Follow Up on the
Academic For Now
Yet at Arts Day, on February 3, large
crowds protesting 20 percent cuts to the state’s funding
for arts, parks, zoos, museums, and recreational activities
in a scheduled hearing found out only at day’ end
why the panel of top legislators listening to them had been
taking absences They’d concurrently voted to slash
funding of $7 million for the New York States Arts Council
already promised to over 450 organizations, closing the
current year’s budget gap… and forcing the closures
of dozens of regionally-important cultural organizations
around the state.
The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency suspended
for one year its prevailing wage rule which required that
a percentage of construction workers on any given project
be paid the region’s prevailing wage, saying that
their number of applicants had fallen off and their board
wanted to see why.
Meanwhile, a much-touted study of sites in the region shovel-ready
for development by high-tech firms, to be announced at new
New York Senator Kristin Gillibrand’s rollout event
at the Franklin D. Roosevelt historic site in Hyde Park,
ended up disrupted by bickering between county economic
development officers. Hudson Valley Economic Development
Corp. Chairman Alexander “Sandy” Mathes, also
representing Greene County’s IDA, said there are no
such sites in the Mid-Hudson Valley’s nine counties,
including Ulster, while Ulster County’s Lance Matteson
pointed out the readiness of the former IBM plant at Tech
City outside of Kingston, as well as the Woodstock ’94
site on the Winston Farm outside Saugerties. Such sites,
it was explained, needed to be developed within a year…
and be at least 75 acres in size.
A subsequent Saugerties meeting with representatives of
the marketing group, CH2M Hill, discussing their $7 million
to $8 million plans to start preparing a site for nanotechnology,
pharmaceutical and biotech facilities, medical device manufacturing
and imaging facilities, drew nearly 200 local residents,
over half of them in protest.
Hundreds waited in line, many in suits with resumes in hand,
to get into a renewable energy job fair at SUNY New Paltz
sponsored by The Solar Energy Consortium, whose funding
seems to have grown and shrunk in recent weeks.
Governor David Paterson announced the creation of a new
$5 million job training consortium to be filtered through
community colleges and BOCES programs throughout the next
few years, with hopes of creating up to 50,000 new alternative
energy-based jobs, and joined with other governors around
the state crying out for Congress to include states’
relief in their giant stimulus saving plans.
Our congressman, Maurice Hinchey, told a Kingston audience
how the Onteora Central School District would be getting
Onteora, $640,900 this year and $394,200 next in the House-approved
stimulus package, while even more would come for bridge
repairs and other jobs planned for the Route 209 corridor.
But then released a statement a few days later lambasting
the Senate’s larger-sized version of a stimulus package,
sans state and as much education funding.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer talked about the state’s
potential hurt from dropping Medicaid funds. But also voted
for a provision that would allow the use of any stimulus
funds to go to artistic endeavors… and spoke of getting
new funds for the Metro North commuter rail system.
Ulster County submitted a $116 million transportation project
Judith Enck, in charge of the environment in Paterson’s
cabinet, said any plans to expand Belleayre, or complete
the purchase of 1,400 acres of Big Indian lands previously
pegged as part of former governor Eliot Spitzer’s
Agreement in Principle to help out development of the controversial
Belleayre Resort, was pending completion of the state’s
environmental review process… meaning no bucks this
year, essentially. Meanwhile, the state’s Environmental
Protection Fund dropped by $55 million.
The grass roots movement against Paterson’s proposal
to freeze the amount of taxes the state pays to local governments
built up steam, gaining traction with key environmental
organizations, as well as a nearly unanimous majority of
upstate legislators. Word was that, if indeed the hard times
forced its enactment, it would be only for a year.
Hinchey joined local legislators to decry a proposed merging
of the popular Greenway program, now benefiting our local
communities as well as those in the Hudson Valley, with
other state programs.
