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HandsUpHow well is the non-partisan process for selecting Scarsdale School Board candidates working? That was the subject of a meeting of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale on Monday January 28 when they invited Wendy Gendel, Chair of the SBNC Administrative and Vice Chair of the SBNC Joint Committee to discuss the election on January 8, 2019.

The School Board Nominating Committee is an elected committee with 30 members – six from each of Scarsdale’s five elementary school areas. These nominators each serve three years on the nominating committee – and another two years on the administrative and joint committees where they recruit candidates, supervise the election and the process.

The goal is to have contested elections for each of these seats – so that nominators are democratically elected. However, Gendel told the League that finding candidates who are willing to run and contributions to fund the election have become very challenging.

In fact, it was so difficult to find candidates, that all the nominees ran uncontested and one seat remains unfilled, leaving a committee of 29 not 30 members.

Gendel cannot definitively say why this is the case, but she did have a few theories about why residents were reluctant to volunteer.

First she cited the five- year term saying volunteers were reluctant to make a commitment that spanned so many years. She suggested that the resolution might be changed to separate the three year commitment to serve as a nominator from the additional two years on the administrative and joint committees.

Furthermore, Gendel said she had anecdotal evidence that the contested election for school board last May might have deterred some from agreeing to run. She thought that residents did not want to get involved in a partisan fight and remembered that there was controversy among SBNC members about their role in campaigning for the candidates selected by the committee. There is no official policy on candidate endorsements for members of the SBNC.

Gendel also noted a general decline in volunteerism in general and asked the League to consider a campaign to promote volunteering in Scarsdale. She reported that the committee reached out to 206 people and invited them to run and also used local organizations, local media and the PTA’s for candidate recruitment.

Another concern was the finances. The election is now paid for via voluntary contributions and the SBNC’s coffers are running low. Funds are needed to mail out election information including candidate’s bios before the election in January.

Voter turnout also lagged this year, with 240 residents voting in person and 6 absentee ballots received. This compares to 460 votes cast last year where there were contested election for nominator’s seats.

Following the meeting with Gendel, the League held a consensus meeting to draft a statement on the School Board Nominating Committee Election. When the statement is released, we will share it with you on Scarsdale10583.

Fire3A massive house fire broke out at 12:57 am on January 21 at 72 Mamaroneck Road. When police arrived, five members of the family were outside and reported that one family member was still inside on the third floor of the house. The homeowner re-entered the house with three police officers and was able to find 13 year-old nephew and escort him out of the house. The homeowner along with his three children, a nephew and two grandparents were inside the house at the time of the fire. The mother of the children was reported to be out of town.

Heavy fire and smoke inflitrated the walls and attic of the large Tudor style home and the subzero temperatures turned water to ice and made it extremely difficult to fight the fire. The fire may have begun in the basement of the home. Firefighters battled the blaze for six hours, rotating in shifts due to the harsh conditions.

The family had moved in only four months ago. They all left the house safely but were wearing only their nightclothes.

The blazing fire caused heavy smoke and sparks to fly to neighboring homes where some were evacuated and Mamaroneck Road was closed. The fire was battled by about 80 firefighters from Scarsdale and neighboring crews and was still not under control in the morning. Under the mutual aid agreement crews from Eastchester and Greenburgh assisted in the effort.

The house was originally built in 1927 and was sold to the family in July 2018 for $2,725,000. It has 8 bedrooms, 7 baths, 7,836 square feet of living space, a pool and a poolhouse. Firefighters say that the house will now have to be razed.


hermoineI’ve seen countless “lost pet” flyers over the years. Each one seemed so sad and hopeless; leaving me with a sense that the poor dog or cat was probably gone for good.

It’s is an animal lover’s nightmare... and rogue cats are particularly hard to find. Unfortunately, I recently joined the ranks of frantic pet parents, handing out one of those desperate notes throughout Scarsdale and hoping against hope that my cat would return.

If you’re not a pet owner, stop reading now. You’ll likely believe that “cats do this all the time,” and maybe scoff at my worry and upset. I’m sharing my story for the Scarsdale cat moms and dads who shared advice, encouragement and concern along the way. You know, there are those of us who feel pets are our children.

We have an absolutely fantastic cat named Hermione (Mione, for short). A 10-pound Siberian, she beautiful, outgoing and loving… definitely not the typical aloof feline. She comes when called, plays catch and follows us around from room to room. She dutifully lies next to my computer when I’m at work, and instinctively lets me know when I need a break by walking across my keyboard. Mione and her fabulous sister, our dog Shea make our family complete.

Here’s the rub. While she’s more like a dog than a cat, Mione is still a cat and wants to go outside. Google Siberians and you’ll see pictures of huge, furry cats covered in snow. Well, Scarsdale is not the Russian tundra and we don’t want our cat outside.

