on the News
Out Until July
“We’ve ordered the steel, it should be in our Van Dale
Road fabrication shop within two weeks but we’re trying to get
it here sooner,” said County Highway & Bridge Commissioner
Dave Sheeley on May 10. “We should be able to do what we need
to there in a week, and transport it concurrent with the dismantling
of the damaged section. We hope to be able to complete the steelwork
and repour the road surface in 2 to 3 weeks.”
According to Sheeley, neither of the bridge’s abutments need
to be changed and no center piers were damaged. Four beams were slightly
twisted by the floodwaters and 13 feet of road surface was distorted.
Plans call for the replacement of 56 feet of road near the bridge’s
southern side, and for the restoration of its regular two-lane traffic
County Legislator Mike Stock added that plans were explored for the
use of a temporary “Bailey Bridge” structure on the site,
but given the time frame for the repair, ultimately rejected as “a
waste of effort.”
In response to questions as to how quickly repairs are being made,
Stock said “We’re on top of it” but also explained
that the county’s immediate priorities in our area have focused
on towns whose primary road access was nearly cut off by the flooding:
Hardenburgh and especially the Town of Denning hamlet of Sundown on
Both Stock and Sheeley will be present to answer questions from the
public about the bridge project at an informational meeting which
will follow, according to Supervisor Bob Cross Jr, public hearings
beginning at 7 PM May 25 on Shandaken’s new telecommunications
law and the presentation of final findings of the DEIS for Phoenicia’s
wastewater treatment facility on Route 28.
June’s regular town boarding, shuffled to help accommodate scheduling
issues for several board members, will also take place at that time...
a week before the month it is covering
Meanwhile in an attempt to prevent future floods downstream from the
Ashokan Reservoir, State Senator John Bonacic has introduced legislation
in the state senate that would require DEP to lower its reservoir
levels in advance of anticipated flood conditions. In the wake of
the April 2-3 flood, some local officials and residents questioned
the role played the reservoir and its overflow in that flooding.
“Once the water gets into the Ashokan there’s only three
ways it’s going to leave,” said DEP spokesman Ian Michaels.
“Evaporation, over the spillway, or through the Catskill Aqueduct.
The Ashokan was built that way because it’s a water supply reservoir.”
According to Bonacic, however, a release mechanism could be added
to the reservoir, if his bill becomes law.
“I have had meetings in Kingston with watershed leadership,
and they talk but they don’t act,” Bonacic told reporters.
“They’re going to do what’s best for New York City
and upstate be damned.”
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who declined to co-sponsor Bonacic’s
bill in the Assembly, said he was waiting for a report from DEP on
its flood mitigation efforts, and questioned what he called the “engineering
decisions” that Bonacic’s legislation might compel “without
consideration of other factors than the mitigation of possible floods,
and specifically winter thaw floods. There could be a slew of reasons
DEP should not do that.”
And while the Esopus appears to be normalizing some from its post-flood
chocolate milk turbidity, all is not well with the creek.
Fishing season, once a major economic factor in the 28 corridor, has
been a bust this year, though Marietta Hoffmeister at Morne Importsm
Phoenicia’s fishing central, reports that trout, including big
ones, are being caught in recent weeks.
“Last year I did great with fishing season,” she said.
“This year, the fisherman weren’t here.”
“If I don’t
do it it’s not gonna get done,” said Town Supervisor Robert
Cross Jr. Monday, adding that he was trying to get authorization from
a majority of the town board to go ahead and draw up a contract with
a private company to take on the work for the warm weather season.
He said there is talk of the job running perhaps $11,000, but he said
he has also heard that some companies have said they want $50,000
to take on the responsibility.
Cross said that the towns highway department has historically maintained
the five parks plus a couple smaller town owned lawn areas, but that
this year Highway Superintendent Richard Merwin has announced that
would not be the case this year.
The issue reached a boiling point just prior to the May 1st opening
day of Shandaken’s Little League season at the town’s
Glenbrook Park. Little League organizer Theresa Grant said last week
that she asked Merwin when he would send crews and equipment to get
the mowing done. She was told neither would be coming.
After opening day, Grant said she and a couple volunteers went back
to the park to pick up garbage that was all over as a result of the
double header. She said Merwin also refused to send staff up for the
Grant, who is considering a run for town Supervisor this year, said
she was appalled at what she called Merwin’s lack of cooperation.
Merwin, who with a $40,154 salary is the highest paid town official,
is on equal standing with the Supervisor and presides over a $1.5
million highway department budget. Cross said that Merwin does not
answer to the Town Supervisor or the town board, so he cannot be forced
to do the work, nor can he be forced to use highway fund money to
pay a private contractor.
