Republican supervisor Bob Cross, Jr. won re-election by a narrower
margin than he received getting into power in 2003. But only one of
his running mates made it into office along with him, giving him a
4-1 majority on the town board, but a victory margin for new GOP town
board member Rob Stanley, over both his fellow winner, Democrat restaurateur
Peter DiSclafani, and his running mate, former town assessor Doris
Bartlett, of 12 votes at most.
And to top it off, Republican Club President Gerry Setchko and current
Planning Board chairman John Horn, both seen as key players in the
town’s upper GOP circles, both registered resounding losses
in their bids for town board, on Setchko’s part, and town assessor,
on Horn’s part.
Horn was defeated in his bid for the town assessor position by over
100 votes by former planning board member and real estate agent, Democrat
Looking at the figures for the recent election, one could say that
the deciding factor for who will be sitting on the board next year
was made last summer at the Independence Party caucus, which backed
all Republican candidates for a change. Their tallies made the difference
in all the town’s major races this year, which would have been
taken by Democrats, given the town’s shifted demographics.
On a county level, the region’s best known innkeeper, Boiceville
Inn owner John Parete, led County Democrats, for whom he is chairman,
to an historic shift in the legislature’s make-up that will
see the longstanding underdogs take a resounding 20- to 13 seat majority
Among the numerous Democratic wins across the county were a major
trouncing of GOP Majority Leader Michael Stock in our own District
Two, which will now be represented by Democrats Brian Shapiro and
Don Gregorius, both of Woodstock, as well as full sweeps of such areas
as the Route 209 corridor and the town of Ulster.
Speaking from Backstage Productions large space on Wall Street in
Uptown Kingston Tuesday night, Parete noted in his upbeat manner about
how the voters of Ulster County had made a decision to shift their
attentions to open government and a responsible Democratic legislature.
Many voters said that their decisions Tuesday were driven by the county
GOP majority’s many fiscal problems of late, from the major
cost and time overruns on the new jail to a hike in the county budget
of over 40 percent.
Parete’s two sons, Robert and Richard, along with Peter Kraft
of Glenford, all Democratic incumbents, won easy re-election.
In other interesting local races, non-enrolled candidate Keith Johnson,
a longtime local excavator and head of the town’s zoning board
of appeals, easily defeated Ken Berryann, who had sewn up the town’s
GOP, Democrat and Conservative Party endorsements last summer. Incumbent
Tom Crucet, a Republican, won re-election as a town judge and will
be joined on the bench by former county assistant District Attorney
Michael Miranda, a Democrat.
Specific vote counts saw Cross defeat DiModica 749 to 713. In District
One, Phoenicia, he received 239 votes to 275 Democratic votes for
DiModica, along with another 36 Independence Party and 23 Conservative
line votes, In District Two, Shandaken, Cross received 162 GOP votes
to 102 for DiModica, plus 12 Independent and 8 Conservative Party
votes. In District Three, Pine Hill, Cross won 112 Republican votes
to 201 for DiModica, along with 15 Independent and 13 Conservative
line votes. In District Four, Mt. Tremper, Cross got 114 GOP votes
to 131 for DiModica, as well as 5 Independent line and 10 Conservative
For Town Council, Stanley won a total of 726 votes to 724 for DiSclafani,
714 for Bartlett and 597 for Setchko. In District One, Stanley won
229 Republican, 26 Independent and 22 Conservative Party votes; DeSclafani
won 257 Democrat and 14 Independent Party line votes; Bartlett won
275 Democratic votes, and Setchko won 226 GOP and 19 Conservative
Party votes, In District Two, Stanley won 139 GOP votes, 15 Independent
votes and 8 Conservatiove line votes. DeSclafani won 120 Democrat
and 6 Independent Party votes. Bartlett won 121 Democratic votes.
Setchko received 125 republican and 6 Conservative Party votes. In
District Three, Stanley won 138 GOP, 15 Independent and 17 Conservative
votes. DiSclafani won 177 Democratic and 6 Independent votes. Bartlett
won 180 Democratic votes. Setchko won 94 GOP and 21 Conservative votes.
Finally, in District Four, Stanley got 99 Republican votes, 8 Independent
and 9 Conservative votes. DiSclafani got 132 Dem and 12 Independent
votes. Bartlett received 138 Democrat votes. Setchko got 97 Republican
and 9 Conservative votes.
In the race for town justice, Miranda got 758 votes to 721 for Crucet,
586 for Democrat Pat Ellison and 480 for Republican Ted Byron.
