The Board has completed its review of spending priorities for the
2009-10 school year, and is ready to present a budget they support
to the community. This has been a particularly difficult financial
time for planning, as you are well aware. Difficult decisions will
need to be made for the school district over a period of several years.
Your input, questions, and participation is valued.
The combined effort of staff, administrative team and Board has assisted
in maintaining focus on a high level of instruction and learning in
the district. Our recently adopted Strategic Plan provides the new
“floor” for future planning with an emphasis on preparing
students as global citizens in a changing, diverse society. Efforts
for the rollout of this program have begun, and appear in the 2009-10
Let me quickly highlight some of the programs, services and activities
that remain in place for students. We continue to host a many and
varied electives for high school students, including Advanced Placement,
technology, leadership and fine arts classes that assist them complete
their Regents graduation requirements. All of the competitive sports
teams at every level have been maintained, and clubs as well as activities
for students will remain in place. We are all proud of the progress
our middle school team has made in moving to a school “In Good
Standing” relative to state assessments; this is a status we
intend to continue. Our growth and refreshment plan for curriculum-related
technology is helping to provide meaningful tools for instruction
in many classrooms. Even with a ten percent reduction in each building
budget, we will be able to provide assemblies and field trips for
The 2009-10 budget includes annual statutory increases for personnel
of step, increase, health and welfare benefits. It also accounts for
reductions of approximately $900,000 with reductions in staff that
align with our continued decline in enrollment. The total budget proposed
budget of $49,865,219 represents a dollar-to-dollar budget increase
of $1,439,759, or 3.42%- an amount below the contingency calculation
of 3.97%. The anticipated levy increase (including last year’s
budget increase of 3.08% with no levy increase) is 6.38%. This amount
continues the District perspective of using prudent measures to contain
cost and maintain an even levy for taxpayers.
The annual Budget Vote is Tuesday, May 19th. Polls will be open from
@:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. at the three elementary schools and the West
Hurley site. Three Board candidates are listed for election on the
ballot. In addition, voters are asked to consider two propositions.
The first proposition would allow the District to remain on the bus
replacement schedule with the purchase of two buses. Our current fleet
has buses older than 10 years with more than 200,000 miles on them.
The second proposition asks voters to approve already collected dollars
from the fund balance to cover the cost of items necessary to the
Auditorium modernization project. The two largest items are electric
winches and rigging for lighting and scenery. Without these items,
lighting and scenery would have to be dead hung from the ceiling.
These items have been removed from the base bid, and will directly
add to the quality of the Auditorium use for years to come.
Earlier budget presentations are available for you review on the District
website. I want to thank all of you in the community for the care
and concern you demonstrate for our students in so many ways.
Leslie Ford, Superintendent
Onteora School District
My name is Tony Fletcher and I am running for a position as Trustee
on the Board of Education here in the Onteora Central School District,
elections to take place along with the Budget Vote on May 19. I would
like to share with your readers my mission statement, as follows.
I am running for school board because I believe in this school district.
I believe our community elementary schools (Bennett, Phoenicia, Woodstock)
are the solid foundations on which our students’ successes are
built, and that we must support and maintain them accordingly.
I believe also that these schools are core factors in the economic
vitality of the various communities that make up our geographically
I believe in district-wide representation on the school board, that
it must never again fall into the hands of a proven minority with
a hidden agenda.
I believe the teachers and other district employees are our partners
in shaping our children’s future, and that they should be treated
accordingly by Central Administration.
I believe in maintaining safety nets for the less advantaged among
our district’s children, including those with Special Needs;
if we “catch” them early, we all save in the long run.
I believe in promoting and building upon our school district’s
many strengths and achievements, and working with other district and
regional bodies to attract more families to raise their children here.
I believe in ongoing scrutiny of our District's spending, keeping
any budget increases to an absolute minimum.
I believe the current system of financing school districts through
property taxes is detrimental to all concerned. I support the New
York State Assembly’s Equity In Education Bill (A6009), and
invite all members of our community to do likewise.
