CHEERS: To staff members at Ellenville Regional Hospital, whose calmness may have kept a dangerous situation from turning into a tragic one.
When a man came to the hospital recently, complaining of stomach pain, he was determined to get opioid pain medicine any way possible, police said.
He had a gun. When he felt staff wasn’t taking care of him quickly enough, he became belligerent and argumentative, knocking things over and waving his gun around.
When medical staff went to a cabinet and asked what medication he wanted, he fired a shot that struck the cabinet.
They gave him medication and he started to leave, but the hospital was already in lockdown.
As he headed to the lobby, which was occupied by patients, the staff tried to calm him. Eventually they led him to a back entrance and escorted him to his vehicle. The staff then called 911.
The man, identified as Joshua Stuart of Kerhonkson, later fired shots at Department of Environmental Conservation Police who came upon him in nearby woods.
Stuart was apprehended four days later in Brooklyn.
At a press conference, state police Capt. Michael Drake, head of the Kingston barracks, praised the hospital staff: “How many lives they saved, who knows, but those people are heroes today,” Drake said.
Calm under pressure. Indeed.
CHEERS: To Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and CIA director for President Barack Obama, on being awarded the 2018 Thayer Award by the West Point Association.
Panetta also served several terms as a congressman and as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.
West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams said Panetta’s career embodied President John F. Kennedy’s call “to ask what you can do for your country.”
The award is presented each year to an American citizen whose life exemplifies the West Point motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.”
The humble Panetta, who accepted in the name of the American soldier, is eminently qualified.
CHEERS: To Giovanni da Verrazzano, Italian explorer, who courageously set sail nearly 500 years ago and wound up discovering New York Harbor. In 1524, to be exact.
And the cheer here is for New York state finally correcting the spelling of the explorer’s name as attached to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island.
For some 50 years, the state has left one “z” out of the name, due to an error when a construction contract was signed for what is the country’s longest suspension bridge.
The change was made official when Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has had some issues regarding bridge names of late, signed a bill a week ago.
In fact, Cuomo also signed a bill changing the name of another well-known suspension bridge — the Bear Mountain Bridge. It will now also be known as “the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge.”
Unlike the Tappan Zee, however, which lost its identity to the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, the Bear Mountain change is just ceremonial.
It’s still the Bear Mountain Bridge, but the veterans get their due - as does the Purple Heart, which had its origins in the region.
So cheers all around on this one.