Merwin's No Mow
There appears to be disagreement in Shandaken as to whether
the highway department should mow the property a local non-profit
group leases to play soccer on.
The town board decided the highway department should do it.
But perhaps they should have talked to the highway department
about it first.
"I'm not going to do it," said Highway Superintendent
Richard Merwin, one full week after the town board committed
his resources without his knowledge.
"Maybe the town board can mow it," he added with
At its June meeting, the town board took substantial flack for
passing a resolution calling for the highway department to mow
the soccer fields built on property owned by Developer Dean
Gitter. Two years ago Gitter entered into a five year lease
agreement with Shandaken Area Youth Sports (SAYS) which allowed
the non-profit group to construct three soccer fields on a 25
acre parcel alongside rt. 28 in Mount Tremper, just east of
Since then SAYS, which has raised tuition this year to $50 per
player, has actively used the fields for games and practices
beginning mid summer and running through the fall.
But finding the volunteers and equipment to keep the large fields
mowed is becoming more and more difficult. As a result SAYS
organizers have asked the town to help out by entering into
a contract between the highway department and SAYS to have the
department mow the fields this upcoming season at a cost of
one dollar per year.
Pine Hill resident Mary Herrmann immediately objected to the
plan, complaining that the town should not take on the maintenance
of the fields. Herrmann said that if SAYS cannot mow the lawn,
then the next place to go would be to the landlord.
The board passed the resolution unanimously, with Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr. pointing out that this is not the only case
of the town maintaining private properties that were used by
the public. He noted the maintenance of a small strip of land
right down the street from the soccer fields owned by the State
Department of Transportation at the intersection of rt.28 and
rt. 212. The town also takes care of the Big Indian Park, which
is owned in part by the State DOT and a private citizen. The
park has playground equipment, a pavilion and a baseball field.
The Parish filed, owned by the St Francis De Sales Church and
located in Phoenicia behind the post office, is also maintained
Herrmann countered that those other properties are used by the
general public, whereas the Soccer fields are used exclusively
by SAYS. When not in use, the entranceway to the fields parking
area is blocked off.
Regardless, Merwin said it was a full week after the board passed
the resolution before Cross spoke to him about it. In a 6am
phone interview, Merwin sounded sympathetic when he said his
crew is just too busy with the workload of taking care of the
towns roads. He understands the burden that SAYS has with the
maintenance of the fields, mowing would be needed at least once
a week to keep the fields playable, perhaps more, but Merwin
points to recent road and bridge washouts, as well as the deterioration
of many roadways, as having the priority for the highway department
and he just can't spare the manpower.
In the time since the town board said it would be mowing the
Catskill Corners fields, now renamed Emerson Place, the developers
have put up a long white fence around the property, making it
more identifiable as part of the larger complex to which it
belongs just down the road.
At a special meeting held June 21, about a dozen users of the
Phoenicia water supply listened to officials explain why there
will be chemical additives in the water soon, and why if all
works properly the water will no longer look blue in Phoenicia
Phoenicia is about a month away from having a brand new water
filtration system turned on to keep the water running clean
through the taps of residents and businesses that use the system.
Last month users were alerted that the new system, which is
housed in a new plant on old Route 28 just east of the business
district, will introduce two new chemicals to the water supply
in addition to the chlorine treatment the water currently receives.
When resident Elizabeth Kern heard this, she asked for a meeting
to be held to explain the chemicals.
According to Dean Palen, the Director of the Ulster County Public
health Department, the chemicals, soda ash and "a polyphosphate,"
may be new to Phoenicia but date back to the late 1800's
as water supply additives.
Palen and Phoenicia Water Commissioner Ric Ricciardella walked
those in attendance through the history of the system, noting
that the need for filtration came about because when the system
was installed in the early 1900's the designers used spring
water coming from high on the hills above the hamlet to service
the district. Because the spring water travels on the surface
of the ground before entering the systems reservoirs it is subject
to potential contamination.
While chlorine works as the primary disinfection agent, Palen
said that two viruses, Giardia and cryptosporidium, are immune
to chlorine and must be removed from the water through the use
of filters. The new system will have them as they are now a
mandated part of all public water supplies.
One of the new chemicals has been added to reduce pipe corrosion
that comes from Phoenicia's "aggressive water,"
he said. The other is added to reduce the amount of copper in
the water. Copper, according to Palen, is responsible for the
water turning blue. One unidentified woman who recently purchased
a home in the district was shocked to see tub full blue water
in her tub as she went to take a bath.
