City officials attend ribbon-cutting for new Broadway barbershop

A handful of Newburgh city officials joined Eli LaFontant for ribbon-cutting ceremony outside Exclusive Cutz, his new barbershop at 223 Broadway.

LaFontant described Exclusive Cutz as a traditional barbershop for men, women and children. In addition to specialty haircuts, the shop offers wash and sets, and permanents. It is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“The location is convenient for everyone, especially those without a car,” LaFontant said. “We are looking forward to meeting our neighbors and being a part of the community.”

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Newburgh Rowing earns record number of medals

Nicole Rabe, Julia Padavano, Rachel Beisswenger and Anya Sendelbach won a gold medal in the girls' quad.

More turned out to be more for the Newburgh Rowing Club.

It arrived at the 23rd annual Coastweeks Regatta in Mystic, Conn., with 55 athletes, the largest-ever group taken to the competition. It left Connecticut with 38 medals, a record for the club.

“I could not be more proud of all of our athletes, each of whom rowed like champions,” said Ed Kennedy, programs director and coach for the club.

Coastweeks, which took place on Sept. 14, brings together local and regional rowers. They compete in categories ranging from masters to veteran on a 2,000 meter course along the Mystic River.

Newburgh Rowing’s nine gold medals included one each in the girls’ quad and girls’ 4-plus races. The club also earned 13 silver and 16 bronze medals.

Rachel Beisswenger, Julia Padavano, Nicole Rabe and Anya Sendelbach took first in the girls’ quad, while Victoria Albert, Paige and Taylor Cosgrove, Kennedy Barber-Fraser and Tess Stepakoff comprised the club’s winning 4-plus team.

Newburgh Rowing’s men’s quad team – Christopher Cosgrove, Davonte Davis, Richard Guerrero and Kelvin Solis – won a silver medal, losing to a team from the U.S. Maritime Academy.

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Longtime admin asst., records officer given sendoffs

Ann Kuzmik, right, was recognized by Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy and members of the City Council for her service to the city.

Ann Kuzmik was a reporter for the Mid Hudson Times when then-Newburgh City Manager Bill Ketcham convinced her to take an administrative job with the city, with a particular focus on media relations.

One of her first assignments: A pig that had escaped from a petting zoo at a local festival.

“It was my job to track the whereabouts of the pig,” she said. “It wound up in the sewer treatment plant.”

Kuzmik recalled that incident while standing outside City Council Chambers on Monday. Clutched in one of her arms was a flower bouquet, a gift from members of the Council as they recognized her retirement.

Joining Kuzmik on the list of honorees that night was Records Management Officer Elizabeth McKean.

McKean is retiring on Friday after 17 years with the city. Kuzmik’s last day in the office will be Sept. 19. She will then exhaust leave time before her retirement is official.

“I’ve had a ball,” McKean said. “I truly think this is an extraordinary community.”

McKean started volunteering with the Newburgh’s map collection department in 1997 and became a full-time employee in 1997, charged with taking caring of the engineering department’s archives.

Eventually McKean was handed the duties of cataloguing, filing and researching all records for Newburgh, a job in which she often found herself in moldy basements.

She applied her expertise to efforts to protect Quassaick Creek and resurrect the historic Dutch Reformed Church on Grand Street.

Kuzmik became a main point of contact for local reporters, who routinely fielded her press releases. She also documented 12 years worth of city events with her camera. She also watched city managers come and city managers go, with not many staying for long.

Most of all she is proud of her involvement in commissioning the design and carving of Newburgh’s 9/11 memorial and in convincing the U.S. Postal Service to use to city as the setting for its release of a Purple Heart stamp.

“From my first time in the City of Newburgh I fell in love with it,” Kuzmik said. “It’s a wonderful place.”

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Council to vote Monday on contract for video streaming of its meetings

Newburgh’s City Council is moving toward making its twice-monthly legislative meetings and twice-monthly work sessions available via live streaming.

Members of the Council will take up a resolution Monday authorizing a contract with Plano, Texas-based Swagit Productions LLC to broadcast live up to 50 meetings a year.

The contract would pay up to $25,584 for the company to install cameras, hardware, software and other equipment at City Council chambers. The city would then pay an additional $1,350 a month for the actual streaming.

Meetings would be archived and indexed, allowing viewers to click a link for an individual law or resolution and replay the discussion specific to the legislation.

