Friday, March 11, 2011

Ladies First

ELEVATED to the Presidency of the Catskill Golf (& Country) Club for the year 2011 is--gulp, ahem, gasp, wheeze--a woman. Donna Meo is first of her gender, in the course of the club’s 83-year history, to occupy the presidential suite. (Jan Vincent was a board member and club secretary for around 20 years). The Windham Golf Club, now 84 years of age, has never had a female president.

RETIRING soon, as full-time executive director of the the Heart of Catskill Association (qua Catskill Chamber of Commerce), after 12 years on the job (following six as a founding volunteer), is Linda Overbaugh. But she may not withdraw altogether from promotional work.

HONORED as businesswoman of the year, by HOCA at the recent Mardi Gras party: Dr Christine Scrodamus, optometrist, who in 2006 took over Dr Damon Pouyat’s Main Street, Catskill, optometry practice, and in 2010 bought the building.
      Businessman of the year title was bestowed upon Joe Anese, proprietor of The Wine Cellar (which is not a cellar and is more than a wine shop) which he acquired from Oreste Vincent back in 1998 after working there for two years (and after a six-year stint with the band “Equinox”).
      In addition, Hillcrest Press was hailed as Business of the Year, with the award being collected by proprietors Christie and Nathan French, who had acquired by business years ago from her parents, Carol and Robert Goodling.

SELECTED for special photographic attention, during Women’s History Month, for a presentation at the Athens Cultural Center this Wednesday (3/16): clandestine pictures taken by Miroslav Tichy, using cameras improvised from junk, of women in Communist-era Czechoslovakia. The evening’s Greene County Camera Club program will include a discussion, led by Palenville’s Jill Skupin Burkholder, of “Finding Your Artistic Style.”

POTENT PAUL. After starting at the Oriental Guide level 12 years ago, and climbing up the ranks through High Priest & Prophet, Assistant Rabban, and Chief Rabban, GreeneLand’s Paul Rosenblatt has achieved the eminence, in the seven-county Cyprus Shrine order, of Illustrious Potentate. Sir Paul is the 135-year-old Cyprus Shrine’s first GreeneLand Potentate since 1994, when George J. Wilk of Cairo held the office (and the robes). At the order’s Temple in Glenmont last Saturday, with the Lady Eileen at his side, the new leader welcomed Nobles and their ladies to the Potentate’s Ball.

PAY CAPS. Governor Andrew Cuomo has invited the State legislature to support the imposition of limits on the salaries of public school superintendents. The caps would vary according to district pupil populations. For districts whose populations are in the 251-750 range, the limit would be $135,000 per year. The caps would rise by increments of $10,000 for superintendents in districts with 751-1500, 1501-3000, 3001-6500, and more than 6501 enrolled students. As it happens, salaries of GreeneLand’s superintendents, with a minor exception, already come in under those proposed limits. Thus, Catskill Central School District superintendent Kathleen Farrell draws a salary, in a district with 1775 students, of just under $152,000. Sally Sharkey’s pay of $123,094 as Cairo-Durham’s superintendent puts her under the $145,000 ‘Cuomo cap’ of $145,00 for a 1467-pupil district, and Hunter-Tannersville’s Patrick Darfler-Sweeney’s $122,548 salary in a district with 423 students puts him under the $135,000 gap. In the Greenville district, with 1250 students, the superintendent’s reported salary was under the Cuomo cap at $140,057. In the Windham-Ashland-Jewett district (401 students), superintendent John Wiktoro’s salary at last report was $131,457. In the case of Coxsackie-Athens, however, superintendent Earle Gregory was being paid a salary last year that put him $953 above the Cuomo-proposed cap of $155,000. But then Dr Gregory retired, and interim superintendent’s Annemarie Barkman’s salary is under the Cuomo cap.

CONTRAST. Those figures mark a contrast with salary levels of superintendents in many neighboring school districts. To the south of us, as reported in The Daily Freeman (Kyle Wind), salaries ABOVE the Cuomo caps are more common than salaries below. In the Kingston district, with more than 6501 students, the proposed cap would be $175,000 but the incumbent superintendent, Gerard Gretzinger, is currently paid $193,401.

EXTRAS. Salary figures don’t tell the whole pay story for school superintendents (or private corporation executives or wage-earners or...). The State Education Department compiles remuneration figures that cover not only salaries but also “benefits” and “other.” The latter sums can be substantial. Thus, Superintendent Gretzinger is counted as receiving $50,780 in benefits plus $9762. And in Coxsackie-Athens, Dr Gregory was scored as the recipient of $43,147 in extras compensation in the year of his retirement. That was not the GreeneLand record, however. Surprisingly enough, the biggest package of extras went to the superintendent in the modest-sized Windham-Ashland-Jewett district: $52.468.

BANK SHOT. Ulster Savings Bank, which has a GreeneLand branch in Windham, is in more trouble. It is stuck with GreeneLand’s defunct Friar Tuck resort, into which it had sunk some $3.8 million in the way of loans. And its president, according to Daily Freeman reporter Paul Kirby, “is on leave of absence during what is being described as a ‘leadership transition’.” It is a prolonged transition. Michael Shaughnessy, as executive vice president, has been running the place for months. Now he is the bank’s interim president and chief executive officer. The titular president, Marjorie Rovereto, started working for the bank in 1963, moved up the ladder, and became president and CEO abruptly in 2006, after Clifford Miller resigned in the wake of an arrest for allegedly soliciting sex from a policewoman who was posing as a prostitute.

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