The Bear Facts...
The bears are here to stay, no matter what people do, two wildlife
professionals told Shandaken residents this week.
A special meeting was called at Town Hall for July 19 amid increasing
reports of bears running rampant through backyards, breaking
into homes and even eating food off the outdoor dining tables
of restaurants in the hamlet of Phoenicia.
People can take steps to reduce the problem and prevent bears
from tossing their trash all over the yard, said Kristine Flones,
a wildlife rehabilitator. If residents want, they can spend
$50 to $100 on bear-proof garbage cans, and in time the bears
may stop visiting them. But that alone, Flones said, won't send
the bears back up into the hills. It will send them to the next
house in search of dinner.
Restaurant owners can help out, too, by bear-proofing their
trash bins, but at a cost of $500 to $800.
Neither Flones nor Matt Merchant, a wildlife biologist with
the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said they
have ever seen an area completely vacated by bear once the animals
have identified it as a food source.
The presentation by Flones and Merchant was generally well-received,
but some, like Shandaken resident Linda Arnold, scoffed at the
advice, hoping the session would be geared more toward more
"We know all this and it is not working," Arnold said
about the usual tips like keeping garbage locked indoors, not
feeding pets outside and not using birdseed. "We are tired
of setting the alarm for four in the morning to put our garbage
out so the bears don't get it."
Merchant said the black bear population in the Catskills has
probably quadrupled since 1995, when there were about 600 of
them. He said bears are supposed to eat dandelions, acorns,
berries, and insects, but have been handed a superior diet by
With a sense of smell 100 times more powerful than humans, bear
have honed in on the goodies found inside trash containers everywhere
and are gradually becoming more and more comfortable around
humans when they come to town to get it.
Another problem is that people like to feed birds. That amounts
to an open invitation to bear because "birdseed seems to
be like candy for them," Merchant said.
Residents were advised to forget about the old days when the
Department of Environmental Conservation would trap a bear and
move it out of town. Merchant said they always come back, even
from 60 miles away, so the state agency rarely tries that approach.
Even so, the agency was trying to trap one small bear this week
in Phoenicia, where the 85-pound critter played a role in 20
people being infected by pepper spray when a police officer
used it to scare the bear out town during a parade.
Anoteh older bear was shot in Woodland Valley in the last week.
No funding is available to help residents and restaurants pay
for bear-proofing, though an incentive for the latter may be
on the way.
Merchant said that in nearby Sullivan County, the Health Department
has been cracking down on restaurants that don't keep a lid
on the trash trouble. So far, he said, the Ulster County Health
Department has not been involved, but the state agency wants
that to change.
"We're looking to work with the Health Department on this,"
Another issue is whether trash-hauling companies have any responsibility
in the matter. Although Merchant said the companies could retrofit
trash bins with anti-bear equipment, they don't do it unless
the customer pays.
But even if everyone did everything to keep bears away, it's
no longer realistic to think they will disappear, officials
Shandaken Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. said the natural habitat
for Catskill Mountain bear, the forever wild forest, has reached
a maturity level where there is not enough natural food to satisfy
their growing numbers, forcing them into populated areas where
people have cut back the tree growth. Cross also speculates
that the current bear problem is just another chapter in the
animals' survival. He said the bear were doing just fine until
the 1990s, thanks to another manmade attraction.
"The bear problem we see today didn't begin until they
closed up all the landfills," he said.
A casually-pressed crowd of about 60 invitees attended the grand
reopening July 17 of the former Catskill Corners in Mt. Pleasant,
newly renamed The Emporium at Emerson Place. For any who may
have wondered, the name does indeed honor 19th century essayist
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who, according to the complex's managing
partner Dean Gitter, played a seminal role in the founding of
America's conservation movement including the creation
of the Catskill Forest Preserve.
