On Tuesday Town of Shandaken officials were served legal
papers informing them of a lawsuit filed on behalf of
several individuals in the Woodland Valley area. The lawsuit
challenges the recent planning board decision to allow
Andrew Poncic’s Good Water Corporation to build
a water harvesting system in the Valley.
“The papers were served on the Town today and Good
Water Corporation through the Department of State,”
said Petitioners Attorney Marc Gerstman at press time.
The 31- page action comes after a fundraising campaign
by valley residents to pay for the lawsuit. The Woodland
Community Association put out the call last month that
they need a commitment of substantial funds from the community
to launch a legal attack on the town for approving the
controversial water harvesting project.
Association President Howard McGowan said the reality
is that over $27,000 is needed to challenge the projects
” I believe that we must take every step we can
to stop this foolish plan. Despite all our voices, letters,
and efforts this Planning Board has refused to listen,”
he said.” The Planning Board went outside their
legal bounds in adopting this proposal. We believe that
we have significant grounds for over turning this approval
in the Courts.”
Petitioners ask for an Order of the Court which: (a) voids
and vacates the Board’s approval of the application,
and finds that the application, as amended and approved,
is not a specially permitted use pursuant to the Zoning
Code; Or, in the alternative for an Order that: (b) voids
and vacates the approval of the application due to the
Board’s failure to refer the application to the
Ulster County Planning Board, (c) finds that the Board
violated Education Law §7209 by accepting plans that
were not signed by a licensed surveyor or engineer and
order that the Board require the applicant to submit signed
and sealed drawings depicting the entire proposal on both
lots, including accurate grading plans and quantities
of fill and demonstrating compliance with applicable setbacks,
(d) finds that the Board violated the Zoning Code, Town
Law, and SEQRA, (e) voids and vacates the approval based
on the Board’s violation of SEQRA and orders the
Board to prepare a Supplemental EIS based on the complete,
current proposal, and (e) enjoins Respondent Good Water
Corp. and Andrew and Daria Poncic from taking any action
pursuant to the Board’s prior approvals and (f)
awards Petitioners costs, disbursements and attorney’s
Town Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. did not return phones
on the matter Tuesday.
A group of about 40 Phoenicia residents met in a local
restaurant last week to plot out how they will try and
prevent the town of Shandaken from moving forward with
a multi-million sewer project that they say could cost
the hamlet more than it can afford.
The meeting came one week after the Shandaken Town Board
voted to create a Phoenicia sewer district. Mike Ricciardella,
the unofficial leader of the move to stop the plan, told
those assembled at Al's Restaurant that the board could
have voluntarily put the matter up for a public referendum
to let those in the hamlet decide. Instead, he said, the
board is waiting to see if enough signatures end up on
a petition requesting the referendum.
“They didn’t have to make us go through all
of this,” Ricciardella said.
Much of the meeting was spent trying to determine exactly
how to word the petition and decide who could legally
sign the document and who could not. Susan Bernstein was
concerned that some signatures may be declared invalid
by the town unless the petitioners know exactly who is
qualified to sign.
As it now stands, Ricciardella said, Attorney Kevin Young
drafted the petition’s language and gave the document
to Supervisor Robert Cross Jr., who gave it to Ricciardella.
Rather than trust the document, Ricciardella is going
to have it reviewed by another attorney.
Bart Gugleilmetti, a Phoenicia resident and former town
justice, noted that it remains unclear exactly where the
district boundaries are, so the petitioners better be
careful to not get signatures of those landowners outside
“What’s the district…..” Guglielmetti
said. “We don’t really know.”
Bernstein believes that a minimum of 62 signatures are
needed to force the referendum, saying that amount represents
five percent of the total number of Shan-daken voters
in the last gubernatorial election. But Ricciardella wants
an attorney to verify that that is the figure necessary.
“We’ve got 45 signatures already,” he
The group has until December 6 to file the petition with
the town, Ricciardella said.
If the petition is valid the town must hold the referendum.