If elected, I promise to listen to voters, to try to reflect community
opinion when it comes to board decisions, to prove open to innovative
ideas, and to promote a positive spirit on the board and harmony within
Some background: I was raised and educated in the UK, and have spent
the last 21 years living in New York State, during which time I became
a proud citizen of the United States. I am the author of several books,
including a major biography on Keith Moon, and the upcoming All Hopped
Up And Ready To Go: Music From The Streets of New York 1927-77, have
written freelance for a vast range of national and international newspapers
and magazines, and have also worked over the years in many other areas
of media and music. I am a keen runner, including marathon distance,
and avid skier, and in 2005, my wife and I fulfilled a long-term dream
of moving full-time to this area, one that we chose not just because
of its natural beauty, its outdoor opportunities, and its historical
sense of community, but because of its popular and successful schools.
We have two sons in the district. One is about to move into high school.
The other has been designated as a pre-school child with a disability;
I am happy to say that he is receiving appropriate education through
our school district, which I sincerely believe will enable him to
eventually integrate into regular education. We live in Mount Tremper,
in the town of Woodstock but on the very border of Shandaken; our
older son, who spent two years at Phoenicia Elementary, now goes to
school in the town of Olive; we have good friends in all these towns
and also in West Hurley.
Our sons’ age range and health issues mean that by next September,
I will have been privy to four separate levels of education in the
Onteora District (pre-school, elementary, middle school, high school).
In addition, over the last two years, I have attended the vast majority
of School Board meetings, which means I have a clear sense of what
I’m taking on and how the school board (and to an extent, the
district at large) operates. This past year I have served on the Communications
Committee. Our theme for the upcoming school year’s calendar
is Many Towns, One District.
The Onteora Central School District is not perfect, and there are
several issues that merit attention and discussion. It is, however,
statistically the top-performing district in Ulster County (alongside
New Paltz), and I have seen firsthand the dedication of teachers,
other staff, administrators, parents, the students themselves and
community members who have helped make it so. We have much more to
achieve, and a positive outlook will help us do so.
I am running alongside current Trustee Laurie Osmond. Please look
for campaign literature that outlines our district’s successes
and areas for improvement, and we invite you to support us at our
facebook page (search for “osmondfletcher09”).
rward to your vote on May 19 and to serving this community as a School
Mount Tremper, NY
About a year ago, I started putting signs up for Didymo on the Esopus
Creek from the Boiceville market all the way to Phoenicia and a few
places beyond that point. I meet with region 3 fisheries before posting
my signs to show them my signs. They had no comments, just stated
do not post my signs on DEC easements to the Esopus creek, I complied.
I also asked when you are going to put up signs on the Esopus a number
of times throughout the 2008 summer. Reply no money no manpower.
After contacting many private land owners, and posting my signs. I
then contacted the Ashokan Pepacton TU chapter board members, and
asked them if they would be willing to defray some of the payments
for the signs. Their reply was, “if you came to us before you
posted your signs, we may have considered giving you some money to
defray from the cost of the signs” that reply came from Rodger
Walters”. None of the board members offered to assist me in
putting up additional signs. Mr. Walters is a board member of APW
& region 3# TU vice president. Only 2 board members were supportive.
I was very angry that they were not willing to do anything! I continued
putting up more signs regardless. The Catskills Mountain Railroad
gave me permission to post my signs anywhere on the side of the tracts,
they were supportive.
As of now, there are 72 signs posted, 42 for Didymo & 30 notice
signs. Cameras were also put up which land owners paid for, some did
pay for the signs.
Posted signs Boiceville to Phoenicia, Coldbrook Road & beyond.
Risley Road by closed bridge, USGS station off of 28, one mile on
the tracks going to Phoenicia, back roads Woodland Valley, Rondout
Creek; 1.6 miles all posted. Cost of all signs $900.00.PDQ, in New
Paltz, dramatically reduced the cost of the signs, a great help.
Synopsis: All summer long in 2008, inmates were planting pine trees
at region 3# DEC headquarters New Paltz, plant trees yes, signs no.
All state signs are made at 2 correctional facilities, inmates paid
approximately 31 to 61 cents a hour materials state pays slightly
over cost, as for manpower, they could of used outside gangs for help,
free labor. DEC has a responsibility to protect all streams. As for
the APW they are the watchdog of the Esopus, supposedly.
April 2, 2009 DEC knew about Didymo but did not confirm it.
April 9, 2009 Schumer and APW Rodger Walters & others announced
15 million to help with signs and other things.
April 15, 9,215, 9inch trout, put into the Esopus. They should have
put them elsewhere.
April 27, notices went out from DEC that Didymo is in the Esopus.
