State Of County
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein announced a spending
freeze in his second annual State of the County address on
February 16 and warned more job cuts could be coming. He described
his actions, and the speech in which he announced them, as
"a call to action for all branches of government to set
aside partisan politics and focus on the issues at hand,"
which he said included a potential multimillion-dollar budget
The county executive issued an edict to all county department
heads to freeze spending not mandated by law or essential
to the public's health and safety to help protect the county
against such a shortfall.
Hein, who became Ulster County's first elected executive in
January 2009, also pointed to his accomplishments of the past
year, including the "total transformation" of the
county Health Department, the implementation of a fleet manager,
the installation of automated locators in virtually all county
vehicles, the creation of more than 400 private-sector jobs
and work to start sharing services between municipalities.
Listing items he wanted the County Legislature, which returned
to Republican control after several years last November, Hein
mentioned his wish to develop a plan to ensure long-term viability
for the Golden Hill Health Care Center, the county-owned nursing
home in Kingston; and raised the possibility of setting up
a new fee structure for Sheriff's Department road patrols,
separating those towns with a police force from those depending
solely on the county for law enforcement.
Hein also asked lawmakers to examine the Ulster County Industrial
Development Agency and Ulster County Development Corp. to
determine whether they constitute the best model to deliver
economic development services. and to review Department of
Social Services laws and policies to protect taxpayers against
fraud, waste and abuse.
The address was notably absent of specific targets, other
than to re-assert everyone's need to honor the county's new
Charter system of government, including better policy-setting
by county legislators.
UCDC, meanwhile, has been touting its creation or saving of
611 jobs throughout the county, many in new green technologies,
as questions about the agency's economics and overall efficiency
have been raised in the media by members of the new Republican
Onteora's skiing and wrestling teams are on a roll.
Five members of the Onteora High girls ski team and two members
of the Indians' boys squad will be making trips to the New
York State alpine skiing championships, qualifying for the
honors after recent Section 9 championships, which included
a ninth straight crown for the girls team. Onteora was looking
for their second state girls title this week at Bristol Mountain
in Canandaigua, previously winning it all in 2007.
Leading the way for the Indians is senior Marlise Combe who
lost the individual sectional crown by one-hundredth of a
second. Joining her at the state finals will be eighth-grader
Shannon Haggerty, third overall at the Section 9 meet, sophomores
Isabelle LaMotte and Rachel Castellano, and junior Emily Vanacore.
In the boys state competition, it will be junior Jake Vanacore
and sophomore Jacob Combe representing Onteora, with Combe
having placed fourth overall in sectionals. and Vanacore ninth
Herb Cytryn of Oliverea is the Onteora ski team's longstanding
In wrestling, three individual weight class champions led
the way for Onteora High to claim the Section 9, Division
II wrestling title on February 15, when the Indians scored
203 points to finish ahead of runner-up New Paltz (168) and
host Highland (159).
"The team wrestled extremely well from top to bottom,"
said Indians coach Lou Chartrand. "We had seven guys
in finals and finished our regular season at 22-5, so this
was a great year."
Among notables for Onteora were Pete Hottum, Chet Cochrane,
and Donnie Van Buren. Consolation final winners for Onteora
included Avery Leighton, Dan Brennan and Joe Friedel.
All of the winners will compete at the New York State Public
High School Athletic Association championships on Feb. 27
and 28 at the Times Union Center in Albany.
At The CWC...
The Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) recently approved
two sizeable loans - one to complete the renovation of a major
new performance space in Tannersville, the other to purchase
and renovate a farm supply retail store in Delhi. They also
accepted the high bid for the purchase of the former Hitching
Post inn and restaurant in Grand Gorge. The property, which
had been purchased by the previous owner with a CWC REDI loan,
was acquired by CWC through foreclosure. It will be sold to
Holly Augi-Perofsky of Jefferson, who submitted the highest
offer at a January 8 bid opening.
A loan of $850,000 to the non-profit Catskill Mountain Foundation
was approved in January. It will provide the resources to
complete reconstruction of the Orpheum Theater by this summer.
