Category Archives: Harrison Review


Reid Hall at Manhattanville College in Purchase is modeled after the historic estates left standing by European royalty in the medieval era. It has never been home to a king or queen or a duke or duchess, but it is was deemed a national landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The castle, which is built in the Norman Gothic style, earned the designation due to its rich history, architectural influences, landscape and many secrets.

Reid Castle serves as an office for many Manhattanville employees, such as Gary McLoughlin, 60, an employee with the college’s Office of Disability Services. “For me, it provides a sense of place deeply rooted in tradition,” McLoughlin said.The castle was constructed as an estate for Pony Express tycoon Benjamin Holladay in 1864. It was originally known as Ophir Farm and served as a home for the tycoon. Unfortunately for Holladay, by 1873 he had lost most of his wealth, which led him to put the mansion up for public sale.

More than a decade later, the estate became the first residence in Westchester County to be equipped with both telephone and electric wiring. However, one month before the estate’s new owner, Whitelaw Reid, and his wife, Elizabeth, planned to move in, a short circuit started a fire that engulfed the house, leaving only the granite foundation remaining.

Story originally appeared in the March 15, 2013 edition of The Harrison Report

Harrison Student Spreads Message Around The Globe

RajanHarrison High School junior Rajan Mehra has taken on the task of teaching kids the importance of making informed decisions in their community and beyond.

His mission is to preach volunteerism and activism to young people at a time where many feel youths are not as engaged as they should be. Mehra, 17, started a program called the Civics Workshop at the high school last fall to fulfill the 150 hours of community service required by the International Baccalaureate program.

 “But it became much more,” Mehra said. “I wanted to do something unique that would combine politics and public speaking with a positive impact.”
This story originally appeared in the June 8, 2012 edition of The Harrison Report.

My farewell column: The long, strange road ahead, and the one behind



For those who say community beat reporting is a thankless occupation, one in which you work countless hours to write local stories each week hoping people in the community will care enough to pick up a copy of the newspaper and read them, the truth is, hyper-local news may be one of the most thank-filled occupations there is.

Any local issue, no matter how big or how small; how important or seemingly trivial it may be, if your words and your research are compelling, people will read you and, often, they will have something to say.

Serving as the beat reporter assigned to cover the Town/Village of Harrison for the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to work in such community; to meet new people who care so passionately for their town, their schools, their neighborhoods and, of course, their sports teams.

When I first joined the Hometown Media Group staff, I was but a novice, a rookie reporter straight out of college, diving headfirst into the real world. The intensity of such a leap felt overwhelming at first—I learned the frustration of waiting on phone calls while reporting on a strict deadline—but, somehow, someway I managed to persevere.

The post The long, strange road ahead, and the one behind appeared first on Hometown Media Group. 

Harrison Schools Weather New ELAs



The results are in and students enrolled in the Harrison Central School District—like most students in New York State—saw test scores plummet when faced with the newly implemented state English Language Arts and Mathematics exams.

Based on the results, the average grades for Harrison school district students taking the exam in 2013 were substantially lower than the English Language Arts and Mathematics exams taken the year before. Of the more than 3,000 Harrison students given the exam this year, students in each of the six tested grade groups, averaged in the low-300 point range out of 425 achievable points.

Part of the state’s Common Core learning standards, which were first adopted by the Board of Regents in 2010, the results of the new ELA and Mathematics exams are intended to assess students, grades three through eight, on the knowledge and skills they must achieve within each grade to better prepare themselves for college and careers.

This story originally appeared in the Harrison Review on Aug. 22, 2013. 

Debt: Harrison’s History of Borrowing

For more than a decade, Harrison has faced a growing crisis—a debt crisis.

By the end of 2012, the town owed nearly $80 million. For a community of roughly 25,000, the Town/Village of Harrison’s debt level, which rivals some cities, has become a polarizing issue.

Whether you find yourself exploring the hillside streets of West Harrison, or shopping in the central business district downtown, you’re sure to spot something, somewhere that was a contributing factor to the town’s financial plight.

