As the clock
ticks toward a June deadline for the Shandaken Town Board
to make a decision about the Phoenicia Sewer project,
it remains unclear whether any steps will be taken at
the May 5th board meeting to determine one way or the
other if the busy hamlet should take the plunge and build
infrastructure to replace the inadequate septic systems
that lace the landscape.
Phoenicia residents rejected the DEP wastewater treatment
offer following a referendum last year, but the DEP kept
the offer open until this June because the City believes
a waste treatment system is the ideal method for handling
Phoenicia’s effluent. On the hamlet’s end
of things, many have said they would accept the system
if the City, which is footing the bill for most of the
project, came up with better terms for businesses and
found a way to hook residents up to the system without
charge. The DEP has not, to date, altered the offer. Supervisor
Peter DiSclafani is working with additional officials
at the DEP to see what can be changed to make the offer
acceptable to the Phoenicia Wastewater District, but at
press time there was no word of any change.
After the referendum was defeated there was talk of a
faction of the Phoenicia community investigating other
ways to secure the system, but so far nothing along those
lines has materialized.
In other news, the town is considering helping to fund
SHARP’s Flower Project in Phoenicia. Last year the
project, which lines Phoenicia’s Business District
with floral arrangements, became a political football
when the previous town administration under Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr. appeared to be funneling town funds to
the program, to pay for the watering chores, without following
proper procedure. As a result the current town board,
ushered in last November by the winds of change, planned
to not fund the program at all, according to SHARP’s
Executive Director Buffy Kibe.
Kibe said this week that SHARP is moving forward with
the program anyway. SHARP will contribute funds and hold
fundraisers throughout the season to help pay for the
project. Now, Kibe said, it appears the Town Board is
prepared to come up with $2000 to help out. It’s
not the $6000 SHARP had hoped for, but at least it’s
“I thought it was going to be zero,” she said.
There are a couple of extreme cases of law enforcement
these days in Shandaken. Not of the police variety, but
of the type that occurs when people ignore the towns zoning
In one case a landowner in Phoenicia has been informed
that he must take apart and remove a massive wooden framed
structure that town officials say was built without proper
permission. In another circumstance Hanaford Farms in
Mount Tremper, a farm stand alongside route 28, has been
issued a violation because the operator of the popular
fruit and vegetable stand is not in compliance with the
size restrictions specified within the permit granted
by the town Planning Board in 2003.
These measures may indicate that Shandaken is moving away
from the days when one could get away with violating the
zoning law as long as one got started before the town
found out. Years ago town officials would not enforce
the laws if it meant forcing a taxpayer to incur the expense
to actually rip apart something just built. Violators
could then go to the zoning board, claim ignorance of
the law, beg for mercy and end up with an after the fact
variance that enabled the construction or operation to
Gina Reilly, the town’s Zoning Code Enforcement
Officer, said Tuesday that when she took office in January
she notified the owner of an illegally built garage along
the old plank road in Phoenicia that it must be torn down.
The courts decided last year that the garage, which is
partially built, was in violation. An appeal by the owner
was unsuccessful, but the building remains despite the
order to remove it.
“I gave him until May 1,” Reilly said, noting
that she will take him back to court if necessary.
The more complicated issue is Hanaford Farms, a popular
local business that has grown beyond the scope of the
100 square foot size limit set by the town planning board.
The business looks to be closer to 1000 square feet in
Hanaford Farms was issued a violation in January, Reilly
said, with a clause stating that it must comply before
opening this season. On April 11th the farm opened. Reilly,
having not received a response, sent a notice of violation
immediately, giving Hanaford Farms 30 days to comply with
the conditions of the permit. Should the Farm stand not
be in compliance when that 30 days are up, Reilly said,
she would then issue the owners an appearance ticket to
go to Shandaken Justice Court, where fines of up to $250
per week can be levied against code violators. She hopes,
however, that it does not come to that.
“We hope to come to agreement,” said Reilly,
who replaced long time Code Officer Glenn Miller, who
resigned at the end of last year. “They’ve
been in violation since 2003.”
Commissioners at the Adirondack Park Agency this month
approved a three-phase, big ski resort development project
in the town of Johnsburg, Warren County that is being
described as a public/private partnership between developers
and the State of New York, which owns and operates Gore.
