“The community is
put on notice, because in November the board has other things that we
need to be working on,” said board president Mary-Jane Bernholz
at the district’s October 23 meeting. She added that in addition
to the facilities decisions will be the need to start moving Onteora
towards major bonding to raise the funds for the major shifts ahead.
The board was advised to hire an outside facilitator to help with the
meetings. Bernholz said she met with Trustee Cindy O’Connor, Superintendent
Leslie Ford and departing interim High School principal Jack Jordan,
who has experience with bonds when he worked in other school districts.
Jordan recommended someone other than Ford oversee the planning process
with a mixed facilitator to speed up the process.
Ford presented a two and three phase district planning process with
all trustees except Maxanne Resnick voting for the three-phase process
that would split the bond into two parts. A two-phase process would
have pushed for a single bond.
In the three-phase process, phase one would be to select a middle school
building based on the school board’s decision of a 5-through-8
model. Phase two would present a bond for grades 5-through-12 and phase
three would present a kindergarten-through-grade four bond. Also included
in the phase process would be learning, environment and district issues.
Resnick said she did not like the idea of either phase suggested. “If
we just focus on where the middle school building is, without discussing
how that might impact our selections of elementary, I’m not sure
if we are not unwittingly affecting our future choices for those elementarys,
so I am not sure if these phases work for me as described.” In
the past Resnick voted against the 5-through-8 model stating that it
could force a community elementary school to close, thus disrupting
an educational model that the public can agree with.
Bernholz, who helped push the 5-through-8 middle school model to the
district’s forefront, said she wants the three phase process because
it splits the bond of the grades allowing better focus. She said they
have two options of creating a middle school — either within the
High School or by converting Bennett Elementary into a middle school.
“If the decision were to be made at the current (high school)
space, we would have the three elementary schools and have to make a
decision further down the line with them,” she said. “If
the space became the Bennett space then the decision that would have
to be made on the elementary level would be between Woodstock and West
A Strategic Planning Worksheet is available to the public at the school’s
basic website, onteora.k12.ny.us.
Communications Committee co-chair Linda Burkhardt, an Olive town board
member, has reported that a new district brochure is ready to go out
sometime next month as a way to “disseminate accurate information
and build stakeholders support for the implementation for the master
education plan.” She added that the district would also supply
a letter to local newspapers, “giving the facts about the plan.”
In other recent news, the Onteora school board unanimously approved
Lance Edelman as the district’s new High School principal at a
salary of $110,000 per year. He will begin in January following the
end of interim principal Jack Jordan and is currently the High School’s
Edelman’s background is with the Beacon City School district where
for ten years he worked as a psychologist and coordinator for the pupil
personnel service. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology at SUNY
New Paltz, a Masters of psychology from Marist College and a certificate
of advanced study in education at SUNY New Paltz.
But not everyone agrees with the process in which administrators have
been hired lately, noting a lack of parent input. During public be heard
at the announcement of Edelman’s hiring on October 23, former
Bennett Elementary PTA president Mary-Ann Shepard voiced her displeasure
over the hiring process and her concern over the watering down of shared
“It has come to my attention that another administrator has been
appointed without the SDM (shared decision making) process,” Shepard
said, referring to Gabe Buono’s move from being the high school’s
assistant principal to becoming principal of Bennett Elementary.
Shepard said she wrote a letter in June voicing her displeasure but
got no response and asked that the board “publicly state”
that it is no longer the district’s policy to use shared decision
On November 6, it was reported that an independent auditor from Nugent
and Haeussler auditing firm reviewed the 2006-2007 schools books with
a glowing report. Gary Theodore said the district’s general funds
were “healthy,” with “no major problems.” He
also discussed the importance of having a fund balance, noting that
the tax certiorari between the town of Olive and the City of New York
over the assessment of the Ashokan Reservoir that could financially
impact the school district. He commended the district for putting money
aside for that purpose. He also said the school lunch fund balance is
not losing money as was in the past. “I am pretty sure your income
came in over budget and your expenses were under budget.”
This led school board trustee Cindy O’Connor to ask about the
fund balance and a struggle she has over increases in fund balances
and keeping taxes in check. “I watched our net assets go from
13 million in three short years to 23 million,” said O’Connor,
“and I have also watched the fund balance go from four million
to ten million.” Theodore said it was a “challenge,”
to balance and offered an extreme example where a school district was
sited by the State for having a fund balance of $100,000 and told it
must be increased. “From the States point of view and us accountants,
we like to see the fund balance that if any problem does arise like
the big tax certiorari comes through that there is money to take care
of that without disrupting the normal operations of a school district
and people are nervous about some things going forward-pension costs
and health insurance costs.”
