Follow Up on the
Have That Web!
An unscientific and sort of comprehensive
scan of Government based websites in the
area, as well as a couple others, shows
that it is pretty easy these days to find
a reason to visit.
For starters, the town of Olive website
does a fair job. It is attractive, with
neat pages for town archives. It has a nice
array of historic photos, including a section
on pubs and inn's. Ashokan Reservoir history
is well documented with interesting pics,
such as the reservoir baseball team of 1909
and a copy of the menu from the 1913 celebration
of the first day the reservoir became operational.
The October 11th event offered pickles,
Fried Chicken and Sweet Potatoes. Old schoolhouses,
some swallowed up by the reservoir, are
represented on the site also.
Good links are on there, too, including
to HVNET, a comprehensive site covering
the entire Hudson Valley.
Olive's government is well represented.
This site will help you find out where to
go to get what you need.
The town of Shandaken had a nice website,
but of late this town has fallen by the
Internet wayside. A new webmaster has been
hired and is said to have begun work just
this week, so look for a more updated site
SupervisorRob Stanley recently pointed out
that the site has been set up for easy updating,
much of which he will be doing over the
In the meantime, Shandaken's site boasts
a substantial links page with everything
from local businesses to arts groups and
available agencies. Until January, Shandaken's
site also featured documents pertaining
to the important issues of the day, although
this feature has been lackluster recently,
with the most recent posting dated March
Brand new is Town of Shandaken Facebook
page. Older are a series of partisan blogs
of various extreme biases masquerading as
Headed west and crossing over the Ulster/Delaware
County line at Highmount, web presence falls
off considerably in the Village of Fleischmanns,
despite plans announced over a year ago
by first term mayor Dave Morrell, who intended
to launch a full scale website when first
elected in March, 2009. Although the site
still points to special meetings that happened
back in October, 2009, and lists Village
Trustees, even though some are deceased,
it at least has a link page that is as good
as those in Olive and Shandaken.
Lucky for Fleischmanns however, is the fact
that the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce
has a comprehensive website. For years it
was just the Margaretville Chamber of Commerce,
but two years ago those in charge decided
to remove the borders and expand the service
to the entire region. The Chamber's site,
while looking slightly government-esque,
does provide a great deal of information
about the area and its offerings, including
a comprehensive calendar of events.
A more interesting site for that area is
Margaretville.net, a privately operated
site that features information on the quirky
happenings in the region, such as a recent
draft beer festival in Andes.
Bearsystems.com, like the previously mentioned
HVNET, provides a pretty comprehensive view
of the large Hudson Valley region and a
simple way to browse it. Intersted in archery?
Just click on that word on the home page,
which has a list of topics a mile long,
and find dozens of archery related places
from Sloatsburgh to Saugerties. Click the
term Women and get directed to the Shandaken
Women's Network, the Kingston based Women's
Health and Fitness Expo, even Women's Mysteries
Workshops in Pound Ridge.
Sure, Bearsystems is a much larger umbrella
than those local sites, but it is also a
great place to find those local ones. For
instance, just click on the term Woodstock
NY and find a host of sites like the one
for the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, an
attractive site chock full of video, bright
images, and as much information any would
be visitor to the town would need.... although
their pdf-formated calendar is quite clunky.
Or Come To Woodstock, newer and spunkier
but not comprehensive...
Like Olive and Shandaken, the town of Woodstock
offers a government website that will prove
helpful to residents, but also features
a spectacular on line gallery of works of
art by artists associated with the town,
both living and dead.
One disappointment during this informal
trek through local cyberspace is the clear
divide between Ulster County and Delaware
County, a divide that at least the Central
Catskills Chamber of Commerce is trying
to erase. It is not hard to imagine a Woodstocker
wanting to know about that Draft Beer Festival
in Andes and easy to see an Andes resident
or visitor making plans to head for the
garlic festival in Saugerties. Unfortunately
the sites that serve both locations are
few, despite all the talk of the region
being unified as the watershed for the City
of New York. And we haven't even discussed
the county websites... or newspapers' such
But there are plenty of new sites striving
for attention all the time and, once new
business models prove successful, the possibility
of one that gets it
Flows The Board
correspondence was handled initially, approving a
new member of the Fire Department, Company 1... Benjamin
Corley of Olivebridge.
Also received was a letter from NY State Department
of Environmental Conservation which indicated that
the NYC Department of Environmental Protection is
paying for a Flood Map Modernization Program for the
watershed West of the Hudson. This will provide for
new flood plain maps to be created or updated using
a variety of methods, from the very simple to more
in-depth means including engineering. Scoping meetings
held in April 2010 identified the following priority
areas: the Bushkill, especially as it enters the Ashokan
Reservoir; the Esopus Creek from town limits to its
entry into the Ashokan Reservoir; and the Little Beaverkill
Creek from the Esopus Creek to it's upstream limits
in the Town of Olive.
