in the H2O?
A series of state Attorney General's office sanctions
against Catskill regional hospitals for unsafe disposal
of pharmaceutical waste has raised the question of proper
focus for clean-up action, as well as a more comprehensive
plan that not only attacks the issue at its sources, but
as an overall health and welfare issue tied to our large
planning for safe water systems, including New York City's
vast holdings throughout the region.
This has set off much discussion of late, with local officials
stating their belief that the state AG's office should
treat local sources of such waste the same as others across
the state... by basically doing nothing.
Representatives from several health facilities met last
week together with Catskill Watershed Corporation officials
and the Chairman of the Coalition of Watershed Towns to
discuss how to handle the dilemma.
The matter is one familiar to watershed dwellers. The
actions of the attorney general, according to Coalition
officials, single out and discriminate against the region
by requiring actions and expenses that the rest of state
does not need to comply with... all in the name of protecting
the drinking water of the nation's largest city.
They take offense that local hospitals are being asked
to ship what they've been used to flushing away across
state lines for incineration now. And while Attorney General
Andrew Cuomo, pegged as the leading candidate for the
state's next Governor, has so far only targeted about
15 facilities in the watershed, there is concern that
eventually all medical establishments such as doctor's
office's, dentists, even veterinarians, will need to comply
with new laws.
Cuomo recently reached an agreement with some, but not
all healthcare facilities to stop disposing of their pharmaceutical
waste into the New York City watershed following threatening
notice of fines up to $37,000 per day should the facilities
not agree to the Attorney General's terms.
The O'Connor Hospital, located in Delhi, Margaretville
Memorial Hospital and Mountainside Residential Care Center
nursing home, and Countryside Care Center, a nursing home
in Delhi, all agreed to redirect their pharmaceutical
waste to proper waste management facilities.
Alan Rosa, Executive Director of the Catskill Watershed
Corporation, noted that the disposal of such items was
discussed during watershed talks involving the Coalition
a decade and a half ago. but it was determined by the
City and the State that pharmaceuticals were not a critical
element of water quality protection because there were
only miniscule trace levels of the material in the water.
"We said give us a program to deal with it,"
Rosa said. "They didn't."
Now, with the Attorney General's demands, many wish such
a program did exist.
As far as Cuomo's office is concerned, pharmaceutical
waste in the watershed should be incinerated. But there
is no such incinerator in the state, and health care officials
are now saying they will now be forced to hire contractors
to ship the waste across state borders to dispose of it,
with no direction as to who can do such transporting.
In the meantime the waste is being stored.
Rosa said that the Attorney General's office is acting
prematurely. He added that state and federal agencies
are at work right now preparing plans for how to handle
the waste, but until those plans are complete no one really
knows how to deal with it.
"It's new territory," Rosa said, adding that
no one in the watershed is seeking a right to pollute
the streams with drugs, they simply expect to be treated
the same way as everyone else.
"They ( the Attorney general's office) said they
did it because we supply the water for half of the state,"
Rosa said. "Well, what about the other half?"
He also raised the fact that the local entities have also
been ordered to pay civil penalties for prior infractions
and for the cost of the state's investigation, and must
bring all waste management practices up to comply with
both state and federal codes. In addition, each facility
must spearhead "take back" efforts, making sure
that area households properly dispose of any pharmaceutical
Some state officials, including Republican Assemblyman
Clifford Crouch and Senator John Bonacic, have contacted
the Attorney General and asked that the department back
City Land Buys...
The Coalition of Watershed Towns, a regional advocacy
group that has given itself the charge of protecting local
property rights, and keeping an eye on the New York City
Department of Environmental Protection's watershed activities,
is now focusing its attention at the DEP's newly announced
plan to acquire more land in the area.
The DEP recently submitted its application for a permit
to continue to buy land to protect its watershed, from
which the water to sustain a population of 10 million
is drawn. The permit, to be issued by the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), will allow
DEP to acquire additional properties in the Catskills
region to ensure that the undeveloped, environmentally-sensitive
watershed remain protected. The current permit ends in
"Since the beginning of the Filtration Avoidance
Determination, New York City has committed $541 million
to purchase land to protect our unfiltered drinking water
supply," said New York City's Environmental Protection
Commissioner Cas Holloway in a prepared statement on January
25th. "We are acutely aware of the need to balance
water quality preservation with the interests and economic
vitality of watershed communities."
