(Letters from 7/5/2007)
I am proud to be a Phoenicia community member. With talks
of impending school closures and possible middle school reconfigurations,
parents, neighbors, and business leaders have rallied. While
this group may have been energized by emotion, they are substantially
supporting their cause—to keep local schools—with
research and intelligent probing. It’s also been reported
that local businesses may suffer with the loss of our school.
This potentially devastating loss has caused me to think about
what would happen if we lost another of Phoenicia’s
educational gems: the Windy Ridge Play School.
Housed in a converted barn on the Byer property, this school
has been preparing children for Phoenicia Elementary for over
33 years. This year, eight of the 10 five-year-old graduates
will be attending Phoenicia School (the other two will be
attending Bennett). My daughter, Camilla, is one of them.
Under the direction of Mary Garraffa (who ran a day care from
her home for 13 years), and the assistance of Jenny Bella,
Windy Ridge provides a safe, comfortable environment where
kids learn, grow and thrive. The children are introduced to
many subjects, including science and math, and started on
the Handwriting without Tears program, which is used by Phoenicia
Elementary, making the transition to kindergarten seamless.
My daughter now has a solid foundation from which her formal
education may begin—and she also has a clear understanding
of fairness, sharing, and respect due to her teachers’
unending patience with all the students.
Just before the Windy Ridge year ended, the graduating students
had the opportunity to visit Phoenicia School. There they
collaborated with future schoolmates on an art project in
Heidi LaMonda’s kindergarten classroom. My daughter
was thrilled to see some of those kids in town soon thereafter.
Phoenicia is small community that offers great things—Windy
Ridge is one of them. Ann Byer founded the school (originally
called Babes in the Woods) on the property where she grew
up, and is maintained by her brother Mark and wife Candy,
who care deeply for the institution they helped create, together
over the years with Judy Bacharach, Judy Livoti, Sue Bernstein,
Clare Brettschneider, and La Scanlon. This type of support
is special to small communities, and I hope that parents of
three year olds will consider Windy Ridge when choosing a
pre-school for their child. Our family’s experience
at Windy Ridge is just another reason why I’m thrilled
to be raising my kids in Phoenicia.
In response to Alex Gitter’s letter, in which he responded
to my husband Chris Fischer’s letter, I like him have
remained quiet over the years. That will end here as Mr. Gitter
felt the need to support his family, I do as well.
You state that Mr. Fischer’s conduct during the five
year lease made everyone realize the lease would be better
off in the town’s hand, as it is? First of all, SAYS
and Mr. Fischer went after the fields due to the fact that
there was not enough adequate space for a town’s growing
soccer program, (that Mr. Fischer began when we moved to Shandaken
in 1997). During the five year lease the fields were maintained
and used. The fields since their creation have been a political
pawn, as is so much in the town of Shandaken. During the five
year lease SAYS had little to no help from the town with the
upkeep of the fields. But again, let me repeat they were maintained
and had porta potties. Since the town’s so-called lease
on the fields, yes they have been mowed, but that is all.
We went to Mr. Cross in March letting him know that a high
school girl’s travel team would be using the fields
and we needed porta-potties. It is now June, and we have had
to tell the teams that travel an hour to 2 hours away that
they must use the woods to relieve themselves; how embarrassing,
but quite typical of the town of Shakdaken.
As our five year lease approached its end, I, not Chris, began
to send letters and make calls to Crossroads Ventures asking
about a lease renewal. My letters and calls went unanswered
until finally I spoke to someone from Mr. Gitter’s staff
and was told that Mr. Gitter said we did not need a lease
as it was his property and the fields could be used for whatever.
Unfortunately, the special use permit that SAYS holds requires
SAYS to hold a lease on the fields. Thus meaning that with
the end of the lease came the end of the special use permit.
I have the paperwork stating this if anyone would like to
see it. Also without a lease SAYS could not obtain the insurance
needed to hold them harmless for the use of fields. SAYS could
not carry liability insurance on property it did not own or
lease. Being a businessman I am confident Mr. Gitter knew
we would run into this insurance dilemma.
Mr. Gitter, you accuse Chris of being Biased and ignorant?
You also state that his conduct shows why he lost the lease
on the fields??? The conduct you speak of came LONG after
the lease was not renewed. Chris’s conduct through the
five year term of the lease was appropriate and followed the
protocol required to keep Crossroads “happy”.
