Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last '08 Post

DYNABOUGHT. GreeneLand’s aerospace technology company, DynaBil Industries, has been sold. The buyer is another aerospace specialist, California-based Duocommun Inc. As announced by Duocommun president Joseph Berenato and reported in various news organs, the purchase price is $46.5 million in cash ($39.5 million) and promissory notes.

That sum will be paid to four private investment funds and to GreeneLanders Hugh Quigley and Michael Grosso They started DynaBil in 1977 in a Coxsackie garage, built it into a substantial fabricator of titanium firewalls, bulkheads, and nacelles for aircraft, and sold control of the 200-employee facility in March 2006 to venture capitalists while retaining a 20 per cent equity interest.

DynaBil will become part of the buyer’s Ducommun Aerostructures division, which, according to the company’s web site, “designs, engineers and manufactures the largest, most complex contoured aerostructure components in the aerospace industry. Our integrated processes include stretch-forming, thermal-forming, chemical milling, precision fabrication, machining, finishing processes, and integration of components into subassemblies.” We are also the largest independent supplier of composite and metal bond structures and assemblies in the US, including aircraft wing spoilers, helicopter blades, flight control surfaces and engine components.”

Duocommun Incorporated’s 1865 employees work at 12 sites in six States and in Mexico and Thailand. Sales in the past year, with Boeing as the biggest customer, reached $396million. Company shares, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (as DCO) have ranged in price from $12.03 to $38.53. In early November, Ducommun shares were touted in a Forbes magazine column as a “cheap growth stock.”

AWARDED to Cairo-Durham Middle School, as a prize in Samsung Electronics of America’s Hope for Education program: $61,000 worth of electronic digital hardware and software plus cash. The award was one of 30 First Place prizes given to schools around the country. Winners were chosen on the basis of essays responding to the question “How has technology educated you on helping the environment and how or why has it changed your behavior to be more environmentally friendly?” Authorship, on behalf of a school or a school district, could come from anybody. In this case the author was Cairo-Durham Schools Superintendent Sally Sharkey.

GRANTED to the Greene Arts Foundation, for use in creating the Quadricentennial musical show “River of Dreams” based on Hudson Talbott’s book, with songs by Frank Cuthbert and stage parts performed by high schoolers: $1000 from the Athens Cultural Center and $2000 from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Those awards are fractions of what was requested. More grant applications, says impresario Casey Biggs, still are Out There.

LITIGATION FRONT. Law partners Eugenia Brennan and Edward Kaplan are suing the Trustees of Coxsackie Village. The plaintiffs want to be paid for representing Mayor John Bull in connection with his contentious firing, many months ago, of the police chief, Robert Helwig. As reported in The Greenville Press (12/18), the Board majority has refused to pay the fee out of Village funds because Mr Bull retained the firm and incurred the debt without being authorized to do so. The lawsuit is an “Article 78” action, like those brought recently by “Unk” Slater and by Galen Joseph-Hunter against Cairo officialdom. Those cases are slated for court hearings early in 2009, along with volunteer firefighter Joel Shanks’s long-stalled suit against the Village of Catskill.

NAY SAYERS in the Coxsackie-Athens School District voted down, by a whopping margin of 1066 to 426 (in an electorate of about 6000), a $20million construction and renovation project (euphemistically priced at at $19,954,420). According to a Daily Mail report (12/17; Billie Dunn), preponderantly negative votes, in about the same proportions, were cast in Coxsackie and in Athens. Disappointed advocates pointed out that much of the contemplated work was in nature of mandated repairs, and that much of the State money that was available for the work will not be, or may not be, available. That portion amounted to $14.5 million. Did the voters understand that?

GREENVILLE now has an official web site: In contrast, Cairo’s official web site is defunct. And leads to the Antiques Center.

RUMOR has it that a GreeneLand man has lodged a complaint alleging to his employer that a female colleague harassed him sexually, when it really was the other way around. Rumor also has it that a GreeneLand teen-ager rented a room at the Friar Tuck resort, invited friends in for a bibulous party, led or joined them in trashing the place, will be facing charges. Rumor has it too that a recent shuffle of administrative staff in a GreeneLand public organization was not driven altogether by the quest for efficiency. But then, “Rumor has it” is bafflegab.

MADOFF JUNIOR? Just as many victims of Bernard Madoff’s monumental swindle remain to be counted, so do victims of the late-December stunt by Catskill Buick Pontiac GMC Cadillac. GreeneLanders galore received an advertising card to which a key, resembling an ignition key, was pasted. Recipients were invited to play Scratch Match. “If your number matches the wining number below,” the dealer promised, “you’ll definitely win one of the four prizes!” Available to win, specifically, were $5000 cash or a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am, a Flat Screen TV, $500 cash, or a Golf Spa Package. Eureka! Catskillian Jerry Sarlin’s uncovered number, 78425, matched the winning number! But then so Valerie Johnson’s number. And her neighbor’s. And his neighbor’s. And yours. Let’s hope for better dealings in 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Remembering Ray

In addition to being GreeneLand's official historian, Raymond Beecher was the county's foremost benefactor. His death on October 11th, at the age of 91, preceded by two weeks an event at Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, that he had planned to attend, as usual: the annual Raymond Beecher Lecture. As a prelude to that lecture, a member of the Cole Site's board of trustees, David Barnes, drove 13 hours from Columbus, Ohio, to deliver this eulogy.

Through Thomas Cole’s eyes, we were given a vision of our natural heritage and cultural identity. 160 years later, through Raymond Beecher’s eyes, we were given a vision of what Cedar Grove could be today. Simply put, without Ray’s hard work, his determination, his ability to inspire others and--yes, as he loved to say, plenty of his beer money--there would be no Cedar Grove today, to celebrate Thomas Cole and the birthplace of the Hudson River School.

