Phoenicia Water District ratepayers should expect a $30 to $40
hike in their annual water bills for the next five years. On
Thursday the Shandaken Town Board met in special session to
float a $55,000 bond at 3.8 percent interest. Officials say
the bond will be paid off over a five-year period.
The money was needed to pay for work done on the $808,000 water
filtration system installed last year.
“We knew there would be a shortfall,” said project
engineer Dennis Larios, who was on hand at the meeting to explain
how the project went over budget.
The session was called because contractors waiting for payment
threatened legal action unless paid by August 15th. The bond,
which about doubles water bills for the average residential
user, is only the beginning. Another $150,000 is needed to make
improvements to the system, and officials fear that may need
to be bonded too.
At the August 1st town board meeting, Supervisor Robert Cross
Jr. said $60,000 is needed to prepare plans for an additional
filtration gallery. Water Commissioner Ric Ricciardella reminded
Cross that another $35,000 is needed for a new generator as
well. Also, Cross guessed it would take another $100,000 to
actually build that new filtration gallery.
Cross said he was still hoping to obtain grant funds for the
construction project but he admits it remains difficult. He
said the town is still hoping for documentation from the Ulster
County health Department about an e-coli hit of the water supply
last year because that would provide substantial leverage in
the effort to harness grant funds.
Last September the residents of Phoenicia got warning to not
drink the water. The reason was that e-coli, a dangerous bacteria,
was detected in the system. After several days of disinfection
all was well, although the cause of the contamination was never
determined. Now, according to Cross, the Ulster County Health
Department is claiming there was never any e-coli contamination
Officials have another issue that may help toward getting grant
funds. A water source on High Street was damaged when heavy
rains caused flooding in the hamlet last April. Larios was going
to inspect the damage soon.
School Tax Hike!!
According to the latest figures presented by Onteora District
Treasurer William Thornton at this past Tuesday’s School
Board meeting, tax levies will go up 10.15 percent in Shandaken,
10.54 percent in Hurley, and 6.98 percent in Woodstock for the
coming school year if, as expected, the current board elects
not to re-implement the Large Parcel law tax equation for the
coming year, while rates go down by 15.97 percent in Olive.
Should Large Parcel again be implemented, contrary to campaign
pledges and public statements by four of the board’s seven
members, Olive’s taxes would rise 9.66 percent for the
coming school year, Hurley’s would go up 9.82 percent,
Shandaken’s up 1.21 percent, and Woodstock’s would
drop 1.70 percent.
The figures are based on a last-minute budget figure that includes
last-minute revenue options that have yet to be okayed, and
include either a 36.01% or 30.36% drop in the tax levy for those
Marbletown taxpayers in the Onteora district, depending on whether
Large Parcel is implemented or not, respectively; and either
a 0.84 % or 9.74% hike in that portion of Lexington in the district,
by the same equation.
The board has set aside next Monday, August 22 for a final public
hearing and meeting on the subject, at which point they will
vote to either implement, not implement, or make no decision
on the Large Parcel law. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at
the High School cafeteria in Boiceville.
Public comments on the issue included statements from three
Olive and three Woodstock board members, plus the Ulster County
Legislature’s Majority Leader, Mike Stock, who said there
is a strong likelihood the issue will be brought back to life
on a county level before November, given that at least one legislature
who voted against LP’s legislation last week is likely
to request a re-vote.
Before the actual public hearing portion of the evening, which
was kept to a shorter timetable than two weeks ago by Board
President Dave Patterson, new trustee Maryjane Bernholz of Olive
noted that the way in which Thornton had presented the budget
figures and tax levy percentages seemed to place all responsibility
for rises and drops on the Large Parcel issue, skewing the public’s
perception away from the other variables involved in such matters.
Olive councilman Bruce LaMonda noting that the Large Parcel
bill was “totally discriminatory to small communities.
Olive supervisor Berndt Leifeld pointing out all that his town
had done to avert tax inequities since he last he came before
the school board two years before and asking that the board
“please put this issue to rest for this year to let Olive
do what it has to do.”
Woodstock Taxpayers’ Association organizer and former
school board member Sam Mercer asking for equity, and the law’s
Woodstock supervisor Jeremy Wilber reminding the board of the
dangers of flip-flopping on previous board decisions (“Will
we be teaching Intelligent Design one year and not the next?),
while asking for more board meetings in Woodstock (“After
all, we do pay 35 percent of your school taxes.”
