(News Briefs October
The Town of Olive has a preliminary budget, as required by
law. But Town Supervisor Berndt Leifeld isn’t letting
it out to the press yet, saying it still needs working on.
Last year, during the budget season, the Olive Press ended
up running with a budget story based on figures minus a very
key element: the use of the town’s sizable unexpended
balance as a means of minimizing the amount to be raised by
taxes, which hadn’t been included.Suffice it to say,
everyone’s a bit gun shy about figures this season.
For the coming year, all we know for sure is that the budget
document is at town offices and runs about 30 pages, all total.
Leifeld has said spending looks to be going up about 9 percent,
based on an 8.1 percent hike in General Fund costs and an
11.8 percent rise in highway department expenditures. The
main culprit? Health insurance and workman’s comp. And
the uncertainty of fuel costs in a town with increasing driving
distances because of the many detours.
Salaries will go up three percent. How this all settles out
will be decided by revenue stream amounts, which depend on
valuation of such things as the city-owned reservoir. Last
year, what seemed to be bad hikes worked down to a final effect
on taxes of just under 4 percent.
We’re hoping to have full figures for you by the next
issue. The town’s annual budget hearing is set, by law,
for Thursday, November 9 at 7:30 pm.
Roger Rotella, 28 of West Shokan and a former sergeant with
the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police
Department, as well as a former Shandaken police officer,
was indicted last week on charges that he accepted a bribe
with a promise to make a drunk driving charge against another
man “disappear,” according to an Ulster County
Grand jury decision, which charged Rotella with one count
of bribe receiving, a felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
Rotella had been suspended from his job as a police officer
for the Department of Environmental Protection for 30 days
and then quit after the suspension was completed.
According to charges from the county D.A.’s office,
Rotella had made a promise to Dale Ford on July 9 that he
would make a charge of driving while intoxicated go away if
Ford paid him $30,000 to do so after Ford had been arrested
on DWI charges on July 4. The district attorney said that
Rotella apparently had mounting mortgage and credit card bills
and noted that the arrest occurred after state police were
contacted about the bribery scheme and set up a sting operation
on July 10.
Rotella later confessed to police.
Olive Supervisor Brendt Leifeld accepted a check for $5,000
from Beverly Stein, the head of a volunteer group who raised
the funds toward the construction of a new six-stall kennel
and dog run at the Davis Park pound.
“The kennel itself is going well,” said Stein,
who updated the progress of the project and noted that it
was hopefully to be completed by Thanksgiving Day, weather
permitting. “It’s the reward for six months of
A three foot wooden carving of a bear by Hoppy Quick, which
was the grand prize in a raffle that was part of the group’s
effort, was won by a scout master from Saugerties named Ken
Meanwhile, the first pups born in Olive’s custody were
delievered two weeks ago by a Bluetick Beagle found astray
in the Sheldon Hill region shortly before the births. The
proud mother and five female pups are being cared for by volunteer
Carol Roberts at her home until adoptive familes are found.
Contact Town Clerk Sylvia Rozzelle at 657-2320 for further
28 Repair Delays...
Look for delays in road repairs in the area as an expected
pushing-back of a November 1 opening date for State Route
23A between Haines Falls and Palenville to mid-November pushes
back similar plans for repairs on Rout2 28 just east of Boiceville,
possibly into the Spring. According to Hunter town Supervisor
Dennis Lucas, who works for the state Department of Transportation,
DOT design personnel have told him the “tensioning of
the horizontal anchors at the retaining wall site” took
more time than was originally expected.
The DOT was planning to hold an informational meeting Wednesday,
October 11 at Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl to give an update on
the repair project and go over the timeline for its completion.
Route 23A between Haines Falls and Palenville was closed due
to the failure of a stone retaining wall following heavy rain
in late June. During that rain, a mudslide closed the road
and crews that were sent to clean up the mess discovered the
retaining wall had been breached due to the large amount of
precipitation. An approximately 40- by 25-foot section of
the wall along the downward slope below the roadway had failed,
taking out a portion of Route 23A.