The public portion of the project includes reopening the
town’s defunct Ski Bowl Park at Gore Mountain and
installing a 3,500-foot quad chairlift, which will be
built and operated by the Olympic Regional Development
Commissioners also approved new construction of a private
resort complex on 432 acres of land beside the ski area
owned by FrontStreet Mountain Development LLC, a company
run by the Crikelair family based in Darien, Conn. The
resort, to be called the Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain,
will have five hotels and inns, 131 townhouses, 18 single-family
dwellings, a private ski lodge, an equestrian center,
a nine-hole golf course, restaurants and retail space.
According to published reports, FrontStreet project manager
Mac Crikelair, when asked how much the developers were
banking on state investments at Gore Mountain, said that,
though they were planned together, the projects are separate.
But according to Michael Washburn, the Executive Director
of the Residents Committee for Protection of the Adirondacks,
the financial commitment on the state’s part remains
unclear. Washburn suspects there is going to be a strong
connection between state investment (at Gore) and the
success of the project. He wonders if the role of the
forest preserve should be to enable this kind of exclusive
There are some similarities between the Gore Mountain
project and one proposed locally here in the Catskills
by Crossroads Ventures. Like the Gore project, Crossroads
proposal, called the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park,
would be linked to a State run facility, in this case
the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
They are not similar, however, in their respective reviews.
The Gore Mountain Project was submitted for review in
2006 and was approved in less than two years. The Belleayre
Resort was first proposed in 1999 and review of the project
is still going strong today, even after intervention by
former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who signed a deal with
the developers and environmental groups last year that
called for a restructured project that includes a ski-in/ski-out
connection to Belleayre.
There’s also the fact that the local project is
located in the middle of one of the world’s leading
watersheds, with its own body of permit processes to go
Judy Wyman, a Shandaken resident involved with several
citizens groups opposing the Belleayre resort, said Monday
that the Gore project review appeared inadequate.
“The APA’s decision is suspect. It seems the
APA has approved the Ski Bowl Village project despite
the fact that many environmental and socio-economic issues
remain unresolved and could only be resolved through the
adjudicatory process,” she said. “This is
one of the largest ever in the Adirondack Park. Why has
the APA required more rigorous reviews for significantly
smaller projects while letting this one slide? Using state
money to build and run facilities that primarily enhance
a private development is an inappropriate use of the taxpayer’s
money — just as it would be for Belleayre.”
Also questioned, by others, was both project’s sense
of reality given new state budget policies being promoted
by Spitzer’s successor, Govermor David Paterson,
who this week called for a trimming of all commission
budgets, including the DEC.
Previously, the state had to cut some of its expansion
plans for Belleayre, in spite of supporters’ lobbying
efforts. It remains to be seen how much farther the department
will have to cut to meet the requirements of a shrinking
Police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman
whose body was found Tuesday morning outside her home.
The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office said the woman,
identified as Kalie M. Herdman, was discovered about 10:10
a.m. in a dry well at 31 Station Road in Phoenicia, where
The Sheriff’s Office did not say how Herdman might
have died or whether her death is considered suspicious
- only that the investigation remains active.
There was no police activity at the Herdman property Tuesday
evening, and a man answering the door at the family home
declined to comment.
The Sheriff’s Office said it was assisted by the
state police, the town of Shandaken police and the New
York City Department of Envirornmental Protection police.
It was learned at press time that the New York State Comptroller's
Office has denied Greene County's request for a financial
audit of the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center,
but local officials and representatives from privately-owned
Hunter and Windham Mountains, as well as several ski area
associations, say they will continue to push for a “more
level playing field” between state-owned and private
ski areas in New York.
Competition with Belleayre, located in the Ulster County
town of Shandaken, has been an ongoing topic of concern
for Greene County officials, and the state’s shrinking
private ski industry, who feel the state-owned resort
enjoys competitive advantages over private resorts that
hurt the Greene County economy.
In July 2007, the county Legislature called for a full
accounting of Belleayre and a moratorium on all state-owned
ski area expansions until an independent economic analysis
could be done. In January, the Legislature adopted a separate
resolution asking that the scoping document of Belleayre's
expansion include an analysis of the impact on neighboring
counties. In early March, the county requested a state
audit of Belleayre to make sure the ski center was achieving
its established goals, that public funds were being used
efficiently and that assets were being adequately protected
against fraud, waste and abuse.