We’ve been resisting Mione’s efforts to escape for two years now. To keep her content, we placed perches and towers near windows so she can see out, attached birdfeeders to windows to keep her entertained, bought a harness and leash to walk her around the yard and regularly use “Czarina’s Chariot” – a pet stroller – to take her along on nighttime walks with Shea (leashed cats simply don’t keep up).

Despite all this or, maybe because of it, Mione occasionally darts out of the house. If we go after her she runs further away, so we’ve decided it’s best to let her go. Fortunately, she’s typically gone just for an hour or two and returns ravenous and tired each time. I’m starting to think that I need to create a “cat run” similar to what former Met Keith Hernandez has built for his cat Hadji – enclosed tunnels and tents that allow the animal to be outside and remain confined.

Just When You Think You’ve Figured Things Out…
In the meantime, we’ve learned to live with Mione’s jaunts; while irritating, they don’t panic us anymore. But, a few weeks ago Mione didn’t come back. She got out at night, which was unusual; she typically makes a break for it during the day. We left the door open for a couple of hours, called, shook her treats, opened a can of food, ran the ice dispenser (she loves playing with ice cubes – a Russian thing, I guess), all to no avail.

We were angry. Already feeling down because it was Sunday night and the weekend was over, we didn’t need to have to worry about the cat too. My husband and I decided to teach her a lesson and closed up for the night, confident she’d come back in the morning when he walked Shea. And, she’d probably be annoyed at the inconvenience of spending a cold night under a bush.

Monday morning arrived; my husband took out Shea. No Mione. I quickly decided that something was terribly wrong and immediately began searching, armed with both the dog and cat treats.

Mione is micro chipped, but the brat won’t wear a collar. I put one on, she indulges me for a day, I wake up the next morning and the collar’s on the floor. I’ve given up because of the microchip. But, as I searched for her, I wondered if anyone would take the time to check for it. Maybe people would think she’s just another unfortunate stray and ignore her. Uh oh… my mind raced.missingcat

As I walked the streets, and looked under decks and through shrubs, I beat up myself over the collar thing. I also realized that people might think I’m a thief casing their homes, so I decided to enlist my neighbors. I posted to the Scarsdale Moms and Scarsdale Social Facebook groups, and winced at the idea that my cat was another statistic. I emailed the microchip service, which was supposed to contact local shelters and vet offices; I wondered if they’d really do it.

I followed conventional wisdom and placed her used litter box on the patio. For once, I was happy I hadn’t cleaned it yet, because the stink was supposed to guide her home. I built a small shelter with her cat bed inside. I didn’t put food out, wanting her to be hungry enough to come inside to get the goods. A Scarsdale mom suggested that I contact Scarsdale police. I traveled to the Post Road building and knew the officers thought I was nuts as I told them my cat was missing. Regardless, they respectfully noted my information. I also contacted the emergency vet in White Plains; a friend had found her lost dog there just the night before.

Two more days came and went, with no sign of Mione. I visited shelters and vet offices, looked up in trees, searched at ungodly hours of the night and joined “lost pet” social media groups. I created the dreaded flyer and distributed it to pet stores, and planned to make more and go door-to-door. I was convinced she was probably hurt or sick, or simply too far away to get back home. When asking advice from relatives and friends, I was met with dark expressions and “I don’t knows;” they knew something all right – that Mione was lying dead somewhere.

I then broke down and placed food and dirty clothes outside to try and lure Mione back. A lot of people and animal organizations recommended I do this. My frustration and upset grew; this was like finding a needle in a haystack. I wondered if I should just stop. She’d come back when she was hungry enough, wouldn’t she? Was I doing everything I should? Was I good pet mom? WHERE IS SHE?!

Saved by the Cat Finder
Although I was grateful that word was spreading, and encouraged by the messages and texts from supportive cat lovers, I was miserable. How do I celebrate Christmas without my cat? It’s not going to be okay. Just as I was on the verge of giving up, the tide turned.

I received a text from a woman in California, of all places, who is part of a lost pets network. She mentioned services dedicated to retrieving lost cats and advised hiring one. Not surprisingly, I found no such service in Westchester but mentioned it to my husband. He started researching immediately, desperate to make me feel better. He found Kim Freeman, the “Lost Cat Finder,” who specializes in finding lost cats ( Yes, she’s for real and just what we needed. Of course, I first thought she was some scam artist preying on distraught pet owners. Nope.

Freeman reports that an average of just two percent of lost cats are reunited with their owners. However, by following her techniques, one really can improve the chances of getting a rogue kitty back home. For $25, you can download her video and book – a small price to pay to get your fur baby back (printing color flyers costs more). After just a few minutes of watching the video, we found out that we were doing everything wrong. And, for the first time in a while, I had some hope.

