Up on the News
$$ For Collaboration
The CCC was formed
based on receiving a state level grant of a half million dollars
set aside for local collaborative projects as part of former
Governor Eliot Spitzer's Agreement in Principal to move the
proposed Belleayre Resort project forward. The funds were
to pass through CCCD, who would handle administration responsibilities;
but then the promised funding failed to materialize as state
finances quickly fell into shambles following the Wall Street
Eventually, the Catskill Watershed Corporation was asked to
fund the CCC, and that agency's Board of Directors contributed
$50,000 of start up funds to take the place of that state
money that never arrived.
On July 22, the supervisors and mayors of the member municipalities
(the Towns of Hurley, Olive, Shandaken, Middletown and Andes,
and the Villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville) were asked
to consider entering into an intermunicipal agreement that
would call for each to contribute funds to keep the CCC going.
Part of the reasoning, Manning has previously explained, is
that such an effort would help the Scenic Byway application
by proving the towns applying for it were willing to share
services and responsibilities... a key component of such designations.
This week, Olive town supervisor Bert Leifeld said the plan
received a chilly reception.
"The idea is that all the towns would cooperate and contribute
a stipend," Leifeld said Tuesday. "There's a lot
of questions here. Lets face it. The towns are going to be
competing for money for projects. So, is everybody happy with
the idea of this agreement? No."
He added that the timing is poor, given that towns are already
financially strapped... and many had recently turned down
similar shared services contracts, pushed by a state program,
from Ulster County.
Shandaken Supervisor Robert Stanley had a similar reaction.
Noting that his town has just been hit with the added expense
of having to defend itself against a lawsuit brought last
week by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection,
over assessments on its Pine Hill water plant property, Stanley
said he recalls two years ago when the town first considered
joined the CCC.
"We agreed to get involved because it wasn't going to
cost us anything," he said.
Stanley said he would review the proposal, but added, "I
don't think it's going to happen."
Similar sentiments came from Martin Donnelly, the Supervisor
of the Town of Andes.
Since forming in 2008 then the CCC has been meeting regularly.
The CCC is a group of representatives from seven municipalities
along the NYS Route 28 Corridor and is an "intermunicipal
coalition formed to protect and promote the assets of the
corridor and advance projects for the economic benefit of
the Central Catskills Region."
In 2008, each municipality adopted a resolution and designated
two members each to the Collaborative to begin a regional
Fleischmanns representative John Duda, the Chairman of the
CCC, notes that last Thursday's meeting marks the beginning
of discussions on how to proceed, and there are other options.
"It's not like we are going to town boards next month
asking them for money," he said.
In fact, that may never happen. According to Duda, there are
two other options under investigation, one of which is to
create a nonprofit entity, and the other is to have the CCC
exist under the umbrella of another organization such as the
Catskill Center. All three are being explored, he said, and
all have pros and cons.
As for the much-touted plans, and municipal assessments of
cultural, historical and scenic treasures each town's representatives
have been culling in recent months, it seems such things will
have to wait, for now, before being publicly disseminated.
Manning was unavailable for comment for this article, being
away on his summer vacation.
Less than a week later. on July 26, School Board Trustee Donna
Flayhan resigned with one year left on her three-year term.
School board president Laurie Osmond will be recommending
that the board call for a replacement process and appoint
a new trustee sometime in September. Details will follow at
the next board meeting on August 3.
Flayhan, a communications and journalism professor at SUNY
New Paltz, said in a phone conversation that her family is
moving so their commute to work and school will be shorter.
Her husband works for the Kingston School district and the
family's two kids will attend Kingston schools. She explained
that the move was an accumulation of "quality of life,
daily life and education." Her kids previously attended
Woodstock Elementary and she said they received a great education.
Flayhan explained that the move is not specifically because
of Onteora, but timing wise it was good since Bailey Middle
School begins at grade six, making all the kids including
her daughter new to the school.
However, Flayhan warned that families were leaving the Onteora
district or placing their children in private schools. She
believes that it partly had to with parents being uncomfortable
with their kids attending Middle School in the High School.