If the referendum passes, the project moves forward. While
many believe that the project will be stopped if the majority
of voters oppose it, Young has told the town board that
there was a second option to move the project forward,
one that could prevent a referendum even if it was demanded
by a majority of Phoenicians.
If a petition calling for the formation of a sewer district
is signed by owners of at least 50% of the total assessed
value of the proposed district, Young said, the town board
would be required to address the request. He also said
there is clear criteria for denying the request, and that
the town board would not be able to deny it on arbitrary
No such petition drive is apparent yet. It also remains
unclear what strength such a petition would have after
a referendum vote.
After years of steady decline, deer hunting is once again
a popular sport.... Or at least in the Greene County Town
of Windham, where the town supervisor says more hunting
licenses have been sold this year than the last several.
The subject came up at a meeting of the executive committee
of the Coalition of Watershed Towns where Windham Supervisor/Committee
President Patrick Meehan complained about the difficulties
hunters are having understanding the do’s and don’ts
of hunting on land owned by the New York City Department
of Environmental Protection.
He said that he witnessed several hunters trying to figure
out how to proceed. He expected trouble to follow.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up
in jail by the end of the week,” he added.
On November 17, the day before opening day of deer season,
DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd announced that 39,543 acres
of City water supply lands would be available in 2006
for deer hunting during the season. This includes almost
3,000 acres of land opened to the public for the first
time this season.
“The number of hunters on City lands has increased
remarkably, from less than 4,500 in 2002 to over 11,000
last season.” said Commissioner Lloyd. “And
this year they’ll have more acres available to them
than ever before. That follows an expansion of the hunting
program earlier this year, when we opened land to small
game and turkey hunting for the first time….We’ve
also made it easier than ever to get a free Access Permit,
now available instantly on the Web.”
Included in the almost 40,000 acres open for deer hunting
are 15 areas comprising 5,823 acres that will also be
open in the West of Hudson watershed for bear hunting—the
first time that bear hunting will be allowed on City water
Applicants for a free DEP Hunt Tag must also have a valid
DEP Access Permit, which are available instantly on the
Web for the first time at www.nyc.gov/watershedrecreation.
Access Permits allow the holders to hike and fish on available
City lands, and are also free. All New York State laws
and additional DEP conditions apply while on City water
Meehan’s notion of resurgence in hunting is not
shared by everyone.
In the Delaware County town of Middletown, Town Clerk
Russell Schebesta said Tuesday that the licenses he’s
issued this year are on par with the last several, which
is a smidgen compared to the good old days when hunting
season was one the biggest tourist events of the year
in the Catskills.
In Shandaken, Town Clerk Laurilyn Frasier said hunting
license sales continues to a dribble compared to years
ago. As for Meehan’s report, Frasier said it is
possible there are other reasons for the upswing.
“Maybe there’s more deer up in Windham,”
Frasier joked. “I was up there Saturday and heard
lots of shooting.”
Ulster County could retain all 27 positions slated for
layoffs in the tentative $300 million county budget without
raising taxes, according to an analysis of the spending
plan by the local unit of the Civil Service Employees
Union (CSEA). The Legislature is considering a tentative
budget, which contains a 7.5 percent property tax increase,
down from a 39 percent increase in 2006. The 27 proposed
layoffs would be part of a downsizing that would reduce
the county workforce by 58 positions, for a 3 percent
overall reduction. The proposed spending plan is about
$156,000 less than the approved 2006 budget. The proposal
includes a fund balance, or budget surplus, of some $13
million, roughly equal to the state comptroller’s
recommended minimum surplus for a county with a $300 million
In an address to the county Legislature November 8, CSEA
local president Kevin DuMond said legislators and county
financial officials could avoid layoffs if they subjected
spending in the proposed budget to tighter scrutiny. He
said there is already money in the budget to retain all
the jobs slated for layoffs. DuMond said there are other
examples of unnecessary expenses that should be investigated
and corrected before layoffs are implemented. The CSEA
represents 1,600 county workers.
DuMond presented legislators with an analysis done by
CSEA research analyst Stephen J. Keith, a six page document
which estimates Ulster County budgeted approximately $4.35
million more money in the 2006 budget than it will actually
spend on salaries for personnel services this year.
