(News Briefs November
The regular season for black bear hunting in the Catskill
Mountains region is starting two days early this year, on
Nov. 17. The early start - which coincides with the start
of the regular deer season in the area - is aimed at increasing
the Catskill-area bear harvest to limit population growth
and range expansion.
Black bear populations have been on the rise statewide in
recent years, particularly in the southern and central Catskills,
the DEC said. With the growing numbers of bears has come an
increase in the number of bear-human conflicts. The DEC said
it has had a growing number of reports of bears causing property
State wildlife biologists estimate there are as many as 7,000
black bears in New York, up from about 5,000 in 1995, the
last time a detailed estimate was compiled, Roy said. Last
year, hunters took almost 800 black bears statewide, 365 of
them from the Catskills. Since the bow hunting season for
black bear started on Oct. 13 this year, more than 80 bears
have been taken from the Catskills, according to the DEC.
The extra two days of hunting are expected to significantly
increase the number of bears taken, in large part because
bear and deer seasons will begin concurrently. When deer hunters
take to the woods, they tend to scare the bears into hiding,
making them more difficult to find when the season starts
The Catskill bear season change doesn’t affect the start
of regular bear hunting season in the state’s two other
main bear hunting areas - the Allegany area, which starts
Nov. 24, and the Adirondacks, which starts Oct. 20.
On Saturday, November 4, the second, all-new installment of
The Skin of Our Shorts, concluding this year’s Actors
& Writers fall season, will take place at the Odd Fellows
Theater, Route 213, Olivebridge, with shows at 5:30 and 8:30
p.m. The program comprises short plays that are wry, poetic,
side-splitting, twisted, and theatrically incorrect by company
members Katherine Burger, Mikhail Horowitz, Adam LeFevre,
Nicole Quinn, Laura Shaine, David Smilow, and Mary Louise
Wilson, and special guest Edwin Sanchez.
Doors open half an hour before curtain. The theater is small
and often fills up, so come early and pack a flashlight for
the short walk from the firehouse parking lot. Although admission
is free, donations are welcome. Sorry, we cannot take reservations.
For more information about Actors & Writers, call (845)
657-9760 or visit the company’s website at www.actorsandwriters.com.
Police are looking for help in their investigation into a
rash of burglaries that occurred in Shandaken along the route
28 corridor early last Saturday morning. According to Fred
Holland, a Detective with the town of Shandaken Police Department,
three break ins were reported. Holland said Russ’s Country
Kitchen, an eatery in the Phoenicia Plaza was robbed of about
$700 in cash. The Phoenicia Diner, just west on the highway
about one mile from Russ’s, was also broken in to and
about $60 was stolen. Several miles further west in Big Indian
the Mattress Barn was burglarized. Holland said about $150
was taken from there.
The Diner and Russ’s had doors forced open with what
appears to have been a crowbar. Holland said that while those
two incidents are related, there is not yet substantial evidence
to connect the Mattress Barn break in, although police believe
it to be related.
Besides the Shandaken Police Department, New York State Police
and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department are working
on the investigation. Holland said all three incidents occurred
between Midnight and 6 AM on the morning of November 5. He
urges anyone that noticed anything at all suspicious during
those hours to contact police at (845) 688-9902.
Ulster County’s tentative budget for 2008 calls for
increased spending of about 3.4 percent up to $326.2 million,
up from an adopted 2007 budget of $315.6 million. Paying those
bills will require a 3.65 percent average increase in the
county property tax.
While the announcement was greeted as surprisingly positive
pre-Election Day good news for Democrats who control the legislature,
Republicans expressed skepticism about the figures, saying
county administrators have created overly optimistic revenue
projections to enable them to arrive at and present the low
tax increase. And they note that while total spending is projected
as $326.4 million for all 2008, costs to date in 2007 already
total $326.5 million, according to the county’s own
And there are gaps in the math. For example, the figures,
as announced, make no accounting for the fact that contracts
will have expired at year’s end for all of the county’s
five bargaining units, representing some 2,000 employees.
Total salaries, not including benefits, now total about $90
million. Thus, if the workers receive only a 3 percent increase,
in line with the last negotiated settlement with the CSEA,
it would total about $3 million additional spending, not including
benefits. Those benefits currently cost about $35 million
With each percentage point of property tax increase equaling
about $700,000 in the budget, including a figure of $3 million
from contract settlement in the tentative budget would have
increased the projected property tax increase to about seven
County administrator Michael Hein said the county will pay
for the contract settlement by dipping into the county fund
balance - a.k.a. budget surplus - which is being projected
to be about $17.5 million by the time the books are closed
on 2007. That figure is within the state comptroller’s
recommended 5 to 10 percent of the general fund, but that
balance could come close to falling below the comptroller’s
recommendation when the salary increase and benefits are figured
in. Hein said he felt it was “inappropriate” to
put a settlement figure into the actual budget because he
said that would indicate the county is not negotiating with
its employees in good faith. Hein also denied being overly
optimistic, and said the modest increase budget news was possible
because “We have been wringing the towel dry,”
to garner savings from county operations.
