Briefs June 22, 2006)
The Onteora School Board, which reorganizes with new member
Maxanne Resnick replacing retiring Lev Flournoy on July 11,
has been busy of late interviewing candidates for a new district-wide
superintendent to replace the late Justine Winters, who retired
this past winter before succumbing to cancer last month. They’ve
also been completely close-mouthed about who they’ve
been talking top, what they’re learning, where they’re
leaning and who the top contenders might be for the job, which
they hope to full before summer’s end.
It is unknown, for instance, whether Interim Superintendent
Jack Jordon of Pine Hill, a former candidate for the school
board, is in the running.
Jordon was hired a few weeks ago to replace Peter Ferrara
of Ellenville, who resigned in the face of inquiries into
problems he ran into with federal authorities tied to his
approach towards Special Education issues in his former district.
Special Education cuts proved one of the key controversies
within the Onteora community during the most recent budget/election
cycle, completed in May.
All we can report, for now, is that two Meet the Candidate
sessions have been scheduled by the Board, without specific
names attached, for the coming week.
On Tuesday, June 27, one candidate will be presented in a
special session at the Middle/High School cafeteria, starting
at 7 pm. A second candidate will then be presented at the
same time and location on Thursday, June 29.
All who attend the sessions will be given brief resumes for
each candidate, as well as a “Reaction Form” to
be filled out and returned at the session’s end.
“Let your opinion count,” reads the press release
from the Board of Education for the upcoming sessions.
Heed their words and be there!
A Coalition Again
After several months of thumb twiddling the Coalition of Watershed
Town’s Executive Committee rolled up it’s shirtsleeves
and got back to work Monday, June 19th when the once-powerful
advocacy group found out it is still greatly needed by the
As the agency gears up to go to the federal Environmental
Protection Agency to discuss whether the City of New York
should continue to be allowed to avoid building an ultra-expensive
water filtration system, the Executive Committee is getting
reams of information from regional representatives showing
what the City should be forced to do in order to dodge that
$8 billion dollar bullet for at least a few more years.
On Monday, June 19, the committee got into specifics on many
issues, including Phoenicia’s Waste Treatment troubles,
Olive’s apprehension about a Boiceville sewer system
and the possible meddling by the City in polices toward the
region’s popular septic replacement program, to name
a few. And along the way they heard a horror story from one
Delaware County businessman who claims that a program he got
involved with that wasn’t supposed to cost him a dime
is now costing about $350,000 a year.
The Coalition and it’s attorney, Jeff Baker, are absorbing
the information for when they speak with EPA representatives
over the next few weeks to lay out what they want the City
to pay for in the region as a trade off for continuing strict
prohibitions. The New York State Department of Health has
some say in the City’s Filtration Avoidance issue too,
and Baker reported at the recent gathering that an initial
meeting with State Health officials showed the agency to be
“generally supportive” of the Coalition’s
Shandaken Supervisor Robert Cross Jr., trying to make good
on a promise to Phoenicia, succeeded in convincing the Coalition
to demand the City pay for all operation and maintenance costs
for not only Phoenicia’s system, but for all systems
in the watershed being built under the same program. The Executive
Committee unanimously agreed after Olive Councilman Bruce
LaMonda chimed in with Cross, saying that Olive was worried
that a similar system on tap for Boiceville may kill most
of the businesses in that hamlet with high annual costs.
The demand for the City’s payment of those costs is
the second such item Cross has successfully put on the bargaining
table. He recently convinced the Coalition to demand that
the City also pay for all the hook up costs that private landowners
are responsible for under the current terms of the program.