DEP has been buying land since 1997 under a deal reached
that same year with the Coalition of Watershed Towns,
environmental groups, New York State and the Federal Environmental
Protection Agency to keep the water clean without filtration
and at the same time protect the rights of those in the
watershed, where the Coalition feared City efforts would
cripple the area's economy.
The agreement also gave the City a waiver from federal
requirements to build a multi billion dollar water filtration
In 2007, the EPA granted the City another 10 years on
that waiver, despite complaints from the Coalition that
the waiver should be reviewed again in five years. In
the waiver, EPA also required the City beef up its land
buying in the watershed, requiring the City to allocate
another $300 million for more purchases.
The Coalition sued the EPA, claiming it gave the City
the power to lock up so much land the local economy would
suffer, precisely what the 1997 watershed deal is supposed
to prevent. That lawsuit was unsuccessful... and the subsequent
city land purchases, according to many, have instead provided
a level of stability to the region's real estate market.
Now the Coalition is trying to take the opportunity to
present its argument against the city's land acquisition
program again. The state Department of Environmental Conservation
will hold public hearings... and the CWT plans to be at
The Coalition's Executive Committee recently met in executive
session with their attorney to discuss the upcoming permitting
process. Details of the session were not made public as
they pertained to possible litigation.
Since September 2007 the Crossroads team has been retooling
their controversial development plan for a Resort/Spa
near Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. Almost two and half
years later it appears they have something to show the
On Thursday, February 18th Belleayre Resort at Catskill
Park Developer Dean Gitter will be the guest speaker at
the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce membership breakfast
from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM.
This week, project consultant Gary Gailes said that those
interested in the project will see and hear information
about the latest plans. Gitter, Gailes noted, will be
addressing some of the concerns expressed by the public
during the volatile scoping sessions held at Belleayre
Mountain Ski Center in the winter following the signing
of what is called the Agreement in Principle, a deal brokered
by former Governor Eliot Spitzer between New York State,
Crossroads, New York City, and several environmental groups
that had been opposed to resort project as originally
Those concerns raised at the scoping sessions are to be
addressed in what is a called a Supplemental Draft Environmental
Impact Statement, a plan for how Crossroads will mitigate
issues like traffic, noise, stormwater and a host of other
The impact statement is expected to be completed soon,
although its full review awaits completion of plans, and
an additional SEIS, for expansion at neighboring state-owned
Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, with which Gitter's resort
is to be linked. Completion of the state's plans, in turn,
have been said to be awaiting a better sense of the state's
budget future, especially when it comes to investments
in public recreation in a winter sports climate private
entities have said is becoming too competitive without
having to battle against public funding.
Included in both new SEIS documents will be materials
addressing scientific climate change assertions, a first
for such reviews that folks are also saying may prove
As for the actual layout of the project, said to include
a golf course, two hotels and dozens of residential units,
Gailes said those that attend the Chamber event will see,
for the first time, what Crossroads has in mind.
"The layout as now proposed consolidates some of
the structures," he said.
Call the Chamber office at 338-5100 for more information
and reservations for the event.
The late January explosion in a Tuesday afternoon Onteora
High School chemistry class that sent its veteran teacher
and seven of his students to local hospitals is still
under investigation, although at this point it seems that
lawsuits or recriminations will not be occurring from
what everyone's noting as a simple accident.
Donald Bucher was demonstrating an experiment with the
chemical potassium chlorate when the strong explosion
occurred, shattering the classroom's windows. Onteora
school district Superintendent Leslie Ford said the next
day that Bucher had conducted the same experiment dozens
of times before, without incident, and that the cause
of the explosion remained a mystery.
Ford said a small piece of glass punctured Bucher's arm
and cut an artery. "He was bleeding quite a lot,"
she said. He and the seven students who were injured,
all 11th-graders, were treated at Kingston and Benedictine
hospitals, primarily for minor cuts, and released.