Let me also remind you of the countless hours Chris, his friends,
our own children, SAYS members and many, many volunteers put
into the making of those fields. How does Crossroads thank
them for their time and concern for the children of Shandaken,
they take back the lease and supposedly hand it over to the
Town. The town that over the years has done little to nothing
to support and provide quality programs to the youth of Shandaken.
It is no wonder our elementary school’s enrollment is
down so much.
From the beginning, Chris had one agenda, and that was to
provide adequate programs to our youth so that when the kids
got to the middle school and high school they too were making
the teams. Chris has no other agenda. As for courage, Chris
is one of the few people that do have the courage to say what
he feels to be correct. You can take whatever you may from
his “implication,” however, you should know that
it is all related, unlike your claim of the fields having
nothing to do with Chris’s comments or assumed comments
on the Emerson. Chris has never looked for a pat on the back
or a photo shoot in the paper to show his commitment to our
area’s youth. The loss of the lease is just one more
example of the true agenda happening with those involved in
the Emerson and the Belleayre resort and better yet shows
how those that have not jumped on the support ban wagon are
Like I said earlier it is time that the truth about the soccer
fields came out. Chris has never made it a political issue
as politics is not a concern of his, and it has been and will
always be about the kids. I will gladly answer any questions
that anyone has about the entire lease situation from start
to finish. In reading your letter, besides the few undeserving
comments about Chris, your letter was as all letters that
come form your “camp” and that is a letter basically
seeking a pat on the back for the wonderfulness you have brought
to Shandaken. So go ahead and take the pat, but while doing
that be honest about the fields. I will be very anxious to
see what becomes of that piece of property that was developed
at no cost to Crossroads and by countless volunteer hours.
As always there will be more to follow, I am sure.
I am writing to you in regards to this years summer Camp.
In case many of you do not know, the town has cancelled Minekill
and our private transportation, instead our little children
must ride the UCART bus with stranger.
In a world that is no longer safe for children to go out and
play safely, the Town
of Shandaken has taken away the only safe programs for our
children. As I am sure you remember, my generation and the
many others before me were able to play outside with no worries.
Many of us left the house in the morning and not return until
dinner. These mountains were safe and neither the children
nor the parents were worried about who maybe lurking around.
In today’s world it is no longer safe to let our children
explore and have fun without a responsible adult with them
at all times. Every single day there is news of kidnapping.
You know longer just here about them from the cities you here
about them in small towns more often now. This is no longer
a safe world for children. There are many issues regarding
summer camp thatconcerns me.
MINEKILL: At Minekill the grounds are fenced in, the kids
can not wonder, at the entrance there is always at least one
person watching everyone that comes into and out of Minekill,
there are two doors that everyone must enter and leave through
not a large parking lot where anyone can pick them up with
out too much notice. Also, almost every child who lives in
lives near water; at Minekill every child must take swim lessons,
don't you think that when these children are playing in the
streams that the need to know how to swim is important. You
never know what can happen in these streams where there are
NO lifeguards to help them. I agree there is not much shade
at Minekill, but SUNSCREEN, It works. There is not that much
more shade at Pine Hill. As for kids stubbing there toes on
the concrete... WATER SHOES, they work great too. The distance?
Every kid who lives in Shandaken is used to traveling distances
to do anything with their families! At least at Minekill if
the kids are hot and need to cool off they can go into the
pools and cool off.
PINE HILL: The kids play, eat and swim near a very open and
large parking lot where they can leave undetected. In fact,
the playground is right next to the parking lot. It is not
fenced in and kids could enter the woods without anyone noticing
and get lost and anyone could get access to these children.
In fact after I visited the Shandaken Rec Program at Pine
Hill last year my children along with a few others were not
allowed to attend camp on the days they went to Pine Hill
Lake because these kids were not being supervised; when I
could not find my daughters I asked the counselors and none
of them know where they were either. The only way that you
can say that Pine Hill Lake has more shade is if the kids
are playing in the woods. If the kids want to cool off in
the water they have to wait until the time that the counselors
scheduled them to be in the water.
BUSES: As I stated in my opening this is no longer a safe
world for our children and you want to put our children on
public buses, some of these kids are 5 years old! This is
ridiculous, who is liable when one of those "strangers
inappropriately touches our children or physically harms them."
The counselors will not be able to prevent it completely,
most of them are still kids themselves.
Great, after it happens you will do something about it. Then
everyone in town not only the parents will be asking what
happened to the private busing that we had since at least
the early 1980's, and why didn't our town protect our children
from the beginning? But it will be too late!!!!
