Follow Up on the
Last week, while
the rest of the country had its eyes on national elections,
the Catskill Watershed Corporation Board of Directors voted
on November 4 to amend its for the contract for a Community
Wastewater Management program project for a Boiceville wastewater
treatment plant and collection system to include an additional
$2.2 million to its original grant of $10,078,000 because
bids for the Ulster County project came in higher than anticipated
more than two years after the system was first designed
The project was passed on May 8, 2007, just months after
a $17 million city-funded (versus CWC-sponsored) sewer system
project was narrowly turned down in the neighboring community
The Olive Town Board put the matter up to community referendum
after a year-long study concluded that a wastewater treatment
plant would be the most efficient and effective means of
treating sewage in Boiceville. The new plant’s capacity
of an estimated 62,240 gallons of wastewater per day is
set to include not only the community’s Route 28 business
district, which could conceivably expand after its building,
but also the Onteora Junior/Senior High and Bennett School
T he cost of construction of Boiceville’s collection
system will be paid from a block grant from the Catskill
Watershed Corporation. Operation and maintenance fees for
residences will be capped at $100 per year. Businesses will
be charged according to usage, with a $250 minimum fee per
year. The city will pay all else, including a majority of
that owed by the Onteora School main campus, whose presence
in the system serves to keep costs down for others.
Bids for construction were opened last month by the project’s
engineer, Henry Lamont of Delaware County-based Lamont Engineering,
but found to be higher than anticipated.
According to Olive town supervisor Berndt Leifeld, the new
funding amendment from the CWC, on whose board he sits,
will now force a re-examination of those bids, with a final
vote of approal by the Olive Town Board at its next meeting
on December 2. The supervisor said that at least two weeks
would be needed for paperwork to be finalized, and no problems
were currently anticipated.
Although actual construction on the new system is not expected
to start until next Spring, Leifeld added that he would
expect some trees and other means of site preparation to
start over the coming winter months, weather conditions
permitting. Work is anticipated to involve quite a bit of
road repairs and mess befor being completed in 2010.
Henry Lamont, explaining the system he had designed for
Boiceville nearly two years ago, is planning to place the
community’s new wastewater treatment plant behind
the existing Trail Nursery on the south side of Route 28,
on a 12 foot riser to avoid damage if and when the nearby
Esopus Creek rises.
Local home and business owners voted for the project by
a large margin after it was pointed out that a number of
local building expansion restrictions would be lifted with
the influx of a municipal sewer system, that mortgages would
be easier to procure, and there would no longer be a threat
of homeowners poisoning their own wells.
The Onteora School District has been informed that recent
water problems it has faced would be easier to solve once
it is hooked up to an off-site wastewar=ter treatment plant,
The OCS Effect?
On Tuesday night, November 18, Assistant Superintendent for
Business Victoria McLaren described State funding for the Onteora
School district as being in a “holding pattern.”
She explained that the district would not see 2008-2009 mid-year
cuts at this time since the State Senate could not agree to
Governor Paterson’s proposal.
The district receives $9.4 million in State aid and could have
seen a $582,000 mid-year cut.
District Superintendent Leslie Ford said that the district should
be prepared for any reductions.
“Neither Victoria or I feel comfortable with just saying-well
we’ll see what happens.”
They hope to come up with a plan that will not effect affect
instruction in the classroom, “but everything else around
it,” according to Ford. As examples she mentioned field
trips, conferences, late bus runs, and tighter energy conservation.
School board trustee Maxanne Resnick asked the board to think
about the Middle School options based on conversations from
the Strategic Plan Committee. At the last meeting she said,,
“There was some expression or concern by the Middle School
staff on what was the board’s intent with respect to tackling
the middle school configuration issue.” Trustee Donna
Flayhan suggested using Middle School curriculum as a foundation.
Trustee Richard Wolff said declining enrollment needed top priority.
Michelle Friedel said the board should wait for Strategic Planning
At the board’s November 3 meeting at Woodstock Elementary,
it was noted that because of the bleakness of State aid’s
future, the district is gearing up for what will be a very tight
budget for next year. Assistant Superintendent for Business
Victoria McLaren presented a history of State Aid factors revealing
how wealth and property value have a disproportionate calculation
when it comes to aid. She pointed out how Assemblyman Kevin
Cahill had successfully lobbied for more state aid on the district’s
behalf in recent years, but also added out how she wanted to
educate new school board members on what they are going to be
facing in the current financial crisis… stressing that
additional State aid may no longer be available with cuts imminent.