The explosion occurred when Bucher dropped a stick of
gum into a test tube containing potassium chlorate, a
chemical used in matches, explosives, gunpowder and fireworks.
Ford said school district officials reviewed the chemistry
class' lesson plan and concluded the experiment had been
performed safely by Bucher in the past. She also said
it is a standard high school chemistry experiment and
that Bucher executed each of its steps properly. The goal
of the experiment is to determine the amount of oxygen
in the potassium chlorate.
Possible causes of the accident were a faulty test tube
or the chemical itself being compromised.
All the remaining potassium chlorate in the classroom
was later removed, bagged, locked in a secure location
elsewhere in the building, and then removed and destroyed
by Michael O'Rourke of the Risk Management Department
at Ulster BOCES. Other chemicals in the school were then
checked for problems.
Another voice in the region is asking to be heard on the
much discussed matter of gas drilling in the New York
This time it is the Coalition of Watershed Towns' Executive
Committee, a group of representatives from the Delaware,
Ulster, Greene, Sullivan and Schoharie counties, who have
submitted a three page position on the issue to the New
York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the
agency that is currently in charge of regulating gas drilling
in the State and is in the process of setting regulations
for gas mining in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere, parts
of a geologic formation that sits under parts of the watershed
as well the rest of Appalachia in West Virginia, Pennsylvania,
Ohio and Western New York.
The Coalition has not taken a position on the issue of
drilling, but has come out swinging against the City of
New York, which has called for a ban on drilling in its
The problem opponents of gas drilling have pointed out
is that its method of sucking gas out of the ground, called
hydrofracking, could be harmful to drinking water.
In its statement, the Coalition wants the watershed region
to be treated like all the other areas where drilling
is under consideration.
"If it harms water quality here then it harms water
quality everywhere," said Coalition Attorney Jeff
Baker, who spoke on the matter at a recent meeting in
Baker challenged the validity of the City's call for a
"The Coalition does strongly protest any claim that
gas mining...should be prohibited anywhere in the New
York City Watershed. We do not believe that proponents
of such a ban have demonstrated any sufficient reason
why the mining presents a special threat to the City's
water supply, compared to any other water supply in the
state," Baker wrote.
Through Baker, the Coalition did agreed that hydrofracking
can have a significant impact on groundwater.
"However, those impacts are statewide and are not
unique or present a specific threat to the New York City
supply," their document adds, however.
The Coalition actually has a bigger concern on a smaller
"If the threat of contamination is real, it is even
more of a concern for smaller municipal systems relying
upon groundwater and individual homes than it is to the
City's supply," Baker said.
The Coalition's comments follow comments submitted to
DEC by the City's Department of Environmental Protection,
which wrote that "gas drilling poses unacceptable
risks to the unfiltered water supply for nine million
Baker also notes that the City's position fails to take
into account the economic impact on landowners in the
"An arbitrary prohibition deprives property owners
from realizing the full potential of their property and
denies the communities needed tax revenues and jobs,"
according to Baker.
The Onteora Central School District is in the process
of planning the Universal PreKindergarten program for
the 2010-2011 school year. If you have a child turning
4 by December 1, 2010, please call the Pupil Personnel
Services Office at 657-3320 for details and an application.
The application is also available on the Onteora School
District website: http://Onteora.schoolwires.com.
In addition, Request for Proposals to house a program
within the District is available to interested persons
with appropriate certifications. Please call 657-3320
for more information.
Finally, the Onteora Central School District has announced
that petitions are available to nominate candidates for
the Board of Education. Petition forms may be picked up
at the Onteora Administrative Offices, 4166 Route 28,
Boiceville, New York, from the District Clerk between
the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each business day.
Petitions will require at least 37 qualified voter signatures
and must be returned to the Clerk by 5:00 P.M., Monday,
April 19, 2010. There are two vacancies for Board Seats,
both three Year Seats running from July 1, 2010 to June
30, 2013. Candidates must have one year residence in the
school district at the time of the election.
The Annual Meeting and Election will be held on Tuesday,
May 18, 2010, in the four elementary schools.