COUNSELORS: Last year, I went to Pine Hill Lake, Minekill
and on a field trip at least once last year to spend time
with my kids. At each place the counselors were in groups
of themselves talking to each other, listening to there Ipods
(mp3 players) or making out with their boyfriends/girlfriends.
And they were not helping the little kids put sunscreen on,
the other Never did I see a counselor in the water with the
kids. This is not what I consider responsible counselors!
COST: You want to save money? Is the cost of camp paid through
our taxes? Didn't we pay our taxes this year? So what is the
problem? So, now that you saved money instead of doing good
for our kids where is that extra money going? Lastly if the
Rec program is cheaper or closing will the town be lowering
our taxes being the town will be paying less or nothing for
the Rec program or will someone else get that money?
After talking to last year’s counselor regarding the
Rec program she gave me the impression that the program was
coming to an end. After seeing what is going on this year
I belive that she was right. If there is no safe Rec program
where are these kids going to go? There are not many day cares
in the area and there are many parents that can not afford
child care. So where are these children with working parents
going to go? The streets? The streams to cool off (but without
many knowing how to swim)? The Pine Hill Community Center
(which is not always open and if they do not live in Pine
HIll how will they get there)?
The Shandaken Rec/Minekill has been going on in our town for
what seems to be forever. The kids have fun, they learn to
swim.... some even get to take life guard training. Some of
my most favored memories from when I was a kid happened at
The Town is taking away from our kids, what else are they
going to take away from us??
As a World War II veteran I attended the Flag Day Ceremonies
at the Phoenicia Elementary School. I was truly impressed
and I congratulate the faculty of Phoenicia School for instilling
in the minds of the students about patriotism and what our
flag stands for.
It was wonderful to hear the 1st grade students sing, “Your
Grand Old Flag”. Everyone participated and they all
sang loud and clear. I’m sure this required a lot of
dedication on the 1st grade teachers and Mr. David Laks to
get the children to memorize the words.
I congratulate the students who participated in the essay
contest “What the American Flag Means to Me.”
Dylan Patterson took 1st place, Dominique Hilgers 2nd and
Angela Kastel 3rd. Great job; well done ladies.
Accolades go to Mr. David Laks and the students of the band.
They sounded great and to Devine Reiss for his playing “Call
to Colors” was excellent.
We always hear negative remarks about our young people, well
I tell you if the students of Phoenicia School are an example
of our younger generation we have nothing to worry about.
Their behavior was outstanding, which is a refection of the
principle and the faculty of the Phoenicia Elementary School
and their parents.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Helen Cordo for
being MC. This was Helen’s 33rd year, keep up the good
I salute each and everyone of you. God Bless You and God Bless
Howard Sebald, World War II Vet
I’m sure that if you have attended any Town Board meetings
in the last four years you are fed up with the wild ranting
and character assassination that goes on. It is time that
We have not even started with the political campaign, and
already the lunatic fringe has started with Dave Channon’s
I have had a brief talk with Dave Pillard of the Democratic
committee about these letters and he said he bas no control
over these people. I asked him if this was the way he was
going to run the upcoming campaign, be said he didn’t
have the time to discuss it at this time.
As a Republican committeeman I want this behavior of innuendo
and character assassination to stop and to run this campaign
in a civil manner and to stick to the issues and the abilities
of the candidates.
We will not sink to the level of the Dave Channons of the
Democratic Party. If this continues, we of the Republican
Party hope that you will take it for what it is and where
it comes from, and ignore it.
Big Indian, NY
We need a change in Shandaken!
I was busy in my store with customers on a beautiful Saturday
when Bob Kalb, chairman of the Shandaken Republican Committee,
stormed into my business. Trying to take care of my customers
and still find out why Mr. Kalb needed to interrupt I learned
Mr. Kalb was upset with a letter to the editor someone had
written in a local paper. Assuming I had something to do with
the letter he asked me if the letter was going to set the
tone for the election season. I repeatedly told him it was
inappropriate to barge into my store and discuss this and
repeatedly asked him to call me so we could set up a time
when we could talk. He stormed out and accused me of just
I hoped Mr. Kalb would be civil and extend the courtesy of
a phone call to me. Since he did not I must ask why he did
not go to the author of the letter in the first place? I had
nothing to do with the letter that upset him. The letter does
not reflect the views of the Shandaken Democratic Committee.
