Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cold Weather Prospects

27+0. Those are numbers that Catskill school boosters would like to fix in the minds of voters. To that end, on March 9th, in the High School cafeteria, from 3 to 7 pm., to any and all visitors, the boosters (including many students) will be dispensing chowder (corn and clam) at the price of 27 cents for one bowl and, for a second bowl, zero. The numbers relate to costs to local taxpayers of bond issues for school construction and repair projects. The 27 recalls the fact that for the previous multi-million dollar project, the average Catskill taxpayer was obliged to pay 27 cents for every $10,000 of assessed property value. That contribution was a fraction of the total budget; the rest, the bigger part of the cost, came from State funds. As for the price of a second bowl of chowder--zero--that represents what local taxpayers would be obliged to shell out if the voters, on March 16, approve the proposed new bond issue. Zero. Says Superintendent Kathleen Farrell: “We have a referendum package totaling $16.7 million dollars [sic.], which will give our district the ability to provide many academic supports and needed programs, without any tax impact to you, our community members and property owners.” State aid funding would cover 94.5% of costs, and an EXCEL (Expanding Our Children’s Education and Learning) grant would cover the rest. Local taxpayers’ share: 0. Zero.

LONG GREEN IN GREENELAND. At the end of the year 2000, our leading bank reported $168 million in assets. At the end of 2006 the Bank of Greene County’s assets totaled $312 million. Those figures tell a story that is much more dramatic than what is suggested by the phrase economic progress.

DECLARED as candidate for Catskill Town Supervisor, to succeed retiring Joe Izzo at the coming November election: Peter Markou. The veteran public administrator and economic development guru will make an effort, we anticipate, to win Democratic as well as Republican endorsement. As for Town Council seats, apart from the incumbents, former Village Trustee Paul Rosenblatt Sr is considering a run, as are Gary Kistinger and (perhaps, maybe) Chuck Balsano.

IN PROSPECT for downtown Catskill in the near future, we foresee, are three new restaurants, a sporting goods store, and a 20-room creekside hotel. Moreover, the former Conrail passenger station may not be doomed to indefinite degradation.

INVITED: poems and photographs as entries in GreeneLand-sponsored competitions. For the eighth annual Rip Van Winkle Poetry Competition, sponsored by Greenville-based All Arts Matter and the Greene County Library Association, entries must be original, unpublished, and submitted by March 31. Cash prizes and public readings will be given for winners in adult and under-15 divisions. For additional information, telephone (518)966-4038 or check the Web site www.allartsmatter.org . The photo contest, sponsored by the Catskill Mountain Foundation, offers cash prizes for entries in ten different kinds of regional scenes. A grand prize of $1000 is offered, along with prizes of $100, $75 and $50 for top-rated pictures of mountain, water, forest, farm, Fall, Winter, Spring & Summer, wildlife, outdoor sports, and festival or special event scenes, drawn from any of the eight counties that make up the Catskill Region. Deadline for submissions is May 15th. Forms can be obtained from the web site www.catskillmountainregionguide.com. Or telephone (607) 280-9011.

FLEDGED as New York State trooper, after serving as a Catskill Village police officer, passing rigorous admission tests, then surviving six months of Academy training: Paul Rosenblatt Jr. He’s the only GreeneLand graduate in an unusually large class (235 graduates, of 267 starters). He and 13 other rookies, including two females, have been assigned to the Catskill barracks. They work 12-hour shifts, for five days in one week and then two days in the next week.

CONVICTED, after a three-day jury trial in Greene County court, of sexually abusing a 9-year old girl: Adam Phillips, 30, of Catskill. Phillips was living in a Broad Street apartment not only with his wife and two infant daughters, but also with a mistress and her two daughters, one of whom was his victim. Judge George J. Pulver Jr. scheduled sentencing (it could be 30 years) for April 17.

CITED, by the Catskill Town Council, for extraordinarily offensive accumulations of junk: four owners of local properties. They have been told—after several previous notices--to abate their nuisances by March 6th or else the Town Board will order clean-ups at their expense. The cited offenders and their trash piles are Dante Cinelli, of 10 Mill Lane in Palenville; Michael Ostoyic Sr, 39 Pine St, Smiths Landing; John Thorpe of John’s Kiskatom Grocery, 1187 Route 23A; and William Zielinski, a Poughkeepsie resident who is responsible legally for the mess on 3.7 acres at 3552 Route 23A in Palenville. We are happy to give them due recognition by name.