"Obviously, something is amiss, as we all know,"
Flayhan wrote in an email statement, "But I feel that
Onteora can really turn around under the Board of Education
leadership and their work through shared decision making to
hire a new Superintendent, and their work with the wealth
of great teachers, staff, students, and parents to make the
School board members must live within the district they are
elected to represent.
Osmond said at Tuesday's board meeting that trustees plan
to meet on August 12 with Martin Ruglis, BOCES Superintendent,
for the purpose of "defining the parameters" on
the Superintendent search. BOCES will be used as the search
service, offered free of charge except for newspaper ad space.
Osmond then introduced Gregory.
"We are thrilled that she is going to be with us,"
she said. "She has 34 years of experience, 20 of which
were as a permanent superintendent at three different schools
and the other 14 years at schools almost too numerous to count."
This includes neighboring Saugerties Central School district,
where Gregory was acting superintendent for one year between
2000 and 2001. She retired in 1997 from Bath Central School
district in the Finger Lakes area of New York, where she was
Superintendent for eleven years. Following her retirement,
she has been working to fill in as a temporary employee in
other school districts. She resides in Bath and is originally
from Binghamton, New York.
Early in her career, Gregory moved around during her tenure
as an English teacher, including stints in Hawaii and Iowa.
Osmond said she was found through a recommendation from the
district's lawyer, John Donahue. Overall four people were
contacted through various recommendations. Osmond said Gregory
had the most experience out of the four.
Gregory is a proponent of small and rural schools, serving
on various state and national committees throughout her career.
"I am pleased to have the opportunity to help in any
way that I can," Gregory said. "Whatever the board's
interest is, we can get together and we will work on it."
And the first order of board interest was the search for a
Board trustees tossed around ideas on creating a shared decision
making committee that would be made up of different stake
holder groups including teachers, administrators, parents
and students. Concerns were expressed that this may not be
the right path to take, noting that too many people may be
involved with too many hours spent in committee.
"If I may suggest, you may want to have two parallels
going," Gregory suggested. "The board operating
in its role and the various committees are in their role and
you are constantly reaching over and getting the information
from the committees."
She said the committee structure generally consists of 12
to 15 representatives from different stakeholder groups.
"When Marty (Ruglis) comes in, he'll have an organized
process that you can pick and choose, a smorgasbord of kinds
of things that you'd like to put together," Gregory added.
"But basically, what the BOCES superintendents try to
do is get it organized so that representative groups - either
the leader or designee - are part of the process."
Gregory added that it was important that input come from ALL
stake holder groups, but ultimately the board chooses a superintendent
based upon how well that person interacts with its employees.
"We really welcome input from the outside and what people
think so they're advisory tools," she said. "But
the reality is don't be offended when the board hires a candidate
that thinks it will be the best fit for the district, because
they're the ones that will have to work with these people
all the time."
The recently-departed Dr. Leslie Ford was hired with much
protest from the teaching and non-teaching unions.
During the past two Onteora superintendent searches, the school
board of that time used an employment search service for $18,000.
Ford submitted a letter of resignation July 9, 2010.
A Freedom of Information request (FOIL) outlined twelve pages
of details in relation to the financial and legal agreement
between the Onteora school district Board of Education and
Dr. Ford. The agreement states that a sum of $75,893.37 will
be paid effectively upon her resignation as Superintendent
of the district. Of that amount, $59,393.37 will be in the
form of a lump sum and $16,500 will go into an IRC Tax Sheltered
Annuity. Ford will receive an additional $6,668.40 in ten
unused vacation days and $1,207.50 will go toward paying 50
percent on her term life policy, disability, dental and optical
benefits. Her total immediate financial package equals $83,769.27.
This sum will be paid out of the salary line in the budget.
Additionally, Ford will receive full family health insurance
coverage until the end of her initial contract on June 30,
2011 or upon obtaining other employment. Ford's yearly health
insurance totals $40,023 according to the 2010/2011 proposed
The reason for Ford's early departure is explained in the
agreement as "irreconcilable differences," but no
specifics were given. Within the agreement, School Board President
Laurie Osmond acknowledged Ford's resignation and "wishes
her well in her future endeavors."
Ford relinquishes all rights to bring lawsuits against the
school district unless the contract is breeched. The board
of education and Ford agree not to discuss details with the
public or make any derogatory statements against each other.
