Briefs September 14, 2006)
Route 28 Detour...
State Department of Transporation engineer Lee Zimmer announced
this week that he would be leading a public information session
on his department's plans to close down a portion of Route
28 in the Boiceville area at 7 pm on Thursday, September 14
at the Olive Town Meeting Hall on Bostock Road in Shokan.
Zimmer added, however, that the DOT's present plans call for
at leats one lane of the busy highway to be kept open at all
times during the necessary repairs toa 50 foot deep culvert
damaged during flooding this past Spring and summer. He further
noted that road work will not be scheduled until ongoing repairs
to Route 23A in the Greene County "Mountaintop"
town of Hunter gets completed, and that road re-opened, on
or around Nov. 1.
A special meeting was scheduled for 2pm Wednesday, Sept. 13,
to discuss a resolution to deal with a dilapated property
on Reservoir Road in Shokan. The house in question, considered
unsafe following a fire and exposure to the elements, has
apparently been the subject of complaints from neighbors and
notices from the town to correct the conditions have been
ignored by the occupant of the property. The resolution to
be voted upon would authorize the town to enter and eliminate
unsafe conditions and obtain a money judgment for the cost
of remedial work. A lien for the amount of the judgment would
be then placed against the property in addition to its tax
An Ashokan Deal?
Campus Auxiliary Services, the owner of the Ashokan Field
Campus near the Ashokan Reservoir, is negotiating with The
New York City-based Open Space Institute, a land preservation
organization has been protecting portions of the Hudson Valley
and eastern New York for 35 years, about buying the 372-acre
Steven Deutsch, the chief executive officer of Campus Auxiliary
Services, said he hopes to have the sale completed and the
contract signed in the next month or so.
Under a contract with SUNY New Paltz, Campus Auxiliary Services
provides the college with dining, bookstore, laundry and other
services, and the college has used the field campus for instruction.
But now, Deutsch said, Campus Auxiliary Services wants to
shift its resources from the field campus to projects that
impact larger numbers of New Paltz students more directly.
Negotiations between Campus Auxiliary Services and the Open
Space Institute were facilitated by Jay Ungar’s Friends
of Fiddle and Dance Company, which has held dance camps at
the reservoir since 1980. Ungar, a noted local musician, wanted
to maintain the reservoir’s heritage and helped form
the Ashokan Foundation, a not-for-profit organization seeking
to forge a larger vision for the campus by combining its educational,
environmental, cultural and artistic elements.
The talks with the Open Space Institute began after the Circle
of Life Camp - a non-profit organization that runs an upstate
summer camp for children and young adults with diabetes -
abandoned its plan to buy the Ashokan Field Campus.
Besides being used by SUNY, the field campus has offered outdoor
and environmental education programs for local elementary
schoolers for nearly 40 years, and all parties involved hope
to continue the overall mission of the campus.
“We’d like to foster a connection between all
of these that hasn’t really happened before, because
we think music and arts and environment and history have a
lot of common ground, and we’d like to see the school
programs reflect that,” Ungar said.
The Ashokan Foundation’s board of advisers includes
representatives from the Catskill Center for Conservation
and Development and the University of Pennsylvania’s
Center for American Music, Ungar said.
Martens said the Open Space Institute would “absolutely
try to keep the staff and mission going,” and added
that, if the purchase goes through, the transfer will include
a transition period to allow for a hopefully seamless change.
“We’re trying to help find a way to basically
keep the outdoor education program going and protect the land
in the process,” Martens said. “It is a beautiful
natural site, and at the end of the process, we hope it stays
in much the same condition it is today.”
County legislators are worrying that the already overdue jail
might have to wait for a 2007 opening, what with some new
The state commissioner of correction has told Sheriff Richard
Bockelmann that the jail’s requirement of 148 full-time
corrections officers could not be met because seven officers
are out on disability. Some county members are meeting with
the commissioner Sept. 14 for a clarification, but legislators
aren’t sure that will give time for a jail opening,m
what with training requirements of at least two months.
There is also a problem with the bidding process for a phone
system at the facility, and individual cell windows need to
be tinted or blocked somehow, both to prevent male and female
inmates from looking into each others’ cells and to
keep inmates from seeing confidential informants entering
The jail project is already tens of millions of dollars over
budget, but some legislators said that the county should worry
less about cost and more about simply getting it open.
A bus driver for Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) was arrested
twice last month on charges he solicited prostitution. Chance
Ireland, a UCAT employee for less than a year, was arrested
by Ulster County sheriff’s deputies and charged with
fourth-degree patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor. Ireland
allegedly solicited an undercover deputy for oral sex in exchange
for money. The alleged incident took place on Tuesday, August
22, on Ireland’s bus route at Bob Moser Road and Pavilion
Street in the town of Saugerties. Ireland was immediately
transported to the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center for
processing following his arrest and was later released with
an appearance ticket for an unspecified future date in town
of Saugerties Court. As a result of Tuesday’s arrest,
Ireland was arrested the following day by town of Woodstock
police on the same charges for allegedly offering a male passenger
$100 to masturbate in front of the driver in the Andy Lee
Field in Woodstock on Monday, July 10.