Before dropping his bombshell about re-introducing the Large
Parcel issue in the county legislature, Stock suggested that
if people really took issue with thelaw, “We should all
take it to Albany.”
John Tisch asked what Woodstock would do if 8,042 of its acreage
was submerged in a reservoir, then warned about the upcoming
issue of a proposed Boiceville community septic system which
“We would be paying for while all the rest of the district
would be benefiting.”
Woodstock Councilman Gordon Wemp countered a Tisch assertion
that the May board election served as a mandate, noting that
it was the crowded field of candidates that was key to the new
Former board member John Hurld suggested the district should
become its own taxing entity, with one tax equation for all
in the district.
Woodstock Councilwoman Liz Simonson asked the board to look
at a full history of tax payments and then figure out its long-term
goal for such matters.
Olive Councilwoman Linda Burkhardt said that how Olive pays
its tax bills is Olive’s business, and countered previous
claims that the entire Large Parcel issue had been triggered
by the town’s over-assessment of New York City’s
Ashokan Reservoir property.
In other school business Tuesday night, the district’s
new Transportation Supervisor, Maureen Stancage (formerly a
dispatcher in the New Paltz school district) asked that she
be given ample time to meet the demands of a new transportation
safety audit requested by new trustee Cindy O’Connor and
approved unanimously. She’d only been on the board six
days, she noted, and needed time to get her systems up and running
before tackling such an endeavor.
Similarly, an O’Connor request for a monthly Internal
Claims Audit by new district auditor Monica Kim was countered
by Superintendent Justine Winters, who pointed out that Kim
had worked only two half days on the job so far and also needed
time to adjust. O’Connor changed her request so that the
board would get its first audit report in October.
The Attorney for the town of Shandaken has reviewed a proposed
lease to allow Masterpage Communications Inc. to build a 140
cell on the town’s property at Glenbrook Park.
Kingston based Attorney Paul Kellar examined the details of
the 4 page lease after the town board agreed on August 1st to
begin negotiating with Masterpage.
Councilman Paul VanBlarcum, who opposed making a deal with Masterpage
until other companies talked to the board about a potential
deal, released a copy of the lease and Kellar’s remarks
and indicated that it appears the Lawyer sees many flaws.
“His comments were almost as long as the lease,”
Kellar, who notes the lease cannot be signed until the period
for a permissive referendum has passed and no petition has been
filed, identifies elements in the lease such as the town agreeing
to a 50 year term. “In my view this is far too long,”
he wrote.”…I suggest a five year term with several
five year renewal options.”
In contrast, Masterpage could have the option to terminate the
agreement each year. Kellar recommends the town have the right
to terminate, as Shandaken may one day have other uses fro the
He also questions language that would give Masterpage the right
put up more than one facility, as well as other incidental appurtances.
“Lets be specific and find out exactly what they need
and not leave the door open,” Kellar wrote.
The lease also allows Masterpage to leave their equipment on
the site with little repercussion if they terminate the agreement.
“What penalties, if any, should be imposed if they fail
to remove the equipment within 180 days? As presently drafted,
they would simply have to pay rent,” Kellar said. He added
that the lease should include a requirement for Masterpage to
remove the tower if they don’t pay rent and a requirement
to make Masterpage maintain the tower in good condition by keeping
it painted and inspected annually. The draft Kellar reviewed
contains none of these.
The lease also allows Masterpage to take the site over rent
free until they build the tower and acquire clients for co-location
“I have never seen a lease agreement which allows the
tenant to control the date when rental payments begin,”
Kellar thinks the entire basis for rental payments needs to
be reexamined. Right now the lease calls for Masterpage to pay
twenty five percent of revenue generated by the facility. Kellar
said its not clear if this particular tower will generate any
revenue by itself, and he also wonders if Masterpage would give
co-locators sweetheart deals on the tower in exchange for paying
higher revenues on a different tower. There is still not even
an indication as to what kind of revenues the town should expect
or any mention of guaranteed increases.
“Does New York Telephone generate income from a single
telephone pole?” Kellar added.
