Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The Villages

A Fire on Hook Mountain, An Ethical Firestorm and More Local News

Fire engulfed a section of Hook Mountain on Saturday. The fire was under control by Sunday morning. (Photo courtesy of Piermont Fire Department)

Emergency teams tamed fire on Hook Mountain

Two newsy stories to kick off this post-Holy Week edition of Villages, including an ethical firestorm over a Clarkstown preacher’s attempt to blame a recent mass shooting in Nashville on non-traditional lifestyles and an actual fire — right here on Hook Mountain.

We’ll start with the actual fire, which authorities are calling “a brush fire” and apparently ended without any major injuries.

On Saturday night, April 8, Upper Nyack residents could see a circle of flames rising from Hook Mountain as they started getting ready for bed.

Fire crews, including dozens of firefighters from emergency units from Piermont and Nyack, responded to fire reports on the mountain right around 9:30 pm.

When they arrived, a small group of firefighters from the High Angle Rescue Team (known as HART units) hiked to the top of the ridge, above the fire area, to establish an “anchor point so other team members could access the fire location safely,” according to a report posted by the Piermont Fire Department on their Facebook page.

After doing battle with the blaze for over two and a half hours, firefighters were forced to retreat from the ridge due to high winds worsening fire conditions.

By the morning, the fire was contained, with smoke still puffing off the mountain on Sunday morning.

It’s unclear how the fire started or the extent of the damage. Fire department officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for more information. But we’ll keep you posted when we find out more.

If you have any info about this fire or anything else happening in your community, please reach out to us,

A Firestorm of a different kind

Following a resounding blowback to an anti-transgender “rant” posted on social media last week, Richard Hasselbach, the head pastor of Clarkstown Reformed Church and weekly podcaster, stepped down from his position on the Clarkstown Board of Ethics.

In a statement posted on Facebook announcing Hasselbach’s resignation from the ethics board, Rockland County Pride Center, said:

“The statement from Rev. Hasselbach contains a series of lies about LGBTQ+ people in an attempt to dehumanize us. These lies include the idea that LGBTQ+ identity is a mental illness, that LGBTQ+ people are violent, and that living in our truth is “violent radicalization.”

Kayla Sharp, a local resident who identifies as transgender, put it this way on Clarkstown Reformed’s Facebook page: “Your church has disgraced this Holy Week with your pastors simpleminded rant about trans people. I am transgender, and I know that my God and my Christ accept me. How sad that you don’t understand the power and glory of God.”

The pride center has, unfortunately, found itself increasingly in the spotlight responding to high profile attacks against LGBTQ culture. Just a couple of months ago, officials from both sides of the political spectrum publicly denounced hate speech graffiti scribbled on the side of the pride building on Franklin.

“Tonight is the moment to rest, celebrate, and recharge because the fight is not over,” the pride center’s statement continued. “It is critical that we remain vigilant and push back against hate speech — especially when it comes from community leaders.”

As far as we can tell, Hassellbach and Clarkstown Reformed have not responded publicly to the outcry against his speech or the decision to step down from the board.

Stay tuned and be in touch …

In other relevant news:

  • Rockland County is purchasing 26 acres of land as part of its Open Spaces Acquisition Program, including a housing cooperative in Pomona and several acres of residentially zoned land owned the Davies Family Farm, according to the Rockland Biz Journal.

Tweets of the week:


Say it ain’t so!

Videos of the week:

This one’s for Marlowe’s:

ICYM NNV’s weekly features: Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”; Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; and our coverage in last week’s “The Villages”; Our latest Nyack Schools Report. If you haven’t read it yet, please check our vision for the future of Nyack News & Views and how you can help build our coverage and capacity.

Weather prediction (through April 16)

Heat! Temperatures will soar into the high 80s by Thursday with plenty of sunshine through Friday. The weekend could bring some clouds and showers. [Click here for the National Weather Service‘s latest 7-day forecast for the Nyack area.]

Covid Update! (threat level: still “low”)

According to CDC data of recent hospitalizations and cases, Rockland’s community threat level of Covid-19 is now considered “Low” after spending 6 weeks over the holidays in the “high” range and then dropping to medium throughout January. With a low designation, the CDC recommends getting tested if you have symptoms or have contact with someone who tests positive. Otherwise, live your life.  (CDC stats updated 4/6/23)

Village updates


  • Here’s the list of all upcoming meetings posted for the Village of Nyack.
  • If you could use help paying your water bills, click here.
  • Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).

Upper Nyack

South Nyack

  • Due to reader request, we have re-added South Nyack, which dissolved as an official village earlier this year. Please send us info about what’s going on in South Nyack at



  • The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including this Wednesday, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
  • For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.

Other Local Updates

South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.

Nyack Schools

Check out our latest Nyack Schools Report, a new regular feature we will post bi-monthly.

Find out what else is going on in Nyack-area schools at Home Page – Nyack Public Schools (


A rare polio case was recently discovered in Rockland County last summer. Here’s some info on how to protect yourself:

  • New Yorkers can pre-register for a free polio vaccination appointment here or call 845-238-1956 to schedule. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
  • Vaccines are also available through local healthcare providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • For more information on polio including symptoms and spread, visit NYSDOH’s page here.
  • New Yorkers can learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at CDC’s page here.
  • The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit
  • Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.

Connect with Nyack News and Views

Note to readers: We want to hear from you and welcome your input! What do you think we should be covering in your Rockland County village? Let us know at Send us story ideas, issues to investigate, letters, reviews, photos, videos, feedback and news tips. And read about our vision for delivering high-quality, hyper-local journalism and how you can help us fulfill our mission going forward.

You May Also Like

The Villages

This week in the Villages we look at the rumor-filled and then abrupt ending of Starbucks in Nyack and what it means.

The Villages

This week in the Villages, we look delve into all the empty storefronts downtown and look back at St. Patrick's Day festivities through the...

The Villages

This week in the Villages, we look at Nyack's school board, which is expected to go into a special executive session Friday night after...