Phoenicia Water Commissioner Ric Ricciardella said Tuesday
to not be fooled by the strong rains that were dumping
inches of water onto the region that day. The Phoenicia
Water District is still in trouble and remains on a water
Dry conditions reigned for weeks beforehand, he said,
so the water table is low. As a result, all water users
in the district are instructed to limit water usage.
It seems like forever that Tender Land has held down the
shopping district on the north side of Phoenicia’s
Main Street. Yet it also feels like only yesterday that
Bill Forbes and Dave Pillard opened their classy store
in what was then a sparse local market for homewares,
and even less time past when Dave moved across the street
to start Home, giving Bill the room to re-focus his more
classic aesthetic on matching truly rural wonders to fit
the fast-expanding home market in the area.
It’s hard not to see what Bill and Dave started,
and Bill then perfected, as ahead-of-the-times, and one
of the foundation pillars of today’s Shandaken.
Tender Land, over the years, supported local craftspeople
as much as local shoppers.
And so an era comes to an end when Bill holds his final
closing weekend sale on Monday, September 4 – Labor
Day – complete with a goodbye party from 2 pm on.
Why the end so soon? Sweet Sue’s, next door, owns
the building Tender Land has occupied all these years.
And she’s decided to expand.
So what of Bill and that sense of impeccable taste so
many of us have come to rely on?
As he was quoted saying in the New York Times a few years
back, “‘I’ve always felt that the people
attracted to this area want their weekends to themselves
to disappear into their cabins and just enjoy how beautiful
Again, only one word... classy!
Petitions are being circulated around town by the Phoenicia
Library Association to get on the ballot this November
with a budget referendum to increase the funding the town
of Shandaken supplies the Main Street Library from the
current $54,550 level to $83,000.
That’s a hike of $28,450.
Supporters say the library has only received an increase
of $4,243 over the past six years.
Library officials point to increased services, as well
as increased fuel costs, as the reason for the request.
Ulster County has also reduced library funding, making
it harder to make ends meet.
Claiming the library’s income is far below state
and national averages, officials say the increase would
cost the average homeowner about two dollars a month.
The library, open six days a week, has 11,000 books on
site including an impressive 3,500 for children and young
adults. Other lending materials include videos and books
on tape and even fishing poles. Plus the Library offers
several computers complete with high-speed Internet access
for use by anyone.
A hiker from Bayside, Queens died Sunday afternoon, August
17, on the Peekamoose Mountain Trail in the town of Denning
after suffering a heart attack brought on by an irregular
heartbeat, state police said Monday.
The hiker, Chong M. Kong, 59, reportedly told his hiking
companions that he was dizzy and then collapsed around
2:30 p.m. They were about 200 feet before the summit of
Peekamoose, which was more than three miles from the trail-head
at County Route 42. The party tried to bring Kong down
on a makeshift stretcher and met up with state forest
rangers and emergency medical personnel around 4:50 p.m.
State police said Kong could not be revived.
An autopsy at Kingston Hospital Monday found the cause
of Kong’s death to be, “cardiac arrhythmia
due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and myocardial
scarring,” state police said.
The Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Prize for Peace winner
and head of the Tibetan state-in-exile, will be spending
time in Phoenicia in September for a conference of scientists
to be held at the Menla Institute in Woodland Valley.
He will also be visiting the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra
(KTD) Tibetan Buddhist monastery outside Woodstock, although
none of his visits will be open to the public.
Two years ago, the Dalai Lama, via Menla, wrote a letter
to the people of Shandaken and the Route 28 corridor,
commenting on his memories of a previous drive through
the region to another monastery in the Hardenburgh area.
On Thursday, September 21, the Dalai Lama will be at Menla
Mountain Retreat and Conference Center in Phoenicia (site
of the former Pathworks Center), where he will address
a conference entitled “Longevity and Optimal Health:
Integrating Eastern and Western Perspectives.” He
will overnight there and then go to Woodstock for lunch
on the 22nd.
From September 18 to September 20, he will be at the University
at Buffalo as part of that college’s “Distinguished
Speakers” series, where he will be giving a sold-out
public speech in a stadium that holds 30,000.
