NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-Another year has come and gone in North Salem and it’s time to look back on 2017 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, the year also brought new developments, ideas and answers to some lingering questions. Here are some notable stories from 2017:
Arrest made in Colley murder case
Two years after the murder of North Salem resident Lois Colley, authorities arrested Esdras Marroquin Gomez, a former laborer who police believe was in the country illegally, and who had worked on Colley’s 300-acre estate.
He was arraigned Nov. 13 on an indictment charging him with second-degree murder.
“The Colley family suffered a horrific loss when Lois was murdered Nov. 9, 2015,” Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino said. “Nothing we can do can bring her back, but I hope that the family can take some solace in knowing that law enforcement has gone to great lengths to make sure that the person that we believe to be responsible for her death is brought to justice.”
Croton Falls Volunteer Fire Department celebrates 125 years
The Croton Falls Volunteer Fire Department, founded in 1892, celebrated its 125th anniversary this year.
It’s come a long way since first responders answered calls with horse-drawn equipment, giving its present day members plenty to celebrate.
Nearly all of the department’s 140 members and 250 of their closest friends and family members enjoyed an evening of nostalgia and fun in celebration of the occasion at Old Salem Farm.
North Salem enters immigration debate
The national conversation about immigration prompted by President Trump’s controversial and court-challenged ban on the entry of specific nationalities reached North Salem’s borders as neighboring municipalities, including Bedford, Mamaroneck and Irvington, passed resolutions reaffirming their policies of “protecting the safety and welfare of all,” regardless of residential status.
North Salem’s resolution avoided controversial language incorporated into other towns’ resolutions at the requests of residents and board members during discussions of the issue, which lasted from March to July.
The language in Bedford’s resolution, for example, acknowledged “questions on the coordination between federal authorities and local police departments” raised by the ban.
Supervisor Warren Lucas said a large percentage of the community asked for such a resolution; however, after its initial mention, there was a backlash from the community.
“This really just states the policies and procedures that we follow normally; there’s nothing special about it,” Lucas said at the July 11 meeting as discussion on the matter drew to a close. “As I said last time, I didn’t want this to be political.”
The resolution was approved by a vote of 4 to 1, with Councilman Brent Golisano the lone dissenter.
School district deals with lead findings
Results of lead testing last year showed that 60.5 percent of all fountains, spigots and sinks tested had lead levels exceeding the state’s .15 ppm (parts per million) limit.
Out of 240 outlets tested, including 11 in the school’s bus garage, 145 exceeded the limit.
But School Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Freeston said that all kitchen outlets for food preparation and cooking, as well as hallway drinking stations, passed the water quality standards.
One of the spigots tested, a floor spigot in the boys’ locker room, was found to contain 89.4 ppm (parts per million) of lead, nearly 600 percent above the level permitted, while a classroom sink in an art room tested at .827 ppm.
At the Dec. 13 Board of Education meeting, members said discussions are underway to find solutions to the district’s lead problem. Possible solutions will be part of the 2018 budget, specifically to purchase a water filtration system.
Indy the wallaby is spotted
Three years after he disappeared from his family in North Salem, Indy the wallaby reportedly resurfaced a few times in 2017.
Since he went missing in 2014, he has been sighted several times in the area, including in the towns of Lewisboro, South Salem, Katonah, Mount Kisco and Bedford, and as far away as Armonk and Pawling.
This year, Indy was spotted near the Amawalk Reservoir Dam in Somers by Department of Environmental Protection police who were on patrol and again by a resident April 8 near Seven Oaks Lane near Starr Ridge Manor. The resident reached out via Twitter.
Susan Bush, whose family owned Indy, was thrilled to hear of another possible sighting. “We’re hopeful,” she said. “It’s certainly good news that after three years he may still be alive and well.”
Bush said she has been thinking a lot recently about Indy and is planning to put his crate out into the yard along with some water in the hope he remembers his onetime home. The crate, she says, will be placed within view of her kitchen.
Her son got Indy in 2009 from a rescue in upstate New York. At the time, the wallaby had been kept crated and was used as an educational tool for students to learn about marsupials. Once her son purchased him from the rescue, he had him neutered and kept the 25- to 30-pound animal as an indoor companion who ran free in the family’s gated yard.
Bush believes he jumped the 6-foot fence along her property, possibly spooked by some deer who frequented the area, when he went missing.
“I just don’t know how he could survive in the wild and through all these cold winters and evade predators like dogs and coyotes all this time. But it would be great to have him home again,” Bush said.