That means that Cross, who is up for re-election and well aware of
Grant’s political intentions, is prepared to dip into his own
town budget, the $1.7 million general fund, to pay for the work instead.
Cross is aware that this amounts to double dipping into taxpayer pockets,
but he says he doesn’t know what else to do.
“The grass needs to get cut,” he said.
There is no specific line item in the highway budget for park maintenance,
nor is there a special park district within the general fund budget.
Regardless, Cross said the highway department always got the work
done and that it was considered the department’s responsibility.
Merwin, a Democrat, says the reason its not being done this year is
because the Republican Cross administration removed the funds for
the work during the budget preparation last fall. Merwin says he asked
for $42,000 to do the work, but Cross rejected the request.
“Now he’s gonna pay for it anyway,” Merwin said.
Or maybe not. According to Merwin, union representatives for the highway
department crews have claimed that Cross’s plan to hire independent
contractors to do the mowing violates the workers’ contract
and they are now in heated discussions with Cross about his actions.
Cross reportedly has hired Ted Byron, a former Republican town board
member, to maintain the parks.
budget represents a 3.86 percent hike over the current year’s
austerity budget, which the district had to revert to after two attempts
at passing a budget failed last Spring. At a recent Meet The Candidate’s
evening moderated by the Ulster County League of Women Voters in Boiceville
May 2, all but one of the board candidates praised the new administration
of Superintendent Justine Winters for the spending plan they’ve
put together, and urged voters to pass it next week.
But what to make of the crowded field of candidates, three of whom are
Lisa Childers is a seven-year resident of Woodstock with one child at
her local elementary school and years of experience as an art therapist,
a New York City teacher’s assistant and, more recently, a member
of the Woodstock Elementary Site team, the Future of the District committee,
and an attendee of practically every school board meeting of the last
At the recent candidate’s night, Childers demonstrated her knowledge
of board issues and her understanding of the board’s policy-making
side by bringing up issues involving tax reform movements, as well as
opposition to unfunded mandates involved in the federal No Child Left
Childers has brought up new advances being made at New Paltz and other
schools she’s visited that could be adapted to Onteora, stressing
new ways of looking at each student as an individual, and not just a
part of a larger educational institution. She has noted that the bigger
problem than Large Parcel is the underlying means of property taxation,
and that focus should be placed on increasing STAR and other tax abatement
and relief programs available to local residents... at least until that
funding base can be changed. She asked if the district were really as
divided as the media has made it out to be, noting how students didn’t
seem to reflect their parents’ community differences or tax concerns.
“We have some divisive issues,” she said. “But our
kids are quite unified.” Childers said Onteora was at a turning
point, and needed, above all else, to pass the current budget.
Cathy Neal is a lifetime Shandaken resident who has two children in
Phoenicia Elementary and one in the Middle School. She herself is an
Onteora graduate who has worked at the Phoenicia Pharmacy for the last
18 years, as well as the cleaning contractor for the Phoenicia post
office. She has been involved with the Phoenicia Fire Department for
28 years, for whom she currently serves as treasurer, and is Corresponding
Secretary for the Phoenicia School PTA, for whom she has become well
known as a master baker.
At the recent candidate’s night, Neal said her only teaching experience
involved Sunday School, but her years working as a volunteer with other
entities, including the local fire department, gave her strong insights
into the district, as did her parenting. When asked what curriculum
changes she might suggest, Neal replied, simply, that her three kids
liked everything about school. When the subject of rampant childhood
obesity came up, she suggested offering more fruits and vegetables and
less chicken nuggets and hot dogs.
Neal said that although she would have preferred Olive’s Large
Parcel tax burden to have been spread over three to five years, “everybody
should be treated fairly and equally.” As for perceived divisions
within the district, she spoke about how the identity of separate schools
should be amalgamated better into the larger Onteora community.
Neal closed by saying that no matter who people voted for, they should
support the current budget.
Rita Vanacore is a 45 year resident of Shokan who has put two children
through Onteora. She has a cosmetology degree and is currently enrolled
at UCCC and Empire State College, studying toward degrees in communications
and sociology. She has owned her own Kingston-based business for 28
years and has taught continuing education courses for over 20 years,
including four years in which she ran her own vocational school. She
has volunteered as an AIDS educator and served on Ulster County Legislature
committees, as well as being a member of Onteora’s current Future
of the District Committee.
