Saturday, May 19, 2012

Greene Goodies

ACHIEVERS.  Carly, Kassadi, Tyler, Jordan and Seth are first names of children who share at least three traits.   They attend Catskill public schools (Middle and High).  They scored top academic honors during the latest school term.  And their last name is Bulich.
 LAGGARDS.   The latest scores on local school kids' academic achievements confirmed, with one exception, a familiar pattern: male retardation.  Although boys make up about half of the student population, they do not provide half of the good students. At Coxsackie-Athens High School, 27 of the 45 seniors who achieved top academic honors in the latest term are girls.  At Catskill High School, in grade 9, 15 girls and only four boys achieved top honors.  In grade 10, the ratio was 16 to 4.  In grade 11, among the 16 High Honors achievers, only five boys were included.  But the grade 12 results provided a radical departure from the gender norm:  4 girls, 10 boys (including two Buliches).
COOKING!  "O'Sullivan Stew," the musical which was first presented in Catskill 2010, based on a book by GreeneLand’s Hudson Talbott, on songs composed by GreeneLand’s Frank Cuthbert, on staging by GreeneLand’s Casey Biggs, was performed dozens of times over the last year by Urban Stages, a New York City theater group that presents plays and musicals to  libraries and charter schools.  "O'Sullivan Stew" also is one of five plays, out of 177 entries, that won selection for performance at a new works festival recently at Bowling Greene University in Ohio.  What is more more, “The Last Pine Tree on Eagle Mountain,” another original work by Mr Cuthbert (story and music and lyrics) was produced for Earth Day 2012 performance in the New York City Public Library.
CULTURE BOOSTS.  Ten GreeneLand non-profits will be receiving grants of county money, in amounts ranging from $500 to $3000, to help with the costs of programs to be offered during the year.  The money, totaling $18,000 (scaled down from $62,475 in requests), comes from the county legislature’s Initiative Program, with recipients and their allocations decided by a panel of county Arts Council selectors.  The program dates from 1983, and it has long been distinctive for geographic diversity.  This year’s winning applicants include the county Historical Society’s Bronck Museum ($2200), the Catskill Mountain Foundation ($3000), free103point9 Wave Radio ($1200), Horton By the Stream theater company ($1000), Inter-Cities Performing Arts (concerts and a play; $500), the Grazhda music and folk arts center in Jewett ($2350), Planet Arts (jazz; $1650), the Thomas Cole National Historic Site ($2400), the Windham Chamber Music company ($2500), and the Zadock Pratt museum ($1200).   Other arts-boosting grants, to groups and individuals, may eventuate.  The State Council on the Arts has earmarked $22,000 for “re-grants” allocated by GreeneLand's arts council.  (See )
IDEAS.  In response to our question (Seeing Greene, 5/5/12) about salutary uses of the Union Mills (ex-Oren’s Furniture) property on Main Street and on Water Street in Catskill, we have received two suggestions.  One is to transfer to that site the headquarters of the aforementioned Council on the Arts.  That move would allow for expansion, and could enable the Council to serve as a kind of magnet for independent arts-related projects, under the same roof.
    The second idea is to establish in that commodious space a branch of the institution that is known officially as the Columbia-Greene Community College although physically it only exists on the Columbia side of the Hudson.  So: put some C-GCC courses in Union Mills building.   There's plenty of room for classes.  Offer courses that are particularly popular with Greene County students and  would be particularly convenient for GreeneLand high school kids who are doing Advanced Placement work (or who would do that work if the classroom were closer to home).
   Those two ideas, BTW, are not mutually exclusive.
    Moreover, there has been abundant talk about building dormitories to house C-GCC students.  Must those dormitories be right on the current campus?  What about adapting the residential section of the Union Mills lofts?
BANK SHOTS.   Good things have happened lately for GreeneLand’s foremost local bank:
 *Profits.  In its latest quarter, Greene County Bancorp, parent of the Bank of Greene County, scored record earnings.  As reported by company president Donald Gibson, net income from the start of the current fiscal year (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) grew by 15 per cent, and the pace of increase in the latest quarter (January 1 to March 31) was faster than in the previous quarter.  Moreover, net income relative to number of company shares also went up.  The bank's assets now total almost $580 million, a gain of around $25 million since this time last year. That increase was recorded even while the dollar tally of outstanding loans that are classed as “non-performing”—likely defaults—has reached $6.8 million.  Anyhow, the bank’s good fortune is due largely to a nice combination:  more borrowers, plus  an increase in the spread between rates of interest payable to the bank by its borrowers and rates payable by the bank to its lenders.
 *Recognition.  Exceptional fiscal feats won for Greene County Bancorp elevation by an investment bank, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, to an “honor roll” of  “most profitable [U.S.] banks over the past decade.”  That recognition—bestowed by KBW on 45 out of a population of 400 banks--was based on meeting three tests: no yearly loss over the past decade; yearly net income per share of stock that is at least the highest posted over the past decade; and consecutive net income increases, before extraordinary items, since 2009.    In size of deposits, Greene County Bancorp was the smallest newcomer to KBW’s 2012 honor roll.   And that fact won for the bank special attention in an American Banker magazine story. There, Mr Gibson is credited with making the point that his company “sticks to the traditional formula of collecting local deposits, making loans in the deposit area and shunning risky bond purchases.”  Accordingly “’We’re just trying to do the basics, making all the layups and the foul shots’.”
   (Incidentally, the biggest bank included in KBW’s 2012 “honor roll” is JP Morgan Chase, whose inclusion pre-dated the revelation that the Chase incurred, in the space of about six weeks, losses totaling $2  billion.  The losses came from the practice that is called Proprietary Trading and is a prime example of not sticking to the basics of banking).   
  *Innovation.  Late in 2011,  Greene County Bancorp formed a real estate investment trust, Greene Property Holdings Ltd.  To that subsidiary, with 20 per cent of preferred shares owned by “certain employees of the bank,” went all the mortgages held by the bank.  The change, we understand, yielded immediate tax advantage and thus promises to boost profits in coming quarters.
 *Infusion.  According to a report in The Register-Star, the BOGC is about to receive a multi-million dollar deposit.  And for the use of that money, as a way to earn money as a lender, the bank will pay a pittance: 0.75 per cent.  The infusion will come from Columbia County government funds, transferred from the Bank of America.  The transfer is the result of a bidding contest.  For the privilege of holding Columbia County deposits, the BOA was willing to pay interest at the rate of just one-fifth of one per cent.  The BOGC topped that offer, and other banks’ offers, with an 0.75 per cent bid.  It thus acquires a big pool of money that can be loaned to mortgagees at a considerably higher rate of interest.
FAST ACTION.  The girl in that picture actually is an adult, a mother, a part-time Athenian, and a budding mogul.  Lexy Funk is president of Brooklyn Industries, which Crain’s New York Business calls the “hipster clothing chain.”  The picture illustrated a May 13th story about “fast fashion,” or turning to local manufacturers in order to get designs to the market in a more timely, well, fashion.  Six weeks instead of (for things made in China) six months.  
(Full disclosure: we are related to that mogul)

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