There must still be public hearings on the tentative budget
and tweaking by the county legislature before it is approved
as a final budget. That approval must occur by mid-December.
The Phoenicia Supermarket, once known as Kirk’s, is
one of those places where the lottery tickets piled high next
to the cash register are as busy a seller as any foodstuffs,
newspapers, cigarettes, or drinks. It’s the kind of
place people pop into regularly for their play, just hoping
to hit the jackpot, to escape their lives of part-time jobs
and scrambling to make do.
So who’d have expected that a scratch-off New York Lottery
ticket worth $1 million should have been sold in this spot,
possibly to a Delaware County man, according to sources, in
the past week.
The $20 ticket for a scratch-off game called the “$500,000,000
Extravaganza” was sold at the Phoenicia Supermarket
on Main Street over the weekend of November 3 and 4.
Officials with the New York Lottery confirmed the sale of
the ticket Monday, November 5, but would not reveal the name
of the winner. Because the amount won was $1 million, the
winner must hold a press conference, officials said, but no
date has been set yet. Lottery officials expect it to happen
On that same day, Phoenicia Supermarket staff said they believe
the ticket was sold to a man living in the Fleischmanns/Arkville
area of Delaware County, just over the Ulster County border
from the Shandaken hamlet of Highmount.
The story they told was of a regular lottery player with five
kids and two foster children in his care who was “definitely
in need of such a breakthrough.)
The scratch-off game offers eight $5 million prizes, 12 $2
million prizes and 84 $1 million prizes, lottery officials
said. It remains unclear how many winners there have been
A developmentally disabled minor will face an Ulster County
grand jury within 45 days following a hearing in Olive Town
Court, District Attorney Donald A. Williams said last week.
The suspect’s parents said their son has been accused
of sodomizing another developmentally disabled minor in a
bathroom of the Onteora High School. The 16-year-old suspect
was charged with a felony sex crime by state police at Ulster
on Sept. 25, according to police records. The alleged victim
also is a 16-year-old male. The suspect’s parents said
he has been in the Ulster County Jail since the time of his
arrest. The county is not releasing the names of the suspect
or the alleged victim because of their ages.
Two grand jury cases tied to a fatal DWI following the Onteora
High School prom last Spring have inched forward recently,
with accused driver Zephyr Dresser-Peck, charged with a number
of counts including vehicular manslaughter, pleading not guilty
and set to go to a pre-trial hearing next month, and Alan
and Gail Zwiebel, owners of the home where the deceased, Andrew
Lipson, and Dresser-Peck supposedly stopped for an after-hours
party, likely not to be charged when the grand jury returns
for its final report on November 16
The Ulster County Health Department will host an additional
influenza and pneumococcal vaccination clinic at the Town
of Olive Legion Hall on Mountain Road in Shokan. the clinic
will take place on Thursday, December 13, from 9 am-12 pm.
For more information on other clinic dates and locations,
please call the Ulster County Health Department Flu Hotline
at 340-3093. Information can also be obtained through our
website: www.co.ulster.ny.us/health .
Internet Service Providers urgently need to roll out the next
generation of net addresses for online devices, internet pioneer
Vint Cerf has said.
Every device that goes online is allocated a unique IP address
but the pool of numbers is finite and due to run out around
2010. A new system, called IPv6, has been awaiting roll out
for 10 years.
Unless IPv6 is switched on in the coming years, some devices
might not be able to go online, Cerf has warned. “The
rate of consumption of available remaining IPv4 numbers appears
to be on track to run out in 2010/11.”
Mr Cerf is about to step down as chairman of Icann, the body
which oversees the net, and is also Google’s chief internet
It could cost Hudson Valley residents $181 million more in
home heating costs this winter, according to US Senator Charles
Schumer, who recently announced efforts to increase funding
for federal assistancethis winter.
Schumer said those hardest hit will be the people who can
least afford it.
“Middle and higher income families are going to have
to chose between putting on an extra sweater or putting an
extra $100 in the college tuition fund,” he said. “But,
the problem is with the low income, and particularly the elderly,
the choices will be far more noticeable day to day. Because,
you put the thermostat above 60 degrees and they might not
have enough to eat the next month.”