The 300-seat Tannersville theater will provide a state of
the art venue for musicals, plays, and other performances
staged by school and community groups as well as professional
A low interest loan of $1,120,000 to WB Delhi, LLC was also
approved by the CWC Board for transformation of the former
Great American store in Delhi into a Tractor Supply Corporation
In other business, the CWC Board recently approved a $25,000
grant to the Town of Halcott to conduct a stormwater infrastructure
planning and assessment project. The Town will contribute
a 15% match for the project, which will include mapping, modeling
and analyzing capacity of the Town's culverts, bridges and
other stormwater infrastructure.
Another Stormwater Retrofit Program grant was awarded in February
to the Town of Shandaken, which will undertake a drainage
improvement project in the hamlet of Pine Hill. $10,000 of
the $104,125 grant will be released immediately to produce
a detailed scope of work and design of the project which is
intended to address water quality issues in the Bush Kill
Creek and its tributaries by better managing and treating
runoff from Main Street, Bonnie View Avenue, Turnpike Road
and Elm Street.
Two of the largest companies involved in natural gas drilling
have acknowledged pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons
of diesel-based fluids into the ground in the process of hydraulic
fracturing, raising new concerns that existing state and federal
regulations don't adequately protect drinking water from drilling.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman has subsequently announced that the House
Committee on Energy and Commerce, which he chairs, is launching
an investigation into potential environmental impacts from
the process, which forces highly pressurized water, sand and
chemicals into rock to release the gas and oil locked inside,
giving drillers access to deeply buried gas deposits.
In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency examined
hydraulic fracturing and determined it can be safe as long
as diesel fuel isn't added to the drilling fluids. The agency
based its decision in part on a non-binding agreement it struck
with the three largest drilling service companies - Halliburton,
Schlumberger and B.J. Services - to stop using diesel. But
the agreement applied only to gas drilling in a specific type
of geologic formation: shallow coal deposits. The EPA study
has since been widely criticized.
The information obtained by Waxman's group shows that B.J.
Services violated that agreement and that Halliburton continued
to use diesel in other geologic formations not governed by
the agreement. All three companies acknowledged using other
potentially harmful chemicals, such as benzene , toluene,
ethylbenzene and xylene.
A public forum, "The Future of Gas Drilling in New York
State," is set to take place from 5:45 to 8 pm on Monday,
March 8 at SUNY New Paltz. The event features a closing keynote
by U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey, representatives from
New York City, the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
and the gas industry.
The March 8 event is organized to allow both pro and con opinions
to be expressed about gas drilling in the region, much of
which is underlaid by the Marcellus Shale, considered one
of the greatest such resources in the nation... and the center
of a considerable swarm of controversy ever since the state
has started trying to balance economic development of its
energy resources against major environmental concerns, including
potential compromising of the New York City watershed.
For further information about this event, contact www.scheinmedia.com
or call 626-2999.
A Briefing on New Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy
Initiatives and Funding Strategies for Municipalities is being
offered this Saturday morning, Feb. 27 at SUNY New Paltz's
Lecture Center, during which new financing strategies for
sustainable energy projects, aimed at creating new jobs and
business opportunities throughout the Hudson Valley, will
be presented. Among items up for discussion will be NYSERDA's
incentive programs for local governments, homes, businesses,
and schools; PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs,
which enable property owners to upgrade buildings using affordable
financing options, potentially yielding positive cash flow
benefits; the new Green Jobs-Green NY program, offering an
array of funding opportunities for energy retrofits; Power
Purchase Agreements, using third-party financing to pay for
energy projects;and the Ten Percent Challenge, a framework
to hasten the implementation of energy efficiency and renewables
and draw attention to the Hudson Valley as a clean energy
Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Please go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/K97DXYP
to register. The event is free, however tax-deductable donations
are welcome; checks should be made payable to League of Women
Voters Education Fund.
