Up on the News
Trustee Laurie Osmond was chosen as Onteora district school board
president, with Ann McGillicuddy taking the role as Vice President.
Both received unanimous votes from the five-member board at the Middle/High
School. The new fiscal school year began with swearing in Osmond,
who already served a one-year term, and newly elected trustee Tony
Fletcher. The board immediately discussed opportunities to reduce
burnout, such as time management and a better sharing of duties.
“School boards will sometimes have presidents that will serve
for a six-month term instead of a years term,” Osmond said.
“I think we all want to minimize burnout and spread the opportunities
for leadership as much as possible.”
The board agreed that in six months, they will evaluate where they
stand and whether this procedure might be necessary. They also discussed
ways to shorten school board meetings with a 10pm target time for
adjournment. This past year has seen meetings extend past the midnight
The board decided that it will use an application process to fill
the seats of recently resigned trustees Michelle Friedel and Richard
R. Wolff. The two have one-year left on their three-year terms. Fletcher
said he wants outreach to the community with board members canvassing
individually so they can get more public interest. He said anyone
interested, but afraid to try, could only serve up to the required
year pont and choose not to seek reelection.
“I would really like us to craft an advertisement that is really
positive,” he said.
The board will choose two new members at its September 8 board meeting.
Whoever is chosen will remain on the board until the next election,
May 18, 2010. The two lowest vote getters in that school election
will immediately take Wolff and Friedel’s remaining terms until
June 30, followed by a new three-year term.
The point of contention for the evening came from the ongoing debate
over souvenirs given to senior students in the form of a double shot
glass. But the souvenir itself was only part of raised hackles generated
from the public and board member Donna Flayhan who noted that it was
the manner by which the district handled the complaints, with some
feeling that the District Superintendent Leslie Ford ignored them,
offered people no choice but to seek media attention via public outcry.
Others said they believed the matter should have been handled through
purely administrative means and stayed in the district.
“Using the media to verbally and publicly humiliate the district
and its employees is not ethical or professional,” said High
School graduate Tara O’Connor. “It only adds to negativity
to the entire district.”
She suggested creating a policy to address allowable souvenirs or
tweak an already existing one.
Parent Christina Edwards said she called the district seven times
wanting to speak with someone about the shot glasses, but received
“My original phone calls were to try and be part of the solution
and it wasn’t until after the un-returned phone calls that it
escalated the way it did,” she said.
Flayhan said that when she first received complaints about the shot
glasses she asked Superintendent Leslie Ford who the advisors were
and how it happened.
“That was never answered, not even addressed, not acknowledged,”
Flayhan said, noting as she asked for a district apology and accountability.
Osmond said that the procedures involved needed revisiting, but because
it was not district money used, the oversight slipped through the
Trustee Dan Spencer said that the issue effected people in different
ways but the overiding concern was the way the situation had been
handled in the public domain.
High School Graduate William Melvin said the prom where the souvenirs
were distributed as keepsakes was very successful, well attended and
“We American’s are hypocrites,” he said, explaining
how the venue for the Belleayare Bash, a non-alcohol party for seniors,
is “saturated with ads for alcoholic beverages.” He added
that some of the music played promoted alcohol drinking and Onteora
holds a tradition of buying glass souvenirs for seniors.
“Last year it was tumblers and the year before that beer mugs,”
Ford said that the district will be looking into better oversight
and making changes so it does not happen again.
Ford also told the board that they are not budgeted for an additional
teacher to split the fifth grade class at Phoenicia Elementary, where
traditionally the school’s fifth and sixth grades only have
one class each.
Spencer noted that such matters would have to be addressed as such
situations become more normal in coming years,
Osmond disagreed that enrollment was declining, pointing out that
current enrollment is increasing and this particular class is larger
“If you look at that fifth grade,” she said, “we
are not seeing a decline, we are seeing an increase,” she said,
explaining that over the years, that class has continued to increase
in size, while the incoming Phoenicia Kindergarten class is currently
at 33 students.
