on the News
The Winner Is...
As of this week, there are 34,218 enrolled Democrats
countywide, 32,716 Republicans, and 34,787 Non-Enrolled voters, marking
the first election in the County's history where Democrats constitute,
numerically, the majority party. And while the short-term shift might
seem dramatic, the long term trend is even more so: For every new Republican
added to the county voter rolls in the past 30 years (2,013 all together),
9 Democrats (18,898) have signed on.
of course, differ.
we're getting tons and tons of people from the City," said Pete
Sevago, the chairman of Ulster County's Republican party. "They're
all left-wing, liberal Democrats. We all know that."
the county's Democratic Election Commissioner Harry Castiglioni sees
it differently; "I think the change shows there's a lot of dissatisfaction
with the leadership in Washington, but also here in Ulster County,"
said Castiglione. "Things are not being accomplished that people
want to see accomplished. And it's not just Democrats, a lot of our
non-enrolled voters are feeling the same way, and a lot more younger
people are coming out."
whatever the explanation, voter registration shifts aren't likely to
prove as meaningful this year with few local races on the ballot as
they will in 2005, when town governments and county legislative control
will be at stake. And in terms of this year's local presidential
vote, the shift's unlikely to effect things much: In 2000, Bush lost
Ulster County to Gore by 7.4%, with another 7.4% voting for Nader.
the town level, Shandaken currently has 798 registered Republicans,
762 Democrats and 546 people choosing no party affiliation, along with
92 Independence Party members, 42 Conservatives, 40 Greens, 13 Liberals,
and 3 people each registered Right-to-life and Working Families. In
2000, the town's presidential vote count was 783 for Gore, 686 for Bush,
and 158 for Nader. Since that election, Democratic enrollment has increased
by 146, while the number of Republicans has dropped by 37.
enrollment amongst the town's 2,299 registered voters also continues
to show its historical gender bias, with Republicans and Conservatives
running 55% men and 45% women, and Democrats and Liberals running 58%
women and 42% men. Independence and Green Party membership splits about
equally male/ female, and those choosing no party affiliation represent
about 24 % of voters, compared to 36% countywide.
perspectives on the national election vary, but appear to mirror those
prevalent nationwide. "I hope there's a large turnout" said
Olive Supervisor Berndt Leifeld." Every vote's going to count more
this time than any other time. I think everybody should get out
there and voice an opinion."
think it's a shame that everything's come down to so much mud-slinging
by both sides said Shandaken Supervisor Bob Cross. "It's so disturbing
to the public. I'm not pinning it on either party, but it bothers me
personally to see it all."
will probably squeeze through, but it will be real close," said
Shandaken Republican Club President Gerry Setchko, who chose not to
elaborate further on the issues involved. His counterpart however, president
of the town's Democratic Club and former supervisor Pete Di Modica,
ventured that "In national politics as well as local politics,
the Republican party seems to be working toward government for the benefit
of their friends, instead of for everyone's benefit. We need to bring
fairness back into government. Hopefully the national election will
be the start of that."
think that Bush is going to win despite all the negative campaigning
by the Kerry crew," said county GOP chair Sevago. "They said
that Bush's campaign has been negative but that's ludicrous."
war's the forefront issue but President Bush has really put the national
economy in the toilet" said Olive councilman Bruce La Monda. We
have no national health care, unequal access to education...we need
surprisingly, county Democratic chairman John Parete expressed similar
self-proclaimed 'uniter' has driven this nation further apart than it's
ever been in its history" Parete said. "He's made one mistake
after another and he refuses to acknowledge them. What do we teach our
kids? Fess Up! People are not smiling. They're not happy. And Americans
are far worse off than they were four years ago. I hope people vote
for what what's really in their interests, not somebody's party line."
are open from 6:00 AM till 9:00 PM, Tuesday, November 2.
Stage For OHS Plays
Last summer, the district's facilities supervisor Jim O'Neil said at
the meeting, a teacher approached him with a problem. While trying to
adjust one of the back curtains on the auditorium stage, built when
the high school went up fifty years ago, he got a wood splinter in his
hand. O'Neil called in an engineering company to see what was up, and
it was soon discovered that there were some serious problems with the
aging stage rigging that everyone had been taking for granted for years.
When a similarly-aged auditorium collapsed in Washingtonville last summer,
engineers suggested that the stage rigging be declared unsafe, and the
high school's main stage closed down until it could be replaced.
of the matter came up at the Tuesday night board meeting when the district's
Interim Business Administrator, Don Gottlieb, noted that bids for new
rigging, which were to be decided around now for replacement by the
holiday season, had come in at four times what had been budgeted. And
with a finish date of late January, at the earliest.
board discussion yielded a consensus statement that further questions
would have to be asked of those bidding to do the rigging replacement
and stage repairs., including whether the stage could be partially resurrected
in time for the Holiday season, which starts a little over a month from
now. Meanwhile, school administrators were asked to start coming up
with alternatives by the next scheduled board meeting on Wednesday,
November 3 at the Bennett Elementary School in Boiceville.
far, nothing much has been effected," said OCS Superintendent Justine
Winters after the meeting, noting that band practice was continuing
in the practice room or out on the football field for the marching band.