Most not-for-profits on a regional, state and federal level
addressed their expertise at getting funds to the neediest
fastest. MARK, in neighboring Delaware County, helped keep
the community fed during a pause between grocery stores,
filled within a couple of weeks. RUPCO, in Kingston, held
meetings with those facing foreclosure and made plans for
new affordable housing incentives. Michael Berg of Family
of Woodstock seemed to be everywhere, speaking about the
hurt his organization was dealing with while also facing
its own cuts.
Shandaken and Olive’s own SHARP Committee argued with
town boards about a flower planting and maintenance program.
All of Dutchess County’s weekly Taconic newspapers,
a half dozen in total, closed up. As did Columbia County’s
The Independent, edited by former Woodstock Times editor
and Phoenicia resident Parry Teasdale.
No big stimulus talk, yet, about any budget matters other
than wished-for new funding to expand Belleayre and lead
to the Resort’s building (from a few) in the corridor.
Excepting new worries about ensuring money’s in hand
before starting bridge and road repairs in Olive. And talk
of major shortfalls in the Shandaken highway budget.
A compromised stimulus bill, bringing together the House
and Senate versions passed in recent weeks, is expected
to be signed by President Obama by February 16. A full budget
plan is expected from all parties in Albany (sans the GOP)
by March 1, addressing this year’s dramatic shortfalls.
Finally, over in the village of Catskill, a new effort is
being discussed that would identify local contractors and
develop promotional materials to help them find jobs. It
was suggested that property owners who begin projects this
year and purchase at least 90 percent of materials and labor
locally would not have property reassessments for five years.
The idea is to help owners have a better equity position
in the future by increasing property values now.
The problem is who would pay for the brochures.
For Our Bridges?
"All of the money has to be there before you start,"
assured one of the City’s Bureau of Water Supply representatives
attending the meeting. These included Thomas Robinson, Haider
Engineering P.C. Resident Engineer for the reconstruction of
seven Ashokan bridges, a project designated as "CAT 177"
by the DEP; Kristopher J. Lovelett, P.E., Haider Resident Engineer
for the companion project "CAT 244," which involves
the realignment and reconstruction of 28A, specifically on the
substitute route for Monument Road, which is now closed to vehicular
traffic; Tom Roberts, Bureau of Engineering & Design consultant
for both CAT projects; Matt Warne, BWS Chief of Regulatory Review
and Engineering and the familiar Shokan Regional Manager for
BWS, Mike Kight.
In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Warne reasserted his conviction
that the City’s fiscal troubles wouldn’t interrupt
the work or reschedule it to continue every other Thursday,
as feared by some residents already weary of waits at the one-lane
Bailey Bridge stoplight over Bushkill Creek or aghast at the
newly wrought landscape havoc on the parts of 28A which started
clearing for CAT 244 in January. Although the funds were secured
prior to his arrival at BWS almost two years ago, he reiterated
that the policy was to have the money in place well in advance
of commencement. And, no, he didn’t think any of it had
been invested with Bernie Madoff.
Although Warne pointed out that project funds were drawn, at
least in part, from the water taxes of consumers in the NYC
area, substantial sums are believed to have been provided by
the Department of Homeland Security, which awarded the City
$207.6 million in 2005, as the projects took shape and following
the identification of Monument Road as a terrorist-threatened
roadway. To trace the details of that "budget trail,"
Warne said from his Vahalla office, you’d have to look
"downtown" but, even with federal deficits mounting,
the project money would appear to be solid. In November, Governor
Patterson announced that $497 million in Homeland Security antiterrorism
grants had been awarded to New York State in 2008, of which
$145 million was allocated to New York City.
The presentation was given by BWS Western Operations Division
Chief, John Vickers, P.E., who stuck to a concise 13 slide format,
elaborating only occasionally to explain terms like the "Forgiving
Roadside Concept," which allows for a wide clear zone,
typically 30 feet, at the road’s edges (wherever possible)
and the benefits this provided or ably answering a few questions
preliminary to the Q&A period.