Supervisor Robert Cross Jr., who is handling the lease negotiations
for the town, could not be reached for comment
House of Representatives Resources Committee Chairman Richard
Pombo, R-Calif, warned recently that a new series of proposed
deals New York wants to make with Indian tribes might not pass
muster – another sign Congress might move to curb off-reservation
casinos in the Catskills. Gov. George Pataki has been negotiating
with a number of tribes to settle land-claim conflicts, in part
by offering lucrative casino development on non-Indian land
in the Catskills. Pombo has been circulating draft legislation
that bars tribes from establishing off-reservation gaming except
in specified development zones where several tribes could build
casinos in one area. Such a law could kill the deals Pataki
is seeking, already stressed by adverse Supreme Court rulings
and dissension from his own Senate majority leader in Albany.
Meanwhile, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has said that
it will mediate a leadership dispute within the Cayuga Nation
stemming from their conflict over whether or not to build a
$500 million casino at Monticello Raceway. The BIA had recognized
Clint Halftown, who pulled the tribe out of a recent casino
deal with the state, as the leader of the Cayugas.
A recent poll of residents in neighboring Sullivan County has
found that 49.1 percent now say they favor Indian-run casinos
in the Catskills, versus 36.4 percent opposed. Fourteen percent
of those surveyed said they did not know or had no comment.
Three years ago, a similar poll found 62.8 percent of residents
favoring a casino and nearly 23 percent opposing the idea. In
1996, 61 percent favored having a casino.
Shandaken now has an official Marriage Officer. Last week the
town board agreed to bestow that title upon Supervisor Robert
Cross Jr., who claims he “has a special request to perform
a marriage ceremony.”
The appointment, which is only temporary and shouldn’t
last much beyond Election Day, gives Cross the authority to
marry anyone anywhere within town borders.
Cross wouldn’t say who asked for his help in tying the
knot, but it’s someone he’s known since he was nine
Charlie Shaw, the 16-year executive director of the Ulster County
Resource Recovery Agency who had cut his pay dramatically in
recent years to help stem rising debts at the agency, recently
announced that he is leaving his post to run an antiques business
in Dutchess County, leaving his board to name Michael Bemis,
the RRA’s director of operations and safety, as its acting
executive director until the end of 2007.
RRA Board president Kevin Roberts said that because Ulster County
is under a hiring freeze, Bemis will be kept on at his current
salary of $70,846 per year for now, even though Shaw had been
paid about $100,000 a year before taking a pay cut to $27,500
Shaw will receive $54,727 in severance pay over three years
and receive 100 percent of his health insurance for the foreseeable
future. The RRA budget was recently slashed from an Ulster County
contribution of $2.93 million to $2.26 million for the coming
year, still subject to county review and a mandated public hearing.
Strong, fast-moving thunderstorms swept through the Mid-Hudson
region Sunday evening felling trees, blowing leaves and other
debris across roadways and knocking out power to just under
3,000 customers in Ulster, Dutchess and Greene counties.
The region suffered a number of power outages Sunday evening,
April 14, with nearly 2,000 homes between Woodstock and Ellenville,
many in the towns of Olive and Shandaken, losing service for
a number of hours. In Dutchess County, 600 lost service, while
in Greene County, 300 customers in Catskill experienced brief
A particularly strong cold front produced more lightning than
a typical storm and the weather service on Sunday night had
received second-hand reports of structures being hit by lightning,
as well as a power line snapped into a feeder stream for the
Esopus Creek in Phoenicia.
The new Emerson at Woodstock, Shandaken developer Dean Gitter’s
$100,000 plus renovation of Manhattan attorney and Tinker Street
Cinema owner Cyrus Adler’s Legends property at the junction
of state routes 212 and 375 in our neighboring town, is currently
set to open its doors on Friday, August 26. The new restaurant,
on the site of the former Deanies (among other configurations
over the past quarter century), will then host a special benefit
for the Woodstock Playhouse featuring actor/philanthropist Paul
Newman on August 29.
According to Paul Rakov, public relations manager for Emerson
Place, the Mt. Tremper-based conglomerate of stores, kaleidoscope
attractions, lodge, restaurant and spa formerly known as Catskill
Corners, the new Emerson at Woodstock will feature two separate
restaurants: the causal “community feel” Ricks’
Bistro and more upscale Riseley Room.
