to the Editor
My wife and I are artists, we live modestly in small house heating with
propane and wood.. At night we put our thermostat on 50 degrees, during
the day we keep the woodstove going and keep the propane heater thermostat
on 60. We try to burn as little gas as possible and use about 250 gallons
a year. I just got a propane delivery from Paraco and they charged me
$4.29 a gallon. This seems outrageous, the price per barrel for oil
has gone way down, gasoline is down, fuel oil is down, but the propane
cost is still way up there.
I called Paraco to complain. They explained to me that since I was a
small user (under 300 gal per year), I must pay $4.29 a gallon for gas.
If I had a bigger house and used more gas I would pay $2.50 a gallon.
In the era of global warming this is totally backwards. The propane
delivery truck comes up the road, goes to a McMansion, fills the tank
and charges the owner $2.50 a gallon, then the same truck comes to our
house, delivers the exact same product and charges us $4.29 a gallon.
So all the people conserving are subsidizing the heat of the people
who burn tons of gas. You can not switch to another company because
(at least according to Paraco) it is propane policy nationwide to do
this. Does this sound like racketeering, like a rip off and a scam to
you? It sure sounds like that to me. All us small users have to get
together and sue these people, get our money back and force them to
sell propane at equal price to all customers.
We must organize. If you are tired of being ripped off by your propane
company and want your money back email me at email@example.com.
Don't listen to the children, past or present of Onteora High School,
for they know not what they are talking about! That appears to be the
message the grown ups are sending when it comes to the INDIE program.
Every time a student speaks out, their words seem to fall on deaf ears,
time and time again.
When is this District going to learn something new, I wonder? I was
a member of a past administrative team that prided itself on listening
to our students.
As a past Assistant Principal of Onteora High School, I found myself
engaged with INDIE on an almost daily basis.
I looked into the eyes of the student who, without it would have surly
dropped out.. I saw teachers proud to be associated with the program.
I witnessed the students of INDIE offer teachers new strategies to promote
learning. Those lessons are not taught in college.
The students and staff I knew took such pride in their family within
INDIE, that they wouldn't dare miss a day of school.
I was proud to be a part of the then administrative team recognizing
the value of the the program at its core. The students respected us
for our commitment to INDIE.
Furthermore, the work of those special students was showcased time and
time again, and everyone knows that, except for those that dare to cut
it from the current budget.
I believe this is the wrong course of action during hard times. The
students will suffer and the high school building will be impacted in
a way you have not thought out well. Time will tell that lesson.
Ronald Linchner, SDA
I disagree with Onteora's school board President Resnick when she said
closing a school won't solve the problem, it will help in reducing some
operating budgets. Vice President Osmond agreed. Reducing any kind of
operating cost is reducing spending which drives down spending and reduces
the tax burden.
On March 30, 2009 President Obama made a major speech regarding the
government's auto makers bail out plan. He mentioned some specifics
about what GM and Chryslers had to do to receive more government money
or face the possibility of facing a controlled bankruptcy process. In
his comments he asks if GM had consolidated enough. I think most would
take that to mean that if they wanted more bail out money they would
be required to consolidate more then they have. He didn't make that
comment because it cost more money to consolidate because consolidating
drives down spending.
Onteora's School Board could and should be working on a reconfiguration
and consolidating plan along the lines that was in discussions by the
previous board. Closing a school like the Phoenicia school would drive
down spending by eliminating, Cafeteria staff, Monitors, Custodial staff,
Secretarial staff and some teaching staff. Further reduction in spending
would be accomplished by reducing most heating costs, insurance, electricity,
snow removal and general upkeep etc. Plus there would be the possibility
of larger class sizes that would reduce the size of the teaching staff.
