(Letters from March 29, 2007)
This Thursday March 29, Onteora School District residents
are being asked to vote on two proposals. Each proposal accomplishes
high priority goals for the District without raising our local
school taxes. The first proposal is to replace the 43-year-old
boilers at Woodstock Elementary School, which have exceeded
their useful life. The second priority is to renovate the
aged auditorium at the Middle School/High School, offering
students and community members a renewed forum for multiple
So, why are no additional taxes needed? This work will be
done by appropriating two different funds. The first funding
can, with voter approval, come from a special state fund known
as EXCEL (Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning)
Aid. This money is a result of the court ruling in favor of
the Governor’s Campaign for Fiscal Equity, and is available
only once, upon voter approval.
The second source is the District’s existing Capital
Reserve Fund, which was approved by voters in 2006. The total
expenditures for both projects is $1,862,711.
Projects are completed in stages of a period of time, and
don’t all get paid for at once. Since the State does
not reimburse the District for the EXCEL Aid portion of the
project until it is completed, the District will use money
from the Capital Reserve Fund to cover the initial costs.
Money will not have to be borrowed to cover expenses while
waiting for State reimbursement, and no interest will be accrued.
When the refund arrives, it will be used to replenish the
Capital Reserve Fund, and used for the remaining project expenses.
This vote requires two propositions: one authorizing the District
to expend funds in anticipation of the EXCEL funding (which
will be reimbursed once the State verifies that the specific
project is complete); a second proposition allows funds in
the Capital Reserve to be accessed for the projects. The legal
working required in the proposition states that the District
may levy a tax to raise the funds in anticipation of a refund;
however, in this case, Onteora Central School District is
planning to use the Capital Reserve Fund to cover the initial
expenses, so there should be no need to borrow funds or levy
Voter approval is required to make these vital repairs. Voting
will take place from 2-9 PM on Thursday, March 29, at all
of the district’s elementary schools, including West
Hurley. A newsletter from the district explaining theses projects
in detail has been sent to all residents. Should you have
additional questions please contact my office at 657-6383.
Dr. Leslie Ford, Superintendent
Onteora School District
On behalf of the Bennett Elementary School PTA, I would like
to encourage all voters in the Onteora School District to
vote YES for the two items to be voted on the scheduled vote
on Thursday March 29. If we do not approve the EXCEL funding
we will not receive the funding from the state. We would be
throwing away a state grant! The additional item will authorize
the District to use Capital Reserve funds. These are funds
the district already has and will not require any increase
in taxes. These monies are to be used to make necessary repairs
to our school buildings. Many of our school facilities are
old and have not had the necessary upgrades that they should
have had over the years. A yes vote would enable the District
to start to make some of the renovations needed. Our children
need a safe and modern school environment; these repairs will
be a step in that direction. Please vote yes for BOTH items.
Mary Ann Shepard, Co-President
Bennett Elementary PTA
Forums are a good thing. They are informative, allow those
present to respond to questions and engage in various conversations.
But, are they always dependable. Do those that hold a forum
actually receive the information that they are seeking. Can
policies be made and decisions costing millions of dollars
be decided using information from a forum. That depends.
On March 03, 2007 the Onteora School Board of Education held
a community forum regarding the proposed District Master Plan
Capital Projects. The purpose of the Forum was for the Board
of Education to receive input from all district tax payers,
groups and interested parties in order to develop a vision
for the future of the District. There were two sessions one
in the morning and one in the afternoon totaling about 80
people. According to the Ulster County Board of Election there
are at least 11,234 eligible voters in the Onteora School
District. The district even has a few eligible voters in Green
Participants were asked to write down which one of the three
plans they preferred. That was an excellent request to those
that were at the forum. Regardless of what their answers were
it’s next to impossible to get the consensus of the
entire district by receiving input from only 80 or so different
views. There’s another important element of the Board
of Education’s forum. Perhaps it’s a more important
element than how many were at the forum. Was there a good
mix of the participants at the forum? Were there more parents,
more people that are involved in the school at the forum or
were seniors that are struggling to pay their taxes largely
Today we have a wonderful technology called the Internet.