In the CAT 244 project, two and a half miles of 28A slated to
replace Monument Road will have its lanes widened from 9 feet
to 12 feet and a hazardous "S-turn" will be eliminated,
pending a design change to avoid wetland encroachment. Tree
line cut-backs, guide rails, new signage and reconstruction
of two intersections will also be part of the changes contracted
to DA Collins Construction; engineered by Greeley & Hansen
LLC and managed by NYCDEP & Haider Engineering P.C.
The clearing and grubbing which began in January will continue
into March and road work from the Waste Channel Bridge to the
existing "S turn" is scheduled through the Spring
and Summer with "flagmen" service to aid traffic flow.
Work will shift to the stretch between the Dividing Weir to
the Waste channel in the Summer into Fall. The section between
Route 213 and the "S turn" is expected to be addressed
in the Spring of 2010 with work hours from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM,
which will expand to 5:30 PM where seasonal weather permits.
The schedule for the bridges overlaps the roadwork, with the
Bushkill Bridge set for its concrete pour in April and detour
removal and new bridge opening by June.
The Traver Hollow Bridge, which merely needs some overhaul to
correct soil erosion patterns from drainage off of the bridge,
will start daily lane closures in March with a completion date
anticipated in July.
The Reservoir Road Railroad Bridge, which will have a steel
pipe arch added, will be closed in late June or early July,
when a detour road alongside and traffic lights are expected
to be in place. The bridge will reopen in August.
The Ashokan Spillway Bridge and the Stone Church Bridge both
require redesign and the Spillway Bridge will have a one-lane
closure until the Fall as a design change is processed. Work
has yet to be scheduled on the Stone Church Bridge and attention
to the Boiceville Bridge was estimated to focus in 2012.
The NYC Department of Transportation has been enlisted to survey
"your City roads," Vickers announced, in order to
conduct speed surveys. Scheduled to start in February and finish
in November 2009, utilizing video taken along 28A, the DOT goal
is to provide an engineering basis for the "setting of
appropriate speed limits on NYC roads." He said the speed
limits, which have long been a bone of contention between Olive
and New York City, were likely to be increased from their 35
mph levels where deemed proper.
Councilman Bruce LaMonda requested one more confirmation that
at least one lane would remain open to traffic during the work
at each of the sites, which was given.
"When you say you’re putting more parking in at the
end of the Lemon Squeeze, I guess what you’re telling
us is that (Monument Road) will never open again (to traffic),"
LaMonda added, referring to a narrow section of road over the
Ashokan Dam by its local "pet name."
"Don’t say that," came a voice from the back
of the room. "That’s something we don’t want
But, turning around, Warne said "That’s an accurate
statement. It would take a lot to reconsider that."
On Tuesday, Warne, who admitted not having seen the Army Corps
of Engineers report on the dam, backed off a bit, saying "So
as not to be misleading and say ‘it could be’ (reopened)
or ‘it never will be,’ because there certainly could
be people later on, past me, or at any point in time could reconsider
it, I won’t make that conclusion." It was a decision
above his or Vickers’ station, he said, and he couldn’t
really express an authoritative opinion.
Lewis started her business in 1996 because, being what she terms
“a romantic soul,” she had always wanted to “do
something with weddings. Why, I’d even once thought of
being a wedding planner.”
Heavens forbid, she now admits, having set up a service industry-style
website to which betrothed couples, or brides- and mother-in-laws-to-be,
can go and find all they need to plan nuptials in a region spanning
from New York City to just south of Albany.
The results is something Lewis feels uses all her skills as
a writer and designer, a marketer and a go-getter. As well,
of course, as that romantic impulse she drew on from the start.
She sees her clientele as more than just those seeking info
to do their country weddings just right, knowing what to expect,
financially (such as going under or over $20,000?). She’s
particularly happy to provide a service to the various smaller
services that make local weddings so special, from photographers
to invitation designers, from caterers to specialized wedding
Asked about special weddings she’s been involved with,
Lewis mentions her three daughters, with one married in Kingston,
one in Orange County, and one in West Park overlooking the Hudson.
Her contacts made them all special… and allowed her to
take her mind off the details to enjoy the bliss.
