Briefs August 17, 2006)
What with the school season about to start, and the hazards
of winter driving not far behind, local road closures have
been on people’s minds of late… and in Olive,
feisty town that it is, the subject of a growing petition
drive to have at least one thoroughfare closed for several
years now re-opened sometime in the foreseeable future.
The biggest potential closure headache, involving the detouring
of Route 28 through Woodstock or some other route so deep
culverts under the well-used highway in the Boiceville area,
damaged by flooding in late June, is still up in the air with
state Department of Transportation spokespeople saying there’s
nothing to say… and inferring too much may have been
According to Olive supervisor Bert Leifeld, he’s been
in regular touch with state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and state
Senator John Bonacic, recently at odds with the town over
Large Parcel and other issues, about the possible 28 closure.
But to date… nada.
As for the petition drive to reopen Monument Road, cut off
for the last few years for “security reasons”
according to New York City, under whose jurisdiction the reservoir
roads run, Leifeld said he was simply going along with others’
wishes that the town help find a solution for the major inconvenience.
The petitions ask that the city look into setting up a permit
process for local residents so their security concerns can
As for such a move’s legality – essentially making
a public road private – Leifeld said he was told by
the subcommittee of Olive Matters that came to him that they
had found a lawyer who could explain their case, if the town
would back them by helping contact the right people at the
NYC Department of Environmental Protection… and foot
some of the lawyers’ bills.
“It was a citizen’s group, headed by Vince Barringer,
that went to Olive Matters. They brought the matter to us
and nothing was happening,” Leifeld explained. We put
up $5,000 for a lawyer, Dell Seligman, to write a letter to
the city with the proposal.
The supervisor said that had gone out last week. But no word
back has been heard, and may not be for some time.
As for rumors that Reservoir Road from Winchell’s Corners
over the dividing weir might be closed for repairs, Leifeld
said such matters were raised as one of many possibilities
in a recent meeting of engineers… but that nothing more
had come of it.
“It ended up in some dumb ass article,” he said,
“all about raising the dividing weir five feet. Scared
a lot of people.”
He said as far as he’s heard, the only repairs that
have been done were the fitting in of several “splash
boards” in the arches of the weir.
“We’ll let you know when there’s something
real,” he added.
Gitter Vs All?
State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi recently raised serious concerns
about the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, prompting
the resort’s developer to disparage the state official,
along with a number of other governmental figures, as being
“out of touch” and basically anti-development.
The report issued last week by. Hevesi says developer Crossroads
Ventures “understates the potential environmental impacts
and economic risks of the project” because of “faulty
assumptions regarding profitability and comparable developments
in other areas.”
“The Belleayre Resort project appears to be a speculative
venture that may well endanger existing resource uses and
end up placing unacceptable burdens on state, city and local
taxpayers,” Hevesi wrote, including a warning that any
environmental damage caused by the resort could derail the
current agreement between New York City and various upstate
communities and agencies to protect the drinking water that
the city draws from reservoirs in the Catskills.
“The city of New York is currently operating under a
‘memorandum of understanding’ with the federal
Environmental Protection Agency that requires the city to
either preserve the quality of the water in its watershed
or, if it cannot do so, build a filtration system estimated
(in 1999) to cost $6 billion,” Hevesi wrote. “The
Belleayre project ignores this ‘filtration avoidance
determination’ and threatens to expose the city to huge
additional capital expenses at a time when the costs of maintaining
and repairing the existing water supply system are becoming
Catskill Center executive director Tom Alworth, spokesman
for the Catskill Preservation Coalition of 11 national, state
and regional environmental organizations, was pleased with
the report’s focus on economic impacts.
“There have been many damning criticisms of the Belleayre
Development,” Alworth said. “While the dire environmental
impacts have received much of the press, finally the economic
fallacy of the project has also been exposed. Experts (working
for the coalition) raised many of the same criticisms of the
economics and secondary impacts of the resort. There is now
independent confirmation by the comptroller ... that this
development project presents serious environmental and economic
problems to go along with secondary development and quality-of-life
Leaders of other organizations in CPC concurred with Alworth’s
Chris Wilde from Riverkeeper noted that the turbidity of Catskill
streams has reached the crisis point and said that building
the proposed mega-resort “would be a turbidity disaster.”
From Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading wild fish
conservation organization, area member Roy Hochberg focused
on local fishing waters. “The proposed resort would
harm two drainages that contain storied American fishing streams—and
could affect adversely the wild fish that live there,”
“This sprawling mega-resort simply does not belong here,”
added Richard Schaedle, chairman of the grassroots Catskill
Heritage Alliance. “Our wilderness environment is our
most precious asset, in terms of both our community life and
our economic potential. Let’s find some kind of development
that will highlight that asset, not destroy it irrevocably.”
Among other things, Hevesi’s report states: The developer’s
measurement of investment profitability is flawed and appears
to have been used to inflate required income estimates to
justify a large-scale development and discourage discussion
about smaller-scale alternatives. The developer’s business
plan assumes that a major resort operator, such as Marriott
or Starwood, would be interested in the facilities. However,
there is no indication that these or other companies have
expressed interest. The project’s impact in the Catskill
Park would upset the current balance between recreational
use and environmental protection, and also could necessitate
major improvements in transportation infrastructure. Speaking
for Crossroads, spokesman Paul Rakov said, “Congressman
Hinchey and State Comptroller Hevesi are out of the loop.
They have based their latest attempt to derail the Belleayre
Resort on out of date information.”
He noted a new compromise plan Crossroads has supposedly delivered
to the dereal Environmental Protection Agency but not yet
shared with any other agencies or the press as a sign of compromise
(see cover story).
“I should explain why we aren’t announcing our
new concepts to you,” Rakov added. “ It is because
they are exactly that...concepts. We are continuing our talks
with key regulatory agencies. If they don’t approve
new plans, then there is no need to announce something that
has no chance of seeing the light of day. When we are confident
that we have even tentative support from the regulatory agencies,
we will then meet with environmental, business and government
leaders to lay out the new future of the Belleayre Resort.
As for the adjudicatory process the resort has been in for
over a year now… initiated when a state law judge ruled
that a dozen issues involving the Crossroads’ proposal
go before a court, and Crossroads appealed, Rakov was equally
“To date, we are still embroiled in a lengthy environmental
review process as required by the State,” he said. “Mr.
Hinchey is not part of that process. Mr. Hevesi is not part
of the process. It would be well for them to stop roiling
the waters — it is they, not us, who are kicking up
dirt and generating turbidity.”
As he said… stay tuned.
While conducting a routine inspection of the high school on
Friday, August 11, BOCES health and safety coordinator Mike
O’Rourke found a mysterious substance in the science
office that resulted in an evacuation of the school.
According to Interim superintendent Jack Jordan, the substance
was found in the office of the chemistry lab. He said it was
in two small vials and became a hazardous material after it
had been sitting there for a long time and crystallized.
“They estimated it might have been there for at least
ten years,” he said. Afraid if dropped and broken it
could become a health hazard, Jordan they emptied the building
said as a precaution while the material was being removed.
On another hazardous material note, asbestos is being removed
from the high school hallway on the side of Route 28. Jordan
said they have sectioned that area off and are following procedures
on its removal to block off every part of the building, ventilators
The asbestos removal is on schedule and should be completed
by next week.
Local Watershed officials are lauding the recent announcement
that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection
has amended its watershed recreation rules and increased opportunities
for hunting, fishing, boating and the use of motor vehicles
on the vast holdings of the City within the Watershed region,
which covers territory within the counties of Ulster, Greene,
Delaware, Sullivan and Schoharie.
The news was announced by Emily Lloyd, the Commissioner of
the City’s Department of Environmental Protection, at
the Delaware County Fair in the town of Walton.
“For the past several years, the Department has been
working with local and county governments and sporting groups
to expand recreational activities and access to DEP land,
Lloyd said. “In making these changes, we are eager to
work with upstate communities and organizations to expand
the role that New York City watershed lands can play in encouraging
tourism and economic development in the Catskills.”
Alan Rosa, the Executive Director of the Catskill Watershed
Corporation and also an avid hunter, was on hand at the fair
to hear the news.
