County Executive Mike Hein delivered the proposed county
operating budget for 2011 at the end of September, working
towards a balanced end result by streamlining operations
and further reducing the county workforce to prevent any
increase to the county tax levy.
State and federal governments require Ulster County to
spend 65% of its budget on mandated services, with the
Medicaid obligation expected to cost the county $35.4
million in 2011. New York State also requires that Ulster
County pay 51% of its pre-school special education costs,
as well as 50% of the local Food Stamp Program's costs.
In 2011, Ulster County will also be forced to pay $1.85
million in state-mandated, indigent legal defense services,
alongside countywide probation services, State Pension
Fund contributions (increased by more than $4 million,
or 36 percent, in 2011), and
healthcare costs (which will be transitioning to a modified
self-insurance plan for the coming yearm saving overr
$2.1 million of expenses.)
To match the rising costs, the Ulster County Department
of Public Works will continue to be restructured through
attrition, retirement incentives and layoffs for a savings
of $2.3 million, the reduction of 36 unfilled county positions
on, and the granting of early retirement to 33 others,
With the estimated general fund balance at the end of
the current year expected to be $26 million, Hein said
that the fact of the county sales tax "trending upwards"
has led to the availability of $12 million from the general
fund balance that will be used to offset the county tax
levy, proposed to be $76,944,960... the same as this year's.
If adopted by the Legislature, he said, there would be
no new county property taxes.
Name Route 28?
Anyone have any ideas for a new name for Route 28? If
so the Central Catskills Collaborative wants to hear from
The Collaborative is considering a name to brand 50 miles
of Route 28 stretching from Andes to the edge of Kingston
as a state scenic byway. The group, which met on September
30, already is kicking around some name ideas, said Peter
Manning, regional planner for the Catskill Center for
Conservation and Development and advisor to the group..
"The road is currently known, although not that much
these days, as the Onteora Trail," he said, before
adding other names that have come up. "We have the
Catskill Parkway, we have the Catskill Park Scenic Byway,
we have the Central Catskills Scenic Byway."
One idea, not yet entered, was hatched over a decade ago
by a short lived entity known as the Route 28 Corridor
Committee, an ad hoc group of public officials and local
business leaders from the Shandaken/Middletown area headed
by local developer Dean Gitter that made an attempt to
make a plan for how to boost tourism in the region. That
now defunct committee, which is not related to the current
Central Catskills Collaborative, wanted the state to rename
route 28 the "John Burroughs Trail," after the
famed nature writer and Roxbury Native that favored the
region during his life.
Formed two years ago with promised funding tied to a governor-approved
deal meant to help push Gitter's Belleayre Resort proposal
forward, the Central Catskills Collaborative has been
pushing the Scenic Byway concept under the notion that
such a designation would open the door for new funding
and tourism opportunities for the region.
The CCC, representing the Ulster County towns of Hurley,
Olive, and Shandaken, the Villages of Fleischmanns and
Margaretville and the Delaware County towns of Middletown
and Andes, was formed based on receipt of a state level
grant to pay the Catskill Center for Conservation and
Development to handle the administration responsibilities,
although that funding later fell prey to state shortfalls.
The CCC has since been operating with aid from the Catskills
In its September meeting, the committee also discussed
marketing efforts, including information kiosks, brochures,
a website and comprehensive signage.
For information contact Manning at 586-2611.
A giant report on state forest management released by
the New York Department of Environmental Conservation
didn't capture much attention when it was first published
on September 3, and we didn't push news on its recent
series of public hearings, feeling that it held little
interest for our readers being that we were in the Catskilkls
Park, and not its forest land jurisdictions. But then
things blew up at a recent hearing in New Paltz, where
those who'd read the 338 report closely brought up the
fact that it appeared to okay gas drilling in state forest
According to many among the 150 who showed up in New Paltz,
new plans for New York state forests would permit up to
one wellpad for "fracking" gas drilling purposes
every 80 acres and "could result in thousands upon
thousands of new wells, pipelines, and access roads."
