to the Editor
The brouhaha as Mr. Alexander's article (Olive Press, August 28, 2008)
states over Mr. Burkhardt, a physical education teacher at Onteora high
school, being transferred to Phoenicia School is getting to be old hat
and a bit ridiculous and childish. I have read over the last several
weeks letters from students, parents voicing their opinion on how unfair
the transfer was, and Mr. Burkhardt, himself, making comments to The
Olive Press on how unfair it was. After reading Mr. Alexander's article,
I feel that Mr. Burkhardt has not convinced me that the school district
was not acting in the best interests of all children and taxpayers in
the district by having him step into an open position. Apparently, there
was an excess of physical education teachers in the middle/high school.
Mr.Burkhardt needs to approach this transfer as an opportunity to provide
his expertise on the elementary level. If he has done innovative programs
on the high school level, adapt those programs for the elementary students
and educate them of the importance of physical activity. Given the alarmingly
large number of children who are overweight, it would seem wise to develop
adaptive programs for students with lesser athletic ability on the elementary
level. Perhaps administration saw that Mr. Burkhardt could meet the
challenge of educating the younger students on the value of physical
Mr. Burkhardt mentions that in the elementary school he would lose the
day-to-day contact with his athletes. It seems that being homer on maternity
leave he does not have the day-to-day contact with the athletes until
he arrives for practice. Apparently, the students have adapted and have
managed to survive without Mr. Burkhardt being in the building all day.
I have not read that his athletes have gone into crisis.
Mr. Burkhardt also mentions that he has no experience with the students
on the elementary level. Mr. Burkhardt you have a young son who will
give you much experience with the little ones and to whom you can teach
that life throws us a curves and that we do not always get to have things
our way but that you accept the disappointment and move on. Teach him
as well as your athletes how to meet and overcome those curves through
your exemplary performance. A good leader rises to the challange.
I hope that when you come off maternity leave in March that you greet
your new position as a professional and show the little ones that you
care about them. I dare you meet that challange.
Earla Van Kleek
This letter is in response to Jen Dragon's letter to the editor. She
stated in the September 11th issue that the sewer system was defeated
"due to intense lobbying by some business owners who do not want
to have competition from a new hotel being rebuilt on Main Street."
This statement is not true. The sewer system was voted down by over
150 residents and business people combined of the hamlet of Phoenicia.
We made this decision after putting a lot of time and energy going to
numerous meetings which took place over a two year period. We decided
against the system only after investigating the pros and cons that were
put before us. There were many reasons for this decision. No one person
or a few people made the decision for the whole group. These reasons
were published and are still available for anyone who cares to see them.
The decision to buy the Phoenicia Hotel was made by the present owner.
If it is in fact true that the present owner was dependent on the sewer
system to go through in order to build a new hotel why did he buy the
site to begin with? The owner already knew that the sewer was voted
down when he bought the hotel. The residents of the town are not part
owners of the Phoenica Hotel site. His decisions for buying the property
were his own, so why are we now being blamed for the pile of debris
left in the center of town? It make no sense. We, the residents of the
town, are not responsible for another individual's private business
Phoenicia is situated in some of the loveliest country in the northeast.
I think that is the reason why many of us choose to live here. It was
a pretty little village at one time and it can be again. Having a massive
debris pile in the center of a town is not the same as a pile off on
a back road somewhere, thus all the complaints. The decent thing for
the present owner of the hotel site to do now is to clean up the debris
as soon as possible. If he is unable to do this, perhaps he should consider
selling it to someone who can. The residents and visitors alike would
be very grateful to him for this.
We live on Long Island and are frequent skiers at Belleayre Mountain
and we are all second homeowners in Delaware and Ulster Counties. It
seems to us that Belleayre Ski Center has been growing and thriving
and doing fine these past few years without a new high scale Ritz resort
and spa next to it. AS taxpayers, we very much object to the millions
of dollars that the state is considering spending for this ski-in ski-out
development. Since New York State is now in a fiscal crisis (we agree
with all you are doing to control spending), this is one area that is
frivolous, unnecessary. and a completely wasteful use of taxpayer money.