Nowhere in Ulster County are there posted Didymo sign or anywhere
in region 3# my signs are not going to stop Didymo, it was to alert
& educate people, to reduce the possibility. And with some luck
prevent it coming into the Esopus. No longer the case now!
Everyone from William Janeway DEC Region Director & Rodger Walters
& Chet Karwatowski APW president knew that Didymo was in the Esopus
on April, 2 or there about.
The rest of the story is what I call the Potomac two-step or as most
know CYA. All the above are un-disputable facts.
New Paltz, NY
The Phoenicia Times and other papers report that “Coalition
to ‘Save’ Belleayre,” UC Legislature Chairman Donaldson
and still-unknown Delaware County officials again called on Governor
Paterson to direct economic stimulus funding to the expansion of public
Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, BMSC.
Exactly what construction plans do they suggest be funded? Economic
stimulus money is for "shovel ready" infrastructure projects–already
reviewed, approved and ready for bid--to put people to work immediately.
DEC and other State officials have confirmed in multiple press reports
that the expansion of BMSC is nowhere near shovel ready, as "Coalition
to Save Belleayre" and County officials know perfectly well.
They should stop misleading the public and Governor Paterson with
press releases and letters containing wildly exaggerated prospective
jobs numbers. They are responsible for the delay.
Fact is, expansion of the ski center was severely retarded by their
attempt to use PUBLIC BMSC to enable speculative PRIVATE Belleayre
Resort, a proposed commercial real estate development with multiple
restaurants, bars, stores, hotels, spas, condos and mountaintop timeshares,
larger and higher in elevation than ever before permitted.
Fact is, NY taxpayers must first “acquire” the land needed
for DEC's ski center expansion plan, as well as the hostage Big Indian
parcel, from the private developer! Leaving aside constitutional issues,
the entire house of cards collapses if Crossroads Ventures investors
do not get their price and everything else they demanded in closed-door
negotiations from then-Governor Spitzer. Fortunately the concerned
public has remained engaged because this proposal would harm Catskill
Mountain communities, ecology, wildlife and scenery—our primary
economic engine, and very likely increase local taxes.
Thanks to this unfortunate shotgun wedding DEC's tardy plan for expanding
the public ski center now must go through SEQR review in tandem with
the controversial private development. Readers can find the final
DEC scope for the joint Belleayre review and more info at SavetheMountain.net
Save The Mountain!
I want to thank the Onteora School District community for its support
during my School Board service. It has been an interesting three years,
and I have tried to meet the challenges thoughtfully and fairly while
getting to know many of the people who live in our communities. Working
to increase the excellence in our schools and balancing what we all
pay in taxes is not easy and the Boards I have served on have been
very cognizant of this. I am not running again, given the immense
time commitment and my desire to have more time with my family. I
will continue to support our schools, and volunteer where I can to
help the district.
Onteora has much to be proud of, and also much work to do. This year’s
strategic plan is a good curricular map for Onteora to follow, addressing
K-12 curriculum; graduation rates; special education and the culture
and climate of our schools. Looking to the future, there are many
complex issues to debate and decide upon; our middle school configuration,
retention of community schools, keeping a rich curriculum and associated
extracurricular activities and upgrading our facilities. And, I hope
the debate will include surveying the entire community regarding what
it is willing to support, given the associated tax impacts. Long-range
planning and decisions have to be made and this needs to be done openly
and thoughtfully. The choices are not easy, but communicating the
complexity to the community and then getting its input is essential.
When I was elected to the board three years ago, the specter of our
divided towns intimidated me. But I’ve learned in these years
that the divide doesn’t really exist to the degree we read about
in the papers. A few key voices constantly beat this drum, but I don’t
believe they speak for the majority of us. We need to put talk of
such differences aside because it lessens people’s willingness
to be involved in our schools. And, that involvement is needed from
all corners of the district. And key to accomplishing real change
in the district is the shared vision of the Board, administration,
staff and community.
I’ve always been disappointed that our board meetings occur
with very few people in attendance. And though they are finally being
televised on Channel 20 twice a week – most people get their
school news from the newspapers or from anecdotes, venues which rarely
reflect the complexity of the issues or the discussion that takes
place. So I hope people will start tuning into our board meetings,
and get a sense of these things for themselves. And let the Board
and Superintendent know what steps they might take to gain their involvement.
