From 1990 to 2000, the population
of the town of Olive has gone from 4,086
to 4,579, a 12.1 percent increase that is
almost twice Ulster County’s overall
growth of 7.5 percent for the same period.
In comparison, the town of Woodstock
has declined 0.8 percent, from 6290 to
“There are several factors to
consider when looking at the discrepancy
between these two towns,” Herb Heckler,
Ulster County's Director of Planning.
“Thereís the empty nest syndrome where
the number of people living in a house
declines to as children go off to college or
begin working,” he explained, referring to
Woodstock’s slight decline in population.
“And then, like in Olive, there are
properties being bought up from people
in New York City and Long Island as
According to the census data, there
were a total of 2,038 housing units in
Olive in 1990, 1,573 of which were
designated as “occupied.” In 2000, the
number of homes grew to 2,306,
representing a 13 percent increase over
ten years. Of these, 437 or19 percent are
considered “vacant,” or designated for
“seasonal, recreational or occasional
“I would say more like 40 percent,”
said Town Clerk Sylvia Rozzelle who is
also the townís tax collector. “People have
been coming up in droves since 9/11.
About 40 percent of the tax rolls are New
York City residents.”
Figures for changes in housing
occupancy since the tragic events of 9/11
are not available since census polls are
conducted once every 10 years. Rozelle,
however, suggests that another cause for
the discrepancy may be that those who
are out-of-town during the early part of the
year when the census questionnares are
mailed are not counted.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Census
Bureau, the federal group responsible for
conducting the surveys, could not be
reached for comment.
The process of capturing data for
many items, such as race, age and home
value have changed in 2000, rendering it
difficult to make apple-to-apple
comparisons with most 1990 data points.
However, here are some interesting
contrasts that are readily availalbe:
Median Household Income was
$31,622 in 1990, $45,409 in 2000.
Median Family Income was
$37,143 in 1990 and $50,931 in 2000.
Median monthly home-owner costs
with mortgage was $752 in 1990 and
$1030 in 2000.
Median monthly home-owner costs
w/o mortgage were $215 in 1990 and
$304 in 2000.
The percent of population over 16
that was unemployed was 5.8 in 1990
and 2.1 in 2000.
The percent of families below
poverty level was 4.1 percent in 1990 and
3.5 in 2000.
The percent of population over 25
with highs school graduate or higher was
78.4 percent in 1990 and 79.8 in 2000.
The percent of the population that
was over 25 with a bachelorís degree or
higher was 23.6 percent in 1990 and 28.1
percent in 2000.
The percent of the population over
65 with a disability was 31 in 1990 and
33 percent in 2000.
The top three ancestries reported in
1990: German (26%), Irish (18%) English
(13%). The top three ancestries reported
in 2000: German (27.8%), Irish (21.2%),
The result is that voters will now be faced with two
completely different propositions this November, in
addition to its regular choices of legislative representation.
First, there will be a resolution on whether to reduce
the size of the county's governing body from its current
33 members to a 23 member body. Secondly, a referendum
on whether to have single-member districts, put forth
by an 8,000 signature drive by county Democrats this
winter, will stand. However, neither can take effect
So what happened?
"It appeared it was time to sit down and talk.
Things were spinning in all different directions,"
county Democratic chairman John Parete said, adding
that the threat of ongoing lawsuits was a deciding factor
in his decision to settle. He offered that the 12-district
plan was a significant improvement over current practices
and that there was "significant uncertainty"
as to who would prevail vis a vis the growing number
of Republican lawsuits over the matter. State Supreme
Court justice Vincent Bradley ruled earlier in April
that single-member districts be created, which the legislature's
Republican majority achieved with its mid-April plan,
voted on and approved by Bradley. Parete said his final
decision, though, had been based on an undisclosed decision
by county Republicans to take their appeals to higher
courts, which have been ruling very conservatively in
Immediately following Parete's acquiescence to the deal,
county Republican attorney Francis Murray, who authored
the new plan, took it beyond Bradley, a state judge,
to Federal District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn, in Albany,
"I think everybody was saying they wanted smaller
districts and this plan satisfied that criteria,"
said Marlboro legislator Richard Gerentine, who led
the negotiations with Parete and was named Ward Todd's
successor as Chairman of the Legislature following the
decision to go with 12 districts. Ward Todd, who
doubles as Shandaken Republican Party chair and Ulster
County representative to the Catskill Watershed Corporation,
steps down from his legislative post June 30 for a new
job as president of the county Chamber of Commerce.
"We've left it up to voters to decide on the shape
of Ulster County government in eight years from now,"
Gerentine adding, noting how the new 12-district plan
is better at keeping towns whole. Oddly, he further
noted that he plans to support the smaller 23-member
legislature on the ballot in November, but would oppose
any plan to create single member districts, which he
feels would be
too confusing for voters.
Single-member districts currently elect federal and
state representatives and are used by the vast majority
of county legislatures around New York State. But since
the county legislature was created to replace an earlier
board of town supervisors in the late 1960s, the legislature
has been intent on multi-member districts, which have
favored Republicans despite a growing Democrat presence
in the county.