Palen said that in the water purification process in the United
States "the constant is the need to disinfect with chlorine."
He said that Ricciardella has been adding chlorine to the water
supply at the appropriate amounts and will continue to do so
when the new system goes into effect.
"Ric's doing a good job," he said.
Asked about chlorine's suspected carcinogenic properties,
Palen said he was aware of it and recommended that anyone concerned
with that should install charcoal filters on their system to
remove the chlorine. As for the water affecting health, Palen
said people should be more concerned with other potentially
harmful things because when it comes to public drinking water
quality in the Unites States "the standards are second
After the meeting Kern said she felt informed about the new
system, and lauded both Palen and Ricciardella for their presentation.
The new system, which draws water from the springs, two wells,
and from under the Esopus creek, will be functional in about
a month, once Verizon hooks up phone service that will enable
parts of the system to communicate with others.
"It will serve this community for I think hundreds of
years," Palen said of the new system.
Little League in Shandaken has truly come into it's own this
year. With the mid-season break coming up next week, it is the
Yankees that find themselves in first place with four wins and
only one loss.
After being saved from possible demise last year by Theresa
Grant and Alan Berryann, Little League in this town has expanded
from three to four teams, providing action at Glenbrook park
on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
In the first game at Sunday's double header, it was Coach
Berryann's Yankees who were victorious over Coach Neil Grant
Jr's. Indians. In the second game Coach Vinny Cure's Orioles
bested the Mets, coached by Wendy Fairburn.
At press time the Orioles and the Indians were tied for second
place each with three wins and two losses. The Mets, who were
last year's league champions but are now in a restructuring
year, find themselves in last place with five losses and no
But with half the season remaining it's anyones guess who will
wind up on top at the end of the regular season.
And then there is the excitement of who will take the playoffs
on August 8th and head to the world series on August 15th. In
the playoffs, the first place team plays the forth place team
and the second and third place teams face off. The winners of
each game head for the series on the 15th and play a double
header. Should each win one game a third game will be
played on Sunday August 22nd.
The season will wrap up with an annual picnic slated for Sunday
August 29th. All players and their families are welcome.
In addition to the league's regular season, a Junior Naseball
League was formed this year to better prepare the younger kids
for little league.
"Baseball for children ages five through eight has begun
in Shandaken," said Berryann after Sunday's play. Once
word of the program got out, the results were far greater than
"Due to the number of players that signed up we have formed
a five/six year old team with 22 players and a seven/eight year
old team with 15 players," Berryann said.
Anyone interested in joining the junior league can contact Berryann
at (845) 688-2896.
The teams meet on Thursdays from 5 to 7 pm, alternating between
Glenbrook park and the parish Hall field in Phoenicia.
The Concert for the Catskill Park Centennial will open the 13th
season of the Belleayre Music Festival in grand style on
Saturday, July 3 at 8 p.m. The show will feature the debut of
the Belleayre Festival Orchestra, with John Covelli, conductor;
the 70-plus member Community Chorale of the Catskills, under
the direction of Richard Tucker; and special guests Catskill
Mountain folk legends Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.
The celebration of the 100th birthday of the Catskill Park will
be marked with the world premiere of a specially commissioned
new work by Maestro Covelli, titled "Fanfare for the Catskill
Mountains." The maestro is conductor laureate of the Binghamton
Philharmonic and has performed at the festival every year.
The second half of the show will be devoted to patriotic music
to usher in the Fourth of July weekend and the festival's
Official Corporate Sponsors for Belleayre's 2004
season are: Frank Lumia Real Estate Plus, FTI Consulting of
Saddle Brook, NJ, the Catskill Mountain Region - The Guide
published by the Catskill Mountain Foundation of Hunter, WDST
Radio Woodstock and Yamaha Corporation of America.
Tickets for the Belleayre Music Festival may be purchased in
calling (800) 942-6904, ext. 344, or via website at: www.belleayremusic.org.