Business administrator Victoria McLaren received a high praise for keeping
the books up to date in light of recent administrative changes in the
Also, strategic stuff came up but there was not much conversation. Ford
said that she had spoken to two firms, one of which she prefers. Resnick
recommended another firm.
The $20 ticket for a scratch-off
game called the “$500,000,000 Extravaganza” was sold at
the Phoenicia Supermarket on Main Street over the weekend of November
3 and 4.
Officials with the New York Lottery confirmed the sale of the ticket
Monday, November 5, but would not reveal the name of the winner. Because
the amount won was $1 million, the winner must hold a press conference,
officials said, but no date has been set yet. Lottery officials expect
it to happen soon.
On that same day, Phoenicia Supermarket staff said they believe the
ticket was sold to a man living in the Fleischmanns/Arkville area of
Delaware County, just over the Ulster County border from the Shandaken
hamlet of Highmount.
The story they told was of a regular lottery player with five kids and
two foster children in his care who was “definitely in need of
such a breakthrough.)
The scratch-off game offers eight $5 million prizes, 12 $2 million prizes
and 84 $1 million prizes, lottery officials said. It remains unclear
how many winners there have been thus far.
Take It Back!
According to machine totals
from the town’s four voting districts (with between 120 and 150
absentee and affidavit ballots still to be counted), first term councilman
Peter DiSclafani, a Democrat, had solidly won the town supervisor slot
now held by Republican Bob Cross, Jr., who declined to run for re-election.
Democrat Tim Malloy and Conservative Vin Bernstein had won town board
seats with what seemed to be safe margins, with former town supervisor
Pete Di Modica, a Democrat, in a fairly close third position. Democratic
candidate Eric Hofmeister was ahead of incumbent highway superintendent
Keith Johnson by what seemed to be a safe margin, while longterm incumbent
clerk Laurilyn Frasier, a Republican, had defeated Democratic challenger
Carol Shaleaw in a close but apparently safely won contest.
On the town’s assessment front, Heidi Clark, the town’s
current assessment office clerk running on both party titckets, and
Democrat Rose Rotella had won assessor seats over Republican John Horn
wile a referendum to switch the town to a sole appointed assessor position
was roundly defeated by a two to one margin.
But by the website’s totals, Di Modica had come in second, gaining
a board seat over Bernstein… although there was some talk Wednesday
that given such a discrepancy, the candidate could still end up on the
town board when the time came to appoint a fill-in for DiClafani’s
seat in January.
The combination of computer glitches at the county Board of Elections
and a high percentage of absentee and affidavit ballots still to be
officially counted as the night wore on led to the normal tensions as
candidates gathered in two locations in the town’s eastern half.
Republicans sat around on plush couches and nibbled at an enormous spread
of gourmet snack foods at developer Dean Gitter’s Catamount Lodge,
part of his Emerson Resort on Route 28. There, former party chief and
county legislative chairman Ward Todd, whose wife Jane lost her bid
to continue the family’s political career, seemed to be the central
figure keeping tabs of incoming results, with Gitter playing the concerned
host and Bernstein, the party’s big winner, apparently shunned
to one side of the major activity.
Democrats, meanwhile, gathered at Mike Ricciardella’s Alamo Café
in the center of Phoenicia, chowing down on pasta and in apparent good
cheer throughout the evening as results rolled in.
Unofficial results as of Wednesday morning, posted on the county website,
had DiSclafani with 706 votes to 505 for Todd and 79 for independent
candidate Frank Nazzaro.
For town board, the county had Malloy with 519, Di Modica with 486,
Bernstein with 442, Republican Jack Jordan with 436, and independents
Lynn O’Brophy with 265 and Jerry Pearlman with 182. Machine totals
taken in town Tuesday night ended up with Malloy having 584, Bernstein
501, Di Modica 458, Jordan 405, O’Brophy 246 and Pearlman 179.
For town highway superintendent, the county had Hofmeister with 609
votes, Johnson 587 and Conservative Party candidate Ken Berryann at
For town clerk, Frasier had 630 votes to 570 for Shaleaw. The assessor’s
referendum went down with 384 nos to 256 yeses, according to county
Turnout was down in town and across the county from elections two years
ago, when Ulster Democrats, led by party chairman John Parete of the
Boiceville Inn, took control of the county legislature for the first
time in decades.