FIRM maps will be updated and are used for purposes
of certifying land either in or out of flood plains
for the purposes of building and insurance coverage.
These maps have been inadequate in showing elevations
and were primarily used as a distance requirement
from the flooding area.
It was suggested that other streams that should considered
would be the Moonhaw, Maltby Hollow and South Hollow
streams as they all contribute to the Bushkill. A
letter will be sent to request these additions to
the studies being proposed.
Deputy Supervisor LaMonda showed a map that had been
received by NYC Environmental Protection showing all
lands that could now be used for hunting. Many of
these lands were only accessible for fishing or not
at all. The map will be in the town offices so anyone
In other business, board members unanimously considered
and passed two resolutions.
Resolution # 12 was the required State Retirement
Fund accounting that must be submitted during the
first half of the year. Resolution # 13 unanimously
named Susan Horner, Supervisor Leifeld's secretary,
as the Town of Olive Welfare Officer. This county
requirement allows a specific contact person within
After due consideration, the County "Safety Net"
did not take affect, and it was pointed out that this
puts the cost and responsibility back into our town.
The Safety Net would have had Olive contributing to
welfare costs for the entire county - and not necessarily
just for Olive residents.
It was noted that labor negotiations would resume
at 2:30 PM on June 10 at the town hall. These meetings,
while open to the public, go into executive session
to discuss ongoing employee contract concerns. The
current Highway Department contract is ending December
Councilmember Burkhardt made a motion that Boy Scout
Troop 163, with Keith Davis as Scoutmaster, receive
a letter from the town thanking them for their hard
work in placing flags along the parade route for the
Memorial Day parade, as well as building the platform
and ramp that was erected for the ceremonies in front
of the town offices in West Shokan. The motion was
seconded by Henry Rank, and unanimously carried.
The Recreation Committee met recently to finalize
plans for Olive's summer camp. New lifeguards have
been hired to replace all those not returning from
last year and there will be a total of 30 camp counselors
hired for the program. Camp starts on July 6 and runs
through August 4. The program will be using www.cancellations.com
as a means to notify parents of early dismissals and/or
closings due to weather. There will be no field trips
this year in an effort to reduce some costs of the
program. The committee is looking to bring entertainment
to the park, rather than bussing children to other
Gino Sorbelini attended the County Recreation Directors
meeting and brought back some of the county concerns.
Rules will be strictly enforced and the Health Department
will be checking all immunization records. Dr. Hasbrouck
of the County Health Department also recommended that
Epi-pens be on hand in case of any allergic reactions.
The Our Buddy Check system used by Olive's program
was shown as an example for other recreation programs
to use. It was also noted that rabies is on the rise
in the county with 33 cases having been reported so
far. These safety concerns will be shared with all
counselors for the program.
Some discussion then ensued concerning the Boiceville
Wastewater Treatment System. There seemed to be some
confusion about when the system will be operational.
The Town takes possession of the completed treatment
system building on July 1 so that the town can then
begin arranging for lawn maintenance, get phones in
place, arrange for snow removal, etc. The actual operation
of the system will not start until laterals have been
installed to the individual homes and businesses within
the Sewer District. It was also discussed that the
school was to be the first to hook up - but concerns
were voiced that necessary parts may not yet have
been ordered by the school.
Recognition was recently given to four part-time Olive
police officers who recently retired from the Olive
Police Department. Joseph Steyer, Hecter Mejias, Paul
Majias, and Paul Wright were honored at a dinner to
mark their years of service to the Town. Three of
the four officers retired due to other obligations
and family commitments, with one having moved so far
away from the area that getting back and forth was
a problem. Replacements for these officers have already
been resolved. The Olive Police Commission has been
using officers from other departments as part time
Olive officers because they are already trained and
would not need to attend the police academy at the
town's expense. LaMonda recommended the town send
each of the officers a letter thanking them for their
dedication and service, which was unanimously approved.
The meeting closed with a page in the minutes dedicated
to John J.(Jack) Lynch, who passed away in May. Jack
had served as the Town Attorney for many years.
And postage started at 8 cents a letter at the time,
and 6 cents for post cards. When it went up to a dime
in 1974, people thought the leap exorbitant. Even though
it wasn't until the Reagan years that the cost of stamps
"Mrs. Sampson took me on as a clerk in what was
then called 'off the street hiring,'" Shultis recalled
two weeks after her June 1 retirement from the United
States Postal Service after 38 years of employment.
"It wasn't civil service then..."
Back when she started, Shultis describes herself as
being in her early 20s and coming off a job working
in the cafeteria at Onteora.