In response, state Deputy Comptroller Lynn Canton sent
a letter to Speenburgh, dated April 15, stating her office
was "unable to commit sufficient resources to your
request at this time." She said, though, that she
would share the county's concerns with the independent
auditors who work with the state Department of Environmental
Conservation, which operates Belleayre.
Unemployment in the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions
rose by over one percent in March as compared to statistics
from the same month of last year, the state Labor Department
reported this month. Department analyst John Nelson said
these are the highest unemployment rates in years.
“I think what you are seeing across the board is
an uptick in the unemployment rate numbers for our region,
which is no different,” he said. “This probably
by far the highest March unemployment numbers in four
years. The last time was in 2004.”
Sullivan County tops the list at seven percent unemployment,
followed by 6.4 percent in Delaware County, by six percent
in Greene County, 5.2 percent in Ulster County, five percent
in Columbia County as well as the Dutchess-Orange metropolitan
statistical area, and 4.5 percent in the Westchester-Putnam-Rockland
At the same time, Nelson said the Hudson Valley gained
3,400 jobs year over year in March for a growth rate of
0.5 percent. And despite the increased unemployment numbers,
the Hudson Valley came in third out of 10 regions in the
state in terms of low joblessness. Long Island and New
York City were tied for first place and the North Country
Region came in last.
Come November, Ulster County will be voting on its first
County Executive. The field grew crowded this past week
with a host of announcements, including two legislators,
Chairman David Donaldson and Susan Zimet, who ran for
State Senate last autumn; the village executive of Ellenville,
and several gadflies.
Complicating matters, 13 Democratic Ulster County legislators
have endorsed current county administrator Michael Hein
for the job, including Robert Parete, Brian Shapiro, Richard
Parete, and Peter Kraft from our neck of the woods.
Not yet announced for the position is state Assemblyman
Kevin Cahill. Let’s see if he jumps into the swamp
Members of the Shandaken Police report the arrest of two
Mt. Tremper subjects for allowing an underage drinking
party to happen within their residence. Robert Kovacs
Sr. and his wife, Cassandra Kovacs of 5472 Route 212 in
Mt. Tremper were charged under the new County Law which
prohibits the serving of alcohol to underage persons at
a private residence. Shandaken Police responded to a reported
fight in progress in front of the Kovacs residence. Upon
interview of the subjects involved they were found to
be intoxicated and under the age of 21. The Kovacs were
issued appearance tickets returnable to Shandaken Court
at a later date.
Meanwhile, a group of teens from the AWARENESS group including
the Onteora Class President, Rose Hallinan are hoping
to gain the interest of Onteora Seniors to go to the first
in what they hope will be a traditional Safe After Prom
Party. The Reservoir Inn in West Hurley has offered to
host the event after the prom until 6:00 am. The group
is currently looking for donations of food,deserts,prizes,
lap tops, and a large prizem such as a trip or a car,
the better to draw students the night of the event.
The organizers are also asking that anyone knowing any
big name actors or bands that would be interested in stopping
in to make for an exciting night contact Marie at 417-1483
or firstname.lastname@example.org or Rose at 679-1134 or www.hvinet.com/awareness.
Governor David Paterson and Commissioner of Environmental
Conservation Pete Grannis announced last week that $500,000
will still be made available to six communities in the
Catskill Park to help local governments plan for sustainable
development and make the best use of the natural resources
in the region. The funding, previously announced as part
of former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Agreement in
Principal for Dean Gitter’s Belleayre Resort plan,
will be made available through the state Environmental
Protection Fund for grants to promote “smart growth”
programs in the Catskill Park following the successful
launch of the program in the Adirondack Park. The grants
will help communities implement sustainable projects that
preserve the natural resources and cultural heritage of
their communities while accommodating increased levels
of tourism and related development. Smart growth can be
used in rural areas to address some of the land-use issues
facing the Park communities, such as workforce housing,
aging infrastructure, water quality, economic development,
open space protection and community revitalization. The
grants will be administered by the Department of Environmental
Conservation in partnership with the Department of State.
