A large candlelit vigil in honor of police officer John Falcone, 44, of Marlboro, filled the Poughkeepsie streets last Sunday evening, Feb. 20. Falcone was killed in the line of duty on Friday, Feb. 18.
At a press conference on Sunday morning, Poughkeepsie police chief Ronald Knapp praised Falcone’s bravery in pursing suspect Lee M. Welch, 27, of Catskill, who fled with his three-year-old daughter after apparently shooting his wife, Jessica Welch, 28, to death in a vehicle parked in a lot near the Poughkeepsie Metro-North train station. Falcone and officers William Badner and Thomas Matthews pursued the suspect on foot.
Welch shot Falcone a single time in the head before being tackled by Matthews and turning the gun on himself. Falcone was taken to Vassar Brothers Medical Center, where he died after surgery.
“We are a department still in mourning, a department still deeply affected by the death of officer Falcone. At the same time, we appreciate the support that we’ve received,” said police chief Knapp, thanking the community for the outpouring of support in the wake of the tragedy.
According to preliminary autopsy results performed by the Dutchess County medical examiner, Jessica Welch sustained two gunshots, one to the right side and the other a fatal shot to the head. Lee Welch sustained two gunshots, one to the left chest and one “suicide shot” to the head.
Lee Welch had a history of domestic violence: He was arrested by State Police last October following a domestic dispute, charged with third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment; and again on Jan. 28, charged with third-degree assault. He was released after posting $1000 bail. On Jan. 31, he was arrested again in his home county, Greene, and charged with first-degree criminal contempt. He was released after posting $20,000 bond.
Knapp said Falcone was a decorated officer who exemplified bravery, integrity and competence. “John was always the type of officer [who] didn’t hold himself back,” Knapp said. “He would be the first one into the fight, into whatever was going on at the time. For him to be directly involved in trying to control the suspect and [keep] him down was not a surprise.”
The City of Poughkeepsie police employ 100 sworn officers and 40 civilians. In its history, the force has lost only two other officers in the line of duty, neither from a gunshot wound. The last occurred in 1969.
The investigation is ongoing, and will take “weeks, and possibly months of interviews and evaluations,” said Knapp.
Funeral services for Falcone were held Thursday morning at St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel.
-- Megan Labrise
Tenant/landlord roundtable discussion
A tenant/landlord roundtable discussion will be held on Wednesday, March 2, 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community Center on 30 North Chestnut Street in New Paltz. The event is being hosted by the New Paltz Village Tenant/Landlord Relations Council. Guest speakers include: Kathy Moniz, Village of New Paltz Building Inspector; a representative from the Dispute Resolution Center; Victoria Kossover, a lawyer practicing in the Village of New Paltz; a representative from the New Paltz Property Owners Association; and a representative from the Office of the Aging.
The event is open to the public.
Spaghetti dinner in Gardiner
The Gardiner Day Committee will host its annual spaghetti dinner this Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Gardiner Firehouse on Route 44-55 in Gardiner. The dinner will feature pasta, meatballs, salad, bread, beverage and dessert. Seating is limited. Tickets are pre-sold and are available from any Gardiner Day member, the Gardiner Town Hall, Majestic Hardware and Ulster and Walden Savings Banks in Gardiner. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+) and $5 for children (2-10). A bring-your-own-bottle policy will be in effect. For more information or tickets, please call Linda Majetich Hansen at 706-0625.
Attention teen photographers
The Elting Library Teen Advisory Committee is holding a teen photo contest open to all photographers in grades 8 through 12. The photos can be black and white or color. The photos MUST be taken in New Paltz. All photos submitted will be displayed in the library. Entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges and prizes will be awarded. The top prize is $50 cash. To participate, bring your photography to the library at 93 Main Street in New Paltz by March 15.
Defensive driving class
Woodland Pond is offering a New York Defensive Driving Class this Saturday, Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to residents, staff and members of the community. Upon successful completion of the course, insurance is reduced 10% for three years and four points are reduced from your driving record. The cost of the six-hour session is $38, payable on the day of the class. Reservations are required. Please call Michele Vumbico at 256-5912. Woodland Pond is located at 100 Woodland Pond Circle, off of North Putt Corners Road in New Paltz.
Can you stay out of jail
Looking for some fun and something different? Join the Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes for a fun night at the Gray Bar Hotel this Saturday, Feb. 26 from 7 to 10 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Church Hall in New Paltz. There will be casino games, family games, music by Jail Bird DJ, dancing and light refreshments. The entrance fee is $5 and you will receive $200 worth of play money at the entrance. Grand prizes will be awarded at the end of the night. For reservations, call Joe Zaccaria at 255-5095 or Betty DuBois at 883-6127.
Brownies to hold food drive at Stop and Shop
Brownie Troop #60312 will hold a food drive at Super Stop and Shop in New Paltz this Saturday, Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon. They would appreciate rice, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, jelly, macaroni & cheese, soups, etc. The Brownies will donate the food to Family of New Paltz.
New Paltz welcomes the arrival of geese herding border collie
Augie, a two-and-a-half-year-old male border collie, has recently arrived at SUNY New Paltz. Augie’s purpose is to herd the migrating Canadian geese away and off the campus grounds with help from new owner Mike Malloy, Director of Environmental Health & Safety. The benefit is that the campus will no longer spend funds on removing geese droppings from athletic fields, sidewalks and grounds. The geese droppings are not simply unpleasant, but also may contain bacteria harmful to humans. Over time, the ponds on campus will see a reduction in algae growth and become a better environment for fish.
Augie arrived after all of the campus geese were transported to Wings of Hope, a domestic waterfowl rescue in Delaware, on Jan. 14. Malloy arranged the adoption of the 25 geese with the help of Wildlife Watch, Inc. of New Paltz.
Augie’s initial cost, $5,500, came from the campus maintenance and repair reserve funds. Food expenses will be paid by the Environmental Health & Safety department budget; these costs will be quickly recovered by the savings resulting from discontinued clean-up expenses that were once spent on the removal of goose feces from the college’s grounds and property.
Medical expenses and care have been donated by Dr. Michael J. Halstead, owner of the Lake Katrine Animal Hospital.
Border collies are known for their intelligence, energy, and herding ability. Augie was a competition sheep-herding dog before he was retrained to herd geese by the Big Bend Farm & Kennel in Virginia.
Since there are currently no geese to herd, Augie is settling into his new home with Malloy and being introduced to the student community. Malloy has also taken the responsibility of reinforcing Augie’s training to just herd geese and not resident ducks. As a part of the effort to keep geese from settling, student artists will create wooden ‘dog silhouettes’ to be placed all over campus. Augie will begin his responsibilities in early April, or when wild geese begin to migrate back to New Paltz.
Ulster Publishing unveils DineHudsonValley.com
The Hudson Valley is a food- and farm-lovers’ paradise. Ulster Publishing’s newest website -- DineHudsonValley.com -- provides information about local cuisine, restaurants, cooking and farming. The Hudson Valley is one of America’s most beautiful places and foodie hotspots. Use this new website to tap into informative food columns. You can find directions, hours, reviews and menus for hundreds of Hudson Valley restaurants. Just type in a town, find a restaurant, and look at its menu. Viewers can also share their own reviews of local dining spots.