Friday, December 14, 2007

Snowless News

HOT COLE. The National Endowment for the Humanities, months ago, earmarked $320,000 for a package of projects at GreeneLand’s Thomas Cole National Historic Site. But most of the grant—all but $49,500--was contingent on local procurement of matching funds. Latest news, however, is that the terms have been reversed, so that the project can move ahead promptly. As reported by Betsy Jacks, executive director of the Cole Site, to her board of directors, “We now officially have $270,900 in OUTRIGHT funds, requiring NO match, and $50,000 in matching funds, requiring $50,000 match.” That came about because the key NEH people “love our project and don’t want t to take five years to happen.”

DAILY MAUL. The December 8th issue of GreeneLand’s foremost (qua only) daily newspaper consisted of 18 pages of advertising and editorial matter. Pages A8 and B2 contained exactly the same wire-service story.

ELECTED to chair the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation: Alexander “Sandy” Mathes Jr, whose full-time job is executive director of GreeneLand’s semi-public Industrial Development Agency. The HVEDC’s purview embraces nine counties, from Westchester northward. Established in 2003, it is a public-private partnership devoted to bringing enterprises to the region.

STOUTER DEFENSE? Two part-time attorneys in the office of GreeneLand’s Public Defender will soon be succeeded, if the county legislators agree, by a new full-time hire, Joseph Meaney. In the words of Chief Public Defender Dominic J. Cornelius, “We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Joe. He’s eminently qualified and he’s extraordinarily versatile, so that he can handle Family Court and major felony cases.” Mr Meaney, an Albany Law School graduate, worked for the Child Protection Service of Albany County, then as a prosecutor in the office of the district attorney, and then for the eminent Albany defense attorney, James Long. As a full-time assistant Public Defender, at a salary of $50,000 per year, he will fill the vacancies created by the retirement, after 28 years, of Ralph Lewis, and the departure of Dale Dorner, a nine-year veteran of public defender work who also is the mother and the partner in private practice of another assistant public defender, Jon Kosich. Promoted to the rank of chief assistant to Mr Cornelius, meanwhile, will be Catskill’s Joseph Stanzione, who has been a part-time public defender for 19 years and is Mr Lewis’s partner in private practice.

NOTICE. Motorists approaching Catskill Village from the east, on Jefferson Heights Boulevard, pass a sign declaring (warning?) “Codes in effect and enforced. Building Permits required.” Do those words draw a contrast with rules or practices in other communities? with previous local practices?

THE TRIAL. Summations in the criminal trial of James Pine did not commence this morning at 10am as scheduled. Instead, while the jurors were sequestered and the spectators—relatives and friends of the defendant and of man he is accused of killing—milled about on the second floor of the county courthouse, the lawyers and the judge conferred privately until lunchtime. Mainly at stake in their prolonged interchanges was the matter of how the judge shall instruct the jury: verdicts they can reach, weighing evidence, appropriate findings with regard to the defendant’s intent, what doubts on what points are (un)reasonable…. District Attorney Terry Wilhelm and Defense Attorney Richard Mott advocated competing instructional points. And they needed to know Judge George R. Barrett III’s decisions so that they could shape the terms of their summations.

The jurors face a difficult problem. Pine is charged with felonious assault and manslaughter in connection with the fatal beating, on Halloween Night last year, in west Catskill, of Michael Formachelli of Hudson. Pine’s friend and fellow assailant, Michael Deyo, already has entered a plea of guilty to assaulting Formachelli. Pine has admitted that he too attacked Formachelli. But Pine and Deyo name each other as the wielder of the iron breaker bar that, according to expert testimony, produced the skull injuries that proved, three days later, to be fatal. No independent witness, and no physical evidence, has served during the trial to point conclusively to either man. Consequently, amid uncertainty on that part of the case, the jurors must decide whether Pine’s participation warrants a finding of Guilty of the crimes of first-degree manslaughter and/or first-degree assault.


In Athens: Craft & Story Hour for children, at D.R. Evarts Library, from 2:30pm.

Poetry (Robert Milby, Will Nixon, others) and music (Don Yacallo) for adults at the Cultural Center from 2 pm. Music (The Digits) as well as food at Yannis II from 8:30pm.

In Hunter, music (the Marc Belenfant Holiday Band, doing Jazz and Latin-infused holiday classics with singer and pianist Christine Spero) and dance (Sabina Starr’s Catskills Dance Theatre doing excerpts from “The Nutcracker”) at the Doctorow Center, from 7:30pm.

In Catskill, Main Street galleries beckon with art and wine. Among high spots: “Winter Showcase” at M (Polly Law, Jimmy James, Patrick Milbourn, one-name Natalici), with reception at 6pm (943-0380); Part II (landscapes) of the “Critical Mass” showing of Frank Faulkner works, at Terenchin Fine Art; and opening of new, brilliant Play of Light Gallery at 460 Main St (622 8733.

In addition, at BRIK (473 Main St; 943-0145), from 7pm, adventurer Albert Podell, co-author of Who Needs a Road?, will recount highlights of his and partner Harold Stephens’s longest, last motor journey around the world (in 1965). That talk, sponsored by Theodore S. Belfor, dentist, and Frank Cuthbert, strumming enterpriser, is a fund-raiser for the County Arts Council. Then there’s a first anniversary show, featuring the Betty MacDonald Trio, from 8:30 at Stella’s Lounge (; 943-3173). [Correction: it's been postponed].


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