I and other Shandaken Democratic Committee members will always
proudly sign any letters to the editor we compose. I have
no more control over who writes letters to the editor and
their content than does Mr. Kalb. I, however, do have control
over the way I behave.
As to Mr. Kalb's claim that I just don't care it couldn't
be further from the truth. I care very deeply about this town.
I care so much I'm going to do my darndest to work with Shandakenites
of all political affiliations and help get candidates elected
who will make the rude, arrogant, and uncivil behaviour of
the present Town of Shandaken administration and those associated
with it a thing of the past.
We really do need a change in Shandaken!
Shandaken Democratic Committee
This week, Amy Goodman interviewed Ralph Nader. I was for
Dean last time around, and must admit, I was one of those
branding Nader “The Spoiler”. However, I will
begin my practice in compassion today by writing about his
recent message. It was very strong, and I will pass it on
It was that Democracy needs us. We, the People need to let
our so called representatives what we think. But, more important,
during this next year of election time, we need to let the
contenders know what we think about the issues. He said that
while we still have time, we need to demonstrate, rally, be
seen and be heard. He also pointed out something very important.
That is, that at present, we only attend the speeches and
rallies of our chosen candidates. What we should be doing,
is attending the speeches of the ones we don’t support.
We need to let them know that we are aware of what’s
going on in Washington and do not approve. With a few exceptions,
they know that they are stealing our money and putting some
of it in their own pockets. We need to tell them that they’re
busted. Why are we all so polite? It is our given right to
be heard. Corruption is rampant in Washington. Even our selected
candidates pussy foot around the true issues - afraid to come
out against the war, against mixing religion and politics,
against ear marks. I have to assume that they’re not
all protecting the Corporate mob. But, I can’t help
but wonder why they privatized the voting machines instead
of truly counting our votes - and what about Greg Palast’s
latest story on “Vulture Funds”, which is where
companies buy up debts of poor nations cheaply and then sue
them for the full amount. (More on this later.) Can we possibly
fix this? If not, I’ve thought about joining the ranks
of those that Invest in their companies to try to keep my
head above water. But, I’m more concerned about my spiritual
well being to give up as long as there are people like John
Conyors, Al Gore and Greg Palast around. So, when the evil-doers
come to town, expect to see me there. I hope you’ll
come too. Jill Paperno Glenford, NY
Dear Editor, Of all the outrageous defenses of Dean Gitter
in recent years, Alex Gitter’s letter, published 6/21/07,
is certainly among the worst. While I realize that it is part
of the job description for Crossroad/Emerson/numerous-other-corporation
employees to periodically defend Dean in print, Alex’s
adaptation of recent accusations is imprudent if not purely
The day after the inexplicable fire burnt the Emerson, I received
a call from Hugh Reynolds, editor of the Freeman, asking for
a response to DEAN GITTER’S accusation that it was opponents
of the Belleayre Resort who burnt the Emerson. Astonished,
I was the first to comment that this was actually a charge
of attempted murder, since I understood there to be about
8 people staying there. Alex’s Daddy-dearest quickly
tried to backtrack on his comments, but it was too late they
were out there.
So, basically Dean started all the finger pointing. And since
no squirrels with matches were out there to be apprehended,
to call the fire mysterious is hardly libelous. But to accuse
innocent people of attempted murder and arson, well that’s
While Dean then kept his mouth shut publicly, nothing stopped
him from having many good people in town from being investigated
for this enigmatic incineration. For the past ten years, Dean
Gitter has orchestrated the acrimony and division in this
town. It is he who should be ashamed for all the horrible
things he has done. Thank goodness for papers like the Phoenicia
Times and Olive Press, that respect free speech and allow
good townspeople like Chris Fischer to defend themselves.
First, the gossip has always been that it was arson, but not
by Gitter’s opponents. Deal with it. Second, who really
cares about the success or lack there-of, of the Catskill
Corners/Emerson Compound? Fine, it looks nice, but really,
how many times have they had to overhaul their concept? Seems
like a 3 yr cycle. As for their award as the most outstanding
small inn in North America? Hello, Conde-Naste awards this
to their paid advertisers and the voting is so loose my dog
could have voted. Go ahead, Google it. It’s all hype
and PR. They have discarded more employees then they have
retained so their so-called employment record fools no one.
The whole scenario could never have gotten this far without
Emily’s blind devotion and deep pockets.