It’s a very powerful and reliable tool. The last I heard
one out of every household has a computer. If the Onteora
B.O.E. would think outside of the box and use a very popular
feature on the Internet called a blog they would accomplish
a much greater participation rate and a more accurate feeling
of the entire community. Millions around the world use blogs
as a way to communicate. Major Television Stations like CNN,
ABC and many others have blogs on their Web Sites.
When requested that a blog be set up on the schools Web Site
Superintendent Ford in an e mail said, we don't have the personnel
to run a blog as you suggest. That’s not easy to understand
because listed on the school’s Web Site there are a
District Web Master and five other Web Masters. Setting up
a blog is not a difficult thing to do and anyone knowing how
to get on the Internet would not find it hard to participate
in a blog. A blog is simply a fast an easy way to communicate.
The person setting up the blog inputs a question or comment
and, in this case, people in the district would respond. The
question or comment can be changed at any time. Many boards’
members have said that they want to be open to the public
and to hear the tax payer’s thoughts and comments. At
the school board’s February meeting Superintendent Ford
made several announcements’. One of those announcements
was we will be hard on ideas and soft on people.
In response to the recent Memorandum of Agreement of the parties
to the Ulster County hospital affiliation the UCDW membership
voted at the regular monthly meeting March 12, 2007 as follows:
We, the members of Ulster County Democratic Women, are concerned
that the existing plans and Memorandum of Agreement between
The Kingston Hospital and Benedictine Hospital have not adequately
protected patients’ rights and community access to care.
Because the Berger Commission timetable (end of 2007) is rapidly
approaching, we formally ask the hospitals to publicly address
Relocating women’s health services to a “proximate”
location should not be approved. Reproductive health care
is woven into the fabric of care throughout a non-religious
hospital, and such a move would not further the public’s
health because it would fragment and stigmatize reproductive
health care. There is no practical or legal reason to segregate
reproductive services if the hospital alliance is designed
to protect the historic identities and missions of each hospital.
The MOA and subsequent documents should explicitly ensure
that Kingston Hospital and Kingston Regional Healthcare System
(consisting of Margaretville Memorial Hospital, the Kingston
Continuing Care Retirement Community, and the Kingston Regional
Health Care Foundation) will remain nonsectarian and will
continue to provide a full range of reproductive health services,
HIV/AIDS prevention information and end-of-life choices within
The MOA and subsequent documents should not endanger the ability
of Kingston Hospital and its affiliates to continue to provide
a full range of health care services and research.
Create a formal, ongoing opportunity for public participation—the
first of which should be held before May 31st.
Adopted by vote March 12, 2007.
Julie McQuain, President
Ulster County Democratic Women
My family and I live within the Catskills State Park, on a
tiny rural road just off State Rt. 28--the already dangerous,
busy two-lane corridor that leads out to Belleayre Ski Resort.
To say that I am very concerned about Dean Gitter's proposed
Belleayre Resort development project, currently under consideration
by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, would
be understating things.
The current proposal and even the counter-proposal both have
problems. The Gitter proposal would entail massive construction
spread across hundreds of acres of mountainsides and mountain
ridges, destroy more than 100,000 trees, pave over dozens
of acres of forested watershed lands, potentially endanger
NYC's water supply, and constitute the biggest development
project ever within the Catskill Park boundaries. The developers'
"compromise" plan, announced in summer 2006, does
not go nearly far enough in safeguarding this environmentally
BUT, even the proposal advanced by Maurice Hinchey, to downsize
this project & protect the fragile 1,240-acre eastern
portion of the site (by sale of that parcel to the state for
inclusion in the Catskill Forest Preserve) has problems. The
revenues that would come to Delaware County, on the western
(developed) size would not at all benefit those in the Eastern
county (Ulster) -- which would nonetheless bear the burden
of the increased traffic flow, pollution, etc. of this project.