DEC has been said to be inclined to consider natural gas
development on State Forests due in part to the fact it
is a cleaner burning energy alternative to other fossil
fuels such as coal and oil.
Also revealed in the new report were statements that the
DEC is open to allowing wastewater from hydraulic fracturing
to be injected into the ground on forest lands, as well
as proposed guidelines for fracking roads and other industry-related
matters. Although the DEC also stresses the fact that
no gas or oil leases will be signed on state land without
"Another alternative would be to close State Forests
to all future leasing," the report counters at one
point. "This alternative has not been selected because
minerals leasing provides economic benefits and resources
needed by society. Development on public lands, with heightened
protections and oversight, has proven to be a compatible
use of State Forests."
Key areas pegged by the DEC as potential sites for drilling
into the Marcellus Shale iinclude Chenango, Broome and
Tioga counties in Region 7, Sullivan County in Region
3, and Delaware County in Region 4. DEC is taking public
comment on its draft forest management plan until October
29. You can comment by emailing the DEC.
Meanwhile, Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum accused
the US Army Corps of Engineers with becoming "a rogue
agency" seeking to fast track regulations before
a cumulative impact assessment is completed on natural
gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation, saying
it would be working backwards to allow for fracking to
be performed before the study process has played out.
There is currently a moratorium in place on gas production
wells in the Delaware River Watershed, where a number
of major environmental organizations, including Trout
Unlimited's New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania Councils,
are requesting that the federal government intercede to
better manage the flows in the Delaware River system.
The Superintendent of the Onteora School District took
a proactive approach to a concern about child safety last
week and at least some vocal district parents are lauding
On Wednesday September 22 parents and guardians received
an automated message from the School District: "The
intent of this message is to make you more vigilant at
your child's bus stop today and in the future. It has
been reported that a white Jeep Cherokee with significant
rust approached several bus stops this morning to the
point that children felt very uncomfortable in the Olivebridge-Samsonville
area. No other incidents occurred, but administration
wanted to inform you of this event. The driver was a black
male with white hair who was smoking. The Onteora School
District has notified the local authorities of this event.
Again, this message is to bring more attention to your
child's bus stop before and after school."
State Police said this week that the vehicle and driver
were located that day and after questioning it was determined
that there had been no wrongdoing. The case was closed
and there were no arrests.
Charlotte Gregory, the Interim Superintendent of Schools,
explained that the alert was sent out so quickly thanks
to new technology called Shoutpoint.
"Shoutpoint is a communication system between the
school district and parents," she said. "We
used it last week when we had a situation of concern to
encourage parents to be more vigilant at bus stops. We
will continue to use the system whenever we have a message
of concern to parents."
At an Onteora open house the evening of the incident parents
applauded school officials for the actions taken.
"It's a really useful tool," said District Board
President Laurie Osmond. "I expect it will come in
handy this winter during early snow closings."
Osmond said she has not heard anything negative from parents
about the warning issued last week.
The former pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Margaretville,
charged with 20 charges connected to the alleged sexual
abuse of six males over the past decade, has been ordered
to register as a sex offender and sentenced to six years'
The Rev. James McDevitt, 63, pastor of the Sacred Heart
Catholic Church, turned himself in last summer and pleaded
not guilty during an appearance at Middletown Town Court.
He was alleged to have told the six males to each take
down their pants and underpants and then lie across his
lap. He then spanked them three times on their bare buttocks,
according to court documents. The alleged victims range
in age from 11 to 19 at the time of the incidents, which
occurred between last October and mid-April, although
some of the events with two of the males began three years
The misdemeanor charges were six counts of second-degree
sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, six counts
of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of
third-degree sexual abuse. McDevitt had been released
on $1,000 bail to reappear in court in August. Sentencing
was in September.
