Follow Up on the
Up 9.3 Percent
Rozelle’s counter, Leifeld announced the bad news.
Though the plan is still only preliminary, he said it looks
like taxpayers will need to kick in an extra $279,351 to
keep Olive rolling in 2010. That’s a 9.3 percent hike.
Total spending for 2010, as outlined in the present draft,
would be $4,296,262. That, Leifeld says, would be a rise
Addressing his party’s challengers seeking election,
and in particular Republican candidate Vince Barringer,
who is running against Leifeld, the Supervisor said there
is still time to make changes.
“I know this a political year, but I’m open
to any ideas,” Leifeld said.. “We all have to
live by it (the budget).”
Barringer then announced that he was going to go to dinner
and left. Running mate Craig Grazier stayed, only to listen
“Do you know how this works?” Leifeld asked
Grazier. “I know some of you have never seen one of
these (a town budget) before.”
Independent candidate for town council Rita Vanacore spoke
one on one with Leifeld about the budget plan after the
brief session was over, but when asked in the parking lot
if she had any comment on his budget proposa,l she said
she did not. Nor did Grazier or the current town board’s
lone republican, Pete Friedel, who in August planned on
running against Leifeld with GOP endorsement only to back
out last month to make room for Barringer to have a go.
Vanacore did make a general remark, however, about budgeting
in tough fiscal times. Her biggest complaint, she said,
is the notion that labor contracts are seen as being “etched
in stone.” Vanacore says that the parties of a contract
should agree to tear it up in these tight times, so as to
be able to start over and prepare a new contract that reflects
the current economic crisis.
Earlier, while explaining the budget, Leifeld said that
the town’s labor contract calls for a 4% increase.
“That 4% is etched in stone,” he said.
Councilman Bruce LaMonda, also seeking re-election, added
that all non-union town employees, including town board
members, would get a 4% increase as well.
“Everyone gets whatever the labor contract says,”
he said. “We have to be fair.”
A look through the budget shows many small increases and
few big ones. A contingency fund with $65,000 in it this
year gets $75,000 next year. The Social Services safety
net goes up from $30,000 to $45,000. Employee benefits jump
from $418,950 to $438,265.
In contrast, the town’s ambulance squad gets a cut,
dropping from $105,000 this year to $95,000 next year.
On the revenue side, Leifeld expects landfill fees to drop
from $82,000 to $60,000. Mortgage tax is predicted to plummet
from $150,000 to $100,000.
“There’s a 14% decrease in revenues,”
The town board meets next Tuesday, Oct. 13th, at 7:30 pm
at town hall on Bostock Road in Shokan.
Maybe everyone will talk more, and have real figures, for
detailed expenditures and revenue matters by then. Or, as
in past year, how much of the town’s capital funds
will be raided to lower the predicted tax jump.
School Like New
Secondly, the occupants of the room were dressed more in accord
with this calender year’s sense of fashion than with common
costumes of the 19th Century.
And, finally, there was a stream of small punctuating clicks
from a camera at the back of the room. Otherwise, the singing,
the monologues, the oil lamps on the walls and palatable absence
of electricity, the wood stoves at each side of the room, joining
their exhaust pipes into a single exit in the ceiling, the plain
wooden pews and austere, nearly empty walls, strongly suggested
a setting in an earlier era.
"The church was founded just two months after the (Dutch)
Reform Church (at Shokan) was founded in 1799 and they kind
of worked in parallel for a few years," explained Eric
Winchell, speaking of the Olive and Hurley Old School Baptist
Church holding its annual meeting and service on September 26th.
Winchell, whose family affiliations with the church trace back
to that founding, became concerned with the neglected condition
of the old building, contacted its trustees in 1998 and found
himself spearheading a restoration project which has all but
concluded this summer.