Vanacore has been the sole candidate to state her belief that the budget
could have been better, and shouldn’t be supported. In her opening
statements at the Candidate’s night, she said that in spite of
all the board’s lofty talk in recent years, not much has been
accomplished. She lashed out at the current board for having created
“a hostile district” because of its decisions regarding
Large Parcel and the closing of the West Hurley elementary school last
year, suggested doing more through BOCES, and vowed to “bring
it back to the community first.”
Vanacore has said she thought academics at Onteora were lacking and
needed new vision, which she offered because she was “a very creative
person who had lived out of the state.”
She has said straight out that she’d vote against furthering the
current Large Parcel legislation, calling the legislation part of a
larger “divide and conquer” agenda on the part of New York
City and New York State to “get us all out.” “I don’t
think we’ll ever get cohesiveness again unless we reduce taxation,”
she has commented.
Vanacore has said the most important thing was for a board to stand
by its policies despite the individual wants and needs of students or
other district participants.
Marino D’Orazio, a Kingston attorney, is an 8-year member of the
school board and its president of the last three years. He has been
a resident of the Onteora district for 20 years and currently lives
in Marbletown, within district borders. Two of his children are graduates
of the district, a third is currently in High School. Before passing
the bar, D’Orazio was a New York City high school teacher for
17 years. He has taught at SUNY New Paltz and has been on the board
of the Children’s Annex, the Ulster County Bar Association, and
served on the West Hurley PTA for years.
“I am running on my record,” D’Orazio said at the
Candidate’s Night, pointing out how controversial many of the
decisions facing boards can be, as well as how one has to approach all
issues clear-eyed, with reason. “We’ve come a long way from
the difficult days of three and four years ago.”
D’Orazio has spoken about the painfulness of the Large Parcel
and other decisions facing the district, pointing out how one needs
to represent the entire district in one’s decisions, and not just
one town. He added that his information showed that the biggest hits
on Olive residents were now past and that he would vote for its continuation,
to finish the equalization it was put into effect to achieve. D’Orazio
said the best way of avoiding future divisiveness was to elect a board
that could get along, be respectful to each other and their constituents,
and that could make needed decisions with “integrity and honesty.”
When asked about the district’s technology needs, D’Orazio
has talked about the need to teach values and academic skills rather
than actual computer programs. “I think it’s important that
individuals learn focus, integrity, the absence of hidden agendas, and
an ability to get along with others,” he has said.
D’Orazio says that if re-elected, he wants to work towards the
creation of a new elementary school center, the re-use of the West Hurley
facility, and the creation of an independent middle school.
Kathleen Hochman, who has served three years on the Onteora School Board
and is currently its vice president, as well as VP of the Ulster County
School Board Association, has lived in Olive for eight years and has
one Onteora graduate, and another in high school. She studied at the
New School and has worked as a special education consultant, a thoroughbred
horse breeder, and a director of sales for Cigna Financial Services.
Before joining the board she was a member of the Bennett PTA, treasurer
of the Middle School/High School PTSO, and was co-chair of the Ulster
County Transition Planning Council.
At the recent Candidate’s night, Hochman stressed her role as
a mediating force on the school board, and talked about the research
she has done to better her ability to face all board decisions with
professionalism and fairness. She spoke about her years of volunteerism,
her pilot husband’s work in the Army Reserves, and her work with
education lobbyists in Albany.
The first asked about Large Parcel at the May 2 gathering, Hochman was
straight forward. “I live in Olive. I voted against it the first
year it came up,” she explained, noting how she had thought that
a year of preparation in her hometown should have softened the controversial
legislation’s eventual blow. “I voted for it because I represent
the whole district,” she added, speaking as to how the bill, like
it or not, addresses questions of equity in the wide district, New York’s
Hochman has spoken about the need to teach values and academic skills
rather than computer programs, and is quick to point out her belief
in pushing educational goals above all other matters. She believes Onteora
has started moving in a strong new direction.
Thomas Hickey moved to Oliverea two years ago and has two children in
Phoenicia Elementary, whose PTA he has become an active member of. He
has business background with “a number of different companies”
in a number of different positions, including serving as a comptroller
and consultant. He is an active church member and has led a number of
youth groups, including Boy Scouts and chess clubs, over the years.
He says he decided to run after being urged to get more involved by
members of the Phoenicia community.
Hickey of Big Indian said at the recent Candidate’s Night that
he wanted to bring his business acumen to educational decisions, increasing
the board’s, and annual budget’s efficiency. He described
himself as a strong builder of bridges with a keen interest in ensuring
In regards to the Large Parcel issue, Hickey said that he approved of
the measure’s goals to make taxes equitable throughout the district.
As for district divisions, he has said that he applauds the new district-wide
newsletter and feels that better information on key issues would help
things immeasurably. Hickey suggesting the best input for policy matters
should always come from administrators and educators first.