Participation in the Menla Mountain event is selective
and limited to scientists and other professionals and
practitioners in the field, according to representatives
for Tibet House, which owns and operates the retreat center
and is sponsoring the three-day conference with the Columbia
Integrative Medicine Program.
Ganden Thurman, executive director of Tibet House, said
the Dalai Lama will attend the conference at Menla Mountain
to hear a report on the conference findings concerning
the potential for life extension and the possibility for
a reversal of aging. The Indo-Tibetan tradition has long
maintained that attaining optimal health is a benefit
of long-term meditation and yoga practice.
The conference will bring together researchers and scholars
from the Indo-Tibetan tradition as well as leading Western
scientists in the fields of longevity, regeneration, and
health to discuss these advancements and to build a program
of collaborative research.
After leaving the area, the 14th Dalai Lama, one of the
world’s most respected and recognizable spiritual
leaders, will then travel to New York City to do a teaching
at Tibet House.
The Ulster County Board of Elections is hiring Election
Inspectors for this year’s Primary on Tuesday, September
12 and General Election on Tuesday, November 7. Inspectors
must be 18 years of age and registered to vote. Compensation
is: Mandatory Training Class (approximately 1.5 hours):
$25.00 plus mileage; Primary Election (11:30 am to approximately
9:30 pm): $125.00; General Election (5:30 am to approximately
10:00 pm): $200.00.
The BOE is also hiring Alternate Inspectors, who must
attend training and agree to be on call to work where
and as needed. If assigned, they will be compensated as
with all others. If not, assigned they will still be paid
$75.00 for being available for each Election Day.
If interested in exploring this opportunity, please call
the Ulster County Board of Elections Monday through Friday
between the hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at (845) 334-5470.
The Democratic Party will hold a primary on September
12, 2006, with polls open at 12:00 noon and closing at
9:00 pm, with Eliot Spitzer (spitzer2006.com) and Thomas
Suozzi (www.tomsuozzi.com) facing off for the governor’s
race; Andrew Cuomo (www.andrewcuomo.com), Mark Green (www.markgreen.com),
Charles King (www.king2006.com) and Sean Patrick Maloney
(www.seanmaloney.com) facing off for the Attorney General
nod, and Hillary Rodham Clinton (www.hillaryclinton.com)
and Jonathan Tasini (www.tasinifornewyork.org) battling
for the U.S. Senate candidacy.
On a more local level, the Conservative and Independence
Parties in Ulster County are also holding a primary for
the office of Ulster County Sheriff between Paul Van Blarcum
and Kevin Costello.
If unable to vote in the primary election in person, you
may print an absentee ballot application by clicking:
or you can call or visit the Ulster County Board of Elections
at 284 Wall Street, Kingston, telephone number 845-334-5470.
Absentee ballot applications must be received by the Board
of Elections prior to September 5th if a ballot is to
be mailed, or by September 11th if the ballot is to be
picked up in person at the Board of Elections office.
There will be a series of four informational workshop
sessions on the capital improvement project and the future
of the District facilities with presentations by the architects.
Each presentation will be followed by a Public Comment
segment. These workshop sessions will be held at the beginning
of the following Board meetings starting at 7:00 p.m.
* Tuesday, September 12, 2006 at Bennett School
* Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at Phoenicia School
* Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at West Hurley School
* Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at Woodstock School
Ulster County residents will have a chance to vote on
a county executive form of government in the Nov. 7 election,
after the county Legislature itself voted last week to
put a proposed charter on the ballot… as well as
to hold a public hearing to discuss a proposal to abolish
the county’s flexible benefits plan, which reimburses
department heads and managers for medical, insurance and
certain other expenses not covered by their Empire Blue
Cross plan, on Wednesday, Sept. 6.
Only legislator Joan Every, R-Rosendale, voted against
the charter vote, saying she felt the process was moving
The charter’s main function is to bring accountability
to county government by placing final decision-making
power with a county executive rather than the 33 member
legislature. The full-time, elected executive would have
the authority to appoint department heads, conduct collective
bargaining negotiations and prepare and execute the county
budget. The charter spells out the executive’s duties
and revamps the county’s financial management by
establishing an elected comptroller to oversee county
County Republicans had earlier balked at the possible
costs of the new system.