Originally constituted in Tongore, as Winchell notes in an undated
essay titled "Ulster County’s First Baptist Church,"
the elders (as Baptists call their pastors) of the time adapted
much of their theological tone from Calvinist doctrine with
a liberal embrace of traditional hymns to augment their preference
for the conservative ("old school") style of observance
when doctrinal disputes divided the faithful into separate camps
several decades later. "The Baptists had no central denominational
authority," Winchell points out, "but were loosely
connected through Associations consisting of nearby, like-minded
From Tongore to Marbletown to Olive, the church reshuffled itself
a few times before settling under its present title with the
merger of the Olive and Hurley congregations in 1853, Winchell
said, and started to build the current building in 1856 on property
deeded by the DuBois family.
Finished the following year, it is said to be the only Olive
church left standing when much of the center of settlement was
submerged along with Olive City by the creation and flooding
of the Ashokan Reservoir in September 1913. Local historian
and poet, Bob Steuding, notes that ten churches in the upper
basin of the reservoir alone had been dismantled or moved, including
the stone Reform Church on Rt. 28 in Shokan, as the water project
displaced about 2,000 people from the locale. Steuding, whose
latest book, The Heart of the Catskills, was published last
year by Purple Mountain press, surmised that almost as many
must have been leveled in West Hurley’s lower basin.
With the Mexican War of 1846 having provided a large boost to
the local tanning industry, the little church, called ‘meeting
house" in Baptist parlance, had a congregation of over
a hundred in the 1850s to around the turn of the century, which
dwindled to around 30 by the 1940s, according to Winchell, and
down to about 10 in 1970. The last member died just a few years
ago, he said.
For decades the building remained unattended, with one meeting
and service held a year to retain its tax exempt status and
honor its historical significance (which was recognized by the
National Register of Historic Places in 1998, the year the 11
year restoration project began.). When Winchell’s great-great-great
grandfather, Jacob Burroughs, became pastor in the 1850s, Chauncey
Burroughs, a Baptist elder from Roxbury and father of the renowned
American naturalist and writer, John Burroughs [1837-1921],
was a member of the Presbytery which approved him. John, himself,
taught school at Tongore, where he met and married Olive native
Ursula North (who predeceased him and was interred at Tongore
The "bats in the belfry"episode was an adventure unto
itself during the renovations which Winchell recalls vividly,
having himself opened the 18"X18" hatch in the attic
at the back of the building’s balcony and been greeted
by an impressive fall of accumulated bat droppings. The decades
of guana build-up, over a foot deep in spots, was a separate
history left by the bats which, like tree rings, can be divided
into months of the bat year by any microscopist who’d
care to study it but, for Eric and church trustee John Secor,
who donned respirators and protective suits to shovel it in
to trash bags while dodging their flight patterns in the confines,
there was little time for close examination as they scraped
out the substance still highly prized as fertilizer by some
"I don’t think anyone had been in that attic for
at least fifty years," Winchell said as he recounted their
work with shovels and shop-vacs. "We could never make it
fully bat-proof. They can squeeze through the slightest holes.
There were cracks in the wood of the belfry they had been through
so much that the wood was actually polished and shiny. You’d
see thousands of bats come out every night at 8:30 or 9:00 and
there was no insect problem there while mowing and doing grounds
Outside, the porch is composed of huge bluestone slabs and without
railings, situated at just the height appropriate to step down
from the horse-drawn carriages in use when it was built. Inside,
Elbert Robbins, a Baptist elder from Salisbury, Maryland and
Andy White, a young perhaps elder-to-be from South Hampton,
"The format is basically the same as it was in all Baptist
churches 200 years ago-acapella singing and preaching-very simple;
no Sunday schools or musical instruments, statues or images,"
Winchell said. "That’s really the way it was before
1800 in virtually many of the churches-not just the Baptists."