The Route 28 repairs involve a culvert buried 50 feet below
the roadway and will necessitate the closing of one lane,
and considerable detouring, for up to three months. It, too,
results from summer rain damage.
Meanwhile, Shandaken Police report that in response to citizen
complaints of speeding vehicles in Chichester, they patrolled
the area over this past holiday weekend, issuing 21 tickets
for speeds between 48 and 55 mph.
The speed limit on 214 is 35 mph, from the Greene County line
all the way down to School Lane in Phoenicia, where it drops
to 30 mph.
The Onteora school district said they could soon restore funding
to continue services from the Ulster County mental health
program called, Family And Child Early Treatment Services,
or FACETS, providing that the district’a auditors accept
In August when FACETS contracts were presented for renewal,
interim superintendent Jack Jordan would not allow voter-approved
money for the program based on advice from the district’s
lawyers regarding a new law allegedly prohibiting such funding.
The intent of the law was a revision to an already existing
law to expand access to mental, dental and physical health
Because of the school’s interpretation of a passage
prohibiting the use of local tax money, FACETS social workers
operated on a limited basis at the Boiceville site with only
the hope of a funding clarification from the State education
department for the past year.
FACETS provide two social workers at a cost of a little over
$60,000 including benefits and the use of a psychiatrist at
no cost to the district. If the program were dropped, students
would need to utilize services at the Ulster County mental
health facility in Kingston. Currently there are 33 families
using the services in the district and once money is restored,
each social worker will have a maximum of 20 students.
Although people have spoken out at school board meetings,
the board has yet to discuss FACETS programs and it’s
future. In a phone conversation, School board president Marino
D’Orazio said he wants to follow the law but reserved
caution, noting conflicting interpretations on the funding.
But he said the school board would discuss FACETS stating,
“Clearly this is an education decision to be made of
funding, philosophical and educational importance.”
FACETS works with Head Start, Saugerties and Kingston schools
offering on-site services. The school district covers 50 percent
of the costs and the other half comes from private insurance,
Medicare or out of pocket expenses based on a sliding scale.
Advocates stress the need for mental health services for teens
noting that the public tends to overlook its seriousness.
County legislators Frank Dart of Kingston and Brian Shapiro
of Woodstock, both Democrats, have been battling over a proposed
county sex offender law that would set limits on how close
a sex offender could live to a school and other facilities
frequented by children. Shapiro has said crafting the law
is better left to the professionals and worries that if passed,
the new law would “create a purge of sex offenders from
Kingston city and send them sporadically throughout the rural
areas of Ulster County.” Dart has replied that Shapiro’s
objection is simply that, “ he doesn’t want these
people in Woodstock.”
Only three people spoke at last week’s public hearing
on the proposed law. It now goes back to committee for further
discussion and consideration to place it before the full legislature
for a vote in the coming week.
Joseph Gilsinger, the 40 year old hit-and-run driver from
Mount Tremper who struck and killed a bicyclist on state Route
28 last spring, was sentenced to five years of probation recently,
despite calls from the family of the deceased asking for prison
Gilsinger struck 43-year-old Richard “Ricky” Shultis
of Hurley, riding a bicycle in the Town of Ulster, on April
19 and did not stop. He was arreseted on April 21 after police
traced a piece of his pickup and reports from eyewitnesses.
He pled guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of
an injury accident without reporting it on July 27.
The terms of Gilsinger’s probation will include a mandate
that he provide a DNA sample for registration and that, at
the discretion of a probation officer, he could be subject
to intense supervision, electronic monitoring and substance
abuse counseling. If Gilsinger violates any part of his probation,
he will be sentenced to 2-1/3 to seven years in state prison.
Gilsinger apologized in court to Shultis’ family and
said he fled because he was scared, panic-stricken and irrational.