Davidson received a total of 697 Democrat votes to 587 gathered by
Horn on the GOP, Independent and Conservative Party tickets.
Similarly, Johnson got 845 votes on his own Advocates Party line against
Berryann’s total of 565 on the Democrat, Republican, Conservative
and Independent lines.
Word at Al’s was that there was grumbling that the close turnout
was the result of “the monastery vote.”
Meanwhile, Democrats gathered at the Sportsman’s Lounge, where
the talk centered on continuing future races and the fact that, despite
Shandaken’s long GOP history, the town is now poised for a more
Unlike the last two elections, the major issue this time around was
no longer Dean Gitter’s proposed Belleayre Resort development,
which many believe is now a dead entity, due to city and state rulings
against it, and despite the developer’s continuing political
push to gather support behind it.
More to the point this time were more simple differences regarding
open government, the overall direction of the town, and remaining
“us versus them: resentments between long-time town natives
and the newer folks who have moved in to Shandaken and started families
and businesses in recent years.
Those changes were well reflected in the county legislative vote,
which surprisingly saw Shandaken give wins to the two Democrats, with
Shapiro at 709 votes and Gregorius at 684 to Stock’s 673 and
non-active campaigner Jim Monsserratte getting 329 votes from those
voting straight GOP lines, whether a candidate was seriously aiming
to take office or not.
A true level of the town’s current partisan divide…
On a county level, Democrat Tony McGinty won a Family Court seat 26,549
to 20,535 for Steve Nussbaum, republican. The region’s three
Supreme Court Justice seats went to Democrats Edward Spain, John Egan
and Michael Lynch.
All results are provisional given that absentee ballots have yet to
She says that every time she’s given an informational
meeting on the long-awaited plan, which has a seven-month window for
sign-ups before penalties set in, she’s ended up speaking to
crowds of 60 to 150 seniors.
That includes the large crowd of nearly 70 who showed up at the Parish
Hall in Phoenicia October 28, which Duffy noted as also including
a disturbing first for her activities… immersed in the crowd
of seniors asking questions were representatives from several hard-hustling
insurance companies, interrupting her presentation to try and sell
the crowd on their own plans within the plan.
“A lot of people have been coming in for consultations. This
Thursday, I’ll be doing training for health administrators and
social workers who will have to also be answering the growing number
of questions coming up from our seniors,” she said on November
8. “I expect at least 150 people.”
Locally, SHARP Committee Executive Director Jane Todd said that although
she’d done the training once herself, she was going to be going
a second time. It’s that complicated.
Info on Medicare Plan D started coming out last April, although a
final handbook on the giant new prescription drug program wasn’t
made available until the last week in October. Duffy added that problems
have been growing exponentially of late due to the fact that the website
for the federally-mandated program, passed by Congress last year on
recommendations from the Bush administration, was still not completely
“I’ve worked within the federal government with Medicare
programs for over 26 years and I had difficulty understanding it at
first,” the county coordinator added. “It took me several
tries at it.”
“Bear with us while we try to put this in plain talk,”
noted one of the most frequently visited websites that come up on
the subject of Plan D, from the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups.
“There’s a deductible amount you must spend before coverage
starts, then there’s a range in which you pay something and
the government pays most, then there’s another range where you
are all on your own —no coverage— and finally there’s
a top range where the government pays for almost all your expense.”
“Before anybody signs up for anything, they have to know that
no matter what the ads may be telling you, November 15 is just a start-date,”
said Duffy. “I can’t tell you how many people don’t
realize this. I had one man tell me he hasn’t been sleeping
for weeks worrying what to do.”
Basically, notes the half-online website for the plan put up by Medicare.
There are two ways now by which one can get Medicare drug coverage.
By adding drug coverage to one’s traditional Medicare plan through
a “stand alone” prescription drug plan, or via a Medicare
Advantage plan, which operates much like an HMO or PPO, typically
providing more benefits through a proscribed network of doctors and
hospitals. The key is to find a private plan (they’re all private
under this new governmental program) that covers the drugs one needs…
and anticipating those needs when picking a plan.
The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder was supposed to be accessed
at http://www.medicare.gov/, or through customer service representatives
at 1-800-MEDICARE. But as Duffy pointed out, the first is not complete.