“The move to increase access to City lands is good news
not only to hunters and sportsmen, but to hikers, snowshoers,
birdwatchers, cross country skiers — everyone who enjoys
the outdoors,” said Rosa. “This will boost economic
development by bringing in tourist dollars as well.”
Rosa was also pleased that Access Permits will be available
instantaneously through the Department’s watershed Web
site: www.nyc.gov/watershedrecreation. Previously the City
was criticized by sportsman who claimed the permit process
Lloyd added that her department has increased its hunting
areas this year by over 4,000 acres and now has over 36,000
acres open for deer hunting. The Department’s new hunting
program for small game, turkey and bear will take place on
21 parcels totaling over 7,700 acres, and will be expanded
next year. A total of over 74,000 acres of DEP lands are open
to the public, with over 25,000 acres and 21 reservoirs or
controlled lakes available for fishing.
New rules include: Lowering the minimum age for Access Permit
and Hunt Tag from 16 to 14; the permitting of hunting with
handguns; the creation of a Public Area designation that will
allow entry to historic use areas without an Access Permit.,
and the allowing of unleashed dogs under certain conditions.
The Ulster County Legislature, Ulster County Development Corporation
(UCDC), Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA)
and Ulster County Planning Board (UCPB) recently announced
the formal initiation of a collaborative effort to create
a new strategic economic development vision and plan for Ulster
County. This effort will identify and prioritize desired outcomes
for a vibrant Ulster County economy and provide a blueprint
for economic development, including business growth and community
Hector S. Rodriguez, Chair of the Legislature’s Economic
Development, Planning, Housing and Transit said, “ the
new administration of the legislature has been calling for
a game plan or map for economic direction for our future development
since day one. I’m very pleased that our partnership
with UCDC and the UCIDA will help give some direction for
our future development. This strategy will be innovative in
its approach and gain local buy-in for what type of development
we want in Ulster County.”
“The American economy has undergone a transformation
driven by entrepreneurs who create opportunity for change
and build new industries based upon innovation and global
markets. Ulster County must embrace the new economy, support
innovation and entrepreneurship, create an atmosphere that
nurtures new business start-ups, and maintain a family-friendly
environment and high quality of life,” said Chester
J. Straub, Jr. President of UCDC.
Straub further said that “our economic development strategy
will allow Ulster to come together as a county to help create
a new agenda for opportunity, while maintaining the vitality
of our cities, towns, villages and hamlets, and fostering
collaborative business development among all of our communities
and shared growth for all of our citizens.”
March S. Gallagher, Chair of the UCIDA said, “the Ulster
County Industrial Development Agency is changing its Uniform
Tax Exemption Policy so that projects reflecting countywide
economic development goals can be awarded greater benefits.
Accordingly, Ulster County must develop a countywide economic
development strategy. The UCIDA, County government, and UCDC
working together presents an exciting step forward in this
To aid the effort, UCDC has retained the consulting firms
of Cope & Associates, Inc. and Economic & Policy Resources,
Inc. The planning process will include a comprehensive assessment
of the Ulster County economy, affirm a mission and vision
for its future, identify and prioritize broadly supported
outcomes for a vibrant economy, and create strategies that
will guide implementation.
Included in the process will be consultation with public and
private interest groups, elected and appointed public officials,
and community and business leaders. A three-day “Collaborative
Jury,” comprised of county stakeholders groups that
mirror Ulster County’s demographics and varied business
and community interests, will be held in early October. The
Jury will be. It is anticipated that the planning process
will be completed in January 2007.
Project information, a schedule of upcoming events, a resource
guide and public survey can be accessed at the project Website
found at www.ulsterplanning.info.
On one of the hottest nights of the year August 1, the Onteora
school board debated Robert’s rules of order, the handling
of Public Be Heard, and means for stopping motions on the
floor. By meeting’s end, changes had been made to the
board’s facilities committee, technology committee and
requesting future discussions were set to talk about the responsibilities
given to the OCS future of the district committee. Behind
the discussions was concern about ongoing proposals to change
the configuration of the district, possibly closing an elementary
school and expanding the middle school for establishment in
its own building. Board members noted that they were uncomfortable
with committees getting reports from district consultants
on facilities and expansion possibilities before them.