When the soccer fields were first proposed, it was questioned
whether Dean really was making a gesture to serve the children
or was this just a publicity scam and a ruse to set the groundwork
to have the parcel rezoned thru a gradual change of use? That
was why people opposed it, not because they hated the sound
of kids playing. Who was surprised when the SAYS lease was
not renewed? Not me. I believe SAYS and all the people who
worked on and supported the soccer fields had the best of
intentions, but not Dean Gitter. Crossroads took advantage
of all the good people who, for the children, leveled, replanted,
seeded and maintained the property. When the SAYS special
permit came up for renewal there was not one complaint. So
when SAYS wanted to renew their lease why wouldn’t Gitter
renew it? Why did he suggest they break the law and play on
the field illegally instead? Who is better served now that
the town holds the lease? Certainly not the taxpayers. Now
through School and Town taxes we are paying to maintain a
“park” that is suitable for one thing, soccer.
Who is going to hold a party there with no shade or facilities?
We have several town parks with pavilions and amenities so
why did the town need a lease on this field and expand its
Dean Gitter and his followers have overwhelmingly generated
the unwarranted personal attacks that have prevailed in Shandaken
for the past decade. When Dean, with the help of Jane Todd
and Dean Palen of the Ulster County Health Department, stole
the Pine Hill Water Company, (Definition of steal from Mirriam-Webster;
a: to take or appropriate without right or leave and with
intent to keep or make use of wrongfully b: to take away by
force or unjust means), the people who stood up to him were
publicly maligned by Dean and his cronies in countless ways.
There were full page ads, malicious news stories in the town’s
“official” paper, and false police report’s
filed to name a few. We were accused of sabotaging the decaying
pipes that crumbled under 6-feet of frozen ground. Perhaps
those squirrels with matches knew some groundhogs with backhoes.
When we objected to the HUD Grant funds being released to
purchase the Pine Hill Water Company pipes from Dean, instead
of agreeing with us that the grant was issued to purchase
the intact system and not just the decaying pipes Gitter was
trying to sell, Jane Todd and Dean Gitter accused us of sabotaging
the negotiations. They forgot to mention two key facts, HUD
officials agreed with us that had those funds been incorrectly
released it would have been unrepresentative of the grant
application and Dean Gitter’s attorney knew the Town
could have acquired the system for free, as evidenced by a
letter to Jane Todd.
So, it is not surprising that when Chris Fisher speaks out,
he is harassed by Gitter’s zoning officer while the
over building and sprawl in Mt. Tremper go unimpeded. I could
go on and on, but I get the sense that Shandaken is very much
aware that the Shandaken Republicans have been having their
strings pulled by Dean Gitter for far too long. While a diminished
support for the resort may still linger it’s time to
ask why? Do these people have a silent interest in the resort?
How will they benefit by it going forward? We all know many
people were approached and asked to invest when the resort
plans were still under wraps and they declined. Surely not
everyone said no. I have often wondered why certain residents
are so fervently supportive of such an ill-conceived plan
that they would stand by or worse, play a part in the nasty
maligning of their neighbors that Dean Gitter and his followers
have been responsible for. It has to be more that the promise
of a free golf club membership.
At this point the fate of the resort lies in the State’s
adjudication process. It’s time for our town’s
government to go back to doing what’s best for all the
people, not just a select few. In November, our town should
affirm we have had enough and vote these people out.
Pine Hill, NY
It is interesting to note that when it comes to vitamin intake
there is still a lot of emphasis on the need to take vitamin
C supplements in the belief that vitamin C is a panacea for
many ills, will prevent colds etc. The fact is that since
Linus Pauling touted the role of that vitamin and recommended
mega doses in the mid-1900s people have somehow been impressed
to the point of feeling the importance of it. The facts are
that there is very little evidence to substantiate the roles
claimed for it. Actually there has been very significant findings
that other vitamins and nutrients are more likely to be deficient
in our diets. Vitamin D is definitely more important that
it has been thought. Folic acid (Folate) and Omega 3 and even
Calcium are vital and often in short supply. It is vital that
we include foods fortified with vitamin D get sunshine exposure
- just a little bit goes a long way to provide Vitamin D.
The need for fish twice a week for Omega 3 and three to four
servings of a variety of vegetables and three or more fruit
servings are important and not nearly as hard as it sounds
to get them. Of course this can only be done with three well
planned meals a day, not haphazard eating.
In a book that I had not looked at for a few decades I found
as a book mark, a membership card. It stated: I have de-clared
my name to the office of the Secretary General of the United
Nations to be on record with the Declaration of the Indi-viduals
against the Crime of Silence.