A number of regional iniatives are starting up for those
among us who can't wait to get their knees on the ground
and their hands in the soil come Spring in the Catskills,
which everyone's saying will eventually happen again hereabouts.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County Master
Gardener Program will once again offer a series of workshops
during February and March to help the avid home gardener
get prepared for spring. Classes will be held on Thursdays
February 11, February 25, Wednesday, March 10 and Thursday,
March 25, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Ulster County BOCES,
175 Rt. 32 in New Paltz. For more information call 340-3990
or visit www.cceulster.org.
Also up for those itching to start planning their gardens
is the availability of an array of fresh seedlings being
offered again by the same entity, including a wide variety
of fruits, vegetables and evergreen seedlings. Order forms
can be requested now, with the stipulation that no orders
be accepted after Friday, March 5.
The pick up dates for all orders are: Wednesday, April
21, and Thursday, April 22, from 10:00am to 4:00pm at
the Ulster County Fair Grounds in New Paltz, and Friday,
April 23, from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and Saturday, April
24, from 9:00am to 12:00pm at the Ulster County Highway
Garage, 66 Hurley Ave, in Kingston.
AARP Tax Help
AARP volunteers in Ulster and Dutchess counties are set
to provide free tax-preparation assistance for low- to
moderate-income taxpayers. Beneficiaries do not need to
be a member of AARP or a retiree and electronic filing
service will be offered at all locations for both federal
and New York state income tax returns. Sites are will
be open Feb. 1 through April 15. Appointments are required.
Assistance will be offered, among 29 total sites, at Kingston
Library, 55 Franklin St., 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays,
and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays; Olive Library, 4033 state
Route 28A, 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays; Stone Ridge Library, 3700
Main St., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays; and West Hurley Library,
42 Clover St., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays.
For all Ulster County sites, call (845) 802-7190 for more
information or to make an appointment:
Federal legislation that calls for studying whether the
Hudson Valley should become a unit of the National Park
Service has come before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee
on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. U.S. Rep.
Maurice Hinchey introduced the bill last year and brought
it before the subcommittee late last month.
"Preserving and promoting the Hudson River Valley's
resources has been a top priority for me dating back to
my time in the New York State Assembly," Hinchey,
D-Hurley, told his colleagues. Hinchey was a state assemblyman
from 1975 to 1992 and has been in the House since 1993.
Hinchey, in making his case, pointed to the history and
beauty of the Hudson Valley and its surrounding mountains,
including the Catskills.
Meanwhile, Carol LaGrasse of the Property Rights Foundation
of America in Stony Creek is leading opposition to the
legislation, describing the effort as little more than
a governmental land grab.
"The initial national park or parks - which would
likely be a conglomeration of lands owned by the state,
federal government, local municipalities and non-profits
- would likely expand to encompass much of the land in
(the region's) 12 counties," LaGrasse told panel
members in Washington.
LaGrasse was instrumental, in the mid-1990s Clinton years,
for helping to defeat a proposal that would have seen
the Catskills declared one of a few dozen special United
Nations' recognized Biospheres in North America.
For the Hudson Valley to become part of the national parks
system, a congressionally authorized study must be conducted
first. The legislation sponsored by Hinchey would have
that study cover the area extending from Washington County,
northeast of Albany, to Westchester County. He has said
it would be useful for numerous funding initiatives, over
Meanwhile, in a letter to Olive resident Mitchell Langbert
received last month, Alma Ripps of the US Parks Service
noted that, "There are various models of units of
the National Park System ranging from the traditional
model where the National Park Service owns and manages
a resource to those where we have limited or no ownership
interest and work with partners for the continued protection
of natural or cultural resources and to promote public
understanding of their importance to the nation through
education and interpretation. An example of the latter
model is the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation
Area where we partner with state and nonprofit organizations
and provide financial, technical and interpretive assistance.
We also have affiliated areas of the National Park System
which we do not manage, but provide financial and technical
assistance to those organizations that protect the resource.
A study permits us to tailor the appropriate model to
the resource(s), assuming that the criteria for potential
designation have first been met."
