Friday, March 17, 2006

Paddy Patter

CONSERVED: two substantial parcels of riverside land, in Athens and Coxsackie. Thanks to the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, drawing upon the Environmental Protection Fund, will pay $879,000 for 61 acres of shoreline, tidal flats, grassland and woodland at Brandow Point, just north of the Cohotate Reserve. At Four Mile Point in Coxsackie, meanwhile,123 acres of land, much of it part of the Vosburgh Swamp, will be acquired by the State and reserved for recreation and conservation purposes. Management of both parcels will be handled by the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District. On the occasion of the announcement of these acquisitions (and even more shorelands directly across the Hudson), GCSWCD executive director Rene Schaack said “When the GCSWCD focused its efforts on access to the Hudson River in the early 1990’s, there were only 41 acres of publicly accessible lands in Greene County that were on the river. We are very pleased that by working with partners such as Scenic Hudson, New York State, and others, we have had the opportunity to play a role in increasing riverfront public lands to over 400 acres, and we look forward to continuing to work with DEC to manage these properties into the future.” For more information, google scenichudson.

CONVICTED last night, of murder in the second degree, by 12 GreeneLand jurors, instructed by Judge Daniel Lalor, following a nine-day trial and nine hours of deliberation: James B. Smith, 26. The jurors agreed with District Attorney Terry Wilhelm that, by reckless conduct exhibiting depraved indifference to the consequences, Smith caused the death of 3-year-old Egypt Phillips. Smith had been living in Coxsackie with Egypt’s mother, Tonya Rose, who had designated him as the official caregiver—paid by Greene County Social Services, at the rate of more than $1000 per month--of Egypt and her two sisters. He subjected Egypt to persistent abuse, and finally inflicted a blow that, on account of its nature and of dilatoriness in seeking medical help, proved to be fatal. Smith’s punishment can range from 25 years in prison to life. Sentencing is scheduled to take place on May 23rd.

ALSO CONVICTED, earlier, of criminally negligent homicide: the aforementioned Tonya Rose, mother of Egypt and of two other daughters (by different fathers). She put Smith in charge of the children while she was working at a WalMart, and kept to the arrangement even after he was formally barred from the household by order of Child Protection Services. She accepted a plea bargain in which her recommended punishment would be three months’ jail time if she proved to be a co-operative and truthful witness in the trial of Smith. In District Attorney Wilhelm’s estimation, she failed that test, thereby earning a substantially longer sentence.

FORMED, by some “library advocates” who, according to The Daily Mail (3/10) met recently at Catskill’s Public Library: “a library Friend’s [sic.] group,” led by Michael Maloney. An incipient “incorporation process” will “officialize” the group. Library Director Luisa Sabin-Kildiss is quoted as anticipating that “the Friend’s [sic.] will help us meet our goals.” A second meeting of the new “Friend’s” may have been held last Monday (March 13) but was not reported. “The Friend’s [sic.] are actively seeking new members” and, pending incorporation and 501©(3)status, “contributions to the Friend’s [sic.] group can be made to the…Library.” Noteworthy about this story, apart from assaults on literacy, is a tacit invitation to infer that establishment of a Friends of the Catskill Public Library is a new thing. That suggestion is grossly counter-factual.

FURLOUGHED, by Catskill’s Village Trustees, from participation in activities of the Catskill Fire Company: volunteer firefighter Joel Shanks. The action took place after Monday night’s public Village Board meeting. According to a letter signed by Board President Vincent Seeley, Mr Shanks is placed on “administrative leave while an investigation of your recent allegations is conducted.” He must “not participate in any fire company or firematic activity” and is “removed from the active firefighters list” although his “service time” is not affected. Mr Seeley referred to “allegations” made by Mr Shanks to Workforce New York (now under investigation) as well as to allegations made “verbally to individual Trustees.” Mr Shanks had complained that he was being subjected to harassment by fellow firefighters, including the company’s leaders, on account of their belief that he was the author of an earlier, anonymous, complaint to the Public Employees Safety and Health Bureau about safety violations. In an interview with Seeing Greene, Mr Shanks characterized the Trustees’ action as “further evidence of harassment." Other firefighters who have been investigated for alleged improprieties, he said, have not been similarly disciplined. The furlough order comes in the wake of the sustained maltreatment that prompted his complaint: name-calling (“rat,” “fink”) by top-ranking Catskill firefighters and their followers, urgings to avoid talking with Mr Shanks, deliberate avoidance of communication with him on the scenes of fires, intentional failures to record him as present during roll calls, assigning him tasks that belong to less trained firefighters, and even expressing the wish that his own house would burn down. Village Trustee Angelo Amato, however, told Seeing Greene that the unanimous decision in favor of administrative leave was not meant to be punitive and was “in his best interest.” (Other Trustees had not responded, by post time, to our request for comment). That interpretation was second by Fire Chief Randy Ormerod. The decision in favor of administrative leave, he said, was “for the safety and well-being” of Mr Shanks. Mr Amato and Chief Ormerod also voiced the opinion that the Trustees’ ruling did not involve a ban on completing a firefighter training course in which Mr Shanks was engaged.

MAULED: the English language, by the usual journalistic suspects. GreeneLand author/skier Peter James Quirk is credited with a novel called "Trail of Vengenance" and with creating a fictional protagonist who “digs up clues and lays the groundwork for a new novel” by Quirk, namely, this one. Ray C. Brooks of Athens became (on 3/11) a “Green” county legislator. “For years, a narrow, swinging bridge spanned the gorge separating the water park from the The Country Place resort, from which the Zoom Flume grew out of.” “After passing through the Public Safety and Finance committees of the county Legislature Monday night, lawmakers are expected to approve” a certain budget allocation. “In closing, Brooks said he would stay his platform when he runs for re-election.”

INVITED: Feedback (via the green "Dick May" below) as distinct from imbecilic comments. About the formerly free-for-all comments, a correspondent compared reading them with "going to a yard sale: You had to pick through alot of crap in order to find something good. There were several interesting points but, unfortunatly, the personal attacks and half-truths outweighed the value of the exchange of ideas and you did what had to be done bringing comments to an end."

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