In June, the board chose not to renew Ford's contract that
had one year left and a salary of $160.040. A previous school
board hired Ford in February 2007.
Your Ashes... Now!
"EAB is very
difficult to eradicate," said Michael Courtney of the
Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Plan. Although the Shandaken-based
agency's main focus is addressing the stream-related needs
of the Ashokan watershed, it also participates in the Catskill
Region Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP), which is strategizing
how to deal with the EAB threat.
Although it may be just a matter of time until we lose our
ash trees, the goal at this point is to slow down the spread
of EAB. "It takes a long time for the population to build
up," explained Courtney immediately following a CRISP
conference call, "but the insects can fly a long way.
And once it takes hold, trees fall apart quickly. We're trying
to slow it down so we'll have time to plan ahead."
Especially in urban and suburban areas, officials need time
to plan strategies for removal of trees, which weaken and
fall simultaneously in the hundreds or thousands, with the
potential for causing injuries. According to the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), "New
York has more than 900 million ash trees, representing about
seven percent of all trees in the state, and all are at risk."
Shandaken's ash trees serve as an important source of firewood,
since they do not need extensive drying and will even burn
when green. Ash has long been a favored wood for tool handles
and baseball bats, such as the products of the bat factory
that operated at the bottom of Fox Hollow Road until about
a decade ago. Many owners of woodstoves used to visit the
factory regularly and drive away with a trunkful of scrap
wood to supplement their firewood. Homeowners tend treasure
their ashes, which are graceful shade trees.
Another insect threat that has not reached us yet is the Asian
longhorned beetle (ALB), which is somewhat easier to contain
but has an appetite for all hardwoods and could decimate our
stately maple and oak forests. Unlike the forest tent caterpillar,
a destructive native species that distressed us a few years
ago when it culled trees from our forests as part of its natural
cycle, these invasive pests have no natural predators locally
and can destroy vast quantities of trees.
Now that EAB has been found locally, the recommendation is
not to move firewood more than two miles. (The law limits
transport to 50 miles, and the exception is commercially available
wood that has been treated by heating in a kiln to destroy
potential infestations.) The DEC is participating in monitoring
efforts that focus largely on campgrounds and industrial receiving
centers in the Hudson Valley, two areas that could be responsible
for importation of insects. The creatures could hitch a ride
with campers who illegally bring in untreated firewood or
with shippers who transport shipping crates from Asia. "We're
checking trees around those areas to see if anything shows
up," said Courtney, who will be attending a training
to learn the protocol for monitoring.
But he says it's more likely that a local person, rather than
a researcher, will find an infestation first. That's why residents
are encouraged to learn what ash trees and EAB look like,
and to check their trees frequently for excessive tree canopy
dieback, yellowing and browning of leaves, and the D-shaped
exit holes in the bark. Leaves sprouting directly from a trunk
are a sign of stress and may point to infestation, although
they may be caused by other stresses as well.
White ash, the local woodland species, has deeply furrowed
bark whose ridges form diamond shapes. Each leaf has multiple,
oval, sharply pointed leaflets. Twigs are thick and opposite,
with pairs of leaves/twigs meeting on opposite sides of the
branch. For more details on ash identification, see http://www.emeraldashborer.info/files/E2942.pdf.
EAB is a metallic green insect, smaller than a penny. The
DEC website states, "Adults are roughly 3/8 to 5/8 inch
long with metallic green wing covers and a coppery red or
purple abdomen. They may be present from late May through
early September but are most common in June and July. Most
trees die within 2 to 4 years of becoming infested."
For photos and information, see http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7253.html.
ALB is larger, around an inch long, black with white spots
and having long, spotted antennae. See http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7255.html.
If you discover either of these insects, try to trap one and
bring it to the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management office
on Route 28, west of Phoenicia, or to the Cornell Cooperative
Extension office in Kingston. Call the Ashokan office at 688-3047
for more information.
Joins In On Voicefest
theater has furnished a creative outlet for innumerable local
people aching to burst out of their shell. I was one of those
people, snagging the role of a Russian hoodlum in the 2001 production
of "Fiddler on the Roof", and going on to serve on
the board of the theater, perform in other plays, and even direct
a few shows. My daughter, Sylvia Gorelick, who went from Tevye's
youngest child in "Fiddler" to the part of Anne Frank
and beyond, is among the many children and teens who have developed
discipline and self-confidence on the STS stage.