She became postmaster at Olivebridge in November, 1986,
and says that in her many years working in the same
place she grew up, she recalls the post office only
closing once, after the tragedies on September 11, 2001,
as well as a second time they were allowed to close
early for a blizzard several decades back... she can't
recall the exact year now.
So what changes has she seen over the decades in the
12461 zip code made up of 32 square miles filled with
900 households, about twice that many people, and a
median household income of $42,400, just slightly above
the national norm?
"There are more weekend people, more people running
businesses out of their home now," Shultis replied.
"When I think back to years ago, I remember boarding
houses... that's gone."
Mail-wise, she recalls many more letters in the past,
back before the ubiquitousness of telephones and e-mail.
And yet her basic functions never changed, from the
basic mail categories to the ways in which it came and
So what about that great myth of post offices being
a center of gossip? What had she heard over the years.
"Who, me?" Shultis replied before explaining
how, during those times she wasn't working the window,
she's usually had to be keeping up with the mail in
another room... not exactly a setting conducive to gossip.
"There used to be two country stores right here
in Olivebridge," she added. "That's where
everybody heard the gossip..."
What about her favorite stamps over the years?
"I always liked flowers," Shultis answered.
"Christmas has always been the busiest time,"
she said. "But I like all the seasons."
So what were her plans now?
"To do nothing," she replied, noting how she
had a daughter living in Ulster Park and a son in Kingston,
plus four grandchildren aged 9 to 26. "On my last
day my children took me out to Mariner's Harbor after
I finished work."
She paused in her thoughtful manner.
"It was a good job," she said. "It was
nice to have worked so long so close to home."
Green. The Old Way
and local change has made family farming an
almost insurmountable challenge, with real estate
taxes sky-high and factory farms churning out
low-cost produce. Louise and her brother Joseph,
now in their seventies and still vigorous, are
caretakers of the land that once supported livestock
of all kinds, but the economy sent them both
out to careers at IBM, and since their parents
and uncle passed away, no one is left to farm
"I studied, got a degree in engineering,"
says Joseph, "but my heart and soul is
here. We feel the end coming. We can't cut all
the grass any more."
We are sitting at a picnic table looking out
over sweeping lawns and a pond. Dragonflies
and swallows swoop over the water. Above our
heads, tiny green grapes are forming on a grapevine
that twines densely through the framework of
the shading arbor. Boomer, the border collie,
is gnawing at the thick base of the vine. Louise
says her parents planted the vine when they
first arrived, but Joseph thinks it was already
here. As he fashions a wire cage to protect
the vine from the dog's attentions, they narrate
the history of the farm.
"What our family did is respectful and
to be honored, scratching a living from the
land during the Depression," Joseph says.
"But the Merrihews farmed this land for
over 140 years. They are the heroes of this
When his parents bought the land, a deed search
turned up a 1792 mention of the original deed
for just under 50 acres obtained by John Merrihew
from the town of Marbletown, which encompassed
the land that became part of the town of Olive
in 1825. John Merrihew, who came from New England-possibly
Connecticut-with a wife and eleven children,
died in 1819 and was buried in a small cemetery
behind the barn. His gravestone has disappeared.
John was succeeded by his son Stephen, who died
in 1853, grandson Aaron, who died in 1895 ("His
wife was a tiger!" reports Louise), and
great grandson Jacob, who lived from 1862 to
1942 and served as Olive supervisor from 1906
During the building of the Ashokan Reservoir
in the early 1900s, the Merrihews supplemented
their income by boarding visitors from the city.
One guest, who stayed in the farmhouse with
his wife and small son, took pictures of the
farm. The son grew up, married, and died. His
widow found her father-in-law's photos and passed
them on to the Suarezes. Joseph spreads a few
of them on the picnic table.
One photo shows cows grazing in a broad bowl
of pasture, the white house in the background.
The muddy bowl is where Louise and Joseph's
parents dug the pond we are sitting beside.
In another shot, people stand on the porch of
the house, under graceful decorative arches
and curlicues. "My parents built an enclosed
porch around the whole house as a dining room
for boarders," explains Louise. "The
dishwasher and table setter, that was me."
Jacob Merrihew's only child, Edna, was not equipped
to take over the farm, and they decided to sell.
In his teens, Joseph took piano lessons from
Edna, who lived on Elmendorf Street in Kingston.
The Suarez family had lived on the same street
in the 1930s and gave their house-not the house
Edna later owned-as part of their payment on
Manuel Suarez immigrated from Asturias, on the
northern coast of Spain, probably around 1910.
He worked for a short time with his uncle in
Tampa, making cigars. They moved to Kingston,
where they worked in the J.B. Bock cigar factory
on Foxhall Avenue, and Manuel's brother Silverio
joined them in 1920. On a trip to Spain to visit
his mother, Manuel met Benigna, and they were
married in 1928. Louise, Joseph, and their brother
Edward were born in Kingston.
