End Of Term
members opened by thanking volunteers for setting up an ice-skating
rink at Big Indian Park, as well as for a Christmas tree placed there
by the Big Indian Beautification Committee.
upcoming school board events were announced, a first of many ìCafÈ Chatsî
where the public is invited to meet informally with school board members,
will be held at Sweet Sueís at 1PM, January 11.Ý
On January 21, the school board will be hosting a ìLocal Government
Speakers Nightî at the newly refurbished HS auditorium. County Executive
Mike Hein, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and all local town supervisors have
been invited, amongst others.
board member Keith Holmquist will be recommended by the town to serve
as its representative on the County Planning Board. Holmquist, officially
the townís alternate member, has effectively been serving the role for
some time. Planners Beth Waterman & Barbara Redfield both offered
to assume the ìalternateî designation.
Water Commissioner Rick Ricciardella had good news on water quality,
saying that tests performed for coliform and e-coli came in negative
and will not be required again until 2017. The system also tested negative
for lead and copper and if next Juneís test also comes back negative,
no further testing for those will be required for 4 or 5 years.
the eveningís most significant issue that was settled concerned the possible
purchase of a new ambulance for the town. Ambulance Squad leader Richard
Muellerleile had recommended such a purchase to the board, providing extensive
documentation that doing could save the town upwards of $20,000 a year
by adding a third ambulance, reducing the miles driven annually on each
of three vehicles to better maintain readiness and the opportunities to
a purchase, however, would cost about $100,000 which would need to be
funded either by municipal loan or from the townís remaining Good Neighbor
Funds provided in 1998 by the City and of which about $400,000 remains.
Board members had clearly reviewed the squadís proposal carefully, and
all expressed appreciation for Muellerleileís work in assembling the
think it’s a sound investment,” said DiSclafani, “”and
I see the wisdom in Rich’s proposal.”
But a consensus
of the board concluded that it would be better to defer such a purchase.
to make do with what we have,” said Bernstein.
Also passed, narrowly,
was a resolution designating all town parks as “Tobacco Free Zones”
and calling for “appropriate signage.”
not a law… it would be an honors system,” said DiSclafani,
who along with board members Malloy and Bartlett voted in favor, with
Stanley and Bernstein ultimately voting no. There were no disagreements
about potential behavior modeling for children who might witness people
smoking in parks, but several people raised questions about the measure’s
necessity and its lack of enforceability, as it isn’t actually
a law, just a go-ahead to erect signage.
“A law you
can’t enforce is a bad law,” said Bernstein. As the resolution
did pass however, the question of what constitutes “appropriate
language” for signage in town parks will likely resurface at some
have any parting words except thank you for putting up with me for two
years, “ said DiSclafani who come January will be joining the
roster of town ambulance drivers, per a resolution he recused himself
from but that passed unanimously.
A final meeting
to close the town’s books for the year was set for December 28
at 6PM. Shandaken’s reorganizational meeting for 2010 will take
place January 4 at 6PM.
In the spirit
of the season, Phoenicia’s Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina will
open its doors on Christmas Day to welcome Shandaken’s needy, elderly,
and “shut-ins” to it’s “1st Annual Christmas Charity
From 1:00 to
6:00PM on December 25, the Ricciardella family, restaurant staff, and
volunteers will prepare and serve a bountiful holiday buffet free to all
residents of Shandaken who are needy or alone, are elderly or home-bound,
or have no where to go on Christmas Day. “It’s the season
for giving, sharing and celebrating, especially with family,” said
Mike Ricciardella, “and the residents of Shandaken are family to
us and we want to celebrate our Christmas with them.”
are available for those without transportation to and from the Sportsman
and meals will be delivered to individuals who are physically unable to
attend the buffet.
The Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina is located on Main Street in Phoenicia.
For further information, please call (845) 688-5259.
former town board member Jane Todd of the Shandaken Food Pantry has noted
that The Town of Shandaken, the volunteers who work and staff the Shandaken
Food Pantry as well as the many families in the region who benefit from
the Food Pantry are currently feeling VERY thankful to the community for
its generous support of the Benefit Fund Raiser held December 9th at Al’s
Restaurant in Phoenicia whose contributions to the Food Pantry totaled
nearly $11,000, with every dollar donated going directly to feed and care
for those in need.
event would not have been possible without the help and support of Paul
Pettinato and the staff at Al’s Restaurant,” Todd wrote in
a press release after the successful event. “Paul donated all the
food served to over 100 people in attendance and his staff donated their
time, their talent and even their tips.”