Besides the money, and morte importantly, if this resort is built, please
consider what would be lost forever to us all. The undeveloped beauty
and the raw nature of the mountains is priceless and irreplaceable.
Once it is gone, we can never bring it back. Please don't let this huge
development at Highmont destroy what we love so much and what keeps
us coming back to this area. We would hate to have to drive all the
way to the Adirondacks in order to find what has been lost here.
Joyce & Tom McLaughlin
Laura & Ray Prochaska
Lori & Tom McLaughlin, Jr.
Long Island, NY
It sure would have been nice to get some advance notice of that hefty
school tax increase (over 28% in my case) from any of our elected officials.
Did you think by not telling us we weren't going to notice? Some of
us are on budgets, real budgets, fixed budgets please keep us in mind.
Thanks to Victoria McLaren at Onteora for the clear explanation of the
increase. Whatever happened to OLIVE MATTERS?
Here we go again. The Onteora School Board is holding a community forum
that will only benefit the school board, school administrators and those
that attend the forum. The press release reads this is one in a proposed
series of educational forums the District intends to hold this year,
designed to elicit a variety of views on various educational ideas and
models and stimulate community discussion. It doesn’t say how
tax payers that can’t attend the forum will be able to participate.
Taking the views and opinions of only those that attend the forum does
not reflect the feelings of all the district tax payers. Families that
have children going to school will benefit the most because many retirees
and the elderly can’t or won’t attend the forum. Apparently
the Board isn’t interested in the opinions of all district tax
payers. Every tax payer has the right to have their voices heard. So
how will the school board know the views and opinions of the entire
school district? A survey based on the forum with clear choices would
give the board a better understanding of how most tax payers feel and
not just the few that attended the forum. The forum will be held on
Wednesday October 01, 2008 at 7pm at the Woodstock Elementary School.
Leon Botstein presentation will more then likely result in an increase
in the cost to educate students. It’s fair to say that most seniors
are concerned about kids getting a good education, but at the same time
wonder if they will be able to pay their taxes and to keep up with the
ever raising cost of living. Board President Ralph Legnini stated in
a News Release that everything should be about our kids and their education.
In today’s economical state of this entire Country it can’t
be just one way it must also be about being responsible to the tax payers
that pay for educating students. By keeping the Phoenicia school open
this School Board has already cost tax payers two million three hundred
thousand dollars more then they really had to. They got elected by promising
to keep the Phoenicia School open and cared less about the folks that
struggle to pay their school taxes.
School Board member Laurie Osmond has made her e mail address public.
It can be found in the board’s latest Press release. If you want
to contact her and don’t have excess to that press release you
can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents of Onteora Middle School and High School students have been
sent an official OPT OUT form to request that the school NOT send their
son or daughter's contact information to the federal government to be
used by local military recruiters. The form is found on page 9 of the
Student/Parent Activity Handbook.
The forms must be sent to the school offices in September. Otherwise
each student's information will be forwarded as mandated by the No Child
Left Behind Act.
Democracy counts your financial worth. It sets your interest rates,
sets your tax rates, your dollar values, etc. But most important of
all, Democracy counts your votes. Now what would you do if you were
Obama? We all know that Obama is pandering to the middle. Well, taking
into account the past two stolen elections, what would you do if you
were running for President? Would you ignore the fact that you must
win by a tremendous margin in order to gain the right to recount the
votes, or would you stick with your base, hoping to get a majority of
the counted votes. I think you'd have to agree that you'll need some
of the "middle" in order to get a large enough exit poll to
demand a recounting of the votes.
Remember, the strategy of manipulating the votes has worked for 8 years
of our present form of government. I would assume that some lessons
have been learned. For instance, Diebold, (now called Premier) has recently
responded to charges that it's own programming errors were to blame
for votes being dropped in some counties in Ohio. As reported in The
Columbus Dispatch on Aug. 21st, they now admit that the problem can't
be fixed in time for the election, so Premier and Sec. of the State
of Ohio Jennifer Brunner are issuing guidelines to counties to help
insure proper counting. These guidelines will be issued to the boards
of elections to ensure an accurate count of votes, Brunner said. No
further explanation of what they are, or how they'll work. But hey,
it only took 4 years to admit that there was a problem, leaving only
a month or two to fix it. That's just not enough time.
