Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chock Full o’ Greene

EXPLOSIVE NEWS. Although it now looks unlikely that fireworks will soar and burst over Catskill on July 4th, there will be fireworks over downtown Catskill on July 3rd. Plus festivities. Rockets will be launched from the creek-side near Cone-e-Island, the ice cream dispensary, which will be home base too for vendors, rides, games and an Elvis tribute. Sponsoring the show are Mountain T Shirts, Sawyer Chevrolet, the Wine Cellar, the Creekside Restaurant and the Fortnightly Club, as well as Cone-e-Island.

------This may soften the blow of the Village Board’s decision to forego the traditional Independence Day fireworks. That decision, made in the midst of strains over costs and locations, was sustained by the Board even though private parties offered to foot the bill to the extent of $8000—provided that the traditional hilltop Friary launch site was used. BUT there WILL be a fireworks show in Catskill on July 4th. BUT it will be a smaller and less visible than usual.

POSTPONED to July 2 (next Friday) from June 25: opening performance at Catskill Point of the famous Noel Coward comedy “Blithe Spirit.” The shift was ascribed by director Joseph Capone to illness. The sick performer(s) was/were not identified.

RELEASED from the peril of a grand larceny prosecution, on payment of $22,000 to a client: a GreeneLand building contractor. He acknowledged engaging in the Dummy Receipt dodge: getting vendors to put down fake amounts of charges for supplies—the listed retail rather than the builder’s discount—and presenting these to the customer for ‘repayment.’ He also engaged in submitting phony figures on hours worked. Having paid up, we hear, he’s doing the same to another client.

CLOSING: The Buick/GMC automobile dealership in Catskill. According to a Daily Mail report (6/19; Susan Campriello), customers have been notified that the long-established agency next door to Price Chopper, will be merged into the Romeo Chevrolet dealership in Kingston. That would leave the seat of Greene County, the main population center, with just two new car dealerships: Sawyer Chevrolet, and Lacy Ford/Lincoln/Subaru. A general announcement has not been issued yet. The closing will hurt GreeneLanders to the extent of loss of sales tax receipts (of 8%) on repair and service work that no longer will be done in the dealership’s workshop. As for tax revenue from sales of vehicles, payments go to the home county of the buyer.

BRANCHING OUT to another Columbia County location, according to a company announcement covered in the Albany-based Business Review (6/24): The Bank of Greene County. This branch, the company’s 12th, would be in Germantown, on Route 7G, in a former Bank of America building.

Also announced by the bank’s news office is a supplemental retirement plan for three top executives: Donald Gibson, the president; Michelle Plummer, executive vice-president and chief financial officer; and Steve Nelson, senior vice-president and chief lending officer (and long-drive ace). The plan calls for supplementing present pension entitlements. It also provides that the executives can defer receipt of salaries (up to 50 per cent) and benefits, with the money going instead into accounts that pay at least 5 per cent annual interest. Similarly, instead of collecting their annual bonuses, the executives can assign those sums to interest-bearing accounts. Some of the new benefits are contingent on staying employed at the bank for ten years from July 1. The arrangement evidently has a lot to do with income tax brackets.

FEATURED in a “House Tour” story in The New York Times (6/25): the vintage (1810) five-fireplace house in Athens (“active art scene” that has been restored, with period details retained, by Carrie Feder and Randall Evans. “Historic homes that do not need work typically cost around $550,000,” says the Times writer. For this one, in a riverside village boasting an “active art scene,” the asking price is $259,000. Or was. A sales contract has been signed.

GENDER NEWS. Among the valedictorians in graduating classes at GreeneLand’s six high schools this year, four are girls. Among the salutatorians, again, four are girls.

IN PROSPECT for GreeneLand next summer, in the wake of the recently performed “O’Sullivan Stew” musical, locally created and performed: a Performing Arts camp, in Catskill High School quarters, with GreeneLander Casey Biggs and other New School faculty teaching dance, writing, and voice as well as drama.

NOMINATED by Gov. David Paterson to serve as a member of the Empire State Plaza Art Commission: GreeneLand artist (and collector, and dealer) Kico Govantes. Once the appointment is confirmed by the State Senate, Mr Govantes would become one of 25 commissioners who look after the State’s valuable collection of paintings, sculptures and tapestries—most of them dating from the 1960’s and 1970’s—and who also attempt to add to the works by way of gift or loan. Plaza Art commissioners serve without pay but are eligible for expense reimbursements.

HONORED with Tech Valley High School’s first Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Award, a four-year, $15,000 annual scholarship: Kyle White of Palenville, fledgling physicist, who has just finished his junior year with Tech High’s inaugural class. Receipt of the award is contingent on attending R.P.I. (Daily Mail, 6/15/10).