But bigger productions were coming.
have to look seriously at all of this," she said, making a face
and mentioning something about "the acoustics" when asked
whether the old or new gymnasiums, or High School cafeteria were possibilities
school district is currently operating under a strict contingency budget
for the year, which could also effect repair costs and schedules...
matters not raised this week, but assumedly being scheduled for the
agenda November 3, when next the subject is visited.
and Gottlieb also discussed a problem with "grey water" effluent
leaking from a "regulatory building" at the High School in
recent weeks due to a partial system failure in the facility's septic
system. Gottlieb asked for, and had passed, a resolution approving a
replacement of the building and systems in question, at a cost under
$20,000, while O'Neil explained that the system failure was not noticeable
within the school and basically amounted to, "too much liquid being
purged through the system."
added that, due to the nature of the system failure, district attorneys
would be involved and it would be more than likely that the costs of
replacement and other involved expenses would be picked up by parties
other than the school district.
a more upbeat and informational basis, the remainder of the meeting
focused on positive steps being taken for greater educational opportunities
and better community mental health.
writer Perdida Finn spoke about the writing workshop programs she has
started at the Woodstock Elementary School, for eventual use throughout
the district. Working with the local writing community, which she described
as including four winners of the coveted Caldecott Prize for children's
books, Finn spoke about changing the way students ˆ and their teachers
ˆ approach writing and reading.
need to be taught how to read and write the way real writers read and
write," she said in an enthusiastic and apparently infectious presentation.
"You do it over and over and over again. That's when you become
spoke about instilling a sense of caring into students that begets greater
attention to the details of grammar and other "copy editing"
needs; better research skills; journaling; and a greater sense of market
for people's writing. She is urging her students, and the teachers taking
her workshops, to publish pieces within the school, as well as in venues
such as the letters column to this and other local newspapers.
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Deborah Fox introduced school
social worker Rich Morris and a number of key staff members of the Ulster
County Mental Health Department in the second of a four-part presentation
on the district's Academic Intervention Services program, focused on
family counseling and the county's FACETS program.
spoke about how a majority of students these days go through some form
of trauma during their school years, be it parental problems including
separation and divorce, illnesses, or a death in either the family or
greater school community. These traumas, he explained, can interfere
with both a student's individual ability to learn and, through that
student's "acting out," with others learning ability in the
classroom or school.
social worker outlined, and answered questions about, a host of programs
used throughout the district to deal with problems. These ranged from
anti-bullying training, concentrated in the fourth grade before such
behavior seriously manifests itself, to the ways in which teachers,
awareness teams, administrators and parents can seek and get counseling
help from the school.
County Mental Health Department director Marshall Beckmann and his staff
spoke about the Family and Child Early Treatment Services (FACETS) program
started in 1995 to deal with increasing departmental "reach out"
via the schools, with a concentration on the west-of Thruway region
that Onteora dominates.
to the presentation, FACETS is currently working with between 90 and
100 families on a weekly therapy basis, not including the numbers of
students involved via less formalized services.
outlined his department's requirement that a parent or guardian be involved
in all such sessions, even if not at all meetings, as well as the ways
in which progress is charted through such treatment. He added that FACETS
has concentrated on the Onteora district, and other points in the western
portion of the county, because of a lack of mental health clinics in
the area because of budgeting constraints and societal difficulties
tied to the region's relative remoteness.
agreed that the FACETS program was a major success and key indicator
of the school district's role in the local community.
of that role in an entirely different light, OCS Board President Marino
D'Orazio gave a short speech about the district's newfound role trying
to lead a new assault on the state's "Large Parcel" law that
led to tax hikes in Olive and Hurley, and the defeat of the budget last
summer. He and Winters talked about recent meetings with state School
Boards legislative liaison David Liddle and a statement from the state
Office of Real Property Services that it didn't want to get involved
in the legislation until directed to do so by the state legislature.
set up a meeting for this Thursday (October 21) with state assemblyman
Kevin Cahill," said D'Orazio, adding that a meeting with state
senator John Bonacic was also being attempted. "We want to try
and put this into the hands of the voters themselves... We take this
issue incredibly seriously."
board's next meeting will take place at the Bennett School at 7 p.m.
on Wednesday, November 3.
In The Budget...