Todd Thinks Small
Ulster County’s businesses are stronger than ever, and
efforts are in full swing to keep small business thriving
in the Hudson Valley region according to a speech by Ulster
County Chamber of Commerce President Ward Todd at his outfit’s
10th annual Business Showcase at the community college last
week. Todd, who is now saying that the business base in the
region is the small business, had pushed for increased tourism
and large business ventures when head of the County Legislature
five years ago.
Over 100 businesses participated in this year’s business
showcase held at Ulster County Community College in Stone
Much discussion at the event also focused on both the county’s
long slow recovery from IBM’s leaving a decade ago and,
moreover, the effects on county government spending on infrastructure
brought about by huge overruns on the county’s very
late new jail project, which was started during Todd’s
The Ulster County Law Enforcement Center committee, meanwhile,
spent its most recent meeting battling over job finishing
lists and new needs for finishing funds to cover such costs.
There are differing opinions on what needs to be done.
The hope is to start moving inmates in before year’s
The Ulster County Legislature will conduct a public hearing
on October 30 to brief county residents on the type of voting
machine lawmakers support as the county changes over to comply
with federal law. Gary Bischoff, chairman of the Efficiency,
Reform and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee has said legislators
support going one step further than the two types of machines
suggested by the state.
“It would mandate that any machines used in Ulster County
for local, state and federal elections must have a paper record
that is the actual paper manually marked by the voter.”
One machine offered by the state would have the resident vote
on a touch screen and the results logged on a paper strip
similar to a gasoline receipt. The other would have the voter
fill out a paper ballot and place it into an optical scanning
About one-third of attention deficit disorder cases among
U.S. children may be linked with tobacco smoke before birth
or to lead exposure afterward, according to new research.
Even levels of lead the government considers acceptable appeared
to increase a child’s risk of having attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, the study found.
It builds on previous research linking attention problems,
including ADHD, with childhood lead exposure and smoking during
pregnancy, and offers one of the first estimates for how much
those environmental factors might contribute.
The study’s estimate is in line with a National Academy
of Sciences report in 2000 that said about 3 percent of all
developmental and neurological disorders in U.S. children
are caused by toxic chemicals and other environmental factors
and 25 percent are due to a combination of environmental factors
ADHD is a brain disorder affecting between 4 percent and 12
percent of U.S. school-age children - or as many as 3.8 million
youngsters. Affected children often have trouble sitting still
and paying attention and act impulsively at home and at school.
Researchers are not certain about its causes but believe genetics
and environmental factors including prenatal exposure to alcohol,
tobacco or illicit drugs may play a role.
As the flu season nears, the Centers for Disease Control reports
that despite shortages in years past there should be an adequate
supply of flu vaccines this year.
“What we understand from manufacturers is that we’ll
have about 100 million doses this year, which is about 20
million more than we’ve ever had before,” said
Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the CDC, which is based in Atlanta.
Allen said there are four manufacturers that produce the flu
vaccine. The manufacturers are businesses that hope to make
a profit, so they make only as many vaccines as they hope
to sell. The flu virus changes every year and the vaccine
is only good for this year, Allen said. So, manufacturers
make a best guess.
“Influenza is very unpredictable. You don’t know
when it will hit or how severe it will be,” Allen said.
To help gauge how much vaccine to produce, manufacturers observe
flu outbreaks in the southern hemisphere, where the flu season
is in our summer months, and try to estimate from past usage.
The flu vaccine is recommended for children ages 6 months
to 5 years, people 65 or older, people who give care to those
two groups or anyone with chronic illnesses.
The largest number of vaccine ever distributed in a year is
Ulster County has ordered 2,200 vaccines. Private clinics
in Ulster County will likely occur during November and December.
Fly To FLA!