“In our district, income wealth is very close to the State
average,” said McLaren, “but the full property value
is seemingly well above the state average.”
She explained that the district pupil count is divided by the
total relative wealth value made up of a combination of income
and property wealth. In 2005 the average relative income per
pupil was $144,674 in the district, while the State average
was $143,000. But in 2005 property wealth per pupil was valued
at $1,221.218 compared to the State average of $453,100. McLaren
said because the district’s land value increased so significantly
over the years, State aid no longer reflects actual income.
In 2002, total pupil wealth in the district was $102,621, compared
to the State average of $118,500. Property wealth per pupil
in 2002 was valued at $621,194 compared to the State average
To show how these numbers work, McLaren showed how, since 2002,
transportation department aid went from 40 percent down to 19
percent. BOCES also dropped from 56 percent State aid in 2002
to 36 percent currently.
She pointed out that no further aid increases can be expected
over the foreseeable future, now.
Costs Are Rising...
the industry’s logger men are saying, is because in addition
to demand being much, much higher than usual, some recent state
laws inaugurated in recent months have started effecting supply.
“Business is up this year, definitely,” says Mark
Anaust, who draws most of his clientele from the Woodstock area
(and advertises in these pages). “I’m way ahead
of where I was last year.”
He noted that many he knows working the firewood business have
been hard hit by a new state Department of Environmental Conservation
ruling from set into place June 4 that forbids the movement
of logs beyond a 50 mile radius, as a means of curbing the spread
of various pests devastating Northeast forests. But then adds
that, drawing most of his own supply from local forests, some
of which he owns, his supply hasn’t been effected all
Former Hurley town supervisor Mike Shultis, whose made his own
living from firewood for 33 years now, says he HAS been hit
by the new DEC regs because he tends to buy bulk wood from suppliers,
which has forced him to set up new purchase arrangements.
“Last year I’d buy wholesale log lots at between
$65 and $70 a cord,” he said of his process, which sees
him preparing firewood for delivery through splitting and cutting,
drying and measuring. “This year, that cost’s gone
up to $100 to $110 a cord.” And there’s a shortage
of it. There’s a shortage of wood pellets, too, with most
folks only able to buy directly from whomever sold them their
stove in the first place…”
He said there’s an opening for wood moved over 50 miles…
but it involves heating firewood to over 170 degrees in its
center to kill off any pests.
“I can’t afford that,” Shultis said. “This
has been an absolutely crazy year.”
He noted that he’s had to turn away over 100 potential
customers in recent months, and has limited his dealings with
new clients to e-mail, just so he can keep ahead of the 300
to 400 customer base he’s maintaining. Shultis added that
he’s also working harder to shift more of his clientele
from a September through Christmas buying season to ordering
in the Spring, when he’s offering cut-rate specials.
“Smart people buy then,” he said. “Procrastinators
Anaust similarly explained his business as being “a bit
funny” in the way “it involves an expense people
put off to the last minute. They tend to want a superior product
next Wednesday at the latest. They just don’t buy it until
they need it.”
He says one of his considerations has always been regarding
the number of times one handles the stove wood he’s selling…
the more times, the higher the price. Dry it too much, the cost
goes way up. As a result, he says, he and others in the business
for some time tend to, “give people exactly what you say
you’re going to give them.”
Shultis noted that, with wood use expanding, the business has
been pulling in some neophytes and even crooks. He’s been
getting calls, he said, from folks getting half cords instead
of full, or wood that’s too green to burn.
Neither man has seen that much of an increase in the use of
wood furnaces to date, partly because of the local outcry and
increasing number of local laws piling up against them. But
they do believe folks are using their woodstoves more because
of the rising costs of oil and natural gas, as well as financial
worries that are pushing folks towards stockpiling things they
can’t have taken away from them. Especially when it comes
to stock comforts, like food… and heat.
“Wood heat is still a bargain,” said Shultis, who
noted that a cord of wood ran about $40 when he started business
in 1976. “One cord equals about 180 gallons of home heating
oil. That’s quite a savings, even if you didn’t
lock in at over $4 a gallon, as a lot of seniuors I’ve
been speaking with did.”
