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Bronxville Government and History

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Former Bronxville Resident Victoria Scripps-Carmody Arrested with 193 Bags of Heroin PDF Print Email


Editor's Note: Much of the information in this story comes from an article written by Mike Donoghue originally appearing in the Vermont publication Burlington Free Press.

August 31, 2011: Former Bronxville resident Victoria Scripps-Carmody, 21, of Burlington, Vermont, has been accused of having 193 bags of heroin in her BMW when it was pulled over in Brattleboro, Vermont, on August 10, according to the Vermont Drug Task Force. She was returning with two men from Holyoke, Massachusetts, where police say she and the two men had gone to buy heroin.

Victoria, a Scripps-family newspaper heiress known at "Tori," was three years old when she saw her father, Scott S. Douglas, brutally beat her mother, Anne Scripps Douglas, with a claw hammer as her mother was sleeping in their Avon Road home in Bronxville on New Year's Eve in 1993.

Her father immediately thereafter drove his BMW to the Tappan Zee Bridge and, leaving the motor running, jumped to his death into the Hudson River. Her mother was found unconscious and died six days later.

Tori was subsequently adopted by her mother's sister, Mary Gibbs Scripps, and her husband, Robert Carmody, of Charlotte, North Carolina. They hoped that Tori would benefit from starting life anew. The New York Times reported in 1994 that a Scripps family lawyer had said, " 'The collective wisdom was that it would be in the best interest of Victoria to be removed from the immediate environment of tragedy and be up in a rural setting and begin a new life.' "

The state trooper who stopped Tori's car noticed that she had track marks on her arm, a court affidavit said. It said that Tori later told a detective that she had a six-bag-a-day heroin habit.

According to the article in the Burlington Free Press, "In the past 2 1/2 years, Scripps-Carmody has had four drug arrests along with two pending burglary charges, police say and court records show. One of the prior cases, involving the possession of OxyContin, resulted in her agreeing to enroll in court diversion. In another, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge and paid a fine, records show. And in a third, an accessory to robbery count was dismissed. The recent traffic stop and the two burglary counts remain unresolved in court."

Tori is the great-great-great granddaughter of James Edmund Scripps, who founded the Detroit News in 1873. He built the Evening News Association, which was sold in 1985 to Gannett Co., Inc., for $717 million. His younger half-brother, E. W. Scripps, founded E. W. Scripps Co., the media empire that owns newspapers, television stations, and the Scripps Howard News Service.

Tori was taken to the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, where she remains, because her parents decided not to post the $10,000 bail, hoping that she can "dry out" while in jail. The Burlington Free Press quotes her father as saying, " ' It's about a 15- to 30-day withdrawal with the kind of stuff she has been using before she is clean, so to speak. So partly we are thinking that is being accomplished where she is at. I think her attorney has told her that. We are keeping her there to dry her out.' "

Her mother told the Burlington Free Press last week, " 'We're supporting her every way we can. We love her and will never stop loving her and will never stop trying to help her.' "

The day Tori was arrested, her parents thought that she was at a private hospital they had brought her to a week earlier. They did not know how she got out of the hospital or how she got hold of her car.

Her parents told the Burlington Free Press that Tori's "childhood was idyllic . . . with overnights, birthday parties and membership in a Brownie troop. 'She had lots of friends. She was very social,' Scripps said." However, doctors and counselors warned them that Tori could start asking questions about her past when she reached her teenage years.

It was during just those years that two events described by Mary Scripps had a profound effect on Tori's ability to cope with her past. One was the re-airing when Tori was in eighth grade of a Lifetime network movie made in 1997 purportedly portraying the story of her mother's murder, although much of the story was fictionalized. Her classmates began tormenting Tori, including teasing her about being adopted.

Tori's performance in school began to decline, and she stopped doing homework. It was difficult for her parents to find a high school where Tori would thrive. She was never really happy in high school and attended four different high schools, one of which was a residential treatment center in Utah.

Tori was scheduled to receive her inheritance when she was 18. Her parents said they tried to delay Tori's receipt of her inheritance, since they knew Tori was not able to handle a large amount of money at one time, but their legal attempts were unsuccessful. The New York Times reported in 1994 that her biological mother, Anne Scripps Douglas, had left a $1.3 million estate, "not strikingly large."