SHUTTERED, to clear the way for a major internal makeover: Stewart House, in Athens. According to proprietor Owen Lipstein, “incredibly exciting things” will be revealed, including floor-to-ceiling murals of Hudson River scenes, when the restaurant and hostelry reopens on April 2d. Meanwhile, out at his Three Hounds estate, Mr Lipstein is planning to install an ultra-modern studio as part of newly formed Stewart House Records, a company devoted to finding, developing and promoting musical talent. Also anticipated is a return of Shakespeare On Hudson this summer, with a performance, in the Three Hounds amphitheater, of “Othello.” (Here’s hoping the dates don’t clash with performances of “Cat on a A Hot Tin Roof” at Historic Catskill Point, by the locally recruited cast directed by Joseph Capone, on June 22, 23, 29 and 30 and July 6 and 7.

BOOKED for a “Today Show” appearance, March 14, on behalf of her cookbook series for Williams-Sonoma: GreeneLand’s Brigit Binns. Her layabout husband, Casey Biggs, will be guest star on a forthcoming episode of NBC’s “Medium.” He’s working on a “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” Broadway musical, fusing episodes of Cardassian capers; teaching a theater class weekly in New York; prepping for a Vegas gig with the Enterprise Blues Band. And those projects are small beer compared with Mr Biggs's colossal in-development GreeneLand project.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sued, Honored, Challenged

SUED. A Catskill resident has commenced a lawsuit against Peckham Industries and the State Department of Environmental Conservation. Plaintiff Lee Anne Morgan accuses Peckham, the road-building materials company, of conducting “unreasonable,” dangerous, loud, “outrageous,” and illegal activities at its former limestone quarry site near her home on Fyke Road.

Although that site no longer yields limestone, it is used by Peckham, says Ms Morgan, for crushing imported rocks, for dumping and burning tires, and for storing and distributing explosives materials—all without proper DEC permits. Activities at the site allegedly generate an inordinate, invasive, dangerous volume of truck traffic--day and night, to the extent of more than 100 comings and goings in 24 hours. This occurs on “an unusually narrow, hilly” road on which there “blind curves” and which is devoid of sidewalks even where it “passes through a residential neighborhood.” The plaintiff and her neighbors accordingly are exposed by Peckham’s activities “to grave danger and substantial risk of serious bodily harm.”

According to the complaint, filed on January 22nd by attorney Edward Kaplan of Hunter, Ms Morgan asks the State Supreme Court’s Greene County judge to order Peckham to stop assembling explosives at and distributing them from its Fyke Road site, to limit company-related truck traffic on Fyke Road to daylight hours, and to commence legally required reclamation work.

Peckham Industries is a privately owned company based in White Plains. In GreeneLand, in addition to its 90-acre Fyke Road site, Peckham operates a terminal for asphalt supplies in Athens and another plant, for crushed stone and hot mix asphalt, on Route 9W South in Catskill.

[Another Fyke Road resident, after reading the foregoing story, said "It's not that bad."]

OLDEN DAYS. Catskill is “not what it was” days past, says retiring Town Supervisor Joe Izzo. “It’s better.” Better than it was in the 1920’s, he specified, when local Klansmen burned a cross here. Better than it was in the 1950’s, when white folks and colored folks occupied separate sections of the Community Theater. It has become a better place, he added, thanks to the kind of people who, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Movement’s luncheon on Saturday (2/10), in the Catskill High School cafeteria, were cited for service. Eighteen individuals were named in the program as honorees, along with the collective rescuers of the Community Center. Then the organizers sprang a surprise, conferring additional awards on Richard Muggeo, the recently retired history teacher who, with colleague Patricia Lewis, instigated recognition of the Martin Luther King legacy 20 years ago; Donna Davis, civic activist; and Kathleen Farrell, superintendent of Catskill schools. Those honorees received applause aplenty from the 250 participants who filled the cafeteria. So did the other speakers, as they recalled the King legacy of “freedom for all,” his insistence that people be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and his affirmation that “where there is unity, there is power, and where there is unity and power there is love.” Dr King, said the Rev. Richard Turpin, was“a good Samaritan and”—referring to the honorees—“there are some good Samaritans in this room.” The day’s honorees incoluded Madeline Behrmann, Dante Marshall Butler, Jewell Jenkins Chestnut, Patricia Dushane, C. Mae Jacocks, Tom June, Alyssa O’Neil, Wayne Neal, Daniel Pneuman, Chris Quinn, Joseph Rothrock II, Greg Sager, Rebecca Shields, Danielle Ashley Valenchis, Kiona Walter and Tyrone Lamont Whitted.