This election, county Dems held onto their legislative majority, one
seat, according to unofficial results made difficult by an apparent
election night breakdown in County Board of Election computers.
The Democrats, going into the election with a 20-12 majority over Republicans
and one non-enrolled legislator, saw their lead over the GOP slip to
19 to 13, with Independence Party candidate Paul Hansut winning in District
11. Democrat Peter J. Lieppman of New Paltz lost his bid for re-election,
giving the GOP control of all three seats in District 8. Non-enrolled
Legislator Tracey Bartels, who caucused with the Democrats, did not
run for re-election in the district.
In District Two, which includes Shandaken, incumbent Democrats Brian
Shapiro and Don Gregorius easily won over Republican challenger Sam
Mercer, who ran without spending any money on his campaign. Tallies
were Shapiro with 2726, Gregorius with 2436 and Mercer with 932.
“We still have the majority,” said Legislature Chairman
David B. Donaldson of Kingston. “Over the past two years our target
has been strictly financial, to get county finances stable because they
had been in disarray. I believe we’ll begin to focus on more traditional
Democratic values. We’ve got things like the Environmental Department
and we’re also looking to increase promoting tourism through the
Across the river in Dutchess County, Democrats took the legislature
for the first time in over 25 years.
In the only county race, for District Attorney, Republican Holly Carnright
defeated Democrat Jonathan Sennett and Vince Bradley, Jr., a Democrat
who lost caucus and primaries earlier in the year but continued his
bid as an independent.
With Democrats splitting the vote, and 162 of 164 election precincts
reporting, Carnright garnered 43.4 percent of the 45,907 votes counted,
Sennett, 34.5 percent and Bradley 10,133, or just over 22 percent. The
county’s southern half seemed to make the big difference in Carnright’s
In neighboring towns, a Republican won a seat on the Olive Town Board
for the first time in six years, breaking that community’s long-held
Democratic majority that some have likened to a classic “good
old boy’s clubn,” despite the fact that it has included
an equal number of women to men.. Lifetime West Shokan resident Peter
Friedel, who narrowly lost a bid for town justice against Tim Cox two
years ago – and whose wife Michelle is currently an Onteora School
Board trustee – came in as the top vote getter amongst three candidates
for town board in voting Tuesday night.
In other balloting, unchallenged incumbent supervisor Bert Leifeld won
an 11th two-year term as town supervisor with 116 votes while incumbent
town justice Ron Wright won another four year term with 1098 unchallenged
Democrats swept all challenged positions in Woodstock, as expected,
and split victory in Hurley, where incumbent supervisor Mike Shultis
lost to his Republican predecessor Gary Bellows while Democrat Karin
Horner ended up winning a town board seat along with incumbent Republican
John Gill and Democrat Judy Mayhon defeated Shirley Paley of the GOP
for the town clerk position in a hotly contested series of races.
In Marbletown, Democrat Supervisor Vincent Martello breezed to a more
than 400-vote plurality to take a third two-year term over Republican
challenger Robert Ridgely. For the town board, Democrat incumbent Brooke
Pickering Cole won 1,174 votes to trail newcomer Michael Warren’s
1,266. bettering both GOP candidates by a long shot. Long-time Republican
incumbent Katherine Cairo Davis led the ticket with 2,038 and was elected
to a 15th term as town clerk alongside incumbent Republican town justices
Claudia Davenport and Mark Glick, both unopposed. Independence-backed
highway superintendent Douglas Stevens turned back a challenge by Republican
Alton Christiana, 1,291 to 741.
Democrats held onto power in neighboring Hardenburgh and in Middletown,
in Delaware County, Democrat Brian Sweeney gained a seat on the town
board as top vote getter on a platform that included a promise for close
scrutiny of planned developments for the region, including Dean Gitter’s
proposed Belleayre Resort.
As for specifics in Shandaken (according to county results), District
1, Phoenicia, had DiSClafani with 270, Todd with 168, and Nazzaro with
37 in the supervisor’s race; Hofmeister with 261, Johnson with
187 and Berryann with 28 in the highway superintendent’s race;
and Shaleaw with 224 to 211 for Frasier in the clerk’s race. For
town board, Malloy had 228, Di Modica 165, Bernstein 142, Jordan 131,
O’Brophy 99 and Pearlman 92.
In District 2, Shandaken, DiSclafani had 113 votes to 130 for Todd and
22 for Nazzaro; Johnson won 142 to 111 for Hofmeister and 15 for Berryann;
and Frasier bested Shaleaw 154 to 99. Town board results had Bernstein
with 127, Malloy with 112, Jordan 1ith 97, Di Modica with 84, O’Brophy
with 62 and Pearlman with 33.