Of the roughly $140,000 in new spending to be raised by taxes, about
$112,000 according to Supervisor Bob Cross, Jr., is in mandated or other
non-discretionary expenses. These include salary increases of 4% for
town employees along with an increase of about $48,000 in employee benefit
costs. It also includes an increase of about $20,000 in energy costs,
such as gasoline, propane, and heating oil. Additionally reflected is
the loss of about $35,000 in revenues from court fees, which under a
new law hotly contested by the state's municipalities, will now be going
to the Albany instead of the town coffers..
reflected are increased appropriations of about $11,700 to cover the
Phoenicia Water District's filtration plant, and $5,130 for the Pine
Hill Water District. Appropriations for the town's four fire districts
and three lighting districts are unchanged from 2004 levels.
the positive side and helping to offset some of these costs is an increase
of $65,000 in previously budgeted but unexpended balances carried over
from the town's previous administration's 2004 budget.
think we've done a great job to keep the increases as small as we did,"
said Cross on Monday.
the revenue side of the town's General fund, $1,062,137 will come from
real property taxes, $200,000 from the town's appropriated fund balance,
$145,000 from ambulance fees, $135,000 from state aid, mortgage tax,
$100,000 from county sales tax, $16,500 from tax collector interest
& penalties, $10,000 from earned interest, $4,750 from town clerk
& code officer permits, and $13,450 from eight other revenue sources
combined. The total revenue projected for the town's General Fund is
the expenditure side, the General Fund will allocate $379,946 for employee
benefits, $236,856 for the police department, $154,259 for ambulance
services, $100,268 for maintenance & buildings, $90,000 for insurance,
and $74,260 for the Supervisor's office.
next largest line items are $73,036 for libraries, $66,736 for the highway
superintendent's office, $60,128 for the assessor's office, $57,322
for the justice court, $40,715 for the zoning department. $39,500 for
recreation, $37,000 for contingency, and $35,792 for the town board.
expenditure include $24,125 in accounting services, $24,000 for centralized
processing & mailing, $20,000 for legal services, $19,701 for debt
service, $16,648 for refuse and recycling, $16,440 for the zoning board
of appeals and $12,280 for elections. In the under $10,000 per year
range, the 2005 budget calls for $9,282 for records management, $9,261
for dog control, $5,460 for historic/museum, $5,200 for the welfare
office, $3,000 for publicity, $2,000 for veterans, $2,000 for planning
and management, and $1,200 for the program for the aging.
the town's special districts, expenditures for Shandaken's two water
systems will be $123,851 for Phoenicia and $54,390 for Pine Hill.
Expenditures for the town's four fire districts will remain unchanged,
with Phoenicia's budgeted at $175,000, Big Indian's at $70,000, Highmount's
at $38,830, and Pine Hill's at $31,770.
the town's Highway Fund, $1,199,701 will come from taxes, $240,000 from
the appropriated fund balance, $65,000 from state aid/CHIPS, and $10,500
from earned interest, totaling $1,515,201. .
expenditures will be $580,850 for personnel, $329,551 for employee benefits,
$316,000 for machinery & equipment, $123,000 for road improvements,
$60,000 for CHIPS projects, $50,000 for miscellaneous expenses, $30,000
for sand, salt and calcium, $20,000 for contractual garage services,
and $5,000 for research, engineering, & surveying.
is now trying to balance life with her children Kegan who is 5 and 3-year-old
Melanie. They live upstairs in the same building so she is always available
and the children themselves are very much a part of the operation.
Megan brings a special brand of friendliness and concern for others
that is genuine and makes the place feel more like a home. After all...
it is her home.
"It is a very long day," she explains. "Everyday."
The store is open, and Megan working, from before dawn to well past
dark. Megan is a local girl who attended Onteora Schools and was then
accepted to the Culinary Institute but, due to lack of funds, could
not attend. She trained in the culinary arts at SUNY Cobleskill but
in truth, her mom Ellen who also runs a Bed and Breakfast and has business
experience gave her a solid foundation.
"We have both come through the university of Hard Knocks,"
says Ellen, a beacon of positive smiling energy. "I have been through
divorce, a devastating house fire, and breast cancer... but I believe
in hard work and resilience. I am a survivor, we both are."
Continuing, mother speaks about her relation ship with daughter.
"It wasn't always smooth between us," she says. "Those
teen years were a test but now we are partners in so many ways."
Ellen is the ultimate grandma and they spell each other of responsibility
when it comes to childcare, as well as the day to day operation of the
store. Anybody watching them together can see the mutual love and respect
that has evolved.
David, a regular who shows up on a daily basis says, says, "This
place is community, there are children, a Mom and a Grandma. It is extended
family. Much more than just a business. It is important for this area
to support what this represents.
I know I do. It's a Ma and Ma place. These woman have soul"
Megan relates, "We started from zero. This place was empty for
years it takes time to build and get established. We are moving forward,
word of mouth, a little more each day but the question is can we hold
Ellen has a look of concern and seriousness.
"We have wonderful plans and hopes, we are expanding the antiques
and maybe home delivery for seniors," she says. "This has
to work, Megan is a natural here, she shines, and this is a place for
her and my grandchildren to realize the American Dream. It's been a
tough year in many ways and we are cutting it close. We want to be here
and if the community wants us here, the rest is up to fate."