Rolling cigars by hand was a fine art, and the
brothers had the skill. When the Depression
hit, they tried going into the cigar business
for themselves but failed, so they decided to
A schoolteacher named Ayers had taken over the
Merrihew farm, but a neighbor has told Louise
that, although he was a nice fellow, he couldn't
make a go of the farm. When the Suarezes purchased
the property, Louise recalls, "The first
school tax bill was $18, and they didn't have
the money to pay it. My mother had to write
to a distant cousin to borrow the money."
As they grew, the three children, especially
Edward, the eldest, worked on the farm, doing
chores and helping with the animals. "You
name it, we had it," says Louise. "Pigeons,
rabbits, pigs, cows, chickens. My mother made
blood sausages and chorizos, using a special
pepper from Spain. In the 1940s, my uncle would
drive to New York City loaded with eggs and
sausages. He'd sell them and recruit boarders
for the summer. One woman had a bar, and she
would send her kids up here for my mother to
Manuel passed away in 1955. Benigna and Silverio
tried to keep the farm going, but the economics
of family farming became more and more difficult.
Louise found work as a stenotypist at IBM and
later went on to other jobs within the company,
such as producing instructional manuals. Joseph
was an engineer at IBM for twenty years. He
was in his forties when he married a Spanish
woman, Teresa, who still lives with him at the
farm. Louise did not marry-"I thought I
would, but I'm too independent," she says.
She traveled extensively, sometimes as part
of her job, but she never lost her love for
the farm. Edward, who lived in Europe, New York
City, and finally, New Jersey, died in 2008.
For a time, the family grew Christmas trees,
but now the remaining spruces are getting too
big, and the deer keep eating the seedlings.
They no longer bale the hay that Joseph mows,
leaving it to disintegrate and nourish the fields.
Their heirs-Joseph's wife and Edward's three
children, professionals living in the metropolitan
area-are fond of the property, but their lives
are focused elsewhere.
For now, Joseph and Louise are living out their
retirement on the land they love. Their biggest
fear is that developers will buy the farm and
build condos, but Louise doesn't think the economy
would support them. She dreams of a Martha Stewart
who could appreciate the potential of the splendid
old house. Joseph is considering a donation
to the Nature Conservancy, but Louise is reluctant
to see the rolling fields turn wild.
"This period of time is kind of precious
for the property," says Joseph. "But
I don't think it's going to last long. We would
welcome any act that would protect and maintain
Jar Of Olives
The new life made me think about something Dick Nixdorf, Onteora
science teacher, once said at a team meeting. He referred to
some community families as "dynasties." What he meant
was that there were families out there who produced generations
of decent, productive students and citizens. Reading the paper
this week I realized that the Carle family was one of those
dynasties. Frank and Muffy Carle celebrated their 65th wedding
anniversary. Their son Terry and Kathy Carle raised two fine
children, Sarah who became a medical doctor and their son Ben
who just received his doctorate in computer science from the
University at Albany.
Sadly, Bill Davis died this week, but generations of fine Davis
men were there with wives, children and grandchildren to mark
his passing and retell the family stories. Dynasties are those
families that pass on values and virtues to the next generation.
They are the good people leading good lives that provide a template
for the future.
At her retirement party Wendy and Walter expressed pride in
their daughter, Tara Lorzing-Wilmoth, who is now an RN in a
neuro-surgical unit. Sean and Penny Shultis must be proud of
Katy-O at her graduation; I know Gayle Kavanagh and I sure are!
Saugerties had its painted horses, and Catskill has its cats.
Olive has its FISH. Trout Unlimited is sponsoring large metal
fish that have been decorated by local artists to display in
local businesses. If you extend your two arms to signify, "I
caught a fish this big," you will be about the right size
of these works of art. Check out the one Lois Ostapczuk, wife
of primo fisherman Ed, painted that is on display at Bread Alone.
Thank you to Aaron and Karyn Polack who donated a refrigerator
to the Rec Committee to use for the summer recreation program
which will begin right after the fourth of July.
The winner of the Onteora Babe Ruth raffle was Kevin Gemmel
of Red Hook who grew up across the street from one of the Babe
Ruth coaches. Kevin won four tickets and a limo ride to the
Mets vs. Yankee game on June 18. Onteora Babe Ruth has the honor
of hosting the District Tournament again on July 9, 10, 11,
and 12 at the Davis Park ball field. Come out to see our boys
challenge the competitors to possibly advance to the State Tournament
again this year. There is nothing like a hometown baseball game.
Coming from the Celebration of Cindy today proved, once again,
that Olive cares for each other. We support each other. I could
imagine Cindy dancing with Maureen, Kate, and Joanne to the
music of Ben Rounds Band, the X-files, the Pontiacs, Chris Walsh
and Dorraine Schofield.