If the "best case" scenario, environmentally, is
the compromise that develops only the western side of the
mountain, then there needs to be some form of economic sharing
of the benefits, as well as the burdens, for the people whose
FRONT yards all this undesirable traffic is about to pass
Regarding the recent articles about the Masterpage cell tower
in Shandaken, I feel the need to bring up the unpopular subject
of openly embracing technology without carefully looking at
the downside. In this case 24 HOUR A DAY - 7 DAYS A WEEK OF
MICROWAVE RADIATION. Of course the cell phone industry says
the microwaves from cell towers are safe...but what do other
experts have to say? Since I am not an expert, I refer readers
to the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE FIGHTERS Website,
where they quote experts from around the world:
Here is an interesting exerpt from the conclusion:
"WHEREAS, fire stations across the United States and
Canada are being sought by wireless companies as base stations
for the antennas and towers for the conduction of cell phone
WHEREAS, many firefighters who are living with cell towers
on or adjacent to their stations are paying a substantial
price in terms of physical and mental health. As first responders
and protectors of the general public, it is crucial that firefighters
are functioning at optimal cognitive and physical capacity
at all times; and
WHEREAS, the brain is the first organ to be affected by RF
radiation and symptoms manifest in a multitude of neurological
conditions including migraine headaches, extreme fatigue,
disorientation, slowed reaction time, vertigo, vital memory
loss and attention deficit amidst life threatening emergencies;
WHEREAS, most of the firefighters who are experiencing symptoms
can attribute the onset to the first week(s) these towers/antennas
were activated; and
WHEREAS, RF radiation is emitted by these cellular antennas
and RF radiation can penetrate every living cell, including
plants, animals and humans; and
WHEREAS, both the U. S. and Canadian governments established
regulatory limits for RF radiation based on thermal (heat)
measurements with no regard for the adverse health effects
from non-thermal radiation which is proven to harm the human
brain and immune system; and
WHEREAS, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency stated
in a July 16, 2002, letter, “Federal health and safety
agencies have not yet developed policies concerning possible
risk from long-term, non-thermal exposures. The FCC’s
exposure guideline is considered protective of effects arising
from a thermal mechanism (RF radiation from cell towers is
non-thermal) but not from all possible mechanisms. Therefore,
the generalization by many that the guidelines protecting
human beings from harm by any or all mechanisms is not justified”;
WHEREAS, an Expert Panel Report requested by the Royal Society
of Canada prepared for Health Canada (1999) stated that, “Exposure
to RF fields at intensities far less than levels required
to produce measurable heating can cause effects in cells and
tissues. These biological effects include alterations in the
activity of the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase, in calcium
regulation, and in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier.
Some of these biological effects brought about by non-thermal
exposure levels of RF could potentially be associated with
adverse health effects”; and
WHEREAS, based on concerns over growing scientific evidence
of dangers from RF radiation, an international conference
was convened in Salzburg, Austria, in the summer of 2000 where
renowned scientists declared the upper-most RF radiation exposure
limit from a tower-mast should be 1/10th of 1 microwatt (Note
that 1/10th of 1 microwatt is 10,000 times lower than the
uppermost limit allowed by the U. S. or Canada.); and it should
be noted this limit was set because of study results showing
brain wave changes at 1/10th of 1 microwatt; and
WHEREAS, in a recently cleared paper by Dr. Richard A. Albanese
of the U. S. Air Force, a highly recognized physician in the
area of the impact of radiation on the human body, Dr. Albanese
states, “I would ask a good faith effort in achieving
as low exposure rates as are possible within reasonable financial
constraints. Also I would fund targeted studies using animal
subjects and human groups living or working in high radiation
settings or heavy cellular phone users, emphasizing disease
causations. I urge acceptance of the ideal that there should
be no unmonitored occupational or environmental exposures
whose associated disease rates are unknown.” (The opinions
expressed herein are those of Dr. Albanese, and do not reflect
the policies of the United States Air Force.); and
WHEREAS, recently a study, not affiliated with the wireless
industry, was conducted of firefighters exposed to RF radiation
from cell towers/antennas affixed to their stations.** The
study revealed brain damage that can be differentiated from
chemical causation (such as inhalation of toxic smoke) suggesting
RF radiation as the cause of the brain damage found on SPECT
WHEREAS, firefighters are the protectors of people and property
and should be protected under the Precautionary Principle
of Science and therefore, unless radiation is proven safe
and harmless, cellular antennas should not be placed on or
near fire stations; therefore be it "
I caution all to consider the health consequences of microwave
cell towers on the entire community, and not to consider them
Although this winter has been relatively mild, mobility issues
for people with disabilities continue. Even just a few inches
of snow makes it more difficult for people with disabilities
to get out of their homes to work, shop or do errands. Snow
is piled in handicapped parking spots, sidewalks aren't cleared
and pedestrian crosswalk visibility is blocked. No wonder
Most municipalities have local ordinances that require homeowners
or occupants to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks within
a designated time after a snow storm. Businesses are required
to clear ice, snow or any obstructions from a handicapped
parking space and adjacent curb cuts.