Interim superintendent Jack Jordan said he favored committee
reports on issues, while board members reiterated their fears
that some committees included members, including elementary
principals, with “vested interests” at play in
Discussion will continue at the district’s August 22
school board meeting.
In other news of late, the board approved a donation of 2,280
from Greg Silver a recent Onteora graduate for a Gazebo in
the courtyard of the high school. The money was received from
his high school graduation gifts.
An Ulster County Sheriff’s Office patrol car is now
capable of scanning and checking 8,000 to 10,000 license plates
every eight hours thanks to new technology: Two 5-pound cameras
mounted on top of the car which feed an infrared image into
the Remington License Plate Reader system, which checks the
plate numbers against a daily “hot list” from
the New York Statewide Police Information Network.
Sheriff’s Capt. Harry VanVliet IV said the new device
is far more efficient than the old method of typing license
plate numbers in by hand. And it also removes the human error
element. The cameras have a field of vision of almost 180
degrees, can monitor up to four lanes of traffic (depending
on how the cameras are positioned) and can monitor traffic
traveling in both directions.
The $20,000 tracking system links into a high-speed computer
inside the car that makes a slight beep as it scans a plate.
It then sounds an alarm if the plate is on the hot list.
Within a year, two or three more sheriff’s cars are
expected to be equipped with the tracking system, given further
grants are available.
A manatee is swimming in the Hudson River. The huge animal
has been spotted three times in the last week, off the coast
of New York City and then up near Westchester headed beyond
Yonkers towards Kingston. There was plenty of disbelief to
go around, but experts who know a manatee when they see one
say there’s no doubting it.
The creatures normally stay in the warm waters of Florida,
but have been known to go as far north as Rhode Island.
According to a Manatee Sighting Alert issued by Rescue Program
Director Kimberly Durham of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine
Research and Preservation, “This particular animal has
been making his way North up the coastline with sightings
reported in Delaware, Maryland & NJ. The sighting was
reported first at 23rd Street and then later at 125th Street.
On both occasions it was observed logging at the surface adjacent
to the bulkhead and appeared to be heading further north up
the river. As you can imagine we are very anxious about hearing
about our wayward visitor. I have contacted the USFWS in Jacksonville
to inquire about whether they wish to attach a transmitter
to him/her. The animal has been described as approx. 10 ft
in length and has barnacles on its dorsal surface.”
Durham added that any further sightings of the so-called “sea
cow” call a 631-369-9829 Manatee Sighting Hotline immediately.
With gas prices at record highs, Congressman Maurice Hinchey
joined Ulster County officials for a press conference the
morning of Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at the Ulster County
Transit Center to announce the county’s purchase of
a hybrid bus that will be used as a model and demo for future,
energy efficient mass transit vehicles nationwide. The Congressman
highlighted how the new hybrid bus is an example of ways in
which communities across New York and the United States can
and must move in a new direction on energy policy.
Hinchey, who secured $250,000 in federal funds for the purchase
of the vehicle, discussed how the United States is at a critical
juncture in which it must decide whether to continue on a
reckless path of oil dependency or to move in a new direction
of renewable, alternative energy that will strengthen national
security, improve the environment, create a massive new sector
of the American economy, and be much more affordable than
the out of control gas prices of today.
The Congressman is the co-author of the Energy for Our Future
Act, a bipartisan energy reform bill that would repeal the
billions of dollars in subsidies for oil and gas industries
given away in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, encourage innovative
mass transit solutions, increase conservation and weatherization,
require renewable energy portfolios and increase the corporate
fuel economy standard to 40 miles per gallon.
State and county governments each chipped in $57,000 towards
the new vehicle’s half million dollar plus cost. The
hybrid bus runs on electricity and an ultra-low sulfur diesel
fuel, gets high gas mileage, and is expected to last for 12
The Ulster County Mental Health Department will need financial
support in the near future to continue its transition to a
recovery-oriented service. According to Marshall Beckman,
director of the Mental Health Department, the majority of
the mental health field has seen state and local funding diminish,
which will be even more problematic if rumors of federal cuts
prove true. He said the concentration of federal funds to
Medicaid programs have made mental health services treatment-heavy,
causing clients to become dependent on clinics.