Schumer urged the president to release the remaining $150
million in the Low Income Heating Assistance Program so that
people will be able to afford the rising costs of heating
their homes this winter.
Meanwhile, local residents should be aware the 2007-08 Home
Energy Assistance Program began as of November 1. Starting
now, families and individuals may apply for HEAP benefits
at one of two locations:
Senior citizens (60 and over) are asked to apply at the Sullivan
County Office for the Aging, 1st Floor, County Government
Center, 100 North Street, Monticello, NY. The contact person
at the Office for the Aging is Francine Sunshine, 794-3000,
All other Sullivan County residents are asked to apply at
the Sullivan County Department of Family Services, Travis
Building, 16 Community Lane, Liberty, NY. The contact person
at the Department of Family Services is Brenda Hornbeck, 292-0100,
Nearly 2 million low-income Medicare participants could be
switched to different insurance plans for their prescription
drug coverage next year. Millions more will have to shop around
if they want to avoid double-digit increases in their monthly
The reassignment of the poorest beneficiaries and the higher
premiums for many others are just two reasons why seniors
and the disabled may want to look into other plans as the
Medicare drug benefit enters its third year, according to
both the government and AARP, among other entities.
The shopping season officially begins Nov. 15 - the first
day of an open enrollment period that continues through Dec.
Advocacy groups warn the benefit’s 24.5 million participants
to take nothing for granted even if they’re happy with
their current coverage. Under the drug benefit, Medicare subsidizes
insurance plans that cover an enrollee’s prescription
drug buys. The government pays insurers extra for covering
the very poor. The plans adjust their coverage to reflect
the changing marketplace. They change which drugs they will
cover for safety and financial reasons. They also make adjustments
to the monthly premiums they charge customers, trying to maximize
demand for their product and profitability.
On average, Medicare Part D plans will charge a monthly premium
of $28 in 2008, but the premiums vary widely across the nearly
1,800 plans around the country. The premiums range from $9.80
for a basic benefit to $107.50 for enhanced coverage.
About a quarter of the poorest beneficiaries don’t pay
any monthly premium. They will still be entitled to that extra
benefit next year, but they will have to get their coverage
though other plans meeting Medicare’s requirements for
offering coverage to low-income beneficiaries. Medicare officials
sent letters in recent weeks to nearly 2 million people to
inform them that they will be moved to a new plan.
The poorest participants can switch their drug plans at any
time, so if they get a reassignment notice from the government,
they should make sure their new plan covers all their medicine,
Nemore said. They can do that by consulting 1-800-Medicare,
or by contacting the State Health Insurance Assistance Program,
which has counselors in every state.
But it’s not only the poor facing major changes, officials
note. Enrollment in the drug benefit is highly concentrated,
and some of the most popular plans will charge considerably
higher monthly premiums next year. For example, the most popular
plan, the AARP Medicare RX Preferred Plan, will increase its
monthly premium by 16 percent. Humana Inc. will increase the
premium for its standard plan by 71 percent. And the AARP
Medicare RX Save Plan will jump 65 percent, according to Avalere
The open enrollment season lasts until Dec. 31, but officials
warn beneficiaries that it’s safer to make a decision
sooner rather than later, if they want to be sure their new
coverage is in effect when they pick up their first prescriptions
Also of interest is the news that errors on bills for doctors,
medical tests or hospitals can result in overcharges that
run from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Nora
Johnson, director of education and hospital billing compliance
for Medical Billing Advocates of America, estimates “eight
out of every 10” hospital bills she scrutinizes contain
multiple errors. And while bills from doctors’ offices
and labs tend to contain fewer mistakes, consumers can still
end up paying unnecessarily.
Six out of 10 Americans with health insurance said they are
paying more out of pocket for medical expenses, according
to a recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute,
or EBRI. And the higher costs are hurting their household
finances, with one-third reporting difficulty paying for basic
Ulster County Community College men’s soccer team waded
through rainy conditions caused by the remnants of Tropical
Storm Noel to come away with a 2-0 victory over Suffolk in
the Region XV championship game on November 7. It was the
Senators’ fourth time playing in the title game and
their third crown in the last eight years.
Ulster (19-2-1) advances to host District 21 championship
against either Springfield Tech or Bunker Hill. A victory
this week would put the Senators into Saturday’s national
semifinals at Herkimer.