HAILED by Ernst & Young, at a Marriott Marquis crowning ceremony last Tuesday week, with the title of retailing Entrepreneur of the Year in metropolitan New York: Lexy Funk, president of Brooklyn Industries (street wear; accessories) and (with husband and two sons) a part-time Athenian. District winners of Entrepreneur titles become eligible for national and then international crowns.

POT SWEEP. THE recent musical Mountain Jam in Hunter yielded more than a rich harvest of bluegrass. It also yielded an abundant supply of arrests for possessing another kind of grass. On opening day (6/4), State police nabbed 19 persons. On Saturday, the harvest was a bit smaller. Arrestees hailed from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont as well as from many New York State communities. Most of them were given tickets returnable to Hunter Town Court. But jail time was immediately meted out to suspects from Wingdale, Carmel, Buskirk, Burlington, Albany, Buffalo and Catskill residents.

PROSE SWEEP. In addition to generating a burst of drug busts, the Mountain Jam inspired an effusion of dopey prose. Readers of GreeneLand’s foremost daily newspaper were invited to contemplate festival “amenities” that “lay dormant” on Friday and then “launched” on Saturday, to appreciate that “the harmonies of Dr. Dog were absconded,” to behold a musician “igniting the fiddle strings,” and even to contemplate a “massive” “musical menagerie” that “is expected to do nothing less than set the mountain on fire.”

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Figuring Greene

FISHY FIGURES 603=number of contestants in the six-week River Basin Sports Striper Contest, run by Tom Gentalen, that ended at noon last Sunday (5/30). 47=inches length of the Hudsonian striped bass caught by contestant Eric Borchert. 6030=dollars won by Mr Borchert for landing the longest striper. 46.75=inches length of striper caught by second-placer Rob Shilkaunas. 3980=dollars of difference a quarter-inch, in this case, makes.

FOODIE FIGURES 1883=date that Stewart House opened as restaurant and lodge in Athens. And that number inspired new manager Reggie Young's decision on the price of three-course prix fixe dinners: $18.83. And soon there may be a bottled wine that also sells for $18.83. Meanwhile, the garden bar may be open for business by Saturday (June 12).

FUELISH FIGURES. Gasoline prices have dropped a bit lately, even in GreeneLand. As usual, however, local prices exceed those of neighboring counties as well as more distant locales. On Tuesday (6/8) a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.78 (Citgo, Hess, Cumberland Farms) or more in GreeneLand, while the low figure in Albany and in Hudson was $2.61, and the low Saugerties figure was $2.69. Gasoline in GreeneLand costs more than the nation-wide average, the East Coast average, and the New England average.

JOB FIGURES. The situation, in the country and generally in New York State, evidently has improved. According to statistics distributed by the State’s Department of Labor, the ranks of employed persons have increased, and in most places the ranks of unemployed persons have dwindled (a relationship that does not always hold). But in GreeneLand, as usual, the job situation is worse than other nearby counties. Percentages of unemployed persons in relation to total membership of the “work force,” in April of this year as compared with the previous month and with the same month last year:

4/10 3/10 4/09
New York State8.47.78.0
Upstate NYS7.57.67.6
Dutchess County7.27.76.8

CHURCH FIGURES 2,500,000=probable dollar cost of restoring Catskill’s St Patrick’s Church, as estimated by a consulting architect who has been retained by Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany diocese. Sean Reilly, the consultant, delivered the estimate, together with a plan sketching prospective phases of work and their costs, to a gathering of congregants Thursday (6/3). Some congregants deplored the idea of putting infrastructure and exterior repairs ahead of fixing the roof and the ceiling so that the church can be reoccupied. St Pat’s, 151 years old, has been closed since 2008 after big chunks of plaster fell from the arched ceiling. Masses are held by Fr Rick Shaw in the basement of the Father Murphy Parish Center (former bingo hall) next door. But the congregants are scattered. Some attend services at The Friary. Others go to other towns. As for how the restoration can be funded, that remains to be seen. The diocese (138 churches in 14 counties) is not flush with cash.

TOUR FIGURES 300=number of buyers of tickets for the Greene County Historical Society’s tour of historic homes (and other places) in the Windham area on Saturday. 6925=dollars gained by the Historical Society from sales of tour tickets plus advertisements and book sales (the illuminating Historic Places of Greene County). That counts as a good result, even though it falls short of attendance and sales at the Mountain Jam in Hudson on the same day, by a few thousand.

ACHIEVER FIGURES Among Greenville High School’s top ten graduates this year, in contrast to GreeneLand’s other high schools, girls do NOT out-number boys. The gender division is exactly even. Girls ranked second, third, fourth, fifth and ninth. And the top-most distinction, the honor of valedictorian, went to a boy: the superbly schooled, Yale-bound Jonah Coe-Scharff. In illustration of the more normal thing, 25 Catskill High School students were inducted last week into the National Honor Society; 10 are boys.

