Follow Up on the
By The Esopus
without taking in the fact that the deceased was married
and the father of five… and that until toxicology
reports come back from the state, a mysterious pall will
hang over what happened.
“On January 17, 2008 members from the Ulster County
Sheriff’s Office responded to an Ulster County 911
poll for an unconscious, unresponsive male lying in the
roadway at the end of a dead end road in the Town of Shandaken,”
read the departmental press release of January 21. “Upon
arrival by deputies, the male was identified as Gary Stevan
Corwin, age 62, of Broad Street Hollow Road, Lexington,
Greene County, NY. Corwin, a Town of Lexington resident,
was reported missing to the Greene County Sheriff’s
Office on 01/16/08. Mr. Corwin was administered medical
assistance at the scene and subsequently transported the
Margaretville Hospital by the Town of Shandaken Ambulance
squad where he was later pronounced by Margaretville Hospital
Medical Staff. An autopsy was performed at the Kingston
Hospital and officials are awaiting the toxicology results.”
According to Corwin’s obituary released by E.B. Gormley
Funeral Home of Phoenicia, the deceased had been an area
resident for the past six years, having formerly made his
home in Manhattan. He had performed as a musician for over
35 years, primarily in the New York City metropolitan area,
as the band leader of Gary Corwin & the Dream Band,
and, previously, the Gary Corwin All-Star Band. At the time
of his death, he was authoring a book about sound, music,
the universe and the human spirit.
“He especially loved teaching children how to open
up and discover their own true voice, read the obituary
written with the help of Corwin’s wife, Marily Jurenka
Corwin and mother-in-law Gerri Jurenka. “He was a
loving father and husband who
enjoyed walks in the woods, and quiet moments of meditation
in a nature setting.
Corwin was born November 6, 1945 in Brooklyn, NY, son of
Max Corwin and the late Sandra Berger Corwin. Surviving
are his wife Marilu Jurenka Corwin, his father Max and his
wife Roslyn of Florida, children: Sarah, Hannah, Sophia,
Samuel, and Abraham all at home, and Keith of NYC. A brother
Neil and sister-in-law Dale of NYC, and niece Michelle of
Corwin was found several miles from his home near the old
church, now a private home, located at the end of Church
Street Road in Big Indian, a small dead end lane that runs
behind the Big Indian Service Center to the edge of the
Esopus Creek. According to sources, the body – discovered
by a passer-by who noticed “a pile of clothes by the
road” — was naked from the waist down and appeared
to be bruised.
“Nothing new on the case,” Ulster County Sheriff
Paul Van Blarcum noted this week. “Waiting for toxicology
test to come back from lab.”
Ulster County District Attorney Holly Carnright said last
week that the incident was not being treated as a murder,
but that police were investigating. He urged anyone with
any information to contact the Sheriff’s Department
at (845) 338-3640.
In It For Us?
What, with cuts to the state’s arts council and state
Department of Environmental Conservation’s General Fund,
is being considered?
And what else might be of interest to citizens in the Upper
Esopus/Ashokan region in that proposal, as well as a recent
address Spitzer designed to address “Upstate” issues.
On the latter front, the first thing we discovered is that what
the governor considers “Upstate” doesn’t necessarily
include the Hudson Valley or Catskills.
And yet his $124.3 billion state budget DOES include more than
$21 million in state funding to “critical projects”
in the area, including $5 million for a solar energy research
center in Kingston, $8 million for converting the old Poughkeepsie-Highland
railroad bridge into a pedestrian walkway, $7 million for the
state’s quadricentennial celebration, a $50 million boost
in local funding through the Aid to Municipalities program,
continued investment in the rural broadband initiative, a generalized
promise to start taking education funding off the back of property
taxpayers… and that $1 million for a Catskill Interpretive
Countering the good news, though, are budget balancing items
that throw more weight onto county governments, some $300 million
in new fees, as well as savings of more than $1 billion in the
hospital and nursing home sector and in tax rebates under the
STAR program. Plus state debt would increase from this year’s
$50 billion to $53.3 billion.