The retail complex, originally begun in 1993 with the help of
a $400,000 Housing and Urban Development grant obtained
through the Town of Shandaken, now includes 10 shops under its
nearly 10,000 square feet of roof. Retail establishments include
several clothing, gift, and furnishings stores, the area's
only Starbucks coffee, and of course the world's largest
"What we're trying to do is introduce new ideas"
said Emerson Place CEO Ted Wright, a former founder of the Regent
Hotel chain, and along with complex manager Naomi Umhey, one
of two project principals singled out by Gitter for their exceptional
work in nurturing it to its current state.
"I think this is one of the prettiest stores in America,"
said Gitter. "We hope it achieves in time the same kind
of respect The Emerson (Inn) has."
Gitter, who spoke of Wright as "the most positive man
I've ever known", also jokingly spoke of having
lured him into his current position because "he bought
my story that we're going to be Litchfield (Ct., one of
America's wealthiest towns) in another five years."
The remark brought considerable laughter, though it seemed unclear
whether for its prescient or its ironic value or perhaps for
both. Since 1990, Shandaken has been the fastest-growing town
in Ulster County, measured by the personal income of its full-time
residents and the median sale price of homes here.
According to Wright, in addition to the four new shops in the
Emporium, the complex's new cinema - currently under construction
in the former the Spotted Dog restaurant - will be open
before the end of summer. Comfort levels there should be first
class, as according to Wright, seating will consist entirely
of retired United Airlines first class cabin seats. Yes, they're
leather, and yes, they recline.
"This is a big day in the life of Shandaken" said
Gitter, noting that the Emporium's reopening coincided
with the successful celebration of the town's bicentennial.
"The atmosphere was happier than I've seen here
in five years. I hope it's a harbinger of things to come."
The decision to close the West Hurley school and move its student
body into Woodstock Elementary is final, the Onteora School
Board decided by a definitive 4-3 vote Monday, July 26, in its
third foray into the subject.
The issue had been raised by new board trustee David Patterson,
a West Hurley parent who was elected in part by a protest vote
against the decision to close the school, at the board's July
12 meeting. But when Patterson said he had a whole presentation
that needed serious consideration, a decision on the matter
was tabled until this week.
"The decision to close this school was not made with a
sound educational plan in mind," Paterson said, reading
his presentation. He posited that it would be better that a
sound plan for opening the school, then finding ways to match
such a decision's budget needs. Then he showed how $435,000
in cuts could be made from all non-mandated parts of the budget.
"The administration will have to live with it if we decide
this," he said, after pointing out his belief that the
decision-making process was backwards in the first place.
That belief was repeated, from the other side, during ensuing
discussion of Patterson's motion.
Herb Rosenfeld sided with Patterson, charging that the board
based its decision to close West Hurley on "a bad premise"
that included the untouchability of a number of existing programs
throughout the district, and crystal-balling lessening enrollment
figures for local elementary schools over the coming years.
"We're not sure that five years down the line we won't
have more kids than we know what to do with," Rosenfeld
said. "I had this same argument David presented in my head,
but he put it down on paper. We have to take it seriously."
Neil Eisenberg countered by noting the number of times the board
had already "rehashed" the issue, keeping it from
other work that needed similar attention.
Finally, new Onteora superintendent Justine Winters said that
after careful study and discussion, she and the district's administrative
council had decided to back up the decision to close West Hurley
"This is a tough issue, and this board has taken it very
seriously all along" she said, mentioning her own past
experiencing having to close a school in her old Amenia School
District in Dutchess County, as well as the manner in which
she was asked about it during her application process last winter.
"The teachers feel this is the right thing to do. In the
end, it comes down to the children, and if they have good teachers
with them through this, they'll be fine∑ My decision,
and the Administrative Council's decision, is to close the West
Hurley School and move its students into the Woodstock Elementary
Board President Marino D'Orazio, who stayed with his opposition
vote to the closing in keeping with the last two roll calls
on the matter, finished discussion of the subject with an impassioned
speech about how the public's use of a resounding protest vote
had worked to harm students.
