"Poverty in early childhood poisons the brain." That was
the opening of an article, summarizing research presented last week
at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
As the article explained, neuroscientists have found that "many
children growing up in very poor families with low social status experience
unhealthy levels of stress hormones, which impair their neural development."
The effect is to impair language development and memory - and hence
the ability to escape poverty - for the rest of the child's life.
So now we have another, even more compelling reason to be ashamed
about America's record of failing to fight poverty.
In 2006, 17.4 percent of children in America lived below the poverty
line, substantially more than in 1969. And even this measure probably
understates the true depth of many children's misery.
Living in or near poverty has always been a form of exile, of being
cut off from the larger society. But the distance between the poor
and the rest of us is much greater than it was 40 years ago, because
most American incomes have risen in real terms while the official
poverty line has not. To be poor in America today, even more than
in the past, is to be an outcast in your own country. And that, the
neuroscientists tell us, is what poisons a child's brain.
America's failure to make progress in reducing poverty, especially
among children, should provoke a lot of soul-searching. Unfortunately,
what it often seems to provoke instead is great creativity in making
According to one recent estimate, American children born to parents
in the bottom fourth of the income distribution have almost a 50 percent
chance of staying there. That's not surprising. Growing up in poverty
puts you at a disadvantage at every step.
America has failed our children, I am hoping as a community we will
not. School will be open in a few days. At the Domestic Violence Shelter
the kids will head off to school each day, just like the children
in your neighborhood. But for most, it's a new school with unfamiliar
faces and unknown routines. A new backpack, lunchbox, notebook, pens,
pencils or calculator and other supplies give them needed tools and
boost confidence. Perhaps you can donate a gift card so badly needed
clothes or shoes can be bought.
If you can help please call me at 845 331-7080 ext. 127 . Let's pick
up where our nation has failed.
Kathleen Moretti, Program Director
Family Domestic Violence Services
This is a letter to Partners for Progress regarding your recent "Nonprofit"
mailing to Delaware- and Ulster Counties displaying four photographs
How dare you depict our Village as. a Village of Blight. Your mailing
was offensive, disrespectful, and showed an appalling disregard for
the residents and business owners of this Village. but most of all,
your depiction is untrue.
Residents, business owners, members of Fleischmanns First, and elected
officials have worked very hard to improve the. quality of life, improve
the appearance of, and restore pride in our Village. And we have succeeded.
Fleischmanns has upgraded and protected its water supply system, we
have new roads, a. new waste water treatment plant, beautiful Victorian
homes along Main Street and Wagner Avenue, two Buildings listed on
The National Register o fHistoric Places i.e. Skene Memorial Library
and Congregation. B'nai Israel, a. beautiful park, famous baseball
field, revised Mountain Athletic Club, tennis courts, a community
swimming pool, the Museum of Memories, the both newly painted and
beautiful Community Church and Highlands Inn, the rebuilt La Cabana
Restaurant, a new laundromat, new Portabella's Pizzeria, new management
at the Griffin Corners Café, existing and prospering businesses
e.g. Wilber National Bank, Purple Mountain Press, Wadler Bros., Inc.,
the Valkyrian Motel, Northland Motel & Restaurant, Delaware Court
Motel, River Run B&B, Fleischmanns Supermarket, Mi Lupita Mexican
Grocery Store, Sam's Country Store, Art & Etc., with new businesses
to follow and numerous others not mentioned herein. .
Your mailing is unacceptable and unconscionable. Contrary to what
Partners for Progress professes, your recent method is counter-productive
to progress -- certainly so for the Village of Fleischmanns. Is this
the spirit of compromise and cooperation you endorse and are promoting?
Our Village has purposely not taken an official position regarding
the proposed Be11eayre Resort. Do not disrespect us again. Do not
use the Village of Fleischmanns as a. pawn in your campaign to win
people over to your point of view.
Do you really think you made converts with your flyer? Think again.
It may in fact prove counter productive to your cause as well
Mayor Kathleen Wilber
Deputy Mayor Malcolm Becker
Village. Trustee Harriet L. Grossman
Village Trustee Fred Woller
Village. Trustee Martin Morales
It is sad and despicable when businessmen/developers give false hope
to economically disadvantaged residents of an area lacking job opportunities.
It is far worse when they do so just to advance their own financial
interests in a project that will, in all likelihood, adversely affect
those residents, many of whom are grasping at straws in desperation
as they seek to benefit their own financial distress or situation.
I refer the mailing recently sent to all postal patrons in this area
by the “Belleayre Compromise Partners for Progress (read: Profit)”
which is so blatantly false and misleading as to defy any semblance
of truth, credibility or integrity. The very obvious truth, contrary
to their representations, it that this is a small, greedy group of
ecosystem-blind businessmen seeking to put their profit margin ahead
of the well-being of local citizens, who live and work here, as well
as visitors, tourists and future generations.