At some point the sale of the school building would also help drive
Employee's salary and their benefits are the single most expensive part
of any business or school's budget. Onteora is talking about reducing
six or eight employees. Compare that to what some other schools are
doing to drive down spending and what Onteora is doing is a drop in
a very large bucket. Onteora's School board seems to be listening to
what the public is saying instead of making the hard choices on their
It bears repeating: where were the savings following the closure of
West Hurley School? What did Onteora taxpayers get in exchange for changing
the character of a neighborhood, laying off teachers and firing staff,
and making Woodstock Elementary the most crowded school in the district?
In the conversation over closing Phoenicia school, a savings figure
of $2.3 million keeps popping up, although no one seems to think anything
close to that amount was saved by closing West Hurley. The $2.3 million
sum was presented last year by a Budget Advisory Committee comprised
of cronies of last year's ousted Board members, a committee that advocated
closing Woodstock Elementary as well.
Opting not to act on the Budget Advisory Committee's recommendations,
the new Board members got elected not only because they promised a moratorium
on school closings. The election bore out several things that the new
Board members ascertained from the community-at-large: 1) a large percentage
of the public was not sold on a plan that included the creation of a
grades five-through-eight middle school cheek-by-jowl with Onteora High;
2) in the eyes of most voters, busing fifth graders with twelfth graders
across the second-largest district in the state is a bad idea; 3) small
businesses and even folks without kids appreciate neighborhood schools;
4) the fact that both Phoenicia and Woodstock kindergartens swelled
in numbers this year - defying predictions - casts reasonable doubt
on the catch-phrase "freefall decline in enrollment"; and
5) you need not go far in the district to find taxpayers who saw no
benefits from closing West Hurley, an action that exacerbated unfortunate
rivalries amongst the distinct communities of Onteora.
So 2009 finds us with a proposed nine percent increase in our budget
and much discussion about how to cut that down responsibly. (It should
be noted that approximately a third of this is past due from last year;
it was deferred by last year's Board. Not the "gift" that
it was presented as, but more of an ill-timed reprieve designed to curry
votes in last year's election.) While cost-saving ideas are being aired
in public, the consolidation agenda will continue to come up. If it
had proven to be an effective way to combat rising costs in the past,
it would deserve attention. But it didn't and it doesn't.
Robert Burke Warren
I would like to address the fiscal responsibility of the Onteora Board
of Trustees to the taxpayers of our district. In all due respect, there
is a grave injustice being done when the closing of the West Hurley
School is discussed. None of the present board members or administrators
were involved in this decision or any investigation following the closing.
This closing wa a knee jerk effort by the board, at that time, to save
the district an increase of $850,000 in budgetary dollars. The school
had some serious environmental issues that had to be addressed immediately.
Rather than deal with a major increase to the budget, the decision was
made to close the school and transfer all students to Woodstock. There
was no immediate need for consolidation so all staff was kept intact
and very little renumeration was seen in the budget.
Right now, if I were a board member I would.....
Ask for a study to be done on the feasibility of a consolidated K-4
in the Bennett School... without a bond.
Ask to have the middle school teams reconsider a 5-8 configuration...
without a bond. My research shows that, although we wouldn't have all
the nicities that a bond could bring, it could be done with no measurable
out of pocket expenses for tha district.
If I were a board member I would...
Put a resolution on the floor to investigate the closing of the Phoenicia
School and the feasibility of selling it to the Town of Phoenicia for
$1. It could be used as a community center, town hall, public library,
senior center, or whatever the need might be.
If I were a board member I would...
Question the retiring of a kindergarten teacher, if it is still in the
budget proposal, With three elementary schools open, there is still
a need for 6 kindergartens, even though these 6 will be housing only
14 to 16 students per class. With consolidation, there would only be
a need for 5 classrooms which would also prove true in the other classes
with consolidated Bennett School, immediately showing a considerable
savings to the district.
If I were a board member I would...
Put a resolution on the floor to make the West Hurley building "school"
ready and sell the Woodstock property. These nine acres in Woodstock
are a valuable asset and could be sold for a major amount of money.
