MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Another year has come and gone in Mahopac and it’s time to look back on 2018 and recap the most noteworthy stories of the past 12 months. Being memorable doesn’t necessarily mean a joyous occasion; this past year did have some heartbreaking moments. However, it was also a year of new ideas, and a year of change. So, in no particular order, here are the top notable stories from 2018:
Allegations of bullying at school transportation office
School officials investigated allegations of bullying and harassment within the district’s transportation department after more than a dozen complaints were filed by union members against a co-worker.
Employees told Mahopac News that a pattern of behavior by the individual has been ongoing for about three years, including instances of intimidation, furious outbursts, name-calling, physical contact and the filing of false allegations with the district office. As of this writing, no one has been held publicly accountable for the alleged actions.
DiCarlo named new school superintendent
The Board of Education appointed Mahopac native Anthony DiCarlo as the next superintendent of schools on Jan. 18 and he took over Feb. 26.
DiCarlo signed a five-year contract at an annual salary of $235,000. He took the place of Dr. Dennis Creedon, whose three-year contract was not renewed.
“We are confident that Mr. DiCarlo’s leadership, career experience and his love of the community will take us to the next levels of education,” said Board of Education President Leslie Mancuso.
Nor’easter pounds Mahopac
In one of the most devasting storms since Hurricane Sandy cut a deadly swath through the Northeast in October 2012, a powerful nor’easter pummeled the region March 2 and 3, knocking over trees, tearing down power lines and leaving 90 percent of New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) customers in Mahopac without power for days. Some 8,500 homes and businesses were left in the dark.
While no deaths or serious injuries were reported in Mahopac, an 11-year-old boy was killed in neighboring Putnam Valley when a tree crashed into his home, trapping the youth underneath. County Executive MaryEllen Odell declared a state of emergency, noting that nearly 25,000 county residents were without electricity. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also declared a state of emergency in Putnam, Westchester, Dutchess and Sullivan counties where, he said, 182,000 New Yorkers were without power
Mahopac men go missing on hunting trip
Two Mahopac brothers went missing, police said, after the Chevy Suburban they were riding in while bear hunting in a remote area along the Idaho/Montana border rolled over and crashed into the Selway River early morning on May 21.
Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said the crash report identified Raymond Ferrieri, 24, and his brother, Jesse, 21, as two of the missing occupants of the vehicle. Both are graduates of Mahopac High School and the sons of Ray Jr. and Sue Ann Ferrieri. Ray Ferrieri Sr. and other family members, all longtime Mahopac residents, own the general-contracting business Cricket Construction. Sue Ann Ferrieri is a bus driver for the Mahopac School District.
Rescuers had to wait four days before they could pull the SUV from the river’s turbulent waters. When the truck was finally removed from the river, no one was inside. As of this printing, the Ferrieri brothers have still not been found.
Town gears up to revise master plan
The Town Board has officially turned the page in the next chapter of the town’s history as it began the task of rewriting its town code and creating an updated master plan. On May 30, the board hosted a standing-room-only informational meeting in conjunction with the town’s myriad boards, committees, department heads and other stakeholders to begin the process of revamping the town code, the town’s infrastructure and, ultimately, creating a new master plan.
Town mourns death of Carmel police officer
A Carmel police officer was killed June 7, when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a U.S. postal truck on Route 301 in Kent. Off-duty Carmel Police Officer Gary Pietropaolo, 29, of Fishkill, had been traveling eastbound on Route 301 and collided with the postal vehicle driven by Mary Gosney-Hyatt, 57, of Holmes. Police said the postal vehicle had been pulling out of the driveway of a private residence.
Swan Cove bungalows come down
The Swan Cove park/parking lot project took its first major step toward fruition in June when construction crews removed eight dilapidated bungalows to make way for a lakefront park and an adjacent municipal parking lot.
The town purchased the 0.64 acres of land as part of what officials say is a renaissance of the downtown business area. The razing of the bungalows brought some bittersweet synergy to the Swan Cove project. The Ferrieri family, which owns Cricket Construction, donated their equipment, labor, gas and materials to the tear-down as a way of giving thanks to the community for the support it has given to them during a recent tragedy in which their sons went missing during a bear-hunting accident in Idaho.
Plans for new distillery unveiled
Plans to convert the old Guidepost property on Seminary Hill in Carmel (now the Paladin Center) into a distillery took a step forward in August when the Alexandrion Group laid out its plans during a public hearing before the Planning Board. Representatives from the Romania-based Alexandrion, along with a team of international experts from a variety of fields, explained their plans. Stelious Savva, CEO of Alexandrion, said the company plans to invest approximately $40 million in the Seminary Hill property and $100 million total nationwide as it expands its global business. The Carmel distillery will employ 60 workers over the next five years, he said. The company will hire 100 employees throughout New York State and 400 nationwide, all Americans, Savva said. The Carmel distillery will look to hire locally.
Kmart shutters in wake of bankruptcy
The Kmart store in Lake Plaza Shopping Center in Mahopac and the Sears in the Jefferson Valley Mall in Yorktown were targeted for closure in the wake of Sears’ Chapter 11 filing on Oct. 15.
Sears, which owns Kmart, had been closing stores and selling off assets following years of crippling sales declines.
Penny Swift resigns from school board
In October, Mahopac School Board Trustee Penny Swift shocked her colleagues and district administrators when she announced that she was stepping down from her post.
Swift, who had just been elected to the board in May, said her resignation was effective immediately. School Board President Leslie Mancuso said the board would likely wait for the trustee elections in May to replace Swift, with the winner filling out the rest of her three-year term.
Swift called her resignation “bittersweet” and said the reason for her departure is due to an unanticipated opportunity for her family. Swift said she had to do what was in their best interest.
Community rallies against cell towers.
In a standing-room-only meeting at the Mahopac Library’s community room in October, residents showed up to learn more about two proposed cell towers and how they can stop them—or at least get them moved to another location.
Danbury-based Homeland Towers went before the Planning Board last month seeking site-plan approval for two towers, one on Dixon Road and one at 254 Croton Falls Road. Both towers would be built on residential properties in residentially zoned areas, which prompted the controversy: Some residents and town officials said they felt Homeland Towers didn’t do its due diligence in finding better locations for the poles.
In November, the group of residents hired an attorney to represent them.
Harckham upsets Murphy in state Senate race
In the upset of the day, former Westchester County legislator Peter Harckham defeated incumbent state Sen. Terrence Murphy in the race for the Senate’s 40th district seat.
Harckham, a Democrat and South Salem resident and former county legislator who spent the last several years working in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, emerged victorious on Election Night in part because of the overwhelming support he received in Westchester.
Murphy topped Harckham by 8,049 votes in Dutchess and Putnam counties, but was bested by 10,170 votes in Westchester, giving Harckham 51 percent of the 112,000-plus votes cast.
Town breaks ground on Airport Park project
They have been nearly 20 years in the making, but the improvements at Airport Park—including five sports fields, bleachers, outbuildings and hiking paths—got underway in November.
Groundbreaking for the $2.2 million project took place with representatives from the Town Board, Recreation and Parks Department, Mahopac Sports Association (MSA), school district and county legislature wielding symbolic gold shovels. The project should be completed by the spring of 2020.
Harold Gary resigns from Planning Board
After more than three decades as the chairman of the town Planning Board, Harold Gary announced his retirement. He is 90 years old.
Gary officially stepped down from his post at the end of last month. Current vice chair, Craig Paeprer, takes Gary’s place as chairman and the Town Board will look to add a new member to the Planning Board.