Woodstock Principal Bobbi Schnell was asked to weigh in on her school’s
population since West Hurley closed, combining two populations. She
said this year’s Woodstock kindergarten class maxed out at two
classrooms with 23 children each. The same class going into first
grade has increased to a maximum of 25 students per classroom. Schnell
said there is a waiting list so far of two children who would have
to attend another school in the district if the class size does not
Flayhan said a possible solution to the oversized Phoenicia class
is to mix grades, noting that the elementary school has done it before.
Fletcher said that the county’s class size average is 22.1 students
per classroom, and he is not comfortable going over that mark.
Parent Tim Rands, who has two kids at Woodstock elementary where he
has seen class size and space problems since West Hurley Elementary
closed, said most of the current Onteora board members have kids at
the Phoenicia school, and reminded them that they were elected to
serve the whole district.
Russell Richardson, Director of the INDIE program asked the board
what the future holds when it comes to the relationship between the
program and Onteora. He said if INDIE becomes only an after-school
program, providing no credited curriculum through the school district,
he worries enrollment will drop.
The board budgeted $50,000 for INDIE to continue as an after-school
program in a newly located Woodstock site. The original INDIE building
on Route 28 in Boiceville is no longer available for use.
Ford said she was meeting with Richardson to fine tune the fall program.
In other news… Fletcher suggested assigning an arts task force
to explore and identify all of what goes on in the district that is
art related. He asked that the district use the large community of
people directly related in the arts to the district’s advantage.
Fletcher, an author, also drafted a letter of congratulations on behalf
of the board, for 2009 graduating students.
The board agreed to continue it as a yearly tradition.
Takes Many Villages...
a clear-skied morning the day following Kenny’s arrival in Kingston
by day boat from New York City, her first time to the area, and Sherret
walked his paramour up from his family’s place on Chase Mountain,
in Olive, up and over Winchell’s Notch to the place the couple
still refers to as “Two Views.” There, he gave her a ring,
asking her to share his life.
Later, en route to Woodstock, each commented to the other about the
beauty of this region’s nature, and how they’d life to
some day live here full time, raise kids, and share in shaping its
future to match that beauty that was so key in kindling their love.
29 years later, Chase was a key player in the 1969 founding of what
has become known as The Catskill Center for Conservation & Development…
as well as its first director. That was back when a combination of
young and older conservation forces, the Rockefeller administration’s
setting up of an Adirondacks commission, and fears of growing development
pressures led to various local efforts to introduce regional planning
to the Catskills, which then as now was prone to mismanagement due
to the numbers of conflicting jurisdictions in control of its future.
A Catskill Commission was set up of academics in the state university
system to study what was what in the region. Then, as one of its first
acts, the Catskill Center commissioned its own study of the region
from Williams College, which was completed by its first autumn. Based
on its findings, and Chase’s lobbying efforts, the state set
up a governor’s appointed commission to study the Catskills,
based in Stamford and funded in 1973. But due to internal battles
among local powers, including a still=strong resort and hotel lobbying
effort from Sullivan County, it ended up essentially disbanded within
Undeterred, the Center stepped back from the idea of an Adirondacks-like
centralized planning entity and focused on smaller projects, publishing
studies, saving buildings from the old Delaware County mill that would
become Hanford Mills to Thomas Cole’s house in Catskill. They
helped fight the introduction of gambling into the area, as well as
use of ridgelines for the creation of complex hydro-power systems.
They championed the indigenous culture, as well as the region’s
And all in its first decade…
Later, there would be battles over designation of the Catskills as
one of the world’s United Nations-recognized biosphere regions,
at a particularly dark time in the nation and region’s history
of isolationism, as well as the development pressures tied up with
the proposed Belleayre Resort project, which the Center eventually
signed off on, causing even more backlash.
But through it all, its educational and cultural programs, as well
as its aid to local towns and counties on numerous planning and environmental
issues, has been paramount… and quietly lauded by all who have
come in contact with what was an organization and is now truly a regional
And now it all comes to a head, of sorts, with the big bash planned
for Saturday, July 18 from 10:30 am –to4 pm, when The Catskill
Center for Conservation and Development will celebrate its founding
forty years ago with a family festival at the Delaware & Ulster
Railroad Park in Arkville, just following its annual meeting.