1. We are appalled and angered by the conduct of our country
2.In the name of liberty, we have unleashed the awesome arsenal
of the greatest military power in the world upon a small agricultural
nation, killing, burning and mutilating its people. In the
name of peace, we are creating a desert. In the name of security,
we are inviting world conflagration.
3.We, the signers of this declaration, believe this war to
be immoral. We believe it to be illegal. We must oppose it.
4. At Nuremberg, after World War 11, we tried, convicted and
ex-ecuted men for the crime of OBEYING their government, when
that government demanded of them CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.
Millions more, who were not tried, were still guilty of THE
CRIME OF SILENCE.
5.We have a commitment to the laws and principles we carefully
forged in the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION, at the NUREMBERG TRIALS,
and in the UNITED NATIONS CHARTER. Our own deep democratic
traditions and our dedication to the ideal of human decency
demand that we speak out.
We therefore declare our names to President Bush, and the
Congress, as permanent witness to our opposition to the WAR
IN IRAQ and as a demonstration that the conscience of America
is alive. (Is it?)
Before Bush and the Congress’s ILLEGAL WAR OF CHOICE,
there were no suicide bombers or road side explosives in Iraq...
It is all too horrible to list the statistics which increase
I read a disturbing letter from Alex Gitter in your June 21st
issue. Despite Alex's protests, I remember that the fire at
the Emerson was considered suspicious; in fact, Alex's father
Dean at one point tried to blame it on the squirrels of the
Alex's outrage at Chris Fischer's comments and the Phoenicia
Times for printing Mr. Fisher's letter are odd considering
that Alex never objected when his father paid for ads and
his father's crony, Blake Killin, published editorials and
news stories saying that I had sabotaged the water pipes in
Pine Hill and that I either burned the Emerson down or knew
who did. All baseless lies on behalf of political and financial
gain, but not a peep from Alex about that!
Alex's theatrical outrage when someone from the community
simply expresses his own opinion shows me that the nut does
not fall far from the tree. Yet, Alex can indeed include me
as one of the opponents of the proposed oversized resort who
felt that the original Emerson was an asset to the town. It
was scaled properly to allow an organic growth and some needed
lodging to the area. Aside from some problems with sexual
and the fact that the bulk of the employees were here on work
visas, I thought that
the restoration of a lovely old building was commendable.
What Alex and his father are doing on the other side of the
road might have been commendable, too, if it had been built
on the specs that the Shandaken Planning Board approved.
Oh, by the way, Alex says he grew up here. Strangely, I can't
find anyone who went to school with him. Maybe Alex can tell
us where to find records of his attendance at Onteora or any
of our elementary schools?
I moved to the area from NJ in 1976, and have been in Pine
Hill since '78.
Pine Hill, NY
We don’t usually write letters. However a recent event
has truly touched our hearts. My wife and I witnessed the
miracle of birth, of a baby deer. She has stayed in our backyard
for the last few months. The Mother felt confident enough
to have her baby right in our backyard. Despite the fact that
we have 2 small dogs, she never felt threatened. As the baby
deer grew, she would run up to me and my wife. As if she was
enticing us to come play. She would run all around our yard,
jumping and kicking, full of life. It was truley a bueatiful
scene. If the baby started getting to rambunctious, the Mother
would snort and the baby would run to her side. We are very
gifted to have witnessed this life event. Today, June 17th,
The Mother crossed the road onto the Reservoir Property. She
has done this everyday with the baby along side of her. The
Mother was always cautious, listening for cars before she
would cross the road. However today as she crossed a car traveling
approx 50mph snuffed out the babys life. The car never stopped,
or even slowed down, just continued on down the road. I was
in my backyard at the time, and had seen the Mother and the
baby in the field just moments before. As I headed down to
my garage, I saw a strange car in my driveway. I then saw
a young woman dragging the baby deer out of the roadway. We
talked about it for a few minutes, and talked about how fast
cars are traveling on 28A. The speed limit is 35 mph, although
a reasonable limit would probably be 40-45. However most vehicles
are traveling 50+ This stretch of road between Weidner Drive
and Davis Park is a double yellow. However that dosent stop
people from passing and speeding down this stretch everyday.