Anaust added that he knows things have been rough by the number
of jobs he’s been paid for with singles and five dollar
“Price is a big consideration for these things,”
“It’s taken me a lot of hard work to get caught
up,” Shultis added. “I’m only thirty to forty
orders behind now and expecting to be all but done by the holidays.
I had to go to e-mails only when it got so I’d come home
to 30 phone calls needing returns. I haven’t seen anything
like this since the early 1980s, and even that pales in comparison.”
He added that, given the way things are going, he suspects the
fuel of the future, at least in the local area, will end up
being pellets… both wood only, and combined with grasses
and other biomass materials.
Anaust added that he always tries to keep something aside for
deep winter, when folks start running out of what they have.
Although like Shultis, he’d like it if people started
taking their heating needs, especially involving wood, more
serious as a long term investment, and not something that’s
always rushed at the last minute.
“I guess in the end,” he said, “It all comes
down to the fact that wood is just something that the government
can’t take away or the power company shut off when you
need it most.”
Good point, that.
Then again, the senator — who will be shifting from a
majority to a minority member of the body he’s been part
of for nearly a decade now – admitted that there hasn’t
been an economic crisis quite like that being faced by New Yorkers
in memory. Maybe ever.
Although by the looks of things in the gilded Senate chambers
Tuesday, and later in the more tattered and plebian Assembly
quarters across the capital, no one seemed to be in crisis mode.
Bonacic gladhanded Democrats from the city as well as fellow
Upstate Republicans after the body’s gaveling in and immediate
move to recess during the lunch hour, as snow started to fall
in fast flurries outside.
What was going on?
Gov. David Paterson had proposed $1.5 billion in new spending
cuts for the remainder of the current fiscal year to help hold
off a nearly $20 billion and fast-rising deficit being caused
by hits being taken by the state’s leading revenue source:
Wall Street. Yet the 90-minute meeting closed-door meeting between
he and legislative leaders Shelly Silver of the Assembly and
Dean Skelos of the Senate was reported to have been filled with
accusations, name calling, several new alternatives not heard
before… and no cuts, or agreement.
According to Bonacic, all that was accomplished was an agreement
that everyone would go back to the drawing boards and return
December 16, when Paterson would also produce a 2009 spending
plan to center further discussion.
Which, he added, meant that any further cuts were ostensibly
off the table for the remainder of this fiscal year.
At least until the GOP loses control of the Senate for the first
time in decades on New Year’s Day.
The governor’s proposed cuts, released in draft form over
the past week, had drawn crowds of protesters to the back lawn
behind the capital Tuesday because of threats against education,
health and social services spending. Signs and placards identified
various unions, interest groups, as well as many asking for
“Better Budget Choices,” as well as hand-lettered
calls to, “Tax The Rich.”
Prior to Tuesday’s sessions, Senate Republicans, angry
over Paterson’s part in their electoral defeats two weeks
ago, had been expected to simply refuse to take up the governor’s
bills. And Assembly Democrats, meanwhile, were rumored to be
favoring a tax hike on those earning more than $1 million as
a way to help balance the budget, as well as simply waiting
until they have power of the entire Capital in less than six
The cuts for next year’s budget floated by Paterson to
date have included major hits to hospitals and insurance companies,
rises in state college tuitions, and added burdens for richer
districts (see Onteora story). Also being hit, and responded
to in great flurries of press releases over the past week, have
been everything from libraries to the state arts council, as
well as the possibility for further reductions at Belleayre
Ski Center, including an indefinite suspension of a private/public
partnership for a resort approved in principle by Paterson’s
predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, who left office in disgrace last
March (see Briefs inside).
In separate news this past week, a local press release battle
erupted when resort opponents at the Catskill Heritage Alliance
addressed the governor, suggesting formal cutting of the Spitzer
proposal. Resort developers, Crossroads Ventures, countered
by noting the need for their project’s economic development
promise while longstanding Belleayre Ski Center supporter sided
fully with the developers.
Bonacic, speaking from the Capital Tuesday afternoon following
the Special Session’s adjournment, said that as far as
he knew, no decision, up or down, would be made regarding the
Belleayre Resort project and state funding for it pending resolution
of litigation brought against the state by the Sierra Club challenging
the Spitzer agreement.