The Emerson at Woodstock was first announced by Gitter in an
employee-packed press conference in early May, less than a fortnight
after the Emerson Inn was lost to an early morning fire on April
According to Ken Blundell, chairman of the Ulster County Task
Force, his outfit concluded its investigation of the blaze in
late May, terming it “an undetermined fire… we couldn’t
really establish how it started, only where.”
Blundell added that the fire is still under investigation by
the Town of Shandaken police force, who have been administering
lie detector tests to a list of suspects reported to have been
given them by Gitter.
“We investigate on behalf of the county,” Blundell
said. “The Department of State’s Office of Fire
Protection oversee criminal investigations and insurance companies
provide their own investigators.”
He noted that, “Unless an insurance company can find someone
with a match in their hands, they pretty much have to pay the
At his May 11 press conference announcing his Emerson at Woodstock,
which will operate under a two year lease, Gitter intimated
that he considered the many environmental organizations who
have sided against his concurrent proposal to build a double-golf
course mega resort on Belleayre Mountain were among those who
should be considered suspects. Among his announcement statements,
Gitter noted that “incendiary rhetoric regarding the Bellayre
Resort may have contributed to the disaster that befell us two
He has since offered a $50,000 reward for information leading
to the arrest of someone involved in what he has repeatedly
termed as arson.
Repeated calls to the Shandaken Police Department and its Officer-in-Charge,
James McGrath, were not returned. McGrath was the 2001 Republican
candidate for supervisor and is a close friend of Gitter.
Rakov refused to comment about the ongoing arson investigation
when interviewed on several occasions this past week, and said
the status of any insurance claims brought by Gitter and Emerson
Place regarding the April fire were "still in process."
On the same morning of the fire, former Emerson Place CEO and
President Ted Wright claimed fire damage at approximately $20
million, at first, but later noted that $7 million would represent
the entity’s insurance claim. It was later announced,
one week later on May 2, that Wright had volunteered to leave
his position at the Emerson.
During the May press conference, Gitter and Rakov stressed that
one of the main reasons for the quick decision to move the Emerson
to Woodstock was as a means of keeping the restaurant’s
52-member staff in place. After a pair of heavily-advertised
job fairs in June and July, Rakov said that much of that original
staff is still in place, “with a lot of well-known faces
from right here in Woodstock now.” He added that the Emerson’s
previous reputation for having a largely European staff “was
never true” and that a majority of the current employees
are local residents.
As for the August 26 opening of the Emerson at Woodstock, plans
are currently spotty. “There’ll be a ribbon cutting
ceremony with some local dignitaries,” Rakov said. “We’ve
been absolutely thrilled by the warm welcome Woodstock has given
us to date.”
Gitter has said that he is as yet unsure where he will rebuild
the Emerson Inn, and suggested it would likely be outside of
Shandaken, despite longstanding promises that his entire Emerson
Place concept was designed for the town’s economic benefit.
For further information on the new Emerson at Woodstock, keep
checking the old Emerson Inn’s website at www.emersonplace.org
or by calling 679-4861.
A Kerhonken family’s almost 300-acre farm on Route 209
will not be opened up to strip malls or housing subdivision
development, now that a development rights option has been signed
between the family that has owned it for generations and the
New York-based Open Space Institute, allowing Arrowhead Farm
to maintain its dairy operations.
The agreement gives the Open Space Institute a year and a half
to come up with $1.6 million to purchase an agricultural easement
from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, a similar
deal to ones it brokered for the Phillies Bridge Farm in Gardiner
a couple of years ago, the Pauls Farm in Hurley, and Davenport
Farm in Stone Ridge. OSI has also been instrumental in protection
of Overlook Mountain in Woodstock and is a co-owner of property
once pegged for a Catskills visitors’ center on Route
28 in Shandaken.
Arrowhead Farm has been raising dairy cows, growing hay and
corn, and producing maple syrup since 1911.
OSI is currently in negotiations with several other Rondout
Valley farmers and is open to other conservation easement propositions
throughout the area to help stem encroaching development in
The 36th annual Woodstock reunion, a private party with a price
tag of $35 now that the “official site” of the 1969
megafestival is being privately developed into an arts park
and multimillion dollar tourist destination, has become the
center of a growing legal battle over heritage, history and
Roy Howard and Jeryl Abramson , owners of land once belonging
to farmer Max Yasgur, who rented out his field to festival developer
Michael Lang of Woodstock, is currently in court fighting charges
from the surrounding Town of Bethel and Sullivan County, which
had sent warnings to the couple to not celebrate the festival’s
anniversary last weekend, following complaints (including two
stabbings) throughout recent years.
