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Last updateFri, 22 Jan 2021 3pm

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PublicForumThis year, the Scarsdale School Board election is contested, and the Scarsdale League of Women Voters will host a Candidate Forum on Zoom on Sunday, May 31 from 8:00-9:30 PM. The three candidates running in the upcoming School Board election, Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez, Robert Klein, and Amber Yusuf, will be participating in the Candidate Forum. There are two open School Board seats involved in the election, and the three candidates are running against each other for these two seats. The two highest vote recipients will win the seats.

The League encourages members of the public to register to attend the virtual Candidate Forum through this link: Join them to listen to the candidates answer questions and discuss issues.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to contribute questions to be answered by the candidates through this form.


The virtual Candidate's Forum will also be recorded for playback for those who are unable to watch the event live.

The 2020 Scarsdale School Board election and School Budget vote will take place through mail-in ballots, which are due back to the district clerk by June 9th. For more information about the upcoming election, please visit the LWVS Voter Information page.



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snickerdoodlesOur children are still at home and we are busy providing them with enjoyable activities. Our kitchen projects, namely, baking cookies are a learning experience for our young bakers but can often have another important result. In this difficult time, many of our community heroes, including teachers, firefighters, members of the police force, health workers and postal and delivery workers, would welcome a sweet treat during their busy day. A delivery of home baked cookies lovingly prepared by the youngsters in our community would bring a smile to the faces of these workers as well as teaching the little ones the pleasure of giving during difficult times in their young lives. Cheerfully wrapped with a handmade thank you note enclosed these treats will certainly be a bright moment in the busy days of our community heroes.

Here are a few suggestions for your sweet treats that kids can create with a little help from an adult. You may find the cookies so good that a second batch is in order to serve at your family table.


We Need:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ pound sweet butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
3 ½ ounces flaked coconut

We do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet. Cream together the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour, baking soda and cocoa. Stir in the oatmeal and the coconut. Drop the dough on a cookie sheet by the teaspoonful about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and remove from cookie tray. Continue until all of the dough is used.


We need:

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ pound sweet butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsps. milk
1 cup chocolate chips

We do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and both sugars. When it is smooth blend in the vanilla, cocoa powder and milk. Blend in flour and baking soda. Fold in the chocolate chips. Place dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes. Cool and remove with a spatula.

SNICKERDOODLES (about 50 cookies)

We need:
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 tsps. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup softened butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs

4 Tbsps. sugar
4 tsps. cinnamon
Mixed together

We do:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Blend in the eggs. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Roll each ball into the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place on ungreased cookie tray about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden


We need:
2 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup sugar
2 egg whites from jumbo or extra large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsps. finely grated orange peel

We do:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl combine sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla orange rind and mini chocolate chips. With your clean hands mix it very well. Use about 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each cookie. Wet your hands with cold water and make a pointy mound out of each tablespoon of the coconut mixture. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat to use all of the mixture, placing the mounds about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden or about 13-15 minutes. Cool and remove from cookie sheet.
Your baking experience with an adult guiding the way will be exciting for the heroic recipients and for the bakers, as well.

PanessaAnniversaryGennaro Vito and Isabella Carmela Panessa on their 50th AnniversaryGennaro Vito Panessa, 84, and Isabella Carmela Panessa, 81, died a week apart, each from complications of COVID-19. Isabella, lovingly known as Bella, died on April 6, 2020 at her home with her family by her side. Gennaro, lovingly known as Gene, died one week later on April 13, 2020 at White Plains Hospital. A private burial for both Gene and Bella was held at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, NY on April 15, 2020.

Gene and Bella met when they were 15 and 12 respectively and they had a marriage full of many blessings, love and laughter for nearly 61 years. Gene and Bella were born and raised on “a-hun-12th Street” (112th Street in East Harlem), New York. Gene was born on June 15, 1935 to Guiseppe and Angelina Colacicco Panessa who immigrated from Gioia del Colle, Italy. Bella was born on April 26, 1938 to Salvatore Furnari who immigrated from Meri, Italy and Fortuna Ascione Furnari who was born in New York City.

Gene and Bella’s love story began as neighborhood sweethearts and continued while Gene served in the U.S. Army based in Germany and Bella moved to Michigan with her family. During Gene’s service, he played on the U.S. Army baseball team and traveled throughout Europe. Over that two-year period, Gene and Bella wrote love letters to each other nearly every day and not surprisingly, Gene proposed to Bella immediately after he completed his service. In order to be closer to the love of her life, Bella moved in with her Aunt and Uncle in New York City until Gene and Bella married on July 19, 1959 at the Parish of St. Ann in New York City.

Gene and Bella’s first home was in Bronx, NY where they had four children, Joseph, Brian, Gene and Angela. They moved to Scarsdale, NY in 1969 where they had their fifth child, Elizabeth. Their five children and 15 grandchildren were the center of Gene and Bella’s world. Their extended family and old friends from 112th Street, the Bronx and Scarsdale were a close second.

Gene earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Fordham University while he worked at Metropolitan Life. He continued to work at MetLife for 44 years, ultimately retiring as the Director of Personnel, Actuarial and Auditing Department.

After raising their five children, Bella worked at Woodlot Nursery School and then the front office of the Chatsworth School in Mamaroneck, NY. She then went on to work in the Scarsdale Schools Superintendent’s Office.

Gene and Bella were devoted and active members of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Scarsdale, NY. Gene taught CCD for over 10 years and was President of the IHM Holy Name Society for 13 years. Each year, Gene organized a religious retreat which brought him much pride and joy. They always gave back to their community. Bella volunteered through IHM and supported elderly neighbors and friends in countless ways. For many years, Bella drove a neighbor to see his wife in the hospital and nursing home. Later in life, when Bella and Gene had more means they contributed to charitable causes supporting veterans, children and the disabled.