“This is a typical legal strategy for fringe environmental
groups trying to deplete deep pockets; a fly in the ointment,”
the senator said, noting the dangers of such national and international
groups. “We’re still pushing forward for approval,
feeling it is instrumental to economic development in the Catskills.”
Bonacic added that funding for a proposed Catskill Interpretive
Center, as far as he cared, was “on ice,” and that
he was waiting to see what the governor was planning for the
ski center, apart from what he termed “light cuts so far”
come December 16.
He said that he wished he could have saved more of the ski center’s
budget this year but feels it fared better than many other state-owned
entities. He said that the major shift will be from a majority
of the slopes’ snow being man-made to a greater reliance
on Mother Nature.
As for the coming year under Democratic control, the senator
spoke about how he felt it boded bad for Upstate, because of
the downstate city-based power of the Democratic caucus. He
also derided the governor for what he termed, in a long diatribe,
as his “weakness” in not bringing a bill forth to
be voted down in his chamber.
“It looks like he caved in,” Bonacic said of Paterson.
“We were prepared to vote today. It costs money to bring
us all to Albany for something like this.”
“It’s going to be a painful year,” he added.
“I’m hoping the challenges will make us all more
Jar Of Olives...
The one thing that these four holidays have in common is sharing.
Halloween finds us giving out candy; Thanksgiving is the time
to share a meal, and Christmas and Hannukah are celebrations
of gift giving. If we look at the season in that way, we are
less likely to sigh and moan about “all we have to do.”
The ladies at the Town Office have the right spirit this year.
Instead of exchanging presents, Susan, Sue, Jen, Sylvia, Brenda
and Jan are adopting families in need and shopping for them.
I lament the fact that my grandchildren are old enough to request
certain gifts rather than ask Santa for them. I feel fortunate
enough to be content with what I have. I don’t need or
want anything. It is a time in my life to share with others.
Imagine what would happen if each family helped out another
family? Mathematically, it could solve the stock market crisis
and do wonders for world peace.
There are lots of events to get us into the giving season. On
Sunday, December 14, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., there will be a
benefit at the Boiceville Inn for Patty D’Errico to enable
her to continue her treatments for Hep-C. There is good news
there. The medicine is helping, but her prescription plan is
running out for the year. Fred Perry of Reservoir Music is organizing
the event, and Ben Rounds and his band have volunteered to play
for the benefit.
The Christmas Fair season started today, November 15, at the
Stone Church in Shokan. The Town of Olive Christmas Tree-Lighting
Ceremony will be on Friday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m. Santa and
his elf will be there, and will, hopefully, rest up to be at
the Boiceville Inn for the Breakfast with Santa on Saturday
morning of Dec. 6. The Library Fair is planned for December
13. The Shokan Fire Department has its annual Christmas Party
on December 13 when Santa, if not too tired, will arrive by
fire engine. Donna Van Kleeck, Santa’s sidekick, has asked
that we all bring some food for the Food Pantry at the Olivebridge
This season reminds us of the traditions that evolve in our
homes and community. Ann Leifeld has already begun baking her
cookies. Bev Stein will be sending a photo of her family, including
Nell the Beagle, and it will be the first card I receive, sending
us good cheer and a dose of guilt that I have not sent out my
cards in years.
Yesterday I was singing a parody of “The Twelve Days of
Christmas” as “The Twelve Bins of Christmas.”
I have a bin of cards I bought at half-price after the holidays
but have never sent. I have a bin of cards I received that are
just too nice to throw away and might be made into a craft project
that I will never complete. I have a bin of homemade ornaments
that my forty-year old children made in kindergarten out of
macaroni and paperclips. I have a bin of gift bags that I have
accumulated from years of shopping at the Christmas Tree Shoppe
in Cape Cod. There is another bin of bows and ribbons that I
no longer use because I “bag” all the gifts these
days. I have a bin of magazines with Christmas recipes that
I won’t cook, and another bin houses special serving dishes
and glasses that are so holiday specific that they get used
just one week a year if I can remember to get them out in time.
And on, and on, to the partridge in a green tree that I will
purchase, decorate and defend from the assaults of the cat and
Speaking of the dog, even Diva the dog is being decorated for
the season, the other season that is upon us. She is donning
her orange, glow-in-the dark, dog collar and a red bandana to
protect her from hunters.