The average cost per household is expected to be $2500. That
is, of course, if Phoenicia decides to participate in the
While Ulster County Legislator Peter Kraft has proposed a
kind of bed-and-breakfast behind bars, charging the public
for a chance to stay overnight in the nearly completed Law
Enforcement Center, a more serious alternative for the fate
of the old county jail being replaced as legislatures have
started looking into a proposal to turn the space, at some
point to become redundant, as a new jail for U.S. Immigration
According to legislator Gary Bischoff, a proposal will be
Kraft, of Glenford, said his plan would give the public an
up-close look at the $86.16 million jail construction project
and raise money to restore funding to county programs that
have suffered budget cuts in recent months. Ulster County
Sheriff J. Richard Bockelmann had suggested a sleepover for
legislators last year to check out the facilities before inmates
were brought in. That proposal never took hold, and the project
has yet to be fully completed.
No date has been set for inmates to be transferred to the
new facility from the old jail on Golden Hill Drive. In the
meantime, county officials are negotiating with contractors
over $20.04 million in claims that could push the project
cost over $100 million. The project was originally estimated
to cost $53 million.
Meanwhile, Bischoff also noted that he and a number of legislators
recently got locked into the new jail’s communications
room for several hours recently before figuring out a computer
code to free themselves.
Hit And Run
Joseph Gilsinger; 40, the driver who was charged with hitting
and killing a bicyclist on Route 28 in April, was indicted
by a grand jury with leaving the scene of an incident without
reporting — a class D felony comparable to vehicular
homicide. Ulster County District Attorney Donald Williams
said that Gilsinger, of Mount Tremper, earned the felony charge
because of his efforts to flee the scene and avoid capture
in the April 19 death of Richard “Ricky” Shultis.
Gilsinger allegedly struck Shultis as the latter was riding
one bicycle and towing another eastbound on Route 28 in the
Town of Ulster. Through witness accounts, evidence collected
at the scene and a picture published in lo-cal media of a
vehicle similar to the one believed to have struck Shultis
led to Gilsinger’s arrest.
Jed Peterson of Shokan has been awarded the Louis Sudler Prize,
Princeton University’s highest award for excellence
in the arts, recognizing Peterson’s achievements as
an actor and director and his contributions to the artistic
life of the campus and community. While at Princeton, the
awardwinner worked in some thirty-six productions, as actor,
dancer, director or writer. He served two terms as artistic
director of the Princeton Summer Theater, wrote, performed
and toured in Princeton’s famous Triangle Show, and
starred in the inaugural University production at the new
Roger S. Berlind Theater, where he later directed an acclaimed
staging of Romeo and Juliet. One day after receiving the Sudler
Prize, Peterson graduated from Princeton and flew to Utah
to join the Utah Shakespearean Festival, where he will open
later this month in Room Service and Hamlet.
Onteora senior Catherine Hernandez addressed the OCS school
board at its June 6 meeting about a mandatory alcohol Breathalyzer
test for all students upon entering this year’s prom.
“At the pinnacle of our high school career on the night
that we are celebrating our success of graduating, you are
going to degrade us by treating us like inmates,” she
voiced angrily. “Prom is a night when we’re supposed
to be celebrating our accomplishments of the past four years
and we’re deserving of the respect and opportunity to
feel that pride, but what do we have to be proud of when you
look at us like we are drug addicts.”
She noted that she understands that it is for safety reasons.
“…but if somebody is showing up at the prom and
they are dangerously drunk, then I’m pretty sure it’s
going to be obvious.”
School board president Dave Patterson said he believed the
mandatory Breathalyzer test was used at one other dance and
thought it was a decision made at the administrators level.
Interim superintendent Jack Jordan said, “This is the
first I have heard about this…” and asked to meet
with Vice Principal Gabriel Buono, Health Director Robin Sears,
Hernandez and a few of her friends to resolve the problem.
Later after the board meeting Jordan expressed his views:
“Personally I think you need a reasonable suspicion…
morally and ethically, I don’t think it is the right
thing to do.”
He noted that he is not against having an alcohol screening
devise at the prom, but believes it should be used only based
on suspicion and if students are made aware of the devise
in advance, so they may then think twice about drinking alcohol.
In other recent matters, Board President Dave Patterson said
the board’s facilities committee met with KSQ architects
regarding capital project plans. He said that they are looking
at three different school campus configurations, along with
costs associated with the plans.