The six grant recipients are: the towns of Andes, Middletown,
Olive and Shandaken, and the villages of Fleischmanns
and Margaretville. Proposals will focus on projects that
have been identified in previous planning studies to protect
the region’s natural resources and accommodate sensible
economic growth by revitalizing existing village and town
A minimum of $40,000 will be made available for projects
in each of the six communities should eligible projects
be submitted, and the remaining funds will be awarded
based on competitive rankings conducted by DEC in consultation
with DOS and other state agency staff. The fact that the
grants have been officially re-announced seems to indicate
current wishes that they be seen apart from the controversial
AIP, which has not been officially discussed by the new
Governor since coming into office last month.
The 2008-2009 State Budget includes $15 million in flood
mitigation funding. The money will be dedicated to projects
aimed at addressing the massive and unprecedented flooding
that has devastated the Catskill, Hudson Valley, Mohawk
Valley and Southern Tier regions of the state in recent
years. Ulster County will receive $2 million from the
In February, a summit for state and local officials was
held in Binghamton to explore issues regarding the repetitive
devastating flooding that has occurred in various regions
of the state over the last three years, threatening the
safety of residents and causing hundreds of millions of
dollars in damages.
It’s a start…
Also in the budget is $6.5 million for The Solar Energy
Consortium (TSEC), a not-for-profit organization whose
mission is to integrate and harness the state’s
vast financial, technical, scientific, academic and manufacturing
capabilities to double the efficiency of solar technology.
TSEC aims to dramatically reduce the costs of solar and
thrust it into an atmosphere where it can compete and
succeed in the traditional market as a clean, renewable,
efficient and cheap source of power. The funding announced
will allow the leaders of the project to offer incentives
to solar companies if they pledge to relocate to the Hudson
Valley and join the Consortium.
Highway Superintendent Eric Hoffmeister said this week
that the past winter did not cause any substantial damage
to the town’s roads, but the unusually frequent
combination of rain and snow did cause the department
to cut deep into it’s sand and salt supply.
“I think we had normal winter damage,” he
said in a Tuesday afternoon telephone interview.
At this point crews are out doing seasonal cleanup in
culverts and ditches, but in some places like the upper
Herd-mann Road in Phoenicia, the winter did takes its
“The road sunk a foot,” he said.
Crews this week installed new drains under the trouble
spot hoping to arrest the problem, which Hoffmeister said
is also doing damage to the old Ulster/Delaware Rail line
that runs parallel with that portion of roadway.
Want To Own?
Freddie Mac, a stockholder-owned corporation established
by Congress in 1970 to support homeownership and rental
housing, has joined forces with Ulster Savings Bank and
the Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO) to announce
that they are working together to offer informative bilingual
workshops to families in Ulster County interested in purchasing
a home. Freddie Mac’s Get the Facts! workshops are
designed to break down barriers of misinformation that
keep many individuals from considering homeownership,
and are offered in English and Spanish. Through the Get
the Facts! workshops, participants are provided with straightforward
information and advice about all aspects of homeownership,
including costs associated with home buying and credit
history requirements. The Rural Ulster Preservation Company
will offer the free workshops. Representatives from Ulster
Savings will participate in the workshops, explain how
to qualify for a mortgage and take mortgage loan applications
for families who are ready to purchase a home.
Freddie Mac, one of the nation’s largest residential
mortgage investors, created the Get the Facts! workshops.
For more information about attending a Get the Facts!
workshop, contact Vanessa Perez at the Rural Ulster Preservation
Company (RUPCO) at (845) 331-9860 or visit their website
The state's new budget will include $1 million for the
Catskill Interpretive Center, a visitors' center that
first was planned 20 years ago for a 62-acre site off
state Route 28 in Mount Tremper but fell victim to budget
cuts under former Gov. George Pataki after site work was
State Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, who sits on the
Senate's Budget Subcommittee and pushed for the funding,
announced its inclusion in the 2008-09 state budget.
"I am pleased that funding was included so this critical
project can move forward," Bonacic said in a press
release. "Our region boasts so many environmental,
cultural and educational activities, and the Catskill
Interpretive Center will highlight these treasures."