Apart from governmental ordinances, let's remember that individuals
with mobility impairments are our sisters and brothers or
other family members, co-workers or ourselves.
Resource Ctr for Accessible Living
The Spitzer “middle class” STAR exemption will
correct a major flaw of the original STAR exemption program
by limiting increased STAR benefits to those with household
income under $235,000. However, the basic STAR benefit will
continue to be available to all homeowners – rich, middle-income
and working poor. Further, relief is marginal and short-lived:
three years from now, even those receiving the maximum STAR
benefit – a $60,000-income household - will find their
property taxes increase 10% over their 2006-2007 payment.
The Property Tax Reform Task force interprets Governor Spitzer’s
addition of an income cap as an attempt to save a politically
popular program, and a first step to shifting taxation to
an ability-to-pay basis. It is, though, a very cautious first
step. Another major problem remains: there’s an enormous
disparity between the amount of STAR dollars per student that
the State allocates to rich school districts compared to the
rest of the State. Moreover, like the original STAR program,
increases in future school and town budgets will eliminate
any short-term benefit to homeowners.
The original STAR program, signed into law in 1997, never
achieved its promise to provide meaningful property tax relief.
School budgets continue to spiral up, and so do property taxes.
Today’s exorbitant taxes fund more than 50% of the public
school budget, according to the Office of the New York State
Comptroller. This is the bind: We can’t afford our schools.
Their budgets exceed our ability to pay.
This press release contains two attachments (in addition to
this press release):
• First, a worksheet that illustrates how Governor Spitzer’s
proposed STAR enhancement will affect a homeowner of a typical
house in Marbletown (Ulster County), New York, over the next
• The second attachment, entitled The Dark Side of New
York State’s STAR Exemption Program, looks back at the
8-year old program and asks critical questions: Why STAR in
the first place; Is STAR fair; Can any program provide genuine
tax relief without cost containment; and, Where does STAR
exemption money come from?
The Property Tax Reform Task Force is part of a New York State
coalition of citizens, towns, municipalities, civic and professional
groups. The Task Force organizes grassroots support for reform
of property tax and school funding, and pushes for legislative
change at the county and state levels.
Property Tax Reform Task Force
Stone Ridge, NY
It has for a long time disturbed me that grants from our state
representatives are universally tainted with the designation
"pork" or "pork barrel." The implication
is that the money is being spent to benefit the legislator,
or at the least, that the money is not being spent on something
that is needed or of benefit to the community. In the case
of the grants that Family of Woodstock, Inc. has gotten from
our state representatives, nothing could be further from the
truth. Were it not for the funds from Senator Bonacic and
Assemblyman Cahill, Family of Woodstock would not at this
moment be distributing copies of a newly revised Youth Yellow
Pages to every middle and high school student in the county;
were it not for Assemblyman Cahill's personal initiative to
help the homeless, the increase of 11 beds and more living
space for homeless families would not be being completed at
the Family Inn. A grant from Senator Bonacic is allowing the
agency to bring its accounting system into the 21st century
and will significantly improve our cash flow, allowing us
to keep our administrative costs down and our service level
These grants are the life blood for many not for profits.