PROPERTY FIGURE 296,000 = dollar value of lien against property (defaultfully owned by Eric Borfitz) at 75 Riverside Avenue in Coxsackie, to be sold at auction tomorrow (Thursday) in the lobby of the county building at 10am.

SATURDAY in GreeneLand could be spent touring the cat figures that ornament the sidewalks of downtown Catskill, and the bear figures that are scattered about greater Cairo, and/or the 50+ "Rip Lives" figures in and around Windham. Additionally or alternatively, the day could be spent touring Cairo’s community-wide yard sale, or Catskill’s ditto; checking out Greenville Library’s book sale, the Rotary Club craft fair in front of the library, or the farmers’ market at the nearby Cultural Center; attending the garden fair and plant sale at the Mountain Top Arboretum; learning about Woodstock-based artist George Ault (1891-1948) from Alexander Nemerov (professor of art history, Yale U.) at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, from 4pm (; or going Joycean at the Athens Cultural Center (“Bloomsday” readings, followed by a “Pride of Place” exhibition); or taking an inaugural ferry ride from Riverfront Park in Athens to Henry Hudson Riverfront Park in Hudson, starting at 3pm, continuing through the Flag Day fireworks (945-1357); or catching the splendid Booglerizers (ragtime, blues, bluegrass) at Ruby's Hotel in Freehold (audible on; or perhaps learning how “deep inner stillness can elevate the clarity and truth” of one’s writing. The latter is offered in ( at GreeneLand’s Brahma Kumaris Learning & Retreat Center.

SUNDAY’s treats could include the ‘Summer Songbird Celebration Walk’ led by Rich Guthrieand other naturalists at Coxsackie Creek Grassland Preserve from 1:30pm.

SCOOP! Four Catskill High School seniors will not be collecting diplomas (personally, on stage) at their graduation ceremony, after they roared through the halls this afternoon on motor bikes. And six other seniors face lesser penalties for invading the halls on push bikes. Some of the perpetrating pranksters are top-ranking students. One is the son of a District trustee. Some are daughters of Middle School monitors. Bikers Matt, Nate, Brian and Graham teamed with bicyclists Katie, Medina, Brianna, Jen, Miranda, and Kelly.

------Back in 2000, six seniors were barred from receiving diplomas by hand, on stage, after committing a prank. They watched the ceremony, clad in caps and gowns, from the auditorium's front row. Some of their classmates, in a show of sympathy, pinned white dove figures to their gowns.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Memorably Greene

A LAZY, stay-at-home GreeneLander would have missed a plenitude of thrills last weekend:

------*The glorious two-day Irish Festival in East Durham, in its 32nd year.

------*The rubber duck race down Gooseberry Creeek to Rip Van Winkle Lake in Tannersville, followed by the wacky boat race.

------*A chance to learn, gratis, about Alternative Health Care, as expounded on Saturday at the Hunter Village Square, by specialists in I-Act Colon hydrotherapy, Sacred Vision Life cultivation, Clear Paths Reflexology, Isagenix nutritional cleansing, Reiki, aura reading, and healing the self to connect to the soul.

------*Art show openings in Windham ( “Daughters of Venus,” works of six female artists; Fine Arts Gallery), and in Freehold (Rhoda Bertz’s ventures in “making something new from something rotten.” She leaves canvasses outdoors to rot and decay; then glues frayed, wrinkled, crumpled fragments onto another canvas, adds,smears, splashes, encrustations of paint, illustrating decay and renewal, as exemplified below. Broderick Gallery at Ruby’s Hotel).

------*Special Saturday entertainment in Palenville’s Fernwood Bistro, where luscious Lex Grey performed with the Uncle Sam Band.

------*“O’Sullivan Stew,” the original musical, adapted by a GreeneLander's illustrated book, written and dressed and choreographed and lighted and directed by GreeneLand-based professionals, performed by 60 GreeneLand kids in the Catskill Middle School auditorium.

------*The reopening (softly, no fanfare, but big turnouts) in Athens of Stewart House (aka The Athens Hotel Bistro), with new bosses (Reggie Young; Johnnie Moore), new menu, new staff, virtually new kitchen, fresh paint, fresh outlook…. Now open every night. 945-1357;

-------*The “Populist Barn Dance” (and/or “prom”) that rocked Jerad Aswegan’s barn in wriggling, waving, stomping support of the Athens Cultural Center and the Greene Arts Foundation.

------*Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday (parades of veterans, Reservists, fire trucks, law enforcers, Little Leaguers, scouts, Reservists, emergency responders, Masons, congregants, Elks, floats, bands, rockets; speeches) in Catskill, in Coxsackie, in Athens, in Greenville, in Cairo….

THIS TIME a lazy stay-at-home could miss

------*The big musical event at Hunter Mountain: Mountain Jam, Friday night through Sunday. Government Mule, Alison Krause, Union Station, Levon Helm among some 50 bands and performers on four stages.