"This decision has not involved any waffling, but people
struggling with a very difficult decision," D'Orazio said.
"The voters here have to take some responsibility for what's
going on here because by voting down the budget twice, they've
hamstrung the school board and condemned the district to this
kind of problem. When you give us a budget that's like crumbs,
this is what you get. People need to learn from this. No one
gets punished but the students."
Later, members of the public, most from West Hurley or Woodstock,
spoke about their disappointment in the decision and worried,
aloud, about potential overcrowding problems at Woodstock, especially
in the auditorium. One parent again raised what he called the
unfairness of hurting a majority of students for a few hundred
special education cases. He implied that there was an un-addressed
problem in the growing numbers of such students within the district.
For the most part, those speaking against the board's decisions
sat together and clapped for each other's statements.
Not As Healthy...
In other business Monday, there was considerable discussion
of the effects of the contingency budget on previously-made
plans for the district. Particular attention was placed on plans
to expand the nutritiousness of district meals, with district
business administrator Chuck Snyder noting that such changes
could not legally be made under present circumstances. Food
Services Director Gary Ecklund gave a presentation in which
he recommended cutting $36,000 in his budget, including all
salad bars, which he said were used 65 percent by staff, 35
percent by students.
"We'll still work to wean students off of the more non-nutritious
snacks," Ecklund said, suggesting such solutions as yogurt
instead of ice cream, lower fat chips, higher percentages of
juice in available drinks. "The state has also mandated
cutting the fat content in meals∑"
Following an executive session at meeting's close, the board
voted to accept the contingent budget line items proposed by
the administration and forego any discussion of substitutions
for the time being.
A tightened-belt year awaits the district henceforth.
The Ulster County Legislature's close one-vote majority
on behalf of the Republican Party is currently in danger of
shisting to what would be the first Democratic majority in decades
because of a recent court ruling ordering Town of Ulster Legislator
James Maloney to give up one of two roles he now holds. The
decision, made at the end of a lawsuit brought by Ulster County
Democratic Party Chairman John Parete of Olive, claimed that
Maloney had a conflict of interest by being the town assessor
for Ulster and the town of Kingston while simultaneously serving
as a county legislator. State Supreme Court Justice Vincent
Bradley upheld the suit and has ruled that Maloney must either
relinquish his $56.000 a year assessors post or his $10,000
a year legislature seat. The GOP currently holds a 17-16 majority
on the legislature, meaning that should Maloney resign, a tie
would result. Under state law, if a county legislature is unable
to agree on a replacement legislator, it the governor of the
state must step in to make an appointment.
Not So Fast
Any cumulative impacts of an expanded Belleayre Mountain
Ski Area and the proposed Crossroads resort will have to wait
until the resort's issues for adjudication have been finally
determined, probably sometime in 2005. That in essence, was
the July 20 ruling of Department of Environmental Conservation
Commissioner Erin Crotty, in denying a request from the Catskill
Preservation Coalition for an expedited appeal of Judge Wissler's
decision that DEC can, for now, continue to withhold from the
public its draft Unit Management Plan for the state run ski
"It remains our position," said CPC counsel Marc
Gerstman, "that to evaluate the proposed Crossroads project,
we must have the details concerning the proposed expansion of
the ski area. We support the ski area's expansion, and
because we do, we believe it's strongly in the ski area's
interests for DEC to put this on the table. Everyone needs
to make sure that the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center isn't
precluded from expanding by Crossroads exploitation of some
of the area's finite resources like its water supply,
and other environmental impacts like traffic capacity."
"We thought (Commissioner Crotty's) was the correct
legal decision," said Crossroads lead counsel Dan Ruzow,
"consistent with other procedural decisions made by the
commissioner." Crossroads had earlier, along with DEC
staff, filed affirmations opposing CPC's request.