The town and county claim the couple refused to meet the requirements
of the permitting process, while the couple claims that the
government has been making up rules as they go along.
Harold Russell, a neighbor and Town of Bethel councilman who
is running for supervisor, meanwhile claims that the music killed
a few of his cows and forced many of them to stop producing
milk last year.
The festival site has long been a point of controversy, especially
since an impromptu 1989 20th anniversary gathering drew 200,000
people and Lang threw reunion concerts drawings hundreds of
thousands of younger concert goers to Saugerties in 1994 and
Rome, NY in 1999. In 1991, chicken manure was dumped on the
concert site to keep people away and in other years a separate
“Freedom Fest” was organized near the site for the
benefit of possible festival goers.
A group calling itself the Woodstock Preservation Alliance has
fought developers to limit the size of the new Bethel Woods
Center for the Arts, and pushed through a negotiated compromise
to keep the actual field made famous in the 1970 film of the
festival, Woodstock, free of future development.
Bethel Woods named a new director last year, David E. Carlucci,
who managed Ohio’s popular Blossom Music Center and other
venues before coming to New York to get the proposed 4800-seat
pavilion – with lawn seating for 12,000 – up and
running by next summer. Bethe Woods is being pegged as one of
several homes for the New York Philharmonic, featuring an interpretative
center/museum that recognizes the historic nature of the location,
permanent outdoor event structures, parking and infrastructure.
Following years of trouble with architects (including some of
the nation’s top talents), construction on the new state-of-the-art
festival theater is expected to start in the coming weeks.
Cable television pioneer Alan Gerry of Libert, NY purchased
the 37.4-acre location of the original festival in 1996. Funding
for the $46 million project comes from the Gerry Foundation,
with over $15 million in government support announced by Governor
George Pataki, State Senator John J. Bonacic, Congressman Maurice
D. Hinchey and the late Assemblyman Jake Gunther III.
The Coalition of watershed Towns spent about $12,000 on legal
advice over a two-month period recently.
The Coalition, which has about $120,000 left after making the
payments Monday, met in Margaretville to mull over various issues
which, according to Executive Committee member Robert Cross
Jr., included his concern that the City of New York’s
Department of Environmental Protection was sticking its nose
where it doesn’t belong: namely Shandaken town business.
Cross, who is also the Supervisor of Shandaken, said he recently
got a call from DEP’s legal staff asking to be an involved
agency in the review of the towns comprehensive plan. Cross
demanded proof that DEP had a right to participate, he said,
and that proof never arrived. The plan was ultimately adopted
with no input from DEP.
In other news, the Coalition worries that DEP may be looking
for loopholes in the watershed agreement to buy land in the
region previously believed to be off limits to the Big Apple.
The Coalition, which met Monday night In Margaretville, is a
regional advocacy group that is largely responsible for that
agreement being put together. The group was formed in the early
1990’s after NYC announced plans to introduce economy
crippling land use regulations in the Catskills in an effort
to protect the drinking water which flows from the region downstream
to over 9 million people. The Coalition forced the City to the
bargaining table, where a deal was hammered out to keep the
water clean and the upstate economy healthy.
Part of the deal allows the City to acquire land in the Catskills
to prevent development, but there rare restrictions on how they
buy and what they buy, most notable is a clause preventing the
City from purchasing non-vacant land.
Coalition Chair Pat Meehan said DEP just tried to buy a gas
station in Prattsville until the town heard of the deal and
complained. He said the problem is the city may feel they can
buy it because it’s not a house. Apparently non-vacant
may actually mean that the land must not contain a habitable
With a concerned shrug he said, “Can you live in a gas
ATV & Hunting
The comment period on a draft statewide all-terrain vehicle
policy ended more than two months ago, but state Department
of Environmental Conservation staffers continue to sort through
letters and e-mails received on the issue. According to agency
officials, the draft policy is not a new law for ATVs, but is
clarifying what the current laws are governing ATV use and what
criteria need to be considered for the natural impacts. Officials
have said the policy would require agency employees to use due
diligence in evaluating every opportunity for ATV use on a case-by-case
basis. It has been further noted that no majority consensus
is showing itself as to future policy decisions.
