(Letters from April 12, 2007)
Last year Onteora’s board members cut over $300,000.00
from the budget, but before it was all said and done they
turned around and put the money right back in. On March 29,
2007 Superintendent Dr. Ford presented a budget proposal that
made several cuts in personal, but her budget still ended
up with a 5.28 percent increase. Some board members expressed
concern with the 5.28 percent increase that Dr. Ford presented.
There appears to be some disagreement in the board and what
direction to go. School board members Mary Jane Bernholz and
Dave Patterson said that they do not want to see the late
bus eliminated. Chairman D’Orazio wanted to know if
they were willing to sacrifice two music positions. Bernholz
also asked Dr. Ford to try to bring the budget down to at
least a four percent increase. What do board members want?
They can’t have it both ways. Do they want to go along
with Dr. Ford’s proposal or do they want to reduce the
tax burden even further? Unless a lot of money is found the
budget cannot be reduced without making cuts some where.
At that same meeting, as reported, teacher Luke White pointed
to the human cost and said these are actual people that you’re
considering to cut. I’d like to remind Mr. White that
tax payers are human to. Tax payers, yes we are human, struggle
to pay their taxes that help to pay for his and all school
personal’s salary and life time benefits. Few tax payers
in the district live on salaries that are being paid to Onteora’s
teachers and others that work at the school. There’s
something seriously wrong in our society when seniors have
to struggle to live on their fixed incomes and some probably
have no Health Insurance yet they have to pay their taxes
that at end up helping to pay for health insurance and other
benefits for those that work at our schools.
There are no line items posted on the school’s Web Page
so as it stands right now, we don’t know what money
goes where. What will the board do? Will the board use the
recently 6.1% increase in State aid to reduce taxes or will
they restore some items that Dr. Ford took out of the budget.
We’ll have to wait to see the finale results after the
School Board meets on April 10, 2007 when the Superintendent
will present revisions to the budget. Will the board favor
the tax payers or the school?
I was very sad and concerned to read that the proposed Onteora
school district budget calls for eliminating the elementary
strings teacher position. New data just released confirms
that learning a musical instrument really does increase intelligence.
We need good instruction in violin, viola, cello, and bass,
as well as other instruments, at the elementary level. Not
only do we need it because studying musical instruments is
good for students. We need it to support and provide musicians
for the Middle and High School orchestras, and continue the
outstanding reputation they have won in recent years. Under
the direction of Wini Paetow the High School group has received
statewide recognition. Just in recent weeks they performed
as a specially selected group at Lincoln Center. Our strings
program is one of the selling points of the district! To weaken
it in this way would compromise our position among New York
When a massive change in the delivery of medical services
in our community is being planned, as it is right now, all
significant stakeholders must be included in the deliberations.
The realignment of Kingston and Benedictine hospitals into
one financial alliance makes sense, but there cannot be an
“apartheid” of services, a segregation of services
to an off-site location. Unfortunately, this is being planned
as I write. All concerned citizens need to be alerted to this
There must be a full integration of legal, non-sectarian medical
services, procedures and practices within our medical facility.
To deny the full availability of end-of-life, contraceptive
counseling, reproductive services and HIV/AIDS counseling
would be a community tragedy.
Not too long ago, our community spoke up and prevented the
loss of health care services. We can do it again, but we need
If you would like to positively influence the new hospital
realignment agreement, contact Health Care STAT ( a guardian
of patients’ rights and access to care) as soon as possible,
at 687-9309, or P.O. Box 1108 Saugerties, N.Y. 12477.
Health Care STAT
I would like to publicly congratulate all the craftsmen, artists,
engineers, designers and service people who helped create
the remarkable Emerson Inn and Spa that opened on March 16th.
Although I was called in towards the end of the construction
phase to do some faux finishing, I was struck by the warm
camaraderie, the energy and excitement that these workers
brought to their respective jobs. It is not easy for different
crews to work together on a complicated job site, especially
one that demanded tremendous care and skill (not to mention
a demanding deadline to pull it all together) but these people
did it! Furthermore, I would like to point out that everyone
I worked with was from Ulster County and this Resort is the
product of our local talent. From the architect Anthony di
Giuseppe (Stone Ridge) to the Project Manager, Evan Robertson
(New Paltz) to Appelson Woodworks (Mt. Tremper) and B. Gokey
Painters (Kingston) everyone was proud to contribute to a
project that showcases their talents to the community. When
you read about the mythical turn of the century Catskill Mountain
House, it is invariably noted that it was the product of indigenous
craftspeople. I know that the Emerson will not only be famous
for its beauty and grandeur but is destined to be regarded
as a triumph of our Ulster County artisans.
A bipartisan amendment that arose in the New Paltz Town Council
to strengthen the Ulster County ethics law and broaden it
to cover more job categories -- paid and volunteer --deserves
Expanding the ethics law could reduce any appearance of conflicts
of interest and distribute participation in the political
process among more people.
It's regrettable that some individuals currently serving in
various capacities might have to choose how best to contribute
and thus be inconvenienced -- possibly including ourselves
depending upon how the law is ultimately written. But to view
this proposal only as it would apply to individuals would
Further concentration of power in the County seat is coming
with the new Charter form of government and single district
representation in the Legislature. A strong ethics law is
essential to maintain the confidence of voters in every part
of the County, from any party or no political party, that
their new government still belongs, and will be responsive,
primarily to them.
We've asked our Legislators to vote in favor of the public
hearing on May 2. To vote against hearing from Ulster County
voters on the subject of ethics in government would be absurd.