Calls to the 800 number end up in a complicated phone web in several
Financially, Medicare Part D is not based on income or assets, with
the only criteria being for low-income people who can then get an
“Extra Help” program that helps defray the cost of the
monthly premium, which has been federally mandated at a minimum of
$32.50. Once one then decides on a plan, with its exact (yet changing)
monthly premium, there will also be a $250 deductible for each calendar
year, which will have to be paid before the program helps with any
drug needs. There will then be a co-pay for each drug. Then Medicare
will pay 75% of all drug costs… but only up to $2,250, after
which there is a gap nicely called “the donut hole,” meaning
that the next $2,850 will have to be paid without any help until one’s
reached a $3,600 threshold, after which Medicare will then pay 95%
of all remaining drug costs.
So why all the fuss about November 15, December 31, and the May 15
scary deadline that’s got so many seniors really worried?
According to Duffy, next Tuesday is when the gun goes off. People
who then sign up by Dec. 31 get coverage for the whole of 2006. But
those who sign up after May 15 will be charged a penalty – get
this — of 1 percent per month until you have signed up, due
every month for however long you then stay in the program!
Furthermore, Duffy says, the only changes one can make to one’s
plan – including requests for new drug coverage — will
be allowed only at the end of each calendar year, between November
15 and December 31, unless one moves out of one’s coverage area
or goes into a nursing home.
The only way out of the “one percent” penalties, which
can add up to quite a bit, if one’s Medicare eligible and don’t
“get with the plan” right away (those ineligible have
a similar window when they become eligible, given the whole “plan”
lasts that long), is by proving one has “creditable coverage.”
This means that your current plan has to let you know of this within
the coming two months and, furthermore, that should that “creditable
coverage” ever cease, you have to “get with the plan,”
meaning Medicare Plan D, within a quick 60 days or start facing penalties.
Generally, current Medicare Medigap plans are not considered “creditable
“To make you feel better about the possibilities, you should
know that most of the approved plans offer at least 89 of the top
100 drugs currently used by seniors,” notes the current Medicare
“Everybody who has some sort of drug coverage policy now is
supposed to receive a letter regarding ‘creditable coverage’
by November 15,” Duffy said, “which will then tell you
whether your coverage is good or not.”
She added that everyone should keep those letters, or seek them out
if they haven’t received them… which most haven’t.
Asked what she thought of the new Plan D, Duffy said she was worried
by the amount of panic she’d seen amongst seniors.
Todd, speaking from her Phoenicia office, similarly noted how she,
“really feels for the seniors on this.”
So what does Duffy suggest?
First off, that no one should panic. Take the time top research plans
carefully. Call her office, attend one of the many “Part D Coffee
Klatches,” like last week’s event in Phoenicia, designed
to answer questions about what’s up.
More important, beware of the sales pitches, she said, noting her
displeasure with the new plan’s allowance for insurance companies
to “cold call” potential clients about it all.
“Get call ID. Or better yet, sign up for the No Call list,”
she suggested. “They can’t solicit door to door, so seniors
are advised not to open the door for people claiming to represent
a Medicare prescription drug plan. During cold calls, marketers can’t
ask for personal or financial information, nor can they enroll a person
in a plan. In ads, a company can say it’s contracting with the
federal government to offer coverage, but it can’t say that
‘Medicare endorses’ or ‘wants you to join’
its plan. The other issue is Internet sites and phone sellers who
will charge for processing sign-ups to the plan. Enrollment is absolutely
free, and charging to fill out enrollment forms is prohibited.”
Most important, she added, is to never give out financial info over
“This is going to be difficult for the coming months,”
she said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
She suggests that any seniors or family members with questions call
the Ulster County Office of the Aging at 845-340-3456.
“We chose not to make this a school issue, but a community
issue based on the data you are about to see,” said Sears.
According to a youth survey report called Communities That Cares (CTC),
Onteora students between grades seven through twelve, reported receiving
ambiguous messages about drug and alcohol use from their parents or
media, and said it was pretty easy to get alcohol from family or friends
over the age of 21.
The audience, which consisted of students, parents, town board members,
law enforcement, prevention specialists and school administrators
were split into four groups representing each town in the district
and discussed problems their community may have.
Phoenicia’s group voiced concern that their community has too
many signs advertising alcohol and cigarettes, which sends negative
messages to kids.
Also on October 20, Sears revealed the creation of a Teen Hotline.
Sears said, “Some of the people in this room have been in the
trenches for a long time and about eight years ago we started taking
a look at the communities.” As a result they formed a group
called Teen and Parents who met monthly and looked at the demographics
of the various communities and produced a document with recommendations,
including the survey.