With two words – AirTran Airways – Stewart International
Airport went from the minor leagues to the majors. Senator
Charles Schumer, airline President Robert Fornaro and Stewart
President Charles Seliga announced recently that the low-cost
carrier would provide five daily flights from the Hudson Valley’s
main airport near Newburgh beginning January 11, 2007. The
airline will fly twice per day to its hub in Atlanta and once
daily each to Orlando, Fl. Lauderdale and Tampa. Introductory
fares will be in the $79 to $89 one-way range. Officials said
the service will be a win-win for both the leisure and business
traveler. The leisure traveler will be able to capitalize
on popular vacation destinations and the business person will
be able to take advantage of air fares that could be between
60 percent and 70 percent lower than the full fare carriers,
said Fornaro. AirTran will use its 117-seat, Boeing 717 jets,
the youngest fleet in the country. Schumer said the service
could be the first step toward making Stewart the fourth New
York metropolitan area airport.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation is offering to help local
residents spend more time on City-owned reservoir lands by
asking those interested in fishing, hiking and hunting licenses
to bring drivers licenses or photo IDs to the corporation’s
offices at 905 Main Street, Margaretville (Delaware County),
so a CWC staff member can go on line to secure an instant
recreational use permit. The permit and accompanying vehicle
tag will be laminated and trimmed, and a list of recreation
areas and designated uses provided right there.
The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently
eased its application process so that permits are obtainable
in just a few minutes on the internet. More than 74,000 acres
of city land is now open to the public, with 36,000 acres
available for deer hunting, 7,700 acres for small game hunting,
and 25,000 acres and 21 reservoirs available for fishing.
Hikers, snowshoers, birdwatchers, cross-country skiers and
other outdoor lovers with valid permits also have access to
thousands of acres of city
To get one’s permits online and find out which management
units are available for hunting, fishing and hiking, go to
www.nyc.gov/watershedrecreation. The minimum age of access
permit and hunting tag eligibility has been lowered from 16
to 14 with parental consent. Non-drivers must use a government
issued picture ID to obtain a permit.
Meanwhile, The CWC also is developing a new website developed
around an interactive mapping system that incorporates multi-layered
maps and links to community information, tourism sites and
geographical highlights from throughout the six-county Catskills.
On the recommendation of the Corporation’s Tourism and
Marketing Committee, the CWC is now seeking a web design consultant
to obtain the optimal promotional benefit from the maps and
information gathered on the technical GIS site. The new website
will define, promote and market the region by serving as a
directory, or umbrella, for existing websites that have already
been established by the counties and other tourism promotion
entities in the region, the CWC says.
The review of an all-terrain vehicle policy on state-owned
land has taken longer than expected, but officials with the
state Department of Environmental Conservation hope to finalize
it this fall. The policy was initially expected to be ready
at the beginning of the year, then the summer.
The policy would not be a new law governing all-terrain vehicles,
but would clarify current regulations and specify criteria
that need to be considered for environmental impacts, according
to state officials. The policy would require agency employees
to use due diligence in evaluating every opportunity for all-terrain
vehicle use on state land on a case-by-case basis.
Last year, the Department of Environmental Conservation gathered
comments throughout the state on a draft version of the policy.
The agency was supposed to use that information to come up
with a revised policy that reconciled the use of all-terrain
vehicles on state lands, while protecting environmentally
Some people felt the vehicles had no place on state land.
All-terrain vehicle owners, however, argued that they have
to pay registration fees to the state, so should be given
a place to ride in return.
The state has said it is struggling to come up with a policy
everyone can live with.
New York State Police brass in Albany have sent out an edict
stopping all plea-bargaining of traffic tickets, but the result
is that local prosecutors are finding themselves in court
far longer than in the past and simple traffic cases are appearing
to snarl the courts. Under the policy that went into effect
Sept. 1, state troopers no longer are allowed to offer plea
bargains to motorists issued traffic tickets. The state Legislature
in August passed legislation prohibiting the state police
from instituting the policy, but Gov. George Pataki vetoed
that bill and the policy was allowed to take effect.