Headlining the festival is Grammy-nominated, kid-friendly Trout Fishing
in America, followed by traditional mountain music from hometown favorite,
The Tremperskill Boys. The event also features Professor Robert Titus’
Antiques Rock Show, raptors, kids activities, fly-fishing lessons,
and a specially priced ride on the aptly-named Rip Van Winkle Flyer.
“We invite the public to join us, as we celebrate the Catskill
Center’s origins. Since 1969 we have been working to reverse
centuries of environmental degradation and decades of economic decline,”
notes Executive Director Lisa Rainwater. “The Catskill Center
prides itself on being the first regional organization to have understood
that the needs of people and nature are not mutually exclusive. Today,
we call it sustainability. Forty years ago, we called it the Catskill
Kids will be enchanted by the spellbinding storyteller Teri Schlobohm,
and afterward can enjoy being decorated with their favorite Catskills
critter at the Face Painting booth. Then folks can trot on over to
the petting zoo to get up close and personal with animals big and
small and learn about the remarkable lives of about our region’s
magnificent birds of prey. The arts & crafts tent, activities,
and fly-fishing lessons will pique the whole family’s curiosity
– and might even lead to a life-long love of craftsmanship,
wildlife management, or the art of fly-fishing.
In recognition of our four decades of service in the Catskill Mountain
Region, the Catskill Center will be bestowing its prestigious Alf
Evers Award for Excellence on four exemplary Catskills businesses
that contribute to our local economies, serve as sustainable business
models, and provide fantastic cultural opportunities to local residents
and visitors: Apple Pond Farm and Renewable Energy Center, The Belleayre
Conservatory, Merrick Tackle, and Catskill Craftsman.
In celebration of their shared fortieth anniversaries, chef and proprietor
John Novi of the Depuy Canal House in High Falls will also be offering
a special anniversary dinner for avid train buffs who present their
souvenir railroad ticket stub for dinner. .
Entertainment and activities are free and open to the public. But
reservations are encouraged for the fee-based train and meals activities
by calling 845-586-2611, ext 103 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For a full schedule of events, as well as more information on this
member-supported, not-for-profit organization that strives to protect
and foster the environmental, cultural, and economic well being of
the Catskill Mountain Region, visit www.catskillcenter.org
And be prepared to recognize its roots in love a Catskills’
blight is the same disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine in
the 1840’s. Such widespread occurrence in Northeastern U.S.
this early in the growing season is extremely rare… You need
to act quickly to protect your garden-grown tomato and potato plants
and to make sure that your plants don’t become a source of spores
that could infect commercial farms, as late blight spores are easily
dispersed by wind. Of particular concern are plants purchased at box
store garden centers. If your plants do have late blight, DO NOT put
them in your compost pile. To prevent disease spread, seal them in
a plastic bag and put them in the trash.”
Fine, but then it began hitting. In the Greene County village of Catskill,
an entire community garden was wiped out in a matter of days. Tomatoes
started disappearing from farm stands.
“The bad news is we are starting to find late blight almost
everywhere on both conventional and organic farms,” e-mailed
Cornell Cooperative’s John Mishanec from his Albany office on
July 7. “Scout your tomatoes/potatoes every day. Look deep into
the canopy. Even as late as midday, the leaves stay wet with overnight
dew. Spots are big, the size of a quarter. A very good diagnostic
sign is there will also be big black spots on the stems as well. The
earlier you find the disease, the better chance you have of keeping
it in check.”
Mishanec added how, “Old timers, when they found late blight,
would kill a 30 foot circle around the infected plant. In the days
before systemic fungicides, that was the first thing growers did to
help stop/slow the spread of the disease. If you are organic, pull
out infested plants and put them in plastic garbage bags so as not
to spread spores in the field. The earlier you find the disease, the
better chance of keeping if from spreading.”
