The Shandaken Planning board has until March 17th to decide
whether the draft environmental impact statement for a
proposed water harvesting business is complete, but the
way things went Wednesday night, it appears the important
document still lacks vital information.
Several years ago Andrew Poncic submitted plans to tap
into a natural spring on his property near the end of
Woodland Valley Road in Phoenicia. He hopes to gain approval
to run a pipeline from the spring, hundreds of feet away,
across the woodland valley stream to a small shed near
the edge of woodland valley road.
Twice a day, five days a week, a truck would pull up to
the pipe, a valve would be opened, and 5800 gallons of
water would be taken and shipped to another location for
But recently the details about the truck, a major concern
of valley residents, were not available.
It was noted that in the draft it states the truck would
be a ten wheeler. But in drawings of a proposed turnaround
for the vehicles it shows an 18-wheeled tractor-trailer.
Residents fear that a truck that size, planners estimate
it to be 58 feet long and weigh approximately 34 ton,
would damage the roads and bridges and make the road unsafe.
Planner Gerry Setchko told Poncic February 8 that the
board needed to know what size the truck would be.
Poncic however, was evasive.
“We don’t have a truck..this is all assuming,”
he said. “We won’t buy a truck without a permit.
I can’t answer what we don’t know yet.”
The planners finally agreed to review the application
assuming the truck would be an 18 wheeler.
The Planners have also asked newly elected highway Superintendent
Keith Johnson to review some of the bridges on Woodland
Valley Road and render an opinion on how such trucks would
affect them. He may also be asked to do the same for parts
of the road that are slipping into the stream. After he
does the fieldwork, planners hope to hear from him personally.
“He should come to the planning board and talk to
us,” said planner Beth Waterman.
As for residents concerns about how the trucks would affect
other uses on the road such as walking and biking, planner
Joan Munster said she felt there would be little impact.
“I don’t think that’s an issue…I
think (those uses) are seasonal,” said Munster.
The discussion ended with an unexpected topic. Poncic
said that last years floods have moved the stream 75 feet
closer to Woodland Valley Road from where it was when
he prepared the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Marci Meiller, who lives across the street from the project
site, said that could mean Poncic no longer had the space
to build his shed, which planners seemed to think needs
to be at least 100 feet from the waters edge.
Skiers at Belleayre this past week were treated to a hard
to miss, welcome-to-Ulster-County-politics sign of the
times. At the mountain's route 28 gateway, affixed to
a trailer parked in the Highmount post office parking
lot owned by developer Crossroads Ventures, was an 8 by
32 foot red-on-white sign citing job and tax benefits
and urging readers to "Support The Belleayre Resort."
"Technically it's not considered a sign because it's
a truck," said company spokesman Paul Rakov, explaining
why no permits were sought for the missive - five times
larger than the biggest sign allowable under town law.
"We wanted to educate the public as to the benefits
of the project," he added. "But after listening
to feedback from the community, Mr. Gitter has decided
to remove the sign. No laws were broken, no zoning violations
occurred. And no public official came to us with any legal
reason for removing the sign. It is simply that some people
didn't like it, and so, it will be removed."
In a statement released just before our deadline, Gitter
reiterated that the sign would be down in a few days,
saying ""it was intended as the beginning of
a new effort on our part to educate both public officials
and the public as to the major benefits the Belleayre
If a balloon flies in the air but no one is there to see
it, did it make a visual impact?
The above may be a poor papaphrase of an over used philospophy
question, but in Shandaken it is a very real question.
Last Saturday the company that hopes to build a cell tower
on town property quickly and quietly launced a test balloon
to see whether a tower would create a unsightly blemish
on the local scenery.Despite planners requiring ample
notice of the date and time for a test to gauge the visual
impact of a proposed 190 foot cellular structure, applicant
Masterpage Incorporated moved ahead with the test giving
officials less than 24 hours notice.
At a Planning Board session Wednesday, many of the seven
members complained of not being kept in the loop about
such an important test.
Masterpage owner Kevin Kellerhouse has attended a few
planning board meetings since last fall and has supplied
some information on his plan to build the tower on town
of Shandaken land near Glenbrook Park off route 42 in
the hamlet of Shandaken. He has yet to submit a site plan
for the project, and Planners have sent him away after
his visits with requests for further information.