The Ulster County sheriff’s office began investigating
the allegations against Ireland after a male passenger filed
the complaint in July. Ireland and the accuser were the only
people on the bus at the time.
The Reservoir United Methodist Church of West Hurley, Glenford,
and Shokan is happy to announce the opening of its new community,
worship and school facility at its Shokan site on Rt. 28 in
the Town of Olive. The Reservoir Church will now offer its
Sunday School program at 9:30 A.M. and a Worship Service at
11:00 A.M., beginning on Sunday, Sept. 24th.
The new classrooms, assembly hall, kitchens, lounge and meeting
rooms make an excellent space for both church and community
activities. Church members are currently surveying local leaders
for ideas of ways the congregation can broaden its service
to the community with its new facilities.
A gala celebration is being planned for a date later in the
fall. The Chicken Barbecue is scheduled at the new facility
for Saturday, September 16th. All are welcome to Sunday services
and other events. For more information, call 657-2326, or
Quality Communities Program grants totaling several tens of
thousands of dollars have been announced for the Hudson Valley
and Catskills regions by Lt. Governor Mary Donohue. The largest
single grant, of $160,000, was to Putnam County for its Main
Street Partnership Program, a partnership with the city’s
six towns and three villages. In other grants, the Village
of Ellenville will receive $32,000, Sullivan County will receive
$49,450, Ulster County will get $60,000, the Western Catskills
Community Revitalization Council with the Village of Stamford
will receive $52,000, the Town of Athens will get $58,600,
Greene County and several local governments will receive $50,000,
the Town of Hyde Park will receive $38,000, the City of Peekskill
will get $89,000, the Village of Pelham will get $75,000,
the Village of Rhinebeck will receive $57,500, and the Village
of Walden will receive $30,000.
The number of people living in poverty has finally stopped
climbing. Household incomes edged up slightly in 2005, but
37 million people were still living below the poverty line,
about the same as the year before, the Census Bureau reported
Republicans blamed the stubborn poverty numbers on immigrants
holding down wages. Democrats blamed the Bush administration,
noting that incomes are lower and the poverty rate is higher
than when Bush took office. Democrats also noted that the
number of people without health insurance climbed for the
sixth straight year, reaching 46.6 million people in 2005.
“I know what they say about putting lipstick on a pig,
but I don’t see how the Bush administration can spin
these numbers in their favor,” said Rep. Charles Rangel,
Bush’s budget chief said the new numbers show the economy’s
resilience following terrorist attacks in 2001 and Hurricane
Katrina a year ago.
“Unemployment is low, wages are rising and there are
more jobs in America today than at any other time in history,”
said Rob Portman, Bush’s budget director. “While
we still have challenges ahead, our ability to bounce back
is a testament to the strong work ethic of the American people,
the resiliency of our economy, and pro-growth economic policies,
including tax relief.”
New Jersey had the highest median household income, at $61,672.
Mississippi had the lowest, at $32,938. Mississippi also had
the highest poverty rate, at 21.3 percent. New Hampshire had
the lowest, at 7.5 percent.
The official poverty level is used to decide eligibility for
federal health, housing, nutrition and child care benefits.
The poverty level differs by family size and makeup. For example,
the poverty level for a family of four was $19,971 last year.
For a family of two, it was $12,755. About 12.6 percent of
the population lived below the poverty line in 2005. That’s
down from 12.7 percent in 2004, but the change was not statistically
significant, census officials said.
The median household income - the point at which half make
more and half make less - was $46,326, a slight increase from
2004, but still below the peak of $47,671 in 1999.
Meanwhile, it has been found that more teenagers are now living
in poverty than in recent years. States in the Northeast and
upper Midwest scored the best in terms of children’s
levels of income, with New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut,
Minnesota and Iowa at the top, while Southern states did the
worst, with Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina
and Tennessee at the bottom of the pile.
More than 13 million children, about 18 percent, lived in
poverty in 2004, a slight increase from 17 percent in 2000.
One third of America’s children lived in homes where
none of the parents had full-time, year-round jobs in 2004.
That is a slight increase from 32 percent in 2000.
An obesity pandemic threatens to overwhelm health systems
around the globe with illnesses such as diabetes and heart
disease, experts at an international conference have warned.
“This insidious, creeping pandemic of obesity is now
engulfing the entire world,” Paul Zimmet, chairman of
the meeting of more than 2,500 experts and health officials,
said in a speech opening the weeklong International Congress
on Obesity. “It’s as big a threat as global warming
and bird flu .”