Keith wrote that, while Ulster County initially estimated
it would have a $5.45 million fund balance, or budget
surplus, from 2005 going into 2006, when final figures
were received, the fund balance, actually totaled $11.8
million. He suggested that a similar dynamic may play
out in 2006 heading into 2007.
Keith further noted that the Ulster County Legislature
has approved tax increases to go into effect in 2007 to
create a larger hotel room tax, and a new mortgage tax.
If approved by the state legislature, these measures could
bring in perhaps as much as an additional $4 million next
year, revenues which are not included in the tentative
He said that while roughly $3 million was budgeted for
contingency in 2006, no money has been expended from that
fund thus far. Therefore, he said, the county may be over
budgeting by setting aside $2.5 million for contingency
in 2007. Overall, Keith said, he believes the county is
in a better financial position than has been acknowledged
by the legislature.
After the meeting, Legislative Chairman David Donaldson
said that the object of the proposed layoffs is not only
to save money, but to restructure, or “right size”
the county government. “We are going after savings,
yes, but when the administrator put together the tentative
budget he was also looking for consolidation and efficiency.
The positions are being cut because we don’t need
those positions anymore.”
A vote on the budget is expected next month Any subsequent
layoffs are not slated for implementation until April
1, providing workers and county officials time to ease
into whatever transition may be needed.
Republicans vacating the Capitol are dumping a big spring
cleaning job on Democrats moving in with GOP leaders having
decided to opt to leave behind almost a half-trillion-dollar
clutter of unfinished spending bills, plus a failure to
pass a multibillion-dollar measure to prevent a cut in
fees to doctors treating Medicare patients.
The bulging workload that a Republican -led Congress was
supposed to complete this year but is instead punting
to 2007 promises to consume time and energy that Democrats
had hoped to devote to their own agenda upon taking control
of Congress in January for the first time in a dozen years.
The decision to drop so much unfinished work in Democrats’
laps demonstrates both division within Republicans ranks
and the difficulty in resolving so many knotty questions
in so short a time. GOP leaders promised their House and
Senate members the December lame duck session would last
no more than two weeks, or until Dec. 16 at the latest.
Now, with the agenda shrinking, a session that will be
the last for 45 retiring or defeated House members and
senators should be wrapped up by Dec. 8.
The incoming Democratic majority has yet to develop a
plan to cope with the more than $460 billion in unfinished
budget business. The Democrats’ problem is made
even more complicated because President Bush in early
2007 will send Congress a bill that could exceed $130
billion for continuing the war in Iraq , according to
Capitol Hill aides.
New York State has awarded over $455,000 in master plan
and zoning awards to 17 communities in the New York City
watershed in the Catskills and Hudson Valley regions.
The funds will be used to develop land use plans and identify
economic development opportunities that protect water
quality and encourage development consistent with the
1997 New York City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement.
Grants include $25,000 each to the town of Putnam Valley,
North Castle, Lewisboro, Pound Ridge, Kortright, Middletown,
Masonville, and Village of Tannersville. The Town of Kent
received three grants totaling $75,000, the Town of Carmel
received $50,000, the Town of Hurley received just under
$25,000, the Town of Denning received $24,000, the towns
of Gilboa, Conesville and Jefferson received a total of
$55,000 for one project, and the Town of Halcott received
Maybe someone in Ulster County should apply next?
A proposal to extend health benefits for Ulster County
employees to domestic and not just marriage partners is
being aided, but also possibly threatened, by a possible
lawsuit from the Civil Service Employees Association and
three county employees who have filed a class-action against
the county claiming that gay and lesbian county employees
do not enjoy the same health-care benefits as their heterosexual
A proposed county legislative amendment to current benefits
coverage states that gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples
who have lived together for at least a year and are financially
interdependent would be eligible for benefits. The CSEA
calls for an extension of benefits as well as payment
of damages since 2003, the year the state law took effect.