On Wednesday Chairwoman Joan Munster openly complained
that she heard informally that the balloon test was scheduled
for some time during the week of February 12th. She added
that such a test, designed to give an indication of what
type of visual impact the structure would have on the
community, should be well publicized to the board and
certainly be one conducted when planners could view the
The rest of the board agreed.
“Even if they have a tentative date set they should
let the board know so at least the board could schedule
it tentatively,” said planner Keith Holmquist.
“If they’re planning tests we should know
more than the day before,” added planner Beth Waterman.
But on Saturday, even before it was light out, that’s
just what happened.
Town Code enforcement officer Glenn Miller said he got
a call from Masterpage on Friday saying they were doing
the test the next day at five AM.
“I got the call and I notified all the planning
board members,” Miller said.
Miller said he wasn’t sure if it was appropriate
to give the planning board less than 24 hours notice of
the test. He added that he had not spoken to anyone yet
that had seen the test.
Masterpage proposes to build a 140 foot tall tower with
another 50 feet of antenna on top.
Last fall the Town board authorized Supervisor Robert
Cross Jr. to enter into a lease agreement with Masterpage
Communications to use the site. The towns officials website
states that a copy of the lease is available for inspection
at the Town Hall, during the hours and is subject to the
right to a permissive referendum.
On Tuesday Cross was not pleased with the little progress
Masterpage has made.
“They should have been much further along by now
than where they are,” he said.
Clough Harbor Associates, the engineering firm conducting
the test for Masterpage, was expected to continue the
test on Thursday, February 16th between 7am and 8:30 am.
Clough Harbor’s Kevin Hajos said Tuesday that his
company needs to take photographs of the balloon from
points within a five mile radius and couldn’t complete
that task Saturday due to wind. That’s why, he said,
the test was again scheduled.
Masterpage owner Kevin Kellerhouse could not be reached
for comment. He is expected to appear before the planning
board next month.
Shut Up, People!
Shandakenites watched helplessly as their town took what
one resident said was a step backward this month, when
the Supervisor conducted his first meeting under a new
set of rules for procedure.
The new rules, written by Supervisor Robert Cross Jr.,
severely limit input by audience members at meetings as
compared to previous sessions both under this Supervisor
and several of his predecessors, and they give the Cross
the power to limit such input at will.
But as the old saying goes, rules are made to be broken,
and Cross himself deviated from his when he wanted to,
allowing some to speak at length while cutting others
The way it works now, audience members have time at the
beginning of the meeting to air concerns about any action
the town board plans to take that evening. The trouble
is nobody saw the resolutions until right before the meeting
There were 21 in all. One was to borrow $1.2 million to
repair Pine Hill’s water system. Another attacked
an alternative plan by the regions Congressman for the
proposed golf resort. Another began steps to eliminate
the free of charge Building inspector service supplied
by the County and have town taxpayers pay for the same
service. Another started the process to give the Highway
Superintendent, on the job since January 1st, a raise.
In between these were actions assembling new committees,
hiring new police, changing town employee health insurance
rates and so on.
Until this month all resolutions were posted on the towns
website the Friday prior to the monthly Monday session,
but that will no longer be the case thanks to Cross.
Asked why he said, “Because I chose not to.”
Audience members complained that there is no longer ample
time to review the resolutions. Town Clerk Laurilyn Frasier
countered such remarks, saying all resolutions, except
one, were available to the public at four o’clock
Monday. The one left out was still unwritten Tuesday.
It pertains to the Town asking Ulster County to allow
a new right of way across its railroad tracks for ingress
and egress to the privately owned bat factory on Fox Hollow
Audience members were not the only ones to complain. In
the new rules it is stated that all resolutions must be
given to all town board members “at least 48 hours
prior to the opening of the meeting.” Newly elected
board member Peter DiSclafani, the board’s lone
Democrat, said that he had not received most of them and
was only seeing many for the first time that evening.
In response, Cross shrugged and said he did his best.