Recently, the Computer Security Group at the University of California
Santa Barbara released a video demonstrating how to hack an election
on a touch-screen voting system, even one with a Voter Verifiable Paper
Trail, with pretty good assurance that the manipulation would ever be
Another video available online shows the hacking of Sequoia voting machines,
which takes only about 3 seconds to do, by a single person with insider
access, and it would effect every machine used in the county. It says
that even in the event of a l00% post-election audit of the touch screen
records, it is unlikely to be discovered. So, what are we do to? Next
time, should we all tell Obama to be good sport and accept defeat? Should
we all volunteer to be at exit polls across the country? Or, should
we just keep pushing for Obama, as long as it takes, and it's only a
bit over a month now. Maybe you can join me and do what I'm doing and
send money to BraveNewFilms.org to continue doing the dirty work that
Obama's campaign can't or won't do.
Following the election,we can turn our attention to survival. How lucky
we are to be living in a community where we can pull together with Maurice
Hinchey, and figure out how to survive a depression together. Meanwhile,
please remember that Democracy is supposed to Count All Votes, and it
is not supposed to deprive citizens of their right to vote. We're in
this together folks.
After reading Danielle Woerner's letter, I must agree with her in regards
to media coverage of the after hour parties that the special interest
groups were throwing in Denver and the police action that took place
on the side walks in front of these sites.
What really upsets me is the fact that during both parties speeches
regarding change in Washington and "no special favors for special
interest groups," these same lobbyists were throwing lavish parties
for our very honest politicians in Denver and inviting our loyal politicians
to free golf outings. I always believed that a city sidewalk was public
property that anyone could walk on or take pictures from, but if you
watched WABC Channel 7 Nightline News the same night Sen. McCain accepted
the Republician nomination, you would see that in Denver you cannot
take pictures or interview the politicians that were entering the parties,
some through the rear so their picture would not be taken. Police actually
pushed a camerman into the street, a Sgt. (in uniform) with a huge cigar
sticking out of his mouth (which the republicians were giving out) grabbed
an interviewer by the throat and with three other uniformed police officers
arrested him, for what? I could only assume, someone from the party
told the officer to remove him. A politician from the state of Florida
bent down and head butted the camera, laughing as he walked away. Also
at the republician party was that politician that was arrested for money
laundering, oh what was his name..Delay. He was there to raise money
for a new organization he's starting .
Before I close on my letter which I hope you print, I will leave you
with this one thought, many years ago, just after the Viet Nam War,
I read a book called "Who Rules America," which really turned
my feelings on politics. IT WOULD BE WORTH READING IF YOU COULD FIND
Peter G. Polis
By now I’m sure that all the Phoenicia Times readers have also
read the green by-fold bulk mailing from Crossroads Ventures.
I feel that I have to comment because I believe that I am the Long Island
second homeowner that supposedly believes that people live in poverty
by choice. I never said, “people live in poverty by choice.”
I did make an angry comment when Crossroads Ventures used a photograph
of a long time local resident’s property to demonstrate the severe
poverty in the area. In this case Crossroads Ventures assumed that poverty
existed because many people have made comments about the disarray and
junk yard appearance of the property. There are many properties in the
area and throughout the State, including Long Island, which look like
this, but it does not mean that the residents are poor. Some people
just have “Stuff” and hate to throw anything away. I’ll
say it again, “this is a lifestyle”, which has nothing to
do with ones financial status. It also has nothing to do with intelligence,
which many make the mistake of assuming.