"Should a study of the Hudson River Valley be authorized
by Congress, an extensive public involvement process would
accompany the study since public support for any potential
designation is a key aspect of the feasibility analysis,"
Ripps added. "A study must also provide an analysis
of environmental, cultural and socio-economic impacts
of a unit of the National Park System should one be determined
eligible for establishment."
Currently, she added, the parks department has a cooperative
relationship with the Hudson River Valley National Heritage
Area, established by Congress in 1996, including support
for the Thomas Cole House in Catskill.
This one seems destined to have a long roll-out time ahead
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein first came up with
the idea to form a consortium of community banks to provide
loans for small businesses under his Credit for Success
Program a couple of months ago. Recently, Senator Charles
Schumer took the idea statewide, forming consortiums around
New York. Now, the senator has written to President Obama
urging him to take the program nationwide.
Schumer said such a program would be complimentary to
the initiative the President proposed to provide capital
to community banks to lend to small businesses.
In his recent State of the Union Address, the President
pledged to "take $30 billion of the money Wall Street
banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give
small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat."
Schumer said he shares the President's goal of increasing
small business lending and views the Credit for Success
program as "the most effective way to increase small
businesses' access to capital."
The Legionella bacteria - which infected two residents
of the Golden Hill Health Care Center last month, including
one who later died - ended up being found in the hot water
system at the Ulster County-owned nursing home, according
to County Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck,
who added that a high-temperature flush of the system
was performed to kill off any of the bacteria that may
have remained. The process will be repeated quarterly.
An alternative, shocking the building's water system with
high levels of chlorine, was ruled out because the chemical
could damage the aging system.
Two residents of Golden Hill - an 88-year-old woman and
a 91-year-old woman - were diagnosed with Legionnaires'
disease, a respiratory condition caused by the Legionella
bacteria, earlier in January after first contracting pneumonia.
The 91-year-old died on Jan. 12, while the 88-year-old
was treated successfully and recovered, county officials
said. Neither woman has been identified.
Afterwards, a process described by county officials as
an "exhaustive on-site environmental assessment"
was conducted at Golden Hill, focusing on the facility's
water-distribution system. More than 30 water samples
were sent to state laboratories.
Legionnaires' disease is a waterborne type of pneumonia
caused by exposure to the Legionella bacteria. The bacteria
usually is found in water vapors given off by showers
or air conditioning systems. Golden Hill's air conditioning
system was ruled out as the source of the problem because
it has been turned off for months.
Shortly after the two cases of Legionnaires' disease were
diagnosed, precautions btaken at Golden Hill focused on
eliminating the sources of aerosolization of water, such
as the use of showers. Residents were instructed to take
baths instead, and, even though the disease cannot be
contracted by drinking water, the nursing home had residents
drink only bottled water.
Legionnaires' cannot be passed from person to person.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, between 8,000 and 18,000 Americans are hospitalized
with Legionnaires' disease each year and 5 percent to
30 percent of cases can be fatal.
No other cases of the disease have been identified among
Golden Hill residents, although a couple of years ago
a Mt. Tremper man in his 60s came down was the disease,
presumably while in Kingston. He was later cured.
Golden Hill uses city of Kingston water but has its own
pumping station through which the water passes. Hasbrouck
said that's why the search for the bacteria's source was
confined to the nursing home's system.
The State Assembly Health Committee passed legislation
last month allowing the use of marijuana to treat serious,
life-threatening illnesses under a doctor's supervision.
The bill is similar to a measure passed by the Assembly
in 2007 and one passed in New Jersey this year. The legislation,
which received bi-partisan support, is now in the Assembly
This legislation would allow a certified patient or designated
caregiver with a valid registry ID card to possess 2.5
ounces of marijuana; authorize the state Department of
Health to issue ID cards to certified patients and designated
caregivers; allow doctors to certify the use of marijuana
for intervals of up to one year for patients suffering
from life-threatening conditions - only if the doctor
determines it would be more effective than other drugs;
and bar patients from using marijuana in public places.