If voters approve the proposal, the charter will take
effect Jan. 1, 2009, following an election for county
executive in November 2008.
Legislature Chairman David Donaldson, D-Kingston, said
copies of the charter will be available on the county’s
Web site and will be distributed at libraries and town
halls for the public to view.
The Catskill Association for Tourism Services –
comprised of Sullivan, Ulster and Delaware counties –
recently launched a new E-Kiosk initiative to provide
real time tourism information to visitors to the region.
Armed with a $100,000 grant from state Senator John Bonacic,
the new electronic kiosks will be located in strategic
locations such as Belleayre Mountain, the Strand in Kingston,
Monticello Raceway, Bethel Wood, and other key locations.
There will be 10 of the $6,000 a piece electronic information
centers installed initially, mostly in Sullivan County,
with more to follow.
“Our goal, as tourism leaders, is to see to it that
they are located in places that are going to be able to
capture the largest amount of visitors, encourage them
to not only come while on this trip, but perhaps come
back and do a repeat,” noted a press release on
the new initiative.
“Now that the people are coming here, it’s
being discovered,” Bonacic said. “Our game
plan is to keep them here.”
Delaware County Tourism Director Patty Cullen said the
E-kiosks assigned to her will be moved around to different
locations depending upon the season of the year.
Sales of existing homes in the US slumped a sharper-than-expected
4.1 per cent in July, the National Association of Realtors
reported in recent weeks. The data underlined the rapid
pace of the slowdown in the property market and sent stocks
lower amid fears over the health of the broader economy.
The number of homes sold fell to an annualised 6.33m,
a drop of 4.1 per cent from June against analyst expectations
of a 1 per cent decline. The supply of unsold homes rose
to a record high 7.3 months of sales, up from about four
months early last year.
“No region was spared from July’s softness,”
said Omair Sharif, analyst at RBS Greenwich Capital. “The
headline figure was well below our forecast and that of
the consensus, and corroborates recent builders’
statements that the housing market cooled substantially
at the start of the summer.”
The fourth consecutive monthly decline in existing home
sales leaves the measure 14 per cent below its peak last
June and at the lowest level since January 2004. The median
sale price was less than 1 per cent higher than a year
Other recent data have helped paint a gloomy picture of
the US housing market. Builders’ are at their least
confident in 15 years, and buyers’ confidence is
also plumbing fresh lows. New home sales data are due
to be released on Thursday, and are also expected to show
Fears that the housing slowdown is affecting other sectors
were compounded last week when a University of Michigan
survey found overall consumer confidence at its lowest
since the aftermath of hurricane Katrina last year.
The downturn will force businesses to slash 73,000 jobs
a month in the new year and could be more damaging to
the world economy than the dotcom crash, economists have
'Things do seem to be getting worse very quickly. Freefall
is a strong word, but I think it's the right one to use
here,' said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital
Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, predicts
that the property slowdown will shave at least 2 percentage
points off GDP growth next year, taking the US perilously
close to recession, as construction spending plummets
and homeowners lose their cushion of extra wealth.
“For a wealth-dependent US economy, the bursting
of another major asset bubble is likely to be a very big
deal,” he said, warning that, with US fiscal and
trade imbalances now larger than five years ago, the fallout
for the rest of the world could be more devastating than
the aftermath of the dotcom boom.
The M-ARK Project’s second annual Tri-County Trade
Show is scheduled for Saturday, September 9 at Belleayre
Mountain Ski Center. More than 60 booths are available
to businesses that wish to showcase their goods and services
at the event that runs from 10 am to 5 pm in the ski center’s
Discovery Lodge. Businesses with operations in Ulster,
Delaware and Greene counties are expected to participate.
The Saturday event will feature workshops, demonstrations
and door prizes those who attend.
The Tri-County Trade Show, established to boost business
in the more rural areas of three different counties, gives
high profile businesses like banks, hotels and restaurants
an opportunity to introduce new products or services.
But the show is also meant to help smaller businesses,
and those located off the beaten path, to get the word
out to people who might not know they are in the area..