I guess because I own a second home I must be rich. I’d be careful
to bet on that if we’re talking finances. I am rich in many other
ways, just like the other people from the Big Indian and the area. We
have the unspoiled night sky, the forever wild Catskill Park, pristine
water, no traffic jams, peace & quiet, and I could go on. Money
can’t buy what we have. On Long Island the pace is much faster
and job competition is much harder. And we have homeowners that don’t
know what a paint brush looks like, just like everywhere in these United
Let’s get the statistics correct and do a comparison. The average
income for one person in Ulster, Delaware, & Green Counties is $35,427.67.
Were my voting address is in Suffolk County, Long Island, N.Y. the average
income for one person is $47,599.00. This is taken from the most recent
Federal, State and County statistics from 2005 & 2006. Males are
paid higher than females. Unemployment is approximately 4.3 % in both
areas. Gas, oil, & food prices are about equal. Electricity is less
from NYSEG than it is from LIPA. A median home in Ulster, Delaware,
& Green Counties is approximately $239,300. A similar home on a
much smaller lot in Suffolk County, Long Island would be approximately
$400,000. The Suffolk County, Long Island taxes on this $400,000. home
would be between $8,000. to $9,000. after the N.Y. State STAR deduction.
What are your Taxes? A one bedroom apartment rents for $1,000. to $1300.
plus utilities per month. That is probably double the rents in the Shandaken
area. Suffolk County Schools average 23 students per teacher. Your schools
average 12 students per teacher. Now you decide. Who is better off?
Crossroads Ventures should stop misleading the public and downgrading
the area and its economy so they can appear as the great savior of the
Catskills. Since a project the size of the proposed Belleayre Resort
will go out for bid to large outside firms the chances of any locals
getting immediate work is slim.
I will admit that if Crossroads Ventures wins its battle some businesses
in the area will benefit for the first 10 years the construction is
supposed to last. Of course the rest of us will have to suffer the noise,
dust, truck traffic, flooding, etc. Then, after 10 years of Hell, today’s
third grade students should be ready to apply for the 474 jobs Crossroads
Ventures claim will be available. Of course some of us may have to find
new water sources because of over pumping by the new resort. And New
York City may have to build a filtration system costing millions of
dollars. Traffic will increase and the negative list goes on. Is the
trade off going to be worth it?
Crossroads Ventures led us to believe that jobs are needed now. As of
9/03/08 on just one website called CareerBuilder.com there are 418 jobs
available within 30 miles of zip code 12410, which is Big Indian / Oliverea.
I’ll grant you that some of these jobs are dead end jobs, but
not all 418. Even if 25% were good jobs where are the applicants? I’ve
spoken to business owners from Margaretville to Kingston who are looking
to hire and I get the same answer as I get from employers on Long Island;
“Nobody applies. And if they do apply they can barely read, write
or communicate in English. Everyone wants to know if they can be paid
in cash. If you do take a chance on someone, you pray that they’ll
show up on the 4th day. What it all boils down to is anyone who wants
to work is working.” Your 4.3% unemployed are either retired,
working for cash, living off the family or unemployable. And if their
working for cash, which many are, the unemployment figure is wrong and
should be much lower.
So, from where does Crossroads Ventures plan to hire 474 employees?
Remember their creating jobs for your local poverty stricken area.
Robert E. Steiner
Big Indian, NY
I am writing to answer allegations made in three letters you published
in your last edition. Jennifer Benusis took issue with our newsletter
about jobs which not only outlined what jobs would be created at the
Belleayre Resort, but listed many different high school and college
programs in the immediate vicinity where people are even now, learning
the skills needed for jobs with starting salaries of $30,000 with full
benefit packages. Ms. Benusis assumes that Crossroads will sell the
permits to a new hotel operator and that the new operator will immediately
throw out our job plan and opt for one with those low-wage, dead end
jobs everyone was sure we’d create.
Here’s why she’s wrong. No matter who owns or manages the
property, investors will be risking upwards of $400 million dollars
to build the resort. For that money, and with the permits in hand, they
would have to build the high end resort that is planned. The investors
will need to secure their investment by hiring and training a highly
qualified staff and paying them salaries commensurate with similar positions
elsewhere in the US. Any high end national or international chain that
would invest this kind of money here would have no choice but to be
paying the same high end wages they pay at all their other facilities
- that is how they maintain their reputations and their brands. The
numbers we provided did not come from a budget, nor was it represented
that way. The numbers reflected a staffing plan and salary schedule
that experts in the industry say would be required. We relied on data
provided in a Hospitality Compensation Exchange study and information
from experts at one of the world's leading hospitality consulting firms.
