woman you can relate to; the one that’s been in therapy for years who, when her therapist announces they are finished and it’s time to move on, falls into despair.

Living in a small community in the suburbs isn’t unlike living in a small community in the middle of a big city. Our neighbors become like a pseudo-family if we are lucky, but the good kind of family, one in which there is always someone looking out for you.

There’s a great story in the book about a couple who gets divorced and, instead of letting the family break apart, they buy another apartment in the same building so they can stay together as best they can.

Herman even incorporates the “famous” homeless characters that live in the neighborhood, from the flower lady to the man who lives in a box. The apartment dwellers know them well; they worry about them and bring them soup and sleeping bags when the temperature drops. Small moments and intimacies of life are woven together to form a bigger picture.

A hand-drawn map of Manhattan’s upper west side, the setting for the linked short stories in Joanna Clapps Herman’s book, “No Longer and Not Yet.”

A hand-drawn map of Manhattan’s upper west side, the setting for the linked short stories in Joanna Clapps Herman’s book, “No Longer and Not Yet.”

When I read, especially in paperback form, I tend to underline prose that stands out and makes me think about things in a different way. This notating happened so often while reading Herman’s book I can no longer lend my copy to anyone.

Myra Goldberg, author, professor of writing at Sarah Lawrence College and a reviewer of the book, summed it up perfectly.

“Time and the city are the subjects of these beautifully connected stories,” she said. “Children are born and become themselves; marriages take shape; a handsome doorman opens the lobby door; snow falls on a man who lives in a box outside. Like Tolstoy, the writing is both exquisite and transparent, and everything is bathed in feeling and light and intelligence.”

The author herself once lived in the building and her book’s title and one of its earliest stories has its origins in an old New Yorker article that was stuck to the building’s community bulletin board acknowledging the famed German-American political theorist Hannah Arendt once lived there. At first, this knowledge stunned Herman, then she couldn’t see how that knowledge had any significance whatsoever on her life, which in turn prompted the writing of one of the stories.

The book’s title, “No Longer and Not Yet,” is from a quote that Arendt’s infamous Nazi lover, the philosopher Martin Heidegger, once said.

“The phrase, no longer and not yet, is a phrase that Heidegger uses about time, and since one of my stories was about Hannah Arendt and her relationship with Heidegger, as soon as I heard the phrase, I knew it was the title of the story.” Herman said. “It’s so evocative of what I’m trying to capture; where we actually live our lives while we look forever backward and forward.”

Joanna Clapps Herman has been called both saint and bard of the upper west side and, after finishing the book, you’ll understand why. You can purchase her book on amazon or on the website of her publisher, www.sunypress.edu.

Bring your questions for the author to the March 24 Manhattanville reading, or wait and let Herman’s gorgeous prose and melodic voice convince you that you need to hear more. Either way, come to the event, sit back and be transported to a time that is no longer and not yet.

“No Longer and Not Yet”

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle

www.sunypress.edu

The author will read from her work on

March 24 at 6:30 p.m.

Manhattanville College—Reed Hall East Library

She is available for readings at book clubs and organizations

Joannaclappsherman.com

Contact her at jclapps@gmail.com

212-663-1015

She will also perform a reading at 370 Riverside Drive 

(the stories’ home)

Thursday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m.

370 Riverside Drive, New York, N.Y.

Community Room

___________________________________________________

“I’m always on the lookout for a great story, an amazing restaurant, an unusual day trip or a must-see cultural event in Westchester County.”

To contact Lisa, emai lisa@hometwn.com And you can follow her on Twitter, @westchesterwand

Word On The Street

What’s bothering you today?

Collected on White Plains Road in Eastchester
“I’ve been waiting 20 minutes for  the cab.” Eleno Martinez, 27, Mount Vernon

“I’ve been waiting 20 minutes for
the cab.”
Eleno Martinez, 27,
Mount Vernon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Congress is a total failure. No one takes responsibility. They all just blame each other.” Don Wilkens, 70, Eastchester

“Congress is a total failure. No one takes responsibility. They all just blame each other.”
Don Wilkens, 70,
Eastchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Waiting for my grandson to get out of school. It takes too long.” Martin Johnny, 76, Eastchester

“Waiting for my grandson to get out of school. It takes too long.”
Martin Johnny, 76,
Eastchester

Members of the American Legion Post 128 take part in the city’s observance of Veterans Day.

Rye City Veterans Day

By Mayor Douglas French

Good morning, thank you post commander and members of Rye Post 128. It’s once again an honor to be with you, and welcome to all of you on this Veterans Day here in Rye.

Members of the American Legion Post 128 take part in the city’s observance of Veterans Day.

Members of the American Legion Post 128 take part in the city’s observance of Veterans Day.

The one question we all face is—how do we best express our gratitude to those that are responsible for everything we have, from our freedoms to our way of life?

George Washington got it right when he said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”

So as a community, what can we do? There are a number of ways we can appreciate and acknowledge our veterans.

First, we can say thank you. So, to our veterans up here with me this morning, those in the audience and those across Rye, whether you have served, are serving and to those that are no longer with us, let me say thank you for your service on behalf of Rye and on behalf of the officials up here with me this morning from the state, county and City Council.

Second, we can all give to organizations that support veterans such as the USO and the Wounded Warrior Organization and other local organizations.

On Nov. 11, Mayor Douglas French delivers his final Veterans Day address in front of City Hall. Photos/Bobby Begun

On Nov. 11, Mayor Douglas French delivers his final Veterans Day address in front of City Hall. Photos/Bobby Begun

Third, like other communities, we can bring back the parade. And so we have started discussions about a private/public partnership in bringing back the Memorial Day parade that Rye used to have starting in May of 2014.

Finally, as a community, we are at our best when we are all connected. We need to know our veterans better. The veterans in Rye are the pillars of our community. Each one of you represents a sense of patriotism and a sense of duty that is admired and respected by us all. You continue to change the lives of those around you with your presence and ongoing commitment to serving others here in Rye. You are the role models that set the bar here and it’s working.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with John Carolin the other day to understand what his service was like and to fully understand his story. He, of course, downplayed it, but I Googled it only to find out how important and strategic his story was. John was part of Operation Torch, in which American commanders agreed to conduct landings in North Africa with the goal of preparing for a future attack on southern Europe. The operation called for several landings, including Casablanca. John landed in Oran. The result was the French joined the American and British allies and built up enough strength to move east and take on the Axis forces. There is history there, and there are great stories in Rye that we can learn and share.

So on this 11th day of the 11th month, and after 237 years of the founding of our nation’s armed services and 22 million veterans—thank you, God bless our veterans and God bless America.