Todd also offered special thanks to Belleayre Superintendent Tony Lanza,
who was resplendent in a tuxedo, for serving as Host at the front door
and to Belleayre Ski Shop Owner Jim McGrath, also in tux, who assisted
behind the bar.
A live auction was held which included an Overnight Stay-cation Package
(luxurious room, spa and dinner) at the Emerson Resort & Spa, Golf
for Four at Saratoga National Golf Course, two pair of skis from the Belleayre
Ski Shop and a dozen ski lift tickets at Belleayre Ski Center. In addition
some forty items, donated by local businesses and individual supporters,
were bid on at a Silent Auction.
According to Todd, “The proceeds from the Fund Raiser will allow
the Food Pantry to continue to be open weekly. We are grateful for the
long-time contribution of $2,000 annually from the Town of Shandaken as
well as $400 annually from the Phoenicia Rotary Club, but this additional
funding was desperately needed.” The Rotary Club pledged an additional
$500 at the Benefit. Rotary also conducts ‘A Can a Meeting’
asking members to donate to the Food Pantry at each bi-monthly meeting.
Food donations for the Pantry continue to be taken at the St. Francis
de Sales Catholic Church, the Phoenicia Methodist Church, the Shandaken
Methodist Church and the Mt. Tremper Church.
Todd continued, “We are also blessed that the Shandaken Boy Scouts
conduct a food drive each Thanksgiving which goes a long way toward helping
us stock our shelves.”
Monetary donations are currently being accepted at the Phoenicia Deli,
the Phoenicia Country Store and the Phoenicia Supermarket or checks can
be sent to the Shandaken Town Clerk, Town Hall, Shandaken, NY, 12480.
The Shandaken Food Pantry is housed in the Phoenicia Methodist Church
and is open on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon or when needed at (845)
Kids Are At Risk
Peg Haug, the Onteora district
Coordinator of Health, presented the survey at Tuesday night’s
December 15 school board meeting at Phoenicia Elementary. Haug explained
that this was a county survey paid for through a grant and all the schools
in the county participated. The schools were grouped into different
Haug said, “Unfortunately the students self reported results reveal
that with our demographics and zoning one, Onteora and Saugerties consistently
had the highest percentage of positive answers when reporting about
alcohol and drug use and engaging in high risk behaviors.”
Haug presented data including Saugerties, but also Onteora by itself.
“When we saw the results that showed we were linked with Saugerties,
it gave a little pause because we are very different except for our
high school building being seven-through-12,” said Haug. “They
have one community, we don’t have much of a town community, and
we have four towns that are put together…”
The survey also revealed that the two districts ranked highest for drugs
being sold on campus and alcohol drunk while in school. Students also
appear to receive mixed message on drugs and alcohol when it came to
Haug explained that the survey provided a safety net to assure that
students answered the questions honestly. Therefore she believes that
the statistics are solid with a small margin of error. “It pointed
out to us that we have some very serious issues that need to be addressed.”
Social Worker Maegan Schenker introduced a drug and alcohol intervention
program titled Prime For Life. She said it was an evidence-backed program
that she was already trained in. It would address students they already
have been targeted with high-risk behavior, but their goal would be
to use it as a district-wide prevention program. The school board was
skeptical, noting that statistics on the program were outdated (1980s),
that it lacked family intervention and peer support. Haug explained
that to implement the program would mean using the district’s
guidance counselors and social workers.
Trustee Rob Kurnit explained that a district social worker and the county’s
FACETS program that provided family intervention and counseling was
eliminated from the 2009/10 budget. He asked about shortfalls in the
“These programs that you are trying to adopt would be in addition
to what you are already doing in your jobs,” Kurnit said. “And
you are also talking about the fact that this is a serious problem and
there are possibly many students that could benefit from this, so I
am curious how this is going to function.”
Principal Lance Edelman said the staff is committed to the task.
“There is an immediate need to provide services for these children,”
he said, adding that some students cannot get to services in Kingston.
“We need to implement something through the school.”
Trustee Donna Flayhan suggested returning FACETS back into the budget.
“As the economic crisis continues,” she said, “we
all know these types of risk behaviors and family problems get worse
and it seems like it is nice that you are providing your staff with
resources, then if we could provide more human resources…”
Interim Assistant Superintendent for business Don Gottlieb later gave
an update on what the board can expect in the form of State aid.
“The one thing the State will not do is be late on a bond payment,
so the Governor (Paterson) is faced with a situation where he’s
indicating a cash flow shortfall…and by having not taken any action
today that the State would have run out of cash by the 29th of December.”