For 2006, in addition to the traditional larger businesses,
the M-ARK Project will be placing emphasis on the area’s
smallest businesses, many of which have just a single
employee. Practitioners in alternative or complementary
health services, artists and businesses offering agricultural
and forest products are encouraged to attend, along with
those specializing in outdoor recreation and tourism.
“Mom and Pop businesses are the backbone of our
economy,” said Lawrence-Bauer. This is an opportunity
for them to shine. This is one of very few opportunities
to find a new audience for a product or service not traditionally
offered in this area.”
A new and improved version of last year’s event,
this year’s show will feature more than a dozen
workshops that will appeal not only to business owners,
but also to the general public. Topics will include everything
from marketing for artists to interpreting dreams. Massage
and other non-traditional therapies and protocols and
furniture refinishing will also be among the topics. A
popular e-marketing workshop offered last year will return,
as will workshops on different types of alternative health
options available in the region.
For more information on the show, to rent a booth, or
to get complimentary entrance tickets are available by
calling the M-ARK office at 845-586-3500 or via e-mail
If authorities in Vermont have their way, farmers will
have to tell them more about their business or face a
$1,000 fine. The reason? As noted in our own On The Farm
column in these pages several months back, Vermont is
the latest state to consider requiring farmers to reveal
data on such things as their farms’ livestock and
size - laws veterinarians say could help manage farm animal
diseases like mad cow and foot and mouth in the event
of an outbreak, but which small farmers are weighted against
them in the latest push by giant agribusinesses to take
over all markets.
Even though such livestock accounting systems are voluntary
- for now - throughout most of the country, the emotional
issue has small-time farmers worrying about Big Brother
and government intrusion. What worries people are “premises
registrations,” which would require farmers to reveal
the nature of their farm business, their locations, and
type of livestock to state authorities every two years.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture says the law will simplify
efforts to quickly trace diseases to their source, thereby
avoiding the widespread preventive slaughters left behind
by scourges like avian influenza in Asia and foot-and-mouth
disease in Britain. The proposal is part of a federal
effort to compile a nationwide database of animal identification
tag numbers. But even as calls by US meat consumers grow
louder for more stalwart government safety regulations,
many small farmers are railing against what they see as
collusion between large agribusiness and federal farm
authorities to crowd out the little guy.
In Vermont, a state known as much for its progressive
politics as for its pastoral provincialism, the number
of organic farmers has more than tripled from 90 in 1994
to 332 in 2004, according to the Vermont Public Interest
Research Group, based in Montpelier. While the premises-registration
program is free, many here see it as a first step toward
the kind of labor-intensive bureaucratic regulations that
could pose huge challenges for small farms.
At public hearings on premises registration, a common
refrain from small farmers is that the program is simply
a veiled attempt to cover up the dangers of industrial
“Mad-cow disease is the result of these cows being
fed parts of other cows. Cows that eat grass don’t
get mad-cow disease,” says Amy Shollenberger, director
of Rural Vermont, a small-farms advocacy group based in
Montpelier. “The whole point of the animal ID system
and the premises registration program is to respond to
these diseases. And that’s where the corporations
win.... They get to make money off running the program,
the databases, and making the tags.”
State and federal agriculture officials, on the other
hand, say the program benefits everybody. Disease trace-back
programs like premises registration help reassure consumers
and foreign importers of the safety of American beef,
Vermont’s voluntary premises registration program
- a precursor to what may someday become the law of the
land - is separate from a larger federal program managed
by the US Department of Agriculture. The federal plan,
called the National Animal Identification System (NAIS),
is also voluntary and covers three separate elements.
The first is premises registration. As of March, some
235,000 farms had registered nationwide, making up about
10 percent of America’s producers. A further stage
of the NAIS plan is animal identification. While most
farmers already use tags and numbers to identify livestock,
the NAIS’s animal identification component would
establish a standardized, national livestock registry.
The third element of the plan, animal tracking, would
provide investigators with a full history of each animal’s
movements in case of an emergency.
Rainfall during the summer months was either at or below
average levels with the exception of June which saw more
than double the average.