Kathy Nolan, a frequent, outspoken audience member, said
she refuses “to feel like a visitor in the town
Supervisors and mayors from Ulster County communities
affected by flooding along the Esopus Creek have organized
themselves as the Esopus Creek Coalition of Supervisors
(ECCOS) in an attempt to open discussions with New York
City and the federal government to implement flood control
projects to prevent the deluges that now seem to reach
crisis proportions every time there is an inch or two
of rain. The cause appears to be overflow from the city’s
Ashokan Reservoir, which discharges into the lower Esopus
Creek. Class action lawsuits have already been launched
against New York City in Delaware and Sullivan counties
as a result of flooding conditions there.
The group was organized by Hurley’s Michael Shultis
and held its first meeting at his office at the Hurley
town hall on Monday, January 30. The fact that all of
the officials involved – supervisors Vincent Martello
of Marbletown, Berndt Leifield of Olive, Robert Cross
of Shandaken, Nick Woerner of Ulster, Greg Helsmoortel
of Saugerties, and mayor Bob Yerick of the village of
Saugerties - were present on such short notice gives some
indication of how they view the situation’s gravity.
Mayor James Sottile of the City of Kingston was unable
to attend but told Shultis he wants to be included and
plans to participate in future meetings, according to
the Hurley supervisor.
“I don’t think a lawsuit is the way to go,”
said Shultis. “I think we should sit down at the
table with them and create a dialogue.”
New York City is currently releasing 540 million gallons
of water daily to its Ashokan Reservoir system from the
Schoharie Reservoir via the Shandaken portal in order
to draw down the water level there and make repairs to
the Gilboa Dam that has been deemed unstable.
Heavy rains and snow melt have made it difficult for the
city to lower the Schoharie’s level, however, despite
the maximum possible discharges through the Shandaken
tunnel that takes the water into the Esopus near Phoenicia.
It then runs downstream and collects in the Ashokan, which
has been atypically full in recent months. The New York
City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would
normally be drawing down the Ashokan’s western basin
at this time of year in anticipation of snow run-off during
the next month or two, but that is currently impossible
because of the immediate need to stabilize the Gilboa
Dam, according to DEP spokesperson Ian Michaels.
The ECCOS supervisors want the city to retrofit the Ashokan
to permit drawdowns that will prevent flooding. The group
also wants the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brought in
to clean debris from the Esopus that has collected from
years of inundations that now regularly cause the stream
to back up and spill over its banks.
The DEP is in discussions with SUNY New Paltz to flood
a waste channel that runs through the university’s
Ashokan Field Campus as a temporary flood control measure.
Use of the channel that was built as part of the reservoir
system in the early 1900s would involve flooding part
of the field campus, but the Esopus must be below flood
stage, and heavy rains this year and the Schoharie releases
linked to the Gilboa project have kept the Esopus at the
top of its banks.
Meanwhile, the state Assembly recently held a public hearing
at Schenectady Community College to examine public concerns
over dam safety in New York state.
Testimony was provided by representatives of state and
local government, environmental organizations, public
safety agencies and other interest groups. Assemblyman
Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, specifically asked Ulster County
Legislator Michael Berardi, D-Ulster, to testify on behalf
of Ulster County residents.
Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli, chairman of the Environmental
Conservation Committee, and Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito,
who chairs the Governmental Operations Committee, scheduled
the forum to focus on 383 dams (of 5,564 statewide) that
are considered “high hazard” dams, whose potential
failure could inflict significant loss of life and widespread
There are five New York City owned reservoirs and dams
in New York City’s Catskill/Delaware watershed region.
At least one dam, the Gilboa on the Schoharie Reservoir,
is now undergoing emergency repairs, and two others, the
Neversink and the Merriman, are under scrutiny after it
was revealed that inspection reports had been routinely
photocopied from week to week.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection
has completed a drilling project in the Hudson River near
Newburgh in an effort to determine whether an aquifer
there can complement the city’s upstate reservoir
system, but the agency has decided not to release the
results of the million-dollar study.
The Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees
New York City’s vast upstate reservoir system, has
been searching for an alternative to a pumping station
used during severe droughts, and the agency had test wells
installed in the river to determine whether an aquifer
there can yield good-quality water in consistent amounts.