Freeman’s Facts
We learned that most lost cats go unfound because their owners simply give up. Many times, they don’t come home because they are hurt or confused; you need to aggressively search. When they’re outside, indoor cats rely purely on instinct. No matter how friendly or easygoing they are in your home, they behave quite differently outdoors. You can call or use food, but they typically won’t respond, even if you’re just feet away. This explained why Mione wasn’t coming out when called.

Indoor cats usually do not stray more than a 250-foot radius from their homes. If they become startled or curious, they may go as far as 500 feet, but that’s it. They usually hide in cracks and crevices near buildings, and are able to go an average of 10 days without food and water. After that point, many will come out of hiding to try getting back home, but can be too disoriented to find their way. Ah, Mione wasn’t at the Weinberg Nature Center after all.

Get rid of the food, litter box and smelly old clothes. Yes, they’ll attract your cat… and every other animal that’s within “nose shot.” Wild and feral animals will pick up the scent and investigate, and most likely scare your cat away. So, we cleaned up the patio, and not a moment too soon, as rain was in the forecast and I wasn’t in the mood to clean up the mess.

If you know how your cat got out, keep that door or window open. Cats want to return the same way they left. Unfortunately, they are more likely to do this at night, when it is quiet and still. If you’re worried about a break in, you can attach a security chain.

After printing Freeman’s booklet and revising my search plan, I decided to keep the back door open that night, wide enough for Mione to slip through, but secured on one side with a heavy box. I settled on the couch, with the TV and lights on, and Shea by my side to discourage any unsavory character who may be lurking outside and waited.

Surprisingly, I fell asleep; I was exhausted from the previous nights’ searches and hearing about the pending government shutdown. At about 2:30 am, I felt something on my chest. Not unusual, as Mione typically lies on top of me during the night. I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s just Mione.” And, then, through the haze of badly needed sleep, the thought sunk in. I opened my eyes, and there she was, staring back at me, cold, but intact. On each side of her head was crusted-over blood; she had cut both ears and bled considerably. But the wounds had closed and she looked OK. No doubt, Detective Freeman’s advice surely set the stage for her return.

As for her injuries, I don’t believe Mione was in a fight; it’s more likely that she cut her ears on one of the old rusted chicken wire fences that dot our neighborhood. She had no other scratches or bite marks. My guess is that she hurt herself soon after running out, became frightened and hid under a bush somewhere close.

Needless to say, we all were beyond thrilled and relieved to have her back. Shea wouldn’t leave her alone for an entire day; in fact, Mione wouldn’t let anyone touch her ears except for Shea, who eagerly cleaned away the blood and wiped away the “outside smell” from her sister’s coat. The cat ate heartily and slept deeply for two days after her return, and we hoped she learned her lesson. She wasn’t even interested in scaling the Christmas tree; we began to believe the experience actually chastened her a bit.

No such luck. As my husband was leaving for work later in the week, the brat made a beeline for the back door. Mione didn’t get out that time but, needless to say, we’re back on cat watch every time we go in and out of the house. I’ve tried citrus oils to keep her away from the threshold and have moved on to a spray bottle. Well, I guess you can say that she, technically, has eight lives left. I, however, do not.

hockeyhuddleScarsdale Boys Varsity Hockey team is gaining momentum that could potentially carry them deep into the playoffs.

The Raiders have been riddled with injuries this season and have not had a game with the entire team healthy, yet they still have an impressive record of 7-4. “Up until recently we had a very average record, hovering right around .500, but I think most of those losses in the beginning of the season were very winnable. Now that we are finally starting to win the close games, we’ve put together a four-game winning streak,” said Captain Josh Bock ’21.

hockeyfansRaider Rooters get Spirited with Costumes.A possible explanation for the Raiders’ midseason improvement is that with experience they are beginning to mesh. Since a whopping eight seniors graduated last year, the 17-man team consists of eight veteran players, four players who were pulled up to varsity at the end of last season, and five new players. This means that the team is relatively new and young, and they started the season without much playing history. With this in mind, the players began training hard to build experience. “We are usually on the ice four to five times a week and off the ice one to two times a week. Off-ice sessions include lifts, cardio work, and film [from past games],” said captain Jack Brosgol ’19. With this strong foundation of training, the underclassmen have become seasoned and ready for the upcoming games, and the upperclassmen have elevated their skill sets.

The team is under the direction of new head coach, James Synowiez. Many of the players have already played for hockeyschwartzCaptain Ben Schwartz ’19 with the Puck.him on JV hockey or varsity lacrosse, so having him “wasn’t that big of an adjustment,” said Brosgol. “He’s great to be around and talk to and we all really enjoy practice. He and [Assistant] Coach Felix make a great coaching duo.” The players also note that the coaches are demanding of them off the ice; Synowiez and Felix hold the players accountable for missing class and missing the homework Synowiez assigns them, which is typically watching game film. This sense of commitment and discipline on the team may be a part of the reason why the boys have been resilient in recovering their record.