Hickey has said he is running because he wants to make a difference,
and believes that Onteora should be one, and not four districts.
Mary Jane Bernholz is a 20 year Shokan resident who is a past president
and vice president of the Onteora District PTA Council who has a child
at Bennett, another at the Middle School, and a third at the High School.
A graduate of the community college, she has worked on a supervisory
level in banking and finance, served as a certified real estate appraiser,
and worked as an accountant. Her district credentials include 10 years
on the Bennett Site Team, as well as membership on the Middle School
Concept, Health Advisory, District Nutrition and various hiring committees.
At the recent Candidate’s Night, Bernholz talked about her many
years as a PTA officer and involved stakeholder in the Onteora community,
and said she was running on her experience within the district and knowledge
of its needs and processes, with a particular interest in pushing forward
the independent middle school concept, as well as the teaching of languages
at earlier ages. When the subject of childhood obesity came up, Bernholz
was quick to read from a series of statistics she had compiled and suggested
much could be solved by passing proposed school budgets.
Bernholz said that even though she felt there was a need to force Olive
to revaluate its properties, the Large Parcel issue had proved hurtful
on both fiscal and social levels. If elected, she promised, she would
vote not to reinstall it for the coming year.
In closing, Bernholz said people should be voting for a district representative,
and not just community members. She promised to be fiscally responsible.
Jack Jordan, a three year resident of Pine Hill with multiple education
degrees from SUNY-New Paltz, is currently Sullivan County BOCES Director
of Secondary programs, former superintendent of the Jeffersonville-Youngsville
School District (which he merged), former principal of the Tri Valley
High School in the 209 corridor, and a former high school social studies
teacher and sports coach specializing in basketball and golf. He has
served on the Claryville Fire Department, the Town of Denning board
of tax assessment, and the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce.
Jordan opened the May 2 Candidate’s Night with a rundown of his
educational accomplishments and general philosophy, while simultaneously
praising Onteora’s reputation throughout the region, as well as
its current budget. When subjects later shifted to matters involving
curriculum or policy decisions, he spoke eloquently about his own experiences
instituting curriculum changes, noting how new class choices always
had to prove interesting to students, as well as relevant. He also pointed
how board members should never drift towards micromanagement.
Regarding Large Parcel, Jordan pointed out the legislation’s faults,
in Albany, but then pointed out the difficult choices that sometimes
need to be made to achieve parity within a school district. He said
that as far as he could see, Onteora’s divisiveness wasn’t
as bad as could be, and would likely be solved via better communications,
which he said the new administration was already effecting.
Ann-Marie Johansson, who was appointed to fill a vacancy left by recently
re-elected board member Tom Rosato in February, is a 40 year resident
of the district who graduated from Onteora and has degrees from UCCC.
One of her children is still at the High School. Her professional background
includes 14 years at IBM in Kingston and Poughkeepsie, as well as seven
years as a local B&B owner. She is a member of the Olive Planning
Board, the Olive Free Library board, and is a past-president of the
Shandaken Women’s Network.
Johansson has spoken about enjoying her opportunity to work with the
board and expressed wishes to continue what she has started. She has
talked about the need for teacher, administrative and board responsiveness
to the student body as a means of bettering the overall Onteora educational
In regards to Large Parcel, Johansson has said that she respects the
current board’s decision in the matter, even though it affects
her as a West Shokan resident. She said that she would approach the
matter herself, if re-elected, by reminding herself of the need to represent
the entire district, and not just one town within it. When the issue
of district divisions came up, Johansson spoke of town revals being
needed to remove inequities between the wide district’s component
“We need to be certain we teach our students about critical thinking,
and realize that technology is a tool,” said Johansson at the
recent Candidate’s Night, speaking about the amounts of dedication
and openness to research the position she is seeking to hold on to entails.
She concluded with her desire to see the district mended and sharing
the same educational goals, having moved beyond its current impasses.
Cindy O’Connor, an Olivebridge resident of 39 years with one child
in elementary school and another in middle school, has a BS in marketing
and co-founded Sheldon Hill Forestry Services with her husband while
still the Accounting Supervisor at National Micronetics in Kingston.
She has been a member of the Bennett PTA, of which she is currently
vice president, for 13 years and most recently has become known as the
driving force behind Victims of Irresponsible Drowsy Drivers, which
she joined after her high school-aged son was killed in a tragic accident
along Route 28. She is currently involved in a lawsuit against the district
and its board over that accident.
