(News Briefs September
Town supervisor Bert Leifeld will present his preliminary
2007 budget at the next Olive Town Meeting at the Meeting
Hall on Bostock Road next Tuesday, October 3, at 7:30 pm.
According to Leifeld, rising fuel costs have hit the town’s
highway department hard and he’s currently working to
wrangle in what is presently looking like a 7 to 10 percent
spending hike for the coming year. Leifeld added that the
rising cost of fuel, combined with the loss of pre-pay deals,
is starting to effect maintenance schedules for rural towns
such as Olive.
More in our next issue...
At its recent hearing at the Olive Meeting Hall, the State
Department of Transportation announced a decision to make
repairs to Route 28 in Boiceville without closing the highway
and detouring traffic.
Flooding last June damaged a culvert under the highway near
Dancing Rock Road, but the pipe is so deep underground the
job is expected to take up to two months to complete.
The project, expected to begin in November, will be done in
sections so at least one lane can be open to traffic at all
Engineers estimate that a 140 foot wide excavation is needed
to dig down to get replace the culvert at it deepest point,
which 50 feet underneath the eastbound lane.
Drivers of smaller vehicles will be encouraged to use the
small side roads to avoid the construction zone, but large
trucks will need to continue to use Route 28, as none of the
side roads are large enough to accommodate them.
The project cannot begin until other DOT crews complete work
on Route 223A in Greene County, which suffered severe damage
during thee same flood last June. If DOT cannot begin the
Route 28 project next month, the project might be put on hold
until after the New Year, officials said.
Super Search II
The Onteora school board is once again interviewing candidates
school district superintendent. Board president Marino D’Orazio
that they are scheduled to interview two candidates.
“I do not know too much about them,” he said,
“we found them through our consultant and they are both
One is coming in from California and the other is from New
York, but D’Orazio did not have any other information
available. He said, “if these two don’t work out,
than the search continues.”
If the school board considers the two new candidates a viable
option, than they will present them to the public sometime
in the near future.
Richard Lerer Consulting Services have led the search for
superintendent. Lerer found Justine Winters to replace Dr.
Hal Rowe who retired in 2004. Winters retired, due to cancer
and passed away in May. The school board recommended two candidates
in June, but neither were
chosen due to negative feedback from the public.
In other matters, the school board has set aside a couple
of hours on Wednesday, October 4 for a Board Retreat, after
which they will move into a special session, open to the public,
where they will discuss the setting of goals for the coming
year. The retreat will take place in Central Administration
offices, meeting in the High School Cafeteria... both in Boiceville.
A year-long process designed to stabilize the New York City-owned
Schoharie Reservoir’s Gilboa Dam is currently scheduled
for completion in mid-December, a little ahead of schedule,
according to the City’s Department of Environmental
Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd.
To achieve the stabilization, a complicated process involving
the installation of 79 anchoring cables drilled into bedrock
costing upwards of $24 million, the city not only installed
water release siphons and cut a chunk out of the existing
dam, but opened its water release tunnel emptying into Ulster
County’s Esopus Creek full-throttle for the past nine
months via the so-called Allaben Portal.
Responding to area concerns about mass flooding brought about
by the stabilization project, which was triggered after city
and state standards were updated to take into account the
sorts of changing weather patterns that have resulted in recurring
floods throughout the region in recent years, as well as such
national disasters as last year’s Hurricane Katrina
devastation of the city of New Orleans, Lloyd added that the
city DEP will also be searching out ways to use the City’s
reservoirs to assist in flood management throughout the region.
Last March, Lloyd committed the DEP to extending a snow pack-based
flood management program, running from December through March,
to the Pepacton and Neversink reservoirs on the Delaware River,
as well as the Schoharie. In the coming months, she said in
the recent announcement, the Department “will be seeking
to develop additional spill mitigation programs” throughout
the watershed area, including the Ashokan, which many downstream
of it along the Esopus have blamed for a series of recent
Lloyd’s statements came during a press conference held
with Schoharie County Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl Vanwormer
on Monday to announce that the DEP has committed to funding
a full $370,000 for an early warning system and emergency
flood planning costs, including the installation of new floodgates
at the Gilboa Dam.