Immediately following the heavy rains, the weather turned
dry for an extended period of time and that could have
a positive or negative effect on crops depending upon
what the farms have planted.
One crop in the Hudson Valley is doing well, though, according
to Neal Needleman, Orange County executive director for
the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service
“Apples are actually one of the bright spots,”
he said. “We’re hearing reports that the apple
producers are very pleased with the yield and the size
of the fruit, so that’s looking positive.”
The recent rains may help those crops that may have been
in trouble before, said Needleman.
Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable
fields of study for recipients of a federal education
grant for low-income college students. The omission is
inadvertent, said a spokeswoman for the Department of
Education, which administers the grants, adding that the
topic would be restored to the list. But weeks later,
it was still missing.
If a major is not on the list, students in that major
cannot get grants unless they declare another major, said
Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions
Officers. Mr. Nassirian said students seeking the grants
went first to their college registrar, who determined
whether they were full-time students majoring in an eligible
“If a field is missing, that student would not even
get into the process,” he said.
That the omission occurred at all is worrying scientists
concerned about threats to the teaching of evolution.
Nassirian said people at the Education Department had
described the omission as “a clerical mistake.”
But it is “odd,” he said, because applying
the subject codes “is a fairly mechanical task.
It is not supposed to be the subject of any kind of deliberation.”
“I am not at all certain that the omission of this
particular major is unintentional,” he added. “But
I have to take them at their word.”
Jeremy Gunn, who directs the Program on Freedom of Religion
and Belief at the American Civil Liberties Union, said
that if the change was not immediately reversed “we
will certainly pursue this. Removing that one major is
not going to make the nation stupid, but if this really
was removed, specifically removed, then I see it as part
of a pattern to put ideology over knowledge. And, especially
in the Department of Education, that should be abhorred.”
An environmental group has sued federal regulators, charging
that they failed to protect beaches and the Great Lakes
from pollution and that negligence by the Bush administration
exposed swimmers and surfers to potential illnesses. The
lawsuit, filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council
in U.S. District Court earlier this summer, charged that
the Environmental Protection Agency failed to protect
the public against the “substantial adverse health
effects” from contact with contaminated beach-water.
In 2000, Congress passed a law requiring the EPA to update
its beach-water health standards by 2005. The agency missed
the deadline and current standards are two decades old,
according to court documents.
The lawsuit was filed on the same day the group issued
a report that found beach closings due to hazardous bacterial
contamination in Los Angeles County jumped 50 percent
in 2005. Across the nation, beaches were closed or posted
with health advisories 20,000 times last year, the report
EPA spokesman Dale Kemery did not address the lawsuit,
but said in a statement “the state of the nation’s
beach health remains high, even as the number of beaches
monitored increased by 11 percent in 2005.”
The agency “has made significant progress in carrying
out its responsibilities under the” 2000 law, he
The lawsuit asks the court to order the agency to complete
the water-quality studies and publish revised safety rules.
The pollution comes from a wide mix of sources, including
animal waste, factories, septic tanks, sewage, pesticides
and oil and metals deposited on city streets.
With the average new text costing more than $100, the
typical student can expect to spend more than $900 a year
on books. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives Advisory
Committee on Student Financial Assistance began an investigation
into the cost of college textbooks, its impact on students
and ways to make them more affordable.
The investigation came in response to a General Accountability
Office report last summer that showed textbook prices
rose 6 percent per year on average between 1987 and 2004.
That was twice the overall rate of inflation and almost
as high as the 7 percent annual increase in college tuition
Congress is concerned about textbooks because nearly half
of undergraduates receive federal financial aid and the
cost of books is one factor considered in making these
awards, the GAO says.
In 2003-04, the average textbook cost $102.44 and the
average student spent about $900 a year on textbooks,
according to the GAO and a separate survey by the CalPIRG
Higher Education Project.
Today, the average book would cost almost $115, given
the rate of textbook inflation.
CalPIRG and the GAO blamed the soaring cost of textbooks
on more-frequent revisions and the bundling of textbooks
with CD-ROMs, workbooks and other products that are often
not used. Bundling increases the initial cost and makes
it harder to sell used books if the ancillary products
are lost, broken or used.