“While he did not specifically mention the Hudson Valley
or Catskill regions, his focus on property taxes, economic development,
access to affordable and quality health care, spiraling energy
costs and improving education struck at the heart of the major
concerns of our communities,” said State Assemblyman Kevin
Cahill, defending the governor’s efforts in light of a
united opposition from local Republicans, including State Senator
John Bonacic. “For the second time in a week, while pledging
to hold the line on taxes, the Governor acknowledged a growing
consensus that we can no longer distinguish between taxes raised
at the state level or those locally, such as through the unfair
and unaffordable real property tax. He reiterated a clear commitment
to thoroughly address the property tax crisis by forming a commission
to examine the way we fund our schools and local government
We checked around this week with various people who should know…
and didn’t, except to note that they’d been having
talks about reviving the CIC with state officials in recent
months, had noticed the figure in the budget, and wanted to
remind everybody there were still months of negotiations pending
before any final budget figures were arrived at or approved.
“We’ve been kind of on the verge of things with
a lot of movement on the support level, for some time now,”
noted the CIC’s original visionary Sherret Chase, currently
chairman of its Friends board of active supporters. “Given
that it would take $5 million to $10 million to build the thing,
and our current plans are out of date, I suspect these funds
are for redoing our plans.”
Chase noted that he and others working with the Friends of the
Interpretive Center have been envisioning making any new plans
for such a facility, whose entrance road off Route 28 in Mount
Tremper and basic site preparation were completed before incoming
Governor George Pataki puilled the plug on the entire project
upon taking office in 1995, so whatever got built was more “green”
and lexible than what was originally planned.
Chase added that he would be meeting with Friends Secretary
Jim Infante this coming Monday, January 28, to go over what’s
now on the table, as well as to set a larger meeting of all
interested in the facility in the following fortnight.
“I don’t know how these things get done,”
he added, “But we had strong support from (State Senator
John) Bonacic, as well as a meeting with DEC Commissioner Pete
Grannis and constant support from DEC regional Director Willi
Janeway in recent months. Everyone’s been very supportive.
Speaking for Janeway the day after the budget announcement,
DEC spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said things were still vague
as to what exactly was being set aside via the state’s
Environmental Protection Fund, which would also be funding the
upcoming quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage up
the river bearing his name in the coming year.
“Willi said he’d heard there was $500,000 this year
and $500,000 next year,” she said. “That’s
enough to keep planning, but not to build it.”
And Deb Dewan at the Catskill Center said that although the
budget had yet to go through full discussions, the state’s
renewed interest in an interpretive center for the region was
a good sign of a renewed commitment to see it built in the coming
The effort to get the state to build an Interpretive Center
for its Catskill Park holdings similar to interpretive centers
located in two locations in the Adirondacks started in the middle
1980s as a grassroots effort including numerous community members,
local business leaders, political representatives, the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and
The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development (CCCD).
Eventually, plans for a Center were formalized in the early
1990s, with the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development
and Trust for Public Land eventually purchasing a 62-acre parcel
of land on Route 28 in Mount Tremper when it was discovered
that the state could not buy such property without making it
part of the overall state park… sans development. The
DEC then spent over $1 million on road, bridge, site grading,
and other improvements to the property, plus more for architectural
blueprints for a 18,600 square foot building and for surrounding
grounds, plus plans for interpretive exhibits, interpretive
and educational programs, travel information resources, a reference
library, auditorium, gift shop, and hiking trails and connections
to nearby State land. In 1995, the projected cost of the building
(not including the cost of exhibits, furniture, equipment and
supplies) was $ 3.68 million.
“The need for an interpretive center for the Catskills
remains,” the Friends now say on their website, www.catskillinterpretivecenter.org.
“We believe that The Catskill Park and Forest Preserve
represent significant and unique public assets badly in need
of an interpretive center to give them the focus and accessibility
required for their full public value to be realized. The Catskills,
and their visitors and residents, suffer from this unsatisfied
“We’ll see what happens now,” added Chase
As for the in-betweenies our region seems to have found itself
in, and what that might mean for future funding initiatives,
most asked felt that the problem was largely semantics…
at least for now.
“We are between areas of enormous prosperity, New York
City and the state Capitol,” Bonacic said. “Revitalizing
upstate means more than helping Utica, Syracuse, Rochester,
Buffalo and Albany. It must mean helping the Mid-Hudson, an
area of enormous wealth of natural resources but desperately
in need of sustainable jobs.”