Ray was adamant that Cedar Grove must never become just another “historic home” filled with period furnishings. He wanted Cedar Grove to be a vital, dynamic force in education and in scholarship, those touchstones of Ray’s career. And that’s why, in addition to saving Thomas Cole’s home, one of the many gifts Ray gave Cedar Grove was this lecture series that bears his name. Today is the third annual Raymond Beecher lecture, but the first without him. Ray passed away two weeks ago, peacefully, at his family home overlooking the Hudson River in Coxsackie. Of course, when someone lives to be 91 years old, as Ray did, we’re not supposed to feel cheated. But because of the kind of person Ray was, I think he could’ve lived to be 191 and we’d still feel cheated. I don’t think we feel too differently today than William Cullen Bryant felt when he said, in his funeral oration for Thomas Cole, that "His departure has left a vacuity which amazes and alarms us. It is as if the voyager on the Hudson were to look toward the great range of the Catskills, at the foot of which Cole, with a reverential fondness, had fixed his abode, and were to see that the grandest of its summits had disappeared – had sunk into the plain from our sight."

Ray’s life was full of accomplishments, none greater than his 50-year marriage to Catharine Shaffer Beecher. He earned degrees from Hartwick College and Boston University, including a Doctor of Humane Letters from Hartwick College, his undergraduate alma mater. And he led men into battle in two theaters of operation in WWII, displaying an ability to get people to do things that would become very familiar to those of us he led in the battle to save Thomas Cole’s home.

For over 50 years he was a proud member of the Greene County Historical Society, and his love for this beautiful area was unsurpassed: he learned more about it than anyone, and devoted his life to preserving it and educating people about it as historian, preservationist and author.

His undying passion was Cedar Grove. He knew more about it than anyone else. The last thing he ever wrote, found on his desk after he died, were four shining paragraphs of what would’ve been a superb article he was writing about Cedar Grove for our Winter Newsletter.

To the end, he was the very embodiment of a gentleman and a scholar. With Ray’s passing, we’ve lost a dear friend, an irreplaceable inspiration, and an enormous amount of knowledge. But what inspired him, and the gifts he gave us, are still here, to inspire us, and future generations. It’s a legacy I know he’d be proud of.

Friday, December 19, 2008


The gold doubloon that entitles its finder to claim the gem-encrusted “Captain Kidd crown” has been unearthed. Its discovery marks the culmination of a GreeneLand treasure hunt that had baffled searchers over the past 17 years.

Taking possession of the glittering prize this morning at a ceremony in the Greene County building was Michael Reid of Catskill. He and members of his extended family, organized as Team Ria, set out in early October to decipher clues embedded in the story Captain Kidd and the Missing Crown and then, on weekend forays, to test hunches.

According to the story they deciphered, in 1699 the notorious Captain Kidd and his crew sailed up the Hudson River, landed somewhere along the Greene County coastline, buried a hoard of piratical loot in a secret spot, sailed away, and were caught and hanged in 1701 before they could return.

That story, seasoned with Da Vinci Code-like clues and written in florid Elizabethan style, was concocted back in 1991 by the mystery writer Jack Hashian. It was devised in support of a promotion organized by civic leaders, including county attorney George Pulver (now county judge) and fuel oil supplier Martin Smith. They were looking for a way to reprise a previous treasure hunt that had engaged locals and visitors in a search for the gem-laden ninepin that ostensibly had been left behind by Rip Van Winkle. That lucrative project had lasted until 1990, when a sleuth from Connecticut, Gerald Park, after seven years of trying, traced the ninepin to a spot in the Evergreen Mountain in Catskill Park.

The Captain Kidd story, as characterized by Greene County Historian Raymond Beecher (to a TimesUnion reporter, back in 2005), was “hokum”; but “Why let the facts get in the way of an entertaining story?” It served well as a promotional stunt, funded mainly by the TrustCo bank. In early years it attracted plenty of publicity and of tourists. Hundreds of copies of Captain Kidd and the Missing Crown, duly illustrated, were distributed. Some hunters returned year after year. But gradually, as failures multiplied, interest faded. A local antiques dealer, George Jurgsatis, opined three years ago “we’re not clever enough around here” to decipher the clues.

Team Ria’s quest for the coin, as explained by Mr Reid and his wife Laura, came about in the wake of the death, after an abrupt illness at an early age, of Laura’s sister Maria Ciancanelli-Kelly. In tribute to Maria’s partiality for pirates, and as a therapeutic exercise, the 15 adults and children set out to succeed where so many others had failed.

From clues planted in the Hashian story they reasoned that thedoubloon, representing the buried treasure, must be located somewhere close to a sailing ship’s mooring site: not in the mountains, then, but near the river or a navigable creek. And so it was. The hiding place actually was a short walk from what had been Martin Smith’s place of business, a fuel oil company fronting on Catskill Creek. The gold coin reposed for 17 years under a rock occupying a strip of tidal beach that was close to where, in the course of the years, thousands upon thousands of people had congregated for picnics and concerts and children's: Dutchmen’s Landing.

At this morning’s press conference, Warren Hart, director of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning, hailed “a highly successful tourism promotion effort.” “Although no one discovered the coin until last week, almost everyone who came discovered, in the process of looking for the treasure, something wonderful about Greene County.”

In a similar vein, Catskill Village President Vincent Seeley said “the treasure hunt did what it set out to do: draw visitors….” Discovery of the treasure, moreover, qualifies as a timely “bright light” at a time of economic gloom.

What will the Reids plan to do with their prize? The golden crown, ornamented with diamonds and other precious stones, has appreciated considerably since its cash value was appraised back in 1997 at $10,600. The Reids downplayed the idea of displaying it at the family’s incipient new place of business: a bakery and café on Brandos Alley in Catskill, to be opened next Valentines Day. Mr Reid said the goal is to “unlock” the crown’s value in a way that “will do something wonderful to commemorate Maria’s life.”

At this morning’s news conference, Martin Smith, who is now the chairman of the Bank of Greene County, was asked if another GreeneLand treasure hunt might be in the offing. “Nothing definite,” he said; “but there’s been vague talk about a Legs Diamond stunt or a Thomas Cole event.”