"I saw it a few months ago, while it was in upheaval and
the renovation is marvelous," said Kingston’s award-winning
Photographer Laureate, Phyllis McCabe, who is preparing a book
on churches of the Hudson Valley called Lords of the Hudson,
(with commentary by noted local journalist Hugh Reynolds) scheduled
for release next year. It was McCabe’s camera which supplied
the clicks from the back of the church as her lens recorded
Having visited more than 110 churches, synagogues, Buddhist
temples and other places of worship in the area for a collection
which follows books like "Uniquely Ulster," "To
Kingston, With Love" and others (including a scenic exploration
of China), McCabe said the Shokan building’s atmosphere
most reminded her of Quaker meeting houses.
Olive town clerk Sylvia Rozelle, quick to declare that her own
voluntary help had nothing to do with her town office and that
she is a firm believer in separation of church and state, recalls
projects like the Country Tears, City Water CD-Rom and other
efforts which raised $10,000 toward matching funds to repair
the roof. Financed by donations and grants, with the work of
volunteers like Kevin Umhey the late Chet Lyon and others, the
renovated site is being considered for future community activities,
perhaps Civil War enactments or simple musical events, to repay
the community’s contributions to its continued existence.
Councilwoman Helen Chase said she has spoken with Winchell about
an Olive Historical Society focusing on the church in June of
"Now that we’ve about finished, after 11 years, we’re
hoping to make the building more available to the community,"
Join The Marches
crowd silently waited 15 minutes, when union leader Corey Cavallaro
spoke in anger.
“This is why we are two years without a contract, there
is absolutely zero respect for us tonight,” he said. “They
knew — the board and superintendent — that we were
going to be here tonight at six o’clock and this is how
they treated us, not me - us.”
Cavallaro said the Onteora administration has “sowed seeds
of distrust.” He said the board has asked for more time,
but accused them of stalling.
At 7:00 PM, the board entered into public session. School board
president Laurie Osmond immediately made a public statement.
“I want to make a point – this is a new board, three
of us are new to the board within 14 months; four of us in less
than six months,” she said. “This board respects
our teachers and our staff. This summer this board replaced
the negotiating attorney with our district attorney who has
decades of successful experience with Onteora.”
Osmond continued, “The two parties met last night, including
our newly appointed attorney and three board members who were
at the table.”
She said they want to resolve the negotiations “as quickly
and fairly as possible.”
In a separate meeting Cavallaro said the three board members
were trustees Anne MacGillicuddy, Tom Hickey and Osmond. When
Cavallaro was asked if Monday’s meeting proved fruitful
he said, “If it were promising we wouldn’t be doing
what we are doing tonight.”
In other business this week, the school board welcomed Jennifer
O’Connor as Onteora’s new Middle School principal.
She replaces Andrew Davenport who resigned after a year with
the district. O’Connor is well known from having served
as Onteora’s High School assistant principal. Her salary
will be $103,500 a year.
Bus drivers who transport high school students to BOCES for
vocational training complained to the school board following
incidences of unruly student behavior that they believed went
unchecked. According to Transportation Director Dave Moraca,
part of the problem is when drivers write up referrals, there
appears to be a communication breakdown between the driver and
the district. The drivers are not aware if any disciplinary
actions were taken.
The board requested that the district improve its line of communication
with Moraca who will forward information to his drivers.
On two occasions bus drivers heading to BOCES were stopped by
police because of unruly student behavior. In one incident a
student threw trash out the window, landing on a police car,
and in another a student opened an emergency exit door. There
has also been damage done to seats.
Moraca said he would like to get more cameras to install on
buses for monitoring, but he does have one bus at his disposal
for problem route.
The man’s lean, clear-eyed, well-spoken. He started
hiking the Continental Divide Trail, down in the Boot
Heel of New Mexico, last April 25. He finished his long
walk in Canada’s Watertown Peace Park on September
24, 2700 miles later.
Wilderness Bob took his first long hike, of 2,147 miles,
from April 4 to September 20, 2005, when he completed
the Appalachian Trail south to north. He did the 2,650
mile Pacific Crest Trail two years ago, taking from April
20 to September 30. In between he walked Vermont’s
Long Trail and, with his wife Brenda, the 480 mile Colorado
Trail… to keep in shape.