While the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, has been
approved for medical use by the Federal Food and Drug
Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency since 1986
in synthetic pill form. Consuming the drug in its natural
form - which physicians say is more effective - remains
Could be the dawning of an age of... now how did that
Local musicians Mark Donato and Mark Brown performed original
songs from their "twisted but heartfelt catalogs"
on Saturday, February 6 at the Olive Free Library in West
Shokan. Mark Brown, often accompanied by his band, Uncle
Buckle, and Mark Donato, who lives less than a mile from
the Library, both wanted to "bring homegrown music
back to West
"We're hoping, by example, people will pick up on
this," said Donato.
The Olive Free Library hosts a range of arts events-from
the annual crafts fair and art exhibits (wonderful smorgasbords
of regional talent) to the now-famous Trail Mix concerts
(which feature renowned orchestral performers in an intimate
Board member Freya DeNitto has been championing the Library
as an arts venue, saying, "The library has a receptive
community room for performance arts, and we'd like to
see more artists use this venue."
Any interested artists should contact Ruth Ann Muller
at the Olive Free Library at 657- 2482 or email@example.com.
Despite all the fun some are trying to have with the fact
that major climate swings also include heavier snows,
along with tropical storms, science continues to find
new evidence of troubled times ahead.
A report released last month says that the rapid melting
of Arctic sea ice could cost the United States a minimum
of $2.4 trillion by 2050. The study, coauthored by Bard
Center for Environmental Policy Director Eban S. Goodstein,
is the first to quantify the global cost of losing the
Arctic's climate cooling services.
The report, issued at a press conference in Iqaluit, Nunavut
- a southeast Baffin Island town in Canada where G7 finance
ministers began a two-day meeting to discuss the global
economy - estimates that this year alone, the global cost
of retreating Arctic sea ice and thawing permafrost caused
by climate change could be between $61 billion and $371
billion. The report estimates that these costs could climb
to the tens of trillions of dollars by the end of the
century unless governments implement policies to reverse
"Putting a dollar figure on the Arctic's climate
services allows us to better understand both the region's
immense importance and the enormous price we will pay
if the ice is lost," said Goodstein. "At the
mid-range of our estimates, the cumulative cost of the
melting Arctic in the next 40 years is equivalent to the
annual gross domestic product from the economies of Germany,
Russia, and the United Kingdom combined."
The report, "An Initial Estimate of the Cost of Lost
Climate Regulation Services Due to Changes in the Arctic
Cryosphere," notes that the Arctic region is warming
at twice the rate of the rest of the planet. The loss
of vast swaths of sea ice and snow that used to reflect
sunlight results in the absorption of more solar energy,
leading to warming. The thawing of permafrost, or permanently
frozen ground, is releasing large quantities of methane,
a potent greenhouse gas. The increase in warming caused
by a melting Arctic reinforces the need for governments
to set meaningful CO2 reduction targets to address climate
change. To arrive at the economic cost of Arctic melting,
the report's authors converted projected trends in snow
and ice loss and methane releases into carbon dioxide
equivalents. Those were multiplied by the social cost
of carbon, producing the range of initial dollar estimates
cited in the report.
To view the report visit www.oceansnorth.org .
Meanwhile, new, tougher standards for ozone levels on
a federal level could throw nearly the entire state, including
the Hudson River Valley, into noncompliance with the federal
Clean Air Act.
In August, the Obama administration is expected to announce
new limits on ozone, a gas created by the mixture of high
temperatures, sunlight and pollutants - particularly those
emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and factories.
The current standard of .075 parts per million was set
in March 2008 after former President George W. Bush personally
intervened to block a plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to lower the standard to .070 ppm from .080, which
was set in 1998. Although all areas of the state are reaching
the .080 standard, many regions are struggling to reach
the .075 standard.
Now, the EPA is considering a new standard of between
.060 and .070 parts per million for allowable concentrations
of ground-level ozone.
Among the areas that will be unable to meet even the more
lax .070 parts per million standard is Dutchess County
and the more densely populated areas of Ulster County,
like Kingston and the town of Ulster.
Once the EPA settles on a final standard, states will
have two years to develop a plan to meet it. They will
then have between three and 20 years to meet the standard.