The drilling was done to test the feasibility of a technique
called “induced infiltration,” in which water
is pumped from the aquifer to create a vacuum. This forces
river water to flow down through natural layers of silt,
sand, fossilized oyster beds and other material, which
agency officials say act as natural filters and yield
water that requires less treatment than water pumped directly
from the river. If the test results were positive, induced
infiltration could replace the nearby pumping station.
The study, costing $1.58 million, shut down from June
2004 to January 2005 to avoid interfering with fish spawning.
A skier who reportedly lost control and went off a trail
at Belleayre Mountain last Wednesday, Feb 8, died shortly
thereafter. Wayne Rochester, 46, formally of Suffern,
N.Y., was transported from Belleayre by State Police Helicopter
to Albany medical center, where he died. The details of
his injuries were not available at press time.
Rochester was reportedly participating the Pine Hills
Arms race held at Belleayre that day. Valarie Konefal,
the owner of the arms, had no comment on the incident
other than too say that Rochester, who had participated
in the race earlier that day, had the accident while skiing
Shandaken Police forwarded all queries to the press office
of the Department of Environmental Conservation, which
operates Belleayre. Calls to that office went unreturned
A Greene County man, Slawomir Wozny, 50, of Tannersville,
died after a skiing accident at Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl
on February 9. State police at Catskill said Wozny was
on the lower “42nd Street” trail about 11:30
a.m. when, according to witnesses, he lost control while
trying to make a turn at high speed, went off the trail
and struck a tree and a boulder. Wozny, reportedly an
experienced skier, suffered head injuries and was treated
at the scene by the Hunter Mountain Ski Patrol, but he
was pronounced dead a short time later at Columbia Memorial
Hospital in Hudson, police said.
A bouncer at the Hunter Village Inn, Thomas S. Sebald,
27, of New Paltz, was arrested Sunday and charged with
criminally negligent homicide in the death of a patron,
45-year-old Peter G. Shine, of Oakdale whom police said
he had tossed from the bar early Sunday morning.
According to a police report, Shine had a disagreement
with another patron at the Hunter Village Inn, which escalated
to the point that Sebald had to remove Shine from the
establishment. Sebald, according to police, escorted Shine
to a rear exit door and shoved him outside onto a small
porch. Shine was found at the base of the steps with a
head injury about a half hour later, said police, who
responded to the scene at 12:26 a.m. Sunday.
Greene County District Attorney Terry Wilhelm said Shine
was dead when police arrived… killed by pressure
applied to his neck, according to Greene County District
Attorney Terry J. Wilhelm. Wilhelm said the pressure to
his neck cut off air and blood to Shine’s brain.
According to the Associated Press, Sebald teaches government
and economics at Monroe-Woodbury High School in Orange
County and coaches football and lacrosse there.
One of Sebald’s ninth-grade students, Brittany Crespo,
said, “We really like Mr. Sebald. We want to support
him any way we can.”
Shine was described by witnesses as “very intoxicated,”
and he also sustained a head injury, which was determined
by an autopsy performed at Albany Medical Center Sunday
not to have contributed to his death.
Sebald was arraigned in Catskill Town Court and was freed
on $10,000 bail.
Supporters of a plan to reintroduce elk to the Catskills,
and eventually other parts of the state, say now is the
time to do it and have stepped up lobbying efforts in
Albany this year. Chronic wasting disease, which has decimated
deer in the Midwest, appears not to be taking hold in
New York, they note. And reintroducing these animals to
New York, they add, would expand the state’s biological
diversity and eventually provide a new venue for big game
hunters. The state, they say, could bring these animals
back — if it is willing to spend the time and money.
Opponents, including farmers and anti-hunting groups,
though, say not so fast. The former fear elk would devour
crops. Animal rights groups say elk pose a road hazard
that makes colliding with deer look like hitting a pothole
by comparison. And more people are worrying that the central
Catskills is becoming too gentrified for such hunting
Furthermore, state officials aren’t convinced the
danger from chronic wasting disease has passed.
Either way, there is at least one bill that would allow
elk to be reintroduced, offered by Assemblywoman Francine
DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls, and Sen. Dale Volker, R-Depew.