In addition to pressure from the pending lawsuit, legislators
are considering the financial impact of extending the
health benefits. County Administrator Michael Hein said
he did not have a clear understanding of the cost, although
studies by UCLA Law School estimates an enrollment increase
of between 1.4 to 2.1 percent with cost increases in the
same range. For Ulster’s $17 million health coverage
expenses, that could mean a projected extra cost of $238,000
to $357,000. However, some legislators and the president
of the local CSEA say the move actually could decrease
“I’ve been contacted by enough county employees
to be led to believe this may save us money because you
have, right now, a number of domestic partner county employees
who have two policies,” said Legislator Brian Shapiro,
D-Woodstock. “Having a domestic partner policy would
reduce that to having a single policy.”
“It’s my opinion there would probably be a
net savings to the county,” said Kevin DuMond, president
of the local unit of the CSEA.
The full Legislature is to discuss the issue during a
joint caucus on Dec. 6.
Pine Hill Radio!
On Saturday, December 9, Catskill Community Radio will
host a gala "kick-off" party. The Party will
be at the Pine Hill Community Center, 287 Main St., Pine
Hill, and will run from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The evening’s
festivities will include a pot luck dinner (bring a dish
to share), a variety show of local talent and entertaining
skits which will be broadcast live on the web. If you
have a talent that you’d like to showcase on the
live broadcast (comedy, music, poetry, short skit, actor,
etc.), or want to find out more about hosting your own
radio show please contact the Community Center at 254-5469.
Catskill Community Radio started with a little off the
cuff conversation between Pine Hill Community Center Director
James Krueger and Susan Penick, a Big Indian resident
who teaches an archery class at the Center. Neither of
them are sure who mentioned it first, but their conversation
quickly revealed that they shared a dream: they both wanted
to start their own radio station. Not just your average
tightly programmed commercial station, mind you, but a
station that plays an eclectic mix of hard to find and
local music; a station that allows members of the community
to have a voice and program their own shows, that acts
as a forum for different ideas and points of view, that
involves people of all ages, from youth to seniors, and
that has a very local feel.
Streaming on the web and accessible even to those with
a dial-up internet connection, Catskill Community Radio
is the fruition of Susan and James’ dream. A grant
allowed the Center to purchase the necessary equipment
and pay the hosting fees. Now up and running with an almost
full schedule of shows, you can listen to the station
from their web-site, www.catskillradio.org. The station
features music and talk shows by local people including
"Pete’s Beat", "Julie’s Musical
Romp", "Catskill Voices", "Meet the
Irish" and various shows that are part of their "Teen
Voice Radio" project.
"I’ve long been trying to develop a program
that would interest teenagers," says Community Center
Director James Krueger. "A technology based program
that includes music, such as the radio, is a great step
in that direction. The fact that everyone else in the
community can participate in it and benefit from it makes
it that much more wonderful. It’s the first in what
I hope to be a variety of technology-based programs here
at the Center."
EPA Regional Superfund Director George Pavlou has finally
issued a final decision on technical matters long disputed
by General Electric Company in relationship to EPA’s
comments on mandated dredging operations in the upper
Hudson River. Countering the position of former Congressman
John Sweeney, ousted by a Democrat earlier this month,
EPA reaffirmed its original position that GE must incorporate
into its Remedial Action Community Health Safety Plan
contingencies for protecting public water supplies. The
provision of alternate water sources and/or treatment
are designed to protect the community from the potential
hazard of consuming water that contains elevated levels
of PCB as a result of the dredging… and was countered
by GE and Sweeney as exceedingly expensive.
The final decision reaffirms EPA’s requirement for
GE to place backfill from the river in a manner that maintains
the configuration of the pre-existing shoreline and river
bottom. EPA’s final decision also defines those
near-shore areas in which GE is required, after dredging,
to restore the pre-dredging river bottom. Restoring the
shoreline configuration is expected to be beneficial to
the replacement of habitat, and will also help limit the
impacts of the dredging on property along the shoreline.
On August 18, 2006, with Sweeney’s help, GE invoked
dispute resolution with respect to several other issues
that are not addressed in EPA’s November 9 final
decision. Those additional issues, also related to the
Phase 1 Final Design Report, are currently under discussion
between EPA and GE. If they are not resolved through those
discussions, GE has the option of requesting a determination
from EPA on the issues.