“I believe in our community and I believe in our school,”
she introduced her campaign by saying at the May 2 Candidate’s
Night, outlining her years of volunteer service, including the new Communications
Committee for the district. “I want to be part of the leadership
that carries us towards the future.”
Later, when the subject of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation
was raised, O’Connor proved the only candidate not to fault it,
instead noting how the federal program had “made us all accountable.”
Regarding Large Parcel, O’Connor said that she would vote against
the legislation simply to send a message to the legislature. But when
the subject of curing the current divisiveness came up, she added that
she believed revals needed to be done in all towns to better equity
around the district.
In conclusion May 2, O’Connor spoke about raising standards and
looking more carefully at district-wide conduct, dress codes, and evacuation
plans. “I think we have fallen down,” she said. She added
that she is running because she cares about the district and is not
afraid of challenges. She calls herself an advocate for change.
Stacy and her husband Greg, an engineer, moved three years ago to
Shokan from Oliverea, with their sons Nathaniel, 8, and Asher, 6.
One of the reasons was to be closer to Asher's school in Kingston
- The Children's Annex. Asher was diagnosed with autism during his
first year. Stacy credits the parenting style of La Leche League with
helping her to be very in tune with her young son - to communicate
intuitively with him - which not only aided in early intervention
but has helped his ongoing development. Today, Asher is blossoming
in the supportive environment of The Children's Annex.
Stacy's connection with La Leche League began when she sought breastfeeding
help with her first son, Nathaniel. She applied for a leadership role
after a year, going through extensive training, and became leader
of the local chapter six years ago. At 10:00 AM on the second Tuesday
of every month, anywhere from 6 to 15 mothers gather at the Mapstone
home, along with babies and toddlers, for about an hour and a half
of discussion on a pre-selected topic, sharing techniques, trading
books, getting facts, and giving emotional support. There are 30 or
so women on Stacy's list at any given time, many of whom call for
advice if they don't attend meetings. In addition, she has provided
phone help to women around the world through the La Leche League International
Stacy is enthusiastic about correcting false impressions of La Leche
League. She points out that her group includes every political persuasion,
and is in fact very mainstream. "We're not a crazed group of
militants. We're not AA for troubled breastfeeders, where we advise
you to 'go through the pain.' And we're not a guru, who says 'you
can't do it without me,'" she asserts. "La Leche League
doesn't give advice, we give education and encouragement. It's not
anecdotal stuff; it's evidence-based information. We want to empower
you to be the mother you want to be." She wants people to know
that La Leche League is not solely concerned with the nutritional
benefits of breastfeeding, but teaches an overall style of parenting
that emphasizes caring and responsiveness, filling the baby's needs
without neglecting your own.
To help manage La Leche League of Kingston-Shokan, Stacy has been
training a co-leader for the past seven months. Fifteen months of
training is required, with Stacy teaching the new candidate the science
of breastfeeding as well as the skills of group facilitating, and
talking and listening to individual mothers. Occasional events must
be arranged, in which experts give workshops; for example, on infant
massage. And then there are the constant press releases to be sent
out, a yard sale every July, books and supplies to be purchased, and
an annual La Leche League divisional conference to attend.
Much of Stacy and Greg Mapstone's 12 years together has been filled
with La Leche League activities. Greg is a solid supporter of the
program, the parenting style, and all her work, she says. Besides
the challenge of raising an autistic son, the Mapstones' lives have
also been complicated by serious injuries that Greg has sustained
in the past. He is also a busy man, pursuing an MBA on top of working
Of course, parenting two sons and maintaining a marriage and a home
would be enough to keep most people fully occupied. But in addition
to her busy schedule with La Leche League, Stacy is also a parent
member of the Onteora School District's Committee for Special Education
(CSE), putting in hours helping other parents understand their children's
educational difficulties. She's also a self-described "crochet
fiend" who expresses herself through a "charity knitting
group" that meets at the Woostock Wool Company. She makes "loveys,"
small soft blankets that are donated, along with all the goods made
by other group members, to the Women's Shelter in Kingston.
In addition, Stacy often helps with fundraising auctions and other
activities for The Children's Annex, and participates in her older
son's education as well. And to round out her schedule, she has been
attending SUNY Ulster for 21/2 years. She is now well on the way toward
completing the Registered Nurse program. Will she specialize in Maternity
or Lactation? "Probably not," she says. "I wouldn't
want to lose my a passion for the subject by making it a job."
Stacy Mapstone is one of the busy behind-the-scenes people whose dedication
and energy make such a positive difference in our community. And she
seems to enjoy every minute of it. "The only downside of doing
so much is that sometimes I have to say no," she says. "I
just love being in a position to help."