In other words, Paterson cut school and some municipal aid.
Gottlieb explained that the district received a State check for ten
percent, or $62,000, less of approximately $600,000. The state legislature
is hoping that by the fourth quarter, between income tax from Wall Street
bonuses and holiday sales tax revenue, the money will be returned to
the school districts. But Gottlieb said he is not hopeful. The $62,000
will not affect this school year, but could have an impact on next year’s
budget due to lack of interest revenue and shortfalls in the reserve.
He said by the next January 4 school board meeting he can present what
next year’s roll over budget would look like.
The board is also going over department expenses. Trustee Anne McGillicuddy
said that the BOCES budget was $3.7 million. Gottlieb explained that
the district has a commitment to BOCES. According to a 1948 education
law, “When a district became part of BOCES, when a law is constructed,
you are in forever.” Although some programs can be trimmed Gotllieb
said, “Administration (in BOCES) costs regardless of what you
The vocational department also carries a three-year locked in commitment.
McGillicuddy listed other expenses: $117,000 for coaches, over $200,000
in field trips, $74,000 in conferences, $190,000 private school tuition,
$196,000 tuition for other public schools, $103,000 for special education
private schools, $89,000 for health and wellness services. Some of the
school tuitions are legally bound, but the district is required to pick
up the tab for transporting private school kids. The district is also
required to pay for some books to private schools.
McGillicuddy said, “We are paying a lot of money for kids who
are not going here (Onteora).”
The district is also required to pay for field trips, a new State mandate.
McGillicuddy threw up her hands and said, “Ahhh the State!”
Finally, INDIE director Russell Richardson updated the school board
on their new facilities in Woodstock. Because of budget shortfalls,
INDIE is no longer a program that takes place during school hours. Instead,
it works as an after-school program from 3-5pm where kids are bused
from the Middle/High school site to its current location on Mill Hill
Road in Woodstock. He said they are operating at maximum capacity. A
total of 68 students are enrolled and had to break the program into
two sections. A total of 23 students come from the Shandaken/Phoenicia
area, 17 from Olive, 10 from West Hurley, 13 from Woodstock and 3 students
from further west.
Richardson said he was “surprised that attendance is not dominated
by Woodstock residents.”
According to Catskill Center
for Conservation and Development Interim Director Daniel Palm, in to
fill for Executive Director Lisa Rainwater, who resigned the position
after a little over a year in the job, the venerable organization’s
membership, and overall fundraising, started to dip after it signed
the deal its then-director, Tom Alworth, helped broker as head of a
coalition of national, state and regional environmental organizations.
And that was before the CCCD, which turned 40 this past year, had to
face the hits being experienced by all not-for-profits due to the recent
All of this came out this week in a series of interviews started when
word leaked out that the Catskill Center was shifting down from seven
to four full-time employees as of the New Year. Furthermore, those being
asked to step away from the organization or have their hours modified,
to be replaced by new positions they’ve been told they will likely
not be qualified for, include Director of Programming Aaron Bennett,
an 11 year employee, native of the area, and columnist for this publication,
Regional Planner Peter Manning, also a local resident with deep roots
in local planning circles, and Membership and Outreach Director Dave
“I guess the best statement I can give right now is that we’ve
been looking at 2010 and our budget development and we’re looking
at how the Center should be focusing its resources,” Palm said,
adding that he’d been in his job for only three weeks. “The
Center seems to have moved away from what it’s been historically
in the last few years. We are trying to make sure we can face declining
Palm added that a deadline for applications for the Center’s Executive
Director position was closed on December 11, and that a board committee
will now interview key candidates through mid-February, with hopes of
hiring someone ready to start in March of 2010.
When asked if the current shifts in the Center’s employment picture
were a means of “cleaning the slate” for whoever was coming
in to take over the helm after him, Palm said only that, “It’s
partly that, but also partly the truth of securing funding these days.
There has to be a clear understanding between our board and staff for
funders to see. This is what we are doing…”
He described the organization’s policy of recent years as “muddied”
and “broadened,” and said the Catskill Center’s board
was currently hoping to refocus the organization “from a strategic
point of view.”
Palm added that the current actions stem from discussion started before
“She initiated the discussion this is part of,” he said.
“Much of this first came up at a board and staff retreat in September,”
after which the board decided it “had to address where they were
Rainwater put in her resignation on September 25; her last official
day as Executive Director was on November 16. She began her tenure at
the Catskill Center in July 2008.