Sweeney, in addition to becoming chummy with EPA Regional
Administrator Alan Steinberg in recent months also came
out in support of Dean Gitter’s proposed Belleayre
Resort project for the central Catskills in late August.
But that’s all history now.
Looking to put your money where everyone else’s
mouths have been? Recently, KBR, which runs almost every
aspect of the Iraq war except the fighting, started trading
as a separate stock after an initial public offering.
Although not a household name, it’s the unit of
Halliburton that handles everything in Iraq ranging from
operating cafeterias for soldiers to providing fuel, laundry
and other services. Vice President Cheney used to be CEO
For investors, “KBR is the demon spawn of Halliburton,”
says Ben Holmes, publisher of MorningNotes.com, a market
and IPO research firm. “That will have some effect.”
He cites several points:
Revenue at risk… due to the fact that KBR gets 56%
of its revenue from efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and
65% of its $10.1 billion annual revenue from U.S. government
contracts. With Democrats in charge, the windfall will
Potential for investigations. In June 2005, for instance,
the Defense Contract Management Agency recommended withholding
$55 million until KBR further documented billings for
housing soldiers. Another $95 million in bills have been
questioned regarding dining facilities in Iraq. KBR’s
procurement matters are being investigated by the U.S.
Department of Justice.
On the other side, though, KBR has noted that it has been
broadening its business base outside Iraq, although it’s
unclear whether that means other possible war spots.
Speakers were evenly divided at a November public hearing
on a proposed law that would require commercial pest control
companies to notify adjacent property owners before spraying
certain pesticides on a property. One critic noted that
the law requires notification only of properties that
directly abut the property to be sprayed, a property across
the street would not get notification, even though the
distance could actually be shorter. The law would not
apply to private homeowners, golf courses and cemeteries.
The legislature likely will vote on the local law in December.
New labor department statistics released this month by
the state show the economies of the Hudson Valley and
Catskills are doing well. DOL analyst John Nelson said
year over year in October, the economy appears to be strong.
“Our job numbers reflect a very health economy,”
he said. He said the private sector added about 6,700
new jobs for a growth of just under one percent. Some
of the new jobs are seasonal with October being one of
the months where seasonal hiring takes place, he said.
The Rockland-Putnam-Westchester area picked up 4,200 new
jobs; Dutchess-Orange gained 2,500; Ulster County gained
500 new jobs; Greene and Sullivan counties each picked
up 300 jobs; while Delaware County gained 200 jobs. Columbia
County was the only one in the region to lose jobs, at
Unemployment rates year over year in October fell by a
few tenths of a percent in all counties in the region.
The Ulster County Family Violence Unit and the New York
State Police in Kingston arrested Roger Rotella, 28 of
West Shokan, and charged him with injuring a three-month-old
baby on November 9, when he allegedly shook the child
to a life-threatening degree. He was charged with assault
in the first degree, reckless assault of a child and endangering
the welfare of a child. Rotella was arraigned in Town
of Olive Court and remanded to the Ulster County Jail
without bail pending a future court appearance. The child
was admitted to Albany Medical Center for treatment of
Roger Rotella, a former sergeant with the New York City
Department of Environmental Protection Police Department
and a former Shandaken police officer, was previously
indicted last month on charges that he accepted a bribe
with a promise to make a drunk driving charge against
another man “disappear.” Rotella had been
suspended from his job as a police officer for the Department
of Environmental Protection for 30 days and then quit
after the suspension was completed.
Rotella later confessed to police about the bribing incident.
Members of the Ulster County Legislature’s Public
Works Committee have endorsed a return to a single commissioner
to oversee the Buildings and Grounds and Highways and
Bridges departments, rather than the current setup that
requires separate commissioners. Since the mid-1990s,
the two departments have been led independently by commissioners
assisted by small administrative staffs, with a third
department, Public Works Administration, overseeing financial
aspects of the county’s public works operations.