For additional information: visit www.sustainhv.org/hvsga
Six school districts in the area could lose their school resource
officers under Gov. David Paterson's 2010-11 budget proposal,
At present, many districts around the region have town police
posted in their high schools, but state troopers serve as
resource officers in high schools at the Onteora, Rondout
Valley, Ellenville, Marlboro, Coxsackie-Athens, and Cairo-Durham
school districts. In response to the state's fiscal crisis,
Paterson proposed for 2010-11 a $730 million budget for the
Division of State Police - a $76 million decrease. According
to the budget document, the plan calls for redeploying the
state's 90 school resource officers that serve about 115 school
districts to fill out state police ranks during a hiring freeze
at the end of the 2009-10 school year.
Lt. Glenn Miner, the director of public information for the
state police, said the last police academy class ended in
the summer of 2009, and police will not train another round
of recruits through the coming fiscal year. In better times,
he said there have normally been two police academies per
year. He said officials realize the school resource officer
program has been beneficial, but without new graduates coming
in, state police must account for the approximately 125 to
150 troopers that retire per year on average. Therefore, police
must deploy their resources in a way that "serves the
Losing the officer stationed at the Onteora High School "would
be a terrible loss," said school district Superintendent
Leslie Ford, who described her district's officer as "an
extremely valuable asset." She added that the troopers
have been important when discipline issues arise, and Rondout
Valley Superintendent Rosario Agostaro said his district's
officer often visits families with district officials if a
student has a truancy problem.
Both superintendents pointed to the advantage of having an
officer on campus to quickly respond to emergencies. But they
also pointed to a number of other benefits to the officers'
presence, including their availability to counsel troubled
students one-on-one and address problems outside the criminal
Lt. James Michael, who is based at the state police town of
Ulster barracks and coordinates school resource officers in
Ulster and Greene counties, said the program has also helped
students see police in a different light, to humanize them,
in addition to helping prevent school violence and leading
police to information about crimes involving juveniles.
Pine Hill Vandals
Three Brooklyn men were arrested in Pine Hill in mid-February
following an alleged break-in and shooting spree in the village.
According to Gerry Pearlman, the owner of the Pine Hill Plaza,
the three men broke through the glass door of his store on
Tuesday, February 16th and tripped the alarm. At the same
time a snowplow operator was driving past and heard the alarm
and pulled in the plaza parking lot to see what was happening.
The driver witnessed the three, all wearing ski masks, run
from the plaza across route 28 and down the hill.
Pearlman said the gang had stolen a BB gun, but in the course
of the robbery actually dropped another BB gun one of the
alleged perpetrators had purchased just one day before the
Using the information from the snowplow operator, and the
footprints in the snow, Pearlman guessed they were staying
somewhere in the village. After a couple of phone calls he
reached the owners of the Pine Hill Lodge, who said that a
group meeting the description was not only staying there,
but were also shooting a bb gun inside the building and causing
In the course of the investigation it was determined that
the gang had also shot windows at Tanglewood Doors on Main
Street and at least one car that was parked in the village.
Names of the accused were not available at press time.
A Connecticut. man died February 14 of injuries he sustained
in a 60-foot fall while ice climbing on cliffs at Kaaterskill
Falls in neighboring Greene County. Daniel Pawlik, 40, died
at Albany Medical Center Sunday night, according to Maureen
Wren, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental
Conservation. Pawlik was ice climbing on cliffs with a group
of six others. He and another climber were ascending a cliff
at about noon on the south side of state Route 23A. They were
ascending first to put in climbing anchors, Wren said. About
45 minutes later, a passing motorist called 911 to report
seeing Pawlik's body. The motorist also notified the other
climbers, who apparently were not aware Pawlik had fallen..
Pawlik sustained head and leg injuries, according to Wren.
He was flown by helicopter to Albany Medical Center where
he later died.
Joe Stack's decision to crash a plane into an IRS office in
Austin, Texas, has raised a host of questions about the possibility
of homegrown terrorism... but also comparisons to a rise in
anti-government activities during the early Clinton Administration
years that finally saw release with a combination of the Oklahoma
City bombing tragedy and strong FEMA responses to flooding
disasters here and elsewhere around the nation.