It is not the opponents who are “few but loud.” It is
the proponents who stand to make major profits with no discernible
benefit to the surrounding community. The developers are opposed by
a large number of local community members, businessmen and visitors
who cherish the area as it is. “Mistrust and self-interest”
does not refer to the opponents of the project. It refers to the wealthy
few who want to be wealthier, just like the greedy oilmen who have
created the current gas crisis.
The “careers” that they advertise will, in all likelihood,
be filled by very minimally paid transient illegal immigrants who
pay no taxes, government fees or medical insurance. Their money is
sent to their families in their homelands. How is that consistent
with “healthy community needs and development?” It is
also very misleading to project the potential “average”
salary of workers, when the salaries of the developers distorts the
equation. They should be talking about mean or median salaries, which
will show how poorly the workers will really be paid. The developers’
profit margin comes way ahead of other people, personal integrity
and the environment that we leave to our children. Any similarity
between what they profess and reality is purely coincidental or accidental.
Telling big lies is no impediment.
It is said that the last refuge of a scoundrel is patriotism. The
last refuge of an unscrupulous developer is to try to besmirch the
reputation, integrity and number of those who oppose them or, as you
pointed out, to intimidate them. Our government did the same thing
when it falsified body counts in Vietnam to make it appear that we
were winning. There is nothing in this project that is designed to
help or enhance the community. Who are the developers trying to bamboozle?
You may fool some of the people some of the time, but they can’t
fool all of the people all of the time. A self-contained, all-inclusive
resort traditionally generates little, if any, revenue for surrounding
Pine Hill, NY
Will the exaggeration, lies, and scare tactics ever end? It was once
said by, Abe Lincoln, "It is true that you may fool all of the
people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all
of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
Let us see if Mr. Gitter has fooled anyone in his Crossroads Ventures
LLC "Postal Patron" mailing, which I received in my P.O.
Box on 7/19/08.
I don't Know how long Mr. Gitter has resided in the area. I have been
a part time resident for over 52 years. Back then Phoenicia, Pine
Hill, Flieschmans, and Margaretville were booming. Then came the progress
of route 28, which hurt the Hamlets. It brought Kingston closer in
travel time. Now with gas prices the way they are many of us are shopping
more locally. What happened also is the population grew older. Some
moved to warmer climates and some died. Some children stayed to run
the family business and others left. The schools lost student population
and the workforce shrank. That's why I have had 6 landscapers tell
me that they are too busy to take on new work. The workforce in the
area is scarce in general. In 2006 it took a year before I could get
a contractor to start a new building for me. So where is the economic
decline? It appears that everyone who wants to work is working and
those who wish not to work are doing what they always did. It is the
same all over the country. I, for the most part, live on Long Island
and it is impossible to get reliable qualified help. So where does
Mr. Gitter plan to get workers? Import them?
My guess is that more than 50% of the areas population are part timers,
who pay taxes, spend weekend dollars locally and put little stress
on public services. They don't go to church for the most part, but
do use local restaurants and local businesses. Unfortunately two of
Shandaken's fine restaurants are now closed & the buildings are
For Sale. Mr. Gitter would have you believe, as pictured in his recent
flyer, that the Red Rooster Inn & Loretta & Charles restaurants
closed due to the economic blight in the area. This we all know is
not true. The owner of both properties passed away suddenly. Yes they
have been up For Sale for a while, but so are businesses all across
the country. Mr. Gitter has also pictured a commercial garage on route
28 that has been For Sale more often than occupied since the 1960's.
Probably because it has very limited use and it is by far attractive.
There are thousands of buildings like this on Long Island also. Then
there is the photo of a private residential property on Oliveria-Big
Indian Road. This is an old photo because the building is now under
renovation. The family that owns the building has lived in the area
for longer than the 52 years I have been here and have had the same
life style for all those years. Mr. Gitter should be ashamed of himself.
Who is he to judge the life style of others?
The ubiquitous For Sale signs we all see are not all there because
the owners have to sell. Many are very happy where they are, but if
speculators like Mr. Gitter can command inflated prices and Realtors
claim they can get the price, then why not put out the For Sale sign.
"Let the buyer beware!" About 8 years ago I purchased approximately
12 acres of property in Big Indian for approximately $40,000.00. I
now see advertised a 1 acre lot in Oliveria for $30,000.00 and 4 acres
in Big Indian for $89,000.00. Maybe I should put a For Sale sign out
and have yet another property not selling. Let's get real.
The danger of inflating the value of your home is that if the sucker
born yesterday did pay your ridiculous price everyone in your area
would be affected. The overall market value of the area goes up hence
taxes increase. Some people will dispute this but I have experienced
it first hand. Your taxes are based on a % of the average market value
of your area, not only your particular parcel. Luckily most people
aren't suckers and the For Sale signs remain. Shandaken is not unique
Mr. Gitter is no more the economic savior of Shandaken than any other
development contractor is, anywhere else in this country.
Don't underestimate Mr. Gitter. He is very intelligent and good at
what he does. He was able get New York State to agree to purchase
forever wild acreage from Crossroads Ventures LLC for 3 times market
value. He has been successful in duping many large organizations and
agencies to support the Belleayre Resort Project. I ask you to just
remember what good old Abe Lincoln said. Someone else once said, "If
it sounds to good to be true it usually is."