(For a rich chronicle of the quest, richly illustrated and with links to reports in The Daily Mail and The TimesUnion, go to

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wintry Greene

ATHENS, says Lisa A. Phillips in today’s New York Times (“A River Town with Restoration in its Bones”), “has the feel of a living museum of American architecture.” First settled in the late 17th century, the village “became a thriving hub for shipbuilding, brick making and ice harvesting” and, through the 18th and 19th centuries, became the home as well of exemplary “Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Stick, Second Empire, Folk Victorian and Queen Anne” houses. But it “fell on hard times” when the Rip Van Winkle bridge, opened in 1935, eliminated Athens's value as a ferryboat port. In recent years, however, its vintage homes—-more than 300 are listed on national and state historic registers-- have attracted a growing population of restoration-minded newcomers, especially “Lawyers, journalists and other professionals from New York City and North Jersey.”

ETHICALLY HANDICAPPED? In Cairo, establishment of a Board of Ethics has been authorized but not achieved. The problem is staffing. It’s difficult to find willing candidates who do not hold other governing offices (Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Commission) and who are disinterested with regard to hot local issues (Alden Terrace, sewer systems, taxes, site plan regulations, firematics, party affiliations).

Meanwhile, the Town’s official web site,, has gone blank. And local feelings seem to be of such a character that strictly technical explanations evoke skepticism.

PRICE WAR NEWS. Inserts in local newspapers on Wednesday (12/10) from Rite Aid and new Catskill rival Walgreens do not, in most cases, permit direct price comparisons. However, Walgreens offers 4 2-liter bottles of Pepsi for $5, and Rite Aid makes the same offer, except that use of a manufacturer’s coupon, valid through today (12/13), yields a further $1 discount. In print advertisementss four days earlier, on the other hand, Folgers coffee was $2.99 at Rite Aid, vs. 2 for $5 at Walgreens. On the other hand, Rite Aid will part with Russell Stover Chocolates at the price of 2 boxes for $8.99, vs. Walgreens’s $4.99 per box. As for over-the-counter drugs at these two putative drug stores, well, a 50-pack of Excedrin Extra Strength goes for $3.99 at Rite Aid, while Walgreens offers 100-packs at the price of 2 for $12 less a “register rewards” discount of $3. Meanwhile, both stores offer putative discounts on house brands of aspirin, acetaminophen and naproxen. The discounts are phrased in exactly the same way: “buy 1, get 1 50% off” the regular price, which in no case is specified.

RACKET? New York State’s vaunted Empire Zone program gives tax breaks of various kinds to companies that place new enterprises in selected locations, in return for promises way of job creation. According to Elizabeth Lynam of the non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission, that program is a hopeless failure. Companies take the breaks (in sales tax, property tax, credits) without providing the jobs. The program should be scrapped. See .

BUST-UP. Termination of an amorous relationship led to the rupture of a business relationship and then to the wreckage of a GreeneLand business. That’s the story that emerges from court papers submitted by Carl E. Lundell, of Tannersville, asking Acting State Supreme Court Judge Daniel Lalor to dissolve what remains of the business of NorEaster Heating & Cooling, whose headquarters is at 4431 Route 32, Catskill. Mr Lundell owns 25 per cent of NorEaster. The majority owner is Gail J. Curry of Kiskatom. They lived and worked together until late in 2007. Invoking the terms of Business Corporation Law 1104, Mr Lundell contends that after he jilted her, Ms Curry committed “illegal, fraudulent and oppressive” acts whereby NorEaster’s assets were “looted, wasted and diverted for non-corporate purposes.”

SATURDAY (12/13): Holiday Strolls (=multiple events) in Windham, from 2pm, with Santa in attendance, and in downtown Catskill (late afternoon and evening, with galleries and Santa and fireworks). Details: http://windhamchamber.organd plus And in Hunter, the Catskill Mountain Foundation presents, at the Doctorow Center, an evening of song (Ball In the House quintet; Greene Room Players choir) and dance (Catskill Dance Theater).

SUNDAY (12/14). “Christmas Carols You Never Heard” are described and played, at the Village Square Bookstore & Literary Arts Center in Hunter, from 2pm, by Jim Planck, musician, pedaler and ink-stained wretch.

>>>Tannersville Christmas tree-lighting and menorah (!) ceremony, with music and Santa and gifts, from 5pm at the Veterans Memorial. 589-5850.

>>>”Follow That Dream,” an original musical devoted to the history of Catskill’s Mayflower Sweet Shop, performed by local children along with rock diva Lex Grey ((Gray?)), opens at 6:30pm at the Community Center and moves across the street to the original café, where the finale is followed by light refreshments served by cast members.

NIMBY NEWS. Jurors in the trial of the Democratic Party’s county chairman were dismissed after failing to reach a verdict on the charge that he attacked a woman at a campground in Greene County, Indiana.

APOLOGY. Due to the recent economic crisis--stock market crash, bank failures, budget cuts, rising unemployment, unstable world conditions, outsourcing of business to foreign lands, the hysterical cost of insurance and electricity and petroleum and housing and taxes of all kinds--the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Special

EXPOSED. Tomorrow’s (=Friday’s) Escapes section of The New York Times will contain a long-awaited article (by Lisa A. Phillips) about the character, the quaintness, the people (especially the Clever newcomers) of Athens (the near Athens, not the Greek one). Readers also are shown what sort of property can be acquired in the way of a low-end, mid-range or high-end home (e.g., a pre-Revolutionary War stone house on 90 acres, for $750,000).

EXCEEDED in previous item: prudential limit on parenthesizing.

BUSTED on Tuesday (12/9) on charges related to copulating with a minor: State Police officer Nathan Van Fleet, 30, of Durham. His arrest by fellow officers followed investigative evidence that Van Fleet, while on duty as well as off, collaborated coitally with a 16-year-old girl. After being arraigned in Catskill Town Judge Robert Carl, on charges of statutory rape, child endangerment and official misconduct, he was taken to the county jail where, after posting a $10,000 bond, he was released.

ALSO BUSTED this week was a former Muddy Cup employee who has been charged, along with a confederate, with stealing the shop’s cash register. According to a Daily Mail report (12/10) Terrence Jackson, 25, faces charges of burglary, larceny, and felony criminal mischief. Anthony Colao, 18,faces similar charges. Jackson, who was fired from the café last Friday, is suspected of using a key to enter the place along with Colao on Monday evening, of making off with cash register and contents (around $250), and of throwing the register into a Water Street dumpster.