Prosecutors say the practice of state police plea-bargaining
tickets has been sanctioned by the state Court of Appeals,
but Glen Valle, chief counsel for the state police, called
the idea of troopers plea-bargaining tickets they issue “repugnant.”
Community colleges in Ulster, Orange, Sullivan and Rockland
counties have joined together to develop the Hudson Valley
Domestic Preparedness Community College Consortium. Students
will be able to pursue a two-year associate degree at any
of the four colleges, which will be linked together via cyber
technology. The project is financed with $4 million in state
funding secured by State Senators John Bonacic and William
Bonacic said the initiative is being driven both by a post-9/11
sense of need for new ways to address homeland security, and
by sensing a desire by some high school students to pursue
a career in this area. Larkin called the program an opportunity
to bring more men and women into the emergency services and
first responder communities.
The consortium will allow students to pursue degrees in emergency
management, fire protection science, paramedic and cyber security.
The hope is some successful students will pursue four-year
The Tannersville Village Board, angry at possibly losing its
bus service as a result of recent road closures, has adopted
a resolution opposing a plan by Adirondack Trailways to discontinue
service to Tannersville and Haines Falls. If the company drops
its Haines Falls and Tannersville service, sticking with its
current routes through Palenville to Windham and to Hunter,
they say, the nearest stops for people in those communities
would be Palenville and Hunter, respectively.
The change, according to a notice from bus company, would
allow the company to provide new services to Cairo, Acra,
Durham and Windham and resume service in Saugerties and Palenville.
Anne Noonan, vice president of marketing and traffic for Adirondack
Trailways, which is based in Kingston, said the company wants
to establish new services to Cairo and Lexington and move
off the routes that use state Route 23A, part of which has
been closed for more than three months.
She said the company has not been able to serve Haines Falls
and Tannersville so it decided to change its routes, and found
its temporary route to Hunter via Phoenicia and Lanesville
“We think there’s a bigger market in Cairo than
there currently is in Haines Falls and Tannersville,”
Noonan said the bus company is working with the state Department
of Transportation to obtain public comment about the route
changes and would have to get operating authority from the
state to make the planned changes.
The town of Shandaken has entered into a five year lease agreement
with Mount Tremper landowner Dean Gitter to use Gitter’s
soccer field. The measure was passed at the town board’s
October 2 session, but not without some dissension. Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr. failed to supply the board with a copy of
the lease for review but asked for a vote anyway, causing
some town board members to question the arrangement.
A draft of the lease shows that the town will be responsible
for mowing and maintaining the property and includes a mysterious
requirement that the town not file the lease with the County
of Ulster or any other entity other than the ShandakenTown
Clerk’s office and the office of the Supervisor. Filing
it with the county would make the lease immediately void.
Cross explained that the lease was to allow all local organizations
to use the field, including the Onteora School District, which
has already been using the premises for soccer activities.
But things went into an uproar when Councilman Robert Stanley
complained that the decision to sign the lease was made in
an informal meeting on August 28th between Cross, Gitter,
and local newspaperman Blake Killin. Holding aloft a stack
of e-mails that were between Killin and local Soccer Coach
Chris Fisher, Stanley angrily quoted phrases such as “it’s
a done deal’ and guarantees that such a measure would
“I’d like to know why Mr. Killin knew about this
before I did,” Stanley said. “I’m a town
Other board members claimed no knowledge of the deal being
reached, Cross however, acknowledged that he did have a meeting
with Killin and Gitter about the matter.
The measure passed, with Stanley and Peter DiSclafani voting
no. Stanley said it was ridiculous to vote on a five year
commitment without seeing the details. Cross said it was okay
to decide because the town attorney was going to look the
This marks the latest chapter for the infamous soccer field.
Plagued with problems from the get go, it was created 5 years
ago for Shandaken Area Youth Sports, a local non-profit group
that ran a popular soccer program and needed larger facilities.