Stay tuned as the promises of the proposed budget get deciphered
and reworked over the coming months… The new budget is
to be adopted by the Legislature and signed by the governor
by April 1, a deadline that has been met each of the last two
years after being missed the previous 20 years.
that didn’t mean people didn’t want to talk anyway
about closing yet another elementary school, bonding figures
upwards from $60 million, and the nature of the board’s
insular process that got them to this point in the first place.
“We’ll be doing this on a carousel basis,”
Ford said at the start of the promptly-run three-hour session,
noting that after an introduction by she and project architect
and planning consultant Armand Quadrini, those in attendance
should split into groups and then move between tables organized
around various physical attributes of the planned-for Middle
School open for discussion. When bells rang, people were to
move on. Like in Middle School.
The tables focused on issues related to what people wanted the
new school’s entry to look and feel like, how they envisioned
new classrooms, science and art lab needs, special instruction
elements (including overall technology requirements and music
classes), and phys ed and wellness concerns.
People’s concerns would be tabulated, Ford said, and discussed
at the end of the session, when a straw poll would be taken.
“These decisions are made by the board but they want to
know what you are thinking,” Ford said.
Quadrini, in his presentation, noted how a decision to place
the Middle School in Bennett would result in the tearing down
of much of the current Middle School wing at the high school.
Ford spoke about how a bond would be needed for long-postponed
building updates and repairs, no matter the public’s view
of the current Middle School plans. She talked about the changed
and charged, future that present and future students from the
district will be facing. She tried to inspire her skeptical
audience, filling the room by the time she finished.
“We welcome your suggestions. This isn’t the end,”
she said. “It’s not even the middle.”
When several people in the audience tried to ask whether the
5-8 Middle School configuration could be discussed, Ford said
no. There was an agenda to keep. She suggested that people with
questions and comments apart from the specifics addressed by
the carousel method talk to her directly. She’d also be
taking comments about people’s ideas for a Middle School
A petition was passed around from Woodstock parent Donna Flayhan,
opposing the 5-8 Middle School plan and asking that the board
agree to keep all three elementary schools open. By event’s
end, 32 of the 120 or so in attendance had signed.
Olivebridge resident Charlie Blumstein talked about how he’d
been asking friends and neighbors in Olive about why there’d
been such silence to date about the bonding figures being proposed.
He said every time the subject came up people started “laughing
hysterically at the cost.”
Others gathered around and similarly questioned the size of
the project, as well as its timing at the start of a national
recession. A group of Phoenicia parents got Quadrini to compare
costs between his propositions, noting that closure of Bennett
had not been factored in to any plan, then noted their surprise
at the day’s disclosure that there was now a possibility
of tearing down part of the current Middle/Senior High School
structure, should Bennett get a makeover go-ahead.
Ford’s “Parking Lot” list included repeated
requests that the board further discuss its 5-8 plan with the
public, and that a new option putting 5th and 6th grades into
Bennett, keeping 7th and 8th in its current place, be looked
After discussing people’s wish lists at the meeting’s
end, Ford noted that a similar Forum held last year had proved
indispensable to the board’s current decision-making.
People grumbled that they’d suggested nothing like what
was eventually decided upon. She added that it was the board’s
role to make decisions, and that Onteora would henceforth be
moving in the direction of a 5-8 Middle School whether a bond
passed or not.
Some asked why there was no regular running water in many of
the districts’ bathrooms. Others began filtering out of
the room and school, shaking their heads.
“How can we discuss this more,” asked Phoenicia’s
Tony Fletcher, “Or is it a done deal?”
“The board has made a decision,” replied Ford.
“Is it reversible?” asked Michael Lang of Woodstock.
“Board decisions are not reversible,” said Ford.
“It’s the role of the board to listen. Voting is
a public right… If this seems deceitful, at least it’s
all out in public.”
Parents rose and noted how they hated to vote against a school
bond, but they felt compelled to in order to save their community
“We have a lot to think about,” said Ford. “This
is not an easy time.”
Later, during a Tuesday night, January 29 regular board meeting
at Woodstock Elementary School, Ford announced that the next
steps after the forum would include presentation of a budget
advisory committee report on cost efficiency at the February
26 board meeting and a presentation for Strategic planning.