Big Indian, NY
Belleayre Mountain Ski Center (BMSC) has been enjoying record skier
visits for many of the last few years. Until now the complaints of
the Greene County ski centers rang hollow because BMSC was here before
they were and has a New York State Constitutional limit on its size.
NY State would make modest investments to Belleayre to upgrade the
facility and maintain it for the general public.
But then, a developer opened a 'Pandora's box' that is helping to
destroy our ski center.
Now, with the help of former Governor Spitzer and his proposed Agreement-in-Principle
(AIP), a large development would partner with NY State using $45,000,000.00
taxpayer dollars to provide ski-in/ski-out access to a high priced
resort. NYS should stay away from real estate speculation, especially
a risky venture like this one.
Legislation before Governor Patterson will cause scrutiny on what
Greene County ski centers feel are anti-competitive practices by the
State of NY.
What are the likely results of this scrutiny?
Higher lift prices, fewer discount tickets for local people, fewer
breaks for students and loss of the affordable family atmosphere that
gave Belleayre the edge. 'Leveling the Playing Field' in this case
means that Belleayre will have to compete with larger ski centers
like Hunter with 53 trails and many modern high-speed lifts.
All of this could have been avoided had the developer scaled his development
down to something reasonable for the area.
A mid-sized hotel of around 200-300 rooms at the site of the former
Wild Acres Hotel would have just been another hotel rebuild near Belleayre
that would have added rooms, enough jobs and would not have resulted
in pending legislation to regulate the State owned recreation facilities
that now allow enjoyment by people of modest means.
Who are the real friends of Belleayre Ski Center?
Pete Di Modica
Pine Hill, NY
Burning is not a constitutional right nor a freedom. It's a health
hazard that should be regulated like any other environmental health
Convenience is not a reason to burn. Smoke contains chemicals which
make neighbors sick.
West Hurley, NY
I am responding to Cally Mansfield and boredom. I like to read too.
I don't like TV much. Too much boring 'stuff'. I go outside and look
around. I see so many non boring things out there. People doing weird
stuff. I try to figure out why? What are they thinking that makes
them do what they do. People never stop making me curious.
I also look at all kinds of plants. Man, are there a lot of different
kinds of plants! I especially like all the different flowers. Some
of them are so beautiful it almost scares me. I look deep inside them
with all those sooooooo delicate things in there and wonder how the
plant figured out how to make that. I also see a lot of insects that
like flowers too. There are mind bogglingly different kinds of insects.
Most of them are REALLY weird, but they are also really interesting.
I also look at vegetables growing. It makes me feel really good that
Mother Nature makes all those things that are good for me and make
me feel good when I eat. I don't eat insects though. Well, I did try
some once. Well twice actually, Once chocolate covered ants. Actually
they tasted pretty good. Another time, I ate some fried locusts. They
were kind of crunchy. I heard that some people in other lands eat
locusts all the time so they are probably good for you ... If you
like the taste I guess.
Forget TV. There are too many really neat things out there to keep
me really interested. The time passes easily then and I feel really
satisfied at the end of the day. I lie in my bed and think about all
the groovy things I saw today and think of all the curious questions
it brings up in my mind. I know that tomorrow, I'll go out and try
to figure some more things out ... and probably have even more things
I'm curious about when I go to bed tomorrow night.
As the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are working hard
to pass the housing rescue bill designed to save 400,000 home owners
from foreclosure with a direct 3.9 billion funding plan to bolstering
up both the failing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae federal housing programs.
The purpose of the program is to help home owners by providing direct
affordable low coast loans through the Federal Housing Authority.
Recent reports indicate nationwide a doubling of the foreclosure rate
with families in some states literally abandoning their homes to join
the ranks of the unemployed and homeless. In some places such as Irvine
California over 700,000 household have received at least one notice
of foreclosure from their mortgage holder. In a test vote 83 Senators
voted yes while 13 conservative Republicans voted no on the proposal.
President Bush has already indicated he would sign the legislation
In the state of Michigan citizens have begun organizing against all
foreclosures and evictions as reported by Kris Hamel, Detroit in the
July 24, 2008 Workers World news. The entire community is organizing
to bring attention to foreclosures and evictions asking other community
members to join in public demonstrations demanding an immediate moratorium
until federal and state funding are made available.
At the same time funding for other important housing programs such
as the first time loan program and other important show case programs
are still being threatened to be cut and you should write to your
senators and congressman to ask them to stop all such attempts by
the Republican/Conservative anti federal subsidized housing programs.
In these troubled time our leaders need to come together and help
the American people to save their homes and apartments rather than
taking funding one program to pay for another.
Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world.
And 21 million of those are used here in the United States. That’s
25% of the world’s demand, being used by just 4% of the world’s
We have had seven and a half years of failed energy policy by the
regime. We have a faltering economy and Republicans running for office
need a distraction. Some have the nerve to suggested that if Democrats
would allow oil companies to drill in protected areas, the price of
gasoline would come down and the economy would be better off. However,
Bush resently acknowledged in a press conference that drilling in
these protected areas would not bring down the price at the pump.