A full scale, four-year reconstruction of the dam that had
been scheduled to begin in 2010 has been advanced, Lloyd said,
and will begin in 2008 at an estimated cost of $300 million.
The full-scale reconstruction project will bring the decades-old
structure up to State standards for new dam construction.
At one point, in an attempt to deflect possible flood damage
from snow melt-off and the Spring’s heavy rains, the
DEP opened up old flood channels on the Ashokan Field Campus
in Olivebridge, ostensibly closing down the facility, which
later went up for sale (still pending), for several months.
Concerns about raised water levels along the Upper Esopus
Creek were voiced by a number of Shandaken landowners, and
the town’s supervisor, at a public hearing held by the
DEP in Olive last winter. Similarly, concerns about high Ashokan
Reservoir water levels on downstream flooding in Marbletown,
Hurley, Ulster and Saugerties led to the formation of an ad
hoc committee of those town’s supervisors that have
been meeting to discuss mitigation over the past year.
“The Catskill Water Discovery Center will be a one of
a kind center—and the world-class architectural design
will reflect that,” reads the website description of
the multi-million dollar project set for a presentation to
the Woodstock area curious at the Woodstock Artists Association
and Museum this Thursday, September 28, at 7 pm. “With
roofs rising to mountain peaks, stone works and flowing water,
the building will actually be a miniature example of the way
the watershed works.”
The “free presentation” will likely mirror a series
of similar events last Spring in Shandaken and Middletown
where a model of the $20 million proposed museum by West Hurley
architect Joseph Hurvitz was shown, expecting the fact that
the entity has since been renamed The Water Discovery Center
in the Catskills.
The project, slated for 44 acres of land in the Delaware county
community of Arkville, was originally based on an idea by
local developer Dean Gitter’s, who insisted that a watershed
museum be funded by one million dollars of New York City money
under the 1997 memorandum of agreement. At the time Gitter,
who was alleged by a Sullivan County Planning Director to
have come to fisticuffs over allocation of the included museum
funds, had yet to announce his plansto build the controversial
thousand-room Belleayre Resort, still pending.
The original Watershed Museum, presaged by a briefly existing
Visitor’s Center located at Gitter’s Catskill
Corners complex in Mt. Tremper (later renamed Emerson Place),
was to have originally been built in Shandaken adjacent to
his planned resort. When the then Shandaken town board refused
to release saved town funds of approximately $400,000, received
as part of the City-Upstate MOA agreement as “Good Neighbor
Monies,” the project decided to move across the town
and county line to Arkville. Around the same time, Gitter
divorced himself from direct involvement with the project.
Most of the city’s original $1 million commitment was
lost after organizers failed to build the project within the
time frame originally agreed upon in 1997. In 2004, it was
announced that $5 million was needed to really do the job
right and a major fund raising campaign was launched. But
when funding proved elusive. it was decided by Board president
Gary Gailes, a former consultant to, and associate of Gitter,
that funding would flow more freely if the plans were expanded...
and the budget quadrupled.
The Catskill Water Discovery Center is now envisioned as 20,000
square feet of exhibit and classroom space, plus a sculpture
garden, art gallery, amphitheater, restaurant, and a network
of nature trails.
Refreshments, if the past is any indication, will likely be
Consciously seeking not to repeat last year’s 37 percent
tax increase, the County Legislature is currently entering
its annual budget process seweking to find savings…
possibly via its allocation of health benefits. Chairman David
Donaldson has submitted a plan he says could knock four percent
off the property tax rate by rolling back health care costs
to $17 million, the county’s 2005 spending levels…
without a reduction in access or quality of health care.
Donaldson said the savings would come largely through doubling
the current $10 health care co-pay for county employees. He
said for many county employees, there could actually be a
net savings because by increasing the co-pay, the premium
for membership in a health plan will go down. Employees pay
15 percent of that premium.
