to School, Back to Business
Though the air’s thick with summer yet, a new season’s
almost upon us. Fall is a time of transitions and new beginnings,
particularly for the younger amongst us. For those transiting
from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school
or high school to college, it’s a shift from a smaller
to a larger world, where what one loses in intimacy gets replaced
by what one gains in appreciation of one’s widening horizons.
Such transits are often anxious times, and though we all make
our adjustments it’s best to make allowances for that
anxiety. On the other side, closer than it often seems, is the
beginning of another level of wisdom that hopefully, will carry
everyone through to new ways of dealing with what proves, over
time, to be a constant process of change.
At Onteora, there’s a lot of administrative change and
new beginnings underway. Gabe Buono has moved from Asst. Principal
at the High School to the Principal’s job at Bennett Elementary.
Replacing him at the high school is Lance Edelman, new to the
area from Beacon. Edelman will be reporting to Jack Jordan of
Pine Hill, our former Interim Superintendent, who’s now
stepping in as Interim Principal of the high school, following
Barbara Rubin’s resignation for a new job at BOCES, where
she fololows Bennett’s former principal, Laurie Cassel.
And the middle school has a new principal as well, Paul Schwartz,
who’s taking over from Gayle Kavanagh.
Structurally it’s lots of change in a short time, including
a board of trustees for the district whose longest-serving member
has been on for under two terms; but the mood at the school
seems up, ready, and willing to do what it takes to tackle key
How other possible changes facing the district, from new bus
routes to upcoming decisions regarding the configuration of
district facilities, end up rolling out has yet to be seen.
But at least they’ll be occuring in an atmosphere that,
for the moment at least, is ready to deal with changes in an
We celebrate such transits. In some neighborhoods, they’re
still marked by block parties and the like, where neighbors
get together to see their kids off to school and celebrate the
last of summer, as well as the start of autumnal responsibilities.
Our wider communities, too, tend to mark this time in a celebratory
manner. Shandaken Day, held in Pine Hill this year, was a great
event. Olive Day, coming up September 8, is once again shaping
up to be as strong an example of home town neighborliness and
good cheer as can be imagined these days.
To paraphrase Whitman, we celebrate ourselves and sing ourselves,
for every atom belonging to you as good belongs to me.
Seeing that in the flesh, knowing that in the heart, that’s
what community is.
Locally, election season is slowly kicking off, in a year when
we once again select our town governments. This year, for the
first time in many, we’re incredibly encouraged by what
we see. In Shandaken, there’s at least four candidates
for two town board seats, any one of which could be a terrific
addition to the municipal government. For the first time ever
there’s a real dialogue taking shape in the Assessor’s
race, where clear and distinct perspectives seem ready to frame
a serious dialogue that’s never happened before over long-standing
problems. It’s great, and it’s time.
Olive’s strength continues to be its continuity and the
town board’s remarkable ability to mobilize for the collective
interest of its town majority at the polls. It’s a positive
object lesson for everybody and a justifiable source of pride,
even if we sometimes worry how the current leadership will be
followed and when recent demographic shifts in the community
will get reflected in town government.
The big news, this week and next, is being made in Kingston.
We’re writing this before any testimony takes place on
the history of the new jail, so you probably know far more about
it now than we do as we comment here. We don’t expect
any bombshells; those testifying will have had years to prepare
for the questions they’ll be asked, and to think through
what they’ll say. What’s important about this process
isn’t whether any criminal charges are ultimately filed,
or anyone gets ultimately convicted of wrongdoing. What matters
is the reckoning, the truthful accounting of what happened and
why. It’s not often public officials are called on to
do that, and nobody relishes the idea they’re in in that
position. But we do need to understand what happened with that
project, both so we don’t repeat the mistakes and for
our own sense of closure.
By the time it’s paid off, the new Law Enforcement Center
will probably cost each and every household in Ulster County
more than $2,000 in county taxes paid. That’s a staggering
figure for a single, relatively small part of any county’s
municipal infrastructure. Paying this off is more than a test
of whether this county or any county can long endure poor management.
It’s a personal financial burden on every household that
we didn’t need to commit to at the level we did.
We appreciate the irony that the man who ultimately inherited
responsibility for making this thing work was from day one,
it’s clearest and most persistent critic. That is Sherriff
Paul Van Blarcum, who tried harder than anyone to make sure
Ulster County’s residents weren’t saddled with the
burden we all now carry. Had those who are now being held publicly
accountable heard him better, these hearings would not be happening.
We wish him luck in sorting out the flotsam and righting the