Previously, Assemblyman Dan Hooker, R-Catskill, offered
Elk were wiped out in New York by the mid-19th century,
when they were hunted for their meat, hide and teeth.
The bill might not become law this session, but proponents
say they are working to shepherd such a bill through the
process during the next few years.
“We’re gearing back up to talk about a restoration
of elk in the state,” said Wally John, a retired
counsel for the Assembly, based in West Shokan, who is
leading the charge to bring back elk and is working with
a national group, the Montana-based Rocky Mountain Elk
Foundation, and, with researchers from Cornell University,
which has studied the feasibility of bringing these animals
back to selected areas. He said he envisions bringing
in 100 of the animals and setting them loose in the high
peaks of the Catskills, which biologists say has the best
combination of isolated mountain terrain, grass and forest
cover for the elusive animals.
Other potential habitat could be found in the Southern
Tier near Pennsylvania, and in the western Adirondacks.
“Hitting a 150-pound deer does considerable damage.
Can you imagine hitting an 800-pound object? It’s
much worse,” said New Paltz-based Peter Muller,
vice president of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting.
There are already several elk farms in the Catskills as
well as private hunting preserves where people can pay
up to $8,000 to hunt the animals.
As leaders of the world’s 57 Muslim nations gathered
for a summit meeting in Mecca in December, issues like
religious extremism dominated the official agenda. But
much of the talk in the hallways was of a wholly different
issue: Danish cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.
The summit’s closing communiqué took note
of the issue when it expressed “concern at rising
hatred against Islam and Muslims and condemned the recent
incident of desecration of the image of the Holy Prophet
Muhammad in the media of certain countries” as well
as over “using the freedom of expression as a pretext
to defame religions.”
The meeting in Mecca, a Saudi city from which non-Muslims
are barred, drew minimal international press coverage
even though such leaders as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
of Iran were in attendance. But on the road from quiet
outrage in a small Muslim community in northern Europe
to a set of international brush fires, the summit meeting
of the Organization of the Islamic Conference —
and the role its member governments played in the outrage
— has turned out to be something of a turning point.
After that meeting, anger at the Danish caricatures, especially
at an official government level, became more public. In
some countries, like Syria and Iran, that meant heavy
press coverage in official news media and virtual government
approval of demonstrations that ended with Danish embassies
In recent days, some governments in Muslim countries have
tried to calm the rage, worried by the increasing level
of violence and deaths in some cases, even though the
protests allowed governments to outflank a growing challenge
from Islamic opposition movements by defending Islam.
Bad Cash Flow
On February 16, the Ulster County Legislature will hold
a special meeting where they will seek to identify specific
reasons why the county’s projected cash flow has
significantly diminished. The meeting is scheduled for
6 p.m. at the Ulster County Office Building on Fair Street.
Ulster County could see a $1.31 million deficit in its
year-end cash balance without a reduction in spending
or an increase in revenue this year, the county’s
Deputy Treasurer Michael Hein has said, noting that the
county’s $6.88 million cash balance at the beginning
of January could shrink by $8.19 million, leaving a deficit,
if no budget changes are made. He added that the deficit
could increase daily if the new county Law Enforcement
Center is not opened by April, the target date set by
budget planners that was tossed in recent weeks, with
six months mnore now being predicted befor the white elephant
Hein said measures taken last year to reduce the deficit,
such as a hiring freeze and committee review of unplanned
purchases of more than $500 or more, are already in place
and will not affect current budget forecasts. He added
that the deficit will far exceed state recommendations
that the county have a fund balance of between $12 million
and $20 million as part of its $293.11 million budget.
The fund balance is now projected to decline for the third
Confusion over the new federal Medicare Part D program
that took effect in January, and requires most people
to sign up by May 15, have left people confused throughout
the county, according to Ulster County Office for the
Aging director Kathryn Puglisi, who has dubbed the new
federal program “the dreaded Medicare Part D”
Blanche Duffy, the office’s Health Insurance Information
Counseling Assistance Program coordinator, said some people
are saying the “D” stands for “disaster,”
adding that many seniors haqve come in for help with its
complexities in tears.