Family of Woodstock’s TEENline will be available in December
“We are planning to formally train kids through these three
school systems to be Hotline volunteers, and I am really very proud
that the first coalition led to something so successful,” said
If anyone is interested in more information, or who may know of someone
between the age of 16 and 21 who may be interested, contact; Teen
Hotline Manager, Doug Muller at 845-679-2485 or email@example.com
The rising cost of fuel was of greatest concern at Onteora’s
November 1 School Board meeting, forcing trustees to look at long
and short-term solutions.
Marino D’Orazio voiced worry that the school might not be able
to meet the projected fuel costs and asked what the district could
do to save taxpayer money.
Business Administrator Victoria McLaren noted that heating costs may
run $200,000 over what has been budgeted for.
State law mandates that classrooms must be heated no less than 68
McLaren and Superintendent Justine Winters have asked athletic director
Mike Kocher to minimize extra bus runs for athletic activities and
they will also be speaking with principals to direct staff on extra
energy efficient measures.
Certified Public Accountants of Nugent and Haeussler, P. C, Gary Theodore
and Brent Napoleon, gave an audit report on the school district and
the year has been good. The district saved a little over a million
dollars last year and the money was returned to tax payers. The lunch
program has a deficit of $7,000 in which Theodore called “small”
compared to what it once was nearly reaching $200,000 in the red.
The money for the lunch program is now taking money from the general
fund account to help pay for the lunch program.
During the new business section of the meeting, Trustee Rita Vanacore
requested a review in district goals and asked to have the goals redefined
to be more specific. The board debated over how the goals should be
set and who would be involved. Trustee Herb Rosenfeld said he would
like student’s achievements to be more specific, while trustee
Mary Jane Bernholtz said she would like to see all the community stakeholders
involved, and trustee Dave Patterson would like to include the administration.
A date to discuss district goals was not set.
Heather Schauman received tenure as a full time special education
teacher at Bennett school with high recommendations from the administration.
The decision from the board was unanimous with trustee Vanacore abstaining
because she disagrees with teachers getting tenure.
Of Our Glory...
Boice answers what he
can, but says that facts and details about the lives of those who
died in the late nineteenth century are hard to come by. “I
got one guy from Buffalo who keeps calling me up asking me all kinds
of things about Phoenicia and if his great-great grandfather served
in the Civil War,” Boice explains. “But when you start
talking about anyone who died in Phoenicia in 1880, you’re stuck.”
However, thanks to the efforts of Florence Giuliano, the board’s
Treasurer, and her daughter Gina Giuliano, who serves as Secretary,
it’s now a little easier to identify the veterans buried in
Mt. Pleasant. As a result of their research, plaques bearing the name
of the veterans, and, whenever possible, their military branches and
the years and wars in which they served, are on permanent display
in a glass case that hangs in the little barn at the edge of the cemetery.
“The Board of Trustees thought it would be a nice way to honor
the veterans, and Gina and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the research”
says Giuliano. “Maybe because with what’s going on in
Iraq and everyone is feeling patriotic. ”
Getting the information for the plaques was not as easy as the Giulianos
expected it would be. “I thought all we’d have to do to
get this going, is to go to the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and
get a list of the people we get flags for,” Giuliano explains,
referring to the tiny American flags that the American Legion puts
on the graves of all known veterans on Memorial Day. But such a list
was not available, so the Giulianos used the existing flags as a starting
point and then searched through the entire cemetery, even sweeping
away dirt to reveal more than one stone that had information about
the veteran buried there. It turns out that five Civil War veterans,
including Florence’s grandfather, Henry Russell Eckert, are
buried at Mt. Pleasant.
Originally named the Van Kleeck Cemetery, the cemetery was founded
in 1909 by John Van Etten and John Van Kleeck as one of several new
resting places for the graves displaced by the construction of the
Ashokan Reservoir. There were nearly 40 cemeteries ranging from backyard
graves to public burial grounds, and approximately 2,370 bodies had
to be exhumed and moved.
In 1921, the cemetery was sold and renamed the Mt. Pleasant Rural
Cemetery and kept afloat on a small budget until 1941. For the next
8 years the cemetery remained in a state of limbo without a Board
of Trustees until a new board was organized in 1949. Since then, the
cemetery has been maintained and operated by its trustees and officers
who are volunteers and do not get paid for their service.
The plaques were designed and constructed by Louis Mancuso of Shokan
and officially dedicated as a memorial on July 24, 2005. American
Legion Post 1620 took part in the ceremony.