DEC for its part, declined to comment as to the reasoning behind
its commissioner's decision, which was not included in
the agency's brief letter to Gerstman denying the appeal.
The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development honored
local NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Natural Resource
Supervisor Bill Rudge for his dedication to the health of the
ecosystems of the Catskills recently.
At their 35th Annual Membership Meeting in Woodstock at the
Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Mr. Rudge was presented the award for
Outstanding Contribution to the Environment. The Catskill Center's
regional award was created in 1974 as a way to give special
recognition to people within the region who have made a significant
contribution to improving the quality of life in the Catskils.
Rudge, a resident of Big Indian, began his career with the NYSDEC
in 1980 as a part-time Assistant Ranger and worked his
way through the ranks. In 2000 he was promoted to his
current position of Natural Resource Supervisor.
Bill graduated in 1982 with a BA in Natural Resource Management
from Colorado State University. In addition to his DEC
duties Bill sits on several committees including the Open Space
Committee, The Upper Delaware Council and the Catskill Park
Upon accepting his award, Bill reflected on the works of author
Alf Evers, attributing his deep passion for the Catskills to
Alf's book The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock.
Coincidentally a raffle prize of an Alf Evers collection
of 3 books, donated by Overlook Press, was awarded to Bill's
son Caleb, who seemed eager to digest the knowledge his Dad
spoke so highly of.
Also at the meeting, Patricia Pomeroy, Town of Rockland Supervisor,
received the award for Outstanding Local Leadership. During
her term as supervisor, the Town of Rockland has rewritten and
adopted new Zoning & Subdivision regulations, extended their
water and sewer districts, and is presently undergoing major
Main Street revitalization projects in Livingston Manor.
The Catskill Center is a non-profit, membership organization
working to foster both healthy ecosystems and vibrant communities
in the Catskills. For more information please visit
their website at www.catskillcenter.org or call (845) 586-2611.
The Olive Soccer Club enjoyed another successful MLS soccer
camp. The week of July 19th, Coach Simon and Coach Neal
challenged the kids to improve their soccer skills through fun,
skill- based games. They also ran a wonderful coaches
clinic Saturday morning. Many thanks to all who contributed
to the success of the camp: parents, children, our MLS coaches,
the Workstus family, and Get the Scoop, for providing ice cream
for our awards ceremony Friday evening.
Mark your calendars! The 2005 MLS summer soccer camp will
run August 15 through 19, 9am to Noon.
The U.S government has faced criticism from the medical community
recently for preventing U.S scientists from attending the international
AIDS conference which opened in Bangkok. The conference, which
is attended by 17,000 delegates from across the world, is more
politically than scientifically oriented. The conference is
biennial. This year the U.S has sent only 50 scientists, as
opposed to the 236 who attended the last event in Barcelona.
Officials say the reason for the decrease is cost. The
Department of Health and Human Services has been accused of
actively blocking certain U.S scientists and doctors from attending
at Bangkok. Many believe the motive has to do with the rift
between the U.S and AIDS activists who oppose America’s
approach to the pandemic.
The Census Bureau has given specially tabulated population figures
on Arab-Americans to the Department of Homeland Security, including
how many people of Arab background live in certain ZIP codes.
The assistance is legal, but civil liberties groups and Arab-American
advocacy organizations protest, saying it is a dangerous breach
of public trust, and likening the process to the Census Bureau’s
compilation of similar information on Japanese-Americans during
WWII. The figures were compiled in August 2002 and December
2003 in response to queries from what is now the Customs and
Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security.
One set of data listed cities with more than 1,000 Arab-Americans.
The second set gives ZIP-code level breakdowns of Arab-American
populations, sorted by country of origin. The categories were
Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian,
Syrian and two general categories, "Arab/Arabic" and
"Other Arab." The census bureau is required to provide
information to other federal agencies.