When the project initially was announced by state officials
in 1988, its budget was put at $5 million. The state spent
at least $1.5 million in site preparation work before
plans were scrapped in 1995, leaving behind what has come
to be known as “the bridge to nowhere,” a
road/bridge that meanders up into the pine trees at the
After the years went by the property has been eyed by
emergency service types as a spot for a heliport. At another
juncture there was interest in it becoming a parking area
with bathroom facilities. Neither idea came to fruition,
but this year the town of Shandaken is planning a community
day event on the site in August. It remains unclear if
the renewed interest in the Center will affect those plans.
A group called the Friends of the Catskill Interpretive
Center have continued to advocate for the center. The
group now projects the cost of building the proposed 18,600-square-foot
facility at $7 million. The Friends group has pledged
to raise $1.75 million to help build the facility, requiring
$5.25 million from the state.
Bonacic called the latest funding allocation "a good
first start" to redevelop plans for the center.
The goal of the center is to help provide visitors with
a complete understanding of the natural environment of
the Catskill Mountains, along with the region's cultural
and artistic assets, and promote the investigation of
the Catskill’s and all it’s wonders.
Humanity’s demands for energy and water supplies
are on a collision course, new research suggests. It takes
water to make energy - to cool power plants or process
the fuels that power our cars. And it takes energy to
get new water - to pump it to where it is needed, or to
purify it for human use.
In a far-reaching analysis published in the British scientific
journal Nature, scientists argue that water and energy
development need to be coordinated or we will not have
enough of both to meet humanity’s growing needs.
They point out that the problem is already noticeable
in water-scarce New Mexico. There, two big coal-fired
electric power plants in northwestern New Mexico consume
as much water as 150,000 typical Albuquerque households.
A third plant proposed for the Four Corners area would
add another 60,000 households’ worth of water consumption.
A portion of that electricity is shipped to California
raising questions about what occurs in the case of a drought.
Because of a loss of power plant cooling water, France
lost 15 percent of its supply of electricity from nuclear
power plants and 20 percent of the power it normally receives
from hydroelectric dams during a drought in 2003, according
to the report. Fears of similar problems arose during
last year’s drought in Australia. Over the past
two years, drought in the southeastern U.S. threatened
the cooling water for 24 nuclear power plants. Without
enough cooling water, the plants would have to cut their
And the issue is not limited to generating electricity.
Oil shale, one alternative to traditional oil for making
gasoline and other liquid fuels, requires 2 to 5 gallons
of water to make a gallon of oil-equivalent fuel, accord.
And biofuels - irrigating corn or soybeans to process
into ethanol or biodiesel - can take as much as a thousand
times as much water as ordinary oil refining. The problem
also works in reverse, with high energy costs for creating
new water supplies. Desalination - the purification of
seawater or brackish groundwater - takes five times as
much energy as conventional water supplies, 10 times the
energy in the case of seawater.
All of this is coming as global energy demand is rising
- an expected 50 percent in the next two decades, according
to Hightower and Pierce. Over roughly the same period,
according to the report, demand for irrigation water globally
will rise 20 percent and urban water demand will rise
Options for dealing with the issue include using low-
or no-water energy sources like solar and wind power.
There also are new approaches to cooling power plants
that do not require water, and brackish water or seawater
can be used for cooling. On the water side, purifying
sewage so the water can be used again is a lower-energy
alternative to desalination.
Seniors who have received analog cell phones from the
Ulster County Office for the Aging should be aware that
the phones no longer have 911 emergency service due to
a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) change that
no longer requires the industry to support this technology.
THEY DO NOT WORK.All major cell phone companies shut down
their analog systems as of March 31, 2008. The Office
for the Aging has temporarily suspended its 911 Emergency
cell phone program due to the changes in FCC regulations.
The office will continue to accept donations of digital
cell phones only and will continue its program once there
are digital cell phones to distribute. Cell phones with
digital service are not affected by this change. Most
carriers have notified their customers of this changeover
and have offered plans to transition their old analog
equipment to digital service.
Seniors may check their cell phones to determine if they
have service by turning it on and reviewing the screen
activity to see if service is available. If a cell phone
does not have service, it should be returned to the Office
for the Aging, 1003 Development Court, Kingston.