And speaking of climate issues, did you hear that Pope
Benedict XVI denounced the failure of world leaders to
agree to a new climate change treaty in Copenhagen last
year, saying that world peace depends on safeguarding
God's creation. The pontiff said it's a moral issue: Church
teaching holds that man must respect creation because
it's destined for the benefit of humanity's future. In
his speech, he criticized the "economic and political
resistance" to fighting environmental degradation
and creating a new climate treaty at last month's negotiations
Graduating seniors at Margaretville, Onteora, Roxbury,
and Andes Central Schools who answer that question in
written form may be eligible to win a graduation prize
of $150 plus a gift pertinent to the theme of their writing.
The prize is sponsored by the Catskill Heritage Alliance.
The only two requirements for submitting an entry are
the title of the work, 'My Catskill Heritage,' and a limit
of 750 words. It is entirely up to participating students
to decide what the title means to them and to choose how
to express that meaning-essay, poem, short fiction, whatever.
The prize will consist of $150 in cash plus an item that,
in the judges' determination, reflects and/or suits the
content of the winning piece of writing.
Entries should be submitted by April 16 to school coordinators
Gary Robson at Margaretville, Elaine Conroy at Onteora,
Maggie Pebler at Roxbury, or Anthony Coiro at Andes. Entries
will be judged on subject matter and of course on the
quality of the writing by a jury composed of CHA members,
and the winners will be announced and the prizes delivered
at graduation, 2010.
The Catskill Heritage Alliance is a volunteer, non-profit
501(c)3 organization dedicated to preserving the harmony
between the villages of the central Catskills and the
surrounding wilderness through community revitalization
and open space conservation.
In the 21st century, we could seek a merging or reconfiguration
of school districts in Ulster County that would lead to
greater efficiencies, eliminating overlapping services
and saving taxpayers money, according to Assemblyman Kevin
Cahill, speaking at the January 21 forum of regional town
supervisors and elected officials in the newly renovated
auditorium at Onteora Middle/High School.
The forum on Local Government, Local Education, sponsored
by the Onteora Board of Education included panelists Assistant
Deputy to County Executive Vincent Martello (in place
of County Exec Mike Hein), Hurley town supervisor Gary
Bellows and town board member Janet Briggs, Woodstock
town supervisor Jeff Moran and Shandaken board member
John "Jack" Jordan sitting in for Shandaken
town supervisor Rob Stanley (Berndt Leifeld Supervisor
of Olive was invited but canceled for health reasons).
Pointing out that school district lines have not been
redrawn since the early 1950's, Cahill added that he believes
it is time to rethink the way schools function, especially
in the area of bureaucratic duties. He said it would be
a State wide, "Berger Commission style study,"
(after the study that recommended the merging of hospitals
in the area) that would look at services overlapping with
BOCES or county government while still preserving community
Cahill said that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimated
that school districts could save up to $400 million on
back office services already available. The legislation,
if approved, would mandate such services. Cahill said
the legislation would require the commission to come up
with findings based on regional community input followed
by public hearings on the findings.
Panel moderator Brian Hollander, editor of Woodstock Times,
asked town board members if there was any support among
them for closing another school in the district to save
money and deal with a dwindling student population. Both
Moran and Jordan, a former interim superintendent and
principal in the Onteora district, said no. Briggs, who
is also Hurley's deputy supervisor, said it was a shame
that West Hurley Elementary School, closed in 2004 was
The Shandaken Theatrical Society is presenting Joseph
Kesselring's classic "Arsenic and Old Lace"
at STS Playhouse three weekends in February, beginning
February 12 with an opening night gala performance. Performances
are February 12-14, 19-21, and 26-28. Friday and Saturday
shows at 8pm and Sunday Matinees at 2pm.
"Arsenic and Old Lace" is a dark farce in which
Mortimer, a young theatre-hating drama critic, is trapped
between deciding whether to go through with an engagement
and dealing with his homicidal spinster Aunts who poison
unsuspecting old men with "elderberry wine.
Linda Burkhardt directs Joe Bonjiorno, former Broadway
baby Ann Davies, STS veteran Deb Warren, Amos Newcombe,
and Justin Waldo.
STS Playhouse is located at 10 Church Street in Phoenicia.
Call 688-2279 to reserve tickets.