“People often tend to micromanage these events,”
she says. “They forget why you hire the experts in the
As for the ins and outs of what she does, Lewis noted that her
clients split about 50/50 between Upstate and down. She mentioned
how most engagements are made between Christmas and Valentine’s
Day, “bringing more brides to my site at this time of
year than ever.” She added that while June was once THE
month to be wed, October’s on the rise up here where the
Did she have any particular romantic spots she turns to in our
Lewis mentioned Onteora Mountain House in Boiceville, The Emerson,
and the Full Moon Resort in Oliverea. As well as how once up
here, newlyweds seem to get the bug to come back… and
maybe even buy a place to call their own.
So why didn’t she want to be an actual wedding planner?
She listed the hormonal craziness of young brides, the interference
of frazzled moms and dads. Listed some movies for reference.
Said what she did was safer.
She also noted how the website she’s built has become
an indispensable way to consider all aspects of this auspiciously
romantic event that starts (and hopefully centers) so many lives.
And, again, this coming Valentine’s Day?
“My husband, what can I say,” she sighs. “He’s
the wind beneath my wings. The rest is private…”
For more on Hudson Valley Weddings, call Judy Lewis at 336-4705
or viist www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com.
The school board then held a special meeting on Friday, February
6, where Trustee Maxanne Resnick was elected the new board president.
She will be sworn in at a later date. Trustee Donna Flayhan
nominated Resnick with a seconding motion by Trustee Anne McGillicuddy.
In a four-to-two vote, trustees Michelle Friedel and Richard
Wolff were the no votes. Before Resnick was chosen, Friedel
nominated Wolff as president and Resnick as Vice President.
Trustee Laurie Osmond said she did not plan to vacate her seat
as Vice President. Wolff was denied in a four-to-two vote.
Also on February 6, the board announced that it would release
a statement for people interested in filling the vacated seat.
The board seeks anyone interested to submit a paragraph stating
why they would like to serve. To be eligible a person must be
a United States Citizen, 18 years of age or older, able to read
and write, a legal resident for at least one year prior to the
election, not an employee of the school district, not holding
another public office or having been removed from another office
for up to a year before the appointment.
The person chosen will serve only to the next election on May
19, when three seats will now be up for grabs, with whoever
wins the least amount of votes from the top three winners filling
Legnini’s remaining two-year term immediately. Osmond
and Resnick’s seats are also up this May, with Osmond
completing Trustee Herb Rosenfeld’s term after his resignation
in April 2008.
The board plans to fill the vacated seat by the next school
board meeting on February 17.
Asked if she would be running for the seat she lost last year,
former OCS board member Rita Vanacore of Shokan said this week,
“After all the lies and half truths that made our district
believe that these four people were good for this district...
No, I would not run again.”
In other district news of late, High School Principal Lance
Edelman and Middle School Principal Andrew Davenport mapped
out a plan to eliminate four Middle school teaching teams to
three at the February 3 meeting. This, they say, will help address
budget shortfalls projected for next year and low enrollment.
Davenport said grade seven could see classroom sizes of around
20 or so pupils per class. Grade eight could see the highest
number, averaging around 25 pupils per class. Superintendent
Leslie Ford said so far six teachers have been given word that
their job could be eliminated. Cuts include support staff, but
they have not been notified. Teachers with the least amount
of seniority betweens grades seven-through-nine are subject
Joyce Long, the director of Pupil Personnel for the district,
said cuts in special education may include eliminating $66,000
for two therapists through the FACETS program. Instead, district
social workers and psychologists will offer counseling to students
and families. A reduction in one Occupational Therapist and
one self-contained special education classroom was also recommended.
Transportation also continued to be a point of contention, with
Flayhan requesting that the district seek to re-bid its contracts
and possibly return to the old way of using multiple bus contractors
instead of one, believing this would be more cost effective.
Transportation Director Dave Moraca has countered this by stating
that, in his findings, any savings would be minimal.
Friedel asked that a resolution be placed on the February 17
agenda so the board can vote on which path to take.