According to a study by the Government Accountability Office,
95 percent of soldiers at eight Army Reserve Units sent to Iraq
and other Middle East bases have encountered problems with payment,
creating concern over financial well-being of their families
at home. Problems include soldiers being underpaid, overpaid,
or paid late, and sometimes the problems persisted for more
than a year. Soldiers involved in the investigation said the
problems damaged morale and the Army’s rate of retention.
"You never want to mess with a soldier's money. That's
a cardinal rule," Army Capt. Orlando Amaro said. "When
a soldier has financial issues, the morale just goes through
Beginning this fall Ulster County Community College will offer
a new course sequence for professionals working with children
under age 5 in childcare centers and other settings. The courses,
which carry college credits, will be offered evenings at the
college's Stone Ridge campus.
Suitable for those who are working or intending to work in childcare,
the Child Development Associate sequence
provides the 120 training hours required for certification by
the Child Development Associate credentialing program of the
Council for Professional Recognition. In addition, candidates
currently employed in regulated childcare settings may apply
Educational Incentive Program (EIP) funds toward tuition costs.
The telephone number for SUNY EIP information is 1-800-295-9616
and its website is www.tsg.suny.edu.
For information, phone (845) 687-5022 or email CDAInfo@sunyulster.edu.
Course descriptions are available on the SUNY Ulster website
at http://www.sunyulster.edu/catalog/cda.asp. General information
regarding the CDA credential can be found at www.cdacouncil.org
The Ulster County Legislaure and the Ulster County Office of
Employment and Training (OET) have announced plans to reach
out to the employees of Imperial Schrade who were laid off in
Imperial Schrade was one of the larger manufacturers in the
region and closed its doors Wednesday laying off an estimated
250 workers at its Ellenville factory. "We were
shocked when we got the news, we had every indication that they
were recovering and growing," OET Director Fawn Tantillo
said, noting that the company had placed ads seeking workers
as recently as last week. "If they had given us any warning,
we could have done a ŒRapid Response' and been there
to help them on the spot."
OET is working closely with the New York State Department of
Labor (DOL) and other agencies to contact these workers. Imperial
Schrade has not yet released the names of the affected workers
to the State as required by Federal Trade Act regulations. The
Company did cooperate with officials after the December layoff
of approximately 120 workers by allowing notices and information
to be included with severance checks. Tantillo hopes to include
information in checks scheduled to go out on August 5.
Although all workforce services are available at the OneStop
on Albany Avenue in Kingston, plans are being developed to contact
these workers and bring the OneStop "Rapid Response"
to an Ellenville location. Rapid Response involves a team of
workforce professionals from New York State Department of Labor,
OET, and other agencies that bring information about Unemployment
Benefits and other vital services available to dislocated workers.
In addition, plans are underway to provide a Job Fair in Ellenville
in the next few weeks. In the meantime, workers should register
for Unemployment Insurance by calling 1-888-209-8124.
For additional information contact Fawn Tantillo 845-340-3168.
The chief of U.S Park Police was fired last week, nearly a year
after she was suspended for publicly lamenting the underfunding
and understaffing of her department. The Interior Department
said Teresa Chambers was dismissed after a review of her case
by deputy assistant secretary Paul Hoffman. She was dismissed
for breaking government rules against making public comments
about budget and lobbying. Chambers has vowed to continue to
fight for her job.
The U.S. Park Police patrol the National Mall, parks in Washington,
the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York Harbor, San
Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and Presidio, and some scenic
parkways in Maryland and Virginia. The force employs nearly
680 people, but vacancies have left it 15 percent below its
Oy, Our Hospitals
The Kingston Hospital board has abandoned plans to build a cooperative
relationship with Benedictine Hospital, and will instead pursue
an affiliation with Health Quest, the network of health care
entities which includes Vassar Brothers Hospital and Northern
Dutchess Hospital. "Based on discussions with board members
and staff of Health Quest, (Kingston Hospital's) board has decided
to move in the direction of an affiliation with Health Quest,"
David Buchmueller, Kingston Hospital's interim president and
chief executive officer in a statement. Health Quest also includes
Putnam Hospital Center, Alamo Ambulance, and Hudson Valley Home
“Folded Pyramid”, the sculpture which was placed
on the front lawn of the Ulster County Office Building last
spring, will remain in its home in front of the building. The
county's Public Works Committee has approved a $1 lease for
the sculpture so it can stay where it is. The artist, Anthony
Krauss, had offered to sell the sculpture to the county for
$50,000, but the price was far to steep for the county’s
tight finances. Neither the county nor the artist wanted
to pay the expensive required liability insurance on the piece.