The second troubling event was the suicide of one of her two older half-sisters in 2009. Her half-sister Anne Morell Petrillo took her own life in circumstances that hauntingly echoed the circumstances surrounding the suicide of Tori's father, Scott Douglas. Just as Tori's father did, her half-sister drove her BMW to the Tappan Zee Bridge and jumped to her death into the Hudson River. And her half-sister was 38 when she took her life, the same age Tori's father was when he took his life.

Pictured here: High school graduation picture of Victoria Scripps-Carmody.


In the 'People's Attic' of Bronxville Many Treasurers Are Stored PDF Print Email


August 31, 2011:   Because it collects and displays millions of items, Washington's Smithsonian Institution bears the nickname "the people's attic."  Bronxville's own "attic" is in a basement--the basement of the Bronxville Public Library.

Its formal name is the Local History Room, and it houses many thousands of items.  Before the room was established, some village records and memorabilia were stored in the library's actual attic.  "It was a terrible place to work in, especially on a hot day," recalls Mary Huber, who served as village historian for twelve years.  "People sometimes brought things to the library to be stored, even paintings."

Ms. Huber holds a master's degree in decorative arts and is a fellow of the Francis du Pont Winterthur program.  She has also worked at the Yale University Library and Sleepy Hollow Restorations.  She was succeeded in her capacity as Bronxville Village historian by Eloise Morgan, a graduate of Harvard Law School who is assistant to the president of Concordia College, Viji George.

The Local History Room was first developed under the guidance of Jean Bartlett, who served as the first official village historian for twenty-one years.  Bertrand Burtnett, grandson of Alexander Masterton, one of the village's earliest settlers, had served as an unofficial village historian years earlier, and the photographs and documents in his collection are among the oldest items in the Local History Room today.

Before the Local History Room was organized, some material had been in a vault in Village Hall, some in the files of The Bronxville School, some in the files of the Bronxville Public Library, and some in the Eastchester Historical Society.  Anticipating the creation of a space devoted to local history some day, Ms. Bartlett preserved and catalogued historical materials in her own 1950s home on Prescott Road.

Space for the Local History Room was set aside on the lower level of the library and converted in 1982 to a carpeted room with cupboards, shelves, and file cabinets.  A professional archivist was hired, and acid-free products for preservation were purchased with funds from the Anne Hutchinson chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Village of Bronxville.

Donations to the archives were spurred by the celebration of the village's 75th anniversary of incorporation in 1973.  Funding came in part from publication of the jubilee journal Bronxville Views and Vignettes.

In 2001 the room was remodeled, expanded, and furnished with archival storage units during a major library renovation made possible by the $4 million sale of a Childe Hassam painting from the library's collection.  A climate-control system dedicated to the Local History Room was among the improvements.

Today the Local History Room is primarily a documentary archive of early Bronxville.  One of the striking artifacts is a framed poster marking a 1909 Westchester Historical Society pageant celebrating the county's history from 1664 to 1846.

Several histories of the Village are kept there, including Sketches of Lawrence Enterprises, Around Bronxville (part of the Images of America Series), and the crown jewel, Building A Suburban Village, which commemorated the village's centennial.  Appropriately the volume was edited by Ms. Huber and Ms. Morgan.  It has just been reprinted and is available at Womrath Bookshop.

The collection also includes books written by notable Bronxville residents such as Kate Douglas Wiggin, author of the children's classic Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm; aviation pioneer Eddie Rickenbacker; television personality Jack Parr; and celebrated horticulturalist Louise Beebe Wilder.

The latest Bronxville history book, published in 2010, is Bronxville Views: The Past in Picture Postcards, assembled by Ms. Morgan.  A four-color volume, it is heavily illustrated with vintage postcards of the village that were obtained on eBay.  It is on sale at Bronxville Village Hall and at Womrath Bookshop.  Ms. Morgan has also tapped eBay for such other village memorabilia as a leather-bound handwritten ledger recording expenses and revenues of the Bronxville Public Library from its founding in 1906 through 1924.

One corner of the room holds an assortment of artifacts, with such items as a tablecloth from the Hotel Gramatan and a bottle from the Gramatan Springs Company.