“At one point the facilities committee will probably
be recommending to the board which of the plans we will be
exploring in more detail and in more depth,” he said.
“We are meeting again at the end of this month, to look
at some of those revisions and more specific things, so we
feel comfortable bringing it to the board and the public.”
The DEP will auction boats that have been abandoned on City
water supply lands, starting next week. The City allows the
storage of boats on water supply property for fishing, provided
the boats are steam cleaned and meet certain other requirements.
There are currently over 10,000 boats on the shores of 19
City reservoirs. Occasionally, boats with expired permits
are left for many years without being used. The DEP will then
remove that boat for auction. Since 2003, DEP has auctioned
off 1.635 boats.
The DEP plans to hold a Fathers Day boat auction each year,
starting in 2007, notifying people via its auction notification
list of over 300 people.
The current auction includes 502 boats in lots ranging from
1 to 98 boats. Bids are due by June 26, 2006. Boats are available
for viewing at DEP Land Management offices in Schoharie, Grahamsville,
Shokan and Mahopac, where bid solicitation. Please contact
the offices for information at: Schoharie (607) 588-6231,
Grahamsville (845) 985-0386, Shokan (845) 657-2663, Mahopac
(914) 232-1309. Call (800) 575-LAND to be put on the auction
The Board of Trustees of Ulster County Community College has
announced that tuition rates for 2006-2007 will remain the
same as 2005-2006 for both full-time and part-time students.
Current fees for full-time students (12 credits or more) who
are residents of Ulster County are $1,600 per semester. Residents
of other New York State counties must provide a Certificate
of Residency from their county to obtain this rate. All other
full-time students pay $3,200 per semester. Tuition rates
for part-time students (fewer than 12 credit hours) are $107
per credit hour for all Ulster County residents and residents
of other New York State counties who provide a Certificate
of Residency. Other part-time students pay $214 per credit
hour. High-school students in the Collegian program (formerly
the Bridge program) pay $37 per credit hour. Special students
taking off-site courses may be eligible for a tuition rate
of $69 per credit hour.
Administrated! Ulster County Deputy Treasurer Michael P. Hein,
40, has beenappointed to a two-year term as county administrator,
replacing Arthur Smith, 5, a two-year appointment whose term
would have expired June 30, but an employee who will remain
as deputy administrator, a position he held under former Administrator
William Darwak for more than a decade before being appointed
administrator when Darwak retired two years ago.
Smith will take a $20,694-per-year pay cut, to $74,019. Hein
was making $64,228 as deputy treasurer and will be paid $5,000
less than Smith’s $94,713 salary as administrator. The
choices were made from a folder of 34 submitted resumes and
The Ulster County administrator is responsible for the day-to-day
supervision of a $300 million county budget and also prepares
the annual budget for legislative review and approval.
Hein, appointed deputy treasurer in 2003, repeatedly warned
the Legislature of the county’s deteriorating financial
position and recommended steps he thought necessary to stabilize
That Logo Again...
Promoters of the original 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel
have sold exclusive licensing and brand rights to Signatures
Network, a music licensing agency, according to a June 12
article in Brandweek magazine.
It was reported that Signatures has plans to market Woodstock
with selections in apparel, accessories, home decor and other
categories. The product line is scheduled to be released next
fall with men’s and women’s knit tops and denim,
according to Brandweek. Then Signature will launch a line
of women’s sportswear, peasant tops and skirts.
“I’ve been looking for a long time to fmd a positive
theme that represents the spirit of the ’60s, and its
been staring me in the face the whole time,” Dell Furano,
CEO at Signatures said in the article. “Woodstock’s
recognition factor is enormous worldwide.”
The agreement does not include rights to market some of the
artists that appeared at the Sullivan County festival. Signatures
Network obtained the licensing rights from promoters Michael
Lang and Joel Rosenman.