The state agency has already determined access by the recreational
vehicles must conform with state vehicle and traffic law, the
environmental conservation law, agency rules and regulations
and Adirondack and Catskill state land master plans. Further,
it must not encourage trespassing on private lands or degrade
the environment. The policy prohibits ATV use within the boundaries
of wildlife management areas, tidal wetlands and environmental
education centers, though there are exceptions for people with
Meanwhile, the state DEC has put on sale its hunting, fishing
and trapping licenses for the upcoming sporting season. Licenses
and deer permits can be purchased by mail, phone or at one of
the DEC’s 1,600 sales outlets. Applications are available
on the agency’s Web site, www.dec.state.ny.us, or by calling
The DEC plans to issue approximately 320,000 deer management
permits for the 2005-06 season, roughly half last year’s
allotment. The lower number is the result of a smaller deer
herd, because of the lingering effects of a harsh 2002-03 winter
and a record harvest in 2002.
Development pressures on the region calling for thousands of
new condominiums and townhouses along the Hudson in Kingston,
as well as a new megamall in Newburgh that could prove to be
one of the world’s largest shopping destinations, is yielding
major oppositional organization on the part of environmental
and state-of-the-community advocates throughout the area.
In Kingston, a newly formed coalition of environmental groups
has requested an extension of the public comment time on a draft
environmental impact study compiled by the developer of a large-scale
waterfront housing project that proposes to construct 2,200
units of housing and 300,000 square feet of commercial space
on the Tilcon Inc. property located in the city and the town
of Ulster. In a press release, the new group, Friends of the
Kingston Waterfront – made up of such regional entities
as Scenic Hudson, Friends of the Rondout, Hudson River Heritage,
and Riverkeeper, said the unprecedented size and complexity
of the draft environmental impact statement was the main reason
for requesting the extension.
Meanwhile, the proposed Marketplace at Newburgh, an 800,000
square feet complex of shopping with 4,700 parking spaces, is
starting to encounter equal trepidation as its developers, Wilder
Balter Partners, approach completion of their planning process.
What they’ve got in mind is a mix of big boxes and small
stores, a regional shopping hub they hope will draw heavily
from across eastern Orange and southern Ulster counties, with
a few stores the mid-Hudson has never seen before… all
located near the junction of Interstates 84 and 87, which will
be getting a new interchange to accommodate the mall.
The Marketplace still needs town approvals and faces vocal opposition
from neighborhood groups, but Wilder Balter is committed to
making the deal work. They’ve bought the 110 acre site
outright and have pledged spending $125 million while already
starting to sell their concept to retailers, including the addition
of four or five big box stores.
Prepare for a big regional fight…
Despite a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, the
Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars
to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign
official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting
in New Hampshire. James Tobin, the president’s 2004 campaign
chairman for New England, is charged in New Hampshire federal
court with four felonies accusing him of conspiring with a state
GOP official and a GOP consultant in Virginia to jam Democratic
and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks in November 2002.
A telephone firm was paid to make repeated hang-up phone calls
to overwhelm the phone banks in New Hampshire and prevent them
from getting Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day
2002, prosecutors allege. Republican John Sununu won a close
race that day to be New Hampshire’s newest senator. At
the time, Tobin was the RNC’s New England regional director,
before moving to President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.
A top New Hampshire Party official and a GOP consultant already
have pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Tobin’s
indictment accuses him of specifically calling the GOP consultant
to get a telephone firm to help in the scheme.
Since charges were first filed in December, the RNC has spent
more than $722,000 to provide Tobin, who has pleaded innocent,
a team of lawyers from the high-powered Washington law firm
of Williams & Connolly. Republican Party officials said
they don’t ordinarily discuss specifics of their legal
work, but confirmed to The Associated Press they had agreed
to underwrite Tobin’s defense because he was a longtime
supporter and that he assured them he had committed no crimes.
Federal prosecutors have secured testimony from the two convicted
conspirators in the scheme directly implicating Tobin.