The history room's collections also include thousands of black-and-white photographs, old telephone directories, atlases, census records, DVDs of former Mayor Marcia Lee's television interviews with over 110 local notables, records of Miss Covington's Dance Studio, 19th-century diaries and histories of companies that once flourished in Bronxville such as the Ward Leonard Electric Company, back issues of the Villager, a magazine published by The Bronxville Women's Club between 1923 and 2003, and the records of now-defunct civil organizations such as the American Field Service and the Bronxville League for Service.

An almost-complete set of Bronxville's weekly hard-copy newspapers from 1902 to 2006 is available either on microfilm or in bound volumes.  Many of the newspapers were microfilmed through a grant Ms. Morgan obtained from New York State.

The collection includes the Bronxville Review, founded in 1902, the short-lived News, the Bronxville Press, published in the 1920s and 1930s before merging with the Review in 1937 to become the Review Press, and the Reporter, which later merged with the Review Press to become the Review Press Reporter, the main local paper covering Bronxville news after World War II until 1995 when its most recent owner, Gannett Co., Inc., cut back severely on staffing.  Also available are copies of most articles appearing in since its inception in September of 2007, including obituaries.

Given the village's past as an artists' colony, it is no surprise that many requests are received for information on painters and sculptors who worked here.  The collection has also provided materials for two major shows of Bronxville artists at the Hudson River Museum.  Among frequent inquiries are those for obituaries, accounts of the Lawrence family's real estate holdings in the village, and material on the prolific architect Lewis Bowman.

Inquiries about the history of Bronxville and requests for appointments at the Local History Room should be addressed to Ms. Morgan either by phone at 914-779-9391 or by e-mail at CLOAKING .  Most can be answered by telephone, e-mail, or letter.

The village's historians have served without pay.  They are part of a network of 1,300 historians who serve jurisdictions ranging from New York City to isolated Adirondack regions.  The position of village historian in New York was established in 1917, and members have included Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was the historian for the Town of Hyde Park while he was governor of New York.

Pictured here:  Eloise Morgan, current Bronxville Village historian.


Bronxville Police Department Launches 'School's Open--Drive Carefully' Campaign PDF Print Email


August 31, 2011:  Each fall as kids head back to school a campaign is conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in conjunction with local governments and police agencies to remind drivers to watch out for school children as they walk to school.  The nationwide campaign is designed to reduce the number of traffic accidents involving school-age pedestrians and school bus riders.

This year, Lieutenant Richard Bunyan and Police Officers Steve Valentin and Jason Cooper of the Bronxville Police Department helped AAA New York to launch its 66th annual "School's Open--Drive Carefully" campaign by mounting traffic safety posters in the community.

Among other things, Lieutenant Bunyan and Officers Valentin and Cooper have mounted a colorful "School's Open" poster at police headquarters in Bronxville to warn drivers to be extra careful as thousands of local children return to school.

"The help that we get from our club-area police departments adds to the effectiveness of our 'School's Open' campaign," said Donna Galasso, assistant director of the AAA's traffic safety unit.  "We appreciate the efforts of Lieutenant Bunyan and Officers Valentin and Cooper, which will result in increased safety for all students," said Galasso.

The Bronxville Police Department reminds drivers, including bicyclists, to be especially cautious in school areas around Midland Avenue and Pondfield Road, by keeping their speed at or below posted limits and by being prepared to stop, on both sides of the street, for school buses with flashing red lights and stop arms, as required by New York State law.

AAA New York State's "School's Open--Drive Carefully" program was initiated in 1945.  Since then, it has helped to prevent an untold number of injuries and deaths among children of elementary school age.  AAA clubs distribute nearly two million pieces of material annually, including posters, banners, bumper stickers, and literature carrying one simple message--be extra careful behind the wheel as schools reopen after summer vacation.

Pictured here:  Front row (L to R) Robert Satriale, John Satriale, and Donna Galasso (assistant director of traffic safety for AAA) Rear: Bronxville Police Lt. Richard Bunyan; Bronxville Police Officers Jason Cooper and Wilson Valentin.