Albany Diocese Director of Communications Kenneth Goldfarb
said at the time that the diocese was issued a search
warrant that McDevitt requested a voluntary leave.
Separately, McDevitt was arrested June 2 after a car accident
and charged with driving while intoxicated. Before being
assigned to the Margaretville church, McDevitt served
the Delhi Catholic Church.
A town in neighboring Delaware County is trying to force
a local Muslim religious community of Sufis to dig up
a small cemetery on its property and never bury anyone
there again because it says it's illegal.
"What we would not want is an unauthorized cemetery,"
said Bob McCarthy, town supervisor of Sidney, before a
deluge of media attention descended on his comments. "We're
taking care of a bunch of cemeteries, and they just came
in and buried the bodies, and didn't go through...there's
no funding there, it's not a standard kind of deal, and
it's going to become a liability to the town."
So what steps have the Muslims skipped? "I don't
know what the exact law is," he answered.
Which is the problem; because whether or not the town
government likes it, there are no laws in Sidney - or
New York state, for that matter - covering cemeteries
on private land - religious cemeteries included. Plus,
the town approved the cemetery in 2005.
In any event, the cemetery, in the tiny hamlet of Sidney
Center, was never a secret - and couldn't have been: When
the first body arrived in November, 2009, it had a 3-car
escort from the Passaic, New Jersey Police Department,
which told local authorities it was arriving. And there's
certainly nothing illegal about it as far as the State
Troopers are concerned.
"We looked into the cemetery and it was determined
what they were doing is lawful," says Captain James
Barnes of the New York State Police, Troop "C ",
based in Sidney.
Town officers in turn indicated that in the absence of
specific laws forbidding the cemetery, the town may try
for a court order to force the Sufis to dig up their graves,
based on a New York law against cemeteries on mortgaged
land - a technicality that covers the Muslim site, sitting
in a hillside glade no larger than a Manhattan studio
apartment. The Sufis have since said their options include
either subdividing the property to exclude the cemetery,
or paying off the mortgage, which is under $200,000.
The Sufis, 30-some mostly American-born converts, moved
to their 50-acre sheep farm in 2002 under the ideal that
since the world is what it is, people who want to live
a spiritual life need to live apart from it - not unlike
Hasidic Jews or Amish people.
Guys & Dolls!
How do you build a roof on an aging theater? Sing for
the money, of course.
This Friday and Saturday, October 8th and 9th, the Shandaken
Theatrical Society presents the fantastic classic musical
"Guys and Dolls" in concert as a fundraiser
for its "Raise the Roof Fund," with show beginning
at 7:00 PM each evening. At intermission each evening
there will be "gambling" via raffles and an
auction, complementary country desserts and "a sip
of sin" at a cash bar. Tickets are a $25 donation
to the "Raise The Roof Fund."
Amongst the show's cast will be Robert "Uncle Rock"
Warren, Jay Bramin Jr., Chuck Sokolowski, Ann Davies,
Amy Wallace, Katie and Lucia Legnini and husband and wife
theatre veterans Jessica and Brian Sherman. The evening's
narrator and commentator is Dave Pillard and Musical Director
is Maria Todoro.
In addition to the new roof, funds will also go towards
stage floor repairs, window replacements, new curtains
and other needs to get the 123 year old space in shape.
"What we wanted to do was stimulate business and
help the merchants by asking for vouchers for a percentage
off or money towards a larger purchase. So far we have
had a great response," said benefit producer Michael
Mills. "We are calling it the Economic Stimulus Raffle
and so far 30 local businesses including Woodstock Meats,
The Emerson, Sweet Sue's. The Phoenicia Belle and Oriole
9 have donated."
In a show of bi-partisan support area politicians will
act as raffle "officials" each night. On Friday
evening Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley will pull the
winning numbers and on Saturday Ulster County Comptroller
Elliott Auerbach will do the honors.