There was a 4-vehicle accident on Wed, Aug.10th. in Pine Hill
that resulted in a severe leg injury to a Big Indian Man.
According to Shandaken Police, at approximately 1:30 pm a Truck
operated by Donald J. Travis of Niskayuna, NY was headed eastbound
on Rte. 28 when it struck a second vehicle operated by Brandon
Pesa of Fleischmann’s. Pesa was attempting to make a left
turn into Belleayre Plaza.
The crash pushed Pesa’s vehicle into motorcyclist Wesley
Pultz of Big Indian, who according to witnesses was pumping
gas. Pultz suffered severe leg injury and was airlifted to Albany
Medical Center. A fourth, parked vehicle was also struck but
no one was inside.
The Plaza suffered property damage including an entire gas pump
being knocked off its foundation.
Assisting Shandaken Police were "local fire companies",
New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriffs department and
After months of debate over science and religion, the Kansas
Board of Education has tentatively approved new state science
standards that weaken the role evolution plays in teaching about
the origin of life. The 10-member board must still take a final
vote, expected in either September or October, but a 6-4 vote
approved a draft of the standards that essentially cemented
a victory for conservative Christian board members who say evolution
is largely unproven and can undermine religious teachings about
the origins of life on earth.
Intelligent design proposes that some features of the natural
world are best explained as products of a considered intent
as opposed to a process of natural selection. If they win final
approval, Kansas will join Minnesota, Ohio and New Mexico, all
of which have adopted critical analysis of evolution in the
last four years.
The new science standards would not eliminate the teaching of
evolution entirely, nor would they require that religious views,
also known as creationism, be taught, but it would encourage
teachers to discuss various viewpoints and eliminate core evolution
theory as required curriculum. Critics say the moves are part
of a continuing national effort by conservative Christians to
push their views into the public education process.
Meanwhile, Harvard University is joining the long-running debate
over the theory of evolution by launching a research project
to study how life began. The team of researchers will receive
$1 million in funding annually from Harvard over the next few
years. The project begins with an admission that some mysteries
about life’s origins cannot be explained.
One in 25 fathers could unknowingly be raising another man’s
child, British scientists have noted after looking at over 50
years of studies from around the world.
The findings of the studies varied dramatically — some
concluded that only one man in 100 is not the father of his
child while others put the figure as high as 30 percent. The
Liverpool researchers calculated the median figure at around
4 percent, suggesting that as many as one in 25 men worldwide
is not the biological father of a child he believes to be his.
“The importance lies not so much in the figure itself
but in the implications, given that as a society we are increasingly
making our decisions on the basis of genetics,” said one
of the researchers, Professor Mark Bellis.
Bellis said that while mix-ups of semen during artificial insemination
accounted for some cases of paternal discrepancy, the majority
were due to a woman having sexual relationships outside marriage.
He said in Britain, 20 percent of women in marriages or long-term
relationships have had affairs, adding that the figures for
other developed countries was similar. Around a third of pregnancies
in Britain are unplanned, increasing the risk of paternal discrepancy.
Writing in the British Medical Association’s Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health, the scientists called for
further research in the area. “We cannot simply ignore
this difficult issue,” they said.
Satellite and weather-balloon research released this month removes
a last bastion of scientific doubt about global warming, researchers
say. Surface temperatures have shown small but steady increases
since the 1970s, but the tropics had shown little atmospheric
heating - and even some cooling. Now, after sleuthing reported
in three papers released by the journal Science, revisions have
been made to that atmospheric data, which had been used by the
Bush administration and other detractors of the global trend.
After examining the satellite data, collected since 1979 by
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellites,
it was found that the satellites had drifted in orbit, throwing
off the timing of temperature measures. Essentially, the satellites
were increasingly reporting nighttime temperatures as daytime
ones, leading to a false cooling trend. The team also found
a math error in the calculations.
Global warming’s pace over the past 30 years has actually
been quite slow, a total increase of about 1 degree Fahrenheit.
It is predicted to accelerate in this century.
Mark Herlong of the George C. Marshall Institute declined to
comment. The group, financed by the petroleum industry, has
used the data disparities to dispute the views of global-warming
activists. In recent years, however, the institute has softened
its public statements, acknowledging that the planet is indeed
getting warmer but still maintaining that the change is happening
so slowly that the impact is minimal.