Eventually, Krauss and county officials agreed the county would
lease the piece for a year for $1, and it would be included,
at no extra expense, in the county’s umbrella insurance
Officials at the National Institutes of Health and at the White
House are trying to shift some of the focus in research and
enforcement of drugs from “hard” drugs like cocaine
and heroine to marijuana. While overall drug use is falling
among teenagers, officials worry that children who are trying
pot are doing so at younger ages, when their bodies and minds
are susceptible to dangerous side effects. Additionally, raids
have found that the potency of Marijuana has steadily grown
in the last 5 years. “Marijuana today is a much more serious
problem than the vast majority of Americans understand,”
says John Walters, head of the White House Office of National
Drug Control Policy, “If you told people that one in five
of 12- to 17-year-olds who ever used marijuana in their lives
need treatment, I don't think people would remotely understand
Congress recently approved an extension of funding for the Hudson
River Valley National Heritage Area, after the region was initially
taken out of a package of heritage area bills set for renewal.
The vote makes the local heritage area eligible for an additional
$10 million in federal funding through 2027. The renewed
funding isseen by some as a form of recognition of the region's
depth of cultural and history resources that will enable a fuller
federal participation in local activities to preserve and protect
the valley, and its resources, for generations to come. The
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area was nearly deleted
from the bill, and would not have made it to the floor for a
vote had it not been for the intervention of two local congressmen,
U.S. Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, and John Sweeney, R-Clifton
Park. The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area was enacted
in 1996, and was eligible for up to $10 million in federal aid.
The sunset of that legislation has now been extended to 2027,
and an additional $10 million is available for related programs.
For more information on the Hudson River Valley National Heritage
Area, visit the Web site www.hudsonrivervalley.com.
Mining For What?
Last week a federal district judge struck down an Army Corps
of Engineers procedure that gives a blanket pre-clearance to
Appalachian mining operations that dynamite away mountaintops
and dump refuse into streams. The judge, Joseph R. Goodwin of
Federal District Court in Charleston, ruled that the procedure,
called a nationwide permit, improperly skips the requirement
that the impact of mining on streams be determined before and
not after such a permit be provided. He stated that “a
post hoc, case-by-case evaluation of minimal impact defeats
the purpose of the law.” Currently, 11 mining operations
are under way under the general permit process which the judge
The Republican National Committee has asked Bush-backing Roman
Catholics to provide copies of their parish directories to help
register Catholics to vote in the November election, a use of
personal information not necessarily condoned by dioceses around
the country. The RNC is using the information from parish directories
only for its nonpartisan voter registration drive, an RNC spokesperson
said. Those efforts target members of other faiths as well as
people who belong to nonreligious organizations, she said.
But parish directories often contain personal information about
church members, including names of family members, home addresses
and phone numbers. Iverson said she did not know if the GOP
had sought similar directories from other religious organizations
or how many Catholic directories it received in response to
Gillespie's request. A number of church members are questioning
the move already.
A man many suspected of being "Deep Throat" in the
Watergate scandal died last week. Fred LaRue, called the "bagman"
because he delivered payments to ensure the silence of those
involved in the Watergate break-in, was found dead in a hotel
room in Biloxi. This may bring an end to the Watergate mystery.