County Manager Michael Hein endorsed Donaldson’s outline
of the potential savings, and Republican Minority Leader Glenn
Noonan appeared to give Donaldson’s plan a perhaps begrudging
The increase applies to all county employees, though managers
still can recoup much of the expense through the County Plus
Plan. Employees covered by MVP will not see a change in prescription
co-pays. Inpatient service co-pays also will be applied to
health maintenance organizations, with the highest at $500
for CDPHP and MVP 20. However, Donaldson said employees will
not see a change in net cost for inpatient services because
the county plans to reimburse employees… and a hardship
fund will be established for union members who cannot carry
the added expense.
The county’s 358 Medicare-eligible retirees, meanwhile,
will be required to apply for Medicare and use the county’s
insurance as a supplement.
“This is similar savings to having 100 people laid off,”
saidl Hein. “This kind of thing can save jobs and really
protect the property owner, which is our real goal.”
Even so, Donaldson still expects layoffs after the county
2007 budget is released Oct. 19. He said health-care cost
reductions will shave 4 percentage points off an anticipated
30 percent tax increase for 2007.
Two Onteora students, Matthew V. Panico and Jonathan L. Perrin,
are among about 16,000 nationwide to be named this month as
National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. The semifinalists
will be considered for some 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards,
worth $33 million, that will be offered next spring.
To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists
must advance to the finalist level of the competition by fulfilling
several requirements. About 90 percent of the semifinalists
are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half will
be selected as Merit Scholarship winners, earning the Merit
More than 1.4 million 11th-graders in nearly 21,000 high schools
entered the 2007 National Merit Program by taking the 2005
Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test,
which served as an initial screen of program entrants.
The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less
than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring
entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state
is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national
total of graduating seniors.
To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding
academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended
by the school principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the
student’s earlier qualifying test performance. The semifinalist
and a school official must submit a detailed scholarship application,
including the student’s self-descriptive essay and information
about the semifinalist’s participation and leadership
in school and community activities.
Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their
skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous
college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin
or religious preference.
Ulster County residents had a chance recently to hear different
opinions on the proposed county charter that will be on the
ballot in November. The event, which attracted approximately
50 people to Temple Emanuel in Kingston, wass presented by
the League of Women Voters. The featured speakers, Gerald
Benjamin, chairman of the former charter commission and a
former Legislature Chairman, and William West, a former Legislature
chairman and Woodstock town supervisor, offered opposing points
of view on the proposed charter. Both are Republicans.
Benjamin, dean of liberal arts and sciences at SUNY New Paltz,
said the county needs a new form of government to keep up
with changes in the county’s economy, population and
way of doing business. He said the proposed charter answers
the demands of the public, which include full-time leadership,
a locus of authority, proper fiscal oversight and accountability,
and a fail-safe system.
West favors the idea of a charter, but opposes the current
proposal, which he said “emasculates the legislative
branch and gives dictatorial powers to the executive.”
West suggested a county management system headed by a county
manager who is not involved in politics and already familiar
with the day-to-day duties of managing a large entity. He
encouraged listeners to vote against the proposed charter
and support a management system instead.
Benjamin said an elected executive could better carry out
initiatives than a county manager, with strong leadership
skills and a political knowledge needed to bring people from
different points of view and backgrounds together. West argued
that the proposed charter would foster a corrupt and powerful
political machine, since department heads serving at the pleasure
of the incumbent executive will try to bolster his or her
“The driving force of a career in politics is to get
re-elected,” West said. “This is not the good
government we would all like to see.”
Residents raised questions about the amount of power a county
executive might wield and why the Health and Mental Health
department boards were demoted to advisory roles in the proposed
Benjamin said the elected executive will have a controller
looking over his or her shoulder for fiscal accountability,
as well as a Legislature to oversee operations.
Mark Braunstein of Saugerties-based Markertek and Tower Products
has been chosen Businessperson of the Year by the Ulster County
Development Corp. and the Chamber of Commerce of Ulster County.