Under the new legislature plan, the entire town of
Shandaken will be included in the two-representative
District 2 with the entire towns of Woodstock, Denning
and Hardenburgh, as it was for years. There is also
a small slice of Saugerties in the equation. According
to the 2000 census, Woodstock has 6,241 full time residents,
Shandaken has 3,235, Denning has 516 and Hardenburgh
has 208. The two current incumbents for this district
are Republican Michael Stock of Woodstock and Todd,
who is resigning.
All of Olive and Hurley will make up District 3, with
three legislators. Also included will be most of the
town of Marbletown.. Three current legislators live
in the district: Linda Bertone, R-Hurley,Richard Parete,
D-Accord, and Robert Parete, D-Boiceville.Other towns
that are partially split between districts are Shawangunk,
New Paltz, Marbletown, Saugerties and Ulster. The city
of Kingston will be split among t hree districts: two
contained within city boundaries, and one made up of
a small part of Kingston and most of the town of Ulster.
The current mess dated back to April, 2001, when Todd
appointed an eight-member Special Committee on Reapportionment
to accommodate new date from the 2000 Census. Within
a week the process had split into two plans: a Republican
call for a seven-district legislature, and the Democrats
plans for 33 separate single-member districts. In June
of that year, Bradley ruled the seven-district plan
unconstitutional but let it remain in place for the
November 2001 election because he felt it too late to
change it.In March, 2002, Bradley again ruled the plan
unconstitutional and ordered the Legislature to redraw
district lines. Appeals followed until Todd appointed
a new five-member Legislative Redistricting Committee
last October. Despite resolutions from Olive, Shandaken,
Woodstock and New Paltz calling for single member districts,
a 10-member plan was set for approval in early December
with a nine-member plan
finally adopted later that month. Lawsuits over the
plans started in February, when County Republican Chairman
Pete Savago filed a motion in U.S. District
Court asking the court to impose the nine-district as
an interim plan for the November 2003 election. In late
March, however, U.S. District Judge Kahn ruled
the fate of the county's redistricting will remain under
the jurisdiction of Bradley, provided Bradley made a
decision in the case by April 21. Bradley ordered the
county to come up with new single-member district plans
starting April 1.
On April 10, the Legislature adopted the single-member
district plan announced in our last issues; and on April
16 that plan was approved by Bradley. Then the April
23 meeting occurred, with the Legislature approving
it later that night in a special meeting. Kahn approved
the 12-district plan and the public referendum issues
on April 25.
See you at the ballot booths come November.
Monthly meetings, practice drills,
ordering supplies, maintaining
equipment and coordinating schedules
are a few of the tasks that the 35
members of this volunteer emergency
response team tend to regularly, but their
most important responsibility is showing
Whether it involves getting out of
bed in the middle of the night after a full
day’s work or leaving a Sunday barbecue
at a friendís house, Oliveís first-aiders
must put their personal lives on hold the
moment their radio crackles.
“We get calls for everything. Kids
with heads stuck in banisters, swallowed
quarters, heart attacks, diabetic
emergencies, child birth and high-blood
pressure trauma,” said Kristen Demorest,
an Olive EMT who also serves as the
unit’s fundraising coordinator and media
“I volunteer because somebody I
know or my family may need [the service].
And, if my family needs it, then someone
elseís family needs it ,” she explained.
The Olive First Aid Squad is a basic
life support (BLS) team that is dispatched
by county 911 and functions
independently of the Olive Fire
Department. Those members of the
squad who are state-registered EMTís
can assist with medical treatment such as
giving oxygen and applying traction
splints, but they are not allowed to
administer drugs, initiate IV’s or intubate
In Olive, those jobs are left to the
private paramedic or Advanced Life
Support (ALS) teams, such as
MobileLife and Alamo who are hired by
the county. In addition, the town of
Shandaken has a paid day ALS unit that
county 911 dispatches to Olive when
Olive squad members can choose
their own shifts but are required to be on-
call a minimum of 12 hours a month.
Demorest who works a fulltime job during
the day, like most of the squad members,
usually signs up for the 12 midnight to
“During the day we have a hard time
filling shifts because people have lives
and have to work and as much as we
would like to be here for everything, there
are just so many of us to go around,”
Because many of the emergencies
are designated a two-tier response by
county 911, an ALS team is often
dispatched along with the Olive team.
And in the cases where the Olive team is
not available during the day, the county
sends an ALS team solo. But even so,
Demorest said, it would be better to have
an Olive team available at all times
because the unit
is usually closer to the location of the
emergency than the ALS teams.
Demorest said the unit has “toyed
with the idea of getting a paid day crew,”
but to do so would require that the BLS
unit be state-certified.
Another possibility, according to the
Olive First Aid president Brian Davis, is
to bill as volunteers. “We are looking into
a billing agency and medicaid/medicare,
but itís a long drawn out process,” Davis
said. “As a not-for-profit group, it’s
possible that we could use the revenue as
per-diem pay, a stipend or towards an
incentive point system for those who take
a shift during the day.”
Currently, the Olive First Aid unit
receives $70,000 from the town, but those
monies, Davis said, go toward equipment
and its maintenance.