John Carney & Julie McQuain
New York State should serve its citizens better than it does
by providing sound, age appropriate, sex education in its
schools. Failure to do so is in part responsible for the high
rate of unintended teen age pregnancies (causing demand for
more abortions) and sexually transmitted infections. Other
states do much better. A grant program helping schools to
provide good sex education throughout the state has been passed
overwhelmingly by the Assembly. This has happened in other
years and has been defeated by the Senate. So, we concerned
citizens must help out by letting our senators know that we
want it. Our district's senator, John Bonacic, can be reached
at his local office and asked to support the Healthy Teens
Act, Senate Bill 1342. Address is 279 Main Street, New Paltz,
NY 12561. Phone: 255-9656. He will be sure to get this personally.
Regarding the recent articles about cell phone towers in Woodstock
and other towns, I feel the need to bring up the unpopular
subject of openly embracing technology without carefully looking
at the downside. In this case 24 hours a day/seven days a
week of microwave radiation through most of Woodstock. 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: http://www.iaff.org/safe/content/celltower/celltowerfinal.htm.
I caution all to consider the health consequences of microwave
cell towers on the entire community, and not to consider them
as absolute necessities.
I am volunteering as a local coordinator to promote the National
Boycott to Impeach for Peace and Justice. The boycott will
last from tax day, April 15 to Earth Day, April 22. and is
supported by a growing coalition of peace and justice groups
such as Code Pink women for peace, The Center for Constitutional
Rights and Gold Star Families for peace The message is to
stop the endless and lucrative "Global war on terror"
and demand impeachment proceedings be started against both
George Bush and Dick Cheney.
Although the boardrooms of huge multi-national corporations
are out of the reach of most people we can have a direct impact
on them by how we choose to spend our money, especially when
we act in concert. The target of the boycott is the large
corporations that profit from war and the products produced
by them. Participants are also encouraged to divest from banks
that profit from the war and reinvest in local banks and credit
The national coordinator, Lew Brown has put up a website,
www.wearenotbuyingit.org where people can sign up to join
the boycott or volunteer. The site is filled with specific
information about which companies are connected to which corporation
and exposes the ways these arrangements support and derive
profit from the war. Another very informative website is www.WhoRulesAmerica.net
created by G. William Domhoff, Research Professor at the University
of California, Santa Cruz.
Our local youth are having automobile accidents, maiming and
killing themselves and other people at an alarming rate. The
statistics repeat themselves with the same results and are
routinely published in the paper. Politicians, concerned parents
and citizens improvise ways in which the carnage can and should
be reduced, but I have not seen any successes or reduction
of mayhem and deaths. The goals and attainable accomplishments
are most admirable, but the results seem to be similar year
in and year out. Every one I know is familiar with a friend
or acquaintance that was killed coming back from a prom, a
local party or just a freak accident. When I look back to
my teen years when I first started driving, it is an amazement
that I escaped without any major harm.
They say that cats have nine lives. Maybe that’s true,
but young 18 and 19-year-old boys and girls don’t. I
read about so many of them getting killed in automobile accidents,
every day, every week, and continually on the roads where
we live. These are your sons and daughters, neighbors and
the child you would never think that this would happen to.
And other times we say, “I knew that would happen to
that kid, it was just a matter of time.”
But there is no time that a teenager should get killed in
a car accident because they were drinking or riding with someone
who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Parents: Please pay close attention to your children, even
if they are 21 and of legal age to drink. They will almost
always tell you what they are up to if you take the time to
ask, even if it’s not in their best interest. Listen
to what they have to say and try and make the best decisions
mutually for you and your child. Help them any way you can
and try and come up with a solution that will work for you
and your child. No matter how old your child is, they instinctively
look up to you for guidance and look forward to your counsel.
Nothing that they want to do that can get them in trouble
is set in stone. Often they just want you to talk to them
and convince them not to do it. Most kids don’t want
to do anything bad, and it takes little or no convincing to
get them to change their minds and keep them from getting
Remember, there is no such thing as a bad child; they sometimes
make poor decisions and do stupid things. But that’s
why they are children. Always remember to love your children,
and continue to love your children, and your children will
always love you in return. I am in my late 50s and I love
my mother dearly. She is 84 years old and still loves me as
much as the day I was born.
Life is so short, sometimes too short. Enjoy every moment
of it while you can. Treasure the people who love you, especially
your friends and family, and remember to love them back just
the same all the time...you will be rewarded all your life.
There is absolutely no replacement for love; it is free, take
advantage of it.
Andrew B Camarata
I'd like to take this time to thank the many people who made
my Spaghetti Dinner Funddraiser a success. I'm now over halfway
to my goal for raising monies for my upcoming People to People
Student Ambassador trip to Australia.
My love and thanks to my grandfather, Bob Jones of Shandaken
for donating the ingredients and cooking the gallons of sauce
for the spaghetti. Also making dishes for the event were Barbara
Jones, Theresa Jones, Shirley Perpetua, Tanya Morton, Cathy
Neal, Lynnie and Linda Storey and Tammy Shultis.
Local retailers who helped defer the costs of the dinner by
making grocery donations were Boiceville Market and Bread
Alone in Boiceville; Adams Fairacre Farms, Hannaford and Widmart
in Kingston; Price Chopper in Saugerties.
Much appreciation to Dennis Frano and the Shandaken Fire House
for allowing use of the hall for the dinner, Kyle Frano who
provided music with his DJ service, and a very special thank
you to April and Todd Carr who went above and beyond for their
help, both giving up their entire Saturday to help both nay
mom and me with the dinner.
Last but definitely not least, I thank the many people that
came to enjoy the dinner and support me in my fundraising
Megan L. Frano