For further info on the Phoenicia-based theater, call
688-2279 or visit www.stsplayhouse.com.
Levon At OCS!
Onteora Central School District will host The Levon Helm
Band, on Friday, October 22, 2010, 7:00 pm in the Harry
Simon Auditorium at the high school, 4166 State Route
28, Boiceville, The event is being organized by the parents,
students and community of the Onteora School District.
Appearing with the Levon Helm band will be Levon Helm,
Amy Helm, Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Howard Johnson,
Clark Gayton, Steven Bernstein, Erik Lawrence, Jay Collins,
Byron Isaacs, Jim Weider (Onteora alumni) and Brian Mitchell.
Ticket prices are $65, with limited $45 and $20 community
seats, and $100 VIP seats, and will be available for purchase
at www.levonhelm.com. All major credit cards and Paypal
will be accepted. Proceeds will be equally distributed
to benefit the arts in all the schools.
Flu Shot Time...
The Ulster County Department of Health has eight flu and
pneumonia immunization clinics remaining on its 2010 schedule:
Oct. 8: 9 a.m. to noon, Hurley Reformed Church, 11 Main
Oct. 13: 9 a.m. to noon, St. John's Episcopal Church,
207 Albany Ave., Kingston.
Oct. 15: 9 a.m. to noon, Woodstock Rescue Squad, state
Route 212, Woodstock.
Oct. 19: 9 a.m. to noon, VFW Post 8645, 101 Route 208,
Oct. 22: 9 a.m. to noon, Esopus Town Hall, 174 Broadway,
Oct. 26: 9 a.m. to noon, Ulster Town Hall, 1 Town Hall
Drive, Lake Katrine.
Oct. 29: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Wallkill Fire Department,
Park Avenue, Wallkill.
Nov. 1: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Ashokan Legion, Mountain Road,
No appointments are necessary, and county residents may
attend any clinic that is convenient.
Residents who are at the greatest risk for influenza-related
illnesses are urged to receive the flu vaccine. This high-risk
group includes those over age 50; adults 18 and over who
have heart disease, chronic broncho-pulmonary disease,
renal disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic metabolic disorders,
severe anemia and/or compromised immune function; and
others who are at risk of influenza-related conditions.
Flu vaccine also is recommended for home care providers
and others (including household members) who may be in
close contact with high-risk individuals.
Senior citizens who have Medicare Part B benefits will
be able to obtain their vaccinations through Medicare.
The recipient must be entitled to Part B coverage on the
date of service, Medicare Part B must be the primary insurance
coverage, and the Medicare card must be presented on the
date of service. For those not eligible for Medicare Part
B coverage, there will be a $20 charge for flu vaccinations
and a $35 charge for pneumonia vaccinations, payable at
County residents enrolled in Medicare managed care programs
should first consult with their primary care physician.
College For All!
Linking a decrease in the nation's high unemployment rate
to investment in higher education, President Barack Obama
launched a national partnership this month that connects
community college classrooms with the employment needs
of the country's boardrooms.
Five major employers - PG&E, McDonald's, United Technologies,
Accenture and Gap Inc. - have already signed onto the
program, dubbed Skills for America's Future. A task force,
co-chaired by top administration officials, will coordinate
the effort with the private sector in all 50 states.
Community colleges educate 45 percent of the nation's
undergraduates, and enrollment has surged as the recession
pushes Americans to get additional training. But the economic
crisis has forced many of the two-year schools to cap
student enrollment and cut programs.
The initiative, arriving on the eve of the White House's
first summit on community colleges, builds on Obama's
goal of having the U.S. lead the world in the number of
college graduates by 2020.
The president's renewed focus on community colleges also
got a boost recently from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
which announced it would donate $34.8 million over five
years for a competitive pool of grants for proposals to
increase the graduation rates of community college students.