In District 3, Pine Hill, DiSClafani had 185 to Todd’s 123 and
9 for Nazzaro; Johnson won with 170 to 134 for Hofmeister and 11 for
Berryann; and Frasier defeated Shaleaw 152 to 142. Town board results
had Di Modica with 147, Malloy with 146, Jordan with 136, Bernstein
with 93, O’Brophy with 69 and Pearlman with 26.
In District 4, Mt. Tremper, DiSclafani had 138 votes to 84 for Todd
and 11 for Nazzaro; Hofmeister beat Johnson 103 to 78, with 33 for Berryann,
and Frasier won over Shaleaw 113 to 105. For town board, Malloy had
133, Di Modica 90, Bernstein 80, Jordan 72, O’Brophy 35, and Pearlman
Pundits were noting, Wednesday, the growing liberal qualities of the
town’s eastern half, as well as the community of Pine Hill.
“I want to thank everybody who came out and did what they felt
was right and voted with their hearts,” said Shandaken supervisor-elect
DiSClafani Tuesday night at The Alamo. “The people of Shandaken
have spoken clearly, and it’s time for some new direction in how
we run things. Going forward I’ll do everything I can to justify
the confidence that people have shown in me.”
In a town with a reputation
of unruly public sessions, the civility of the event, led by the League
of Women Voters, did not go unnoticed.
Jane Todd, candidate for town Supervisor, joked that perhaps the League
of should run town meetings. Then again, the current Deputy Supervisor
who insisted on speaking about the town’s need to be lead, rather
than share leadership processes, was also the only candidate to bring
up the idea of negative campaigning… as if she had been expecting
attacks at the event.
Todd was joined by Democratic opponent Peter DiSclafani and Independent
opponent Frank Nazzaro, who is running on his Genuine Shandaken Party
Asked if they had an economic development plan, Nazarro said the town
board should promote business and faulted the current administration
for being “anti-business.” Todd agreed that business has
not been welcome in Shandaken and said that the town should consider
changing local zoning codes if the current ones stand in the way of
Asked about public participation in town government, DiSclafani faulted
the current administration for shutting residents out. He promised there
would be more dialogue between the town board and the public. Nazzaro
said government should be open. “I’m going to open it up
100%,” he said.
Todd said she would get resolutions out to the public sooner than has
been the case under current Supervisor Robert Cross Jr., but stopped
short of agreeing with the others about public participation. While
there would be public participation, Todd made it clear that the town
board is also responsible for leadership.
“What the town needs is an enema and I’m just the man to
administer it,” said Nazzaro, drawing the event’s biggest
Jack Jordan and Vince Bernstein, the two official Republican candidates
(although Bernstein seems to have gone out on his own for his campaigning).
Democrats Tim Malloy and Peter DiModica, and Independents Lynn O’Brophy
and Jerry Pearlman, all of whom are running for the two board seats
up for grabs this year, were asked to share views on the town’s
pressing issues such as the lack of cell towers, the Phoenicia sewer
question, development, open government and what can be done to make
sure the Onteora School District keeps the Phoenicia Elementary School
The candidate’s responses were remarkably similar given the divisiveness
in town. All agreed that a sewer for Phoenicia is a good idea, but that
New York City should be convinced to pay for it. Town government should
listen to the public, and all pledged to do so, just as all pledged
to do whatever they could to keep the Elementary school open.
Jordan, who was Interim Superintendent of the Onteora school district
last year and is currently acting High School Principal, separated himself
from the crowd on the school issue, saying he would attack any closure
efforts on merit.
“It makes absolutely no educational sense,” he said.
O’Brophy also showed personal understanding of the school issue,
noting that as Director of the local head start program, which operates
on Phoenicia School property, she is very aware of the need for a school
in that portion of the sprawling district.
While all agreed cellular service is needed, only Dimodica and Pearlman
criticized the current plan to build a tower on town property. DiModica
said there should have been a town wide plan for cellular communications
before making a deal on just one tower. Pearlman called the tower plan
“arbitrary” and “a mistake.”
Development was a topic where the candidates spoke more freely. Bernstein
wants to see it happen in the existing hamlets. DiModica fears that
large development now proposed in town may, if built, may set up the
town for stronger restrictions on development elsewhere within town
borders. Jordan noted that there were “legal limits” to
what a town board could do about development. Malloy also felt growth
is best suited in the hamlets and commented how a recent Oktoberfest
at Belleayre Ski Center, in his opinion, took business away from Phoenicia
on Columbus Day weekend… a sign of just how sensitive the local
Pearlman mentioned the proposed Crossroads Ventures resort, saying he
did not think the community can support the consequences of large scale
Bernstein spoke about holding listening meetings in the town’s
firehouses and other community centers to draw in more public involvement,
and not less.