At local pharmacies, including Phoenicia and Nekos, meanwhile,
business owners have worked hard to keep their customers
covered while the federal plan’s details get worked
The biggest problem, everyone is saying, is the number
of plans that consumers must choose from - 47 in Ulster
County alone - and the fact that not all plans provide
prescription coverage for all medications.
Spy Vs. Spy
The US government is developing a massive computer system
that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking
far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government
records and intelligence reports, search for patterns
of terrorist activity. The system - parts of which are
operational, parts of which are still under development
- is the federal government’s latest attempt to
use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the
fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the
digital minutiae of American life, the program is also
raising concerns that the government is intruding too
deeply into citizens’ privacy.
“We don’t realize that, as we live our lives
and make little choices, like buying groceries, buying
on Amazon, Googling, we’re leaving traces everywhere,”
says Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier
Foundation. “We have an attitude that no one will
connect all those dots. But these programs are about connecting
those dots - analyzing and aggregating them - in a way
that we haven’t thought about. It’s one of
the underlying fundamental issues we have yet to come
to grips with.”
The core of this effort is a little-known system called
Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic
Enhancement (ADVISE). Only a few public documents mention
it. ADVISE is a research and development program within
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), part of its
three-year-old “Threat and Vulnerability, Testing
and Assessment” portfolio. The TVTA received nearly
$50 million in federal funding this year.
DHS officials are circumspect when talking about ADVISE.
“I’ve heard of it,” says Peter Sand,
director of privacy technology. “I don’t know
the actual status right now. But if it’s a system
that’s been discussed, then it’s something
we’re involved in at some level.”
Privacy concerns have torpedoed federal data-mining efforts
in the past. In 2002, news reports revealed that the Defense
Department was working on Total Information Awareness,
a project aimed at collecting and sifting vast amounts
of personal and government data for clues to terrorism.
An uproar caused Congress to cancel the TIA program a
Twice in the past four years, a top Justice Department
lawyer warned the presiding judge of a secret surveillance
court that information overheard in President Bush’s
eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to
obtain wiretap warrants in the court, according to two
sources with knowledge of those events.
The revelations infuriated U.S. District Judge Colleen
Kollar-Kotelly — who, like her predecessor, Royce
C. Lamberth, had expressed serious doubts about whether
the warrantless monitoring of phone calls and e-mails
ordered by Bush was legal. Both judges had insisted that
no information obtained this way be used to gain warrants
from their court, according to government sources, and
both had been assured by administration officials it would
The two heads of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court were the only judges in the country briefed by the
administration on Bush’s program. The president’s
secret order, issued sometime after the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks, allows the National Security Agency to monitor
telephone calls and e-mails between people in the United
States and contacts overseas.
James A. Baker, the counsel for intelligence policy in
the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence
Policy and Review, discovered in 2004 that the government’s
failure to share information about its spying program
had rendered useless a federal screening system that the
judges had insisted upon to shield the court from tainted
information. He alerted Kollar-Kotelly, who complained
to Justice, prompting a temporary suspension of the NSA
spying program, the sources said.
Yet another problem in a 2005 warrant application prompted
Kollar-Kotelly to issue a stern order to government lawyers
to create a better firewall or face more difficulty obtaining
The two judges’ discomfort with the NSA spying program
was previously known. But this new account reveals the
depth of their doubts about its legality and their behind-the-scenes
efforts to protect the court from what they considered
potentially tainted evidence. The new accounts also show
the degree to which Baker, a top intelligence expert at
Justice, shared their reservations and aided the judges.
Both judges expressed concern to senior officials that
the president’s program, if ever made public and
challenged in court, ran a significant risk of being declared
unconstitutional, according to sources familiar with their
actions. Yet the judges believed they did not have the
authority to rule on the president’s power to order
the eavesdropping, government sources said, and focused
instead on protecting the integrity of the FISA process.
As New York rushes to comply with the Help America Vote
Act under a threatened US Justice Department lawsuit,
many voters continue to raise concerns. On Sunday, Feb
26, four civic organizations will cosponsor an educational,
non-partisan public meeting to hear from voters about
proposed changes to NY’s election system and replacement
of mechanical lever voting machines.