So, it’s school board vote time again. Please go to the polls
on May 19th to continue your support for our school district.
Onteora School Board President
For over a year much misinformation has been disseminated regarding
consolidation in the OCS district. Opponents claim that towns will
be damaged if schools are closed. They also warn that local businesses
will be adversely impacted and that real estate values will decline.
Furthermore, they claim no one has been able to show that substantial
savings will be gained. Meanwhile the quality of education will definitely
Consolidation proponents made well researched presentations prior
to the school board election and budget vote. Their zeal to tackle
the enormity of a runaway budget for a school with rapidly declining
enrollment called for massive changes requiring the closing of schools,
reducing staff, and implementing an unpopular middle school reconfiguation.
In the end, the fear tactics employed by the opponents convinced the
populace. The voters rejected facts and logic. The proponents failed
in part because they did not present a concrete example of a specific
school district in which the best use of resources result in significant
savings while still meeting state education mandates.
Highland Central School District located in Southern Ulster County
has a current enrollment of 1950 students. Its proposed budget is
just over $35 million. Onteora, with more than 200 fewer students
is proposing a budget of approximately $15 million more than Highland.
How does Highland educate a student for nearly $10,000 less than OCS?
Last year I spoke with the former Highland superintendant, John McCarthy.
When I asked how Highland had a budget so much lower than ours, he
answered, "We have three buildings."
In 2006-2007, the last year in which I could find statistics regarding
high school performance, Highland High School ranked 302 out of 809
public high schools in New York. with a 16:1 fulltime teacher to student
ratio while Onteora High School ranked 330th with a 14:1 fulltime
teacher to student ratio. Although Highland High had fewer teachers
and a drastically lower budget, its students outperformed ours. These
figures are actual evidence that spending more money on education
doesn't automatically guarantee superior results.
I attended Onteora when there were 25 students in an elementary class.
Bennett School, Phoenica and West Hurley did not exist. All elementary
students attended Woodstock or were educated in the west end of the
current high school/middle school. I rode on a bus with the high school
students. Through all of these challenges, I and many others graduated
from Onteora and became productive citizens.
In a perfect world all of our elementary schools could remain open.
In a perfect world foreclosures and tax sales would not happen. Everyone
would have health insurance. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect
world. People are losing their homes. Lives are being devastated.
Many are living on the edge wih constant anxiety over how they will
pay their bills. For many, the cost of living has far outstripped
their resources. Life is hell for them. How does it profit a child
to attend the Rolls Royce of school districts while his parents are
stressed to the max and in danger of losing their home?
While it is not illegal to keep pressuring the district's tax payers
to finance enormous budgets, it is absolutely immoral. I am outraged
with the current situation at Onteora, and I am certain that there
are many others who would like to see a budget similar to our neighbors
Take heed. Onteora is top heavy with buildings and the cost of their
maintenance, staff, and administration. Our enrollment clearly does
not justify the current situation. Simply put, Highland has proven
that a comparable education is attainable for thirty percent less
than what we are spending at Onteora. Fifteen million dollars is not
I challenge the opponents of consolidation to be honest about the
following. If you were faced with a challenge in your personal lives
in which similar results could be attained by spending either $70,000
or $100,000, how many of you would opt to spend $30,000 more? Isn't
it much easier to spend other people's money more frivolously than
how you spend your own?
Those who successfully opposed the consolidation plan have only delayed
the inevitable. Consolidation will happen. The May 1st Daily Freeman
carried an article addressing the issue. Assemblyman Kevin Cahill,
speaking at a tax reform forum in Red Hook which addressed the funding
of education via real estate taxes, stated that he would support an
approach to bring about changes in the educational model, including
consolidations. "He said he would support a 'Berger-like' commission
to review school districts across the state and make recommendations
for efficiencies." The Berger commission closed a number of hospitals
and forced others to merge in 2006. Cahill said, "We have not
consolidated our schools in over fifty years."
He was not only speaking about consolidating within a school district;
he was implying that if the state gets involved adjoining school districts
might be forced to merge for the sake of efficiency.
I urge everyone in the Onteora district to consider the very real
possibility that the state will one day mandate consolidation under
its direction. We will have little or no say in how this proceeds.
However, if we get our house in order we may avoid this invasion.
