Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Droplets

BESTOWED by the Greene County Historical Society, at a Saturday ceremony in the Haines Falls Free Library, on an eminent devotee of GreeneLand history: the first-of-its-kind Jessie Van Vechten Award.  Recipient Justine Hommel is a founder of the Mountain Top Historical Society and has been its leader for 30 years, in addition to being the chief public librarian during 1957-88.  As reported in the Daily Mail (12/6) by Jim Planck—himself no mean historian--the award bears the name of a founder of the county historical society “who is probably best known for stopping the NYS Department of Transportation in the 19030s from destroying the eighteenth century stone bridge in Leeds.”  With that feat in mind, the Jessie is represented tangibly in the form of a ceramic plaque bearing a likeness of the bridge.  The plaque was commissioned by the county historical society from Frank Giorgini of Freehold, master designer and fabricator of handmade commemorative tiles.  It calls attention to achievement of historic preservation of objects as well as of records.  With that in mind, Robert Hallock, president of the county historical society, recalled at the award ceremony that Ms Hommel succeeded back in the 1980’s in dissuading the Department of Transportation from ruining the historic and esthetic character of Kaaterskill Clove by using corrugating steel instead of rocks to replace aging stonework, as well as in acquiring the long-abandoned Ulster & Delaware Railroad station in Haines Falls and restoring it for use as the Mountain Top Historical Society’s headquarters.  In addition, Ms Hommel created a film, “The Valleys, The Mountains, and the Clove,” and she has shared her knowledge of the old-time tourism industry, and of the Hudson River School of Art, with the Smithsonian Museum, National Geographic magazine, The New York Times, and public television figures.

COLE CASH.  A tiny, crude, 170-year-old pencil sketch by a 19th century artist went up for auction last week in Philadelphia.  The drawing of an ancient Roman “Arch of Nero” occupied just 15 square inches on a 32-square-inch sheet of paper.  Experts in the art trade guessed that, in view of the artist’s fame in his own time, the recent revival of interest in the artist’s work, and the known habits of collectors, this scrap of art history could fetch as much as $2000.  In fact it sold for $7500.  Another picture, "attributed" to the same artist, sold for $3275.  A third picture, a fully realized, full-sized oil painting made by the same artist, did not reach the six-figure reserve price Which serves to indicate what has come to be the market value of works by Thomas Cole (1801-48), of Catskill NY.

BETTER DAYS.  The  jobs picture, nationally and locally, has shown signs lately of improvement.  As widely reported in the news media, the national rate of unemployment dipped in November to 8.6 per cent, the lowest (=best) since March 2009.  Part of the improvement, to be sure, is due to departures from the ranks of people who are counted as belonging to the work force.  But 120,000 jobs were added, even while 20,000 government jobs were cut.  And those gains coincided with upturns in rates of factory output, construction, retail sales, and small business returns.

Consistent with the national trend, moreover, is the jobs picture in our section of the country.  The November figures have not been released yet by the State’s Labor Department, but the positive trend is evident:.
                                           10/11            9/11       10/10
  NYS                                 7.7%           7.8%          8.0%   
  Albany Co.                        6.5              6.9             6.9
  Ulster Co                           7.4              7.8             7.8
  Dutchess                            6.8              7.0             7.2
  Columbia                           6.8              7.0             7.0
  Sullivan                              8.1              8.3             8.5
  Delaware                            7.6                                8.4
  Orange                               7.2                                 7.7
  GREENE                           7.8              8.3              7.9
  Bronx*                             12.4            12.4            12.3
  Saratoga**                          5.9             6.0              6.3

   *Worst in State
   **Third best in State
Those figures also serve to confirm a persistent economic fact: in GreeneLand, it's harder than in neighboring counties to find work.

NO SPICE.  The substance known colloquially as “spice” (and as K2, Spice Gold, Spice Silver and K3), as well as synthetic marijuana, has been outlawed by Greene County’s legislators.  This happened even before the stuff, the cannaboids, had been tested by the Food & Drug Administration to learn whether the emitted smoke affects bystanders adversely.  That action was taken by the legislators of Greene County, Indiana.

SHAGGY DOG STORY.  “I was at WalMart buying a bag of Purina dog chow for my dog ,” recalls GreeneLander Eugenia Brennan Heslin (on Facebook), ”when a woman behind me in the check-out line asked if I had a dog. Why else would I be buying dog chow, RIGHT? So on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again, and that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in intensive care, with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms. I told her that it was essentially a Perfect Diet and all you do is load your pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again.... Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff a poodle's butt and a car hit me. I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Better watch what you ask me and be prepared for my answer. I have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say…. 
     “Now that you've read this I have to confess, I copied it from someone else."

   --“The plan, which is a department level plan, has been aoporived through the commissioners level after several levels of review, outside of the public review.”
   --“The two underpinning reasons…was to help inform the public on how DEC manages deer and wanted to lay out specific strategies to improve the plan for the future.”
   --“He said he viewed the deer management plan as pushing for quality for a well balanced deer heard, allowing for the proper amount of bucks to the proper amount of does.” 
    --“For 2012, the budget decreases in revenues and expenditures, no cost of living raises, and hours cut for certain departments’ personal services where revenues have declined.”
   --“Total amount to be raised by taxes in 2012 have been figured at $1,490,345….”
   --“Bringing up the rear was Santa Claus and one of his helpers in the bucket…”

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