Hydro Aluminum, which manufactures precision aluminum tubing,
is selling its Ellenville plant, leaving the fate of 300 employees
in question. The local facility, part of Hydro’s Extrusion
North America Unit, is one of 10 in the United States and
Mexico that supplies fabricated aluminum components to building,
transportation and capital equipment markets throughout the
United States. The unit employs 3,000 people.
“Following a portfolio review, we have decided to prioritize
other production facilities,” said Martin Carter, president
of the Extrusion North America Unit.
The other part of the Ellenville operation is a casthouse
that employs another 60 workers. The casthouse, which produces
extrusion ingot from recycled aluminum and serves both the
adjacent plant and outside customers, is not formally up for
sale, but could be used as a bargaining chip if an interested
party wants to purchase both facilities, company officials
said. Additionally, the company plans to production of organic
photoconductor tubing to its St. Augustine plant by late August
or early September, but Brown said that no layoffs will be
made at that time. In April, the company laid off 24 employees
The average employee makes $15.50 per hour at the plant. Although
the primary intent of the business is to keep its current
staff while the sale is pending - viewing the staff as an
asset to a potential buyer - those seeking transfer to another
division of the business will be informed of such opportunities
as they come along, Brown said.
More than half of U.S. streams are polluted, with the worst
conditions found in the eastern third of the country, according
to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In its first-ever study of shallow or “wadeable”
streams, the agency found 42 percent were in poor condition,
and another 25 percent were considered fair. Only 28 percent
were in good condition, EPA said. Another 5 percent were not
analyzed because of sampling problems in New England.
Streams running in the East, from the Atlantic coast through
the Appalachian Mountains, fared the worst, with 52 percent
listed as poor. In contrast, 45 percent of streams running
west of the Rocky Mountains were the least polluted, the report
Streams in 48 states were sampled from 2000 to 2004. The EPA
plans to extend the study to Alaska and Hawaii.
The survey found activities such as farming and logging helped
raise the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in the water..
Those chemicals promote the growth of plants and algae that
gobble up oxygen. That, in turn, kills aquatic life. At the
extreme those conditions could create “dead zones”
in streams, similar to one in the Gulf of Mexico where fishermen
have given up catching any live fish.
“We passed the Clean Water Act 35 years ago, and this
is the first time we’ve taken a look at our small rivers
and streams,” noted one reviewer of the new report.
“It took too long.”
The Ulster County Development Corporation (UCDC) and the Chamber
of Commerce of Ulster County (Chamber) are seeking nominations
for their 2nd Annual Business Recognition Awards. The awards
recognize Ulster County entrepreneurs and businesses that
are leaders in their field, have realized outstanding achievements
over the past year, or have shown dedication and commitment
to furthering business in Ulster County. Awards will be given
in the following categories: Entrepreneur or Businessperson
of the Year; Business of the Year; Small Business of the Year;
Cultural Business of the Year; Building Project of the Year;
Tourism or Hospitality Business of the Year
The application period is now through August 18, 2006. Nomination
forms must be submitted to the office of UCDC at 5 Development
Court, Kingston, New York, no later than 5:00 P.M. on August
18th. A committee of UCDC and Chamber representatives will
evaluate nominations. Winners will be recognized at a dinner
held on October 19, 2005 at the Wiltwyck Golf Club in Kingston,
Additional information about the awards and the nomination
forms are available by contacting Irene MacPherson at UCDC
at 845-338-8840 or email@example.com.
The FDA has approved the first skin patch to treat attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.
The patch called Daytrana, designed to be worn for 9 hours,
contains methylphenidate, which has been shown to help children
with ADHD. It is the same stimulant that is in Ritalin. The
patch is made by Noven Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Miami.
In December, a Food and Drug Administration panel of independent
experts voted to recommend that the patch’s label encourage
its use as an alternative treatment for children ages 6 to
12 with ADHD, meaning doctors should prescribe it only if
taking pills is too difficult for a child. Unlike pill forms
of the drug, the patch can be removed if it causes side effects.