Council members meet two Mondays a month to vote on laws and resolutions. They meet Thursday before those meetings for work sessions. Video of the Monday meetings is posted on YouTube, while audio of work sessions is posted and archived online at the Internet Archive.

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Work on Crabb Park continues

Newburgh city workers have quietly been working on Tyrone Crabb Park, officially launching a project whose repeated delays had disappointed advocates for the park and stoked anger at a city government considered dysfunctional.

In June members of the Council rejected bids to landscape and build a playground for the park, saying the cost had ballooned to over $800,000 for a park first proposed in the late 1990s at a cost of $150,000.

But they also vowed to begin the project, relying on Public Works employees to complete the landscaping portion in order to save money and finish the park using the available funding.

A small crew has been quietly fulfilling that vow, overturning grass at the lot, which is located on the northeast corner of Grand and South streets.

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Fecal bacteria found in stream that feeds Washington Lake

A bacteria found in fecal matter was discovered in higher-than-normal levels in Silver Stream, prompting City of Newburgh officials to close a gate allowing its waters into Washington Lake.

Enderococcus was discovered at levels far exceeding 60 parts per 100 milliliters in the stream during testing conducted by Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance in partnership with the environmental group Riverkeeper, which posted a blog about the discovery.

Anything above 60 is a cause for concern, and a water sample from one site along Silver Stream came back with a reading above 2,000, said John McLaughlin, who coordinates the testing program for QCWA.

Elevated readings for the bacteria were also found throughout the Quassaick Creek watershed, McLaughlin said.

“Every reading we’ve gotten has been above sixty,” he said.

Newburgh Engineer Jason Morris ordered closed the diversion gate allowing Silver Stream waters into Washington Lake and notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

More testing is planned to try and find the source of the contamination.

“I would characterize it as something that is very much worth keeping an eye on,” McLaughlin said.

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Armory immigration office now offering fingerprinting

Immigrants applying to become naturalized U.S. citizens can now get fingerprinted at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, which last month opened a formal immigration office.

U.S. Rep. Sean Maloney and state Sen. Bill Larkin announced on Tuesday that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office at the Armory will begin taking fingerprints, which are required of immigrants applying for naturalization.

Inquiries about applications and general appointments were the only services offered when the office first opened.

“The expanded services at the Newburgh Armory will save our community millions of dollars, and is critical for our friends and neighbors who are playing by the rules, working hard, paying taxes and growing our economy,” Maloney said.

Local officials lobbied USCIS to open an office in Newburgh to serve immigrants in the city, and in Orange and surrounding counties.

Without a regional office those immigrants have to make multiple trips to New York City, costing them an estimated $2 million in lost wages, travel and other expenses, local officials said.

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Council approves police-misconduct oversight board

Goodbye “Police Community Relations Advisory Council” and hello “Police Community Relations and Review Board.”

A name change is not the only thing separating Newburgh’s newly approved review board from the old 11-member advisory council.

When the City Council approved an ordinance replacing the citizen-run panel on Monday, they created a nine-member board with the power to oversee misconduct complaints filed against city officers.

The councilwoman representing each of the city’s four wards will each get to name two members to the review board. The full Council will name the ninth member, who will serve as chairperson.

Police will still conduct initial misconduct investigations, but the board will have the power to review the findings and determine if investigations are satisfactory.

If unsatisfied, they could ask a third-party mediator to review the complaint or ask the City Council to authorize an independent investigation.

The ordinance also establishes a mediation process that complainants and officers can use, and it requires the board to hold at least one meeting a year in each ward where residents and police can discuss crime.

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Newburgh votes to disclose service contracts

Newburgh’s Council took a step toward increased transparency on Monday, approving a resolution that would make public all service contracts exceeding $5,000.

The resolution applies to contracts entered into since January. It requires that a full copy of each contract, and the bid package requesting the service, be posted in an online database that is fully searchable.

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Councilwoman proposes city’s first Gay Pride event

Newburgh Councilwoman Gay Lee is looking to organize the city’s first-ever Gay Pride festival this August, making it an annual event.

Lee, who is gay, introduced the idea at Thursday’s City Council work session, garnering verbal support from her colleagues.

“It doesn’t have to be something grand,” she said. “We need something that sends a message to the city, to the people of this city, that there are gay people who live in the City of Newburgh.”

Lee wants to form an organizing committee. Anyone interested can email her at legayse@gmail.com

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    Leonard Sparks

    Leonard Sparks covers the City of Newburgh as a reporter for the Times Herald-Record newspaper. Read Full
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