Max McGrath: Southern-Style Football Is a Religion; Our Broncos Will Show Them PDF Print Email


August 31, 2011:  A few days ago I had a client in the car who's looking for a beautiful two-bedroom condo on Hutchinson Island overlooking the blue waters of the Treasure Coast.  We started our mission around 5:00 pm and looked at several outstanding units with great views.

The client is a man in his sixties originally from a small town in western North Carolina and answers to the handle J.B.  He played football in both high school and college.

Looking at him you could tell he was an interior lineman.  Still in good shape, the telltale giveaway was his gait.  He walked like a lineman whose age had caught up with him on his right knee, which had a favored sway as he ambled along.

These are guys I enjoy showing property to--plainspoken, independent business owners who know exactly what they want in a beach home investment.  The conversations are easy; these guys always end up spinning stories about their best days ever, playing between the hash marks.  It's true, real men love mud.

After seeing the properties, we headed back where he had parked his car.  Along the way we passed the local high school field littered with equipment, kids running drills, coaches blowing whistles, and cheerleaders in sweats practicing, all observed by parents in the stands; it's serious Florida football season.

J.B. asked if I minded stopping and watching for a while.  "Hell no!"  We pulled up on the grass to park.  Exiting from the car, we leaned on the four-foot high chain-link fence and became absorbed in the practice.  It was a beautiful, clear evening in the mid-70s with a slight breeze.

The practice field smelled of freshly mowed grass and recalled ancient memories of line drills, sweat, tackling dummies, and frustrated, chiding coaches.

We were both impressed with the high level of skills these kids were exhibiting at practice.  Full of pride, J.B. declared, "Southern-style football is a religion, especially in Florida."  I swallowed back my disagreement--after all, I was from B'ville where football rivals the Vatican.  He was looking at a $250k condo; I'm not that crazy to not disagree.

The field lights were switched on, allowing us to clearly watch the defense and special team drills that were closest to us.  I always wanted to play under stadium lights.  Still, it brought back memories of Augusts long ago with "two-a-days" on the flatiron heat of the dust bowl, something then you cursed but yearn for again.

Down here the critics don't give much credit to Northern high school football; the South thinks it owns the sport.

I wonder what current Bronco co-captains Sean Callahan and the Conway twins would say about that.  After all, they are going into this season as league state champions, and everyone is gunning for them.  This year's Bronco team has big ground to plow, and I personally think that, with the outstanding leadership and returning team's cohesiveness, they can compete.

My fantasy is seeing you desperadoes take the state again then motor down here to educate a comparable Florida league team and bring a little New York Yankee football to their deep-fried doorsteps.  My money would be on you guys.  Selfishly, it would be the only way for me to see you play in person.

Winning this year has to be easier than pushing an SUV up Hawthorne Road in 90-degree heat.  Even Conan would need a nap after that.

There is no question in my mind that you guys will be on that bus heading for the Carrier Dome January bringing the heat.


Bronxville Area Hit Hard by Tropical Storm Irene: See Photos PDF Print Email


August 29, 2011:  The sun shone brightly on Monday morning in Bronxville belying the fact that just the day and night before, one of the worst tropical storms ever to hit the village and vicinity had occurred.  The storm had been downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm, but Bronxville residents would never have known, given the amount of flooding and high winds.

The Bronx River flooded it banks onto Paxton Avenue making the street impassable for hours.  The Bronxville Elementary School parking lot was completely under water, and water flooded onto nearby Pondfield Road.  Many Parkway Road residents found their basements seriously flooded, and residents of Brooklands also experienced serious flooding.

Most residents lost power for a good portion of Sunday, and trees that had fallen blocked several roads in Bronxville.

As of 2:30 pm Monday the southern section of the Bronx River Parkway was still closed and so was the southern section of the Hutchinson River Parkway.  Only at 2:00 pm on Monday did the Harlem and Hudson lines of Metro-North restart service.

A more complete coverage of the storm will be given later on Tuesday, but for now, to see photos of the destruction to Bronxville and vicinity hit the link below:

Tropical Storm Irene

Pictured here:  G. T. Motors on Paxton Avenue near Palmer Avenue flooded out.

Photos by Jeannie Murrer, Sue DeJoy, Kate Fairchild, and N. M. and K Taylor.

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