Speaker of the House, Pelosi will not allow the issue of offshore
oil drilling, to come up for a vote on the floor of the House. She
insists on exhausting other remedies in terms of increasing supply
Democrats are asking Bush to free up 10% of the over 700 million barrels
of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is supposed to
be used for dire emergencies. Our strategic reserve is 97.5 full,
which is the largest supply ever and it has already been paid for
by the American taxpayer. Putting that oil on the market will increase
supply and reduce price. Once the price comes down, we can buy back
the oil for our Stategic Petroleum Reserve at a lower price. Releasing
oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would bring down the price
at the pump in 10 days. More drilling would take 10 years.
Pelosi insists: “Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring
down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price gouging, rolling
back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and
royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies, and increasing
The House of Representatives has passed every one of those initiatives,
but have run into a brick wall with Republicans in the Senate and
the White House. Four dollars-plus per gallon per oil can be attributed
to oilmen in the White House and their protectors in the Senate.
It seems that there is a possibility that one skinny black man might
restore our countries reputation in the world. That is, of course,
if the media allows the truth to hit the American public, and if those
that are still protecting their multi-million dollar investments in
oil, can replace their self interests just a bit, in order to restore
their self respect. Now, come on - didn't you feel your chest swell
a bit when you saw those diplomats smiling in the presence of our
next potential representative? And, what about that basketball shot,
with all it's implications - well, it was nothing short of spectacular.
Our country, once the economic and moral leader of the world, chose
to sacrifice morals for unfair distribution of wealth, giving more
money and power to the top economic corporations, back in the "trickle
down" days. Well, 'it' trickled down alright, but what trickled
down was not quite what we were hoping for. Then, they decided to
grow it even bigger, by giving money and power to countries that had
low moral standards at best. Finally they took the big leap and started
a war with a country for dubious reasons, and then gave contracts
to their own companies, (Halliburton and Blackwater), spending our
tax dollars on them, instead of on health care for our returning veterans,
not to mention all the other losses for the American public.
It's easy to create wars. Just get people desperate enough to have
nothing to lose. They'll fight, no matter what their idealistic excuse
is. Truth is, if you have a job that provides food, clothing and shelter
for yourself and your family, you're not so willing to go out and
risk your life. If, on the other hand, you and your family are starving,
you're angry, and if someone tells you who caused your misery, you
believe them, and then you can kill.
Obama wants to use diplomacy first. What a nice idea. At 46 billion
a month, or $200 million a day, for the war in Iraq, we could buy
peace. (Don't worry. I'm not running for President.) But, I'll wager
that most of the human beings on this earth would prefer living over
killing and dying. Maybe that's why Obama's trip is going so well,
so far. Now, as i write this, he's heading to Israel, and there's
a lot of anger there. But if he and his advisors decided to go there,
I'll concede to them, and hope that it goes well. If it does, I'm
getting ready to be "Proud to be an American" again.
We all know health insurance is skyrocketing --- up 79% since 2001---
while insurers cut benefits. And we know that drug prices are so high
many must go without vitally needed medicines. Why can’t our
legislators in Albany do something to protect us from these predatory
practices? The simple answer: campaign cash.
In 2006, health insurers donated $184,435 to state legislators while
drug companies spread $425,650 around. And their lobbyists made sure
they could keep on raising prices without oversight or regulation.
The same with electricity rates. New Yorkers pay the fourth highest
electricity rates in the country. Why? Campaign cash again. Power-industry
contributors were richly rewarded for their political investments
when Albany deregulated the industry to permit soaring rates.
As long as citizens tolerate this pay-to-play system, corruption in
Albany will persist. So what must we do? We must elect legislators
who are willing to stop "pay-to-play' politics. That means putting
into office those who will fight for full public funding of campaigns
so that they can feel free to serve the public and not worry about
who will fund their re-election campaigns.
It means electing legislators who will fight to pass Clean Money Clean
Elections, which provides full and equal public funding for all qualified
candidates and permits them to run on their ideas, ability, and integrity.
Not on how much money they can raise.
If you no longer want to tolerate the way Albany gives big breaks
to big contributors at our expense, you need to join this fight. Learn
which candidates are running strong for "Clean" in your
district and help them win!
A recent newspaper article described the financial disclosure statements
filed by Ulster County Executive candidates. I have known Mike Hein
for 25 years and I like and respect him. However, I cannot understand
why he would accept a $1250 donation from the Western Mohegan Tribe
and Nation at the Tamarack in Greenfield Park at the same time tribe
has a lawsuit pending against the county.
According to the February 19, 2008 Daily Freeman, the Western Mohegan
tribe filed a $12 million lawsuit against Ulster County in order to
be exempt from paying property taxes on its property, the former Tamarack
Lodge in the Town of Wawarsing. Although the Western Mohegans are
not a federal recognized tribe, they are seeking to have the property
designated as “Indian Country” by20the federal government,
making it exempt from property taxes.