The free meeting will be held at 2 PM in the Common Council
Chamber of historic Kingston City Hall, 420 Broadway,
between W. O’Reilly and Foxhall Ave. An expert panel
including Rachel Leon, Executive Director of Common Cause
New York, and Aimee Allaud of New York State League of
Women Voters, will be present to discuss issues and answer
The nonpartisan educational meeting is cosponsored by
Ulster County Democratic Women (UCDW), NY Citizens for
Clean Elections (NYCCE), the American Association of University
Women Kingston Branch (AAUW), and the Mid-Hudson Region
of the NY League of Women Voters (LWV).
Funds are now available via the County to purchase new
homes for those owners those homes were destroyed in the
April 2005 flooding. The funding has been made available
through the County’s application for assistance
to the Governor’s Office of Small Cities.
Eligible applicants are those who owned a home that cannot
be repaired, classified as destroyed, as a result of the
April 2005 flood and meet the income eligibility guidelines
of the program which are dependent on family size. Applications
will be available through the Rural Ulster Preservation
Company (RUPCO) and accepted until the close of business
on March 10. Contact Robyn Awand at 331-9860 or visit
the RUPCO’s Homeownership offices at 301 Fair Street,
Those considering applying are encouraged to attend one
of the information sessions on the program to be held
at RUPCO on Wednesday, February 22 at 6:00 PM and on Saturday,
March 4 at 9:30 AM.
Local journalist and young adult author Dakota Lane’s
work-in-progress, The Secret Life of It Girls, due out
next spring from Simon and Schuster, deals not with starlets
but with ordinary adolescents whose attractiveness, style,
and social savvy have landed them in popular cliques.
Lane has begun interviewing teens and finds them eager
to talk about the details of their lives—”what
nastiness and gossip goes on, the power element, what
does it take to make a popular girl, how does she maintain
her social status, and at what cost?” She describes
her book as “Studs Terkel meets MTV”, a compilation
of real-life interviews with only names and details changed
to protect anonymity, along with photos of teens that
capture both the vibrancy and poignancy of life as an
Lane is seeking girls—and some boys as well—between
the ages of thirteen and eighteen to be interviewed and/or
participate in a photo shoot at Onteora High School on
February 17 and 18, with later sessions planned for March.
Teens—both girls and boys—between the ages
of 13 and 18 are invited to submit applications to be
interviewed and/or to participate in a photo shoot at
Onteora High School on February 17 and 18, for the purpose
of taking pictures of kids in typical school settings.
Only 25 teens will be chosen for this shoot, but later
sessions are planned for March. Onteora school district
students may pick up applications and releases at the
Onteora High School office. Others may apply by emailing
Dakota Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications
must be filled out and releases signed by a parent and
returned to the high school with a snapshot by email,
with name and phone number.
For interviews, Lane said, “I’m looking for
anyone who has a good story and wants to talk about the
experience of being a teen.”
Yeah… The Jail!
The new Ulster County Law Enforcement Center will likely
cost another $1 million or more and the facility isn’t
likely to open for another five months, according to a
new report that also states that the jail is “98.1
percent” complete. The “$1 million plus”
was requested in a Jan. 26 letter from project manager
Bovis Lend Lease. The letter added that “about $500,000
to $600,000” is “needed immediately”
to satisfy construction contractor expenses.
The jail, which was scheduled to open in April 2004 at
a cost of $71.84 million, had its budget amended last
year to $84.39 million.
Other questions about expenses included concerns that
the cost for about 250 feet of water line to the jail
had still not been estimated and an agreement with Kingston
city officials for service had not been reached because
of installation problems.
Early estimates noted that a full renovation of the current
jail would have cost $11,956,990.
It’s A Strategy!
Republican national chairman Ken Mehlman recently outlined
a political strategy for 2006 to portray Democrats as
too weak to protect the country and to bypass the mainstream
media to spread the GOP message. Speaking at the Conservative
Political Action Conference, he roused the crowd at a
Washington hotel to cheers as he told them President Bush
had finally responded to decades of terrorist attacks.