Neighbors of the field tried to stop the project and failed,
but along the way forced SAYS to get a special use permit
to use the premises, complete with several conditions that
severely restricted use of the field, where cars could be
parked, who could use it and what dates and times it could
be used. The lease ended in July.
SAYS wanted to extend it for another five years but, according
to Donna Fischer, a member of the organizations board of directors,
Gitter denied the request but indicated he would allow soccer
to continue anyway. Fischer claims this arrangement created
problems that led to no soccer program this year.
“Our Special Use Permit states that the Special Use
Permit would expire the day the lease does and would be renewed
if the lease was renewed,” said Fischer in a prepared
statement. “I wanted people to fully understand why
SAYS will no longer run recreational soccer for the town of
Cross believes SAYS can run the program under the town’s
lease. The season however, is almost over.
Former Ulster County Sheriff Michael LaPaglia, a leading Republican,
has endorsed Democratic sheriff candidate Paul Van Blarcum.
He will face Republican candidate Kevin Costello in next month’s
LaPaglia, who was the longest tenured sheriff in Ulster County
history, said Van Blarcum is the best candidate for the post,
given his 30 years with the sheriff’s office.
The race is not about politics, but about the most qualified
person for the job, LaPaglia said. “The former sheriff
said he may get some heat from fellow Republicans for crossing
party lines, “but, I’m used to that.”
Ulster County Democratic Party Chairman John Parete said there
is no Democrat, Republican, Conservative or Independence Party
way to run the sheriff’s department.
Costello, a retired lieutenant with the State Police Bureau
of Criminal Investigation, was endorsed by retiring Sheriff
The Arts Upstairs!
The Arts Upstairs Gallery announces the opening of its next
show, Open Show, on Saturday, Oct 21, with a reception for
artists, patrons, and friends from 6 pm until 10. As always,
the theme of the show is optional - all work is accepted,
depending on space limitations. The opening party will feature
a pot-luck buffet - please feel free to bring a dish or beverage,
or make a contribution. Drof off for the show is this upcoming
weekend during regular gallery hours - Friday Oct 13 from
3 to 6, Saturday, Oct 14 from 10 to 6, and Sunday, Oct 15
from 10 to 4. The Arts Upstairs Gallery is located at 60 Main
Street, Phoenicia. For more info call them at 688-2142.
Although gas prices at the pump have fallen back in recent
days, Congressman Maurice Hinchey warns they will go up again,
and most likely after Election Day.
Those prices may have declined, but by varying amounts depending
upon where you are in the Hudson Valley. Westchester, Rockland,
Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties must include ethanol
in their gas, which drives the cost up by well over 25 cents
per gallon. So, in Ulster County, pump prices are lower to
Hinchey blames the prices, high or lower, on the lack of competition
among US gas companies, which he said are making record profits
for their top executives.
“Although the prices have dropped back, they are still
not where they ought to be,” he said. “If we had
a fair, organized system here that did not permit this kind
of monopolization and no competition by price by these corporations,
then the American public would be paying less for gasoline
than we are paying today and we wouldn’t be facing the
likelihood that these gas prices would be jumping up again
Hinchey said the Congress has failed in its responsibility
to regulate the monopolistic oil companies.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced
that Citgo, the U.S.-based refining arm of Venezuela’s
state-run oil company, plans to more than double the amount
of heating oil it is making available under a program to aid
poorer communities in the U.S. to 100 million gallons this
winter, up from 40 million gallons. He said the oil will reach
people in 17 states including all of the Northeast, Alaska,
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, Maryland,
and the cities of Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Chavez started the heating oil program last winter, accusing
Bush of neglecting the poor. Citgo says up to 1.2 million
people will benefit this winter.
The United States continues to be the top buyer of Venezuelan
oil, bringing the South American country billions of dollars
in earnings that help fund Chavez’s popular social programs.