County Administrator Michael Hein has proposed a single
commissioner and a consolidation of administrative staffs
to cut duplication of services.
A motion to request a public hearing on the restructuring
- which would require overriding local laws from 1995
- was adopted 6-3, with the understanding that the county
administrator would first present legislators with a rundown
on costs. If the proposed setup is approved by the full
Legislature, David Sheeley, the commissioner of highways
and bridges, will serve as acting commissioner of the
Public Works Department, replacing GOP appointee Harvey
Sleight, whose term expires at the end of the year.
The full Legislature will decide next month whether to
bring the issue to a hearing.
Onteora school district officials estimate that up to
$30,000 was saved through a joint effort between Hurley,
Woodstock and Olive crews to remove years of accumulated
garbage and debris from school district property. The
figures were provided by interim district Superintendent
Jack Jordan, who said about 9 tons of material was taken
off property along Van Dale Road behind the former West
Hurley Elementary School.
School district officials last month were given an Ulster
County Health Department violation notice for the site
and said police are investigating how the items were dumped.
Hurley town Supervisor Michael Shultis credited highway
officials in his town, Woodstock, and Olive for contributing
toward the one-day cleanup project that removed about
30 cubic yards of material… a project he initiated.
Richard Remsnyder, who has been on the job as acting director
of tourism since the untimely death of former Freeman
reporter Hallie Arnold last summer, was given the county
position permanently by a recent legislative action. But
because of current budget problems, it is now looking
that he will be forced to run a significantly scaled down
operation, adapted to both county budget constraints and
the changing needs of an internet-based tourism industry.
“Sounds like pie-in-the-sky to call Robert De Niro
and ask him if he would be willing to speak about Ulster
County, but he lives here, and that’s something
we’re certainly going to do, and try to contact
people like that,” Remsnyder said, brainstorming
possible ways of stretching his funding.
The $266,173 budgeted in the tentative 2007 county spending
plan drastically streamlines the Tourism Department from
2006’s adopted budget of $742,822, and proposes
more of an Internet-based structure. The cut includes
the elimination of two positions as well as a vacant position,
leaving only one employee and a director.
County Administrator Michael Hein said his office recognizes
the incredible value that tourism has in the county, but
had to make extremely difficult decisions in light of
“No matter what budget it is finally determined
for this department to work with, we’ll make it
work,” Remsnyder said. “Whatever I’m
given, we will utilize the funds and do the best possible
job to promote Ulster County.”
A recent study by the Department of Education found that
31 percent of American students were dropping out or failing
to graduate in the nation’s largest 100 public school
districts. It is estimated that about 2,500 students drop
out of U.S. high schools every day.
The implications from dropping out of high school are
enormous, including a higher risk of poverty and even
an abbreviated life span. Why is a high school diploma
Consider this: High school dropouts have a life span that
is nine years shorter than people who graduate. Dropouts
are more likely to face poverty, according to the U.S.
Census Bureau, with typical high school dropouts earning
$19,000 a year as compared to high school graduates earning
$28,000 a year on average. Furthermore, on a national
basis, 68 percent of state prison inmates are dropouts.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) will host a one-day
course on installing residential septic systems Friday,
Dec. 8 at CWC offices, 905 Main Street (NYS Route 30),
Margaretville, Delaware County. “Installation of
Residential Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems”
is especially designed to support contractors doing work
in the New York City Watershed, according to CWC Executive
Director Alan Rosa. The CWC will cover the course fee
for contractors living and/or doing business in the NYC
Watershed West of the Hudson River. All others will be
charged the $225 fee. All participants will be required
to pay $10 for lunch.
To register, call SUNY Delhi’s Office of Business
and Community Services, (607) 746-4545. Registration deadline
is December 1.
New At FV…
Frost Valley YMCA has announced a $1 million gift from
Helen Geyer to benefit the camp’s Build Strong!