Noven Pharmaceuticals in 2003 submitted a 12-hour version
of the patch to the FDA. The agency rejected it and recommended
that Noven test a nine-hour version.
Nearly 3.3 million Americans age 19 and younger used an ADHD
drug last year. The FDA continues to grapple with whether
to require more severe warnings on the labels of the drugs.
Bad As Saddam
Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under
Saddam Hussein, as lawlessness and sectarian violence sweep
the country, the former U.N. human rights chief in Iraq has
John Pace, who last month left his post as director of the
human rights office at the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq,
said the level of extra-judicial executions and torture is
soaring, and morgue workers are being threatened by both government-backed
militia and insurgents not to properly investigate deaths.
“Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right
to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically
more or less OK,” Pace said in an interview with The
Associated Press. “But now, no. Here, you have a primitive,
chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want
Pace, who was born in Malta but now resides in Australia,
said that while the scale of atrocity under Saddam was “daunting,”
now nobody is safe from abuse.
“It is certainly as bad,” he said. “It extends
over a much wider section of the population than it did under
Pace, who spent much of his two years in the post in Iraq,
said he visited the morgue in Baghdad once a week when he
was in the city and regarded it as a “barometer”
of the level of violence in the country. He declined to provide
more specific details about the threats, citing fears for
the safety of morgue workers. He said that around three-quarters
of the several hundred bodies brought to the morgue each month
were categorized with “gunshot wound” as the cause
of death _ a phrase Pace says is a euphemism. “Nearly
all were executed and tortured,” he added.
Meanwhile, the top U.S. general in Iraq has ordered American
commanders to conduct core values training on moral and ethical
standards on the battlefield.
Army Gen. George W. Casey’s order came as the U.S. military
investigated whether U.S. Marines might have intentionally
killed unarmed civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha on Nov.
19. The killings, in which victims included women and children,
followed a bomb attack on a military convoy that killed a
Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps
Iraq, said in a statement the training would emphasize “professional
military values and the importance of disciplined, professional
conduct in combat” as well as Iraqi cultural expectations.
“As military professionals, it is important that we
take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our
enemies,” Chiarelli said. “The challenge for us
is to make sure the actions of a few do not tarnish the good
work of the many.”
Coffee may counteract alcohol’s poisonous effects on
the liver and help prevent cirrhosis, researchers say. In
a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per
day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four
cups per day reduced the risk by 80 percent. The coffee effect
held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds.
It is unclear whether it is the caffeine or some other ingredient
in coffee that provides the protection.
The participants ranged from teetotalers, who made up 12 percent
of the total, to heavy drinkers, who made up 8 percent. The
researchers calculated the risk reductions rate for the whole
group, not just the drinkers.
Not all heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, an irreversible
scarring of the liver that hurts the organ’s ability
to filter toxins from the blood. Hepatitis C and some inherited
diseases can also cause cirrhosis. But the study found coffee
did not protect the liver against those other causes of scarring.
The same study found coffee drinkers had healthier results
on blood tests used to measure liver function, whether or
not they were heavy alcohol users. Coffee’s effect on
reducing liver enzymes in the blood was more apparent among
the heavy drinkers in the study.
At the same time, chocolate lovers also have reason to rejoice.
A new study hints that eating milk chocolate may boost brain
Chocolate contains many substances that act as stimulants,
such as theobromine, phenethylamine, and caffeine, it has
been reported, substances that by themselves have previously
been found to increase alertness and attention.
“By consuming chocolate you can get the stimulating
effects, which then lead to increased mental performance,”
reads the new report baed on a group of volunteers consuming,
on four separate occasions, 85 grams of milk chocolate; 85
grams of dark chocolate; 85 grams of carob; and nothing (the
After a 15-minute digestive period, participants completed
a variety of computer-based neuropsychological tests designed
to assess cognitive performance including memory, attention
span, reaction time, and problem solving.
