Friday, October 10, 2008

Fallen EverGreene

GONE, at 91 years of age, after military service and steadfast support for fellow veterans, after six books of local history and countless articles and newsletters (drafted in longhand), after teaching in and out of classrooms, after leading the Greene County Historical Society for five decades, after saving from oblivion the Catskill home and workplace of pioneering artist Thomas Cole, after living frugally and investing wisely and then giving money generously to good causes, after blushing and balking over awards heaped on his frail head, after—in short--an exemplary career of service to GreeneLand and to his country: Raymond Beecher.

EXOTICA DEPT. Among its many distinctions, GreeneLand is world headquarters for a business whose production centeris Lamu. That island (do follow the hyperlink!) is just north of Zanzibar, just south of the recently publicized pirates’ sanctuary off Somalia, winter home of a few Europeanobs such as Princess Caroline of Monaco, retirement paddock for superannuated donkeys, and home to veteran Kenyan craftsmen who specialize in making tables and other items of furniture from their island’s abundant mahoganies. A big order for their individually crafted, dated and numbered, tables is currently being filled for the mammoth Sands Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macau, China. And presiding over this global Solid Mahogany business is Bo van den Assum of, ahem, Catskill NY. Mr van den Assum’s office and workroom occupy a shed at 8 West Bridge Street, behind Mountain T-Shirts.

THIRTY-SIX YEARS ago, four Catskill women decided that their town needed a swimming pool. Nan Guterman, Nancy Ursprung, Sara Wolven and Julie Myshral formed a non-profit corporation called The Swimming Pool League for Safety and Health (SPLASH) and they proceeded to raise funds. Two plays written and produced by Ms Guterman brought in $25,000. A raffle and bake sales yielded another $8000. Since $33,000 was not sufficient, and since no municipal grants were available in thos days, the women bought Certificates of Deposit whose value, in the ensuing 14 years, through double-digit inflation, grew to $100,000. In 1998, Ms Guterman’s husband Jack joined the SPLASH board and suggested a change of direction: using the foundation’s income to support local causes. That suggestion was adopted, along with a change of name following the death, in 2000, of the founder. In the past ten years the Nan Guterman Foundation has helped the Catskill Community Center, the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation, Hospice, the Columbia-Greene Community College Foundation, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the Catskill Education Foundation, the Greene County Council on the Arts, Little League, the Babe Ruth League, and Friends of Beattie-Powers Place.

BIODIESEL. All or some of what you ever wanted to know may be available locally, thanks to a new co-op (headed by Michelle Richardson of Grazin’Angus Acres in Ghent) whose members brew diesel from waste vegetable oil. Interested GreeneLanders can learn more from

FLU SHOTS for adults will available soon, at various sites, from the county’s Public Health Department, at no cost to Medicare members ($21 for non-members). Also, pneumonia shots will be available for seniors. Locations and dates: Washington Irving Senior Center, Catskill, this Wednesday (10/15); Jewett Senior Center 10/17; Coxsackie Senior Center, 10//24; Tannersville Village Hall, 10/27; Acra Senior Center 10/28; Athens Senior Center, 10/29.

THE WEEKEND. Check and for information about farmers’ markets (Catskill, New Baltimore, East Durham), Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain, a meatball contest (among other things) in Windham, Saturday Stroll in Catskill (photo history of town & village, art, hayrides, pumpkins, Halloween scares, Community Orchestra concert), Ginseng Festival (Sunday)….

DAILY MAUL. “The Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department recently removed two horses that were considered to be starved and mistreated from a Columbia County location.” “The arrest stems from [reported burglary] at the Catskill Country Club in Palenville. An investigation revealed that at approximately 4 a.m. the Country Club was been broken into….” “The settlement comes from an assessment challenge by city officials and Supervisor Dennis Lucas said that the agreeable value came about through problem solving strategies….”

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