Kevin Millar writes to quote Comptroller Alan Hevisi’s “analytic
and dispassionate report” that our project is bad. But he does
not tell you that Mr. Hevisi’s report was written prior to the
downsizing arranged in the AIP – a downsizing that Mr. Hevisi’s
himself said might be just the right answer. Mr. Millar also does not
tell readers that Mr. Hevisi strongly endorsed an identical public/private
partnership for the state-owned Gore Mountain that would put 5 hotels
with ski in/ski out accommodations in the otherwise forever wild Adirondack
Forest Preserve. Perhaps like so many others, Mr. Hevisi’s conclusions
are based on politics not on facts.
Howard Mandell said the litany of schools we site is irrelevant, and
accused us of claiming some connections with those programs. We made
no such claims. But we did point out that those programs are already
training people who will be qualified for the jobs we will create. If
these jobs are such bad jobs, why are hundreds of students each year
at both high school and college levels, so eager to study in hotel,
restaurant, golf, and general hospitality and tourism programs. Mr.
Mandell and Ms. Benusis probably don’t need jobs that start at
$30,000 with benefits like health insurance and vacation pay. But for
them to deny that other people might want and might actually need those
jobs, demonstrates an unwillingness to try to put themselves in someone
else’s shoes for a day.
Mr. Mandell adds to his diatribe that the majority of the people who
go to the resort will never leave it to visit other places in the area.
He sites no credible source for his allegation and does not acknowledge
that the vast majority of the local business community supports the
Belleayre Resort because they know from their experiences that Mr. Mandell
is wrong. But even if he were correct, even if every visitor who visits
the resort stays there, the money the employees earn will most decidedly
be spent in this community and the property, sales and bed taxes the
resort would pay would go directly into state, county and school district
coffers creating incredible positive economic impact.
Finally, for those still alleging that we're going to blow up the mountain,
or at the very least scar it, some perspective is also needed. Some
people think golf courses are beautiful - especially when they are carefully
designed championship golf courses built for organic management. The
Agreement in Principle struck last September dramatically downsized
the project, provided incentives that would convince us that downsizing
could work, and set up another lengthy environmental review process.
Among other things, it mandated the high environmental standards we
plan to meet by guaranteeing that the resort will be built to at least
Silver Level LEED certification standards of the US Green Building Council.
Our effort all along has been to balance environmental protection and
economic development. If we hadn't done that, we would not have an agreement
signed by the State, the City of New York, the Natural Resources Defense
Council, New York Public Interest Research Group, Catskill Center for
Conservation and Development, Riverkeeper, Theodore Gordon Fly Fishers,
Trout Unlimited and the Zen Environmental Studies Institute, guaranteeing
that this project will have been under review for at least a decade
before it is built. We think that's ample protection for everyone and
look forward to a ground-breaking ceremony.
Crossroads Ventures, LLC
Mt. Tremper, NY
With the Grace of God and thanks for the help of so many people. After
an accident which sent me to bed for more than three months , I am in
my feet again.
I don't think that I can find words to express my gratitude; never the
less, I take this opportunity to thank all of you through this media
I like to thank the Shandaken Ambulance for their professionalism and
kindness, I like to thank the Benedictine Hospital and its staff, the
Maverck Family Health and its staff, the Phoenicia Pharmacy and Catskill
Mountain Physical Therapy for their professional help .
I like to thank and express my deepest appreciation to so many friends
who visited with me at our home, those with the get well telephone calls
and cards and those dear friends who drove me to Kingston for doctor’s
and hospital appointments .
I like to thank my dear Peter who left his law office for two weeks
to take care of me durinng the day, and my dearest Chrystal who took
care of me at nights sleeping on the floor of our bedroom .
I thank you all so much. May God be with you .