If I were a board member I would....
Ask the Transportation Department for a comparison of costs if we went
from a two bell system to a one bell system...There are too many half
empty school buses running in our district.
Our students exemplary education has always seemed to be the number
one priority but trying to scratch items from each yearly budget in
hopes of quelling the
rise in expenses is not bettering this educational process, it is limiting
it. We must look to fiscal efficiency and long range goals regardless
of how unpopular, in order to support the exemplary 21st century education
we all dream of for our children and grandchildren... vision,not shortsightedness
is the key.
I will vote "NO" to any budget that does not include consolidation
and I would
urge others to do the same. The loss of equipment because of contingency
is minor compared to the educational and financial disaster our district
could potentially face.
We are fast approaching that time of year when students in our county
will be taking part in proms and graduations. Although it is justifiably
a time of joy and celebration, it is equally one for caution and restraint.
As I am sure you share my concerns in this regard, I offer the following
for your consideration and guidance and to enlist your assistance.
Alcohol is by far the most widely used drug among our youth and is directly
associated with risk-taking behavior and other disinhibiting effects
that increase the chance of unsafe conduct on their part. Unfortunately,
in recent years, our county, along with much of the rest of the nation,
has experienced its tragic results.
Under certain circumstances, allowing property to be used in a manner
where underage drinking is taking place may well constitute a crime.
Section 260.20 of the Penal Law of the State of New York authorizes
the prosecution of any individual who gives or sells or causes to be
given or sold any alcoholic beverage to a person less than 21 years
old. A violation of this section is a class A misdemeanor, punishable
by up to one year in jail or a $1,000.00 fine, or both. There is a similar
section in the Alcohol Beverage Control Law of the State of New York,
also a misdemeanor. They do not apply to a parent or guardian providing
alcohol to his or her child.
However, on February 19, 2008, the County of Ulster passed a Local Law
Number 2 of 2008, which, in pertinent part, provides that “no
person having control of any premises shall allow an open house party
to take place at said residence if such person knows or has reason to
know that any alcoholic beverage or drug is being unlawfully possessed,
served to or consumed by a minor at said residence.” It defines
“open house party” as “a social gathering at a residence
or other private property with minors present.” A violation of
this law is punishable by a fine not exceeding $250.00 or imprisonment
not exceeding 15 days, or a combination thereof.
Furthermore, the Social Host Liability Act of the State of New York
imposes civil liability upon any individual who knowingly serves or
permits alcohol to be served to a minor if that minor causes injury
to another as a result of his or her intoxication.
I am pleased that your school district has taken measures to prevent
drinking by students at school-related functions and to deter the consumption
of alcoholic beverages by individuals less than 21 years old. The administration,
faculty, and students of your district are to be commended for their
creative initiatives to discourage alcohol and drug use by students.
Accordingly, I ask that if you permit the use of your home for a prom,
graduation, or other school-related event, you monitor the situation
carefully to insure that all minors in attendance conduct themselves
in a proper, responsible, and legal manner. In addition, I ask that
if your child is contemplating using a limousine service to transport
him or her to an event, you remind the owner/operator of such service
of their responsibility in insuring compliance with the laws governing
As a result of the efforts of the Ulster County Underage Drinking Prevention
Team, the law enforcement agencies of our county, and this office, the
dangers presented by underage drinking have been identified and continue
to be addressed. Any assistance you can render in that regard will be
greatly appreciated by all of us, and more importantly, may save the
life of one or more of our children and others.
Ulster County District Attorney
Recently I was having difficulty obtaining information from Ulster County
and the Town of Shandaken so I decided to ask my State Assemblyman,
Kevin Cahill, for assistance. After several phone calls explaining what
my inquire was about I was told that he could not be of service because
I was only a part time resident and did not vote in his district. He
suggested that I call my Long Island representative for help.