GONE from downtown Catskill, after a hapless seven-month food operation by Denise and Steven Pilego at Brando’s Alley, is It’s A Wrap. A tastier successor, says landlord Michael DeBenedictus, is in prospect. That would be a fine improvement. So would be a relocation of the admirable Panini Café from its unfortunate West Bridge Street site to a Main Street location.

RECHARGED. Durham’s Code Enforcement Officer, Al Schmidt, was placed by the Town Board on suspension many months ago, pending a judicial hearing of charges alleging misconduct and incompetence. As reported in The Greenville Press, a judicial hearing was almost held recently, only to be postponed at the instigation of the Board, so as to make time to revise the charges. The Town attorney’s notice to Mr Schmidt included an instruction to stay away from work—as he has been doing, as previously instructed, while drawing pay and benefits, since June. When (if?) the hearing takes place, and if he were acquitted, he would be entitled to get what he is getting already: back pay. Get it?

CAIRO CAPERS. Michael Camadine (ardent Republican, former County Legislator, on-off State Assembly candidate) says (Greenville Press, 11/26) Town Board members Ray Suttmeier and Richard Lorenz should resign because (or/and that) they “have consistently lied to the taxpayers.” He neglects to identify their putative falsehoods. Anyhow, could his salvo be connected to a plan to run in the spring against John Coyne for Town Supervisor?

POLITIC$. The election battle here between U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican challenger Sandy Treadwell evidently was the nation's costliest Congressional contest. According to figures posted on the web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, the two candidates raised $11.67 million altogether and spent $11.4 million. Those sums surpass the next costliest race (14th district, Illinois) by about $1.5 million.

-----Spending on that scale is all the more remarkable in view of local contrasts. In the 19th Congressional district, Rep. John Hall—a first-term Democrat, in a previously Republican-dominated electorate, like Ms Gillibrand— won reelection handily with a $2.2 million spend (versus $608,000 by challenger Kieran Michael Lalor. In the neighboring 21st district, incumbent Rep. Maurice Hinchey raised some $697,000, and spent a lot less, in swamping his Republican challenger, George Phillips.

-----The Gillibrand-Treadwell race was unusual not only on account of the scale of spending, but also on account of the weightings. What normally occurs in Congressional (and State, and local) elections is that the incumbent office-holder raises and spends a lot more money than does the challenger. In the recent Federal election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics—drawing on figures supplied by the Federal Elections Commission—the 435 incumbent Representatives who sought re-election raised $582.5 million in campaign funds, or $1.34 million on average. Their challengers, numbering 645 individuals, raised $215.5 million, or an average of $334,000. Most the incumbents—would you believe?—were re-elected.

-----In the 20th Congressional District, however, the usual ratio was reversed. Mr Treadwell, the challenger, out-raised and out-spent the incumbent by ratio of about 3 to 2. He did so, most immediately, by self-funding his campaign to the tune of $5.9 million.

WHERE? Referee Marilyn Carreras will sell at public auction December 17th, at the Greene County Building, in a foreclosure sale against defendants Lorraine Bradt et al, “premises known,” says the standard legal notice, “as 601 High Hill Road, Catskill.” The property is “all that certain plot piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements thereon erected, situate, lying and being in the Town of Coxsackie.”

TOMORROW (Friday, 12/12) at the Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra, the Cornell Co-Operative Extension will start a new program: art exhibitions. Starring in the first of what is planned to be a series of shows is locally renowned landscape artist (and author) Stanley Maltzman. Opening reception at 5pm. (While this event is touted in a press release, it is not mentioned in the Center’s web site,

YOGI SAYS. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

GreeNews Bits


-----I love that you raise money to get these fantastic book that you gave us. The gift you gave me was really really cool! I’m going to use this dictionary for poems and writing. I will use it and be gentle with it. I got stock on a word on Monday; when I grow I will get the word. Now I can look up words, find new words, define words, spell words, use it in reading group, and look up how to say new words. My school name is Catskill Ementary. I am going to show my mom and dad then tomorrom I am going to bring it back for the whole antire school year. We always use them all the time in Reading Group. In our reading group we used the dictanary to help us with the prnounsyasions.

Your friend, sincerely,

Kimani, Jacob, Toya, Christina, Nyen, Molly, Jose, Emily, Shiann, Joshua,Eli,, Alley, Andrew,CeeJay, Zhira, Olivia, Luis, Quinasia, Robert, Tyanna, Keely (of Ms Tedford’s third-grade class).

P.S. I used the dictionary to spell sincerely.

“TO SMOKE OR not to smoke. It’s not even a question”=a GreeneLand sixth-grader’s contribution to the recent Great American Smoke-Out program.

GONE from Cairo’s Planning Board is Vice Chairman Mike Vilella, whose resignation letter (Greenville Press, 11/20) cites“administrative changes and time restraints of my work,” “made worse by the new Site Plan Review law.” That the Town Board adopted in pointed disregard of his opinion. Before the new measure was adopted, Mr Vilella quit work early, went to the Town Board meeting, and “waited two hours” for the proposed new law to be discussed, only to be “told that there would be no discussion.” The law, he warns, will provoke lawsuits and seems to be aimed at “slamming the brakes on commercial growth’ in Cairo. “I can’t in good conscience waste any more of my time working in a process that…will hurt our town….”

ANIMAL OVERLOAD? Coinciding with the return of Catskill’s Cat’n’Around show next summer will be street art renditions of bears and butterflies in Cairo and, in Saugerties, of horses.

TREES “respond to injury, disease and or decay in …only one way. They bulge. Trees cannot heal any sort of wound or repair any injured tissue so they simply seal off the injured tissue and grow new tissue around it.” --Bob Beyfuss, Cornell Cooperative Extension.

CROSSING. Lillian Johnson is about to move her Imagine That! shop (“come on in and paint a [ceramic] piece”) from 396 Main Street, Catskill, clear across the street, to the bigger space lately occupied by Mountain Buddies and then by Republican campaign headquarters.

CHANGED, and rightly touted as “new and improved,” is the web site of The Candyman Chocolates. And for tasty eye candy, click the link to Gabby’s Corner.