John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations,
keynoted the conference dinner, sketching out the Bush
administration’s efforts to reform the U.N., implying
future military actions against Iran, and lambasting the
rest of the world for being anti-Israel.
Mehlman said the loss in popularity of the mainstream
media - both the evening network news and daily newspapers
- is an opportunity for conservatives. He pointed to the
growing popularity of talk radio and blogging.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the group he plans
to push for a Senate vote in May on the inheritance tax,
called the “death tax” by conservatives. And
he said he would push for a vote June 5 on “the
marriage protection amendment” that seeks to amend
the Constitution to define marriage as a union between
a man and a woman.
From screening newborns for hearing problems to efforts
to fight heart disease and find causes of premature birth,
some innovative medical programs demanded by families
are on the government chopping block. But so is the long-heralded
Voice of America program at a time when it seems to be
President Bush’s proposed budget for 2007 contains
what his health secretary called “hard choices”
when it came to devising how much to spend on a host of
Included in the proposed cuts is a federal program that
provides lifesaving defibrillators to communities, especially
in rural parts of the country. Also on the block, the
largest study of U.S. children ever performed. In January,
mothers-to-be were to begin enrolling in the National
Children’s Study to track 100,000 children from
mothers’ wombs to age 21 to see how the environment
- everything from mother’s diet to toddler TV to
pollution - influences child health. Scientists hoped
the first births in the study would point toward some
preventable causes of such problems as premature birth,
asthma and autism. Ordered by Congress and supported by
both medical groups and the chemical industry, scientists
already have spent $60 million in tax dollars preparing
the study, with waiting lists of families hoping to participate.
But NIH budget documents direct researchers instead to
close the program down by year’s end.
Bush, meanwhile, has spent time since submitting his new
budget to Congress defending the $36.13 billion profit
Exxon Mobil Corp. posted in 2005 - the highest ever for
a U.S. company. He said the profit reflected the market
and that consumers socked with soaring energy costs should
not expect price breaks.
“I think that basically the price is determined
by the marketplace and that’s the way it should
be,” said Bush, a former Texas oil man.
But he added: “There’s also a responsibility
for energy companies to continue to invest and improve
the ways that the American people can get energy. I would
very much hope that Exxon would participate in the development
of a pipeline out of Alaska, for example, in order to
make sure there’s more natural gas available for
families and small business owners so the economy will
Americans are taking sleeping pills like never before…
About 42 million sleeping pill prescriptions were filled
last year, according to the research company IMS Health,
up nearly 60 percent since 2000. Some experts worry that
the drugs are being oversubscribed without enough regard
to known, if rare side effects or the implications of
long-term use. And they fear doctors may be ignoring other
conditions, like depression, that might be the cause of
Although the newer drugs are not believed to carry the
same risk of dependence as older ones like barbiturates,
some researchers have reported what is called the “next
day” effect, a continued sleepiness hours after
awakening from a drug-induced slumber.
Furthermore, the growth of non-prescription sleep aids
is furthering muddying the nation’s sleeping problem.
Ten percent of Americans report that they regularly struggle
to fall asleep or to stay asleep throughout the night.
Experts acknowledge that insomnia has become a cultural
benchmark — a side effect of an overworked, overwrought
Reported problems include sleepwalking and short-term
A Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman, Susan Cruzan,
said she was not aware of any problems with the nation’s
The new Heart of The Catskills Chamber of Commerce, based
in Shandaken and currently incorporating the ever-busy
activities of local philanthropist Frank Nazarro, is currently
doing metal pick-ups around town, including appliances
and cars. While there is no charge for pick-up, pre-sorting
Regular meetings of the Chamber take place in the Colonial
Inn in Pine Hill at 6 pm on Saturdays, where a buffet
dinner is usually available, and after which many members
like to attend the auction in Fleischmanns.
Ongoing procets of the Chamber include a Community Garden
and CSA project running in cooperation with Nazzarro’s
Opus 42 Farm in Shandaken, food drives and distribution,
free home energy audits, bulk discounts for fuels and
other supplies, and an Adopt-A Highway and Stream Cleanup
Call 688-7210 or 688-7444 for further information.