Tuesday, March 15, 2005

March Finale

RED OVER A GREENE. In last blog, Revolutionary War hero after whom this county is named, along with about 14 other counties in U.S.A., was—gulp, blush—mis-named. He was Nathanael (not Nathaniel) Greene (1742-86). Fighting Quaker. George Washington’s top-ranked general. Ran the Redcoats ragged in the South. Genuinely effective leader. Spelling his name right is the least we can do. (Thanks to Ted Hilscher for the heads-up—and we double-checked spelling of his name).

FULL CROCK? Historic church across from Greene County courthouse--“Uncle Sam” Wilson prayed there-- is up for sale, for whopping $590,000. That’s huge jump over what Pastor Jim Finn paid, to make home for evangelical/charismatic/pentecostal Full Gospel Tabernacle. Its happy-clapping, Swaggertesque operation seemed to flourish, with extraordinary attraction for young people and unusual success in racial integration. So why the For Sale signs? When we put that question to Pastor Finn, we found him clad in trademark Western attire, hippie-haired, bent, bleary-eyed, gaunt and bitter. After saying “We’ve outgrown this place and need to expand,” he launched into a rant against news media, then stalked back to his sanctum, leaving no chance for queries about last spring’s bankruptcy filing, or about an alleged habit (says an ex-congregant) of expensive over-reaching. Seemed to feel under-appreciated locally, despite success in feeding the poor (thousands of hot free meals) and in raising the dead.

JUDICIAL CONTEST. As we went to press (so to speak) it looked likely that incumbent county and surrogate judge George Pulver Jr, bidding for second 10-year term, will face competition from Catskill Town judge Peter Margolius. Both men will seek Republican endorsement at convention. Party endorsement, however, does not ensure place on November 8th ballot as Republican nominee. From standpoint of Board of Elections, key requirement is petitions containing signatures of 5 per cent of registered GreeneLand Republicans. If two (or more) candidates want to appear on ballot as Republican nominee for a given office, each must gather required signatures and then face off in primary election. Normally, that does not happen because candidate who does not win endorsement at party convention withdraws from race (or runs on another party line; but that’s another story). Meanwhile, former Chief Public Defender Greg Lubow has not ruled out run for the judgeship. “I haven’t made a decision,” he told Seeing Greene. As for speculation that he might seek Democratic Party endorsement, he said “I’m a Republican committee-man.”

PIE SANO’S = new pizza parlor in PriceChopper mall (replacing hard-to-see, ill-patronized bottle shop store). Its catchy name augments roster of nominally clever GreeneLand enterprises, such as Happy Tails (pet taxi service, run by Helen Libby; 966-5859), Pack Rat (self-storage units; Ron Smith), Hair Razors, and LifePsychle (behavioral psychotherapy; Richard Madden). So when do we get a Happy Cooker restaurant? a Happy Dyes beauty salon? a Hanging Offense gallery?

PROPERTY TAX DELINQUENCIES this year, according to County Treasurer Willis Vermilyea, are likely to be “fewest we’ve ever had.” After final-final deadline for redemption has passed, only 30 parcels or so will go on auction block (conducted by Ed Haroff, of Schoon Lake) on July 12th at Elks Club. That’s after hundreds of laggards were given official warnings (certified mail; legal ads) in October-November. Most met January 31st deadline (to pay taxes owed, penalties, interest at 1% per month). Remaining laggards were given extension to July 8th. Dollar-wise, our foremost delinquent currently is Anthony Brock of Ravena, who owns North Baltimore’s Shady Harbor Marina. As of this writing, he’ll need about $120,000 to keep that 12.5-acre facility out of county hands. Some delinquents may give up properties and then try to buy them back (free of past-due taxes). But (like other buyers) they must pay fees amounting to about $660 plus buyer’s premium of 10% of knock-down price. DAILY MAUL. “Bridal” pages of GreeneLand’s daily paper of Feb. 20th offered pictures and notes about nine weddings. Cited nuptials took place in May, July, August, October and November of 2004. And scarcely any of the brides, grooms, or family members had a GreeneLand connection. COMING EVENTS *Easter Frolic. Kids in north end of GreeneLand can likely have a happy messy time on Saturday morning (March 19th) party at Greenville Cultural Arts Center. They’ll be helped with Easter Basket-making, mobile-constructing, animal-painting and egg-coloring. (Bring own eggs, and DON’T FORGET TO HARD-BOIL THEM). Ventriloquist Sylvia Marston will entertain with help of Magic Trunk-dwelling puppets. To learn more: allartsmatter@juno.com, or (518)966-4038.

*Concert. Vladimir Pleshakov, plays on, and talks about, “The Beethoven Piano” Saturday night at Catskill Mountain Foundation.

*Symposium. Restoration of Hudson River basin is topic of day-long talkfest at Columbia-Greene Community College on March 22 (a Tuesday). Eminently qualified speakers will discourse on stream channel design, channel stabilization, bottom sediment removal, riparian zone restoration, wetland restoration and terrestrial habitat restoration. Main sponsor is estimable Hudson River Environmental Society (www.hres.org). Registration deadline has passed but organizers may still have room. (518)861-8020.

*Poetry. Also sponsored by All Arts Matter (see Easter item) is 6th annual Rip Van Winkle Poetry Fest, with cash prizes for and public readings of entries in adult and under-14 divisions. Financial support comes from New York State Council on the Arts, funneled through Greene County Council on the Arts. Submissions deadline is April 9.

BLINDING INSIGHTS DEPT. “When building or renovating, homeowners should always focus on windows and doors, as they are the foundation of a beautiful home.” --Home Front section of BusinessDay (Johannesburg, South Africa), via WorldWideWords.org .