Most often, they allow innovative programs to get funded before
the need is recognized and a state department designated.
They also allow agencies like ours to make improvements which
make us more cost effective, improvements that would otherwise
only come at the expense of services. There is no doubt that
information on all state grants should be available to the
public and the press and should be scrutinized, but to diminish
the value and appropriateness of thousands of local projects
because they are funded by our local representatives is wrong.
I do not think that either Senator Bonacic or Assemblyman
Cahill in their assistance to Family are motivated by getting
the homeless vote or looking to the future when the teens
they are helping will be voters; rather I think that we are
fortunate to have community spirited representatives who are
aware of the needs in our community. Throughout the state
there may be some inappropriate legislative items, but to
denigrate all legislative items as such seems a cheap shot
and poor reporting.
Michael Berg, Executive Director
Family of Woodstock, Inc.
Time after time, we hear lie after lie coming from the Bush
Whitehouse and the republican administration. How much more
evidence does the Republican minority in the house and senate
need before they begin impeachment proceedings? I seem to
recall many of the same republicans led the lynch mob to drag
Bill Clinton through the impeachment process for lying about
oral sex. Yes, oral sex that had nothing to do with our country,
our troops, or our RULE OF LAW! Now you have Bush who seems
to either be unaware of the concept of truth or just arrogant
enough to believe that Americans are too stupid to see through
his lies and blatant acts of treason. Bush and his team have
lied about so many things, but I will name just a few like
the reasons to send our soldiers off to die in an illegal
war, disregarding the Geneva conventions, condoning torture,
illegal rendition, hurricane Katrina response, outing undercover
CIA agents, letting wounded soldiers lay in their own urine,
firing US attorneys, and on and on it goes. If congress won’t
call them out on all the lies that are destroying our country,
killing our young men and women, and disrespecting our wounded
veterans, then we must! Please show your outrage and contact
all of your elected leaders to demand that they finally put
a stop to this insanity. Bush, Cheney, Rove, Gonzales and
the rest must be removed from office through impeachment.
There is no other way to stop the lies and restore the credibility
to our country that every American deserves.
I sent the following post to Rep. Maurice Hinchey; if you
agree with this, please let him know you do.
You have been early and consistent in calling Bush and Cheney
liars, lawbreakers, and derelict of duty. The logical next
step is to begin the impeachment process. It is not a mere
option, but required by the constitution if you believe the
above characterizations to be true. Congress must do its duty,
or else we will be condoning this behavior and there will
be no limits to what the current and future executives will
do, or try to do.
Support for Bush and Cheney is at its lowest ever; additional
recent events only make stronger the case that was already
valid years ago. We are only getting mired deeper in a national
nightmare that is sapping our strength, finances, and standing
in the world; unless we make a clear and principled stand
in support of our constitution and against overwhelming violations
in our laws, we become as guilty as the offenders, and will
never redeem ourselves in the eyes of our posterity and the
The case for impeachment is solid; the language is available
in various reports and proposals. That many Vermont towns
have voted to support this initiative should indicate that
the mood of the nation is already ahead of the Congress. Now
it is the turn of our representatives to do their duty and
reclaim our constitution and the rule of law from a criminal
gang (add AG Gonzales to the list) before it isn't possible.
Put impeachment back on the table and make it happen!
What product, when used as directed, causes disease and death
to millions? A product promoted in our communities with tantalizing
advertisements, as another 4,000 of our youth each day are
lured into using it regularly. Why, as citizens, do we tolerate
such ads when we don't have to?
Have you ever seen youth smoking cigarettes and wonder why
kids today would ever start smoking? Research attributes that
a third of our youth get sucked in by the "exciting and
cool" advertisements like those plastered on convenience
stores' property. Even when stores just have the brand logos
posted, such signs suggest that smoking a product with 200
poisons is somehow "normal behavior."