PUBLISHING NEWS. Sarah, the “authorized biography” of “possibly America’s next Vice President,” published (and started, and written) during the recent election campaign, is now available--and billed as a “new biography”-- from for free (plus shipping & handling). In different parts of the on-line blurb, it is endowed with different sub-titles: How a Soccer Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down, and How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down. This information comes to us from Human Events, the proudly “conservative” magazine and web site that has lately been self-designated as “headquarters of the conservative underground.” Also advertised on that site are newly published, photo-filled Sarah Palin wall calendars.

BiG BEEF. County Legislator Dorothy Prest (Catskill, District 1) deplores her colleagues’ past and prospective outlays in support of the Think BiG (=Buy in Greene) campaign. Spending 180,000 taxpayer dollars for a marketing campaign in the hope of augmenting sales tax revenues, she says (Daily Mail, 12/3), “is defeating its purpose.” A better use of the currently proposed outlay would take the form of restoring the cuts that have been inflicted on various semi-public agencies’ applications for support.

FETED as Catskill High School “teacher of the year,” at a ceremony in advance of his coming retirement after 32 years in harness: Michael Shantz.

PUMP PRICES. GreeneLand continues to be costlier for motorists than neighboring counties, and the State, and the nation. As of Monday (12/1), the nation-wide average for regular gasoline, per gallon, was $1.81. East Coast, $1.86; Massachusetts, $1.80; New York State, $2.14. Apart from averages, regular was available in downtown Hudson for $2.05 per gallon as well as at the bridge; Kingston, $2.09; Albany, $1.97; various places in New Jersey, $1.57 (!); but here the price ranges up from $2,04 on West Bridge Street (Hess; Cumberland Farms) and $2.05 (Citgo)-$2.07 (Getty) at the Rip Van Winkle bridge exit.

NEW AFFILIATES of GreeneLand’s Chamber of Commerce include Clear Paths Reflexology in Greenville (Irene Vance), The Deer Watch Inn B&B in East Durham (Jo-Ann McGreevy-Rascoe), Green in Greene in Earlton (Jessica and Keith Abrams), IA Financial Advisers in Windham (Graham Merk), and The Retail Doctor (Bob Phibbs) and Starfish Communications (Cheryl Elkins) in Coxsackie.

TONIGHT (12/5/08). Treble Choraliers perform with guest singer Derek Hood at First Reformed Church, 320 Main St, Catskill.

>>Santa Claus joins Christmas tree lighting celebration at the Riverside Park gazebo in Coxsackie, 6:30pm.

TOMORROW (12/6). Holiday Forest Farmers Market, from 10am, at Agroforestry Resource Center, Acra; locally grown and crafted products.

>>Winter Festival showcasing of local food and other products, at Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Hunter Village Square.

>>Holiday Gift Sale by Catskill Garden Club members, with refreshments, at Beattie-Powers House in Catskill, from 9am.

>>Victorian Holiday Stroll (revived after 15-year hiatus), starting at 1pm from Athens Cultural Center.

FINE PRINT eludes readers? It evidently happened among readers of Seeing Greene’s final Nov. 21 item. Our story about canoodling among jail inmates was seen by careless readers as a story about THIS Greene County. Local officials who have received queries on the matter deny that the callers demand to be locked up.

VARSITY PLAYER? A Greene County woman has been charged with the crime of taking indecent liberties with minors. Tammy Harlow Cox, 39, was arrested by Sheriff’s deputies on the basis of evidence indicating that she sent lascivious text messages to, and copulated with, tackles on a local high school’s football team in Greene County, Virginia.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Doses of Greene

WALGREEN’S new Catskill store will open for business “next week” (11/24-28), says Bill Neal, a 35-year company veteran who has come down from Albany to manage the fledgling. Construction work is done, staffing is complete (at 24 employees), shelves are stocked. Meanwhile, according to a TimesUnion report, the parent company (6500 stores, $5.9 billion sales in the last fiscal year) plans to build a 14,800-square foot store in Clifton Park. That one, like the Catskill store, would be in close proximity to a rival.

COFFEE will continue to flow, we are assured, at Catskill’s Muddy Cup, contrary to the gossip we reported last week

HARD$HIP cases in GreeneLand are growing. In August, the Community Action agency gave emergency food supplies (three meals for each of three days) to 70 needy families. In September the number jumped to 84; in October, to 120. “And the demographics,” says executive director Florence Ohle, “are changing. We’re getting homeowners. People who have had their own businesses. People with some college education. But what is heartening at the same time is that people recognize the problem and are responding. Our intake of donations has been bigger than it was last year.”

SALUTED by Ms Ohle as an extraordinarily generous contributor of fresh foods to needy families--corn, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes--is Regina Bulich of Bulich’s Creekside Farms.

$LIPPAGE in GreeneLand’s real estate market is illustrated by the case in which vendors who had turned down an offer on their house six months ago, then accepted an offer last week that was 18 per cent lower. It came from the same bidder.

BLE$ING IN DISGUISE? Gov. David Paterson’s campaign to slash State spending, in light of the government’s looming huge deficit, could work to the advantage of GreeneLand’s economy. The austerity drive provides a plausible excuse for deferring, if not canceling, the planned outlay of $60 million of taxpayer money to expand and embellish the State-owned Belleayre resort in Ulster County. That expansion would work to the detriment, competitively, of our Hunter and Windham resorts.

TRANSFER of GreeneLand’s Deparment of Tourism Promotion into a division of the Department of Planning and Economic Development, directed by Warren Hart, has been approved by the county legislators. Judging from quotations in The Daily Mail (11/19), the merger was endorsed by Tourism Director Daniela Marino. A cost saving of $100,000 in the first year of consolidation has been touted (“greater efficiencies, better development of staff and elimination of redundancies”) but not identified.

POLITICAL STIRRINGS. If Hillary Clinton joins the Obama Cabinet (as Secretary of something), who will get her U.S. Senate seat? The successor would be appointed by Governor Paterson, serving until the 2010 elections. According to an Associated Press report, GreeneLand’s recently re-elected U.S. Representative, Kirsten Gillibrand, is one of eight hot prospects. She evidently ‘qualifies’ on account of being female, up-State, friendly with Ms Clinton and other party leaders, and an extraordinarily diligent, successful vote-getter. Whether her affiliation with the “conservative” Blue Dog Democrats in Congress is an asset or a liability is uncertain. From a party-political standpoint, her departure could make the 20th Congressional District much more retrievable in 2010 for a Republican candidate. Ms Gillibrand is wisely brushing off all queries on the matter.