Let's work together to solve our district's challenges on our terms
before we are forced into a situation which we will all regret. Let's
set aside what has happened in the past and work together for a better
John R. Tisch
West Shokan, NY
We are writing in support of Tony Fletcher and Laurie Osmond as candidates
for Onteora School Board. We've known both of them - and their children
- for several years, and can't think of anyone better qualified to
represent both students and taxpayers in the district. They are conscientious
citizens, great parents, and daringly hopeful and imaginative people.
Laurie Osmond has been on the board for a year and has proven to be
a strong voice for everything from at-risk kids to the emerging Green
consciousness in the district, and she continues to be outspoken and
active toward keeping the budget reined in and reasonable. As the
parent of a student at Phoenicia Elementary, she sees and appreciates
first-hand the positive results of an educational system in which
active parents get involved in the process of readying Onteora kids
to face the world. She is a fixture at the school - rolling up her
sleeves and making things happen. Her dedication to and faith in the
process of education is genuine and contagious.
Tony Fletcher, the father of an Onteora middle-school student and
a preschooler, has been a constant presence at school board meetings
since moving to the area several years ago. As possible changes in
our schools’ configuration came under discussion, he was always
there, asking questions and tirelessly researchin g the subject. Last
year, he effectively managed the very successful campaign to elect
a board that is more representative of the entire district. We've
spent countless rich hours talking with Tony about the many facets
of Onteora - the difficulties, the history, and the possibilities.
Like Laurie, he understands how our district’s schools are integral
to our greater community, and we all will be well served to have him
join Laurie on the board.
Both Tony and Laurie want to keep Onteora a beacon for families who
come to our beautiful mountains to raise their kids. They are hard
workers with great ideas. With deep gratitude to them for giving untold
amounts of time and energy in the service of Onteora and all the district’s
taxpayers, we encourage everyone to go out and vote for Osmond and
Fletcher on May 19th. Every vote is crucial!
Robert Burke Warren
I am writing to express my support for Tony Fletcher and Laurie Osmond
in the upcoming Onteora School Board election. Our school district
is facing unprecedented challenges, and these candidates have demonstrated
their commitment to our schools and our children time and time again.
Without their efforts, the Phoenicia School would now be sitting vacant.
Tony Fletcher will be a new face on the board but he is ever present
at school board meetings. He played a key role in last year's election
to help bring in a new team of trustees. Tony is very well versed
in our school district, the issues that the board faces, and the manner
in which it functions. I am grateful that we have candidates who are
so well qualified and willing to take on the responsibilities of serving
our community. Please show your support for our candidates and vote
in the upcoming elections on May 19th.
Nick J Alba
I am running for reelection to the Onteora School Board because I
believe in the students and I believe in the communities that make
up this district.
As trustees, our primary concern must always be the success and welfare
of our Onteora students.
Our most important investment in our future is our children. We cannot
succeed as a community or a country if we do not provide our children
with the best education possible. The viability of our local economies
depends on those who will emerge prepared to create new businesses
here at home. The ability of America to compete globally is dependent
on the abilities of those who walk the halls of our schools today.
Our schools and our communities are inextricably linked. A thriving
school helps a community to thrive, both economically and socially.
Our community schools are not only charged with producing the local
and global leaders of the future, but are economic engines for our
towns as well.
The troubled economy and property taxes are a reality we must deal
with. Budgets must be managed frugally, and cuts made where they will
least impact the ability of students to excel.
I believe that the only true property tax reform is tax reform that
takes the funding of schools, which is in our national best interest,
off the backs of local property owners. I urge everyone to add their
voices to the growing call for change, and contact their local representatives
to support reform.
While we are all facing hard economic times, we must not let fear
shortchange us of schools and graduates we can be proud of.
I believe that we create what we focus on. If we focus on the negative,
that is exactly what we will bring about. But if we focus on navigating
dark times with an eye to the horizon and a positive belief in our
schools and our future, that is what will ultimately shine through.
Whether your family has lived here for generations or you are a recent
arrival from another part of the world, we all know this part of the
Catskills has magic to it. It’s drawn people here for centuries.
The Catskills have meant outdoor recreation, arts and entertainment
to Americans since the 1800’s. Woodstock is the most famous
small town in the world. Like other residents of remarkable places,
we sometimes take the natural beauty, rich history and varied offerings
of this area for granted. We forget how lucky we are to live here.
A place as special as this deserves to have schools that are special.
I support our schools.