In the meantime, Demorest is
planning a couple of fundraising events
that will serve not only to raise money for
the unit but to give the residents of Olive a
chance to meet the first aid team in
“I’d like to bring the town in so that
itís a group effort between the people
serving and who is being served,” she
said. “To get the community involved and
bring them into the organization so that
they know what weíre doing.”
The first of these events includes a
coin drop that will be held on Saturday
May 24 in front of Onteora High School
which is having a yard sale on that day.
Future events will include a penny social
and a pancake breakfast, both of which
would be held at the squad house on
And for those who want to see the
squadís new ambulance and a
demonstration of its equipment, there will
be an open house on May 18th to
celebrate the squadís 30 anniversary. "It
will start at 1:00," said Demorest, "and
end when the crowd runs out."
And yet it's more specific than that. It
has to do with that first voice and face we
grow to love. The glorious breast that
feeds us. The hand that guides us on our
first awkward steps on two feet. The lap
that we nestle inas times grow hard, as
we hurt and learn to keep going, despite
the hurt. The scolding finger that instills a
sense of right and wrong, or simply guilt.
The soothing look that teaches
forgiveness and undying love. The smile
of pride. The understanding tone that
implies the long picture of time, allowing
us to handle our own children's, partner's
or simply life's troubles. The unending
need for our love.
Even more specifically, I think of my
own mother's naive faith in everything.
The way she defined lipstick for me. The
thrilling adventure of all that hid in her
purse. The scent of Jean Nate. That look
she could give when sassed, part hurt,
part pure-as-needles anger.
I was the first of three. Instead of
feeling competitive with the birth of my
brother and sister, I had only the sight of
my mother being an even greater mother,
holding these dear babies with a glow
unlike any other.
When my parents broke apart, I
listened to the process from the top of the
stairs. Often, I'd side with my dad, thinking
such things would make me more manly.
But it was my mom who I felt for. Her
emotions flowed, and will always flow,
through me like blood.
After the divorce she had difficult
times. Severe depression and suicide
attempts. A brief spell of hospitalization. I
tried to pull away and almost succeeded,
confused by my own inability to deal with
mom as a living, feeling contemporary -
as another person, as troubled and needy
But then she up and moved to
Alaska. Said she'd met this guy, who
would eventually become my step-father,
at a conference. Took my brother and
sister by car across the country, eventually
catching the ferry from the coast of British
Columbia. Settled onto an island in the
Alexander Archipelago, where she stayed
for twenty years, giving herself a new
career as a social worker, marriage
therapist and adoption specialist. Sailed,
with her husband Chris, down the Pacific
Coast to Peru, the Galapagos, the
Marquesas, Hawaii and home to Alaska
At some point we discovered that
she had actually met Chris via a
personals ad. She laughed along with her
admission, laughed heartily. And she
made that island our new home, visited
whenever we could get there; a home of
the heart whenever the distances were
too great. A home supported by letters
and little notes of support, by phone calls
and visits to wherever we kids were, no
matter those same distances.
My mom never lost her way with
mothering. Every time we'd see her,
there'd be new sisters and brothers she'd
have found -- orphans of some sort,
spiritually or distance-wise, who'd we'd be
forced to share her love with. And still
share, as she continues the tradition into
the realm of grandmothering.
She moved from Alaska, and Chris,
after twenty years. Figured a change was
needed. Wanted to try her hand at the
accessibility of the East Coast again.
She and I had taken to taking annual road
trips together when I was in my late
thirties. Did the Alaska interior. Much of
the Pacific Coast. Good dollops of
Mexico. The entire Atlantic Coast from
Quebec to Key West.
She found a new home for all of us
on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, with lots
of water frontage, a boat, new found
careers, new friends and orphans.
My brother died, unexpectedly, a
year ago. She got the call from the D.C.
police, who had found him in a hotel
room. It was hard. And yet by Mother's
Day she was facing forward again, as
mother's somehow seem able to do.
How did my mother end up the
strong one in the family that begat me?
I think it's something about the very
concept of motherhood, which we're
celebrating this weekend.
I think of how my grandmother, living
in a succession of St. Louis apartments
with her only son, my grandfather,
somehow managed to make both a
career and a successful son. She never
I think, too, of my mother-in-law,
Linda, and how she survived similar
travailsÖ with four kids. My wife, like me,
was the eldest. And strangely, my mother-
in-law recently moved out of their home of
thirty-some years into a new home in the
same apartment building my grandmother
eventually graduated to, as she stepped
beyond immediate care for my dad and
could concentrate solely on her career,
confident that her progeny was truly
walking out in the world on his own two
The last time my mom and my
mother-in-law got together, with my aunt,
who's just lost her husband at the same
time she gained a first grandson, the
three ladies called and left a message on
our answering machine.
"It's mom," said one voice. "And
mom," said another. Even my aunt
chimed in with being a mom, as well as
My wife and I laughed on hearing it.
Laughed that laugh of recognition,
compassion, home that all laughter
seems somehow aimed at achieving.
Now we're trying to have our own.
Because these days, these Mother Days,