*National Trails Day observance led, peripatetically, by Mountain Top Historical Society members, from Haines Falls headquarters at 9am Saturday (

*The tour of historic homes in Windham and thereabouts, organized by the Greene Conty Historical Society. Tickets ($25) and tour packets will be dispensed at the Civiic Center from 10am.

*The Antique Farm Machinery show in New Baltimore.

*(For the anything-but-lazy), Saturday morning's Spring Rush triathlon in Catskill (

*On Sunday, at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, readings by award-winning poet Joan Murray. Taking Thomas Cole's reverence for the landscape as the theme of the event, Ms. Murray will select poems--hers and Cole's--that celebrate the landscape and/or mourn its destruction. Admission to the reading is $7, or $5 for members. (

HONORED by GreeneLand’s Chamber of Commerce, Thursday night (6/3) at Anthony’s banquet hall in Leeds: Denise Kerrigan, of Zoom Flume water park and Country Place resort, as business woman of the year; Dr Robert Schneider, of Urgent Medical Care in Catskill, as business man of the year; Kaaterskill Care of Catskill, as non-profit of the year.

RECOGNIZED by the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association for—says The Daily Mail (6/3)—“having the most unique [sic] facility”: Snap Fitness center on Main Street in Catskill, run by Sandro Cagnin in what once was the First Baptist Church and subsequently was the Full Gospel Tabernacle. The tribute was based on photographs showing that patrons exercise while facing historic stained glass windows.

(BTW, the Snap Fitness facility may soon house a professional physical therapy practice).

JUDGMENT DAY. GreeneLand voters will have much to do on November 2 (general election day) as well as, perhaps, on September 14’s (primary elections day). Among decisions they render in the voting booth (Governor, U.S. Senators, State Comptroller, Attorney General, State Senator, Assembly member, county treasurer, coroner) will be that of choosing a successor to Daniel Lalor as county (and surrogate) judge. That decision, involving a ten-year term of office, could be hard but happy. It will be a matter of choosing between excellent candidates: Charles (“Chip”) Tailleur, who is chief assistant to the District Attorney, and David Woodin, Judge Lalor’s (and some predecessors’) chief law clerk.

Mr Tailleur’s name will appear on the Republican Party line. That designation follows his May 27 endorsement by GreeneLand’s Republican committee members, meeting in the county courthouse. Mr Tailleur won the endorsement after a contest with two other candidates: Ted Hilscher—lawyer, former prosecutor, historian—and Peter Margolius, veteran lawyer and Town of Catskill judge. According to The Daily Mail’s Colin DeVries, on the first round of voting at the Republican conclave in the county courthouse, Mr Hilscher led the field with 78 votes, while Mr Tailleur received 74 and Judge Margolius received 17. On the second round, Mr Tailleur won the contest with 85 votes to Mr Hilscher’s 81). Mr Hilscher and Mr Margolius congratulated Mr Tailleur and praised his aptitude for the job.

------At the Democratic conclave on the same night, at Lange's Groveside resort, Mr Woodin won the judicial nomination without a contest after a previously announced candidate, Edward Kaplan of Hunter, withdrew his name from consideration. According to The Daily Mail’s Susan Campriello, Mr Kaplan said he intends to seek judicial office later, when in four years the other sitting county judge, George Pulver Jr, reaches retirement age.

STILL UNEXPLAINED, after a “hearing” conducted by county legislators, is the fact that gasoline prices in GreeneLand persistently exceed prices in neighboring counties. As reported in The Daily Mail (6/3), the legislators invited representatives of the eight companies that distribute motor fuel wholesale to local stations to offer insights on the subject. All declined. An independent dealer, Joe Berlin of West Coxsackie, did appear, and talked about price shaping at the time deliveries are made, about the importance of volume to dealers’ income, and about distance from distribution centers in Albany and Newburgh. ( But GreeneLand’s busiest stations are not always the cheapest. And our most remote stations, in thinly populated locations, aren’t always the priciest. If it’s a case of collusion, how do they do it? Anyhow, what steps can the legislators and/or citizens take in order to achieve to equity? Send suggestions. We will pool them.

WHO’S YOUR DADDY? A Greene County judge has ruled that a DNA test cannot be used by a mother who denies that the man listed on her child’s birth certificate is really the father. Angela Meads was living with George Collins at the time when she gave birth to a girl. Soon thereafter they broke up, but he got a court order granting him visitation rights, and he paid child support. She contended, however, that he could not claim paternal rights because he was not really the father; the real one was a man who had fathered two of her other three children. In support of her position she invoked a new State law that seemingly gave DNA precedence over what appears on birth certificates. Judge George Naylor ruled against the applicability of that rule of paternity. In Greene County, Missouri.