And that is why I am running for re-election to the Onteora Board
Please vote for the budget and for Board trustees on May 19 from 2-9
at your town’s elementary school.
V.P. Onteora Board of Education
It appears that Governor Patterson is not on the same page as the
President with regards to economic recovery. In the President's recent
speech on this topic, he stated that further layoffs result in further
recession. The Governor's ongoing threats against the state workforce
fly in the face of the Presidents message and his efforts to bring
us out of the recession. The Governor's actions, on the other hand,
only serve to further contribute to the recession.
Imagine nearly 200,000 state employees and their families facing these
ongoing threats. The only sane reaction would be to become extremely
financially conservative, stop spending money, stop investing money,
thus contributing in a significant way to furthering the recession
in this state.
Instead of these ongoing media moments I would like to hear his reaction
to the legitimate proposals the unions are making to him and which
he will not discuss or negotiate. These would cut real waste from
state government. Although those proposals may not be as politically
expedient, they would bring more accountability and transparency to
state government while lessening yet another reason for hundreds of
thousands of our fellow citizens to lose even more sleep. If this
recession is ever to be resolved, all of us, including the Governor,
need to get on board.
John Steele Jr.
Congrats on your excellent paper. I picked up a copy at Phoenicia
diner (and a super breakfast, to boot) last Friday. An amazingly good
job. If the mainstream did it this well, they wouldn't be going out
of business. The piece on GMO is a masterpiece; it deserves wide circulation.
The rest is worthy of playing in the same league, so to speak.
I have friends in Margaretville, Roxbury etc.. . Will ask them if
they read it--if not, will make 'em.
I’m an old Mnpls Star Trib reporter (so old as not to matter),
and author of A Sailor's Notebook, and various other stuff.
Why do we continue to hear requests for federal "stimulus funds"
for the expansion of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center from the Chairman
of the Ulster County Legislature, The Coalition to Save Belleayre
and Crossroads Ventures itself? This is a moot point as evidenced
by on the record statements from NYS Deputy Secretary of the Environment
Judith Enck and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Region
4 Director Yancey Roy but still they keep pretending it isn't so.
The defunct Highmount Ski Center property where the majority of the
proposed new ski trails are to be located is still owned by the private
developer Crossroads Ventures. The state has to buy this land with
taxpayer funds from the private developer in order to do the BMSC
expansion and that sale is intertwined with approval of the private
resort construction. Nothing can begin until the environmental review
is complete on all parts. We don't know if Crossroads would sell Highmount
to the state if they are not able to get permitting for building the
resort, besides such a sale would nullify the Agreement in Principle
New York State and Crossroads Ventures signed and the required legal
process would have to start all over. Hence the BMSC expansion is
far from shovel ready.
If the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center had announced an expansion plan
that didn't marry the two, it would be shovel ready, eligible for
federal stimulus funds and much needed local jobs would have been
created. Instead they (DEC) decided to hitch their wagon to the Crossroads
time share proposal. That’s the real reason the long overdue
BMSC expansion remains in limbo.
And in the face of these facts the Chairman of the Ulster County Legislature,
The Coalition to Save Belleayre and Crossroads Ventures blindly continue
to pretend the BMSC expansion is an independent shovel ready project.
Who are they trying to fool?
Hardenburgh Association of Residents and Taxpayers
I am writing to continue the conversation started by Mark Antman's
poignant and informative letters regarding reasons we should avoid
using chemical pesticides and herbicides in our gardens and lawns.
I am a professional gardener and in every horticulture class I took
pertaining to lawns and gardening I was advised repeatedly to steer
clear of chemical pesticides and herbicides. And here is why. These
products, designed to eventually break down in the outside environment,
are easily tracked inside the house by people and pets. Once inside,
without wind, rain and sun to break them down, they create a toxic
and carcinogenic home environment Unfortunately it is the smallest
of immune systems who are impacted by this: our children and pets.
These highly toxic chemicals also end up making their way into our
wells and drinking water. I found that with encouragement and education
I was able to assist my clients to reorient their aesthetic toward
seeing a picture perfect green lawn without one single weed as a vast
expanse of toxic poison and to see our natural lawns scattered with
whatever the wind might blow in as the healthy, beautiful environment
intended by Mother Nature.