POLITICAL LEANINGS. As the presidential battle raged during the past year, what politically topical books were GreeneLanders reading? Well, a contribution to answering that question may be drawn from borrowings from our public libraries. Most often checked out, according to Catskill library director David DeShong, was a literary whack job by journalist David Freddoso: The Case Against Barack Obama. TheUnlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate. Next in popularity, and radically different in thrust, was David Mandell’s fawning Obama: The Promise of Change, as adapted by Sarah L. Thompson for children. After that came Free Ride. John McCain and the Media, by David (Blinded By the Right) Brock and Paul Waldman.

SQUISHFACE is the name of a recently registered Hunter-based business. It is taken from the pet dog of Lauren and Timothy Shoffler, and the actual business is a revived Bed & Breakfast (four rooms, two with private bath), the Trail View Inn (263-5253;

ARTISTS are invited to submit paintings for possible inclusion in two kinds of GreeneLand exhibitions that will be opened in January: landscapes and psychic landscapes. For more light on the subject:

GETTING SHAFTED? Instruction in archery will be offered next month at the Catskill Community Center’s gymnasium. Don Sylvester of the 4-H Archery Club will guide young people on Mondy and Wednesday evenings in what is touted as a “non-competitive, skill-building activity that helps to develop self-confidence and camaraderie…” For more information, from Cornell CoOperative Extension, telephone 622-9820.

TRYST TWIST. Six Greene County jail inmates have been charged with the crime of escape although they did not leave the premises. The three men and three women reportedly found a way of leaving their cells and forgathering. The men unscrewed ceiling tiles in their shower, climbed up, and crawled to a spot where, on a dozen occasions in the course of a month, out of sight of security cameras, they met the women for amorous collaborations. The suspects are William N. Hutcheson Jr.,44, who was being held for probation violation; Jesse B. Ross, 38, drugs; AlexanderRathbun, 19, burglary; Misty M. Moore, 211, forgery; Kay C. Snyder, 27, battery; and Nicole Halderman, 26, drugs. In Greene County, Indiana.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Leaves of Greene Again

THOSE CONDOS. Twelve of the twenty Catskill Creek residential units that were put up for auction on November 1 were sold. According to lumbering GreeneLander Steve Dunn, the “well attended” auction was conducted in an “above-board, professional” manner, with purchase prices representing “good value” for prospective resident owners but not, all things considered (taxes, condo fees…) for investor-landlords. According to another attendee, Trevor Moran, the top sale price, “for one of the bigger, newer, better” units, was $297,500 (plus $29,750 buyer’s premium). Eight units were not sold. Information about them may be obtainable from a Bill Anderson, of the owning Tower Management Services Co., at 212 843 8052. (The adjective “lumbering” was a joke. Knowledgeable locals will understand).

NEW BUSINESS. Kathy Clearwater recently opened Revolution, a “contemporary boutique for women,” at 428 Main St, Catskill; 943-9888. Tom Martin opened Catskill Mountain Orchids at 65 West Bridge St, Catskill. Melissa Speenburgh opened a hairdressing salon for men and women at 209 Jefferson Heights Blvd. According to a Daily Mail advertisement, it is called D’Vine Reflextions. And Matt Kovner, having given the former convenience store at 390 Main St, Catskill, its original 19th century look, has made the place the headquarters of his Hudson Valley Historics business.

EXOTICA DEPT. Obambulate (v.)= to walk about; to wander. Barrack (v., in English English)=to cheer for, support vocally.

GOSSIP DEPT. Catskill Central School authorities decided not to buy a needed new tractor but instead chose to buy an unneeded mail truck (since a van could have been adapted)…. Some stupid schoolboys chose a highly exposed spot for smoking weed… Muddy Cup on Catskill’s Main Street, though sponsoring an event during tomorrow’s Saturday Studios sashay, will close--retrieving the fortunes of Retriever Roasters? The deli operation that succeeded La Rosa in Brandos Alley in Catskill started badly, and will end soon… A weight-training machine donated to Catskill schools by Summit Hill Athletic Club years ago, but never set up for use, will be dumped. A big load of training equipment, just donated by SHAC, will be put in storage until a new weight-training room is constructed….

FEEDBACK DEPT. Our “Bluish Greene?” blog elicited a signed response, which was duly posted, and some anonymous responses. Among the latter was a judgment that “it was [Sandy] Treadwell's support of and association with the Bush Administration, as well as his negative campaign ads, that cost him the election. At least that's why this Republican didn't vote either for him or the McCain/Palin ticket.

” CHRISTINE OWAD (aka Marie Owad, aka Ahes Owad), swindler of Green Card-seeking illegal immigrants, is defendant in two-headed foreclosure lawsuit involving property on Kaaterskill Road, Palenville (as distinct from the Prattsville farm property which, she claimed [Seeing Greene, 10/13/06], the Russian Mafia was trying to wrest from her by using New York State prosecutors). The case is two-headed in that a Peter Menlikov is a plaintiff and, with Ms Owad and others, is a defendant.

‘NO GAGGLE OF GREASE’ is the title of foodie Brigit Binns’s cookery article in the current (“Next”-themed; Obama-featured) issue of InsideOut. And Turducken, she warns,“is an unnatural assembly of hideous complexity” that, by the time it is fully prepared, “has been so over-handled that it must feel like eating your grandmother’s tea cozy wrapped in your uncle’s favorite muffler.” Now there's a bit of well cooked prose.

IN PROSPECT: >>Adaptation of River of Dreams, a new book by GreeneLand author/illustrator Hudson Talbott into a musical play directed by GreeneLand thespian Casey Biggs, with songs by GreeneLand composer Frank Cuthbert, with Catskill high schoolers involved in all stages of development, and with performances slated for 2009’s Quadricentennial festivities.

p> >>“VINNIE,” “a warm-hearted romantic comedy” opens November 29th at Stageworks/Hudson, across from the Amtrak station. But No, it’s not about Vincent Seeley, mayor and/or president of the Village of Catskill.

