News
There were many stories that made headlines in 2008. Here is a look at some of the memorable moments of the past year: The Town of Hempstead Board adopted an Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead for the area that included the Courtesy Hotel despite some residents' lobbying for the town to allow the hotel property to be sold to real estate developer Trammell Crow. However, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town Board felt that the 65 units per acre of rental apartments the developer proposed for the site was too dense for the town and instead recommended a maximum density of 45 units per acre. The Hempstead Town Board also adopted a blight study for the area around the former Argo Theater on Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont. One of the preferences of the community was to have a supermarket built in the area. But the storeowners who would have to relocate if the town was to take the properties by eminent domain argued that the area was not blighted.

The community of Elmont celebrated Black History Month with a ceremony in the Elmont Library theater. The 21st Assembly District Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award was presented to Elmont Memorial High School senior Ian Feurtado, Dutch Broadway School Principal Walter Aksionoff and Clara H. Carlson School Principal Kenneth Rosner. The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Award was presented to Dr. Sydney McCalla, chief of breast surgery at Lincoln Medical/Mental Health Center.

The celebration also featured a roundtable discussion involving Assemblyman Tom Alfano, Randall Clarke, Hugh Hamilton and Elmont Superintendent of Schools Al Harper and moderated by Aubrey Phillips.

New York Racing Association (NYRA) reached an agreement with the governor, Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker, enabling it to continue operating thoroughbred horse racing at Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack and Saratoga's racecourse for the next 25 years. However, the agreement didn't include video lottery terminals or VLTs for Belmont Park, something the Elmont community wanted to make Belmont more of a destination. New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned as governor after it was learned he was involved in a prostitution scandal. Lieutenant Governor David Paterson was sworn in as the new governor. After waiting over 60 years, World War II veteran Joseph Hanson, a resident of Franklin Square, finally received the Purple Heart from Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.

Two West Hempstead High School students were killed and a third badly injured when they were involved in a car accident while out for lunch during the school day. The accident killed Quinntin McDonald and Saul Hernandez Lopez. The driver of the vehicle, Herbert Martinez, was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He was later charged with criminally negligent homicide.

The West Hempstead Board of Education suspended the high school's open campus policy. The school board decided that in the 2008-2009 school year, seniors would be the only students eligible to leave campus and they would need parental permission as well as academic and behavioral eligibility. Students who leave campus must also agree to do four hours of community service each quarter during their junior and senior years.

The West Hempstead Civic Association organized the second annual rally on Mother's Day morning to close the Courtesy Hotel. In a surprise in the Elmont School Board election, longtime board member Aubrey Phillips was defeated by Anthony Maffea and incumbent Elsy Guibert was defeated by Deniece Walker. A New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief, after holding hearing, issued a report calling for a 4 percent cap on school tax levy increases. The state legislature has yet to institute a cap. Senator Dean Skelos became the Senate Majority Leader after Joe Bruno stepped down, announcing he would not seek re-election. Andre Darnell Mitchell, a PSC Specialist in the United States Army, who grew up in Elmont, died after the Humvee he was riding in got into an accident while he was stationed in Mosul, Iraq. Mitchell attended the Clara H. Carlson School and Sewanhaka High School.

The Franklin Square United Neighborhood Association (FSUNA) won its battle to prevent T-Mobile from building a cell tower at 340 Dogwood Avenue in front of the Franklin Bridge Centre Shopping Plaza.

It was a major victory for FSUNA organizer Ron Lipsky and the Franklin Square residents who persevered in order to protect their neighborhood. The Hempstead Town Board of Zoning and Appeals denied the cell tower because the board felt that T-Mobile didn't prove there was a need for it and it would have a negative aesthetic impact on the neighborhood.

On November 7, 2008, the nation made history when Democrat Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. In addition, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Senator Craig Johnson, Senator Sean Skelos and Assemblyman Tom Alfano were all re-elected. With the state facing an enormous deficit, Governor Paterson submitted his executive budget proposal for 2009-2010. The proposal calls for cuts in state aid to Long Island schools as well as the elimination of the STAR rebate program in an effort to close the deficit. Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and the town board announce their plan to rezone the Courtesy Hotel property, paving the way for the sale of the property to Trammell Crow Residential. A key component of the agreement was a donation of one acre of land owned by the MTA to the town to offset the density of the project and bring it under the 45 units per acre guideline the town had set.

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