Dr. Palm came to the Catskill Center, nearly a decade after his official
retirement, from serving as Interim Director for the Watershed Agricultural
Council (WAC). He also served as Staff Economist for the Susquehanna
River Basin Commission and Regional Director of the New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation and as Executive Director of the New York
Forest Owners Association before this latest action meant, he said,
to help out an organization he had long admired.
Palm said this week that he had never had to “do this,”
speaking of the staff changes he’s having to implement for his
board, based on decisions, and a budget, prepared by the predecessor
who’s tenure he is filling out… for now.
According to various sources, not much of what’s being planned
for the organization has been made clear since announcements were made
last week, other than that there would be a shift towards more policy
analysis, which had been the forte of the Catskill Center’s Interim
Director before Rainwater’s arrival, Deborah DeWan… now
at the Ashokan Foundation.
Throughout it’s history, the Catskill Center has weathered similar
sudden shifts in its direction, including the departure of early director
Tom Miner and his wife, Whitty Sanford, who started the CCCD’s
Erpf Gallery cultural programming. In the mid-1990s, the departure of
director Tom Hatley, an academic, occurred just as the Center faced
a regional reaction to its sponsorship of what should have been a heralded
application for the Catskills as a United Nations Biosphere region,
eventually withdrawn. Several major shifts in direction, and in those
who represented the Catskill Center’s many programs throughout
the region, followed as Hatley’s follow-up, Janet Crawshaw, was
quickly replaced with an Albany hire… and then Alworth, who has
since moved on to a job in Albany.
The Erpf Gallery recently announced that, at the board’s request,
it will shift from its regular schedule of art exhibits and events to
two shows a year for the foreseeable future.
“Principally, the Catskill Center is going to stay focused on
three basic components,” Palm noted of the organization’s
renewed sense of direction.
He brought up the Center’s longstanding focus on regional issues,
which he noted the board wants to draw back into being focused on primarily
from “a policy point of view.”
He said a regional education component was still of high importance,
but with a renewed insistence on “scientific information, “
and “scientific-based issues.”
Finally, Palm noted how the CCD wanted to retain its cultural focus…
on a regional basis.
He said much more would become clear when a new director would be hired
in the coming months.
Meanwhile, the Catskill Center website has started listing qualifications
for a wanted bookkeeper for the organization.
Calls to Board President Claude Shostal, in Manhattan, were unreturned
as of press time.
“It’s been a
time of community-building,” commented Reverend Lucy Jones, who
is part of the church’s 25-member choir led by Lee Stowe. “With
any kind of musical experience like this, you feel overwhelmed at the
beginning, then as you practice, you think maybe you have it, and it
will come together. Everyone enjoys doing it, and there’s laughter
and encouraging each other, giving it all we can.”
A cantata consists of both music and narration, Rev. Jones explained.
This piece is made up of nine movements with titles such as “A
Christmas Flourish”, “Carol of Longing”, and “The
Beautiful Impossible”. The music includes traditional carols as
well as seasonal anthems by the composer. “Some of the music is
very big and grand,” said Rev. Jones, “and some is quiet
and soft. It goes from lullabies to jubilant glorias.”
The interspersed scripture and poems are read by two narrators. “There
will be a candlelighting as part of the performance,” noted Rev.
Jones. “We’ll be bringing the candles forward to add to
The choir, which has been rehearsing the cantata since October, sings
in four-part harmony, with a number of solos. The youngest soloist is
fourth-grader Billy Davis, whose little sister Lorelei has been sitting
in on rehearsals. Other young people performing solos include Andrew
Russell and Alissa Stowe. Among the adult soloists is Carol Moranti,
who has a beautiful voice, said Rev. Jones. Choir members Jim and Sue
Ulrich also perform with Ars Choralis in Kingston.
Usually the annual Christmas concert is performed during the worship
service, but Rev. Jones explained, “This year we decided to have
it in the afternoon, so people who like Christmas music can come, in
addition to attending their own services at other churches.” All
are welcome to attend. The church is located just east of the Olive
Firehouse No. 2 on Route 28 in Shokan.
Meanwhile, the community chorus organized by locally based opera singer
Maria Todaro sang carols as part of the annual Shandaken Theatrical
Society Christmas show on December 13. Following the rousing success
of the choral performance at this summer’s Opera in the Park fundraiser,
Todaro has made the community chorus an ongoing project. The group of
30 to 40 local residents, both experienced performers and novice singers,
rehearses weekly at the STS Playhouse in Phoenicia and expects to give
shows several times a year.