First seen in the July 19, 2013 edition of the Harrison Report


Harrison Dems Name Unprecedented All-Female Slate

Harrison Town Supervisor Ron Belmont and former Town Supervisor Joan Walsh Set to Face-Off  Photo/

Harrison Town Supervisor Ron Belmont and former Town Supervisor Joan Walsh Set to Face-Off

After a special caucus held on June 10, the Harrison Democratic Committee has named its slate for the 2013 election. It is the first all-female Democratic slate in Harrison history.

At the top of the ballot, Joan Walsh, the former two-term mayor of Harrison, leads the all-female ticket with the intent of reclaiming leadership from first-term incumbent Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican.

“I felt a sense of responsibility to the town,” said Walsh, 78, regarding her candidacy, “which I’ve worked so hard for, for so long.”

This story first appeared in the June 21, 2013 edition of The Harrison Report

Walsh gets Democratic nod for mayor

It has been nearly two years since Ron Belmont won in a landslide victory for Harrison mayor—securing 63 percent of the vote—over then-Mayor Joan Walsh.

Now in her late seventies, Walsh, a Democrat, has returned from a two-year hiatus from the political arena with plans to reclaim the mayoral seat.

“Many people are dissatisfied with the current town board,” Walsh said. “When I was mayor, we really watched every dollar…now, [the council is] spending money and they’re borrowing money.”

Story first appeared in June 14, 2013 edition of The Harrison Report

Ryan Steps Down, County Legislator Race Heats Up

While seeking the Democratic nod for Westchester County Executive last October, County Legislator William Ryan announced he will not seek re-election for a ninth consecutive term on the board.

“Although my service with the county board will conclude Dec. 31, [2013] it is not my plan to retire and I am currently considering several public sector offers for 2014,” Ryan said.

Although the April 24 Democratic Convention did not provide Ryan the support for which he’d hoped, as he placed third out of three candidates vying to challenge Republican Rob Astorino for county executive, Ryan reaffirmed his stance not to seek another two-year term on the Board of Legislators.

This story first appeared in the Harrison Report on May 31, 2013. 

Avalon Tapped To Develop Train Station Project, Sources Say



Sources indicate the Town of Harrison has plans in motion to strike a development deal with the AvalonBay Communities concerning the long-awaited Transit Oriented Development project with the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

It has been more than two years since Harrison received bids for construction of the project, but town officials have been mum ever since. Any motion will be the first in just over a year since residents expressed skepticism that the proposed Town Center would ever see the light of day.

However, recently sources with knowledge of the ongoing negotiations between the town, MTA and Avalon, have informed The Harrison Report that AvalonBay Communities will in fact be the developer of the long-awaited project once discussions are finalized.

This story originally appeared in the May 24, 2013 edition of the Harrison Review

Voters approve $108M school budget

Voters in the Harrison Central School District passed its $108 million budget with 71 percent of all votes cast on May 21. As a result, tax bills will increase by 3.7 percent next year.

The 2013-2014 budget comes with no reduction to class size and no program cuts, but necessitates minimal layoffs to come in under the state-mandated 2 percent tax levy cap. According to unofficial tallies, 1,385 residents voted “yes” and 553 voted against the budget.

“We have consistently tried to meet our dual commitment of providing a comprehensive education while being responsible to our taxpayers,” Schools Superintendent Louis Wool said on Wednesday regarding the results. “The Board of Education would like to thank our residents, and express our profound appreciation for the support of our students that came from every corner and neighborhood of the community.”

The spending plan marks the second time in history that the budget passed in the polls of each of the four voting districts in Harrison.

After a series of reductions totaling more than $2.25 million, the district approved a $3.79 million increase in spending from last year for a budget-to-budget increase of 3.6 percent. Reductions included decreases in certiorari and capital budget lines, decreases in social security, unemployment, contractual services, the cost of fuel and several other cuts for smaller budget line items.

By eliminating vacant positions through attrition and through the implementation of a teacher retirement incentive, the district was able to minimize the need for layoffs in the budget, with plans to cut only one to two positions.

First appeared in the May 24, 2013 edition of The Harrison Report.

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