On this last one, he crossed the headwaters of the Snake
and Missouri, the Rio Grande and Arkansas rivers. He went
back and forth over the Gila River, in New Mexico, over
100 times in one day, and 200 times total.
Up in the Wind River Mountain Range of Wyoming, Bob picked
up a copy of an old trail journal by the early mountain
man Osborne Russell and matched it to his own trail journal.
He took a detour to climb what Russell called Sweetwater
Mountain, now known as Mt. Gannett, the state’s
highest at 13,800. 15 miles in for resupplies afterwards,
15 miles back out to the CDT; but what’s a five
day excursion in the bigger plan of things?
As a side project, Wilderness Bob notes, he’s been
trying to get up to each of the 50 states’ highest
points. He’s made 33 so far – all of the East
and much of the south and southwest, with the flatter
Midwest and truly high Alaskan and Hawaiian peaks to go
There’s also that trail he heard about from a man
he met hiking, running 4500 miles horizontally across
the country from the Finger Lakes to the Dakotas. The
hiker’s trail name? Nimblewood Nomad.
“When I got to the Green River I was surprised to
find that it wasn’t named for anyone named Greene,
but was actually the color green,” he said, as excitedly
as if he were still witnessing this subtle epiphany.
“I’m a Catskill native, born in Kingston.
Spent a lot of time up here in the Catskills hunting and
fishing as a kid. Lived in Mt. Tremper for a while. Now
I’m over Olivebridge-ways,” Bob explains.
“As an 18 year old I left for the military, where
I ended up having a 24 year, 4 month, and 5 day career.”
That included 19 years in the Green Berets and tours in
each Iraq War, plus every other conflagration our country’s
been involved in since the mid-1980s.
So what happened?
During time stationed in Europe, Wilderness Bob picked
up Bill Bryson’s popular “A Walk In The Woods”
and started talking to folks about the Appalachian Trail.
When he “got out,” as they say, he started
training around the reservoir, on local roads and trails,
and then took off on the Appalachian Trail, meeting numerous
folks from his new sub culture of long distance walkers
along the way. Like an 84 year old half-way, or a couple
of 70 year olds. One triple Triple Crowner said you could
never do just two of the big trails… you had to
do them all.
That first time, he learned about over-training, and how
to prepare for losing 40 pounds over a hike’s length.
But he also learned how to handle a 65 pound pack with
ease, learn how to gauge water usage and carrying weights,
how to mail supplies ahead of oneself as one hikes, how
to know when a few days in a motel made sense, as well
as how to think things out day after day by oneself on
a trail. How to face down and win over one’s demons.
“One of the things I’ve accomplished on these
hikes is to come to terms with the life I led in the military,”
Wilderness Bob says. “You can’t hide from
things, but you can learn to live with them.”
He tells of how he met up with his son along his hike,
as well as his daughter. The three of them, along with
his son-in-law, climbed Arizona’s highest mountain,
Humphries Peak, together. Then did several other reunions
as well, with Brenda – his second wife – along.
In addition to covering 14,000 miles of the country with
her on his Harley, Bob says he’s been getting her
confidence up on mountain hiking on her own.
“It’s all a system,” he says of hiking
as he now does. “You set distances. Use what you
can, pass on what you don’t need.”
Take his time in the Chihuaha Desert. He carried a giant
golf umbrella with him for months. Eventually, in the
Great Basin of Wyoming, he handed it off to an old man
who had become a follower, catching up with he and other
hikes along the Divide Trail to deliver goods, aid, a
And it’s all a cache of great stories…
Like spending time at Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost
Ranch in New Mexico, or getting lost for days in the San
Juans. In past days he’d take an IPOD with him,
loaded down with a 1000 songs. But this past time Wilderness
Bob listened to the world he was passing through, one
of about two dozen to hike this trail each year.