The foundation is seeking applications from groups of
community colleges in nine target states: Arizona, California,
Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas
This influx of private investment is a boon for the administration's
education reform agenda, as Congress repeatedly has blocked
its requests for funding. A year ago, the president proposed
upgrading community colleges with a $12 billion investment
over 10 years, but Congress approved $2 billion over four
Education experts agree the urgency is real: In global
rankings, the U.S. has fallen from first to 12th in the
number of adults with postsecondary degrees. Just two-fifths
of Americans hold at least an associate degree, while
the world leader, Canada, boasts a 56 percent college
The White House has repeatedly pointed out that congressional
Republicans want to reduce the national investment in
education. Their plans would cut 200,000 children from
the Head Start program that encourages early learning,
slash federal Pell grants by an average of $700 for approximately
8 million college students and reduce funding for special-education
House Minority Leader John Boehner's office has rejected
that argument, saying his party is only interested in
cutting non-defense discretionary spending to 2008 levels.
Funding for Main Street revitalization in Fleischmanns
and home repairs in the towns of Roxbury, Middletown and
Andes has been secured by the MARK Project of Arkville,
with Executive Director Peg Ellsworth announceing recently
grants from the NY HOME and NY Main Street programs totaling
The Fleischmanns Project was finally approved after failing
to get funded last year, and will be used for Main Street
revival much as Phoenicia and Pine Hill revived using
similar grants in years past, when the Shandaken-Olive
area's SHARP Committee was still active in local economic
development, tourism, and other community-building projects.
The MARK Project is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt rural
development company that "unites efforts and secures
resources to build and revitalize our communities."
For 30 years, MARK has provided housing programs, economic
development and technical assistance services to the Towns
of Andes, Middletown and Roxbury and the Villages of Fleischmanns
and Margaretville. Its current projects range from aiding
the creation of the new WIOX community radio station out
of Roxbury to this coming weekend's old house tours in
The entity has been in a revival of its own ever since
hiring on Peg Ellsworth as director several years ago.
Ellsworth came to her new position after years with local
arts groups and community development projects.
For further information visit www.markproject.org
For more on SHARP, stop by their offices on Main Street
in Phoenicia and ask why they don't have a website yet.
The orchestral and chamber music of acclaimed American
composer George Tsontakis, a resident of Olive, will be
presented in prestigious venues throughout the 2010-11
concert season. The concerts, in New York, Albany and
at the Bard Fisher Center, are to include two world premieres
as well as two New York premieres.
The American String Quartet, celebrating their 35th anniversary
season, eloquently reprised Tsontakis' fourth quartet
at their Manhattan School of Music recital on September
12. The San Francisco based Cypress String Quartet will
present the New York premiere of the composer's fifth
quartet "In Memoriam; George Rochberg," at the
Tenri Center on November 14.
Last April, Tsontakis led the premiere of his 15-minute
"Laconika" with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra,
which commissioned it. The heralded work was immediately
chosen by the Riverside Symphony to open their 30th Anniversary,
in a concert at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall on November
Next May 10, the Albany Symphony's will make its Carnegie
Hall debut with Tsontakis's 1994 homage to the Civil War,
"Let the River Be Unbroken." Commissioned for
the 75th anniversary of the Alexandria, Symphony, the
work in based on Appalachian and Civil War music. Also
in the coming year, the Da Capo Chamber Players will present
the world premiere of a new major work for their "Pierrot"
configuration quintet on June 2, at New York's Merkin
Tsontakis is Distinguished Composer-in-Residence at Bard
College. On May 5 (following a performance at Harvard's
Sanders Theater on May 1), college president Leon Botstein
will lead the Bard Conservatory Orchestra in the composer's
concerto for two violins at the Bard Fisher Center, a
piece commissioned by George Soros and premiered at the
Aspen Music Festival in August, 2009.
Tsontakis has is staunchly dedicated to his area of the
Hudson River Valley and has stated that he "would
rather work with the Albany Symphony, which presents a
ton of new music, than the New York Philharmonic."