The Ulster County Environmental Committee has voted unanimously
to call on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to monitor
the auction of animals from the Catskill Game Farm, which
plans to close this fall.
“It’s very easy for an animal to end up in
a disreputable place,” said committee Chairman Brian
Shapiro recognizes that because the Catskill Game Farm
is in Greene County, the committee has no jurisdiction
over it. However, he is looking at the closing of the
73-year-old zoo as a regional issue because so many people
in Ulster County would have visited the Catskill Game
Farm during their lives.
The Catskill Game Farm announced earlier this month it
would be closing for good in October, and Shapiro is concerned
about what will happen to the animals afterward. About
half of its 2,000 animals, made up of about 150 different
species, will be auctioned by Michigan-based Norton Auctioneers,
which specializes in items from amusement parks and zoos.
The worry is that some of the animals could end up in
“canned-hunt” operations, where people pay
top dollar to shoot game animals at close range, or in
poor roadside zoos, Shapiro said. He said there have been
documented cases where former Catskill Game Farm animals
have ended up in canned hunts. Sun Media Newspapers reported
in 1999 that the Toronto Zoo stopped selling animals to
the Catskill Game Farm after it learned some were ending
up in canned hunt operations.
Kathie Schulz, owner of the Catskill Game Farm, said the
allegations are a misunderstanding that stems from her
ex-husband, Jurgen Schulz. Jurgen Schulz ran an importing
and exporting business for exotic animals and because
they were husband and wife the permits for the two businesses
were consolidated under one, she said. However, she insists
the businesses remained separate.
“That’s his business. That’s not my
business and the Game Farm shouldn’t be confused
with that,” she said.
The federal agency will require documentation of who the
animals are sold or given to, spokesman Darby Holladay
said in Washington D.C. However, according to the federal
Animal Welfare Act, that’s where the agency’s
Florence A. Kirk, 99 of Park Lane died Thursday August
24, 2006 at her daughter’s residence. She has been
a resident of Grand Gorge for the past ten years, having
formerly lived in Phoenicia since 1929. She had been active
in the United Methodist Women, and was always making things
for the church bazaar. She was a talented handicrafts
person who loved to crochet, knit and sew. She had a fabulous
reputation for cooking and baking. Her Sunday morning
homemade breads and biscuits are legendary. She was born
June 2, 1907 in Glen Wild, NY daughter of the late James
and Lillian Buchanan Kirk. Surviving are her son Albert
"Albie" Kirk of Phoenicia, three daughters Joyce
Adams and Sherry Ostrander both of Grand Gorge and Lillian
Burke of Saugerties. 18 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren
and 15 great-great grandchildren also survive. She was
predeceased by her husband George in 1983, and sons George
R. Kirk and Wilbur "Buster" Kirk. A memorial
service to celebrate the life of Mrs. Kirk was held on
Tuesday at 12 noon at the E. B. Gormley Funeral Home 87
Main St. Phoenicia with the Rev. Ralph Darmstadt as celebrant.
Inurnment will be in the Shandaken Rural Cemetery Rt.
28 Shandaken. Memorial contributions may be made to the
Catskill Area Hospice. Funeral arrangements are under
the direction of the E. B. Gormley Funeral Home, Phoenicia.
Shandaken Police located two hikers that were lost on
Slide Mountain overnight in mid-August after receiving
a complaint from members of Kiryas Joel Office of Public
Safety in Liberty NY at about 8:00 pm. Police state that
30 year old Moshe Silberstein of Lakewood, NJ and 15 year
old Mordechai Ungarischer of Brooklyn, NY entered the
woods at the Slide Mountain Trail head on Oliverea Road
at 4:00 pm with a sandwich and a small bottle of water
and became lost. A search party was put together by Forest
Rangers and police at about 9:00 pm and was called off
well after midnight. The search then resumed early Thursday
morning with NYS State Forest Rangers, NYS Dept of Environmental
Police, NYS Police K-9 Unit and Shandaken Police and numerous
Kiryas Joel volunteers. The lost bikers were located at
8:45 am Thursday at the Woodland Valley Camp Ground.