The director of that "Fiddler" was current Shandaken
town supervisor Rob Stanley, while president of the STS board
of director nowadays is Linda Burkhardt, longtime Olive town
Audiences from far afield support town businesses with their
purchases, and community bonds have been strengthened by both
the collective audience experience and the teamwork of putting
on shows. In the last few years, a monthly classic film series
has been added to the roster of musicals, drama, comedies, and
original work presented several times a year.
Our proximity to New York City has attracted many former professionals
to STS, especially those weary of the rat race, who contribute
their formidable skills while doing the kind of theater they
enjoy in a (relatively) relaxed atmosphere. Now, for the first
time, as the Festival of the Voice brings world-class opera
performers to Phoenicia, STS is mounting a truly professional
production, with local resident Ricarda O'Conner directing the
musical revue "Closer Than Ever" from August 14 to
STS artistic director Amy Wallace is one of those escapees from
the Manhattan theater world and the only cast member in the
four-person show who is not a member of Actors' Equity. As a
board member, she discovered that more and bigger grants are
available to a theater that's putting on a professional production.
The actors' union has a Special Appearances contract, which
allows shows with up to three Equity actors to appear in a non-Equity
theater at rock-bottom pay rates.
A $5600 grant from the Dutchess County Arts Council will enable
the theater to use the entire ticket revenue for its "Raise
the Roof" drive to fund replacement of the theater's aging
O'Conner describes "Closer Than Ever", by Richard
Maltby, Jr., and David Shire, as a play performed entirely in
song. "Because we're doing it as part of the Festival,
we chose a singer's show, although everyone has to be a superb
actor as well," explained O'Conner, who has directed the
show once before. "It's from the point of view of someone
who's lived for a while-someone on their second marriage, when
parents are ill, when you start having your own children, how
everything you've planned in life is going along-or maybe not."
She auditioned actors both upstate and in Manhattan. Because
the dragging economy has forced many regional theaters to cut
their budgets, a large pool of talented actors was available.
O'Conner had already cast Wallace, whose singing voice she describes
as "phenomenal". She called back 25 actors for the
other three roles.
"There are wonderful solos, duets, and choral pieces,"
she said, "so the blend of voices is important. The harmonies
are intricate. At callbacks we taught them two of the group
numbers to see who picked it up fastest, but most important
was listening to how the voices blended."
Joining Wallace onstage will be Alex Agard, Austin Ku, and Janna
Cardia. "The four of them sounded amazing together,"
said O'Conner. "They had an ensemble feeling immediately."
For musical director, she chose Eric Thomas Johnson, an award-winning
young composer and pianist, "a consummate musician with
great intuition and full of joy," said O'Conner. Local
singer Chuck Sokolowski, who performed in the recent STS production
of "Godspell", will join the cast on one number.
"They're all so nice," said Wallace, "If you
have to do a terrifyingly short rehearsal period, they're the
ones you want to do it with." Actors will arrive at the
one week of rehearsal already knowing the songs inside out.
"I once put 'My Fair Lady' up in eleven days with a cast
of thirty," said O'Conner, "so I know it can be done."
As director and choreographer, O'Conner worked professionally
off-Broadway in New York and in American regional theater for
Eastman Opera Theatre, Candlewood Playhouse, New American Theatre,
and other venues. "I moved to New York from California
with one suitcase at the age of 18," she recalled. "Pretty
soon I was dancing on a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day
parade with Tommy Tune. I wanted a ballet career, but I didn't
have the right body. But I could sing."
She loved working in musical theater, but when she was in her
mid-forties, the work dried up. She transitioned into writing
and teaching, married, and began to spend time in Phoenicia,
where she has been a yoga instructor and energy healer for the
past three years. She is delighted to be back in the director's
Wallace has been a whirlwind of energy at STS since 2008, bringing
her skills as actress, singer, director, choreographer, and
organizer to the theater. Most recently she directed the spring
musical "Godspell", filling in as performer at the
final show. She majored in theater at Muhlenberg College in
Pennsylvania, where she enjoyed the high-quality productions
of plays she loved. "Then I did a little professional work,"
she said, "and I realized the actor's life is not for me.