He tells about the pocket knife he left in Colorado a
year ago while hiking with his wife. Found it this time
after weeks thinking about just where it would be. On
a rock… right where he figured it would be. Same
with a pair of sunglasses in a bush, which he then lost
again a few days later. And will likely find, in another
bush, next time he’s up near Pike’s Peak a
few years hence.
There were many animals. But also ghosts… “which
you can think about 40 ways before laying back to rest.
This very conversation we’re having was thought
out many times along that trail this summer.”
So what now?
Wilderness Bob’s thinking about utilizing the new
G.I. Bill to get a new degree. Maybe move to Alaska for
a bit. But also maybe start stewarding some local trails.
See what he can do to finally get New York State’s
own Long Trail usable.
He’s got his eyes on the Superior Lake Trail in
Michigan. And going through his journals. Maybe piecing
a book together.
He notes that some ask him why he’s not joined the
Catskill 3500 Club and climbed the local peaks. That’s
for his retirement days, he says.
But then he adds something very deep.
“I know one day I’m going to be back at some
of these places with my grandchildren and I’ll be
able to tell them how there used to be a glacier here,
a grove of trees there,” he says, noting how many
forests have disappeared out west from invasive species,
let loose by climate change. “I think, all the time,
of the old naturalists, of seeing what they saw. This
wilderness is a treasure. That’s why I walk these
For more on Wilderness Bob, and other great hikers like
him, visit www.trailjournals.com and look him up.
And get out there and hike a bit, yourselves…
Jar Of Olives...
Perhaps there is a message there, for we never really appreciate
what we have until it is taken away. A very quiet and reclusive
man died this week, and I lament the fact that I did not know
him even though he lived just two miles from me in Shokan. I
knew him only through his very good friends, Cheryl and Joe
Kosarek, and the words he left in his poetry and prose. In his
passing, I learned a life lesson. Sometimes very quiet voices
speak powerfully, and conversely, some boisterous people say
nothing at all. Ralph Yodice spoke volumes in quiet words shared
only with a few. I hope he will not mind if I share some with
you. This is the first poem in a book entitled “Voices
in the Wind:”
The fields and forests had
shown then shed the works
and waves of Beauty which
Autumn once again
released to sing and dance
within the passing of
a brief but joyous
moment that returned
beyond the reach or touch
of mortal wonder,
beyond the woo and wail
of Winter’s watch that tried
but could not capture the
reflection of Autumn’s
beauty since time began.
Few can capture beauty. Artists try with words, with paint on
canvas, with a camera, and with the arrangement of flowers.
Barry De Baun and his mother Barbara have an exhibit at the
Seven 21 Gallery on Broadway. Their artwork can be viewed on
weekends during October. Speaking of art, Art Haver at the Boiceville
Florist has a gift for creating arrangements that are a one-of-a-kind
design. A florist uses color and texture, space and line to
create beauty. A budding artist (excuse the pun) Sachiko Plitkins,
Alex’s wife, is studying Ikebana, a Japanese style of
flower arrangement with a 92 year old teacher who is imparting
the ancient, elegant way to place flowers in an arrangement
that follows the high, low, medium use of space and line. Floral
arrangements, like the colorful leaves of autumn, give us only
a temporary glimpse of beauty.
Fall is that brief reminder that winter is, at least in the
Catskills, but a month away. This winter brings the threat of
flu, so be sure to protect your family. There will be a flu
clinic for seniors on October 27 from 9 a.m. until noon at the
American Legion building on Mountain Road in Shokan. The cost
is $20.00 for a flu shot and $35.00 for a pneumonia shot. Medicare
should cover these costs.
Don’t forget the Odd Fellows production on Oct. 11 and
the Samsonville Pork Roast dinner at the Samsonville Church
on October 16. Come be entertained or sated with your neighbors.
We need events like this to bring us all together during this
intense campaign season where garishly colored candidate signs
try to compete with the colors of fall. As political propaganda
briefly divides us, please let the beauty of autumn unite us.