The county’s Community Services Board began discussing
an interdepartmental restructuring in 2004, and the Mental
Health Department now is promoting recovery through support
systems, including residential services, job placement, wellness
services, self-help groups and case management services.
The move away from intense treatment toward other avenues
of continuous support comes at an opportune time because it
could mean savings for the county, especially in regard to
lowering the number of expensive hospital bills. Beckman said
the restructuring has allowed for cost-efficiency and a nearly
flat budget, as well as improved treatment statistics.
The Mental Health Department has seen a decline in the number
of adult visits and length of stay, and people are less dependent
on treatment while participating more in wellness activities
and jobs, Beckman said.
But despite its benefits, the restructuring has caused some
problems within the department’s chain of command. The
streamlining and cost efficiencies have consolidated positions
and caused some employees to take on extra work without an
increase in pay, causing inequities among staff.
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center has announced the
establishment of a Cornerstone Campaign as the initial phase
of a larger capital fundraising effort to purchase, construct,
or renovate a building in the county seat of Kingston that
will become its permanent home.
In May, the Center’s temporary offices in Kingston were
vandalized. Ginny Apuzzo , President of the Board of Directors
for the Center, expressed the need for a safe place for gay,
lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered people. “If this
level of hostility was evoked by an office, how does that
bigotry and homophobia play itself out in the community, particularly
as directed against our young people?” Apuzzo asked.
“The act that targeted our project made it very clear
that our need to succeed is imperative… Let our message
be that our vision of the future of the LGBTQ community here
in the Hudson Valley was matched with the energy, resources,
and commitment to build that future.”
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center organization is working
to create a community center in Kingston, NY to provide community
outreach, education and advocacy in public policy issues,
and cultural events to the LGBTQ community.
More than 200 people attended the first outreach meeting at
Kingston City Hall this past spring, while another 200 people
plus attended the organization’s second outreach meeting
in Rosendale More than 500 members from several counties have
joined to date!
Call 845-331-5300 for more information, or to receive a Cornerstone
Absent from the U.S. for so long that some thought they were
a myth, bedbugs are back. Entomologists and pest control professionals
are reporting a dramatic increase in infestations throughout
the country, and no one knows exactly why.
Bedbugs are tiny brownish, flattened insects that feed exclusively
on the blood of animals and humans. Their bites may cause
itchy red welts or swelling. Before World War II, bedbug infestations
were common in the U.S., but they were virtually eradicated
through improvements in hygiene and the widespread use of
DDT in the 1940s and 1950s.
Unlike mosquitoes, though, they are not known to transmit
blood-borne diseases from one victim to another. But they
are extremely resilient and very difficult to exterminate.
Experts say bedbugs are not necessarily an indicator of unsanitary
In the past four years, reports of bedbugs have significantly
increased in U.S. cities, from New York to Honolulu, especially
in hotels, hospitals and college dormitories - all places
with high resident turnover. The National Pest Management
Association, which represents many of the country’s
pest control companies, says the number of bedbug reports
have increased fivefold in four years.
Experts are not entirely sure what has caused the marked increase.
Some speculate that increased international travel and immigration
may be partially to blame. Another factor is a change in pest
control practices. Companies are spraying more responsibly
now… Instead of indiscriminately saturating the perimeter
of all rooms, they often use more conservative measures and
do large-scale spray treatments only when there’s an
infestation. As a result of consumer demand, less toxic chemicals
are also being used.
The Big Plot…
President George W. Bush seized on the foiled London airline
bomb plot reportedly unveiled last week to hammer unnamed
critics he accused of having all but forgotten the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush and his aides
have tried to shift the national political debate from that
conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism
ahead of November 7 congressional elections. Political consultant
Karl Rove went so far as to note that the Republican Party
would be running the upcoming election on security issues
The London conspiracy is “a stark reminder that this
nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means
to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation,”
the president said this past week. “It is a mistake
to believe there is no threat to the United States of
America… We are the ones who have taken a lot of measures
to protect the American people.”
His remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated
an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats
as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn’t:
News of the plot could soon break. But Bush aides later fought
the notion that they had exploited
their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats.
Senior White House officials said that the British government
had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly
unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats
as weak against terrorism… following coordination of
efforts by Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who started
discussing the bomb plot a week before it was announced while
both were on individual vacations neither gave up.
“Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play
big,” another White House official told the British
newspaper The Guardian last week, adding that some Democratic
candidates “won’t look as appealing under these
The Brtitish press has reported that UK authorities acted
based on intelligence provided by the CIA. They have also
started asking why, if the threat posed by the plot was considered
dangerous enough to warrant raising the terror alert in the
UK from “severe” to “critical” and
to code red in the US, there were no arrests made for five
days? And why was the terror alert only raised after the arrests
were made and not before?
Meanwhile, following the announcements terrorism experts and
former agency officials are saying that the Department of
Homeland Security has focused more on old terrorism methods
than possible new plots, with a nearly obsessive focus on
the previous attacks that may have prevented the federal government
from combating new threats effectively. The nation is still
at risk from the same “failure of imagination”
cited by the 9/11 commission as having contributed to the
success of the 2001 attack, several argued.
“They are reactive, not proactive,” said Randall
J. Larsen, a retired colonel in the Air Force who is chairman
of the military strategy department at the National War College
“What doesn’t exist yet is a risk management process,”
said Penrose C. Albright, a former assistant secretary for
science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security.
“In the absence of coherent analysis, there’s
no way to prevent the system from getting whipsawed. So it’s
not surprising that we end up spending a lot of money fighting
the last war and not addressing more modern threats.”
Meanwhile, new flight restrictions on gels and liquids were
eased somewhat when it was discovered that federal agents
were endangering people’s lives who needed medications.
In England, at the same time, most flights have gone back
to normal while ours have stayed at Orange Alert.
Also. British officials have since noted that despite all
the brouhaha. an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects
had not yet purchased any airline tickets… and some
did not even have passports. New reports are further noting
that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement
over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said
British police were planning to continue to run surveillance
for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence,
while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects
Since the plot’s unveiling, Bush’s approval rating
for homeland security rose 11 percent to 55 percent while
his overall approval rating rose to 38 percent, a 3-point
polls in May.
Robert F. Davis, 52 of State Route 28 in Big Indian, died
Saturday August 12, at Benedictine Hospital. He was a native
and life long Catskill Mountain’s resident, he worked
as a sawyer for Woodstock Beam Works for many years. He enjoyed
garden landscaping, and was a talented dry stone mason. He
was an avid hunter, fisher, and bowler formerly with the Suburban
Men’s league in Margaretville. He grew up in Andes,
and worked on farms in the New Kingston Valley. He was a United
States Army Sergeant having served from 1977 to 1984. He earned
the Expert Marksmanship Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation
Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army
Achievement Medal, and the Professional Development Ribbon.
He was born July 7, 1954 in Margaretville son of Glenford
Davis of Millbrook, and Dorothy Vanderlyn of West Shokan.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by three daughters:
Amy Sherman of Shokan, Robin Ackerley and Laura Davis both
of Erin,NY , two sons: John Hren of Oneonta, and Paul Davis
of Shandaken. A brother Richard Brisbane of Fort Plain. Three
sisters: Bessie Payne of South Kortright, Gloria Quick of
Shandaken, and Nancy Smith of Kingston. Seven grandchildren:
Christina, Justin, Shawn, Alex, Madelyn, Brandon, and Landon.
A funeral service to celebrate the life of Mr. Davis was held
on Tuesday at 2pm at the E. B. Gormley Funeral Home 87 Main
St. Phoenicia with the Rev. Ralph Darmstadt as celebrant.
Allegations of wrongdoing by U.S. military recruiters jumped
by 50 percent from 2004 to 2005, and criminal violations such
as sexual harassment and falsifying documents more than doubled,
says the Government Accountability Office, Congress ‘
investigative agency, adding that the full extent of violations
by military recruiters is unknown because the Defense Department
does not have an oversight system.