I don't like traveling or living in the city, doing random productions
of 'Oliver!'. I love living in Phoenicia."
O'Conner and Wallace are still fundraising to help pay the actors,
and people they know have been generous. When you see the legend
"Alice Ottavi presents" at the top of the show's poster,
you'll know that it's a tribute to O'Conner's mother-in-law,
who gave $2000 to the production.
O'Conner noted, "When I put the check in Amy's hands, she
burst into tears."
"Closer Than Ever" will be presented at the STS Playhouse,
10 Church Street in Phoenicia, on August 17, 18, 19, 20 at 8:00
pm and August 21 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Call 845-688-2279 for
reservations (or to donate to the production or the new roof!)
The performance on August 14 at 2:30 pm is part of the Festival
of the Voice, and tickets for that show only may be purchased
through phoeniciavoicefest.com. For further information and
directions, see www.stsplayhouse.com.
At the July 22 corporate meeting, five people were elected to
the STS board of directors: Marcy Thorn, Maria Todaro, Michael
Mills, Geneva Benton, and Ann Davies. Linda Burkhardt was re-elected
president of the board, with Mills serving as vice president.
Dave Appleby will continue as treasurer and Nancy Patterson
as corresponding secretary. Thorn will serve as recording secretary.
A Jar Of Olives...
Good Old Summertime
At least we are enjoying one of those "iced tea and bathing
suit summers." The heat offers a delightful challenge to
put work on hold and put all of our effort into keeping cool.
With all my free time, since all housework is suspended in heat
of over 85 degrees (my own union contract), I have been able
to do some reading. I belong to a book club that celebrates
the setting of each book with a similar restaurant cuisine.
I don't know which I like more-the reading or the discussion
over a delicious dinner in a new restaurant.
The Olive Free Library has a book club going that meets there
for refreshments and discussion of the selection. Their next
meeting is scheduled for August 16, from 4-6 p.m., to discuss
Leo Tolstoy's Anna Kaerenina. Martha Frankel attended the last
meeting to talk about her books Hats and Eyeglasses and Brazilian
I have completed my own book called Prosilio, which is Greek
and translates "toward the sun." Prosilio was the
small Greek village of my grandparents who immigrated to New
York City in the early 1900's. The story is about my great aunt
Philanthe who left this peaceful village to come here to raise
her family. Despite enduring adoption, kidnapping, poverty and
widowhood, she rose above adversity beyond the breaking point.
While visiting in New Paltz, she was an eye witness to the murder
of her younger brother and escaped murder by hiding from her
son-in-law who thought his wife was having an incestuous affair.
She survived only to find out that she also lost her daughter
and two granddaughters who were murdered the night before. The
tragedy is told in flashbacks from the happy and carefree vacations
I spent as a teenager in the very farmhouse in New Paltz. We
children were spared the family secrets that might bring sadness.
My family faced the sun and left the shadows behind. After the
older generation was gone and no one was left to answer those
questions we should have asked, my cousins and I reminisced
about our good old summers at the farmhouse and use the Internet
to discover the whispers we heard about murder.
I loved writing the story because, although about a tragedy,
my great aunt's spunk and love of life was an inspiration. Now,
the publishing, is the work part, and I am finding out is more
about the currency than the literary content. If anyone knows
how to circumnavigate the pirates from the publishers, I could
sure use advice. I am lost in deep, dark woods of a world I
only know as a reader.
August lies ahead like an early morning sandy beach washed clean
by the evening surf. May you leave footprints of joy and relaxation
before we march toward the next season. I always mark the end
of summer with the opening of school and the preparation for
Olive's big celebration. Olive Day is scheduled for Saturday,
September 11 at Davis Park. If someone needs information they
can call Jeanne Bachor at 657-8674. For vendor space, call Linda
Burkhardt at 657-6543. Before we know it, it'll be time to enjoy
one of the Bushkill Rod and Gun Club's fried chicken liver sandwiches
for lunch and one of Roger Rotella's roast beef or pulled pork
sandwiches dinner. There's a full day of music, dancing, penny
social, egg toss, frog jumping, eating and hanging out with
neighbors planned. Mark your calendar.