After reading a lengthy rule sheet that the public must follow
during public be heard, school board president Mary Jane Bernholz
had to cut off several people expressing anger over the school
board proposals. Board member Cindy O’Connor added that
the communication committee is creating a newsletter dedicated
to the middle school option, “to answer some questions
and start the process…”
Class In West Shokan
The mysteries are, how do they get such prominent musicians
to come the wilds of Olive, and what do the performers get out
of playing for an audience of 64 people, as pianist Jason Cutmore
did on a recent Sunday afternoon? “I love the intimacy,”
said Cutmore, who has performed around the world, from Budapest
to Bombay. “It’s much more personal in a venue like
this.” He was standing near the library door, shaking
hands with audience members after his lyrical performance of
pieces by Schubert, de Falla, Scriabin, and Poulenc.
Rackelle Roden, the energetic organizer of the series, described
how she finds performers: “I’d like to say I have
these amazing contacts, but I don’t. I get in touch with
some musicians through master cello-maker David Wiebe, who lives
in Woodstock, or through George Tsontakis,” Bard artist-in-residence
and Shokan dweller. “And we make connections through Israel’s
work. He is a top-notch voicer and tuner.”
We discuss fine points of her husband’s piano-tuning vocation,
which he has practiced on instruments owned by concert pianists,
recording studios, members of the New York Philharmonic, and
musicians on the faculty of the Julliard School of Music, the
Manhattan School of Music, and the New School, among others.
“The voicer manipulates the hammers of the piano so you
get the best possible sound,” explained Roden. “The
hammers are covered with felt. They have to be lacquered, pinned
down, filed, shaped, and put at the correct angle so they strike
the strings correctly. Tuning involves stretching the strings
so all the intervals vibrate correctly. And then there’s
regulation, making sure the keys ‘hit’ all the same
under the pianist’s fingers.”
Schossev studied at Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem and
then worked for Steinway and Sons in Queens, where he tuned,
voiced, and regulated hundreds of pianos. He has also been restoring
pianos since 1985, replacing the multitude of parts that deteriorate
over time and impair an instrument’s sound.
Roden’s father was opera singer, and her mother was an
opera director. They formed a company, and she grew up in the
opera houses of Europe. In Israel, she played the harp and taught
voice. The couple came to the U.S. from Israel in 1997 and moved
to Olive with their sons a month before September 11, 2001.
After a year of rising at 4:00 a.m. for the commute to Queens,
Schossev started working on his own, tuning and rebuilding pianos
as the Woodstock Piano Company. Occasionally, he also sells
pianos, such as the fully rebuilt Steinway and Sons ebony-finished
grand advertised on his website for $35,000.
When Trail Mix began in 2002, the concerts took place in their
house, where the acoustics, said Roden, are excellent. The initial
performances were free, with a suggested donation, although
they were already paying the musicians. To gather the early
audiences, “I walked around for three weeks and knocked
on doors on Watson Hollow Road, High Point Mountain Road, asking
people if they were interested in classical music,” recalled
Roden. “I would give out tickets at the Boiceville Market.”
After a while, they averaged 50 or more spectators per show
and began to charge admission. However, they wanted to add chamber
music, and the house wasn’t big enough for a quartet,
so the venue shifted to the library on Route 28A in West Shokan.
Now they charge $20 a head, receive all-important donations
from community members, and just obtained their first grant
from the Dutchess County Arts Council. “The musicians
are very generous,” said Roden. “They work for less
than their usual fee.” Nevertheless, the festival has
attracted such performers as pianist Pascal Rogé, a preeminent
interpreter of Poulenc, Debussy, and other French composers.
“An audience member knew Pascal’s partner, and she
asked Israel to come work on her piano,” explained Roden.
“We’ve had several musicians who came here just
before their careers took off.” Last year, for example,
Spencer Mayer performed at Trail Mix just before winning an
important competition. He is now playing with major orchestras.
Trail Mix concerts take place on the third Sunday of each month
at the Olive Free Library on Route 28A in West Shokan, from
October through May, avoiding the summer months when the Maverick
concerts are held in Woodstock. The next performance will be
Sunday, February 17, at 2:30 p.m. and will feature pianist David
Leighton, recently appointed artistic director of the Woodstock
Chamber Orchestra. A graduate of Julliard, he has been recital
accompanist for Luciano Pavarotti, Renata Scotto, Marilyn Horne,
and other opera stars and has directed a number of orchestras
and operas. Leighton will perform pieces by Chopin and Schubert.