What's captured as much attention as Stack's attack, recently,
has been the response its engendered, with many starting to
claim heroism for his act of violence.
"The very fact of what he did might energize somebody
else on the borderline and might tip them in favor of going
ahead and doing something similar," said Mark Pitcavage,
who tracks anti-government groups as director of investigative
research for the Anti-Defamation League. "The fact that
there is sympathy for him and support for him suggests that
that is not out of the realm of possibility."
Federal investigators are "continuing to investigate
all aspects of Joseph Stack's life and the events leading
up to the incident," a federal law enforcement official
in Washington said, adding that "there is nothing discovered
so far to indicate a larger conspiracy or international influence."
Investigators in Texas told reporters they quickly ruled out
any direct connections between Stack and terrorist groups
Overall, the Southern Poverty Law Center has counted 75 domestic
terror acts since Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City 15 years ago this April,
and last August, the organization reported a resurgence of
the "Patriot" movement that helped spawn McVeigh's
attack. Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Report,
said a new study due to be released in March will show a marked
increase in anti-government activity since Barack Obama took
over the White House in January 2009.
The Austin attack "comes in the context of an absolute
explosion in the number of anti-government and Patriot groups
and militia groups," Potok said, adding that he could
not provide a more specific breakdown until the March report
is completed. But already "the numbers are astounding."
"The white supremacists also agitated about Barack Obama,
but we didn't see their numbers grow, just their anger,"
added Pitcavage, whose ADL has observed the same trend line
as the SPLC. "The anti-government groups have linked
Obama with all these major conspiracy theories about concentration
camps and martial law - the same sorts that were swirling
around before the Oklahoma City bombing. That he's going to
be the instrument of the New World Order" under which,
most versions of the theory have it, the U.S. government would
be subsumed by an international cabal.
In the mid-1990s, a storm of anti-government actions in the
West were mirrored locally by the rise of similar forces focused
on a local effort to have the Catskills named a special UNESCO
Biosphere region, and efforts to create a local heritage trail.
Much of that anger overflowed into the region's reaction to
proposed regulatory changes throughout the New York City watershed,
eventually yielding the Memorandum of Agreement that brought
new compliance AND development funding to the Catskills. Also
occurring were numerous gatherings that drew local officials
who started mirroring Far Right language in their calls for
greater home rule, as well as a special Congressional Hearing
about Property Rights overseen by some of the federal bodies
leading agitators of the time.
All came to a quiet halt after the floods of winter, 1996
when federal FEMA head James Lee Witt visited the area and
his agency's attentions, along with New York City's, helped
effect a quick and full recovery.
It has come to our attention that one of the little-known
requirements of the NYS Department of State Office of Fire
Control and Prevention is a requirement for all owners of
wild animals to report their presence to local authorities
so EMTs and firefighters aren't faced with scary surprises.
"All persons required to report the owning, possessing
or harboring of a wild animal under General Municipal Law
209-cc shall file such report with the relevant city, town
or village clerk on or before April 1 of each year,"
reads the code, which references an online form available
So what's on the list? Lions, tigers and bears... and all
forms of monkeys, foxes, wolves, wild cats. How about snakes,
other reptiles and amphibians?
Turns out the only things needing reporting are all venomous
snakes and constrictors and pythons that are ten feet or greater
in length. Or "crocodilia five feet or greater in length."
That makes us feel safer...
Stormwater? Planning board members, engineers, contractors
and municipal officials interested in stormwater issues are
invited to a free workshop sponsored by the Catskill Watershed
Corporation Wednesday, March 10 in Fleischmanns, when "Before
the Rains: Stormwater Rules Explained" will be held from
9 a.m. to noon at La Cabana Mexican Restaurant. Check-in begins
at 8:30. The workshop will explain New York State and New
York City Watershed regulations governing stormwater - why
they matter in the pursuit of clean water, what the rules
consist of and how they are enforced. When are Erosion and
Sediment Control plans required for construction sites? What
triggers the requirement for a Stormwater Pollution Prevention
Plan (SWPPP) for a new building or other impervious surface?