Or spray, he and others have added.
Meg McGrath at Cornell recommends when you first see symptoms you
apply Curzate plus Previcur Flex plus Bravo on a seven-day cycle.
Or best of all, fixed copper…
“Good fungicide coverage is critical,” Mishanec writes.
“Pathogen spores can be moved on equipment and workers, therefore
spray and work in affected fields last and clean equipment between
fields. As soon as harvest is complete disk down your fields.”
But then Catskill’s community garden organizer Fawn Potash found
that most of the stuff Cornell was recommendaing wasn’t available
to non-commercial growers. She said that Story Nursery in Freehold
seemed to be aware of the blight and have some dust and spray on hand.
But larger entities such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart,
“try to sell you a product for early blight, which doesn’t
have the copper ingredient.”
“Chain stores don’t order their own stock and are dependent
on corporate decisions,” she said she found out when asking
that orders be put in to help save the crops being lost from those
who bought their bedding plants in the first place, in many circumstances.
“Timing is very important with this fungus. The Catskill Community
Garden’s tomatoes were wiped out in 2 weeks, with neighboring
gardens up the hill affected as well. Any tomatoes or potatoes showing
signs should be uprooted, bagged and taken to the transfer station.
Any remaining tomatoes or potatoes should be doused with a copper
based solution after each rain. Potatoes can be additionally protected
by piling dirt over their greens.”
It turns out that the infection started spreading from large bedding
plant enterprises dealing with the Northeast that are based in the
south. Now that it’s here, it’s not effecting plants grown
from seeds… yet. Although its spores do travel fast.
If you have plants that show signs of late blight, the original Cornell
Extension release announcing all this reads, one should contact Dona
Crawford or Teresa Rusinek at offices in Kingston asap, by calling
845-340-3990. Any samples brought into their offices at 10 Westbrook
Lane in Kingston will be inspected for free immediately. And dealt
Talk about changes, on top of the pests getting at our maples, ash
For more information and pictures of late blight visit www.hort.cornell.edu/lateblight.
And keep your eyes open…
The World Turns
for Shandaken Day, set for the Big Indian Park on August 29th, were
outlined, including a couple of fundraising ideas including $2 wooden
nickels that would bring the bearer great discounts in participating
shops around town. Also a new recreation opportunity for townsfolk
has surfaced. Both Town Tinker and FS tube rentals in Phoenicia are
giving Shandaken residents a local rate of only ten dollars to go
tubing on the Esopus.
The board opened two bids and awarded a renewal of the town’s
insurance policy to its longtime broker, dropping the annual cost
to $74,000 by switching from one to another A+” rated carrier
with no changes in coverage. According to Supervisor DiSclafani, this
will save town taxpayers $8,000 this year and $25,000 next year. The
move followed complaints last month that DiSclafani did not actually
put the coverage out to bid. In the end only two bids were received.
A technicality has since derailed the bid award temporarily. DiSclafani
said Tuesday that the company’s policy requires a sidewalk district,
which Shandaken does not have yet. A special meeting, he said, has
been called for July 15th, after press time, to discuss how to proceed.
The town moved forward with two Requests For Proposals, one for design
work on about $100,000 worth of stormwater retrofitting for Pine Hill,
another on a preliminary design for a City-funded wastewater treatment
system for Phoenicia, using the newly available MBR technology as
its primary operating system. Return dates for both RFP’s are
set for August 30.
Jack Jordan, a Pine Hill resident who’s expected to run for
town board this year, complained that the $17.2 million granted to
Phoenicia for the project by the New York City Department of Environmental
Protection was gradually being whittled down by what seems to be an
endless stream of studies and new plans, even though such costs are
being requested by the city funders.
Three years ago a conventional system was designed but Phoenicia voters
turned it down. Last year DiSclafani commissioned preliminary design
of an alternative system that used vegetative reed beds, but DEP refused
to approve it. This latest system, boasting new technology, is actually
recommended by DEP.