A bill originally introduced by State Senator John J. Bonacic
recently both houses of the state legislature allowing the State
to make no interest loans for purchasing of medical equipment
for specialist physicians who practice in rural areas of New
York. The bill was designed as an incentive for physicians who
specialize in obstetrics, for example, to start or expand their
practice in rural areas. The funding made available through
the legislation can only be used in rural areas where there
is shortage of specialists. The funds that can be borrowed for
equipment up to $250,000 and are interest free loans provided
that physician continues to practice in the shortage area.
other health news, it has been announced that Margaretville
Hospital will be receiving $328,180 in state grants over the
Shandaken Police report the arrest of James S. Clark, 41 years
of age from Massachusetts, after receiving a complaint from
a Police agency in Lee, Massachusetts that Clark was hiding
in the Shandaken area and was wanted for 2 Felonies and a Misdemeanor
in their state. Shandaken Police and Ulster County Sheriff Deputy's
located Clark in the Phoenicia area where he was apprehended.
Clark was charged with being a "Felony Fugitive of Justice"
and arraigned in Shandaken Justice Court. Clark was remanded
to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash or a $100,000
bond. Mr. Clark also has to appear in County Court for an extradition
hearing for the state of Massachusetts.
Government food experts say that eating up to four portions
of oily fish a week poses little risk of toxin buildup in the
body, and helps the heart stay healthy. The findings, released
after a nearly year long investigation, quadruples the amount
of oily fish people had been previously advised to eat. Oily
fish include mackerel, tuna and salmon. The Food Standards Agency
says the guidelines, allowing safely for four portions of oily
fish, apply to men, boys and women past child bearing age. Girls
and women likely to become pregnant should limit their intake
of oily fish to two portions a week, so that toxins built up
in the body are not passed on to the womb.
This March more than a dozen U.S lawmakers attended a congressional
reception in honor of controversial religious figure and businessman
Rev. Sun Myung Moon. At the bizarre March 23 ceremony in which
Moon and his wife were crowned with "international crowns
of peace" Moon claimed he was the Messiah and stated that
his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin "to be reborn
as new persons." In his speech at the reception the Korean-born
Reverend of the Unification church declared himself to be "Humanity's
Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." The
eighty-five year old Moon has been a controversial public figure
for years. He spent 18 months in prison for tax fraud and conspiracy
to obstruct justice, and is renowned for conducting mass weddings.
Several of the Democratic lawmakers in attendance expressed
outrage, stating they had been mislead by organizers. "We
fell victim to it; we were duped." said a spokeswoman
for Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn). Some Republican lawmakers
state they attended in support of the Washington Times, a conservative
newspaper owned by Moon's Unification Church. Conventional?
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city's police commissioner
Raymond Kelly have announced a series of measures to be put
in place to ensure the safety of the President and others attending
the Republican National Convention, and reduce travel inconvenience
for commuters. As parts of the plan, bomb dogs will check subway
cars for explosives, video cameras will monitor cars, and thousands
of uniformed and plainclothes police officers will patrol the
streets and area around Madison Square Garden. The transportation
plan calls for one lane of avenues outside Madison Square Garden
to remain open, except during the thirteen hours the convention
will be in session. Cars entering the area will be screened
for explosives with hi-tech video monitoring devices. Police
will also board and sweep commuter and subway trains one stop
before they reach Penn station during the hours of the convention.
6,000 to 10,000 of the city's 36,500 police officers will
be assigned to the protection of the conventio Passing Gas
The Energy Department has said that gasoline prices, which fell
below $2 a gallon for the first time in weeks, should continue
to decline throughout the rest of the summer. Despite this fact,
motorists should not expect major drops in price at the gas
station. Guy Caruso, administrator of the department's
Energy Information Administration, stated before the Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee that retail gas prices
fell around 3 cents a gallon last week and wholesale prices
fell 23 cents a gallon since mid-May. According to Caruso, these
developments "should result in further reductions in retail
prices in coming weeks.'' However, Caruso also warned
that gasoline prices would not fall dramatically, and should
remain around $2 a gallon. Color Of Smoke
The son of a woman who died from lung cancer plans to sue the
cigarette maker that gave her free samples when she was a child.
The lawsuit against Lorillard Tobacco Co., maker of Newport
cigarettes, contends that the company targeted black children.
Experts say it is the first lawsuit to make such an accusation.