>>Publication of a book based on the 1910 title Panorama of the Hudson, a collection of black and white photographs of riverbank scenery as seen from the old Day Line steamers. Turn the pages from first to last, and you get east bank scenes; turn the book over, and you get west bank scenes. The prospective update, as compiled by Joe Aronson (of Woodstock and Manhattan), would be based on new color pictures taken from a helicopter.

>>Pullulation of pigs. Farmer Tom Pitstick has applied for State permits to enlarge the population of his Greene County pig farm. Citing the need to stay competitive by way of economies of scale, he proposes to enlarge his Pitstick Pork Farms swine stock to 4700 market hogs plus with 2400 nursery hogs (weighing less than 55 pounds). The animals, he estimates, would annually generate 2.2 million gallons of manure. In Greene County, Ohio.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Who Knew?

Well, we Greene seers pretended to know.

In the blog, 246 days ahead of The Event, we predicted that

a majority of Americans who vote in their national elections will choose, for the office of President of the United States, Barack Obama. In popular votes and State electoral votes received, Senator Obama will out-poll his main rival, John McCain, by an unusually big margin.


This picture of Barack Obama garbed as George Washington occupies the cover of the current issue of Athens-based InsideOut magazine. It went to press before Election Day.

That prediction was voiced long before Senators McCain and Obama had undergone most of the primary election and caucus ordeals that eventually won them the Republican and Democratic presidentialo nominations.

In the same issue of Seeing Greene we predicted that in the United States Senate the Democrats' majority would increase from 51 seats out of 100 (counting Senators Sanders and Lieberman) to 56 or more. And "In the House of Representatives, too," we foretold, "the Democrats' majority, acquired just two years ago, will increase. The net gain will be at least 15 seats, to 246 or more out of 435." Moreover, for New York State we predicted that all three of the Democrats who had captured Republican-held House seats in November 2006 would be re-elected, that at least one more Republican-held seat would fall to a Democratic nominee, and that in the State Senate, "the Democrats will pick up the they need in order to break the long-established Republican control of that law-making body."

Those predictions and the other ones, we claimed, were not based on tea leaf readings or on the configurations of birds' entrails. They were based on appreciating the electoral implications of already-established facts as well as on plausible guesses of what forces would be added in the ensuing days.

See for yourself: Seeing Greene, March 3, 2008.

P.S. Equally prescient was our package of predictions about the elections of 2006: "...a major political shift. The Democrats will...pick up half a doze governships. They will gain five or six seats in the U.S. Senate. They will gain an outright majority in the House of Representatives, with seats to spare. They will pick up scores of State and local offices that currently are held by Republicans." But that compound forecast (Seeing Greene, 8/29/06) was made only 70 days ahead of Election Day.

P.S.S. The Patriot Depot of Dallas GA (sic) will gladly part with "Vote Nobama. McCain-Palin'08" bumper stickers ("now a collector's item") for $3.95 per 5-pack ("retails $24.75"). Also touted (through Human Events, "leading the conservative movement since 1944"), at $9.86 per pair ("retails $19.95") are bumper strips declaring "You Can Keep 'The Change.' Palin* 2012."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bluish Greene?

------No, GreeneLanders did not give a majority of their votes on Tuesday to the Democratic presidential candidate. Instead, along with majorities in 27 mostly rural and thinly populated counties, plus Staten Island, they gave majority support (55 per cent in our case) to the Republican nominee, John McCain. They did not side with majorities in neighboring Albany, Columbia and Ulster counties (63, 54 and 61 per cent support for Barack Obama). Neither did they join the hordes of Obamaniacs in New York City: 88% of Bronx voters, 85% in Manhattan, 79% in Brooklyn, 74% in Queens.

------What is more, GreeneLanders gave a massive majority of their votes on Tuesday to their incumbent Republican State Senator. On Jim Seward they bestowed 11,202 votes, or 62 per cent, with Democratic challenger Don Barber garnering 6727. The latter figure, however, marks quite a jump from zero; in seven previous elections, Mr Seward has faced no opposition at all.

------Other figures point to a pro-Democratic drift in GreeneLand political life:

------*Enrollment creep. Among registered GreeneLand voters, self-defined Republicans declined numerically from 13.970 in November 2000 to 13,702 in November 2008, while self-defined Democrats grew a bit from 7162 in 2000 to 7822 currently. Enrolled voters who decline to state a party afilliation, however, still out-number professed Democrats, by 624.

------*County offices. A few Democrats now sit in the county legislature.

------*Fence-jumping. In the last election for U.S. Senator (2004) and for Governor (2006) Democratic candidates (Hillary Clinton; Eliot Spitzer) won majorities (small ones) of GreeneLand votes. In this election, while majorities backed Mr McCain for President (marginally) and Mr Seward for State Senator (heavily, with cross-over Democratic support), they also supported Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand's re-election to the United States House of Representatives. That majority, to be sure, was small: 10,827 votes, to 8458 for Republican challenger Sandy Treadwell. It marked, however, a big gain (38%) in support from 2006, when Ms Gillibrand challenged the Republican incumbent, John Sweeney. On that occasion, while winning the seat (with 52% of votes cast in the electorate's five counties and five pieces of counties, she lost, with 7865 votes to 8555, in GreeneLand.

-----Those numbers, incidentally, do not do full justice to Ms Gillibrand's feat. It is one of the great political performances, nation-wide, of 2008. It starts in 2006 when, as a newcomer, with family connections but no local base (State Assembly seat, county legislator, town supervisor, district attorney), in a district that was designed by conniving State legislators to be safely Republican forever, in a district where only one in four voters is enrolled as a Democrat, she undertakes to challenge an entrenched, repeatedly re-elected Republican incumbent. Thanks to Botch Administration mishaps, plus a late-hour scandal tainting the incumbent, she wins the seat. Shen then assumes the daunting task of holding on. She establishes field offices, emits myriad messages, processes special needs cases, makes appearances all over the district, woos veterans and farmers as well as traditional supporters, builds a war chest--while also bearing and then delivering a child. In due course she is confronted by a challenger who is not just a Republican, but is a scandal-free (apart from association with the Botch Administration), presentable, affable, articulate, well connected, rich Republican. This time Ms Gillibrand wins 62 per cent of the district's votes.