I guess Assemblyman Cahill doesn't think that part time taxpaying residents
make a contribution to the community. His concerns are for only those
residents that cast a vote his way.
One third of my life is spent in the Shandaken area. I pay taxes, patronize
local business, and volunteer, yet I have no vote in local government.
Should all taxpayers be allowed to vote in local elections? I hope to
hear from part time residents as well as my full time neighbors.
Robert E. Steiner
Big Indian, NY
In response to your editorial "Farmstand Reality Check," I
think the editor needs to check a little further.
Much of your praise for the proposed new law rests on the fact that
it replaces an absurd old law. It goes without saying that a business
limited to 100 square feet is ludicrous. But what makes 2,000 square
feet sacred? Especially when that figure is already less than the footprints
of the existing farm stands. 2,000 square feet isn't better if it doesn't
allow current businesses to be sustainable much less grow.
The editorial claims "red herrings," were raised by opponents
of the draft law. Yet, the editorial raises the most vivid herring yet
by suggesting that without this zoning change the taxpayers are vulnerable
to law suits from fatal accidents.
When it comes to zoning, the town needs to do a lot more than address
farm stands. The crucial zoning issue is the fact that that section
of the Rte 28 corridor has never been properly zoned commercial. The
area running from the intersection of Rte 212 and Rte 28 to Alyce &
Rodgers Farmstand on Rte 28, is still zoned hamlet residential.
This ill-conceived draft farmstand law does nothing to address the problem
of multi-million dollar liability created by the town's ongoing failure
to enforce existing zoning laws. Injured parties could still sue on
the of basis traffic to and from any business that exists in that area.
If you're going to make that argument, the town is going to have to
close down a lot more than the farm stands on
What's at issue here is priorities. Why is the town government making
it more difficult for people to buy fresh local food? Rather than micromanaging
farmstands by proposing laws that require them to turn off the lights
at dusk, and limiting what products they can sell, why not focus on
creating meaningful zoning?
Big Indian, NY
Seymour Hersh wrote this week about some unbelievable ideas coming out
of Darth Cheney's mouth over a period of time. They are so outrageous
that I will not repeat them, until the truth is revealed. However, we
do know that we recently heard Cheney say in an interview that President
Obama was putting our nation in peril, and we have heard that Cheney
told some Israeli politicians that Obama was a friend of the Palestinians
and should not be trusted. This may have been caused by Obama's removal
of torture from Cheney's playground, but who knows what ticked him off.
Something else we know is that the President that Cheney served said
things like: "Do you have blacks, too?" to the Brazilian >
President Cardosa; "I know how hard it is to put food on your family";
"First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily
killers."; "I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain.
I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing
about being President"; and "I think war is a dangerous place".
Now, I might have laughed at some of these sayings in the past, bu I'm
afraid that the day of reckoning has come. With Bush as our leader for
8 years, being told what to do by the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld and
the powerful money lenders, Obama has to figure out how to keep us all
from living in "tent cities", as they are in > parts of
California, prevent a world war, which would probably mean us against
most of the world, and keep his eye on global warming.
So, what are we seeing from around the world, now that the evil ones
are out of office? With less fear and more anger, Spain has stepped
up to the plate to be the first to bring charges against 6 of our former
heads of government for breaking the Geneva convention against torture
- Cheney's favorite sport. Some of us are angry at Obama for not doing
so himself. Well, I'd like to suggest that he has enough on his plate.
Don't you hear him whispering in your ear, "some of this is up
to you"? Now, I have been accused of hearing things from far off
places before, so don't take my word for it. Instead, go to what democracy
is supposed to be, and remember the part: "By the People".
I think it's time for We, the People to step up to the plate and start
letting our present government know which issues we find important enough
to > fight for. As far as I'm concerned, movies about super human
monsters beating each other up, with animated weapons just aren't worth
the price. If we used the time we waste on such things, maybe we could
have an impact on our future. Eh?