The AS will premiere one of two works that they commissioned
from the composer, as part of his residency, on May 10
at Rensselaer Polytechnic's EMPAC Theater.
George Tsontakis has been the recipient of the two richest
prizes awarded in all of classical music; the international
Grawemeyer Award, in 2005, for his Second Violin Concerto
and the 2007 Ives Living, from the American Academy.
A new pictorial history, "Shandaken," will be
available for purchase shortly both locally and online.
Put together by Mary Herrmann, a former director and current
board member of the Shandaken Historical Museum, royalties
from the book will be paid to the Town, with proceeds
to be earmarked specifically for use by the museum to
help obtain matching funds required by grants. Subjects
covered by the nearly 200 rare photographs include the
town's early years, business & industry, civic &
social organizations, notable residents and regular folks,
the railroad and tourism, and hamlets, mountain and streams.
The book is part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America
series. It can be purchased online through Amazon or other
retailers, at www.arcadiapublishing.com, or at the museum
located on Academy Street in Pine Hill.
There's a new house of worship in Phoenicia. The organizers
of the Baptist Meeting House describe this new addition
to the religious landscape as "an old fashioned,
hymn singin', independent, fundamental ministry spreading
the word..." as well as a missionary effort of Ambassador's
Baptist Church in Apache Junction, AZ.
A small but dedicated group has been meeting in private
homes for about two years, but now they have a building
on Route 28 just west of the Phoenicia hamlet near the
entrance to Woodland Valley.
For more information call 688-3154.
The Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) is funding evaluations
of woody biomass heating opportunities for regional businesses,
municipalities, non-profits and other institutions. Any
organization with a building ranging from 6,000 to 25,000
square feet located in Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Putnam,
Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, or Westchester Counties is
eligible. Target facilities include maintenance garages,
warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and offices. Grant
applications will be available throughout the month of
October with an application deadline of November 1.
This is the third round of woody biomass heating feasibility
grants WAC has made available through its Forestry Program.
While previous rounds focused on facilities over 75,000
square feet, the current funding is directed at smaller-scale,
institutional needs. For both large and small facilities,
heating with woody biomass can potentially reduce energy
expenses. Many institutions previously evaluated by the
first round, pre-feasibility studies sponsored by WAC's
Forestry Program found that switching from their current
fuel source (such as fuel oil, propane, or electricity)
could save them 50% or more on their annual heating expenses.
In some cases, results indicated that the woody biomass
system would pay for itself in lowered heating costs in
less than five years.
Switching to biomass also benefits the community by keeping
energy dollars local. Unlike oil, which must be imported
to New York from other countries, woody biomass is a renewable
fuel that can be produced and processed locally.
For organizations interested in receiving a biomass evaluation,
applications can be downloaded via WAC's home page at
www.nycwatershed.org. Potential applicants can also request
an application by mail by contacting Joshua VanBrakle,
the Council's Wood Products Specialist, at (607) 865-7790,
With Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mike
Huckabee all making moves indicating they may run for
president, their common employer is facing a question
that hasn't been asked before: How does a news organization
cover White House hopefuls when so many are on the payroll?
As Fox New's popularity grows among conservatives, the
presence of four potentially serious Republican candidates
as paid contributors is beginning to frustrate competitors
of the network, figures within its own news division and
rivals of what some GOP insiders have begun calling "the
With the exception of Mitt Romney, Fox now has deals with
every major potential Republican presidential candidate
not currently in elected office. The matter is of no small
consequence, since it's uncertain how other news organizations
can cover the early stages of the presidential race when
some of the main GOP contenders are contractually forbidden
to appear on any TV network besides Fox.
C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully said that when C-SPAN
tried to have Palin on for an interview, he was told he
had to first get Fox's permission - which the network,
citing her contract, ultimately denied. Producers at NBC,
ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all report similar experiences.