The Boston Globe reports the suit will be filed in Suffolk Superior
Court. Before she died in 2002 at age 54, Marie Evans told lawyers
that a company van regularly came to the Boston housing project
where she lived as a child. She said she received free cigarettes
25-50 times, starting when she was nine years old. Only 14 out
of hundreds of lawsuits filed against tobacco companies by smokers
have been been won. However, legal experts say that this case
is different because it involves deliberately giving out cigarettes
to children. State law prohibited the distribution of cigarettes
to children in the 1950's, but according to the lawyer
representing Evans, Lorillard continued to attempt to hook young
people. Low Carb Hell
Health experts and consumer activists say that the popularity
of low carbohydrate diets has sparked the production of a line
of "carb-friendly" products which are leading to
poor health. In response, experts have formed the Partnership
for Essential Nutrition in order to educate people about the
need for healthy carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, grains
and beans. Jeffrey Prince of the American Institute for Cancer
Research told a news conference that "vegetables, fruits,
whole grains and beans, which are all predominantly carbohydrate,
is linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke,
diabetes and a range of other chronic diseases." Prince
dismissed the low carb craze, noting that ""When
unproven science becomes a sales pitch, some people get rich
and the rest of us get ripped off." The Partnership for
Essential Nutrition advises that "Losing weight on these
extreme low-carb diets can lead to such serious health problems
as kidney stress, liver disorders and gout." The group
published a survey showing that 19 percent of 1,017 were trying
to cut carbs, and 47% believed that low carb diets would help
them lose weight without cutting calories.
According to the United Nations, lands the size of Rhode Island
are turning to desert every year, a problem which could cause
millions to flee to greener countries. One third of the Earth's
surface is at risk. The problem is driving people into cities
and destroying agriculture in large areas of Africa. 31 percent
of Spain is threatened. China has lost 36,000 square miles to
desert since the 1950s. This week is the 10th anniversary of
the Convention to Combat Desertification, which planned to combat
the problem. Despite this effort, the problem has doubled in
its pace since the 1970s. Slash-and-burn agriculture, poor conservation,
overtaxed water supplies and booming populations are the chief
causes of "desertification." Global warming also
plays a role. This warning from the U.N comes just as the movie
"The Day After Tomorrow" has begun to stir interest
in climate change. Olympic Tickets?
Since Olympic officials recently admitted that two-thirds of
tickets to the Athens games have yet to be sold, Greece has
launched an international effort to reassure potential attendees
of the Olympic Games. The low turnout is being blamed partially
on "the Olympic family", meaning sponsors, broadcasters
and officials, who have returned tickets or decided not to attend.
Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis conceded that the sales were disappointing,
and suggested that spectators might have decided not to come
because of fears of terrorism. Athens is frantically trying
to sell tickets to what is the most expensive games ever. Figures
showed that out of 5.3 million tickets, 3.4 million remain unsold.
A new study finds that nearly 82 million people, one third of
the population under 65, lacked health insurance at some point
over the last two years. The study, conducted by the private
group Families USA, found that most of those 82 millions people
were uninsured for more than nine months of those two years.
The findings show that the problem affects the middle class,
disproportionately affects African-Americans and Hispanics,
and is most pervasive among people under 25. In Texas, 8.5 million
residents, or 43.4 percent of the non-elderly population there,
did not have health insurance. This is the highest percentage
in the country. Other states with more than 35 percent of people
under 65 uninsured included New Mexico, California, Nevada,
Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. Back to the Old
The Senate voted last week to repeal rules adopted by the Federal
Communications Commission that make it easier for the country's
biggest conglomerates to grow and enter new markets. The rules,
which were approved last June by the F.C.C, removed many older
ownership restrictions on media companies. They had removed
the rule that in most markets kept a single company from owning
a newspaper and tv station or radio station in the same. In
the largest markets, the rules allowed a company to own as many
as three television stations, eight radio stations and a cable
operator. Senator Byron Dorgan explained, "Last June,
the F.C.C. performed one of the most complete cave-ins to corporate
interests against the public interest in the history of the
country,'' he added. "When the number of people
and corporations who control what 293 million Americans see
and hear in the media shrinks to just a relative handful, democracy
suffers.'' By a choice vote, the Senate approved
a provision to return to the tougher restrictions. However,
a similar measure was dropped from another bill earlier this
year when it faced resistance from the Bush administration and
Republican leaders. Unfaithful?
Scientists have found that by inserting a single gene into the
brains of a rodents, they can turn them into monogamous, faithful
partners. Researchers at the Yerks National Primate Research
Center of Emory University and Atlanta's Center for Behavioral
Neuroscience say their findings could help understand the neurobiology
of romantic love. The scientists used a harmless virus to transfer
a gene from monogamous prairie voles to their polygamous relatives,
the meadow vole. After the transfer, the meadow voles showed
a distinct preference for their current partners. Scientists
say that it is not as simple for human relationships, which
probably involve many genes and other factors.