A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that
abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal
and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure
does little to deter women seeking it. Moreover, the researchers
found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal,
but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed
clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent
of women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and
there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study
The data also suggested that the best way to reduce abortion
rates was not to make abortion illegal but to make contraception
more widely available. In Eastern Europe, where contraceptive
choices have broadened since the fall of Communism, the study
found that abortion rates have decreased by 50 percent, although
they are still relatively high compared with those in Western
Anti-abortion groups criticized the research, saying that
the scientists had jumped to conclusions from imperfect tallies,
often estimates of abortion rates in countries where the procedure
The study indicated that about 20 million abortions that would
be considered unsafe are performed each year and that 67,000
women die as a result of complications from those abortions,
most in countries where abortion is illegal.
In Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education programs
focus only on abstinence, the estimated abortion rate was
54 per 1,000 women in 2003, more than twice the rate in the
United States, 21 per 1,000 in that year. The lowest rate,
12 per 1,000, was in Western Europe, with legal abortion and
widely available contraception.
Worldwide, the annual number of abortions appeared to have
declined between 1995, the last year such a broad study was
conducted, and 2003, from an estimated 46 million to 42 million,
the study concluded.
A milestone, a landmark and “the political center of
gravity is finally shifting on global warming.” Those
were the accolades that greeted a Senate subcommittee’s
recent of a bill to cap greenhouse gas emissions, mostly because
it is the first of a dozen such measures that might have a
chance of becoming law.
The approval vote - 4 to 3 - means the bill will be debated
in the full Environment and Public Works Committee. Formally
known as America’s Climate Security Act and informally
by the names of its sponsors, Senators Joe Lieberman and John
Warner, the bill is different from earlier efforts because
of its details on how a U.S. plan to cap carbon emissions
and trade credits for them would work. But Sen. James Inhofe,
the Oklahoma Republican who is skeptical about global warming,
said the measure would put a heavy economic burden on U.S.
citizens and the Bush administration, who has opposed mandatory
limits on carbon emissions, arguing that they could hurt the
U.S. economy and urging voluntary measures instead, has been
aid to be poised to veto any such bill should it be passed.
In more cutting climatic news of late, New York City Mayor
Michael Bloomberg has proposed a national “pollution
pricing” plan that would tax companies directly for
the greenhouse gases they release.
“If you really want to reduce carbon emissions, tax
carbon at the source, which would mean at the mine head, at
the oil well, whatever,” Bloomberg told more than 100
other mayors at a climate summit sponsored by the U.S. Conference
Bloomberg suggested a fee of $15 for every ton of greenhouse
gas companies emit, with the money used to reduce payroll
taxes and finance tax credits for companies that reduce their
greenhouse gas pollution.
Meanwhile, the action on both fronts has seen interesting
On the one hand, a new report from two think tanks focused
on national defense is saying that climate change could be
one of the greatest national security challenges ever faced
by U.S. policy makers. The report raises the threat of dramatic
population migrations, wars over water and resources, and
a realignment of power among nations.
During the last two decades, climate scientists have underestimated
how quickly the Earth is changing - perhaps to avoid being
branded as “alarmists,” the study said. But policy
planners should count on climate-induced instability in critical
parts of the world within 30 years. And it notes that while
climate change is likely to breed new conflicts, it already
is magnifying existing problems, from the desertification
of Darfur and competition for water in the Middle East to
the disruptive monsoons in Asia which increase the pressure
for land, the report said.
The report was compiled by a panel of security and climate
specialists, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International
Studies and the Center for a New American Security.
On the other hand, a New York Times story on climate change’s
effects on winter sports centers, published in its tourism
pages November 1, featured a photo of our own Belleayre Mountain
Time to take this seriously, eh?
A public meeting seeking input for a community indoor swimming
pool and recreation complex planned in Arkville will be held
Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at Margaretville Central School
on Main Street, Margaretville. Construction of the recreation
facility is expected to begin in spring 2008. Organizers are
soliciting comments and ideas from the public as they begin
the design process. Members of the building committee anticipate
that the pool and recreation complex will be utilized by residents
from about a 25-mile radius of Arkville/Margaretville.
The community pool project will be built by the not-for-profit
Catskill Recreation Committee Inc. Frost Valley YMCA, located
in Claryville, will operate the facility. Arkville residents
Kingdon Gould Jr. and his wife, Mary, are the driving forces
behind the venture. One of their sons, Caleb, also serves
as a Catskill Recreation Committee board member.
Suggestions received at the November 15 meeting will be taken
into consideration in the final design process. A second community
meeting will be scheduled on a weekend for the convenience
of part-time residents.