At issue are basic matters of political and journalistic
fairness and propriety. With Fox effectively becoming
the flagship network of the right and, more specifically,
the tea party movement, the four Republicans it employs
enjoy an unparalleled platform from which to speak directly
to primary voters who will determine the party's next
Fox has indicated that once any of the candidates declares
for the presidency he or she will have to sever the deal
with the network. But it's such a lucrative and powerful
pulpit that Palin, Gingrich, Santorum and Huckabee have
every reason to delay formal announcements and stay on
contract for as long as they can. And Fox said it doesn't
relax exclusivity provisions.
What worries some in the political and media community,
though, is that behind these candidates' incessant attacks
on what Palin calls "the lamestream media" is
a strategy to de-legitimize traditional news outlets so
as to avoid ever facing any accountability beyond Fox.
Keep an eye on this trend...
The New Normal?
Think of it as a new "normal" in American family
life. After creeping slowly and steadily upward most of
the last 50 years, the number of babies born to young
unmarried women quietly crossed a threshold in 2006. For
the first time in a half-century of record-keeping, a
majority of babies born to women younger than 30 were
out of wedlock.
Most of the mothers are not college-educated. In fact,
the story of the American family has split into two widely
divergent realities. College-educated women are marrying
later, having babies within a marriage and divorcing less.
Their husbands are spending more time with the children.
Women without a college degree are doing just the opposite
- and in growing numbers.
The next generation of children is going to be much more
unequal than what we have today, sociologists are warning.
There will be a really elite group and a group that will
massively fall behind.
Many are starting to advocate providing more public assistance
and tax breaks for low-income families, especially those
in which the parents are married and working. It is estimated
that taxpayers pony up about $7,000 a year to support
the typical family of an unwed mother without a high-school
At the time of an out-of-wedlock birth, it's been found,
about half of all couples live together. But because two-thirds
of those relationships typically dissolve by the time
a child turns 5, there's a lot of instability. A lot of
women form relationships with new men, and have children
with the new men. There are people moving in and out.
Those are dramatic events in a woman's and a child's life.
Out-of-wedlock births are closely correlated with education.
In 2005-2006, 67 percent of babies born to high-school
dropouts under 30 were born to unwed women. Among high-school
graduates with no further education, the figure was 52
percent. Among college graduates, it was 14 percent.
In 1960, 6 percent of babies born to women under 30 were
born to unmarried women. By 2006, that figure had grown
to 50.4 percent.
President Obama issued an executive order last October
requiring every government agency to spell out how it
plans to "lead by example" in environmental
sustainability. He wanted to hear about waste management
and water use, smart meters in federal office buildings
and alternative-fuel vehicles in public fleets.
The Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans were finally
due last week, and embedded in the dense documents are
hundreds of small ideas. The relatively obscure Corporation
for National and Community Service, for one, is promising
to set all its printers to double-sided default mode and
to check the tire pressure every time a government vehicle
leaves the lot.
The federal government is the largest consumer of energy
in the U.S. economy, and the president is aiming for a
28 percent reduction in direct greenhouse gas pollution
by 2020. Here's a look at what many departments have in
1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture used an estimated
1.737 billion gallons of water in its buildings during
fiscal year 2009, all of which cost about $8.1 million
(the president also wants taxpayers save money while the
government is at it conserving energy). The USDA has actually
cut its water consumption since 2007 by about 20 percent,
and it hopes to wring future savings through new water
meters, better rainfall management and using native plant
species in landscaping.
2. Inside the Department of Defense, the Air Force is
planning to certify all of its aircraft against a 50-50
alternative fuel blend by 2011, and by 2016, the Navy
expects to field a carrier strike group of nuclear vessels
and ships powered by biofuel. Permanent military installations
are also already generating their own renewable energy.
Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada has 72,000 solar panels
producing 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per
3. The Department of Education is planning to cut down
on the physical paperwork most college students know well
- federal student loan applications. The program will
be administered almost entirely online, saving both paper
and the energy required to transport it. The department
also anticipates that as it brings on about 500 new full-time
employees, it will find new ways to put them to work,
either through satellite offices or telecommuting.
4. The Department of Energy squats in about 10,000 buildings
and trailers across the country, covering more than 126
million square feet of office space, warehouses and laboratories.
As the department builds more modern facilities, it will
adhere to a "one-for-one" policy: For every
square foot of new construction, one square foot of similar
building must be decommissioned and disposed of. At the
beginning of this fiscal year, the department also generated
0.16 percent of its power from on-site renewables. That
figure should reach 5.1 percent by the end of fiscal year
5. The Department of Interior has a similarly expansive
footprint: It manages 20 percent of the country's land,
while operating 47,000 buildings and 33,000 vehicles.
It wants all of its new buildings by the end of 2030 to
achieve net-zero energy (generating as much as they consume).
Among programs already underway, Zion National Park is
phasing out the sale of water bottles in favor of reusable
"bottle filling stations" (water fountains?).
And a new 18-kilowatt photovoltaic system will offset
30 percent of the electricity used at the Grand Canyon's
South Rim visitor center.
6. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is
giving energy retrofits to 126,000 public-housing units
in 2010 and 2011. The department is spending about one-third
of is $4.86 billion in Recovery Act funds on "greening"
public housing stock. Inside its own offices, HUD has
also nearly doubled its monthly employee transit subsidy
(now $230). Seventy-six percent of employees at the department's
headquarters now commute to work by transit.
7. The Department of State admits to a unique problem:
"The concept of effective diplomacy is inherently
about people-to-people relationships and contacts"
- in other words, long-distance travel. Last year, State
bought 142,370 tickets for domestic travel, producing
more than 92 million pounds of greenhouse gasses. To get
around some of that pollution, the department plans to
look at alternatives in digital video and Web conferencing,
in the process scrutinizing "one of the Department's
fundament business models."
8. A slew of Environmental Protection Agency offices have
sprouted green roofs, including a laboratory in Rhode
Island, an annex in Cincinnati, regional offices in Denver,
Seattle, Boston and a headquarters satellite in Arlington,
Va. The EPA also has its first carbon-neutral laboratory
building in Oklahoma and an all-electric office in Kansas
9. The Peace Corps is reducing the square footage - and
associated energy use - at its headquarters by 10 percent
through more efficient space design. And it has cut down
on electricity consumption by 16 percent at the Washington
headquarters by shutting down HVAC systems on weekends
10. The Army Corps of Engineers is renovating two office
spaces in Seattle to use eco-friendly carpeting, furniture
and countertops. The Louisville District plans to replace
21 non-hybrid government vehicles with new energy-efficient
ones. And the Sacramento District is placing solar electric
systems on nine dams, where they're expected to satisfy
about 40 percent of each office's electricity needs.
What are you doing in your home?
Court Date Move
A pending court date for Shandaken Town Clerk Laurilyn
Frasier, arrested on July 20 after a complaint was made
to the Ulster County Sheriff's office that Frasier had
pushed her deputy, Jacqui Gugleilmetti, resulting in a
Harassment 2 second violation charge, has been moved now
that both Shandaken town justices have recused themselves
from hearing the case. An October 13 session has been
set in Kingston at which a motion will be heard to move
the case to a different town court in the county.
The longtime Town Clerk for the Town of Shandaken, 59
of Phoenicia, was arrested following an alleged scuffle
between her and the Deputy Town Clerk in the town's offices
in Allaben. Reports from sources that were in town hall
during the incident indicate that the two women were engaged
in a verbal disagreement immediately before the alleged
The Shandaken Town Board this month adopted a workplace
violence policy following the issuance of state department
of Labor violations last month in the wake of the case.