CHALLENGED. On Monday, Sheriff Richard Hussey was subjected, at a meeting in the County building in Catskill, to sharp questioning by GreeneLand legislators. On Tuesday, he got confirmation that one of his lieutenants will be running for the office, notwithstanding hints that incumbent would like to serve another term. Meanwhile, his trial on a drunk driving charge remains to be conducted.

Monday’s grilling from the legislators related mostly to budget-busting payments made last year for over-time work by sheriff’s office employees. Those extras came to $190,000 for deputies and $148,000 for jail correctional officers. While complaining that he was given unduly short and indirect notice that he was “going to be on the carpet” and thus did not have time to prepare a systematic explanation, Sheriff Hussey referred to increases in the jail population and attendant State-mandated services. There were 838 inmates in 2006, he reported, as compared with 730 in 2005 and about the same numbers in the previous two years. More inmates than ever had to be “boarded out”—transported by van to jails in neighboring counties, each one escorted by two deputies each way. Moreover, several inmates required prolonged hospitalization; each one, as prescribed by State regulations, had to have a private hospital room and a 24-hour guard (meaning three successive eight-hour shifts).

The interchanges between Sheriff Hussey and the legislators were illuminated further by these sentences from The Daily Mail:

*With [the sheriff] were four deputies out of uniform, whom both he and lawmakers attested to excellent service and work ethic.

*Questions over how the sheriff went about having a boat for the department, which in recent years was borrowed from the state Dept of Environmental Conservation and private and governmental entities.”

*Frequently up to 90 percent capacity, the sheriff said that the jail, with the medical needs of inmates and state regulations, corrections officers have to be there no matter what, which means frequent overtime.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Hussey received a courtesy visit from Lt Gregory Seeley, who confirmed recent gossip that he, Seeley, will seek the Republican nomination for sheriff at the November election. This intention was announced at the same time by e-mail to local news media.

The would-be successor brings to the task a 22-year career in the sheriff’s office plus long stints on the Town Council and the Republican Committee of Greenville.

In telephone interview yesterday (2/14) Lieutenant Seeley confirmed his announcement, saying the office of sheriff has been a goal of his almost from the start of his rise through the ranks. He said he plans to “campaign hard” at all sorts of gatherings—church functions, firehouse breakfasts, picnics—where he will listen carefully so as to learn and then serve, “the needs and concerns” of GreeneLanders. With regard to management of the office, he voiced special determination to ensure “equal treatment” for everybody (“no favoritism”) along with “strict accountability” of the sheriff and his officers for their conduct, off duty as well as on. Thus, any employee who is guilty of drunk driving would be “fired immediately.”

In addition to confirming his own candidacy, Lieutenant Seeley confirmed rumors that Sgt. Steve Worth, another deputy sheriff who also is an Athens Town Councilman, will support his campaign and will be Seeley’s preferred appointee as under-sheriff. (Although they have the same last name, Greg Seeley and Vincent Seeley, who is president of the board of trustees of the Village of Catskill, are cousins by marriage rather than by blood).

Among avowed supporters of Lieutenant Seeley’s candidacy is Sheriff Hussey’s predecessor, John Kiebart. Although he has himself been talked about as a prospective candidate—as have Catskill Police Chief Dave Darling (a Republican) and veteran lawman Harry Sacco (a Democrat)-- Mr Kiebart told Seeing Greene that he will not run against Greg Seeley. He voiced the hope that Lieutenant Seeley would win the Republican nomination and the election, because in experience and in character he is the “most deserving” of possible candidates; “he’d be good for everybody regardless of their political affiliation or stature in life.”

Whoever wins the November election for sheriff, Mr Kiebart added, will take up a “difficult position,” what with an overcrowded, obsolete jail plus “the condition of the sheriff’s office,” which has “deteriorated professionally as well as integrity-wise.”

