Column: Forward your calls, but heads up: bats

BelmontColumnAs summer comes to a close, and storm season approaches, I want to bring your attention to a very important, and underutilized, communication option. Last year, during Hurricane Sandy, many Harrison residents were unable to receive my nightly robo-calls as their phone service was interrupted during the storm. Forwarding your calls to an additional phone number‑for example, your cell phone‑can increase your availability, especially if you are away from the telephone that is diverting calls to another number for an extended period of time. To forward your home phone number or landline to a cell phone, you must consult with your landline service provider to confirm that the call-forwarding feature is an option. Generally, the customer can enter numerical codes, using a landline or home phone, to initiate the call-forwarding option.

Recently, I spoke to Cablevision and Verizon about this feature. With both service providers, you can activate call-forwarding by dialing *72 from your landline. After hearing the stutter tone, you simply dial your cell phone number. Your cell phone will ring and, as soon as you answer the call and directly hang up, the call-forwarding option has been activated. To deactivate this feature, you must dial *73 and follow the prompts.

I encourage all residents to look into this option. During the aftermath of last year’s storm, I heard from many residents who received my nightly calls and they expressed how relieved they were to be getting consistent, up-to-date information from Town Hall.

I am happy to report that Harrison resident Alyson Isbrandtsen has made it into the final round at Westchester Burger’s “Westchester Idol.” On Tuesday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m., Westchester Burger in Rye Brook will host the final event as the contestants compete for a grand prize of $2,500. The talent is outstanding, and I hope you will come out to cheer on our hometown competitor.

In my June 17 column, I reported that the New York State Department of Transportation would be rehabilitating sidewalks along Harrison Avenue, from Matthews Street to St. Vincent’s Hospital, with completion estimated for spring 2014. I am happy to report that work has commenced earlier than scheduled and should be completed by the start of the school year. When approaching the aforementioned area, please proceed with caution.

Recently, my office has been contacted by the Westchester County Health Department to inform us that August is the month in which there is an increase in Westchester residents reporting that bats have infiltrated their homes. During the first two weeks of this month, a number of Westchester residents began routine, preventative rabies treatment because they did not retain the bat, for testing purposes, after being exposed. According to Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, M.D., the bats that are tested are usually not rabid, therefore the treatment protocol is avoided. Rabies is often fatal so, if the bat is unavailable for testing, the rabies shots will, in all likelihood, be administered to those who have been exposed. For additional information, visit the county Health Department web site at to learn more about bat containment and treatment.

If there’s a chance that a person or pet in your home has been in contact with a bat, contain the bat and call the county Health Department at 914-813-5000 to arrange for the bat to be tested for rabies.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Aug. 23 and I will be at Aquario Restaurant located at 141 East Lake St. 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.