The Master Settlement Agreement reached with the tobacco industry
did not go far enough to protect youth. Cities and counties
can adopt zoning ordinances limiting the size and location
of any advertising. Suggested guidelines include not allowing
more than 10 percent of storefront windows to be covered with
ads of any kind (also reduces obstructions for patrol officers)
and prohibiting exterior signs.
For many, exterior tobacco ads are just eyesores. However,
placement matters. For example, tobacco ads at Stewart's Stores'
gas pumps are placed at the eye level of toddlers, who see
and imprint the images whenever being escorted inside. Promoting
tobacco tar and fresh milk together, how "distasteful."
Citizens can request zoning boards and government officials
to address this issue, and limit advertising that threatens
the beauty, safety, and children of our communities. As for
convenience stores without such ads, please offer them a "thank
you." Instead of only wondering why youth start smoking,
adults can take actions that help prevent youth smoking.
High Falls, NY
I must agree with Ms. Mescal Hornbeck in the first part of
her missal to us in the press issue of March 1, 2007. All
of the “jousting” in the Social arena that has
migrated to the Legislative Halls is so “out of place”.
The Courts likewise have no business in “our”
personal business. Who is the state to “allow”
us to marry? Who then is the state to officially dissolve
Ms. Hornbeck points out quite correctly that a belief culture
which most of us subscribe to is fine for each of us individually,
but not the larger community unless we want to “gather
together at the river”. I, myself accept Leviticus and
Romans as a fair guide [for me]. I think Psalm 139 re: “a
child in the womb” is a strong indication of “life”
before birth and is part of my belief(s). However, there is
opposition to this notion by those who support “choice”.
OK, there’s not much room for argument citing the Constitution
and it’s 27 Amendments. Can I get an “amen”
which would include my 2nd Amendment Right?
The other half of Ms. Hornbeck”s admonition to the people
is “off the chart”. She wants to ban some of my
favorite products including “under arm” deodorants,
“bug” sprays” and common “foo-foo”
lotions. I suspect cigarettes [a legal product] are in there
somewhere but we do have the right to kill our self.
Let’s hear it for WD-40. It’s a great body rub
and will fix arthriris.
Some states have “outlawed” suicide, again minding
someone else’s business.
In total Ms. Hornbeck’s message to us is valid, timely
and in good faith. There’s that “faith”
again. It gets in everyone’s way.
Glenn T. Anderson
News reported via NPR is that addiction to gambling is rising
at an alarming rate, that it is greater than anytime in history
and the United States has the highest percentage. Perhaps
the most alarming news of all is that our children are gambling
and becoming addicts at an alarming rate. Much of the gambling
is done via the Internet but in places close to casinos there
is much more addiction than exists elsewhere. Caring people
take news like this to heart and do all they can to oppose
the establishment of new casinos. This includes voting for
casino opponents and acting locally wherever and whenever
the chance arises where your voice can be heard. It is tragic
to see that more and more of our daily life is swayed by commercial
interests and many people support casinos because of the false
promise that the jobs they offer will improve our economy.
Gambling addiction is a phenomenon that is not visible to
the observer, as is addiction to drugs and alcohol, and also
the addiction is not talked about nor are there social forces
at work to provide help for the addict of which he or his
friends or relatives can take advantage. The result is that
it consumes more and more of the addict's time, causes severe
economic woes for the addict and his family. Educational goals
as well as careers are ruined.
While the casino industry and new casinos are developing ostensibly
as a support for the economy of the Native Americans it is
important to note that many Indians, if not the majority,
are opposed to it but have somehow been ignored by, again,
corporate greed and power of those promoting it. There is
always somebody there working for financial profit no mater
what the human cost. Would that St. Patrick or some other
kind of Saint would come along and get the snakes out of our
Over the past nine months, a concerted campaign against Mr.
Rick Fritschler, former chair of the Ulster Environmental
Management Council (EMC), has been undertaken by leaders of
the Ulster County government.
In these communications, I review the organizations being
attacked, their relationship, and then the charges themselves.