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Shades of Greene

OUR COUNTY seems to be one of 15 Greenes. Others exist in Alabama (labor force of 2982), Arkansas, Georgia (whose county seat claims distinction of being first in America to be wiped out—fire and slaughter—by Indians), Indiana, Illinois (former home of warring Kickapoos and Pottawatamies), Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky (good sky-diving), Mississippi (once part of Choctaw nation), Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania (proud of 8 covered bridges), Tennessee, and Virginia. Most of these jurisdictions, like ours, are named in honor of Revolutionary War hero, Gen. Nathaniel Greene. HOO GREENE. Arkansas’s Greene County contains headquarters of International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo. Whose officers bear titles not only of Sr and Jr High Hoo-Hoo, but also of Snark, Bagum, Jabberwock, Scrivenoter, Arcanoper, Custocatian and Gurdon. But we digress. WEIRD GREENE. Virginia’s Greene County web site imputes to that location a transparent mind, which is “expecting to expand the amount of residences living in Ruckersville” (quite a feat for a residence). But there we go again, digressing. WHICH GREENE BANK? It’s easy to confound Greene County Bank with Bank of Greene County. Former is in fact located in East Tennessee’s Greene County, while latter is right here in Catskill. Theirs is much bigger (more offices, employees, assets, market capitalization). Both companies’ shares are listed on NASDAQ exchange, as GCBS and GCBC respectively. Ours pays better dividend and has higher price-to-earnings ratio. BANK FORTUNES. Of ll community banks in Capital/Mid-Hudson region, our Bank of Greene County scored biggest gain in net income last year. Brisk business in mortgage lending coincided with decreased reliance on Certificates of Deposit and, says BGC President Bruce Whittaker, with fresh income from fees derived from new business of selling stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities. Assets approached $300 million mark. Net income rose 32% of fiscal 2003, when the figure was 29% over previous year. Dividend payout to owners of shares in parent Greene County Bank Corporation was up 15%. It could hardly have been otherwise. Big rise in real estate prices and in sales had to bring big increase in mortgage interest income. But BGC also surely prospered from competitors’ stupidity. When Troy Savings took over Catskill Savings, new bosses promptly discarded well connected local staff and venerable, locally resonant name. Depositors fled. Prospective orrowers shunned. Could same thing happen to BGC? PROPERTY MARKET. Dramatizing boom in GreeneLand real estate market (see previous Seeing Greene), an East Catskill home (top of Bridge Street) sold in September 2003 for $239,000, sold again in August 2004 (after improvements, to be sure) for $319,000. Do the math. “HEADLINERS AND One-Liners. Songs and Stories of Catskill Hotels.” That’s fetching name of live show to be given by Mark Singer & Darcy Dunn & friends, at Catskill Mountain Foundation’s theater in Hunter this Saturday (March 12). For more information, check Foundation’s web site (www.catskillmtn.org) or phone (518)263-4459, or e-mail info@catskillmtn.org. MOVIES TOO. That show is only one of many wondrous offerings from Catskill Mountain Foundation. Lowland GreeneLanders lack awareness of same. There’s the bookstore in Hunter, offering new and used volumes in abundance, many at discount, with all profits recycled to good cultural causes. Mail orders welcome. Telephone inquiries at (518) 263-4448. Then there’s parade of superior films (Hollywood, foreign, independent…). Tomorrow night, for example: “Hitch” and “Hotel Rwanda.” Next up: “A Love Song for Bobby Long.” DEAR MELVIN: “….I hope you will display this personalized photograph of President and Mrs. Bush proudly as a symbol of your support for his positive vision of a better future for our country…And I hope it will also serve as a reminder of the importance of grassroots leaders like you…. It means a lot to me to know your photograph [inscribed with “Warmest Regards” followed by signature “George Bush”] arrived in good condition, and is suitable for framing and display. So please…complete the enclosed Confirmation Receipt and return it to me. And…please include a contribution of $25, $35…or whatever you can afford to become a Sustaining Member of the Republican National Committee.” “President Bush is counting on grassroots leaders like you to help guide our country to a better day.” --Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman to GreeneLander who died 12 years ago. “IRRESISTIBLY YUMMY yet wholesome, the degree of sweetness in each piece flavorfully subtle but not overpowering.” That’s author Pauline Uchmanowicz’s take on assortment of goodies confected by Karen Hernandez of The Candyman (4 Bridge St, Catskill). Writing in February issue of Catskill Mountain Region Guide (free; beautifully produced; hard to find), Uchmanowicz hails “dizzyingly pleasurable sugar, nut and fruit odors” pervading store, its resemblance to “an antiquated apothecary,” its “chocolate creams made variously with butter rum, cherry, lemon, lime, peppermint…,” its “almond, cashew and pecan barks,” its “nut and raisin clusters and turtles.” TRAVEL NOTE. Motorists on Palisades Parkway just north of New York City (and south of Freeway) could have paid $2.40 per gallon for regular gasoline on March 4 (among other days) or, within six miles, on the New Jersey side, $1.80. DAILY MAUL. Web site of GreeneLand’s only locally published daily newspaper carries two advertisements. One, for kilt-maker Anne Stewart, cites Main St (Catskill) address that Anne recently vacated. The other, for Kd Office Works, cites Hudson address and Catskill (Grandview Plaza) addresses, although Kd vacated latter site back in November. MORE MAULING. In March 2 feature story about forthcoming exhibition at Cedar Grove, name of famous Hudson School landscape painter Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) is rendered as Ashore.