The Western Mohegans purchased the Tamarack from Ulster County in
2001. According to an article in the June 17, 2004 Daily Freeman:
“When the Western Mohegans purchased the Tamarack . . .the tribe
planned to make it the base of its operations, home to roughly 400
members and their families, and operate a hydroponic farm there. The
state Attorney General's Office filed suit against the tribe in late
2001, seeking a permanent injunction against illegal gaming by the
Western Mohegans because the office suspected the tribe was moving
toward opening a high-stakes bingo hall at the Tamarack.” Subsequently,
the tribal Chief that negotiated the deal with the county had to resign
for falsifying the tribe’s recognition applic ation to the federal
In accepting such a large donation from an ethics-challenged Native
American tribe that is suing the very county he hopes to lead, Mike
Hein has shown exceedingly bad judgment. I urge Mike to return this
contribution as soon as possible.
Joe Roberti, Ulster County Legislator
Guess by the headlines that Ulster is in a “financial pinch,”
Hein’s belt tightening measures, right-sizing and prudent fiscal
policies that he claimed to follow (when he balanced the 2008 County
Budget) didn’t do him much good.
It certainly would explain why no regional budget road shows were
scheduled this year. Hmmm..Let’s see—last June, County
Administrator Hein and side-kicks were visiting communities allowing
residents an early prelude to the budget process.
Now there is a hiring freeze and 90-day moratorium on conference attendance
outside the County? Haven’t we been down this bumpy road already?
Last year was the same scenario. By July 27th specific budget cut
proposals were in the works and in August a hiring freeze was initiated
until the end of 2007. A common sense approach to controlling spending
should have rolled over the hiring freeze into 2008.
Hein claims to be “pro-active” preparing for a more efficient
government going forward now asking department heads to trim two percent
off their budgets. There were indications two years ago that there
would be a slump in the economy. His priority to bring transparency
to balancing a budget is not very convincing. Is he still in training?
This is not the first budget Hein has been responsible for. And he
has aspirations of being the first County Executive for Ulster County?
His track record of being fiscally responsible speaks volumes: In
2005, Michael Hein, who at the time was a Republican, stated the County
would have a $23 million deficit. The current administration campaigned
on that point to win the majority.
By the time Hein switched parties, the County had $12 million in the
General Fund. There was $17.8 million surplus at the end of 2006 and
$19.6 million in the fund balance at the end of 2007. (None of which
was used to reduce the tax levy in property taxes for either year.)
In 2007, Hein allocated $460,000 anticipated revenue for board-ins
at the Law Enforcement Center and by October only $15,730 was realized.
This year he projected $1.3 million for board-ins and those figures
have fallen short as well. Anticipated sales tax revenue projections
at $83.4 million are also coming up short month after month. That’s
quite a track record—he has missed the mark on every projection.
Voters are urged to use extreme caution this fall. If Hein has not
performed in his County Administrator capacity, as County Executive,
it will be “business as usual” and taxpayers will pay
a hefty price and dig deeper into their pockets. Again, voters beware!!
My name is Cory Alvarado and I am entering my senior year at Onteroa
High School this September. I have been running track since my freshman
year all under the guidance and direction of coach Burkhardt. Under
his tutorage, I was fortunate enough last year to have made it to
states which was my 1st year of cross country track and only in my
2nd year of long distance running, I was able to go to states this
June for the two mile. I believe if I didn't have him as my coach,
it would not have been possible to achieve the things I have been
able to do in such a short period of time.
Mr. Patrick Burkhardt is more than a great coach, he is also one of
the best physical education teachers Onteora School District has ever
seen. He isn't like some teachers who pick favorites, he treats everybody
with respect and knows their limitations. Even the kids who don't
like gym say that he is a great teacher. I've seen him help those
kids out to make it fun for them and they seem to respond great and
love his classes not like other teachers who fail them for not putting
in 110% in a gym class.
Since this issue has come up within the past several weeks, I have
recently acquired about going to another school like John A Coleman
in Kingston, just so I can run Cross-County and spring track as it
is very important in your senior year to have colleges look for their
future runners. I do not want to do that since it is my senior year.
I know I will be able to help our track team win its 4th straight
MHAL and 5th straight Section 9 Class B Championships which Coach
Burkhardt has coached on those championship teams. If the decision
is not reversed and Mr. Burkhardt is out on the elementary school
level, you may force me and other runners, mainly seniors this year
to leave the school just so they can run.
I also don't know why anyone would want to take a coach away from
the most prestigious athletic team in our schools history and one
of the most respected teachers among faculty and students alike. Not
to mention so many other athletes and coaches from other schools districts
that respect and also appreciate Coach Burkhardt's over and beyond
helpfulness that he shows them. To make this move will not only cripple
the Onteora track and XC teams, you will also be taking away a great
teacher who has helped all types of children. Whether it's a student
with a disability or one of his own athletes, he treats everybody
the with the respect that they deserve.