The Ulster County EMC was started by the county in 1972. The
EMC has functioned well for 35 years advising and assisting
county and municipal governments on a wide variety of environmental
matters. In 1995, Rick Fritschler was appointed chair, increasing
the activities of the EMC. In particular, he obtained annual
grants from the State Education Department (SED) for a federally-funded
education program for volunteers called Learn and Serve America
(LSA). Following federal regulations, this program combines
the Kingston schools as grantee along with the Rondout schools,
Ulster County Community College, Ramapo College and the EMC,
acting for the county, and the federally-specified non-profit
corporation, Lower Esopus River Watch (LERW), in a cooperative
organization called the Mid-Hudson Service Learning Institute
(MHI). All parties sign a required memorandum of agreement
The Kingston schools have received such LSA funding from SED
each year since 1997. Ulster County has matched that funding
through annual appropriations to the EMC, plus in-kind services.
The Kingston schools send 100 percent of the LSA grant to
the EMC, which turns both county and federal funds over to
LERW. The LERW executes the LSA program planned by the EMC.
LERW acts as a vendor to the EMC. The close relationship between
LERW and EMC has been questioned by some, but it is absolutely
necessary for efficiency; planning and execution cannot and
should not be completely separate.
The LSA program is audited annually by the Kingston schools
and by the SED. If the program is not being successfully completed
in a cost effective manner, the funding would be stopped.
The Ulster County LSA program is one of four in New York used
as models throughout the country. The program has trained
over 1,900 volunteers in a wide variety of environmental efforts
including water quality determination, stream bank protection,
trail building and maintenance, park development, storm water
management, Geographic Information System mapping, inventorying
natural resources, food gleaning and firewood production donated
to the poor, and other similar activities. The students range
in age from about 10 to college age and the adult volunteers
are of all ages. The volunteers put in about 30,000 hours
of effort in 2004 alone (and hundreds of thousands of hours
since the program began) on these programs under the direct
leadership of teachers, EMC employees, and many experienced
volunteers. After their training, most volunteers continue
to give their time, effort, and expertise in their communities.
This is the goal of the LSA program and it has been very successful
in Ulster County.
The program has saved us taxpayers big bucks. Think of the
cost of hiring professionals to do all those thousands of
hours of work and the continued effort after their training.
The EPA has estimated that the stormwater management program,
alone, has saved the taxpayers of Ulster County about $1.8
million so far.
David Straus, Executive Committee
Ulster County EMC Board
After the last several stressful political years, it’s
a relief to find the Democrats in power in both houses of
congress and to have hope of reversing the wrongs instituted
by the Republican government. But I know this is not a time
to relax and leave it all to the powers that now be. I think
a great place to put my energy is into getting the governing
power into the hands of people who will not be bought and
who don’t have to answer to corporations and other heavily
financed entities. Luckily for us, the new governor of New
York, Elliot Spitzer, arrives predisposed to implement the
ideas of Clean Money, Clean Elections. This Clean Money Clean
Elections system is already working in five states: New Mexico,
Connecticut, Maine, Arizona, and New Jersey, and in the cities
of Albuquerque, NM, and Portland,OR. In these states and cities,
a person of good will in any party and of ordinary means can
run for office by getting fully funded by the government after
getting enough signatures and five-dollar contributions. To
find out more about how this process works, go to www.citizenactiony.org
and click on clean elections. It feels good to have hope again
that people concerned about people, instead of money, can
be elected and do the work that benefits people.
The first time I saw it, it immediately made me smile. I had
just walked into the driveway of what we know as La Dutchess
Anne and there it was rising up in front of me, a magnificent,
extraordinary light sculpture, about 30 feet high. Maybe it
started out as a Christmas tree decoration and it is that
but it has gone beyond that and is also an unusual abstract
light sculpture. It was created by Fabrice, the chef and proprietor
pf the restaurant and inn. I understand it took him three
days to create it and he did it without a ladder.
It is worth the ride there to take a look. It is unconventional.
You won't see anything like it around. While you are there
stop in and try out some of this Brittany born gourmet chef's
delicious cuisine. His food is a pleasure. The atmosphere
is warm and friendly and the service is excellent.