Braunstein was cited for one of the six Ulster County Business
Recognition Awards to be presented at the second annual ceremony
Oct. 19 at the Wiltwyck Golf Club. Others to be honored are:
Sono-Tek Corp., Business of the Year; Skate Time 209, Small
Business of the Year; Shadowland Theatre, Cultural Business
of the Year; The Birches at Saugerties, Building Project of
the Year; and the Woodstock Film Festival, Tourism Business
of the Year.
The awards recognize individual and business leadership, as
well as investments and contributions to the economic future
of Ulster County and the Hudson Valley, according to Chester
J. Straub Jr.. president of the Ulster County Development
Corp., and Ward Todd, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
For reservations and additional information about the awards
dinner, seating for which is limited, call Linda Clark at
(845) 338-8840, ext. 10, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Democratic Ulster County Sheriff candidate Paul Van Blarcum
defeated Republican Kevin Costello in two primaries Sept.
12 – for the Conservative and Independence Party lines.
Van Blarcum appeared on the ballots and Costello was a write-in
Van Blarcum is hopeful this will be the forerunner to a November
general election victory. “I think it shows the broad
range of support I have in the community and in different
parties,” he said. “It’s a good upbeat result
for our campaign.”
Van Blarcum is a long-time member of the Ulster County Sheriff’s
Office. Costello is a retired state police BCI lieutenant.
The County Legislature is currently reviewing a proposal to
extend its employee health benefits to domestic partners of
county workers is under rigorous review by the Domestic Partnership
Assessment Subcommittee. Under the proposal, gay, lesbian
and heterosexual couples who have lived together for at least
a year and are financially interdependent would be eligible
for benefits. A legislative subcommittee looking into the
benefits extension is mulling whether to rely on two, rather
than three, proofs of financial interdependence as evidence
that a couple is living together, as a means of appeasing
conservatives who oppose the extension.
Albany, Westchester, Suffolk, Tomkins, Rockland, and New York
counties currently offer a domestic partner benefit program.
None has yet reported a significant financial impact. Also,
the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has ruled that if a domestic
partner does not qualify as an employee’s dependent,
excess health insurance coverage is considered a taxable fringe
benefit. The IRS also says that an employee can only elect
to provide coverage for a domestic partner, and not for any
children of that partner.
Heath Committee Chairman Robert Parete, D-Boiceville, has
said the issue is “not a pro-gay or pro-lesbian issue,
nor is it a pro-heterosexual issue, but a way to make benefits
available” to more county employees.
District two representative Brian Shapiro has added that although
domestic benefits would be of “interest” to gay
and lesbian couples “for obvious reasons... This would
all go away if New York State did the right thing and let
gay and lesbian couples get married.”
The average American home now has more television sets than
people. That threshold was crossed within the past two years,
according to Nielsen Media Research. There are 2.73 TV sets
in the typical home and 2.55 people, the researchers said.
With televisions now on buses, elevators and in airport lobbies,
that development may have as much to do with TV’s ubiquity
as an appliance as it does conspicuous consumption. The popularity
of flat-screen TVs now make it easy to put sets where they
haven’t been before.
Half of American homes have three or more TVs, and only 19
percent have just one, Nielsen said. In 1975, 57 percent of
homes had only a single set and 11 percent had three or more,
the company said. And in the average home, a television set
is turned on for more than a third of the day - eight hours,
14 minutes, Nielsen said. That’s an hour more than it
was a decade ago. Most of that extra TV viewing is coming
outside of prime time, where TVs are on only four minutes
more than they were 10 years ago.
The average person watches four hours, 35 minutes of television
each day, Nielsen said. But while people are watching more
television, ratings for the big broadcast networks have declined
steadily. That’s a function of the greater number of
channel choices available in each home, the company said.
The number of jobs created year over year in August in the
Hudson Valley and Catskills regions grew by over 9,000, according
to statistics from the state Labor Department released this
month. At the same time, the unemployment rates for many counties
inched up by a few tenths of a percentage point.