While the GAO said available information likely underestimated
the problem, it showed that allegations of recruiter wrongdoing
increased to 6,600 cases in fiscal year 2005 from 4,400 a
year earlier. Substantiated cases rose to almost 630 cases
from 400, and criminal violations jumped to 70 from about
30, it said.
The report said the military’s roughly 20,000 recruiters
have been under pressure to meet recruiting goals while a
fairly strong economy has sustained a competitive job market
and the death toll in the Iraq war has been rising.
“Determined to find ways to succeed in a challenging
recruiting environment, some recruiters reportedly have resorted
to overly aggressive tactics, such as coercion and harassment,”
the GAO report said.
That can hurt recruiting by damaging relationships with parents,
teachers, coaches and others who have influence on potential
applicants, the report said. It also can waste tax dollars
if ineligible applicants are recruited and begin basic training,
but do not enter military service, it said.
The report faulted the Defense Department for not establishing
an “oversight framework” that requires reports
on recruiter violations and sets criteria for characterizing
the irregularities. It also said the Army, Navy and Air Force
measure recruiter performance primarily by the number of recruits
who enlist and report to basic training, rather than the number
who complete basic training.
Families who may be eligible to receive free or reduced-priced
school lunches for their children are encouraged by area school
districts to apply for the federally funded nutrition program
as soon as possible. While districts will be using last year’s
information during September, applications must be received
and processed during that month if a family wants to continue
with the program. Parents who have not received an application
in the mail can request one from their school principal’s
In the coming year, Ulster County-area school children whose
families make $26,000 or less qualify for free lunch; families
whose annual income totals $37,000 or less qualify for a reduced-price
meal. Families of other sizes can calculate their eligibility
level for free meals by adding or subtracting $4,420 for each
family member. A family of five, for example, must have an
annual income of $43,290 or less to be eligible.
Volunteers are needed for the final shoreline clean-up of
the summer, which will take place Saturday, August 26 at the
Pepacton Reservoir from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The announcement
was made by the Catskill Heritage Alliance, official sponsor
of the cleanups since taking over the function from the Catskill
Watershed Corporation a year ago.
“Everyone is qualified to do this, and all are welcome,”
says Jo-Anne Rowley, who is coordinating the effort in conjunction
with the Department of Environmental Protection. “All
you need are a pair of gloves and a sense of humor—and
don’t forget sunscreen.” Volunteers under the
age of 16 are particularly welcome but must bring either a
parent/guardian or a signed permit. (For more information
on permits contact Rowley at 845 688-2038.)
“The cleanup is a great way to have fun, do a good thing,
and be with neighbors. And this year, it’s a particularly
good way to start the day, then move on to the Margaretville
Street Fair and Shandaken Eagle Day,” Rowley adds.
Volunteers should gather at 8:45 a.m. at the kiosk and parking
area on the east side of the Shavertown Bridge where Route
30 meets the Reservoir Road. (At the intersection of Routes
30 and 28 a mile west of Margaretville, turn south on Route
30; the bridge is about 10 miles down). Tee-shirts will be
available for volunteers, and as an added bonus, all volunteers
will receive a DEP permit entitling them to access watershed
lands for a year.
The Catskill Heritage Alliance is a 501(c)3 grassroots organization
dedicated to preserving the harmony between the villages of
the central Catskills and the surrounding wilderness through
community revitalization and open space conservation. More
information on the clean-ups and CHA can be found at the website,
At the direction of Chairman David B. Donaldson, a Public
Hearing and Special Session of the Ulster County Legislature
will be held on Wednesday, August 23rd at 7:00 PM in the Legislative
Chambers, Sixth Floor, County Office Building, 244 Fair Street,
The purpose of the Public Hearing is regarding Introductory
Local Law No. 2 (A Local Law Adopting The Ulster County Charter)
and the Special Session will be to consider adopting Introductory
Local Law No. 2 (A Local Law Adopting The Ulster County Charter).
A special meeting of the legislature will follow the public