Anyone who cannot attend a meeting, but would like to send
comments, is invited to direct them to Karen Rauter, Frost
Valley YMCA’s director of communications and marketing.
Comments can be mailed to Karen’s attention at Frost
Valley YMCA, 2000 Frost Valley, Claryville, NY 12725 or e-mailed
The Film Program at Bard College presents an evening with
writer, director, and producer Larry Fessenden on Tuesday,
November 13 . The program, free and open to the public, begins
at 8:00 p.m. in the theater of the Avery Arts Center, and
includes a screening of Fessenden’s most recent film,
The Last Winter, as well as a question-and-answer session
Fessenden, an Olive resident, is the writer, director, and
editor of the award-winning art-horror movies Habit, No Telling,
and Wendigo. He has operated the production company Glass
Eye Pix since 1985, with the mission of supporting individual
voices in the arts. Fessenden is the recipient of the Someone
to Watch Award at the L.A. Spirit Awards.
For additional information, call 845-758-7253 or e-mail email@example.com.
New SWN Prez
Melody Newcombe has been elected as President of the Ulster
County Wide Shandaken Women’s Network. She brings a
life time of business, marketing, sales, public speaking,
leadership and organizational skills to the women’s
network and region. She resolves to help other business women
in the region to gain new skills to help grow their businesses
as well as commits to helping to network women to link businesses
so that all may prosper.
Newcombe has been involved in the Shandaken Women’s
Network for the past 10 years as a member. She has been Treasurer
for one term, Program Director for 2 terms and on the Board
of Directors for many years.
The Ulster County Shandaken Women’s Network announces
the first of its fall series featuring ‘Women of the
Catskills’. Angel Ortloff will be the featured speaker
at the November 20th dinner meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. at La
Duchesse Anne Restaurant in Mt. Tremper on the corner of Route
212 and Wittenberg Road. Ortloff is the inventor of the healing
‘Levitating Wand’T and is a NYS Licensed Massage
Therapist as well as life long professional pottery maker
As a breast cancer survivor, she developed the ‘Healing
Wand’ to gently bring back mobility and strength after
surgery. The ‘Wand’s is now used by countless
women in both preparation for surgery and post surgery. The
‘Women in the Catskills’ Series will continue
on December 18th from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Copperhood Spa on
Route 28 in Shandaken and feature Pauline Oliveros, founder
of the Deep Listening Space in Kingston. For further information
go to www.shandakenwomen.net. Or call Newcombe at 688-5472.
The richest Americans’ share of national income has
hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the
1990s bull market, and underlining the divergence of economic
fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers.
The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income
in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service.
That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous
high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull
market in stocks. The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income,
down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share
The IRS data, based on a large sample of tax returns, are
for “adjusted gross income,” which is income after
some deductions, such as for alimony and contributions to
individual retirement accounts. While dated, many scholars
prefer it to timelier data from other agencies because it
provides details of the very richest - for example, the top
0.1% and the top 1%, not just the top 10% - and includes capital
gains, an important, though volatile, source of income for
The IRS data go back only to 1986, but academic research suggests
the rich last had this high a share of total income in the
1920s. Scholars attribute rising inequality to several factors,
including technological change that favors those with more
skills, and globalization and advances in communications that
enlarge the rewards available to “superstar” performers
whether in business, sports or entertainment.
In an interview yesterday with The Wall Street Journal, President
Bush said, “First of all, our society has had income
inequality for a long time. Secondly, skills gaps yield income
gaps. And what needs to be done about the inequality of income
is to make sure people have got good education, starting with
young kids. That’s why No Child Left Behind is such
an important component of making sure that America is competitive
in the 21st century.”
Remember Plamegate, which we kept harping on until it all
sort of disappeared in a class D.C. shifting of attention
to other matters? It now turns out that the wife of former
Ambassador Joseph Wilson outed by the Bush Administration
as revenge for her husband’s questioning of WMD’s
information in Iraq was involved in operations to prevent
Iran from building nuclear weapons.
“Our mission was to make sure that the bad guys, basically,
did not get nuclear weapons,” Plame finally revealed
in recent weeks in information later corroborated by the CIA.
Plame also indicated that her outing in 2003 had caused grave
damage to CIA operations, saying, “All the intelligence
services in the world were running my name through their databases”
to see where she had gone and who she had met with.
According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame-Wilson,
who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate
of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part
of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons
of mass destruction technology to and from Iran. Speaking
under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed
heretofore unreported elements of Plame’s work. Their
accounts suggest that Plame’s outing was more serious
than has previously been reported and carries grave implications
for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran’s
burgeoning nuclear program. ...