TechCity and Ulster County's chances to land any major tenants
at the former IBM complex were given a thumbs down by Westchester
County-based Bob Sterling, an appraiser of 31 years who had
been asked to testify in state Supreme Court in an assessment
suit filed by TechCity owner Alan Ginsberg. Ginsberg has challenged
the town of Ulster's assessments of 23 properties at the sprawling
Lake Katrine complex for the years 1999, 2000, and 2001. The
assessment had been at $50 million for each of those years;
Sterling, Ginsberg's appraiser, has put the value at $15 million.
Justice Michael Kavanagh is hearing the case, which was expected
to contyinue through the week.
Sterling pointed out, on the stand, the amount of commercial
space that has been built or leased in Ulster County, summing
up that it would take years to lease all of TechCity.
He said the problem of renting space is not TechCity's alone.
Sterling said that the market shows that there "is no compelling
reason why a major company would want to relocate or locate
Ginsberg bought the property from IBM for $3.1 million in January
1998, nearly three years after the computer giant ceased operations
there, and said he would fill all 2.5 million square feet at
the plant within three years. Today, six years after the purchase,
about 60 percent of the space remains vacant and much of the
occupied space is being used by Fleet Financial Services, which
already was a tenant when Ginsberg bought the property.In April,
Ulster County was set to auction 13 properties at TechCity,
but the auction was called off. Ginsberg owes $7.5 million in
back taxes on those properties.
Ulster County Attorney Frank Murray has sought a ruling from
Kavanagh to allow the county to sell the properties at a so-called
"sheriff's sale" so that the county does not have
to actually own the parcels.
Gutsy With God
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has said that President
Bush was out of line to ask the Vatican to get more U.S bishops
involved in pushing conservative agendas. "I think it
was entirely and extraordinarily inappropriate, and I think
it speaks for itself," said Kerry, who is Catholic. A
Vatican official told the press that Bush had complained to
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state to Pope John Paul
II, that U.S bishops had not been vocal enough in supporting
him on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. In the discussion
on June 4, Bush urged Sodano to "push the bishops to become
more actively involved." The Vatican official said Sodano
did not respond. White house spokesman Scott McClellan acknowledged
that Bush had met with Sodano, but stated only that the meeting
was "a good private discussion." War Crimes!
The U.S abandoned it's effort last week to seek a U.N
exemption for U.S soldiers overseas, and had to withdraw a security
counsel resolution because it lacked support. ŒThe United
States has decided not to proceed further with consideration
and action on the draft at this time in order to avoid a prolonged
and divisive debate. We are dropping action on this resolution.''
said U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham. In the past Washington
has threatened to veto U.N peacekeeping missions if the resolution
giving it immunity was not passed. Cunningham would not comment
on whether that would be followed through on. The U.S has rarely
had opposition from the council, with the exception of the bid
for U.N approval of the invasion of Iraq. Since then however,
the council has backed the U.S in matters regarding Iraq. However,
the U.S abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan has made
it difficult for members to extend the resolution. Bad Skeeters
U.S health officials are on the lookout for another mosquito
carried disease, fearing it could make itself a permanent fixture
in America if it enters the country. The disease, called Rift
Valley fever, originated in Africa and is at top of the lists
for dangerous diseases to both health and agriculture. The virus
has a near 1% mortality rate, which is deadlier than West Nile
virus. But the virus poses a greater danger to cattle and sheep.
It kills up to 30% of livestock it infects. Most people get
flu-like symptoms when infected. Some might develop more serious
symptoms such as liver and kidney disease. About 14% of those
seriously sick with Rift Valley virus died in previous outbreaks.
About 10% of those with serious complications from West Nile
die. 30 separate species of mosquito can carry the virus, far
more than West Nile. Bad Polling
While President Bush often tells the American public that we
have freed Iraq and that the country's future generations
will thank us, a poll finds that the current generation sees
the U.S forces as occupiers and wishes they would leave. The
poll finds that more than half of the Iraqis polled thought
they would be safer with no U.S forces in Iraq and believed
that all U.S troops behaved like the prison guards at Abu Ghraib
prison. The survey found that radical Shiite cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr is enjoying a huge increase in popularity among Iraqis
as he leads an insurrection against U.S forces, but would still
be a loser in a Iraq presidential election. 63 percent of Iraqis
believe conditions will improve when an Iraqi interim government
takes over. 62 percent believed that Iraqi police will be able
to maintain security without U.S forces and assistance.