Lastly, to make this move it will not only weaken the aforementioned
running programs and physical education department, but also taking
one of the only threads that keeps the already fragile Onteora community
Cory Alvarado, OCS12th grader
Hello! My name is Cara Banks and I graduated from Onteora in 2000.
My husband and I recently moved to the Bay Area of California, but
are still in close touch with Onteora teachers, students, administrators
and community members. I am writing with great concern regarding rumors
about physical educator and coach Patrick Burkhardt and his involuntary
transfer to Phoenicia Elementary School from Onteora High School.
Some of the things I love most about the Onteora district is that
it is a rural school district in the Catskill Mountains with a "small
town feel" but offers its diverse student population a "big
town" quality education; it rightly compensates its teachers
with a competitive salary; and it provides its community with a sense
of pride in their public school system. This community deserves the
continued service of Patrick Burkhardt at the high school level and
would be losing a great teacher and coach if he were to be transferred
to one of the elementary schools.
In the Spring of 1998, I was finishing my sophomore year at Onteora
and competing with the Varsity Track and Field Team under the coaching
of Carol Okoren and Patrick Burkhardt. 1998, many already know, was
a big year for Girls' Track and Field across the country. New York
State (and other states) finally made pole vault a sanctioned event
for girls, where it was previously only allowed for boys. Immediately
after the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA)
recognized this event as one in which girls could compete, Patrick
Burkhardt began a training program for girls' pole vault. Other schools
in the area still did not allow girls to compete in the pole vault,
due to stereotypes that it was a "boys event" and "girls
were not meant to pole vault". Mr. Burkhardt, however, motivated
me to train hard, in spite of any odds against us, and I was lucky
enough to be the first girl from Onteora to ever compete in the pole
vault at a NYSPHSAA championship track meet. Because of Mr. Burkhardt's
enduring support and ability to motivate his athletes, I went on to
get a silver medal in the Empire State Games in 1999 and compete in
the pole vault in the NCAA throughout college. My husband and I met
on the pole vault runway at college. It is because of Mr. Burkhardt
that I have had the desire, drive and spirit to continue a lifelong
commitment to physical fitness.
I am certainly not the only one who has been inspired by Mr. Burkhardt.
As I previously indicated, the Onteora District, though small relative
to many New York State public schools, is a district charged with
the task of educating a diverse group of students. Mr. Burkhardt has
worked hard in the Physical Education department at the high school
to create a cun1culum that differentiates instruction to meet the
needs of all students while instilling a love for heath and fitness.
Many physical education teachers tend to focus their lessons on sports
that are popular or "high profile". Mr. Burkhardt, though
he still does incorporate the major sports into his lesson plans,
has diversified the phys. ed. program to include things like rock
climbing, hip-hop dancing, archery, snow shoeing, yoga and other sports.
He is committed to the success of ALL students, not just the varsity
athletes and sports' fans, especially the students who have seen physical
education as a burden in the past. Mr. Burkhardt's efforts have created
a classroom environment in which students of all levels of fitness
can be successful and set their own goals, rather than sit on the
sidelines or dread the three times per week when they are forced to
attend gym class. The goal of public education is to provide students
with opportunities to improve themselves and be successful in a variety
of subjects. As a math teacher myself, if I have students who are
struggling with basic algebra skills, I am not going to force them
to jump right into calculus. Mr. Burkhardt utilizes the same sound
educational practice, creating a curriculum that is accessible for
all students, as physical education is no different from the core
subjects. Onteora High School needs Patrick Burkhardt to continue
to educate its students and allow for the type of differentiated instruction
that all subjects need, and that is mandated by the New York State
and National Standards for Physical Education.
If Mr. Burkhardt is transferred to one of the elementary schools,
Onteora High School will be losing a great educator, skilled coach
and phenomenal professional. Not only has Mr. Burkhardt motivated
individuals to learn new skills and improve their personal goals,
but he has increased the professional stature of physical education
at Onteora. He has shown the Onteora community that physical education
has academic standing equal to core subject areas. He has quantified
achievement, and shown that knowledge and skills matter, and confirmed
that mere willing participation is not the same as education. in short,
Mr. Burkhardt has brought accountability and rigor to the profession
of physical education in the Onteora School District. He is needed
at the high school.
I recently spent a week in the Woodland Valley area and had the opportunity
to read your July 17 article on Camp Woodland. I attended Woodland
for eleven summers, from 1950 through 1960. Your article highlights
the folklore collecting that was an essential part of the camp experience.
As campers we went forth on frequent trips, with the camp director,
Norman Studer, driving one of those old wooden station wagons. We
went into mountain communities to collect folk songs, stories and
history - - or just to socialize. Those we got to know were born between
1870 and 1900 and had grown to adulthood during the transition from
the age of homespun to industrialization. They had learned a way of
life from parents who had been adults during the Civil War and from
grandparents who had been alive in the 1840s when the age of homespun
had reached a peak in rural and small-town New York.