Friday, February 09, 2007

Weekend Tips

TOMORROW is Saturday Stroll time again in downtown Catskill, with shops, cafes and galleries offering warm welcomes, afternoon and evening, to chilled pedestrians (but no snowfall, according to the Weather Bureau, is likely to occur. Among events along the boulevard: “Unconditional Love Abounds” in vintage pictures and illustrations of furry friends, at M gallery (350 Main; 943-0380), from 5 pm.; “Erotica” (it says here), a new group show at the Wilder (375 Main), also from 5 pm.; a special Valentines Day display along with romantic (romance-celebrating?) activities at Dream home furnishings (388 Main); special V D drinks next door at Verso; music emanating from Gallery 384 and from Hood & Co. At BRIK, invited sponsors and creators of designs for the Cat ‘n Around show will gather for a game of selecting and celebrating. Also, up at Cedar Grove (=the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, 218 Spring St), from 4 pm., film-maker Hart Perry will show and discuss “Imagining America,” his documentary about landscape painting as shaped initially by the Hudson River School. (Admission is free, and so is the popcorn). What is more, people who are still in a party mood could take in the live music (the Nina Sheldon trio) Saturday night at Stella's Lounge (Catskill Point; $10 cover). An active Sunday could begin with a pig-out, all-you-can eat, breakfast, from around 8 am., at the Athens firehouse or the Catskill firehouse. That could pave the way for choosing between not only churches but also such alternatives as “Attracting Your Soul Mate,” a visualization workshop conducted by Certified Hypnosis Therapist Barbara Steven, at Divine Enlightenment (25 West Bridge St., Catskill) from 11 am.; an African dance workshop at the Palenville public library, celebrating Black History Month, at 2 pm. (“hand-held instruments welcome”); and a further, deeper discussion, at Cedar Grove, from 2 pm., of “Imaging America,” conducted by art historian Jonathan Fineberg and media production expert John Carlin. The latter program is part of this year’s Sunday Salon series at Cedar Grove. Admission costs $8 for non-members, $5 for members, and covers a wine-fueled reception.


NEW ‘LOCAL’ CHANNEL. The mid-Hudson area now has a second ‘community’ television channel. It is WSSN, with studio in Germantown, and (as reported by Ellen Thurston, dominatrix of Hudson-area news) it’s a project of New York City enterpriser Sean Small. Some local interviews are screened from 6 to 7 pm. on week nights and at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on weekends. Most of the screen time is devoted to TV series re- re-runs and old, really old, movies. It’s Channel 25 for Mid-Hudson Cable subscribers, a different number for others. (www.thehudsonchannel.com; billed as “the Hudson Valley’s only local channel”).

COMPANY ALTERATION. By-lines on local Daily Mail stories now identify authors as employees of “Hudson-Catskill Newspapers.” This marks change from last year when reporters were identified as “Hudson Valley Newspapers” employees. They still belong to the Johnson Newspapers chain based in Watertown NY.

NEW PARENT. GreeneLand’s shopper, The Mountain Pennysaver, now is a unit (along with the Saugerties Post-Star) of the massive GateHouse Media Inc. group (of Fairport NY) rather than of Liberty Group Publishing Inc. (of Northbrook IL). Liberty was sold in mid2005 by its parent, Leonard Greene & Partners, to Fortress Capital Group, self-billed as global alternative investment and asset management firm, with $15 billion in equity under management. GateHouse (GHS on the New York Stock Exchange) has been on a buying spree in the past 18 months, acquiring small papers in the Rochester area, in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts. It owns some 423 community publications (many of them news-less “newspapers”) in 18 States. Some of its recent acquisitions came from the financially ailing JournalRegister Company (of Yardley PA), parent of The Daily Freeman (Kingston-based, with a putative Greene County edition; circulation 21,500) and The Independent over in Hillsdale (6931 circulation).