When is a certified on-site stormwater inspector needed? What
are the responsibilities of the contractor, the designer,
and the property owner? A preview of new standards for post-construction
SWPPP design and maintenance will be offered by Carol Lamb-LaFay
of the Office of Environmental Quality, Region IV, NYS Department
of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The standards, which
are expected to be implemented by the DEC later this year,
will emphasize incorporating "green infrastructure"
to maximize natural infiltration of runoff. Local municipal
codes may have to be modified to reflect the new requirements.
There is no charge for the workshop or the buffet lunch that
follows, however, pre-registration is required by March 3.
Go to www.cwconline.org, and click on the notice on the home
page to register electronically. Call 586-1400 to obtain a
paper registration form.
Starting March 1, virtually every place where people live
in New York state will be required to have at least one carbon
monoxide detector installed. The new mandate, known as Amanda's
Law, exempts only non-residential commercial establishments
and buildings that have "no sources of combustion within"
Essentially, the new law requires every single-family home,
new or old, as well as each unit in apartment buildings and
complexes, to have a carbon monoxide detector.
The new law differs from past legislation in that single-family
homes previously were not required to install un-its that
detect carbon monoxide - a colorless, odorless and deadly
gas that is the product of inefficient burning of fuel. Carbon
monoxide, or CO, can be produced by wood or gas stoves, grills,
fireplaces, oil or gas furnaces, gasoline-powered vehicles
and appliances such as kerosene space heaters.
While the gas can go unnoticed without a detector, the symptoms
of carbon monoxide poisoning are obvious and painful. They
include headaches, nausea, disorientation and fatigue.
Ultimately, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.
The new state law is named for 16-year-old Amanda Hansen of
West Seneca, near Buffalo, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning
on Jan. 17, 2009, while sleeping at a friend's house.
Amanda's Law requires carbon monoxide units to be installed
in all new and existing one- and two-family homes, multifamily
buildings and rental units that have fuel-burning appliances
or systems or garages attached.
Most carbon monoxide detectors cost $20 to $30. The generally
are sold alongside smoke detectors in hardware stores, home
centers, drug stores and other retail establishments.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced
it will create a new climate change office to centralize access
to information for government, industry, and researchers as
part of an enhanced federal effort to prepare for long term,
climate related changes to our planetary ecosystem. The new
office, to be called the NOAA Climate Service, will be similar
to the National Weather Service, also run by NOAA, and will
bring together under a single leader about 550 scientists
and analysts already working on climate change issues for
"As the realities of climate change become more obvious
to more people, farmers, businesses, government agencies,
and public health officials, are going to be turning to us
for credible, useful, and relevant information," said
Dr.Jane Lubchenco, NOAA's Administrator. She said the agency
was committed to sharing raw data, analytical reports, and
all the information it gathered, and wanted to help build
confidence in the science involved.
"By providing critical planning information that our
businesses and our communities need, NOAA Climate Service
will help tackle head-on the challenges of mitigating and
adapting to climate change" said Commerce Secretary Gary
Locke, whose department oversees the new agency. Its new website
is www.climate.gov .
To celebrate the release of his fourth cross-generational
CD The Big Picture, Robert "Uncle Rock" Warren is
bringing his band the Playthings to the Bearsville Theater
on Saturday March 6th at 1 PM. Expect an interactive show
aimed at all ages, with nods to David Bowie, The Rolling Stones,
Cat Stevens, The Ramones, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and others.
Also on the bill: face painting, healthful snacks and special
The Big Picture's 12 original songs (and two covers - Carol
Burnett's theme song and Tom T Hall's "Sneaky Snake")
are engaging tributes to the above-mentioned icons, with lyrics
that veer from whimsy ("Leave the Bees Be") to the
necessity of recycling ("There Is No Away," "Garbage
Barge"), acceptance of differences ("Secret Spaceman")
and the importance of shopping locally ("Stop at a Mom
To craft The Big Picture, Uncle Rock has upped the sonic quality
while keeping it local: at the helm is Rosendale's own indispensable
Dean Jones - producer, multi-instrumentalist, and, among many
other musical endeavors, the man behind the acclaimed family
music group Dog On Fleas. Celebrated Smithsonian Folkways
artist Elizabeth Mitchell elevates the story song "There
Is No Away," and revered "cellist to the rock stars"
Jane Scarpantoni (Nirvana, Sheryl Crow, Psychedelic Furs)
brings bowed brilliance to the table.