By the time we came to know them, their older pattern of living had
largely become obsolete. Most lived on marginal farms or in little
villages. Their own children and grandchildren had gone to the cities
to find work. And when they could no longer till the land by themselves,
they watched it grow over with uncut grasses, with red sumac, and
eventually with trees.
But their deep-lying roots in their culture gave our mountain neighbors
an unmistakable dignity and serenity, even in the face of aging, sickness,
and for some, long-inured poverty. They retained a natural self-esteem
of those whose American identity developed in an era when men and
woman believed in themselves and sensed a control over their own destinies.
Their cultural base was intimately evoked in traditional song. These
songs were not remembered from ancient history but from their own.
They grew out of their own experience, embodiments of people they
had loved and the way they had lived. Song was entertainment.
In collecting our neighbors’ songs and stories we felt their
importance to them and in the process saw the singers and story tellers
themselves respond and change and grow. They responded warmly to the
eagerness of the campers who came to learn from them and to our evident
respect for them and their traditions. They sang and told stories
cheerfully and graciously for their new found friends and appreciated
the tribute of having their songs honored and enjoyed, and learned
and sung back to them by a new generation. They experienced an enlargement
of dignity and self-esteem which the passage of time and the change
of circumstances had begun to erode.
We campers gained reciprocally for, in the process of enhancing another’s
dignity, we came to share and absorb some of that dignity ourselves.
If there is nothing else that I could say about Camp Woodland, it
is the power of this experience, the power of honoring another’s
dignity that stands out.
Hard physical labor dominated their lives. One of the neighbors we
came to know was Orson Slack. At the age of 83, he ran a little carpentry
shop in the village of Arena on the headwaters of the Delaware River
soon to be flooded to make way for the Pepacton Reservoir, part of
the water supply system for New York City. Seated outside his shop
on lawn chairs he had made he told us “I’ve been east;
I’ve been west; I’ve been south. I’ve worked at
almost everything. We was brought up on work.”
Orson was a frequent guest at Camp Woodland, winning the affection
of everyone with his warmth and wisdom. He always came to camp with
a poem he had memorized for reciting at our campfire and always had
a story of the old ways of living and working. During his first summer
at camp, Orson returned our tribute saying “If someone had told
me there was a place where all peoples lived and worked together,
I wouldn’t have believed it - - it’s just wonderful.”
Orson’s grandfather, born in 1785, had been one of the first
settlers in the area. He was one of eight men who had walked the 50
miles of wilderness over the mountains from Kingston, carrying bags
of grain on their backs, to begin clearing land, sow the first crops
and prepare the way for their families.
Orson died shortly before residents were forced to move from Arena.
It is doubtful he would have survived being uprooted.
Another of our neighbors, Etson Van Wagner was a pert, gingery little
man, well in his seventies when camp came to know him. He sang ballads,
fiddled, danced some jigs with his daughter Edna, told bear stories
and then stood on his head for good measure at one of the folk festivals
sponsored by Camp Woodland. Those at camp who got to know him greatly
appreciated his salty folk wit, his love of the simple, honest qualities
in people and his spirit of sturdy Jacksonian democracy.
Etson once told Norman Studer that “Nobody‘ll remember
my songs when I’m gone; they will go down to the grave with
me.” But before he died he was reassured that his song “Wild
Americay” was still being sung at the folk festival and he was
By the way, the stone amphitheater you mention in your July 17 article
was built by Pete Seeger’s father-in-law Takashi.
After reading your article about Camp Woodland Valley – How
crazy was Senator J. McCarthy? Not to open old wounds but do you remember
the end of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, countless people were
killed by the Communists. The Communist movement was something not
to be proud of as Americans.
You probably have seen Donnie Maher walking on Rt 28 in Shokan and
Boiceville, sometimes with his beloved beagle, Rudy.
Donnie has had some VERY bad luck over the last few years. First of
all, he is having serious health issues, which keep him from working
much. He's still very good at raking and mowing and other yardwork.
Donnie's small disability check runs out well before the end of the
Donnie doesn't drink or drug!
About three years ago, Donnie's home on Reservoir Rd, just down from
Winchell's Corner, had an interior flash fire serious enough to keep
Donnie from occupying it since. This is a house that belonged to his
great-grandparents, and was saved from the encroaching water of the
Ashokan Reservoir and moved to its present location.
Donnie has been living in a camper behind his burned-out house, with
virtually no heat, water, or electricity, through three harsh winters.
A couple of weeks ago, as reported in the Kingston Freeman, Donnie's
camper burned to the ground.
Donnie and Rudy have been sleeping in his inoperable car on his property,
since. Naturally, Donnie is very depressed about his situation. Donnie
has received support from local individuals, but can't spend another
winter camping out. We have to get him back in his home!
Some of us have agreed to raise money for the reconstruction of his
house, so it is livable. This will take about $15,000.00, if we can
get enough volunteer help to take care of the labor portion of the
expenses.This repair process is starting now, and we need help right
away, with light demolition and cleanup, to start with.
