Secret DEP Contracting Repair SNAFU Results in 3-Day Loss Of
By Tree McElhinney
Damage to a cable that left about one-third of Olive residents
without telephone service for three days was caused by a contractor
who was working for the Department of Environmental Protection.
According to DEP spokesperson Charles Sturcken, the Williams
Electric contractor was installing "security infrastructure"
in conjunction with the US Army Corp of Engineers "in and
around the [Ashokan] dam area."
"We don‚t talk about the security," said Sturcken
when asked to explain exactly what work was being done. "It's
electronics on the advice of the Army Corp of Engineers."
Sturcken said that the DEP apologizes for the inconvenience
caused by the contractor‚s negligence. "We are sort
of angry with the contractor who claims he was told by Verizon
where to cut where he did," he added.
According to Verizon spokesperson Cliff Lee, the DEP contractor
nicked one of the telephone's cables when replacing conduit
near the Ashokan Reservoir. Water from the heavy rainfall during
that time eventually seeped into the cable and caused the outage,
Onteora Board Gets 600 Pages On Van Dale Bridge Facility;
Then Looks To Future
By Violet Snow
Board president Marino D'Orazio said that the county
legislature had provided 600 pages of material regarding
the Van Dale Road bridge refabrication facility. He
and trustee Tom Rosato will go through them and then
discuss the information with the board and decide
what experts to hire, if any, to evaluate whether
the facility constitutes a health threat to students
and staff at the West Hurley Elementary School. Margaret
Pickard, who lives near the facility, told the board
that a tanker truck heading for the facility ran her
daughter's car off the road, despite a sign on the
back of the car reading "Student Driver".
She also reported that a core sample is being requested
at the site of the county's former facility in Saugerties
to determine whether pollutants have entered the ground
there, and she asked that the board receive a copy
of the findings.
Ann Gentilin, head of the Onteora Non-Teaching Employees
Association and chairperson of the New York State
United Teachers Support-Related Professionals, announced
that Governor Pataki had proclaimed November 18 Support-Related
Professionals (SRP) day in recognition of the vital
role played by non-teaching staff in the schools.
"Without us, a building cannot open or operate,"
said Gentilin. "We are the first to see your
kids in the morning when the bus driver picks them
up. We feed them, we take care of them when they are
sick, we keep the schools clean. We don't get paid
a hell of a lot, but we do it because we love what
we do." D'Orazio added his praise, noting that
support staff are also responsible for counseling
of students in distress, security of school buildings,
organization of documents, and other important functions.
LIVING THE HIGH LIFE... The
daughters of a couple of our writers took advantage of a brief
bit of warmth (to them) to take advantage of their last trampolining
before winter hits...
Major Budget Increases
With No Comment From The Public, Olive Sets A New Spending Plan
By Tree McElhinney
After a public hearing that attracted no comments from the few
town residents who were in attendance, the Olive Town Board
last week unanimously adopted a 2004 budget that increases the
tax levy by 9.7 percent.
Offset by estimated revenues of $383,750 and an unexpended fund
balance of $320,550, the total amount to be raised by taxes
is $2,471,995, an increase of $218,533 over this year‚s
The 2004 spending plan totals $3,176,295 and represents
a 9.5 percent increase over this year's expenditures. Broken
down, it includes general fund appropriations of $1,492,658,
an increase of 7.3 percent over this year's general fund appropriations;
highway fund appropriations of $1,262,687, a 6.1 percent increase;
and funding for the fire district totaling $420,400, a 31.9
percent increase that is due largely to the implementation of
a state-endorsed service award program for volunteer firefighters
that was overwhelmingly approved by voters earlier this month.
"I am not happy with the budget," said Town Supervisor
Berndt Leifeld after it was approved. "But most of it was
mandatory, so that is the way it went."
A Powerbase In Quiet Boiceville
By Paul Smart
John Parete, the Chairman of the Ulster County Democratic Party
responsible for bringing his party to within one vote of a legislative
majority, has long seen himself as a force along both the Route
28 and 209 corridors.
Parete, who has owned and operated the popular Boiceville Inn
for over thirty years now, lives in Stone Ridge next to the
parental home he grew up in since moving Upstate as a boy. But
he's long seen himself as an Olivite, having proved instrumental
in that town's current political makeup. Furthermore, he is
also heavily involved in Shandaken life, albeit at more of an
arm's length than his other vocations.
Parete sees himself as a local, even though his roots were elsewhere.
There are archetypal qualities to his life story, as well as
numerous well-learned lessons in his political ideology, no
matter how partisan (and often non-partisan) it can seem from
The eldest of eight, Parete was born in Brooklyn, from which
he moved to White Plains at age four. His father was a manufacturing
engineer who eventually realized his dream of moving to the
country when John was school age∑ and the local school
in Stone Ridge was still a single room.
Parete went on to Marbeltown Central School and then Kingston
High. Taking advantage of what he now calls a "half-assed
athletic ability," he spent a year at the University of
Miami on a baseball scholarship. But he realized he missed Ulster
County and his family. So he moved back home.