Capital Campaign by funding the renovation of the old
girls’ dining hall into Geyer Hall. Mrs. Geyer,
a Montclair, NJ resident, was a model and actress in the
1940s. She modeled for more than 39 magazine covers, including
the cover of a Norman Rockwell original Saturday Evening
Post, multiple covers of Collier’s, and was the
Red Cross Poster Girl during World War II. She was featured
in the 1944 film Covergirl, with Rita Hayworth and Gene
Kelly. Presently a Trustee Emerita at Frost Valley, Mrs.
Geyer began serving on Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees
as its first female member in 1962. She was instrumental
in forming a girls’ camp at a time when camps like
Frost Valley were all-male.
The $1 million gift from Mrs. Geyer, will be directed
towards the renovation of Geyer Hall which includes a
large banquet and dining area, multiple conference rooms,
an updated kitchen and a large activity room. Geyer Hall
is home to Frost Valley’s growing day camp program
during the summer months, and provides activity and meeting
space for students, families and campers year round.
The Build Strong! Campaign seeks to raise funds to build
a new wellness center and family center. In addition to
serving traditional guests, Frost Valley works with a
number of special children each year through its partnership
with the Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation. Frost Valley
is home to the nation’s first camp-based dialysis
center, which is still unique in its ability to mainstream
children with kidney disease into camp-life with other
children, allowing them participate in a traditional residential
camp experience while gaining confidence and independence,
in what may be their first time away from home. The dialysis
unit is staffed under the supervision of Children’s
Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center. The new Guenther
Family Wellness Center will encompass three areas: a health
care wing, a kidney dialysis wing and a program and education
center. It is named in recognition of a lead gift provided
by Paul B. Guenther, Frost Valley’s Chairman of
Those seeking more information about Frost Valley YMCA
and The Build Strong! Campaign may call Lea Kone, Director
of Development at (973) 744-3488 or visit Frost Valley’s
website at www.frostvalley.org
The U.S. military on Friday has announced it plans to
build a $125 million compound at the Guantanamo Bay Naval
Base where it hopes to hold war-crimes trials for terror
suspects by the middle of next year. But Olive-based Michael
Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional
Rights, which represents hundreds of Guantanamo detainees,
is having none of it.
“This is a huge waste of taxpayer money,”
said Ratner in press accounts of the matter this past
week.”They’ve been trying to try people for
five years, and until they try somebody according to the
Constitution, nothing’s going to happen there.”
The project, which has not yet been submitted for congressional
approval, represents one of the largest upgrades to the
detention center since it began taking in suspected enemy
combatants in January 2002. The U.S. government is drafting
new rules for the trials under the Military Commissions
Act, which President Bush signed last month. The Supreme
Court had declared that previous efforts to try Guantanamo
detainees were unconstitutional.
Defense lawyers, and Ratner, have challenged the validity
of the new law, which bars detainees from using the civilian
court system. If a federal appeals court or the Supreme
Court rules in their favor, it could strike down the military
Who’s On First?
New criminal enforcement data from the Justice Department
document that in July 2006, U.S. federal white collar
crime prosecutions reached their lowest number (498) in
the last five years. In fact, not since May 2000 (when
there were 446 prosecutions) has the number been lower.
In addition, criminal prosecutions in July were down from
the previous month in all of the following categories:
white collar crime (down 15%), immigration (down 10.3%),
illegal drugs (down 20%) and weapons (down 13.5%). Moreover,
all four enforcement areas show declines in prosecutions
from the previous year.
So who’s been getting all the attention? Foreign
terrorists and, surprisingly, government leaks. And those,
similar tracking has found out, have led to a prosecutorial
batting record of less than .200, as compared to pre-War
on Terror records that saw three quarters of all prosecutions
HAVA No Pay
The Help America Vote Act has turned out to have nothing
to do with the helping of all those election workers who
actually help Americans vote, it’s turned out. Due
to a misunderstanding of small print regulations in HAVA,
passed last year by Congress, Ulster County poll workers,
as well as an unknown number of their peers around the
nation, have not been paid for their services this year.
It turns out that whereas election workers were paid for
their long hours via local municipalities under previous
laws, they’re now to be paid by county Boards of
Elections. And to do so properly, all such workers need
to fill out federal I-9 forms, something that the Board
of Elections said wasn’t fully realized until after
the September primary.