Chris Raptis Phoenicia, NY
We are appealing to the friends of the Hudler Cemetery Association for
a donation to continue to provide adequate upkeep and maintenance of
this resource. As you may know the cemetery operates from a General
Fund and has Permanent Maintenance and perpetual care funds. The interest
earned from certificates of deposit where the Permanent Maintenance
and Perpetual Care Funds are kept, is transferred into the General Fund
for cost of operating the cemetery. Last year the expenses of operating
the cemetery were greater than the income.
With the continued decline in rates of certificate of deposits, less
money is available to operate the cemetery. At the same time, the costs
of maintaining the cemetery have increased. Gasoline prices, a component
of mowing costs will certainly be more this year. Any contribution you
give will be greatly appreciated and any gifts can be designated for
the Perpetual Care Fund or the Permanent Maintenance Fund. The Association
can also be included in a will. Your gift is tax deductable. Please
mail your donation to the Hudler Cemetery Association, PO Box 269, Phoenicia,
NY 12464. Thank you.
Phil Winchell, Secretary/Treasurer
Hudler Cemetery Association
Several weeks ago a self employed member of our community was severely
burned while working with a wood splitter. He was air lifted to Westchester
Medical where skin grafts were successfully performed. Fortunately he
is now home with his wife and two children. Though he is making good
progress his injuries will demand months of revisiting the medical center
and will limit his activities. As if this isn’t enough for a person
and his family to bear, having no health insurance adds to the pain.
Knowing how important it is to help our neighbors in need several Town
of Olive residents have donated their time and talents to hold a community
benefit for the Shannon Ryan family on Saturday, October 4, 2008, at
Davis Park in West Shokan. The benefit will run from 12 noon until 5
pm with music provided by Dorraine Scofield, Plan B, and The Pontiacs.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, rolls, beer and soda have been donated by local
businesses and residents. Plus, there will be a potluck buffet table
for anyone who wants to bring a dish. Another local resident will have
his adobe oven at the event baking his famous wood fired pizza for all
to enjoy. There is a $25.00 per person suggested donation which will
include musical entertainment, food, and refreshments.
Also included in the event will be a Bake Sale and a Silent Auction.
Generous Olive residents have donated everything from apple pies to
Teddy Bears and paintings and hand crafted furniture to a septic system
pump out. It’s during times like these that we realize how fortunate
we are in our individual lives and how lucky we are to live in such
a wonderful community that understands what it means to “help
For information on donating or helping out on the day of the event please
call Jennifer Vines at 657-2827. Anyone who can’t attend but would
like to donate, please make your check payable to Shannon Ryan and mail
it to my office at Town of Olive Town Clerk, PO Box 96, West Shokan,
Thanks to everyone who helps in this worthy cause.
Sylvia B. Rozzelle
West Shokan, NY
Once again the Phoenicia Rotary would like to express its gratitude
to everyone who supported our recent fundraiser. We especially want
to thank our local businesses, The Emerson, Belleayre Mountain, Michael
Angelo’s Pizza, Ricciardella’s Restaurant, The Sportsman,
Brio’s, Sweet Sue’s, The Town Tinker, S.E.W. of Boiceville,
Jimmy’s Belleayre Ski Shop, Catskill Mountain Orthotic, Phoenicia
Wine and Liquors, The Shandaken Theater and Al’s Restaurant for
donating the many gift certificates and services that make our major
fundraiser so successful. Congratulations to all our winners!
Since August the Phoenicia Rotary has committed funding to the local
cub scouts, the Phoenicia food pantry, Phriends of Phoenicia, several
scholarships to local students, sponsored an Onteora exchange student
to Taiwan, and donated the $700 raised by our “Basket of Cheer”
raffle to Polio Plus eliminating polio world wide.
We have numerous projects scheduled for the upcoming months and hope
to see everyone at the Halloween Parade Oct 26th when doughnuts, cupcakes
and cider will be available to one and all.
Interested in Rotary? Join us for a meeting. Contact a Rotarian to confirm
time and date.
Christine Baltz, President