It takes a lifetime to really understand bees. After keeping bees for
20 years I still consider myself a beginner. Many of us have heard of
the trouble effecting honey bees in recent years. Hive loses over the
winter continue to be high and in some areas pollination of food crops
is threatened. There are many factors that effect bee health. Numerous
disease, mites, pesticides individually and in concert with one another
create a very complex profile that leaves one wondering how there are
any bees left at all. It is the persistence, creativity and the fact
that beekeepers passionately love their bees that probably accounts
for the situation not being worse than it currently is.
In 2006 the honey bee genome was decoded and yielded some very insightful
information. Honeybees have a high number of genes relating to learning
and in fact are better learners than mosquitoes or fruit flies. They
also have a very high number of genes relating to smell which is essential
in helping them find nectar sources that may be miles away from the
hive. However, honeybees have few genes relating to immunity and detoxification.
From an evolutionary point of view this is logical since bees fed on
nectar and pollen and therefore haven't needed mechanisms to deal with
toxins or pathogens that are part of the diet of other insects and animals.
The result is that honey bees are not well predisposed to fighting infection
and eliminating toxins from their systems.
Research, particularly in France, supports the theory that a currently
used pesticide in trace amounts once thought to be too small to have
any effect at all, in fact does compromise the honeybees' health and
behavior. It belongs to a class of pesticides that is in widespread
use for crops. The same pesticide is available for home use on lawns,
gardens and in our homes. Sold under various names like Merit, Marathon,
Advantage and often included in "Weed and Feed" combinations,
the active ingredient is a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids.
It acts by disrupting the insects' central nervous system. Possibly
because a high degree of bee behavior is learned and bees are particularly
susceptible to toxins, even tiny traces amounts of insecticides negatively
affect them. Both France and Germany have banned or limited the use
of this class of insecticide because of evidence connecting them with
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
There are of course numerous other herbicides and pesticides available
from garden centers or lawn treatment services. Each has some degree
of toxicity associated with it. Some are clearly dangerous to humans,
pets and the environment. In my opinion it is likely that many have
a yet unproven effect on honeybees. The National Recourses Defense Council
is currently suing the EPA to release information they are withholding
relating to the impact of insecticide use on pollinators.
The interacting systems that effect honey bee health are extremely complex
and it is unlikely that definitive proof will be available and accepted
in the near future. You may recall it took over ten years to ban the
use of DDT and until it was banned, many people continued to use it
following some sort of strange logic that "if I can buy it, it
must be safe to use." This is one of those situations where I am
asking you to do what feels right starting now, this spring. Please
refrain from using insecticides and herbicides in your gardens and on
your lawns. Find other alternatives. What you do in your yard is not
limited to your property, but effects those around you and our community.
If you're interested in learning more read A Spring without Bees an
excellent book by local author Michael Schacker.
Want to know more about the Civilian Conservation Corp's role in Phoenicia
and surrounding areas during the Great Depression? Then you might want
to check out a talk given at the Phoenicia Library on Wednesday, April
22, at 2 p.m. by Diane Galusha, author of the new book, Another Day,
Another Dollar: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Catskills, just
out from Blackdome Press.
In the mid-'30s, workers from CCC camps in our area helped build the
Woodland Valley campground, as well a s campgrounds at Devil's Tombstone,
off Rt. 214, and at North Lake, among other local projects. The camps
were established by FDR to assist unemployed men ages 18 to 25 by providing
them with work in conservation projects in exchange for shelter, clothing,
three meals a day, and payment of $30 a month, or $1 a day.
Galusha, a Margaretville resident and founding president of the Middletown
Historical Society, pored over 1930s local newspapers and interviewed
15 former workers while researching her book. She has lots of great
stories to tell.
This Phoenicia Library event is free and is sure to be a real treat
for those interested in learning more about local history, as well as
how our area managed during the (last) Great Depression.
Phoenicia Library Board