Besides volunteer help, we need the community to come together to
raise the money needed to get Donnie back in his home.
Donations and volunteers will be coordinated through Robert Bruce
Cruickshank, 26 Nickelsey Rd, Shokan, NY 12481 (845 657 3398); Email:
email@example.com or Jim Senecal, 87 Mountain Rd, Shokan, Ny 12481 (845
Please help our neighbor, Donnie Maher. Charity begins at home!
The Phoenicia Rotary would like to thank everyone for their support
at our great Krazy Quacker Race. Whether you purchased tickets, stood
on the bridge or alongside the stream bank to cheer the ducks on,
helped toss the racers into the stream at the start or assisted our
duck catchers at the end of the race return all our yellow feathered
athletes back to their nests, we are grateful for the participation
of our neighbors and visitors.
This year we were able to release 775 of our finest racing ducks into
the Stony Clove, one of the largest numbers of entries ever. Although
there were a few tense moments when the five leading marathoners quickly
headed to the finish line in close proximity, our eagle eyed judge
was able to call the winning order.
Because of your strong support and cooperation throughout the year,
the Phoenicia Rotary is able to continue serving the people and various
organizations of our area and as a member of Rotary International,
we help support the humanitarian needs of the citizens of the world
including good health, clean water, decent living conditions and literacy
Phoenicia Rotary serves the area from Shokan and W. Hurley, to Pine
Hill, Woodstock and Olive. If you are interested in attending one
of our meetings, please contact any Rotarian for time and place or
call Chris 688-7319.
The Phoenicia Rotary
We thank you so very much for your generous contributions to the food
pantry. As everyone knows, these present times are a hardship for
everyone and your donations are so very welcome. We thank the parishioners
of the Methodist Church in Mt. Tremper, all the customers at the Mt.
Tremper post office – also numerous donations left at our door
from people we never see.
Thank you so much for the concern of your neighbor – we are
Town of Shandaken Food Pantry
The Mansfield family is deeply grateful for your love and support
by way of the Benefit for Killian on July 11. We especially thank
all the folks at the Shokan Methodist Church -- not only for allowing
their space to be used, but for carrying on the wonderful spirit of
their church with their supportive presence, and lovely Wini Paetow,
Jim Sofranko, Krista Cayea and David Andrews for organizing the organized.
Music is a salve to all souls and we thank healers Bruce Katz, Randy
Ciarlante, Peter Schickele, the Woodstock String Quartet, Fran and
Brian Hollander, Vinnie Martucci, Gary Kvistad, Giri-Mekar and the
hometown fun of Fido. We are also very grateful to the Boiceville
Inn, Catskill Mountain Coffee, Hanover Farms, Boiceville Supermarket,
Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant, Kasey's Café, Bread Alone, Winchell’s
Pizza, Olive’s Café, Village Pizza, Reservoir Deli, JaBellis
Bakery, Anne Marie Johanson, Chet Karatowski, Eric Karatowski, Millie
Delgado, Dusty Stack, Sarah Cole, Linda Greenleese, Francine Scherer,
Maryanne Olsen , Sarah Fairbairn, Charlie Blumstein, Lolly Adler,
Carol Muranti, Candace Sosler, Amy Russell, Bruce and Linda Golden,
Natalie Van Mulken, Suzanne and Ed Kossoy, Vikki Reid, Charlie Wooidruff,
Connie Kieltyka, Callie and Livvy Paetow, Stephan Bielecki, Carol
Maltby, Loretta Dooling, Megan Van Gorden, Chet Cochrane, and Nate
Cayea. We are deeply thankful to all who contributed and it must be
said that we felt so much positive light from everyone who came that
we are certainly more prepared to fight the fight.
July 12-17 was Sarcoma Awareness Week. About 1% of adult cancers are
sarcomas (and about 20% of all children's cancers). Many sarcomas
resist current treatments and Killian's sarcoma falls into this category.
Developing new drugs specifically to treat sarcoma is not lucrative
for pharmaceutical companies. The approval process for these orphan
drugs (those that treat rare diseases) is slow and frustrating for
those of us whose hopes float on news of treatment options. I plan
to be at the Boiceville Market on Friday selling bracelets with sarcoma
awareness messages. 100% of sales go to sarcoma research via the Liddy
Shriver Sarcoma Institute.
West Shokan, NY
Hello: We always enjoy the Phoenicia Times,and certainly appreciate
the hard work that goes into producing such an important community
news forum. However, a headline in the special segment on Shandaken
Day has left us completely baffled. Under "The Greener the Better",
it reads, "Local Sustainability Is Inevitably Just as Historical
As In Our Present Futures". We've showed this to many people,
none of whom could figure out what it meant. Could you please translate
it into plain English? Thank you very much.
Barbara and George Blumenthal
Phoenicia and Englewood, NJ
Editor’s Note: I was trying to say that the answers to shrinking
oil supplies and climate change, which are currently shaping our idea
of a communal future, may come from our pasts, when we all lived more
simply. Albeit, I could have used a proofreader on the garbled headline
I produced. My apologies.