Fox Lane Students Fix Homes in Mississippi with Habitat for Humanity

Six Fox Lane High School students traveled to Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi to help rebuild homes along the gulf coast. The students part of FLHS’s Habitat for Humanity Club made the trip during last week’s winter recess vacation.

The students, Mount Kisco residents, Jennifer DiChiara, J.B. Kim and Alex Miller joined their fellow Fox Lane students, Bella Rago, Kurt Wasserman and Alex Whitelaw, in building several homes. The students participated in a complete range of construction activities from framing to painting. Pictured below are the students with the eventual owner of one of the homes and the progress made by the students, working with other groups from all over the country, on one of the homes. The students were supervised by with chaperones Avery Syrig and David Licata, a Fox Lane High School teacher.

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Quotation of the Week

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” – Mark Twain

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MKFD Continues Fundraising Efforts for Memorial; Receives $5,000 Donation

The Mount Kisco Fire Department continues to make progress on raising funds for Mount Kisco’s 9/11 Memorial. The 9/11 Memorial Project will be built by volunteers in the construction and pool businesses with manpower from the MKFD.

The MKFD, however, will have to raise funds as the current design of the memorial will have two slabs of black granite to symbolize the World Trade Center towers and a pentangular pool to memorialize the victims of the attack on the Pentagon. The 9/11 Memorial Project recently received a $5,000 from Joseph Cosentino, a local businessman and Chairman of the Mount Kisco Planning Board.

While the 9/11 Memorial Committee has received some large donations recently, donations of any size are needed to complete the memorial by this September, the tenth anniversary of the attack and resulting tragedy.

To donate, send a check payable to Mount Kisco Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box 91; Mount Kisco, NY 10549. You can also call the Mount Kisco Fire Department 9-11 Committee’s chairpeople, Paul Felice at 914-241-4593 and Rich Alexander at 914-218-8334.

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Winter Break Programs at Mt Kisco Library

The Mount Kisco Public Library is hosting winter break programs to give children something to do during the school vacation week. The library will be offering the following programs:

Tuesday, February 22 at 2:00 pm: Stories and Crafts for school-aged children;
Wednesday, February 23, at 2:00 pm The Little Red Hen Puppet Show by Lionheart Theater (sponsored by the Friends of the Library);
Thursday, February 24, at 4:00 pm family movie viewing of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.

These programs are free and open to all. For more information call 914-864-0130.

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Just as Ice was Starting to Melt – Four More Inches of Snow

Just as the ice was almost completely melted from the driveways and sidewalks and grass was starting to peek through the snow, Mount Kisco received four more inches of snow. With respect to the cost of removal, since today is a holiday, Mount Kisco had to pay its highway department a premium to work on the holiday.

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For those away on vacation in a warm spot, such as Jamaica, enjoy your vacation.

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Quotation of the Week

“The day you stop dreaming is the day you give up hope.” – Rudy Ruettiger

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Debate Over Public Employee Pensions Affects Mt. Kisco

As the standoff in Wisconsin garners more news attention and New Jersey Governor Christie and New York Governor Cuomo pledge to fight the increasing costs of pensions, public employees and their pensions have been thrust into the spotlight.

While this issue affects everyone locally, the issue must be dealt with on a state level in New York because New York State administers the pension system for all employees. New York State sets the contribution rate that all municipalities must pay.

While pension costs are set at the state level in New York, there is something that municipalities can do to stop runaway pensions. By controlling overtime abuse, cities villages and towns can curtail excessive pensions.

In a story in the Journal News, “Police, fire pensions gap widens” by Jonathan Bandler, the writer discusses the average pension for recently retired uniformed workers in Yonkers was nearly $100,000. Mr. Bandler also writes:

Only two of those from Westchester were non-uniformed retirees: Gregory Meehan, who was a vice president at Westchester Medical Center and has a pension of $138,031, and Gary Pecor, a retired water foreman in Mount Kisco. Pecor made headlines earlier this decade when his annual overtime repeatedly topped six figures. His $125,447 pension was based on his best consecutive 36 months — 2001 to 2004 — when his salary was only $65,000 a year but he totaled more than $400,000 in overtime.