Also, legal and ethical questions about the school board’s
recent habit of holding self-evaluation discussions during executive
sessions has come under scrutiny. Since December, the board
has met four times for such sessions, but cancelled the recent
Feb 3 gathering after published reports about its questionability
At that time, Wolff referred to a letter in his board packet
from Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on
“He said if there is no intent to make any decisions they
could meet anytime they wanted,” said Wolff.
The letter was dated June 3, 1997 from Freeman to district counsel
David S. Shaw.
Resnick recommended obtaining legal advice from the school lawyer.
Flayhan said she’d rather not pay, choosing to invite
Freeman to speak directly to the board at one of its meetings.
“Donna, he’s not gonna come here,” Wolff said.
“I talked to him on the phone the other day and he said,
‘I would be happy to come to your district and speak about
this,’” Flayhan replied.
Wolff then suggested calling the meeting a different name instead
of, “executive session.”
Student Representative William Melvin confirmed that this question
was brought to his attention by a previous board member.
“When you go into executive session you have to state
why and there are specific reasons you can cite and I am pretty
sure this isn’t one,” he said. “I recommend
against asking legal council because you can look it up in the
In a five-to-one vote, the board voted in favor of hiring a
lawyer, with Flayhan voting against. Osmond left the meeting
early due to a family illness.
The text Melvin suggested is section 105 of State Open Meetings
Laws. It states that the executive session’s primary function
is for confidential personnel issues, such as negotiations,
litigations, and employment history.
In a separate phone conversation with Freeman, he confirmed
that he did indeed speak with Flayhan and said he would be happy
to educate the board on Open Meetings Laws as a free service.
Finally, in a January 21 meeting, OCSD board members discussed
the fact that teachers at Onteora have been working without
a contract since July 2008 and negotiations have appeared to
Union rep Corey Cavallaro said that the Onteora Teacher Association
approached the district with a rollover to their current contract
agreements that would require staff to contribute more towards
health insurance, but nothing else beyond the current OTA five
“Our offer from over a year ago would have saved an immediate
$50,000 in health insurance payments for the district and saved
an additional $50,000 since July first,” he said, explaining
how the district’s previous board instead chose to hire
a second legal firm at a cost of $30,000. “To date, this
single decision resulted in the district squandering at least
$130,000 by rebuffing the union’s offer for a fair and
Cavallaro added that the school board has turned away from their
“negotiation’s responsibility,” instead opting
to hire a “third party, at taxpayer expense.”
To date, board members have not participated in any direct negotiations.
In lighter news of late, Fred Perry, an Onteora modified track
coach and West Hurley Little League coach, addressed the school
board about the creation of a modified baseball team for the
Junior High beginning this spring. Perry said he spoke with
Athletic Director Joe DiGiovanni and discovered that Onteora
does not have a certified coach or field for the program. After
meetings with parents, Perry explained that they were able to
draft a proposal with the Onteora Babe Ruth organization on
use of their field at Davis Park in West Shokan. He said this
would be at no cost to the district, since he also has found
a certified coach and funds for uniforms and equipment.
“I presented this proposal to the athletic director and
he assured me there is adequate funding in his department budget
for any other costs involved in running this modified program.”
Trustee Michelle Friedel replied that, having said no to similar
requests from the Spanish club and the snowboard club she was
uncomfortable with any potential stipend requests at present.
The board tabled the resolution until they hear from DiGiovanni
directly but assured Perry there is already money in the budget
for his needs.
Also, Bennett Elementary Principal Gabriel Buono said he’s
embarked on a fundraising project to purchase a wind turbine
to be named in honor of the late science teacher, Webb Leonard.
And Edelman said public access channel 20 is up and running,
showcasing student work.
Jar Of Olives...
Freddy Mac & Cheese...
Looking Back At Some Past Achievements
Seventy years seem like centuries when we consider civil rights.
In 1937, the United States Supreme Court ruled (Breedlove vs.