For over five decades, Gene and Bella supported their children and grandchildren’s activities at IHM, Edgewood School and Scarsdale Middle and High School. From Brownies, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, to athletics and to the many milestones including graduations and religious Sacraments, Bella and Gene set the stage and always had a way of bringing the community together. And all were always welcome at the Panessa home, so much so that it often felt like Grand Central Station with people always coming and going to share a meal, a laugh or a chat with Gene and Bella.

Bella and Gene Panessa 1957 copyBella and Gene Panessa in 1957

Time with the grandchildren was their sunshine. Bella greeted each and every one with “Hello my baby” no matter their age. And Gene never hesitated to give a big grandpa bear hug and kiss, often telling the little ones to put their head close to his heart and the older ones to “Work Hard, and Pray Hard”.
Bella knew her children and grandchildren so intimately. She needed only one look, brief eye contact to know how they were feeling. She always provided a sense of comfort with her words which was accompanied by a warm hug. She would bite her lower lip and squeeze tightly. Similarly, Gene enjoyed nothing more than lending his ear to loved ones, including dear family and friends, sharing his thoughts and experiences, and most importantly God’s words based on His scriptures.

Some would say, Gene and Bella were opposites in many ways. Bella loved her sweets – always in the mood for a “nice piece of cake,” and for Gene, the saltier the better - always looking for pretzels and peanuts to accompany his 5 pm martini. Bella liked adventure, pushing Gene to take trips beyond their two favorite vacation spots, Fishers Island and the Catskills. Gene on the other hand was more than content spending any free time in the backyard of 164. And while Gene would often say to his children and grandchildren “Don’t put a dollar too close to your face so you can’t see anything else.” Bella would counter with “Money can’t buy happiness but it sure helps.” It was also just one example of Bella’s quick witty humor to Gene’s cautionary life lessons, or “sermons”.
Gene and Bella had a perfect balance of devotion, admiration, love and sacrifice in their marriage. They enjoyed life, grateful for everything they had, most especially their strong faith and their family. They never lost their teenage love for each other. The twinkle in their eyes was evident each time the other walked in the room, a sign of relief almost, as they were each other’s constant. In the later years, Gene took care of his beloved Bella as she suffered from Alzheimer’s. He stood by her side caring for her every need and Bella provided Gene with the silent support as she always had.

Gene and Bella are survived by their five children - Joseph, Brian and Gene Panessa, Angela Waterhouse and Elizabeth Merola; daughter-in-laws Heather and Lori Panessa; son-in-laws Kevin Waterhouse and Michael Merola; 15 grandchildren – Ashley, Paige, Samson, Haley, Bridget, Mackenzie, Landon, Luke Panessa; Scott, Christian, Isabella, Fisher and Leena Waterhouse, and Avany and Thea Bella Merola; Gene’s brother Donato Panessa, and Bella’s sister Carmela Furnari, brother Frank Furnari and sister-in-law Josephine Furnari, and many nieces and nephews.

While their loss is immeasurable, the blessing and comfort is knowing that they never had to mourn the loss of the other and that they are together, resting side-by-side as they always have been and forever will be.

The family will hold a memorial celebrating Gene and Bella’s lives with extended family and friends at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in their memory be made to The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund or the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Scarsdale, NY.

Foley1Dear Neighbor,

We find ourselves in uncharted waters due to the COVID-19 pandemic on so many fronts, and the Scarsdale Forum is no exception. On the one hand, we are a not-for-profit volunteer organization that strives to promote community dialogue and engagement in so many areas of civic life in Scarsdale, especially through our committee reports. On the other, the charitable nature of our enterprise requires the Scarsdale Forum as an organization to refrain from being directly involved in electoral politics.

As an added – but positive -- complication, the nature of our mission of civic engagement means that throughout our history many members of the Scarsdale Forum and its predecessor organizations have gone on to run as candidates for the Village Board of Trustees or the Scarsdale Board of Education, and many have gone on to have successful volunteer terms in public service.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, village elections have been postponed from their customary mid-March date to sometime after June 1. School Board elections are in similar circumstances. This means that, unlike a normal year, the period of open election campaigns will overlap with critical budget discussions for both entities. Volunteers on the relevant Scarsdale Forum committees will want to provide their usual thoughtful analysis and commentary to the benefit of the public debate on these topics.

To ensure the findings of Scarsdale Forum reports are truly independent from the electoral contests they overlap with, the Scarsdale Forum adopted policies in recent years which should reassure the Scarsdale community about the organization’s independence and integrity.

In 2018, the Board of Directors adopted clear guidelines for candidates for village office who are active members of the Scarsdale Forum. Among other things, those who are declared candidates are required and expected to take leaves of absence from whatever committees they currently serve on for the duration of their candidacy. Should they be successfully elected, they are expected to resign from those committees. Should they not be successful, they can be fully reinstated after election day.

Over the past two election cycles, these policies have been followed faithfully. A candidate for School Board last year observed the required leave of absence. This year, there are two candidates for village office – by happenstance, one from each slate – and they have been informed that their prudent abstention from committee activities is both expected and appreciated.

These policies pre-dated the present public health emergency, but they provide us some safeguards to offer assurance against potential conflicts of interests, or the appearance of such a conflict. We hope that by being transparent about these safeguards, the public will appreciate the independent spirit of whatever Forum reports will follow this spring. As always, we welcome your participation as members of the Scarsdale Forum and your contributions to our community dialogue.


Tim Foley
President 2019-2020
The Scarsdale Forum

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