Mike Ricciardella, who opposes the sewer plan because although the
City is paying to build it they are requiring Phoenicia to pay for
part of it’s operation, wanted to know if the town could also
do a study to see if Phoenicia would be better served by a septic
maintenance district. Ricciardella believes the maintenance district,
an option provided by the City, wouldn’t cost Phoenicia anything.
The town’s Glenbrook Park Cell Tower came up for discussion
due to the lack of any signal providers setting up on the year old
structure. DiSclafani said it wasn’t for lack of trying. The
towers owners, he said, have been trying to make deals with providers
and he himself has been on the phone, but so far nothing has happened.
Various housekeeping matters were addressed: Summer Rec counselors
were hired and busses arranged for two field trips. The Assessor’s
office hired a temporary part-time clerk at $7.50/hr. using funds
freed up when Rose Rotella, one of the assistant assessors, recently
About $7,700 was appropriated from the town’s DEP-provided Good
Neighbor Fund for renovations to the paramedic building.
The proposed produce stand law, in the making for many months, remains
in limbo. DiSclafani said it is still being modified.
Farmstand owner Al Higley returned the town’s refund of fees
paid last year; he and the board continue to disagree over whether
an agreement between them was reached last summer. According to Higley,
he doesn’t object to the town’s proposed farmstand law,
only to certain restrictions in it.
Asked by Chuck Perez what the status of the proposed law was, DiSclafani
said “we haven’t decided yet.”
Are All With Neda
shot by pro government forces in Iran. The video of her dying was
caught on film. Although it is disturbing, I believe that everyone
should watch it.
“Don’t be afraid Neda, don’t be afraid,” someone
pleads. For a second I hold my breath. She might be okay I think.
But as soon as her eyes roll back in her head and the blood starts
coming out of her mouth and then her nose, the pleas turn into “Don’t
leave, don’t leave Neda.”, And then you know you just
watched this poor helpless girl die.
Neda is the voice behind the Persian people. Neda stands for freedom.
Neda stands for liberty. Neda stands for equality.
I’m a Persian American. I’m proud of my heritage.
I’m proud of the freedoms afforded to me in this country and
that’s what all Persians want. Freedom, Equality and Liberty.
The news from Iran hasn’t gotten any better. In fear of reprisals
and the oppression that is being perpetrated in Iran I wont mention
my sources but here is some news coming out of Iran.
The government has hired Hezbollah members and outsiders. They are
not Iranian. They are being brought into the country to kill and beat
The Basij are known as Iran’s moral police. They beat you if
you don’t follow the rules set forth by the religious government.
From some of the information I have been getting they are waiting
for the injured to come to the hospitals and then quickly herd them
into vans and poof they are gone. Sounds like the killing fields to
The government has killed more people than has been reported.
Journalists have been kicked out or detained. They are constantly
trying to block feeds from Facebook, Twitter and Youtube and to the
web. Email and correspondences are being watched and filtered.
The bulldogs are out. The threats coming out of the leadership in
Iran is distressing. They call for executions, and the suppression
of any form of public discourse.
Neda means voice or call in Farsi. Her death should not be in vain.
Her name should be the voice of the Persian people. Her call should
be a call to freedom, a call for international support for the Persian
The symbolism and irony behind her name is uncanny. She is a hero,
an innocent killed by the bullets of tyranny. She will always be my
hero, now. She also represents the many other nameless heroes that
have met the same destiny, for people are getting killed daily for
trying to stand up to the oppression and intimidation taking place
Neda exemplifies to the world that the people in Iran stand for peace
and want nothing more than to coexist peacefully with the world. They
don’t want to live under the oppressed laws of a few men. They
don’t want to annihilate whole countries. They don’t support
It is Persian custom to mourn the death of someone on the 3rd, 7th,
40th and 1 year anniversary of someone’s death. I ask you to
think about Neda on those days. Light a candle, wear black. Anything.
Don’t let Neda’s death be in vain. The 3rd already passed.
The 7th day fell on June 27th, the 40th is on July 30th. Neda is on