Meanwhile, a growing number of acamedic scientists have started
talking about the world nearing its long-dreaded “tipping
points,” delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the
Earth’s temperature can cause a dramatic change in the
environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global
temperatures. Among these is the fact that a vast expanse of
western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could
dramatically increase the rate of global warming – an
area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the
size of France and Germany combined – which has started
to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago
at the end of the last ice age. Scientists fear that as it thaws,
it will release billions of tons of methane, a greenhouse gas
20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.
In its last major report in 2001, the intergovernmental panel
on climate change predicted a rise in global temperatures of
4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit between 1990 and 2100, but the estimate
only takes account of global warming driven by known greenhouse
gas emissions. The new discovery, in Siberia, could effectively
double atmospheric levels of the gas, leading to a 10% to 25%
increase in global warming, scientists say.
Last month, some of the world’s worst air polluters, including
the US and Australia, announced a partnership to cut greenhouse
gas emissions through the use of new technologies. The deal
came after British Prime Minister Tony Blair struggled at the
G8 summit to get the US president, George Bush, to commit to
any concerted action on climate change to no real avail.
More than half of all Americans test positive in response to
one or more allergens, double the percentage who did 30 years
ago, a new study reports. Researchers at the National Institutes
of Health found that 54% of people tested positive to at least
one of 10 allergens. The highest response was to dust mites,
27.5%. The lowest was to peanuts, 8.6%. The findings appear
in the August issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The number of positive reactions is much higher than cases of
actual allergic disease, notes lead researcher Samuel Arbes
of the National Institutes of Health. Though a positive skin
test for allergens such as ragweed or cats doesn’t necessarily
mean a person has or will develop allergies, there is a strong
association between the two.
About 20% of U.S. residents have allergies or hay fever; 8%
to 10% have asthma.
The doubling of the prevalence of the six allergens tested in
the earlier survey corresponds to a period during which there
also was a 74% increase in asthma, Arbes says. Though there
is evidence asthma rates have peaked, allergy rates appear to
still be increasing, he says.
Those at highest risk of showing allergic response were people
ages 20 to 29, males, minorities, people living in the West,
people living in old homes and people who were not exposed to
cigarette smoke. Researchers don’t know why positive skin
tests, allergy and asthma are increasing. One theory is that
people simply don’t go outside as often - Americans spend
an estimated 90% of their time indoors - and have higher exposures
to indoor allergens. Another theory is that children become
more vulnerable when they are exposed to fewer bacteria and
viruses. Some researchers believe that has an effect on the
developing immune system.
Members of the Shandaken Police report the arrest of numerous
subjects following a fight on Main Street in Phoenicia. Police
responded to a fight in progress which resulted in one subject
being transported to the Hospital for a fractured Jaw. Through
investigation it was learned that Joanne Winne, age 21 from
Phoenicia had provided alcohol to minors and she was subsequently
arrested and charged with unlawfully dealing with a child 1st,
which is a class A misdemeanor. Winne was released on an appearance
ticket returnable to Shandaken Court at a later date. Also arrested
were Brandon Grant age 19 of Pine Hill and Thomas Brazilian
age 20 of Boicville. Both Grant and Brazilian were charged with
disorderly conduct, a violation, and released on appearance
tickets returnable to Shandaken Court at a later date. Police
report that more arrests are pending. The Shandaken Police were
assisted at the scene by Shandaken Ambulance, the New York State
Police and the DEP police.
Winne had been involved in another incident the previous week
when she was arrested for burglary and harassment after assaulting
a “friend” in Big Indian, along with two juveniles.
Under the auspices of the Animal Emergency Fund, a new program
will be initiated in the coming weeks aiming to “Trap,
Neuter & Release” the entire stray and feral cat population
of Phoenicia. Called the “Phoenicia Feline Project, the
effort will utilize Hav-a-Heart cages and neutering/spaying
via the AEF and Ulster County SPCA. All cats will be tested
for FLIV and Feline Leukemia, get dewormed, and treated for
all possible diseases before being re-released to the areas
where they were originally trapped. No cats will be euthanized,
according to a release for the program, and there will be no
cost to the town. Residents are asked not to feed these cats.
For further info or to make a donation, call Carol Shalaew at
688-2141 or Ann Tucker at 688-8119.