The Onteora High School Guidance Department is hosting
a College Admissions Workshop on Wednesday, April 30th
at 7pm in the High School Chorus Room. Important information
about post-secondary education and the college admissions
process will be presented. This workshop is essential
for college-bound Juniors and their parents. However,
all Onteora High School students and their parents are
welcome to attend. For further information, please contact
the Guidance Department at 657-2373.
Sallie Mae says it cannot write money-losing student loans
indefinitely. Top executives are holding “daily
deliberations” about just how long the nation’s
largest student lender can afford to sacrifice its bottom
line for the sake of college-bound Americans, Sallie Mae
CEO Albert J. Lord said in recent weeks. Experts added
that, unless the government intervenes or market conditions
rapidly improve, Sallie Mae could have no choice but to
stop writing new federally backed loans.
Sallie Mae lost $104 million in the first quarter as it
grappled with higher borrowing costs, restructuring charges
and other factors, though Lord said in a conference call
with analysts that the company would not lower its full-year
earnings target. And even though the majority of student
loans are highly rated and carry a federal guarantee,
investor demand for securities backed by these assets
has plummeted - a sign of just how nervous investors are
about securities backed by mortgages, student loans and
Bank of America Corp. has said it would stop private student
loans, but continue offering government-backed loans.
Citigroup Inc. also said its Student Loan Corp. subsidiary
will temporarily stop issuing loans to students at schools
where profits have not been satisfactory.
These market conditions come just months after a new law
reduced government subsidies for federally guaranteed
student loans, whose interest rates are capped at 6.8
percent. That situation has forced Sallie Mae, formally
SLM Corp., to lose money on every federally backed loan
it makes, testing Wall Street’s patience as around
60 other companies have exited the market for those loans,
either permanently or temporarily.
More than 75 percent of federal student loans are issued
by those lenders, which primarily raise money by bundling
loans into securities sold to institutional investors.
Company executives said such assistance is urgently needed,
particularly as students rush to file loan applications
early, given concern about the availability of funding.
“We don’t have weeks or months to resolve
the solution,” said Jack Remondi, Sallie Mae’s
chief financial officer. A bipartisan bill approved by
the House would let the Education Department temporary
authority to buy loans from student lenders to ensure
their access to capital and would let the government advance
federal money to companies that would operate as “lenders
of last resort” if they run out of cash. But that’s
if it doesn’t get vetoed by the President.
Candidates for the new County Executive position set for
election in November were formally announced at the April
15 annual meeting of Ulster County Democratic Women in
Kingston, according to the organization’s president,
Julie McQuain. In the other business, Vice President Theresa
Regan of Marbletown, Secretary Jo Ann Chamberlain of Woodstock
and Member-at-large Meryl Kramer-Harrison of Olive were
each reelected for two-year terms. The nominating committee
was led by Leadership Development chair Elizabeth Murphy
of Saugerties and included Issues chair JoAnne Myers,
PhD, of Kingston and Susan Zimet of New Paltz. Rounding
out the current Executive Committee are Treasurer Jane
Ann Williams of New Paltz and Outreach/Membership chair
Gail Kniceley of Rosendale. McQuain reported to the members
on the events and activities of the previous year.
Ulster County Democratic Women (UCDW) is an independent,
grassroots organization devoted to bringing more Ulster
County Democratic women into the political process and
electing well-qualified Democrats to public office at
every level. Women and men are welcome as members. UCDW
does not endorse candidates during primaries.
For more information about UCDW see the website at www.UCDW.org
or attend one of UCDWs meetings held at 7 pm on the second
Monday of each month at 292 C Fair Street in Kingston.
Rising food prices could spark worldwide unrest and threaten
political stability, the UN’s top humanitarian official
warned recently after two days of rioting in Egypt over
the doubling of prices of basic foods in a year and protests
in other parts of the world. Sir John Holmes, undersecretary
general for humanitarian affairs and the UN’s emergency
relief coordinator, told a conference in Dubai that escalating
prices would trigger protests and riots in vulnerable
nations. He said food scarcity and soaring fuel prices
would compound the damaging effects of global warming.
Prices have risen 40% on average globally since last summer.
“The security implications [of the food crisis]
should also not be underestimated as food riots are already
being reported across the globe,” Holmes said. “Current
food price trends are likely to increase sharply both
the incidence and depth of food insecurity.”