“Composite scores for verbal and visual memory were
significantly higher for milk chocolate than the other conditions,”
the report found. And consumption of milk and dark chocolate
was associated with improved impulse control and reaction
A judge said recently that he is likely to prohibit the state
of California from requiring that high school seniors pass
an exit exam to graduate, siding with attorneys who say the
test discriminates against the poor.
A group of high school students and their parents sued the
state Department of Education in February, seeking a preliminary
injunction to halt giving the exam to this year’s senior
class. It’s the first class required to pass the exam
to earn a diploma. The prohibition was based on the plaintiffs’
argument that all California students do not have access to
the same quality of education.
Special education students who sued the state over the exit
exam won a one-year exemption while the state comes up with
an alternative for them.
Education and courts watchers are predicting the matter to
effect New York’s own regent’s exams once it goes
up to the U.S. Supreme Court in coming years.
All Fired Up
The National Rifle Association has launched a new campaign
demanding that police chiefs and mayors pledge to never confiscate
weapons from law-abiding citizens in the wake of disasters
such as hurricanes or terrorist attacks.
“We are going to ask every mayor and every police chief
in America to take a pledge that they will never go door-to-door
confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens,” said
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA. “We’re
also going to go to state legislatures and Congress to pass
legislation to make it a federal and a state crime for anyone
that gives those orders and carries them out,” he added.
The NRA, one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in
Washington, said its members are outraged by stories of rampant
gun confiscation by New Orleans law enforcement in the wake
of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Gun control advocates greeted the news of the NRA’s
new campaign with outrage.
“This shows the NRA at its worst, at its most extreme,”
said Sen. Charles Schumer, a longtime advocate of gun control.
“To put handcuffs around police officers who are doing
their jobs for some crazy way-out-there view that police officers
want to confiscate guns of law-abiding citizens is to make
a mistake. If I were Mayor Bloomberg or [New York] Police
Chief [Ray] Kelly, or any other law enforcement officer, I’d
say to the NRA, ‘Make my day.’”
The NRA intends to make this a major issue in the midterm
elections this November. The NRA said that starting in October,
it would buy television time in targeted states to run an
NRA television show that would include testimonies from Louisiana
gun owners about gun confiscation.
Funds All Gone
The main conduit for American rebuilding aid - the Iraq Relief
and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) - is scheduled to close at
the end of this year. Almost all the cash Congress has allocated
for the fund, some $20 billion in all, has been spent, or
will be, in coming months.
Yet many important efforts remain unfinished, for reasons
ranging from insurgent attacks to incompetence and contractor
corruption. More than 75 percent of oil and gas restoration
projects are incomplete, as are 50 percent of electrical and
40 percent of water and sanitation projects, according to
the April report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq
The bottom line: Iraqis are facing what US officials call
a “reconstruction gap” as they assume responsibility
for rebuilding. Meeting already-identified needs might require
a further $18 billion to $28 billion, according to one estimate.
Domestic Iraqi resources, and aid from countries other than
the US, might help close this gap. But some experts say that
additional US funds - beyond what’s currently planned
- might be needed, or crucial goals could remain unmet.
“You don’t want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish
here,” says Steven Kosiak, director of budget studies
at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, it took control of a nation
with a ruined economy and infrastructure. In the 1970s, Iraq’s
per-capita income was close to that of Spain. Since then it
has dropped to that of a sub-Saharan African nation.
US budget plans don’t call for big additions to the
money already spent. For fiscal 2007, the US requested $770
million in reconstruction funds - and a House committee has
trimmed that by $200 million pending final passage. US officials
are pressing other nations to pay up pledges of aid they’ve
already made. But a reasonable estimate of the money still
needed is $18 billion to $28 billion, according to Mr. Kosiak,
and total foreign aid pledges are only $13 billion.
“Even assuming ... that this gap could be covered by
drawing equally upon US, international, and Iraqi resources,
this suggests that an additional $5 billion to $10 billion
in US reconstruction assistance might need to be provided,”
he wrote in an analysis of reconstruction earlier this year.