SHOW PLACE. We missed Big Al’s Silver Bullet Premiere Gun and Knife Show last weekend at the Friar Tuck. We accordingly missed a big chance to buy, sell, swap, ogle old and new firearms and accessories, as well as to gather the latest gather valuations of GreeneLand’s foremost (as in biggest) resort. One participant did contribute to TripAdvisor the judgment that “the place is not as bad as others make it seem.” In his villa across from the main hotel, the furniture was “in nice condition” and the bathrooms were “very clean” and newly tiled.” And the restaurant and bar were “not half bad.” Having read other visitors’ comments, he had been “expecting the worst.“ His low expectation had been shaped by previous reviews, such as the comment (1/20/07) that while rooms in the hotel’s Camelot section “were perfectly fine,” “our room in the main building…was dump. We had one very squishy full-size bed for two adults, a small room with one nightstand, broken-down furniture, paper thin walls.” Another reviewer was more eloquent in denunciation. Having been given a week’s time-share stay as a wedding present, the author of “Honeymoon Nightmare” reflected that

Our first clue should have been [that] when we pulled up to the "resort" the F was out in the sign, that and the fact that for a mile before hand there was nothing but cars up on blocks and rusted out trailers along the side of the road. Anyway, the resort is completely out dated…. Our room was huge but reeked of mold and damp. One whole wall was paneled in mirror which is an interesting decorating choice. The finish was peeling off of the furniture, several of the drawers had lost handles which were replaced by twist ties. The bathroom was a brown nightmare and the so called jacuzzi tub a) didn't work and b) appeared to not have been used in several decades…. someone who looked at my pictures mistook the pond for a putting green because it was so overgrown with algae.… there was no sense of security since the door from our building to the outside not only didn't lock but didn't even close properly.

TOUTED, as “Mediterranean Bounty in Greene County,” in February issue of Chronogram: Bell’s Café in Catskill. “In a town which has been largely neglected over the past years,” says author Jennifer May (no kin to any Seeing Greenekeeper), Bell’s “is one of a kind. Catskill is building momentum, however, and the café is already surrounded by antique shops, art galleries, and boutique kitchen stores.”

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Until Friday

BURNED, early this morning: a condemned house and an adjoining vacant house at 235 and 237 Water St, Catskill. No injuries. Cause not determined. Help provided in abundance by neighboring fire companies. Upper Main Street, connecting to Jefferson Heights Boulevard, was closed for three hours.

HIT MAN HIT. A routine stop of a motorist for failing to wear a seatbelt led to the arrest last Saturday afternoon, in Palenville, of an international fugitive. When sheriff’s deputy Jay Lucas ran the standard computer checks on the driver whose license identified him as Christian Steven Ponce of Asheville NC, signals from Washington DC, and from Interpol, indicated that his detainee was “wanted and dangerous” Christian Steven Ponce Salas, who had decamped illegally from his native Ecuador in the wake of involvement with three political assassinations. Local investigation indicated that Sr Salas had come to GreeneLand just after Christmas, and was living in an apartment and working in a restaurant in Tannersville. He was arraigned before Catskill Town Justice Robert Carl, jailed without bail, and collected for eventual extradition on Sunday by--as Sheriff Richard Hussey reported--four “tight-lipped” Federal agents who arrived in two vans. If he is returned to Quito, Sr Salas told deputies here, “I expect to be killed.” Accounts of the Ecuador case, as given in wire service stories and Internet references, do not concur. Insofar as we have been able to sift the materials so as to identify the probabilities, here are key features. Sr Salas and two accomplices were convicted not of murdering, but of arranging the murder--by gunfire, on a busy Quito street--of a prominent opposition-party legislator, along with his nephew and a bodyguard. The main victim, Jaime Hurtado, was targeted on account of his “leftist” allegiances and/or his probing attacks on high-level corruption. According to the web site of Popular Unity, an avowedly “leftist” coalition, “comrade” Hurtado was a victim of “reactionary forces,” Colombian and Ecuadoran, perpetrating a “new act of state terrorism” prompted by President Jamil Mahuad. (A few months later, Mahaud was ousted from office by military and nativist pressure). The triple murder occurred in February 1999. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, based in Geneva, Switzerland, Sr Salas and his accomplices were convicted in August 2000 of criminal association in connection with the killings. They were sentenced to six-year prison terms but were released by a sympathetic government, ostensibly for good behavior, after one year. The early release prompted an inquiry from the Union, especially in light of reports that one of the convicts had engaged in prison brawls. A judicial inquiry into the circumstances of the early release was scheduled. Instead of keeping his court date, Sr Salas fled the country and found his way, eventually, to Tannersville.