All running for town council felt that the town’s 2008 ambulance
budget, slated to increase about $30,000, needed to be reviewed. Malloy,
Bernstein and Pearlman all think the ambulance budget can be trimmed.
Jordan suggested going down the proposal line by line and deciding afterwards.
O’Brophy said it wouldn’t to look for savings but was committed
to making sure the services are not reduced.
For Highway Superintendent, incumbent republican candidate Keith Johnson
noted several times that he was doing the best job he could, and seemed
uncomfortable being faced by the public. Conservative Ken Berrryann
appeared somewhat glib, tending to agree with Johnson and suggesting
chemicals be used to remove snow instead of sand and salt. Eric Hofmeister,
running as a Democrat, spoke about instilling green technology, including
solar panels, at the highway garage and working towards future savings.
For Town Clerk, 20-year incumbent Laurilyn Frasier spoke about her years
serving the town but seemed ill-at-ease addressing any changes for the
future. Her Democratic challenger, Carol Shaleaw, suggested the clerk’s
office doing more public relations to increase Shandaken’s tourism
profile, along with other business-like upgrades she picked up in a
high-power hospitality industry management career.
For Town Assessor, all three candidates seemed uncomfortable before
the public, although Republican John Horn, a former Westchester County
mayor who admitted being “a fanatic” for assessment facts
and figures, spoke strongly in favor of a townwide revaluation of all
properties. Heidi Clark, presently the assessor office’s clerk,
talked about doing a good job, no matter what it entailed. Rotella addressed
people’s needs not to see their taxes going up.
Perhaps the evening’s most telling matter of difference between
candidates, or at least types of political viewpoints, came when one
candidate repeatedly misused the word “Diversified” for
“Divisive.” Combined with several comments about what was
being lost in the demographic changes affecting the town and region,
the gaffe ended up highlighting the sense that for some of the candidates,
change was something to be feared and fought against, whole others it
should be welcomed as part of a community’s lifeblood.
Yet those distinctions never became overt and by meeting’s end,
everyone was shaking hands and speaking about the wonders of democracy.
On, now, to the voting booths on Tuesday, November 6, open from 6:00
am to 9:00 PM.
We’ll be letting you know what happens…
Better Deal In Sight Yet
In the lawsuit Judge Coccoma
ruled on, the City was trying to get out of its obligations to pay for
operation and maintenance costs at an existing private wastewater plant
(Worcester Creameries in Roxbury). Judge Coccoma said the City has to
pay for operation and maintenance costs at existing private plants the
same as it does at existing publicly owned sewer plants. That’s
Under the same Watershed MOA, the City is separately required to offer
funding for wastewater projects in 22 communities. Those 22 communities
were picked by County health departments with the help of the Coalition
of Watershed Towns, and funding was secured under the Watershed MOA.
The City is not required to build the wastewater projects in each of
the 22 communities, but only to offer funding under the terms agreed
to by the towns in the Watershed MOA. Towns are not required to accept
funding and build the projects. Each Town is free to accept or reject
the funding. Every watershed town, including Shandaken, agreed to those
terms back in 1997.
If the City decides to “renegotiate” its funding with the
Town of Shandaken for Phoenicia, it would mean amending the Watershed
MOA, getting approval from all signatories, and providing the same “deal”
to all the other 21 communities identified for wastewater funding under
the Watershed MOA, including Windham, Fleischmanns, Prattsville, Hunter,
Boiceville, Roxbury and Andes. However, Judge Coccoma’s decision
doesn’t require the City to change what was agreed to in the 1997
Watershed MOA by all of the 41 towns in the West of Hudson Watershed.
If the Phoenicia sewer plant isn’t built, NYCDEP will not be in
trouble, the water will continue to be unfiltered in City taps and the
funding that was offered to Phoenicia will move down to other communities.
As a member-town organization, the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC)
supports home rule and the right of each town to accept or reject this
offer of funding of a new wastewater treatment plant.
The property owners in Phoenicia have a right to know that Judge Coccoma’s
decision doesn’t change the terms of the Watershed MOA under which
the sewer funding is provided.
Alan L. Rosa, Executive Director
Timothy E. Cox, Corporate Counsel
Catskill Watershed Corporation