The two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story,
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, have said they would only reveal
the identity of the informant once he died. Although there are
several people suspected to be Deep Throat, LaRue is one of
the more likely candidates. Although LaRue insisted he was not
Deep Throat, and advanced that the source was a combination
of several people, Woodward and Bernstein have maintained that
Deep Throat was one person. LaRue served four and a half months
in prison for his role in the Watergate conspiracy.
Greece will allow 400 American Special Forces soldiers to be
present at the upcoming Olympic Games under NATO auspices.
According to Greek and American sources, they will also permit
American, Israeli and possibly British security officers to
carry weapons. The arrangements, which will not be publicly
acknowledged so as not to increase anti-American sentiments,
represent a large departure from Olympic tradition, as well
as Greek law. The F.B.I is also sending a hostage rescue team.
Greece and the United States are still in talks about rules
that will govern the American security forces, such as how many
there will be, what kind of weapons they will carry, and where
they will be able to be. The United States and other NATO countries,
along with other nations, are very involved in the complex security
plans for the Games, which the Greek government estimates will
cost $1.2 billion.
U.S researchers said last week that President Bush may be tapping
into solid human psychology when he mentions the September 11
attacks while campaigning for reelection this fall. The research,
published in Psychological Science and the September issue of
the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, finds that talking
about death can increase people’s need for psychological
security. "There are people all over who are claiming every
time Bush is in trouble he generates fear by declaring an imminent
threat," said Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College, who
worked on the study. "We are saying this is psychologically
useful." For their first study, researchers told students
to think about either their own death or a neutral topic.
They then read the campaign statements of three hypothetical
candidates for governor, each with a different leadership style.
One of the three was charismatic. The others were “task
oriented”. The students who thought about death were much
more likely to choose the charismatic statement.
Asbestos deaths have steadily risen since the 1960s and will
probably keeping on rising because of past exposure to the material,
which was once widely used in insulation and fireproofing. According
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1,493 people
died from asbestos in 2000. 77 people died from asbestos in
1968. In 1998, asbestos-related deaths overtook those
from black lung disease, in part because of the decline of the
coal-mining industry. The CDC says that because asbestos-related
illnesses are slow in developing, asbestos deaths will probably
increase through the next decade. It can take up to 40 years
between the time someone is exposed to the material and dies
from it. Exposure can cause asbestosis, in which asbestos fibers
get into the lungs and damage them. The lungs become stiff and
it becomes difficult to take in air or transfer air to the blood.
This can lead to lung infections and respiratory failure.
The Big Bucks
The median pay for a CEO in the United States increased by 15
percent last year, and rose even more - 22 percent - for chiefs
at larger companies, according to a survey by The Corporate
Library. The survey showed increases in almost every category
of executive compensation, including base salary, annual bonus,
total annual compensation, restricted stock, long-term incentive
payouts and the value realized from the exercise of stock options.
The only category to decline from 2002 to 2003 was the value
of stock option grants. Among the 372 companies included in
the survey that are listed on the Standard and Poor's
500 Index, median compensation for CEOs rose 22.18 percent.
Of the 1,059 remaining chief executives, the median increase
was 13.12 percent. Taken together, the increase was 15 percent.
Despite public outcry in recent years against excessive pay
levels, the report said that Œ'since every other
element of pay has increased, both in magnitude and frequency,
CEOs are unlikely to feel the squeeze for at least three years,
perhaps never.'' The survey also examined the pay
of 1,794 CEOs who held their posts for all of 2003, and found
that median compensation was $1.85 million. Industry by industry,
The Corporate Library reported that CEOs of telecommunications
and securities and commodities companies had some of the highest
median total compensation levels in 2003, coming in at around
$8 million in both categories.