Unfortunately some of our biggest users of these toxic poisons are
lawn maintenance companies and landscapers who, in fairness to them,
are concentrating on giving their clients what they want. So speak
to your maintenance crew, mower or landscaper and tell them you prefer
weeds to chemicals. The repercussion of losing bees is huge for our
plants and food supply. But also take note at the increasing amount
of cancer in our beautiful Mid Hudson Valley. We need to learn how
to work proactively with our farmers but right now we can stop buying
herbicides and pesticides. For my bug problems, if I cannot squish
them with my fingers I use a product called Neem, which is a natural
oil, and can be found at Adams.
West Shokan NY
A few weeks ago I wrote a letter expressing my concern about the potential
effects that herbicides and pesticides have on humans, animals and
honeybees. Numerous questionable products are easily available and
widely used to treat lawns, gardens, and homes. Due to inactivity
by the EPA, few if any of these chemicals have been tested and little
is known about the effects they produce. At long last, on April 15,
the EPA announced it will require manufacturers of 67 chemicals known
as endocrine disruptors commonly used in pesticides to test their
products to evaluate their effect on endocrine systems.
According to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, “Endocrine disruptors
are chemicals that interact with and possibly disrupt the hormones
produced or secreted by the human or animal endocrine system, which
regulates growth, metabolism and reproduction. Endocrine disruptors
can cause lifelong health problems – especially for children.”
Congress mandated that the EPA assess the safety of potential endocrine
disruptors when it passed the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.
The law vaguely required that the program be implemented within three
years, but assessing the health effects of endocrine disruptors was
simply not a priority of the Bush administration. It is not a surprise
that EPA announced the beginning of the testing process just three
months into the Obama administration.
The list includes such chemicals as Atrazine which has been banned
in the European Union. Atrazine is among the most common, if not the
most common herbicide used in the United States. Other recognizable
chemicals on the testing list include diazinon, malathion, carbaryl
and permethrin 2,4-D, and imidacloprid.
It will take about two years to collect the data and another year
to make a final determination about the effect of the chemicals. So
if a pristine lawn is more important to you than your family, your
pets the environment and my honeybees, you’ve got a few years
before the real effects of this poison is evaluated. It would be nice
to think that most sensible folks would refrain from using these chemicals
Thank God for mothers! Mother's Day is an opportunity to make life
special for them. It is a chance to celebrate family. I thank God
for my mother, who died some years ago. There is one thing I regret:
for too many years I did not appreciate her enough and took her for
granted. She was always there for us. I thank God for my wife. We
have been married for forty-three years and have eight children. God
has blessed us with forty-one grandchildren.
Mothers are the backbone of our society and the glue that holds a
family together-their work is vital but often unseen. We all need
to show greater appreciation for them. I pity the man who does not
have a good wife to take care of him.
My favorite Hasidic saying goes, "God could not be everywhere
at once, so he gave each child a mother!" Mothers should be proud
to be mothers. It is a God-given task and privilege. Actually there
is a mother's heart in every woman, whether married or single. In
the past, motherhood was regarded as the noblest calling of a woman.
Today it is too often pushed aside by more "desirable" occupations
such as careers, and seen as an inconvenience or even an embarrassment.
A true mother thinks day and night about the well-being of her children,
and is the first to praise, comfort and protect them. She is willing
to sacrifice her life for them. The pains of pregnancy and childbirth
are borne by the mother, and she continues to carry the child in her
heart her whole life.
Motherhood is a mystery. It is something truly divine for which every
human heart longs. This is why mothers provide the most powerful influence
on a child's life, and are the most important role models for positive
change in our society. When anyone is in trouble, or knows that they
are dying, the first person they think of is their mother. When children
start going wrong ways a mother's prayer is powerful. Mothers remind
us that there is a loving God above us who will take good care of
everyone, especially children. Whenever a tragedy occurs-no matter
where in the world this happens-you will always find mothers both
weeping for the dead and bringing comfort and security to the living.
As we seek to improve the education of our children, let us start
by taking better care of our mothers. This will enable them to provide
better homes for all of us, and ensure the survival of our society.
Never before in our history have so many men abandoned the children
they fathered. Fathers are vanishing from their children's lives,
not just physically, but legally as well. Therefore, congratulations
to all single mothers and grandmothers who do their best to raise
children on their own. They often struggle under the most difficult
circumstances. They are the real heroes of the family-and not just
on Mother's Day.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you!
Johann Christoph Arnold