Before being dubbed "Uncle Rock" by his nephew,
Warren performed as a bass player in many rock and roll bands,
including international garage rock titans The Fleshtones.
He also spent a year portraying Buddy Holly in Buddy: The
Buddy Holly Story in London's West End, and has co-written
songs for multi-Grammy winner Rosanne Cash and Rock &
Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson.
The Fairlawn Inn of Hunter, in neighboring Greene County,
is the recipient of the New York State Hospitality & Tourism
Association's (NYSH&TA) Bed & Breakfast of Distinction
Award. The winner will be recognized at the Association's
2010 Stars of the Industry Gala & Awards Banquet at the
Crowne Plaza Albany, Monday, March 1.
The Stars of the Industry awards program honors employees
of the hotels, motels and tourism-related businesses throughout
the state who best represent the quality service and spirit
of the tourism and hospitality industry.
The award recognizes the Bed & Breakfast property that
demonstrates architectural excellence and distinction; reflects
significance or historical preservation; plays an integral
role in promoting the local tourism economy.
No New School
The application to create the first charter school in the
Mid-Hudson Valley will not be refiled with the State University
of New York until at least May, according to applicant Andrew
Taylor applied to open "The Charter School of Tomorrow"
at TechCity in the town of Ulster, which is within the boundaries
of the Kingston school district, in May of 2009, but withdrew
the proposal in July. There are two deadlines per year in
which applicants can apply - one in January and one in May.
Taylor said he and the board of trustees hope to file a new
application to create the Charter School of Tomorrow by the
May deadline. But the group also wants to make sure the application
contains all necessary elements, he said, adding that if the
application is not ready in May, it will be filed later.
According to the SUNY Charter School Institute publication,
if a charter school application is rejected, "the denial
is final and cannot be reviewed by another authority."
The proposed Ulster County charter school would emphasize
arts and technology, and Taylor said when the application
was withdrawn that the Charter School Institute wanted more
research conducted regarding online instruction. Taylor said
at the time he hoped to refile the application this month.
The withdrawn application described the education model the
school would use as a hybrid of face-to-face instruction and
remote deliveries, such as online courses, that would allow
educators to offer advanced placement and college-credit courses
that are not available in the region's public schools.
The withdrawn application reads that the charter school initially
would serve 345 students in grades five through nine, and
by the fourth year, the applicants projected it would grow
to serve a total of 552 students in grades five through 12.
If the application is filed in May, Taylor said the school
could open in September 2011.
For some people, keeping their cool is as easy as ABC. But,
some hot-headed teens with out-of-bounds rage need to learn
the ABC system - action, behavior, consequence - to keep their
equilibrium in confrontational situations. The Teen Anger
Management Program, a service of Family of Woodstock, has
been working for more than nine years with volatile teens
to enable them to deal with their rage.
"The program is based on the alternative-to-violence
approach of the prison system," said Jessica Robie, program
director of adolescent services in Kingston and New Paltz.
"We work to help teens understand that they can't control
what happens to them. But, they can control their reaction
and behavior, and they can, thus, control the consequences,"
Family of Woodstock offers groups in Kingston, New Paltz and
Ellenville now, and will be starting groups at teen shelters
in Kingston, Rosendale and Ellenville. The program is directed
to middle school and high school students, but the age groups
are separated. Referrals for the program come from across
the spectrum: Schools, parents, probation, and staff at Family
of Woodstock that offers a slew of programs for families and
Robie said the teenagers learn intervention-to-violence techniques,
starting with cues to what makes them angry.
About 150 teens come through the program every year
More information can be obtained at www.familyofwoodstock.org