Helping Iraqi Kids
The Ulster County Feather Friend 4-H Club of Ulster County needs
the community's help to put smiles on 500 Iraqi children's
faces by putting sandals on their feet. The Feather Friend 4-H
Club of Ulster County, a group of youth ages 9 to 19 based in
Tillson, has decided to help by collecting new or used children's
sandals from now until October 1, 2004. The sandals will
be shipped to the Command Sergeant of the 800 soldiers from
the New York National Guard currently stationed in Iraq.
Our soldiers will personally give the sandals to Iraqi children,
most of whom do not own shoes of any kind. To kick off
this effort a special booth has been set up in the Poultry Barn
at the Ulster County Fair. Donations of new or used children's
sandals, or cash donations to help pay for postage, can be brought
there from 10 am to 9 pm daily for the fair taking place August
3-8, 2004 at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz. Other
collection sites from now until October 1, 2004 are: Burd Farm
Stand, Route 209, Kerhonkson; Cornell Cooperative Extension
of Ulster County, 10 Westbrook Lane, Kingston; Rosendale Hardware,
1094 Route 32, Rosendale.For more information please call: Annie
Mardiney at 845-658-3467 or Cornell Cooperative Extension of
Ulster County 4-H Office at 845-340-3990.
The United States will no longer be a majority Protestant nation
in years to come, due to a precipitous decline in affiliation
with many Protestant churches, a new survey has found. Between
1993 and 2002, the share of Americans who said they were Protestant
dropped from 63 percent to 52 percent, after years of remaining
generally stable, according to a study released recently by
the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
At the same time, the number of people who said they had no
religion rose from 9 percent to nearly 14 percent, and many
are former Protestants, the survey's authors said. The
study was based on three decades of religious identification
questions in the General Social Survey, which the opinion center
conducts to measure public trends. Among the reasons for the
decline were the large number of young people and adults leaving
denominations as the number of non-Protestant immigrants increased,
comprising a greater share of the population. Also, a lower
percentage are being raised Protestant. The Roman Catholic population
has remained relatively stable over the period, making up about
25 percent of the U.S. population. People who said they belonged
to other religions - including Islam, Orthodox Christianity
or Eastern faiths - increased from 3 percent to 7 percent between
1993 and 2002, while the share of people who said they were
Jewish remained stable at just under 2 percent.
Supervisor Leifeld issued a comment at the July 29 meeting on
the new ORPS figures which urges some reflection.
"Sitting there last Tuesday (at a public meeting of the
State Board of Real
Property Services, where Olive was on an agenda which included
the establishment of "final 2004 State equalization rates
for localities where complaints have been filed") and watching
the other 25 towns and cities go up there and say 'we're facing
a 60% increase," Leifeld observed. "It's like
they were talking about us- well, you've got to do a reval;
you've got to do a reval..."
Leifeld conceded that he may not be the sharpest political analyst
in the state but adding "But I can tell you one thing...
The reason we're doing all the revals now is because that's
going to be less state aid they have to pay to all these little
school districts. Then, they can give it to New York
Olive Town Clerk Sylvia Rozzelle later elaborated on the notion
that shortfalls from recent tax cuts have created a glaring
budget problem, particularly in New York State by suggesting
that the state is borrowing against new year's budget to try
to get this year's budget together.
"We're number one of the 50 states with the largest amount
of debt," she observed. "We have the highest amount
per man, woman and child paid in
taxes- $4,645 per capita versus $3,100 for the national average...
The state has no money, so they're pressing all these towns
to do revals.
"If you go to the ORPS website, you'll read all about Carmel,
Armenia and all these places that have done revals because the
state is pushing it. Then you get all these high evaluations
in there as property values go up because people in the city,
having more money than we do, are buying. Then the state doesn't
have to pay as much in state aid to the school districts and
counties and we pay more out of our own pocket. That's how that
works. This is their grandiose plan to put more tax burden on
our shoulders and make themselves look better."
It also puts school districts in more of a pickle with $9.4
billion cut at the federal level from this years education budget
on top of $17 billion sliced from the No Child Left Behind program
in the last two years.