The World Health Organization says more than 1 billion adults
are overweight and 300 million of them are obese, putting
them at much higher risk of diabetes, heart problems, high
blood pressure, stroke and some forms of cancer.
Zimmet, a diabetes expert at Australia’s Monash University,
said there are now more overweight people in the world than
the undernourished, who number about 600 million.
“We are not dealing with a scientific or medical problem.
We’re dealing with an enormous economic problem that,
it is already accepted, is going to overwhelm every medical
system in the world,” said Dr. Philip James, the British
chairman of the International Obesity Task Force.
Among the most worrying problems are skyrocketing rates of
obesity among children, which make them much more prone to
chronic diseases as they grow older and could shave years
off their lives, experts said. The children in this generation
may be the first in history to die before their parents because
of health problems related to weight, Kate Steinbeck, an expert
in children’s health at Sydney’s Royal Prince
Alfred Hospital, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, reports in this country have found that millions
of overweight baby boomers are on the fast track to becoming
disabled senior citizens, a possibility that could have dire
repercussions for them and for the nation’s already
overburdened nursing home system. Obesity will have a big
impact on increasing disability in this country in the coming
years unless the epidemic can be halted and turned back,”
says Richard Suzman of the National Institute on Aging.
Public health officials have said for years that obesity increases
the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease,
osteoarthritis and cancer. Now a growing body of research
suggests that being obese - 30 or more pounds over a healthy
weight - increases the chances of becoming disabled at a younger
age and unable to perform tasks such as bathing or dressing.
The longer a person has been obese, the greater the wear on
joints and the probability of developing type 2 diabetes.
People who need joint replacements may have pain and disability
for years before the surgery and for months afterward during
Experts are scrambling to head off the problem. The Obesity
Society and the American Society for Nutrition recently called
for obese older adults to lose weight to avoid becoming disabled.
Golf Goes Down
Golf course openings fell from a peak of 398.5 in 2000 to
124.5 last year when measured in 18-hole equivalents, the
National Golf Foundation reports. During that time, course
closings soared from 23 to a record 93.5 last year. When courses
temporarily closed for renovation are included, the USA had
fewer golf courses open at the end of 2005 than a year earlier
- the first year-to-year decline since 1945.
But that still leaves 16,052 courses nationwide.
“Golf courses aren’t generating the returns people
like to see,” says Mike Hughes, chief executive of the
National Golf Course Owners Association. “The land has
appreciated so much in value that it makes abundant economic
sense to turn the property over to other uses.”
Local governments often support the redevelopment because
it brings in more tax revenue than a golf course.
In The Myrtle Beach area, the nation’s top golf-tourist
destination, 17 courses out of 124 have closed. Hit hardest:
golf courses built in rural areas that since have been surrounded
by population growth. A golf course is a real estate developer’s
dream: about 150 acres of undeveloped land.
Shorter golf courses and par-3 courses are being redeveloped
especially rapidly, the National Golf Foundation says.
If the government has its way, the grass-fed label could be
used to sell beef that didn’t roam the range and ate
more than just grass. The Agriculture Department has proposed
a standard for grass-fed meat that doesn’t say animals
need pasture and that broadly defines grass to include things
like leftovers from harvested crops.
Critics say the proposal is so loose that it would let more
conventional ranchers slap a grass-fed label on their beef,
“In the eye of the consumer, grass-fed is tied to open
pasture-raised animals, not confinement or feedlot animals,”
said Patricia Whisnant, a Missouri rancher who heads the American
Grassfed Association. “In the consumer’s eye,
you’re going to lose the integrity of what the term
All beef cattle graze on grass at the beginning of their lives.
The difference generally is that grass-fed beef herds graze
in pastures, while conventional cattle spend the last three
or four months of their lives being fattened with corn or
other grains in feedlots.
People buy grass-fed beef for many reasons: They want to avoid
antibiotics commonly used in feedlots, they think it’s
healthier, or they like the idea of supporting local farms
Grass-fed beef is a leaner meat; fat tends to form around
the muscle. With conventional corn-fed beef, the fat streaks
the muscle in marble-like patterns.
Demand for grass-fed products is intense and producers are
responding. By Whisnant’s estimate, the number of farms
has grown from about 40 seven years ago to around 1,000 today.
“I’ve been an organic user for years, and I am
disenchanted,” Whisnant said. “My personal opinion
... is that it’s lost meaning. To me, the line in the
sand is the confinement issue. A grass-fed animal needs to
be raised on pasture, and that’s not just token access
to pasture from his feedlot, but he should get the majority
of his ration from that growing pasture.”
A 13.5-foot yard gnome off U.S. Route 209 in nearby Kerhonksen
should soon grace the pages of “Guinness World Records.”