He added that the biggest challenge to humanitarian work
is climate change, which has doubled the number of disasters
from an average of 200 a year to 400 a year in the past
As well as this week’s violence in Egypt, the rising
cost and scarcity of food has been blamed for riots in
Haiti last week that killed four people, violent protests
in Ivory Coast, price riots in Cameroon in February that
left 40 people dead, heated demonstrations in Mauritania,
Mozambique and Senegal, and protests in Uzbekistan, Yemen,
Bolivia and Indonesia.
Officials in the Philippines have warned that people hoarding
rice could face economic sabotage charges. A moratorium
is being considered on converting agricultural land for
housing or golf courses, while fast-food outlets are being
pressed to offer half-portions of rice.
Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said “many
more people will suffer and starve” unless the US,
Europe, Japan and other rich countries provide funds.
He said prices of all staple food had risen 80% in three
years, and that 33 countries faced unrest because of the
The Delaware County Town of Roxbury’s heritage tourism
programs have once again garnered Preserve America grant
dollars to bring added economic stimulus to its educational
and historic tourism activities throughout the year. “Roxbury
in the Gilded Age” was awarded more than $66,000
to augment and market successful summertime heritage tourism
programs like “Railride into Yesteryear” and
“Turn of the Century Days.” In addition, Roxbury
will be able to undertake historically-enriched events
in October and during the holiday season.
The grant opportunity was restricted to communities and
neighborhoods that have earned “Preserve America”
designation. Nevertheless, the federal grant process remains
fiercely competitive, with only four programs in New York
State getting the nod in this round. Nationwide, 43 Preserve
America projects were funded with a total of $2.9 million
(which makes Roxbury’s award of $66,750 an average
award). To qualify, projects had to illustrate how they
would use historic assets effectively in planning, research,
education and interpretation, training, or marketing.
Preserve America funds are not used for “bricks
and mortar” capital projects, which are covered
under other federal and state programs.
“Roxbury in the Gilded Age” will offer strong
collaborations with DURR, Roxbury Central School, Roxbury
businesses and cultural organizations, as well as area
university scholars. In addition to enhanced historical
research for its annual “Ghost Tours,” Roxbury
will introduce a new winter heritage tourism event, “Holidays
of the Gilded Age.”
The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle”
and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements
in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according
to a highly critical study published last week by the
Pentagon’s premier military educational institute,
the National Defense University, which has raised fresh
doubts about President Bush’s projections of a U.S.
victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that
he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.
The report carries considerable weight because it was
written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official,
and was based in part on interviews with other former
senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles
in prewar preparations. It was published by the university’s
National Institute for Strategic Studies, a Defense Department
“Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq
has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle,”
says the report’s opening line.
At the time the report was written last fall, more than
4,000 U.S. and foreign troops, more than 7,500 Iraqi security
forces and as many as 82,000 Iraqi civilians had been
killed and tens of thousands of others wounded, while
the cost of the war since March 2003 was estimated at
“No one as yet has calculated the costs of long-term
veterans’ benefits or the total impact on service
personnel and materiel,” wrote Collins, who was
involved in planning post-invasion humanitarian operations.
The report added that the United States has suffered serious
political costs, with its standing in the world seriously
diminished. Moreover, operations in Iraq have diverted
“manpower, material and the attention of decision-makers”
from “all other efforts in the war on terror”
and severely strained the U.S. armed forces.
“Compounding all of these problems, our efforts
there (in Iraq ) were designed to enhance U.S. national
security, but they have become, at least temporarily,
an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to
expand its influence throughout the Middle East ,”
the report continued. “For many analysts (including
this one), Iraq remains a ‘must win,’ but
for many others, despite obvious progress under General
David Petraeus and the surge, it now looks like a ‘can’t
The report lays much of the blame for what went wrong
in Iraq after the initial U.S. victory at the feet of
then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld . It says that
in November 2001, before the war in Afghanistan was over,
President Bush asked Rumsfeld “to begin planning
in secret for potential military operations against Iraq
The report also singles out the Bush administration’s
national security apparatus and implicitly President Bush
and both of his national security advisers, Condoleezza
Rice and Stephen Hadley, saying that “senior national
security officials exhibited in many instances an imperious
attitude, exerting power and pressure where diplomacy
and bargaining might have had a better effect.”