P.S. Portions of the foregoing account were drawn (lifted?) from local reportage by Andrea Macko and Ariel Zenga, whose stories were picked up by Associated Press and United Press International. Seeing Greene’s crew engaged in confirming and checking and exploring, but with the story those reporters were first. P.S.S. When Sr Salas was detained in Palenville, he had a passenger, whose license indicated that he was wanted by New York City police for credit card fraud. But Gotham’s authorities declined to send a man, or a team, to collect the suspect, who accordingly was released. P.P.S. Perhaps the moral of the story (as a blogger named “Red State” suggests) is, If you’re on the lam, buckle up.

GREEN SNOW BALL. Last Friday’s “Snow Ball,” held in Anthony’s Restaurant’s new banquet hall in Leeds, drew a crowd of 187 revelers and yielded a nice piece of change. Organized by the Columbia-Greene Hospital Foundation and hosted by Dr and Mrs Joseph Pilatich III, the function generated support for the Kaaterskill Care Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in Jefferson Heights, to the tune of about $25,000.

PRISON BREAK. New York’s prison population has declined--to 63,119 inmates, as compared with 71.500 in 1999--“yet the state continues to operate the same number of facilities.” That situation, said Gov. Eliot Spitzer in his Budget speech, ought to be changed; a special Commission should be established so as to identify which facilities are most suitable, on the basis of cost-effectiveness, for closure. Oh No, responded State Senator James Seward (as reported by Chris Garifo of Johnson News Service); if closings are to be considered, let the matter be referred directly to the people’s elected representatives (translation: leave it to wheeling & dealing legislators). The senator was showing sensitivity to the fact that in his district, as in many up-State constituencies, incarceration is a vital local indu$try. He also was showing sensitivity to the fact that correctional officers, who absorb a substantial portion of the $2.74 billion annual cost of New York’s prison operations, make up a sensitive, unionized, cohesive bloc, whose numbers in key locations can be pivotal politically. (Membership of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association Inc. is 23,000). Mr Seward also evidently was assuming that a coolly business-like, comparative analysis of operating efficiencies in the State’s 70 prisons would not bode well for the survival of GreeneLand’s two: the maximum-security Greene Correctional and (right next door) the medium-security Coxsackie Correctional. That assumption, we venture to suggest, is premature. Per capita costs of operation generally are highest in the State’s oldest prisons; and ours are not among the oldest. Moreover, rational decision-makers would not advise the closing of prisons of the type that are most in demand, namely, maximum-security facilities. Accordingly, Greene Corrrectional would be exempt. That leaves Coxsackie Correctional. And for that facility we venture to suggest a policy that would contribute to reducing the surplus of prison spaces while alleviating a local need. The scheme is simply to (i) close a section of Greene Correctional, and (ii) convert that piece into a new Greene County jail. Sheriff Hussey has run that idea past the powers that be in the State’s Department of Correctional Services. The reception, he reports, has not been cordial. It could change, perhaps, at the behest of the Greene County legislature, Assemblyman Tim Gordon, and Senator Seward.

SHIVERS. “The recent cold snap,” says a local scribe, “has resulted a nice thick layer of ice, on which other ice fishermen were even willing to drive their vehicles out on.”

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mid-Winter Gleanings

SKIPPED OVER, by the Catskill Town Council, with malice aforethought: property assessor Sue Golden. Most Town employees were given bonuses, in the amount of 3.2 per cent of current salary. Ms Golden was given zilch. Although she is a 26-year veteran, is heartily endorsed by legendary predecessor Ron Vincent, regularly updates her credentials, has a superb record of success in grievance hearings, works long hours, is readily accessible, and handles stressful encounters with grace and patience, Ms Golden has been made the victim of a vendetta. Particularly vindictive are Town Councilmen Robert Antonelli and Joseph Leggio.

THWARTED, by Cathryn Coyle, acting State Supreme Court judge, in his bid to ensure that his new lieutenant would have specific Correctional Officer training before starting the job: Sheriff Richard Hussey. The local civil service commission, at Sheriff Hussey’s request, had made such training an addition to the stated criteria for eligibility to take a promotional examination. The added requirement limited eligibility to just one deputy: Tor Tryland. Three others—Andrew Macko, John Stegville, Steve Worth—brought suit, claiming that the restriction was arbitrary and capricious; the prescribed Correctional training could readily be obtained by whoever earned the promotion by passing the test. Judge Coyle agreed. Sheriff Hussey told Seeing Greene this morning (Friday, 2/2) that he has not yet received a copy of the ruling, but “of course we will comply.” Date for the re-test has not been set. In the interim, “Lieutenant” Tryland keeps the job.