The gnome, called Chomsky, will hold the record for the world’s
largest yard gnome. It stands sentry over Gnome on the Grange,
a mini-golf course at Kelder’s Farm. The gnome was the
brainchild of Maria Reidelbach, who also built the mini-golf
course on Kelder’s Farm. The record-setting gnome is
actually Chomsky II, Reidelbach explains. The original Chomsky
was built in 2003, but was made out of the wrong material
to be qualified for the world record. Guinness said that for
Chomsky to be record-setting, he would have to be built out
of the same materials as other yard gnomes: cement. Reidelbach
said she was committed to making the world’s biggest
gnome and enlisted artist Ken Hutchinson to craft Chomsky
II out of cement, straw and chicken wire. Guinness did not
have a previous record in this category. As part of the rules
of Guinness, Reidelbach assembled a board of “local
luminaries” that included Ulster County Legislator Rich
Parete, Rochester Town Supervisor Pamela Duke and Mark Brown,
leader of a local country-rock band, to witness the event.
With paper ballots from the 2004 presidential election in
Ohio scheduled to be destroyed this month, the secretary of
state in Columbus, under pressure from critics, has moved
to delay the destruction at least for several months.
Since the election, questions have been raised about how votes
were tallied in Ohio, a battleground state that helped deliver
the election to President Bush over Senator John Kerry. The
critics, including an independent candidate for governor and
a team of statisticians and lawyers, say preliminary results
from their ballot inspections show signs of more widespread
irregularities than previously known. The critics say the
ballots should be saved pending an investigation. They also
say the secretary of state’s proposal to delay the destruction
does not go far enough, and they intend to sue to preserve
In Florida in 2003, historians and lawyers persuaded state
officials not to destroy the ballots in the 2000 presidential
election, and those ballots are stored at the state archive.
Lawyers for J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio secretary of state,
said although he did not have the authority to preserve the
ballots, Mr. Blackwell would issue an order in a day or two
that delays the destruction and that reminds local elections
officials that they have to consult the public records commissions
in each county. Federal law permits, but does not require,
destroying paper ballots from federal elections 22 months
after Election Day.
The critics say their sole interest in the question is to
improve the voting system.
“This is not about Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush or who should
be president,’’ said Bill Goodman, legal director
of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York group
that is part of the lawsuit. “This is about figuring
out what is not working in our election system and ensuring
that every cast vote counts.
“There is a gap between the numbers provided in the
local level records, which until recently no one has been
allowed to see, and the official final tallies that were publicly
released after this election, and we want to figure out why
that gap is there.”
After eight months inspecting 35,000 ballots from 75 rural
and urban precincts, the critics say that they have found
many with signs of tampering and that in some precincts the
number of voters differs significantly from the certified
results. The investigation has not inspected all 5.6 million
ballots in the election because the critics were not given
access to them until January. That followed an agreement by
the League of Women Voters, a plaintiff in another election
suit against the state, that it was not contesting the 2004
results, Mr. Goodman said.
The new suit, to be filed in Federal District Court in Columbus,
would be argued on civil rights grounds, saying the state
deprived voters of equal treatment.
U.S. weather experts have descended on a tiny village in Senegal
to try to understand how hurricanes that slam into the southeastern
United States and the Caribbean are formed in West Africa
before they go bowling across the Atlantic. The study, backed
by U.S. space agency NASA, could help forecasters better predict
devastating hurricanes like Katrina , which formed over Africa
and killed around 1,500 people when it rammed into New Orleans
a year ago in one of the worst natural disasters in American
More than 80 percent of the systems that hit the United States
have their origins in tropical disturbances leaving Africa.
But 95 percent of the storms that start there fizzle over
“If we can capture the atmospheric conditions of the
storm, the storm structure, how they evolve over the African
continent and just off the coast, our objective is to distinguish
between those that stay together and those that dissipate,”
said a spokesman for the study, which has set up three radars
— one in landlocked Niger’s capital Niamey, the
one in Kawsara on the Senegalese coast, and one on the Cape
Verde Islands — and is also flying planes into the center
of the depressions. The data they provide will enable scientists
for the first time to map more fully the atmospheric conditions
as Atlantic hurricanes are born and through their life cycle.
Previous attempts to understand the phenomenon have relied
on satellite data, which can show what is happening on top
of clouds but not inside them. Last time a similar project
was carried out was in 1974, with hugely inferior technology.
“No one has a good sense of which system is going to
form, if it’s going to intensify, if it’s going
to weaken and one of the problems is Saharan dust,”
said one of the study’s leading scientists who has studied
West African weather for more than two decades. “We
think that Saharan dust actually inhibits the formation of
cyclones but this is the first time we can fly inside them
and see how much dust is there.”