Just before the recent election on November 7, poll workers
scheduled to work were sent letters asking them to bring
some form of lawful identification (birth certificate,
Social Security card or passport) to help speed up the
I-9 form and subsequent payment processes. Although usually
paid for the two voting occasions separately, the two
were going to be lumped together this year, according
to Board of Elections representatives, with checks expected
to be in all poll workers hands by Thanksgiving. The
Altogether, about 1,000 poll workers are utilized throughout
Ulster County, making a straight salary of $125 a person
for Primary Day, $200 for Election Day, and $25 plus mileage
for training sessions that took place in August.
Jenna Bush paid a secret diplomatic visit to Paraguayan
President Nicanor Duarte and U.S. Ambassador James Cason
this month, according to South American newspapers, for
the purpose of discussing a new “land trust”
created for Bush via nearly 100,000 acres purchased by
the First Family near the town of Chaco.
The Paraguayan Senate voted last summer to “grant
U.S. troops immunity from national and International Criminal
Court (ICC) jurisdiction.” Immediately afterwards,
500 heavily armed U.S. troops arrived with various planes,
choppers and land vehicles at Mariscal Estigarribia air
base, which happens to be at the northern tip of Paraguay
near the Bolivian/Brazilian border… near Chaco.
Why might the president and his family need a 98.840-acre
ranch in Paraguay protected by a semi-secret U.S. military
base manned by American troops who have been exempted
from war-crimes prosecution by the Paraguyan government…
which former US Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld secretly
visited in late 2005?
It is reported that Rev. Sun Yung Moon has bought 1,482,600
acres himself in the same place, which sits atop the one
of the world’s largest fresh-water aquifers, large
oil supplies, and adjacacent to what Interpol calls one
of the key drug cartel headquarters in the world.
An Onteora Light?
Interim superintendent of schools for the Onteora Central
School District John G. Jordan believes the time is right
to address a part time problem with a part time solution.
Made aware of recent legislation which will offer New
York State Department of Transportation (DOT) funds for
traffic signals on state highways connected to active
school properties, Jordan believes a strategic traffic
light situated on Route 28 at the point where school disembark
several times a day would be an ideal use for some of
"If you look at the western end of our parking lot,
where it comes out from both Bennett Elementary and the
high school, at certain times of day, it’s easy
to see the problem," Jordan said. "If it’s
possible to do something on a specifically timed basis,
we really need it when we have dismissal and the buses
have to get back on 28. It’s certainly a safety
Jordan has taken the first step toward applying for the
money by seeking approval from town government; a resolution
of such approval is required to accompany the district’s
"Originally, before the new legislation, the school
district would have been responsible for putting (the
traffic signal) up at a cost of about $250,000, I understand,"
Jordan explained. "But with the new legislation,
we’d only be looking at the maintenance of the light
itself. It’d be a big plus if we could get it.
"We don’t want to put something there that’s
going to stop traffic all the time on 28. There’s
enough of that," he added quickly. "When we
have buses leaving here in the morning, after they drop
the high school kids off around 7:35 am, you might do
it for ten minutes at the most. The same thing in the
afternoon at dismissal. That’s two separate times-
the high school-middle school dismisses at 2:30 pm and
Bennett Elementary at 3:30 pm. So, just for short periods
Ideal would be a programmable system which could operated
from the school itself but the feasibility of that kind
of arrangement is uncertain at this early stage of procedure.
Jordan had in mind, adjusting the signal to accommodate
special major functions like graduations.
"We have the backing of (Assemblyman) Kevin Cahill’s
office because I know they’ve been involved in this
process before," Jordan said. "As soon as we
start the ball rolling, I know they would step in and
help in any way they could."
Turmeric, a spice long used in traditional Asian medicine,
may hold promise for the prevention of both rheumatoid
arthritis and osteoporosis, according to a recently completed
study at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
This work paves the way for the preclinical and clinical
trials needed before turmeric supplements can be recommended
for medicinal use in preventing or suppressing rheumatoid