John Nelson, a Department of Labor analyst said the regions’
economy is doing very well.
“When industries like the financial activities sector
and the professional and business services are doing well,
that’s a very good indication that our region is doing
fairly well,” he said. “Professional and business
services, they added 2,200 jobs, and not to be out done, educational
and health services, they added 3,000 jobs over the past year.”
The largest job growth was in the Putnam-Rockland-Westchester
area, followed by Dutchess-Orange, and then Ulster County.
Greene, Columbia and Delaware counties all had job losses.
Hot-button topics such as same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian
youth, sexual health and aging will be showcased in seminars
and workshops at “Come Out & Find Out,” the
first-ever conference devoted to issues facing the lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community
of The Mid-Hudson Valley.
“Come Out & Find Out” will take place on Saturday,
September 30, 2006, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn,
503 Washington Avenue, Kingston, NY. The event is sponsored
by the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center Inc. and co-sponsored
by Stonewall Communities.
“The LGBTQ Community must still struggle to attain the
rights accorded all other Americans,” said Ginny Apuzzo,
President of the Board of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community
Center, Inc. “We remain second-class citizens. The Come
Out & Find Out conference was designed to provide people
with the knowledge, legal tools and inspiration to move forward
to achieve this goal. Once our community center has a home
— and we’re very close to realizing that dream
— the services and information offered at this conference
will be available year-round at the center. Gay or straight,
we welcome you to attend Come Out & Find Out.”
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, Inc., was established
in 2005 and currently seeks a permanent home in Kingston.
Already, 600 individuals and families have registered as Center
members. The Center would provide social services, as well
as cultural outreach and advocacy on issues important to the
entire Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community. Center events and fundraisers
are held throughout the year, including an upcoming Halloween
party on October 28 in Stone Ridge.
Breast Cancer Options, a local nonprofit organization with
a mission of making sure that women with breast cancer get
the support and information they need to make informed health
choices, especially at a time when they are under stress is
holding a “A celebration of life” Breast Cancer
Awareness Fundraiser and Silent Auction on October 7, at the
Bridgewater Bar & Grill, 50 Abeel Street, Kingston, featuring
the band Sonando.
Breast Cancer Options serves the counties of: Ulster, Columbia,
Greene, Dutchess, and Sullivan and in many areas provide the
only services that exist for women with breast cancer. Services
include 10 breast cancer support groups located throughout
the Hudson Valley, Companion/Advocates (trained breast cancer
survivors) to accompany newly diagnosed women to initial medical
appointments, weekly e-news (BCO News) updates and sign-up
is on their website and an annual Complementary Medicine conference,
held in the spring featuring MD,s and healthcare providers
who are experts in the field. In addition to all of that,
a Healthy Lifestyles calendar is published yearly featuring
information on risk reduction, chemicals consumers should
avoid and a list of products they are in, diet, stress reduction,
detoxification and other relevant information. The 2006 calendar
can be seen at http://www.breastcanceroptions.org/ (click
on Healthy Lifestyles) and can be ordered by phone. It is
free except for shipping charges.
For information or to pre-register for the fundraiser: 845/339-HOPE
Guest speakers at the upcoming Catskills Local Government
Day will discuss how some communities in the region are utilizing
and promoting renewable energy to fuel municipal operations.
This timely topic will be the focus of the afternoon session
at the Sixth Annual Local Government Day, to be held Thursday,
Oct. 19 at Hanah Country Inn, Margaretville. Registration
deadline is October 12. For an agenda and registration materials,
go to www.cwconline.org/special/gov_day, or call the Catskill
Watershed Corporation (CWC) at 845-586-1400.
The Olive Library will be hosting a special Harvest Table
and Lunch from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, October 7 at the
Library. For sale will be books, baked goods, and such harvest
items as maple syrup, jams and pickles, as well as local produce
Then a special homemade soup lunch will be served.
The event is free.