As for the rest of the season, the Raiders are excited to see what they can do and are focused on attaining their goals. “We are definitely looking forward to the rivalry matchups against Suffern and Mamaroneck. Those two teams tied 2-2 recently, so it would be big for us to win those games and separate ourselves from the pack,” said Bock. Beyond that, the Raiders aspire to win the section and state championships.

hockeygoalTeam celebrates a goal.Be sure to come watch and support the team in their remaining regular season games and the playoffs!

Photos by Jon Thaler. See more here.

SalanitroIf you think that clearing your own driveway after a snowstorm is a big job, imagine trying to plow the roads and sidewalks for the entire Village of Scarsdale--- and not just once --- but over and over again for almost 20 years. That’s been on the shoulders of one man for almost 20 years.

And the snow is only one part of his job. He is responsible for managing a staff of 77 employees, maintaining the roads, the watercourses and the trees while supervising capitol projects and managing the central maintenance garage and Village facilities. He is on call 24/7 and in a Village that demands excellence, that’s no small job.

Superintendent of Public Works Benedict Salanitro, or Benny as he is known around town, will retire in January. He has been with the Village since 1999, first as the Village Engineer and later heading up the Department of Public Works. He came to Scarsdale from Tarrytown where he served as the Superintendent of Public Works – and plans to do some consulting in municipal engineering after he officially steps down.

What stands out about his 19 years here? He remembers the windstorms, blackouts, snowstorms and floods but is also proud of some of the improvements he implemented around Scarsdale. Thank Salanitro for the new pocket park in front of the train station in Scarsdale, and a new salt shed that can store 2,000 tons of salt and saved the village $250,000. More recently he has helped to shepherd through Westchester’s first food scrap recycling program – and this week he was proud to be at the opening of the Take It or Leave It recycling shed at the sanitation lot that was refashioned from an old bus stop.

What was one of the most memorable incidents during Salanitro’s tenure? In August 2003 there was a massive blackout that knocked out the power grid for the entire east coast … no power, no lights, no nothing. A train load of commuters traveling to the city from northern Westchester was stranded at the Scarsdale train station – with no way to get home. The situation was more fraught because all the shops in Scarsdale were closed and the group had nothing to eat. They couldn’t take taxis because the cabs had no gas. Imagine the dilemma depicted in the Broadway show “Come From Away,” (when planeloads of passengers were stranded in Newfoundland) on a more local level.

What to do? As Salanitro tells it, before the situation “got out of control,” he consulted with the police and came up with a plan. One of the maintenance workers from the Department of Public Works had a license to drive a school bus. They decided to commandeer one of the buses in the school fleet and transferred the train passengers to the school bus. As the commuters sang songs on the bus, the driver headed south and took the passengers home, one by one. After the storm, Salanitro was given a certificate of commendation from Westchester County.depotnewSalanitro designed and managed the construction of a new pocket park at Depot Place.

Salanitro is proud of some of the capitol projects he supervised during his time here. The South Fox Meadow water course runs from White Plains to George Field, down the Post Road to Harcourt Woods and terminates in the Bronx River and includes a seven acre timed release water detention pond. A silt removal project was done at Crane Berkely Pond in conjunction with the residents who live in that neighborhood. Other flood mitigation projects are in the works near Cayuga Pond and in Edgewood.

Salanitro says he will miss the opportunity to work on these types of project with his staff and will miss the camaraderie with Village staff. He is gratified that he was able to help so many solve their problems and hopes he gained the respect of the many people he worked with and served during his decades in Scarsdale. He said, “In a place like Scarsdale you have to be a little bit more than the regular superintendent” and is happy he had the chance to contribute.

Commenting on Salanitro’s retirement, Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert said, “I've known Benny for more than a dozen years. Due to his low-key style, it took a while to appreciate how valuable he has been to Scarsdale. I believe that only the people who had direct interaction with Benny could learn of his capability since he didn't publicize his role. However those who benefited from his work admired him. If there was a possible way to improve the quality of life in Scarsdale, within his range of responsibilities, Benny always figured it out. He will be missed.”

Former Scarsdale Mayor Jon Mark said, “Benny’s enthusiasm for the care our Village was unmatched. Supervising a truly nuts and bolts operation did not keep him from learning new techniques to do department work better and to expand into areas that help make our village more sustainable. His adoption — albeit with some persistent prodding by residents — of the LED street light program and the food scraps recycling program are two examples. Working with Benny was a delight and the Village will miss his energy and expertise.”

So next time you see a Scarsdale truck and workers vacuuming your leaves, picking up your recycling or watering a newly planted tree, realize that the effort to maintain our Village in a park takes a Village indeed…. and someone who cares to lead it.

SalanitroLetterLetter of Commendation from Westchester County after the Black Out in 2003

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