For further events visit www.woodstockpianocompany.com
Jar Of Olives...
My husband keeps telling people that my trapeze broke, and Kate
McGloughlin announced, at church mind you, that, “You’d
be proud of her. She didn’t spill a drop!” Another
political version is that I was climbing the cell tower to plug
in the Verizon connection. My personal favorite is that I was
extreme snowboarding, and although injured, I captured the first
place trophy. Yeah, right! Just old bones and lack of grace!
Since I am limited for the time being, I have taken advantage
of the quiet time to read, watch the stock market plunge on
CNN, read magazines and write. When one reads a stack of women’s
magazines, they begin to parallel each other in their stories.
There is always one article about “How to drop ten pounds
in less than a month” that is, inevitably, followed by
a medley of fattening recipes that involve many too many cooking
utensils and ingredients that cannot be found in my cupboard
nor the local markets. Then there is the advice on how to be
a better lover, friend, wife, husband or mother. Lastly, there
is always a scary health report about some obscure disease and
how to prevent or heroically endure it. These predictable four
stories are the twelve pages that are found within the eighty-eight
pages of advertisements, scratch and sniff perfume ads and magazine
reorder postcards that annoyingly fall into your lap as you
turn yet another page. I have not lost ten pounds, nor tried
a single recipe, nor improved my relationships. I have, however,
contracted every rare disease they wrote about as a born-again
hypochondriac. I have also produced a large stack of read magazines
ready to go to the recycling bin.
Speaking of the landfill. Olive is once again accepting our
trash and recyclables at our landfill, or “land-full”
as I have heard it called. The insurance company has made its
offer of a claim, and bids are about to go out for reconstruction
for a new pavilion that will cover the bins and the cars as
they unload their cargo.
One thing I have begun is to write a book. I am on page five.
I am telling you this because in one of those magazines, the
writer suggested telling the world that you are on a diet so
you become publicly embarrassed if you don’t stick to
it. Writing the Great American Novel, which, in this case, is
about a Greek immigrant, is like that commitment. I will have
to write an hour each day unless I confess to have copped out
and written “The Great American Pamphlet.”
My friend Martha really did finish her book and get it published.
I went on line to Amazon.com and ordered three copies of Hats
and Eyeglasses. The book will be distributed the second week
in February, and Martha Frankel will have a book signing and
reception at the Boiceville Inn on Saturday February 16 at 5:00
After four funerals last week for Gary Zoehfeld, my aunt Helen,
Victor “Doc” Fairbairn, and Yolanda Ingram, I think
we could all use a lift. So, I would like to concentrate on
some good news.
Judie Rank is home after six months of hospitalization. Patty
D’Errico is responding to that expensive Interferon drug.
Some cell phones, not Verizon yet, are getting cell service.
The days are getting longer. We haven’t had to plow snow
in two weeks. Temperatures can be read in two digits. Also,
a senior art class is going to be sponsored by Olive Recreation.
It will begin in early March and will be open to all seniors
in Olive who are fifty-five or older. Sketching and painting
(oil, acrylic and water color) lessons will be available from
Judith Boggess, or “artists” are welcome to do their
own thing in a social setting. To get an idea of how many participants
we might have, please email Judith Boggess at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call her at 657-5817.
According to the economic stimulus package, “the check
is in the mail.” I do appreciate the pittance, but I am
not sure how two new pairs of shoes and a new outfit from Chico’s
will greatly impact the economy. I am only a retired English
teacher, but I am thinking that making some oil reserves available
at a reasonable price might make more of a difference. I am
more concerned about gas for my economy car and heating oil
for homes and businesses. Reducing our daily expenses might
be something to look into to jump-start the economy. Why not
resurrect the Conservation Corps, the workforce of the 1930’s,
to create green-collar jobs or to beef up our infrastructure?
While I am at it, how about funding school taxes in some other
way except on the backs of the homeowner? At least if it a sales
tax, the consumer has some control over to buy or not to buy.
That is the question, and perhaps, it is the answer.