SNUBBED by the Catskill Central School District’s board, at the behest of Superintendent Kathleen Farrell: Elementary School Principal Lisa Slutzky. It’s a prime case of how the most noteworthy feature of an event can be what does not take place. The event in question is the last board meeting’s announcement that permanent tenure, following specified probationary periods, will be granted to three administrators: William Ball, principal of the high school (effective August 12); Patrick Wemitt, assistant principal (effective July 19); and Deborah Johnson, curriculum co-ordinator (effective June 29, 2008). Although this item of business was not on the agenda, we understand, the appointees had been alerted to attend the meeting and, according to Daily Mail scribe Jim Planck, they expressed “gratefulness.” To knowledgeable observers, the most conspicuous thing about this tenure-bestowing event was the omission of Ms Slutzy. According to rank-and-file sources we have tapped, Ms Slutzky is a home-grown product who has done solid work, has done her time, has gained the respect of teachers and parents, and has been the victim, persistently, of unearned personal animosity.

STUNG by the incipient bestowal of tenure on Mr Ball: sundry teachers and other employees. When teachers and staff voiced complaints openly last year to the school board, complaints about low morale generated by imperious and chauvinistic behavior from on high, their main target (though not by name) was Mr Ball. The malaise has persisted to the extent that legal action in reaction to the tenure decision, filed in advance of the August 12 ‘deadline,’ is being discussed.

JUMPED, by bosses at Lowes Home Improvement, after two weeks of entry-level employment, up the ladder: Karen Castaldo of Cairo. With a $2 per hour raise, she is now team leader in the Hardware Department.

IN PROSPECT for ever-improving Catskill, according to unequally reliable rumors and informants: *Fitted in to the strip mall opposite Wal-Mart, next door to Pomadoro’s Restaurant, will be a shoe store. Over on Maple Avenue, the present Eckerd drug store site will become Begnal Motors and Auto Zone, whose present sites will be transformed into an Outback restaurant. This gossip is not supported by permit applications or other official procedures. Its credibility is weakened too by guesses that Begnal will leave Catskill altogether and that the market demographics, mate, are too dodgy for Outback. After all, Applebee agents looked carefully at the area and backed off. On the other hand, there are fresh data to ponder. Increasingly likely to materialize are a seniors-preferred condominium development on West Main Street, a 77-lot “Cauterskill Estates” subdivision behind PriceChopper, the 20-unit condominium complex in the former Oren’s warehouse, and “Artist’s Ledge,” a big residential development on the site of the present Tatiana’s restaurant. *Meanwhile, east of Catskill Creek, a non-profit agency, Northeast Parent and Child, will occupy offices at 455 Main Street once the building has been renovated by—who else?—landlord Frank Cuthbert. Upstairs in that same building, under skylights and a 12-foot ceiling, artist Michel Goldberg will establish his studio. *The advent of a sushi bar looks increasingly likely. *Main Street’s many gallery owners are edging toward joining a marketing association. *Gillie & Mac’s restaurant on Water Street seems to have closed abruptly, after having circulated publicity about future musical events. Shuttered for the winter, or indefinitely? The place seems to be jinxed. *Following a long hiatus, the history-laden Cus D’Amato boxing gym, on the top floor of Village building, is back in operation. Although the ceremonial re-opening will not take place until March 10, the place already is bustling, thanks to efforts of Sean Doolan and Bill White (and the absence of bibulous Kevin Rooney). Kids who want to participate must pass a test: being OK on school grades.

FELINE GROOVY and Feline Frenzy. Rip Claw Winkle and Rip Van Twinkle. Queen Nefer-Kitty and Cleocatra. Catillac. Sophisticat. Sweeten the Kitty. Meowtain Music. Catiopeia. Phil the Philatelic Pheline. Those are some of the names that artists have bestowed on their designs for entries in the Cat ‘N Around contest promoted by the Catskill (of course) Chamber of Commerce. Sponsors will gather next Saturday at BRIK gallery to support favored designs, which will be transmuted into sculptures to be put up for auction. The designs submitted so far are every bit as clever as the names. For more information: 943-0989 or catskillchamber@mhcable.com. Kaaterskill Kitty, Synchropus Splendidus, Clawed Meownet, Picatso….