Pecor, 57, said his wasn’t a case of pension padding because he worked excessive hours over several years — and that his overtime was mostly when the town’s seven-man water department was down to three, and sometimes only two, employees.

“(Public sector) workers have become the dancing chicken in the spotlight but I took the job for the retirement and benefits, certainly not for the salary,” Pecor said. “I was publicly beat up for the overtime I got but I had to work it.”

That is a nice story but it is simply not true. Today, there are only three employees in the village’s water department and that number was recently down to two because medical leave. After I was appointed Deputy Mayor in 2003 upon the election of Mayor Cindrich, the Village Board made it one priority to reduce unnecessary overtime in the water department. The water department employees were performing unnecessary work when Mr. Pecor was building up his pension. Once proper supervision was put in place and certain changes in work rules were negotiated by the village, water department overtime decreased. Water department overtime hours are less than half of what they were in 2003 when Mr. Pecor was a supervisor in the water department and the union representative.

The decrease in overtime expenses was the result of proper supervision and negotiated changes in work rules. Even with these lower hours, water service has improved. If these changes were put in place in 2000 instead of 2004, Mr. Pecor would not have his golden pension and taxpayers would not be stuck with the bill. That is what other municipalities, such as Yonkers, need to do to lower pension costs.

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Matt Karle Races to NY State Championships in Swimming

Matt Karle, a Fox Lane senior and Mount Kisco resident, moved on from the Section One swimming championships to the New York State swimming championships in three events. Matt will race in the 200 Yard Individual Medley (finishing third in the section), the 100 Yard Breaststroke (finishing second in the section) and the 200 Yard Medley Relay. The 200 Yard Medley Relay team will include Kurt Wasserman, Cameron Stephens and Will Rappaport. Will Rappaport also qualified in two individual events. Two younger swimmers, Ian Kleinsmith and Chris Cerutti, did not advance but swam well in the Section One meet.

Good luck to Matt and the other Fox Lane swimmers in the state meet. Below is a picture of Matt in action.

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Cold Winter to Impact Mount Kisco Finances

With all of the January snow, many towns and villages have already spent their budget for snow removal. Mount Kisco, due to conservative budgeting, still has a good part of its budget remaining. The village has, however, spent over half its budget through the end of January. The Village of Mount Kisco budgeted $235,000 for snow removal, $20,000 more than was required last year. To keep our taxes low, let’s all hope for a mild March.

When snow falls, Mount Kisco loses money from lost parking meter revenue as cars cannot access spaces and meters are inoperable. Broken meters are a problem, not just in the winter, but in the other seasons as well, due to slow repair times. In the picture below, the note reads “Meter broken again today. Just like yesterday when I called to report.”

For the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Mount Kisco budgeted $465,000 in parking meter revenue. That is 2.5% of the village’s total revenue. The current year’s budget, however, is $68,000 less than the $533,000 collected in 2008-2009, just two years ago. There is no definitive reason for the loss in revenue but broken meters can be a reason. Any loss in revenue in broken parking meters from the winter or any season requires the village to cut services or raise property taxes.

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Judge Donohue Sentences Man for Harassment; Adjourns 11 Other Cases

In Mount Kisco Town Court, Judge Donohue sentenced Jaime Martinez-Salazar for an aggravated harrassment charge that was initially filed in August 2010, approximately six months ago.

In other “business”, eleven others had their court cases postponed for, in some cases, nearly two months. The charges of those with their cases adjourned included (in alphabetical order): third-degree assault, third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal contempt, second-degree criminal contempt, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fourth-degree grand larceny, second-degree harassment, second-degree menacing, second-degree reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, first-degree robbery, fourth-degree stalking and unlawfully dealing with a child.

Apologies to the victims; justice delayed is justiced denied.

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