Its especially dangerous on the weekends when the “Crotch
Rocket” Motorcycles come thru here at 100+ My neighbors
can all agree to that. Last year a woman riding a bicycle
was hit by a car in front of our house. The speeding driver
never stopped, and to our knowledge was never caught. We called
911 and they gave us a hard time. They wanted to know if she
was injured? She was knocked off the bicycle and was laying
in the middle of the road. With a big gash in her shoulder!
What is the matter with people today that they place such
small value on life? Whether it be a baby deer, or hitting
a Woman on a bicycle. And in both instances leaving them for
dead in the middle of the road. We all know that sometimes
even under the best circumstances deer cannot be avoided.
But I find it hard to believe that the driver who struck the
bicyclist didn’t know they had done so. I guess a resonable
question to ask then is where are the Police? We don;t want
to be overly critical. And the Town of Olive has a fine Dept.
But you would think between all the Depts. State, Sheriff,
Olive, DEP. You could dedicate some patrols in this area.
28A is a very dangerous road with a lot of heavy truck traffic.
It is also very narrow with many dangerous curves and blind
spots. And with new developtments popping up it will only
get worse. What happened to this poor baby dear is truley
a shame, and we all share the blame. We all need to adjust
our driving habits, and our attitudes towards life. Any Life.
Think About it...
Dale & Edwina Van Valkenburgh West Shokan, NY
We are writing to thank the Phoenicia water rescue team, police,
ambulance, and fire departments, volunteers, and the owners
and patrons of the Black Bear Cafe for rushing to the aid
of our friends on Memorial Day weekend.
Our guests went out early Saturday morning in search of a
safe place for their dog to swim. By safe, they meant away
from the road. But they were unfamiliar with the currents
in the Esopus Creek. First the dog, and then her owner were
caught in the current. When 911 was called, the response was
swift and tremendous. Though bruised and shaken, our friends
and the dog are okay.
As second-home owners, we want to take this opportunity to
publicly express our respect and gratitude.
Meredith Altman and Emily Rosenthal
I cannot begin to explain the disgust and disappointment I
have for the reporting of my mother-in-law, Iris Vega’s,
death by the Kingston Daily Freeman. When my mother-in-law
was missing I naively thought, let’s put her picture
in the paper and ask the public to report if anyone has seen
or heard from her. Seemed (at the time) like the best way
to get her picture into the community. How stupid was I. I
picked up the Freeman on Monday and began reading. The article
started off with exactly what I would have expected. They
had placed her picture on the front page, gave a description
of her, her car, where her car was found, etc. I was in disbelief
of what I read next. Somewhere in knowing all the sorrow and
pain her family must have been feeling, the reporter felt
it would be beneficial to state her recently deceased husband’s
9 year old conviction. Right? I mean why else would he have
put that in the article. He does have a heart. Right? He must
have known how her son’s, daughters, grandchild, friends
etc where hurting and worrying so why would he put anything
in the article to hurt them and demean her?
My mother-in-law was found 10 minutes from my house on John
Street on sometime before midnight on Sunday. She had (according
to police) died the prior Tuesday evening. Her body was covered
and left in the woods for five days. We were told that she
was not alone when she died and that a man had taken the police
to the body. This man’s name is Alcides Rojas.
Monday evening I called the Freeman, explained who I was and
was put through to a voicemail. I asked that someone call
me back. No one called. After the second article was published
“Missing Woman Found Dead” still mentioning her
deceased husband’s conviction record, I called the Freeman
AGAIN. Left another message, this time not so nice. I explained
that I would EXPECT a call back and when someone does call
me back, I would like to know how printing my mother-in-laws
deceased husband’s 9 yr old conviction record is relevant
to the case. I sincerely thought that now I would receive
the phone call I had been waiting for. Surely they would want
to speak to a family member. No one called.
It is certainly the third article “Battle to Overcome
Drug Use Proved to Difficult” that I would like to address.
Mary Fairchild, author of this article, did finally call my
home the day this article was published. She had mentioned
that she did try and call my home at 8:30 pm the evening before
but the “phone just rang and rang”. Well Mary,
this was probably because we were talking to a family member
or trying to figure out how to get all of her sons home. She
did not try again; finished her article and it went to print.
Let me address the following issues within her article:
Not one person, not even Cathy Ortega whom is quoted throughout
the article has EVER said that my mother-in-law used drugs.