Collins ends his report by quoting Winston Churchill ,
who said: “Let us learn our lessons. Never, never
believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone
who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides
and hurricanes he will encounter. . . . Always remember,
however sure you are that you can easily win, that there
would not be a war if the other man did not think that
he also had a chance.”
The Bush administration has said that it plans to start
using the nation’s most advanced spy technology
for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House
Democrats over the idea’s legal authority. Homeland
Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department
will activate his department’s new domestic satellite
surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible
with traditional scientific and homeland security activities
- such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate
change and creating terrain maps. Sophisticated overhead
sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy
and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said. The department
has previously said the program will not intercept communications.
Democrats say Chertoff has not spelled out what federal
laws govern the NAO, whose funding and size are classified.
Congress barred Homeland Security from funding the office
until its investigators could review the office’s
operating procedures and safeguards. The department submitted
answers last week, but some lawmakers promptly said the
response was inadequate.
DHS officials said the responses are unwarranted.
According to Ulster County Public Health Director Dean
Palen, a pair of possible cases of mumps amongst students
at the Woodstock Day School in West Saugerties has “absolutely
been on our radar” in the weeks since they were
According to various sources, the two cases amongst elementary
school students at the private institution, which runs
from pre-school through 12th grade, sparked the quarantining
of several students from the school who had not been immunized
to the once-standard childhood disease. Parents were told
that their kids could return to school if they took standardized
MMR immunizations, routinely given now during infancy
and around age 6.
Palen said on Wednesday, April 16, that he didn’t
want to talk specifically about what was happening, or
had happened, at the Day School until final lab results
were released on the possible mumps cases the next day,
“It may yet turn out not to be mumps,” he
said. “We’ve invested quite a bit of time
into this and want to have our facts straight.”
Palen added that “some exclusions occurred on a
preliminary basis” only among students who could
not prove having been immunized.
He added that neighboring Onteora and Saugerties school
districts had not been contacted about the possible mumps
cases, or quarantines, because contagion of the disease
could be isolated… and they wanted a clear diagnosis
first. Yet he also admitted that mumps was a “reportable
disease,” defined as those listed by the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention as being “ofgreat
public health importance” where any and all collection
of statistics showing how often a disease occurs can be
used “to determine trends and track disease outbreaks
to help control future outbreaks.”
Later, Day School Headmaster Jim Handlin said that there
was only one case that was confirmed, and she was back
in school, all better. He added that the process of keeping
the school body safe had been cumbersome, with much disinformation
passed around amongst parents and in the community. Mumps,
which causes swelling of the salivary glands, can occur
at any age but is relatively uncommon amongst teenagers
and adults, where some possibility of deafness, encephalistis
and male sterility can occur. The time between being exposed
to the virus and getting sick is usually 12 to 24 days.
They are caused by a virus, which is spread from person-to-person
by respiratory droplets (for example, when you sneeze)
or by direct contact with items that have been contaminated
with infected saliva. There is no regular treatment for
the disease, whichis considered “self-limiting”
and after running its course, leaves those who have had
it immune to catching mumps a second time. This past winter
and spring, outbreaks of mumps have occurred on college
campus in Ohio and Virginia, following similar outbreaks
two years ago.
A growing literature is available protesting against the
administration of the MMR vaccination, claiming that the
attenuated vaccine strain is harmful and might have a
relation to the growing prevelence of autism, and/or that
the wild disease is beneficial. Disagreeing, the World
Health Organization the American Academy of Pediatrics,
the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American
Academy of Family Physicians recommend routine vaccination
of children against mumps, and have been working state
education laws towards such vaccinations’ being
required for all students.
In 2006, the state legislature mandated the creation of
a statewide immunization registry for the purposes of
collecting and storing mandated information on vaccinations
administered to all persons less than 19 years of age.
Under state education law, every child attending school
is required to submit proof of immunizations against polio,
mumps, measles, diphtheria, rubella, chickenpox, Haemophilus
influenzae type b, pertussis, tetanus, and hepatitis B…
unless parents put in writing a specific request for immunity
to the immunization laws based on “sincere and genuine”