Suttles) to uphold the constitutionality of the Georgia poll
taxes. In 1940 only 3% of southern African Americans were able
to vote. Seventy years later we are proud to watch the Inauguration
of Barack Obama. Some friends gathered at our house to celebrate
the day. In keeping with the economic times, the menu was kept
to comfort foods and a single-digit priced Champagne. We served
“Freddie-Mac” and cheese, miniature deep dish “Chicago”
pizzas, “No Pork Barrel” meatloaf, “Condolisa”
rice, “no- strings-attached bailout” beans, “Al
Gore” green salad with “Reduced House Prices”
dressing. Coffee was affectionately called cup of “Joe
the Plumber.” My favorite dish was the vegetable “World
Peas.” It was a bi-partisan menu on this momentous occasion
to share pride and patriotism.
The economy is a subject on every TV channel and of everyday
conversations. We discuss the DOW Jones index or the price of
heating oil as we once did the weather. One way to help our
local economy is to shop local. Olive boasts the ability to
provide us with most goods and services—all but shoes.
You might have to drive to Kingston for those. My dad was a
salesman, and his credo was to support other local businesses.
He also believed that a business or a businessman (or woman)
needed to stand behind a service or product with his name.
In a small town like ours, we can sometimes use only a first
name. We have our hair cut by Linda at Linda’s Hair Care
or Nancy at Shear Image. We can even have a spa-quality manicure
and pedicure at the new shop, Jeannette’s Nails, that
opened just this year in what used to be “Bud’s
Sport Shop” in Boiceville. The small storefront was, at
one time, Boiceville’s post office. Next to Jeannette’s
Nails is the Shakti Yoga Studio in what used to be The Mountain
Creek Restaurant, which was before that the Landmark and before
that The Boiceville Inn.
Thinking back to old time Boiceville stores, the one I remember
the most was The Boiceville Market when it was in the spot that
Art Haver has the Boiceville Florist. Esther Sheeley, who just
recently passed away, would sit behind the one checkout counter
to greet customers who filled in their weekly shopping with
staples from her store. We all knew her and her family by name,
and we would share stories as we shopped. Esther and her children
Gary and Judy continued to be our friends long after the store
closed and Al Higley opened the meat market across the street.
Esther will be remembered and missed.
The Boiceville Market was a general store much like Danny’s
Market in Shokan. Danny Aversano would shop at the Kingston
supermarkets and then line his shelves with the products’
prices covered with his own stickers. He would even bag groceries
in Waldbaum’s or Shoprite bags. Danny was an entrepreneur
who carried VHS movies that were the state of the art in the
80’s. He had a membership club that had two prices: the
daily rental fee or the lifetime membership fee. One day he
said to me, “Your lifetime membership has expired, so
you have to renew it.”
Think about how nice it is to know the person behind the business.
Shopping was more than a chore: it was a visit. My dad was right
about putting your name out there. When people know your name
and greet you, the customer always feels special. Shop local
and enjoy that friendship factor.
About friends…We lost Beth Boms last week. Her husband
Michael loved her so much that he married her three times. She
was the proud mother of Erica Rachel and an educator who was
an advocate for special education students. She was my bakery
breakfast buddy. Beth had a rock star presence that lit up a
room with her beauty and style. She was a super-nova of sunlight,
moonshine, twilight and dawn combined with the power of lightening.
She “exploded” into a room, and you were bathed
in or singed by her brightness. She lived with such intensity
that her light burned out much too soon. D_ _ _ Cancer!
Hopefully this week is the beginning of a recovery for our country
and our global economy. We, as Americans, can do our part to
pass on a better place to those young adults and children who
are coming after us. I am hopeful when I read that Susie Sofranko
made Dean’s List at Cortland. I am thrilled to share Joe
Ahouse’s pride in his new grandson born to his daughter
Becky. I am encouraged when I remember the mom and pop stores
that built the economy before the “Big Box Stores.”
I know that we Americans can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves
off and work together to rebuild this great country. My lifetime
membership may have expired, as Danny told me, but he assured
me that I have the opportunity to renew it. It is a time to
renew our patriotism and citizenship too.