Friday, December 12, 2008

Wintry Greene

ATHENS, says Lisa A. Phillips in today’s New York Times (“A River Town with Restoration in its Bones”), “has the feel of a living museum of American architecture.” First settled in the late 17th century, the village “became a thriving hub for shipbuilding, brick making and ice harvesting” and, through the 18th and 19th centuries, became the home as well of exemplary “Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Stick, Second Empire, Folk Victorian and Queen Anne” houses. But it “fell on hard times” when the Rip Van Winkle bridge, opened in 1935, eliminated Athens's value as a ferryboat port. In recent years, however, its vintage homes—-more than 300 are listed on national and state historic registers-- have attracted a growing population of restoration-minded newcomers, especially “Lawyers, journalists and other professionals from New York City and North Jersey.”

ETHICALLY HANDICAPPED? In Cairo, establishment of a Board of Ethics has been authorized but not achieved. The problem is staffing. It’s difficult to find willing candidates who do not hold other governing offices (Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Commission) and who are disinterested with regard to hot local issues (Alden Terrace, sewer systems, taxes, site plan regulations, firematics, party affiliations).

Meanwhile, the Town’s official web site,, has gone blank. And local feelings seem to be of such a character that strictly technical explanations evoke skepticism.

PRICE WAR NEWS. Inserts in local newspapers on Wednesday (12/10) from Rite Aid and new Catskill rival Walgreens do not, in most cases, permit direct price comparisons. However, Walgreens offers 4 2-liter bottles of Pepsi for $5, and Rite Aid makes the same offer, except that use of a manufacturer’s coupon, valid through today (12/13), yields a further $1 discount. In print advertisementss four days earlier, on the other hand, Folgers coffee was $2.99 at Rite Aid, vs. 2 for $5 at Walgreens. On the other hand, Rite Aid will part with Russell Stover Chocolates at the price of 2 boxes for $8.99, vs. Walgreens’s $4.99 per box. As for over-the-counter drugs at these two putative drug stores, well, a 50-pack of Excedrin Extra Strength goes for $3.99 at Rite Aid, while Walgreens offers 100-packs at the price of 2 for $12 less a “register rewards” discount of $3. Meanwhile, both stores offer putative discounts on house brands of aspirin, acetaminophen and naproxen. The discounts are phrased in exactly the same way: “buy 1, get 1 50% off” the regular price, which in no case is specified.

RACKET? New York State’s vaunted Empire Zone program gives tax breaks of various kinds to companies that place new enterprises in selected locations, in return for promises way of job creation. According to Elizabeth Lynam of the non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission, that program is a hopeless failure. Companies take the breaks (in sales tax, property tax, credits) without providing the jobs. The program should be scrapped. See .

BUST-UP. Termination of an amorous relationship led to the rupture of a business relationship and then to the wreckage of a GreeneLand business. That’s the story that emerges from court papers submitted by Carl E. Lundell, of Tannersville, asking Acting State Supreme Court Judge Daniel Lalor to dissolve what remains of the business of NorEaster Heating & Cooling, whose headquarters is at 4431 Route 32, Catskill. Mr Lundell owns 25 per cent of NorEaster. The majority owner is Gail J. Curry of Kiskatom. They lived and worked together until late in 2007. Invoking the terms of Business Corporation Law 1104, Mr Lundell contends that after he jilted her, Ms Curry committed “illegal, fraudulent and oppressive” acts whereby NorEaster’s assets were “looted, wasted and diverted for non-corporate purposes.”

SATURDAY (12/13): Holiday Strolls (=multiple events) in Windham, from 2pm, with Santa in attendance, and in downtown Catskill (late afternoon and evening, with galleries and Santa and fireworks). Details: http://windhamchamber.organd plus And in Hunter, the Catskill Mountain Foundation presents, at the Doctorow Center, an evening of song (Ball In the House quintet; Greene Room Players choir) and dance (Catskill Dance Theater).

SUNDAY (12/14). “Christmas Carols You Never Heard” are described and played, at the Village Square Bookstore & Literary Arts Center in Hunter, from 2pm, by Jim Planck, musician, pedaler and ink-stained wretch.

>>>Tannersville Christmas tree-lighting and menorah (!) ceremony, with music and Santa and gifts, from 5pm at the Veterans Memorial. 589-5850.

>>>”Follow That Dream,” an original musical devoted to the history of Catskill’s Mayflower Sweet Shop, performed by local children along with rock diva Lex Grey ((Gray?)), opens at 6:30pm at the Community Center and moves across the street to the original café, where the finale is followed by light refreshments served by cast members.

NIMBY NEWS. Jurors in the trial of the Democratic Party’s county chairman were dismissed after failing to reach a verdict on the charge that he attacked a woman at a campground in Greene County, Indiana.

APOLOGY. Due to the recent economic crisis--stock market crash, bank failures, budget cuts, rising unemployment, unstable world conditions, outsourcing of business to foreign lands, the hysterical cost of insurance and electricity and petroleum and housing and taxes of all kinds--the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.

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