When I asked Mary if Cathy had said that she had knowledge
of my mother-in-law doing drugs she said that Cathy had said
the opposite that she had never seen or heard of her doing
drugs. The police have told me that no one (except for the
man who left her in the woods) has said they know of her using
drugs, they have seen her do drugs, or they have heard her
say that she does drugs. I will tell you why. My mother-in-law
DID NOT do drugs. What Cathy did tell Mary was that my mother-in-law
had left her husband because of the fact he was involved in
drugs and that she was trying to stay away from the people
and environments that are involved in that lifestyle. When
I explained to Mary that we were very upset about the Freeman
reporting on the prior convictions because this would give
people a preconceived notion that my mother-in-law used drugs
herself, her reply to me was “Can you blame them”.
Second, and most important, is that this monster, Alcides
Rojas, left my mother-in-law, a Mother to my husband and his
three brothers, the loving grandmother to five beautiful grandchild
and genuine friend to numerous individuals to perish in the
woods for five days. He watched her die, never calling for
help. No anomious phone call to help her, nothing. Covered
her body, took her car, drove to bowling alley, parked and
went home to his apartment. The Freeman printed one small
paragraph about this individual saying he was not “forthcoming”
when he was questioned. This man repeatedly lied to the police
for three days while my mother-in-law lie in the woods, first
in the hot sun and then for three days of rain. Her body was
in such condition that we were not even allowed to identify
her. She could not be viewed at her funeral and all you can
muster up about this man is that he was charged with a misdemeanor
and was not “forthcoming”. The articles portrayed
my mother-in-law as some unemployed (not true) drug user and
yet portray him as merely a liar.
My mother-in-law does not deserve any of this. No one does.
She was a good person, a good friend and I am proud to have
known her. I will miss her terribly as will everyone who had
the pleasure of knowing her.
It is very sad that I had to defend my mother-in-law in her
death. None should have to do that but what’s done is
done. I cannot change the way the Freeman portrayed my mother-in-law
but I can ask that the next time a tragedy like this happens,
that the reporters realize how every word that is written
is affecting the family that is still morning and grieving
a loved one. Have a heart.
Jodi Reyes and the family of Iris Vega
East Kingston, NY
The Onteora School District’s Web Site has a page titled
Public Be Heard. It explains how to address any concerns that
one may have and how to contact Board members. If you want
to address the Onteora School Board of Education at a meeting
the school suggests that you contact the District Clerk prior
to the meeting. According to the School’s Web Page you
have two minutes to speak, but the Board will not respond
to comments at the meeting. If you don’t feel comfortable
speaking in public and you have a comment or question for
a particular trustee or all board members you have to send
your comment or question to the District Clerk via e mail
or regular mail. If you wish to keep your comment or question
confidential you can not send it via e mail to the District
Clerk because your e mail must be opened and then given to
the Trustee that you want to contact. Schools Districts like
the Kingston school district list all nine School Board members
e mail addresses on the School’s Web Page. The Onteora
School District does not list any Trustees e mail addresses
on the School’s Web Site.
The School’s Public Be Heard Web Page does not explain
how to obtain information that the District can not respond
to using normal e mail communication. Some questions require
you to submit a FOIL request. They will let you know. You
can e mail the request, but the District will not respond
to the request via e mail. It cost 25 cents per sheet to get
the information that you’re looking for. And, it takes
weeks to get the information. By not responding to FOIL requests
via e mail the administration is spending tax dollars unnecessarily
and it also forces individuals to spend money that they shouldn’t
have to. Depending on how many pages your request requires
it could cost $10.00 or more for the two registered mailings
that it takes to process a FOIL request using the regular
New York State Board of Education Law requires all School
District to respond to FOIL requests via e mail, but here’s
the catch, if they have the capability to do so. In recent
e mails Assistant Superintendent Victoria McLaren said that
their system does not allow the documents that I requested
to be produced in an electronic format because their payroll
is in a DOS environment. What Mrs. McLaren didn’t say
was that they were going to fix that problem. Processing FOIL
requests via e mail would save time and tax payers dollars.
DOS is a very old antiquated operating system. My computer
back in 1989 had DOS as an operating system. There may be
a good reason why the School is still using DOS, but it’s
difficult to understand that a School District with a 46 million
dollar budget is still using such an outdated antiquated operating
system that can’t be used to e mail a document. I’m
not a computer expert, but if a document can be read on a
computer screen it seems to me that the document shown on
the screen could be printed. Once the document is printed
it then can be scanned and e mailed right from the scanner.
One of the School’s computer experts should be able
to figure out a way to correct the e mail problem and to save
tax payer’s money and the time that it now takes to
process FOIL requests.