------The lady has a future.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bits With Bite?

“BOOKS WITH BITE” are on display at the Catskill Public Library. Among titles, in keeping with Halloween: Frankenstein, Vampire Academy, Cirque du Freak: Killers of the Dawn, Freaky Green Eyes, Trunks of Blood.

“THE ENGLISHNESS OF THOMAS COLE,” as expounded by Tim Barringer, professor of art history at Yale University, attracted a standing-room-only crowd, 130 strong, to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill last Saturday.

FORECAST: ELECTORAL LANDSLIDE. What is coming on Tuesday is much easier to predict now, in light of all polling data, than it was when we foretold it in this space, long before even the presidential nominating conventions, on March 3.

-------*Barack Obama’s tally of Electoral College votes probably will be higher than we guessed last week (n=333), what with Ohio (20 electoral votes) evidently coming his way, along with Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, plus one of Nebraska’s three EV’s. A more likely total for Mr Obama is 345. Or more.

*In the U.S. Senate, seven seats will pass from Republican to Democratic hands.

They are in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Alaska, North Carolina and either Minnesota or Oregon.

*In the U.S. House of Representatives, a Florida seat will pass from Democratic to Republican hands, while 15-plus seats elsewhere will go the other way, swelling the majority which the Democrats won in 2006.

*In New York State, two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will pass from Republican to Democratic hands. The newbies are Dan Maffei and Eric Massa. Moreover, one Republican-held seat in the State Senate will pass into Democratic hands.

*Locally, all incumbent office-holders will be re-elected. Conspicuous among them will be GreeneLand’s U.S.Representative, Kirsten Gillibrand. She will survive what has been a formidable, richly endowed challenge from Republican nominee Alexander (Sandy) Treadwell.

VENUE MOVED. Site of Saturday’s auction of those Catskill Creek Condominiums has been shifted from the Marriott Hotel in Teaneck NJ to the Holiday Inn in Sufferin NY. Still invited by auctioneer Sheldon Good & Co are bids on 20 units (originally priced at $280-$480,000) of which eight will be sold without reserve. This does not mean that the other units will only be sold if a predetermined minimum bid is received. It means that the vendor gets to decide, in light of the no-reserve sales, whether to accept bids on the other units.

From the auctioneer’s standpoint, this sale looks trivial. Next Sunday, Good & Company will invite bids on 30 condos and four penthouses in Palm Beach Gardens FL “starting at just $350,000!” and originally priced at $600,000 to $3,500,000. On November 13th, the Roseland Ranch, a 37-acre resort in Stanfordville NY (30 Papa Joe Way) goes on the block with “suggested opening bid of $1,500,000.”

ALSO COOKING, so to speak, is a local auction of the makings of a restaurant. The kitchen equipment and the tables and booths that formerly occupied Michael La Rosa’s deli, on Brandos Alley in Catskill, go up for sale at the Father & Sons storage facility next Friday (11/7). It is a matter of defaulting on a loan granted by Greene County. For information: 719-3540.

JOBLESS RATES. According to the State Labor Department, New York State’s rate of unemploymnent last month amounted to 5.8 per cent of the labor force. In September 2007 the figure was 4.5 per cent. Both figures are slightly lower than the nation-wide unemployment rates, of 6.1 per cent last month and 4.7 per cent in September 2007. The downturn in jobs occurred mainly in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. It coincided with gains in jobs in educational and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government. According to Tom Wanamaker of Johnson News Service, moreover, GreeneLand’s unemployment rate last month, at 6.2 per cent, was higher than for Columbia and Dutchess counties (5.1% and 5.6%), and marked a jump from the 4.4 per cent rate in September of 2007.

COMING TO COXSACKIE’S WATERFRONT in the near future are a new inn, restaurant, office complex and retail space. They will be located in refurbished historic buildings on four adjacent properties on Mansion and Reed streets. The $1.2 million project’s developer, Thomas Giamboi, who made his pile in Austin TX before returning to his native New York and starting to dabble. After moving back east Mr Giamboi bought the historic Glen Falls House resort (circa 1902) in Round Top and then started looking for development opportunities. His Coxsackie project is supported in no small measure by a $260,00 low-interest Quantum Fund loan granted by the Greene County legislature (through the Government Operations Committee chaired by Karen Deyo) and in light of advice from the county’s Planning and Economic Development department).

EXPANDING, thanks to another Quantum Fund loan, this one for $135,000, is Cameo’s Restaurant in Athens. Joshua Lackie is using the loan to buy the building that houses the restaurant (southwest corner of Second and Washington Streets) and to add 1000 square feet of dining space.

ALSO RECEIVING Quantum Fund loans recently have been Guy Chirico, for improvements to his Scribner Hollow restaurant in Hunter, and Sandro Cognin, to help adapt the former Full Gospel Tabernacle on Main Street in Catskill for use as a round-the-clock Snap Fitness franchise. Quantum Fund below-market-rate loans (see ) involve matches provided by recipients along with job-creating promises.

PRIZES OFFERED. GreeneLand’s Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians invites school pupils to compose essays on “From Ireland to the Kentucy Derby: The History of Ireland in Horse Racing” or on “Celtic Tiger: What Is It?” 622-8219.

GOSSIP DEPT. “The Boss and the Teen” could be title of a sort of French movie that is being, well, enacted in GreeneLand. Meanwhile, suspicion of filing a false instrument may bring a local lawyer before the State’s Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Making Waves

--------------------------NEW VOICE? --------

Permission to operate a new community radio station for Greene and Columbia County listeners has been granted by the Federal Communications Commission. The license, authorizing a 3300-watt station occupying 90.7 on the Frequency Modulation dial, was granted to the non-profit arts group called free103point9, whose envisaged home is a 29-acre property in Acra called Wave Farm. (See the 10/3 posting of Seeing Greene).

--------Tom Roe, program director, said in a news release that the new non-commercial station will “give active, involved members of the community a chance to take the microphone, go on the air, and talk about what is going on in Greene and Columbia counties."

--------Daytime programs will cover “agriculture, hunting, schools, arts, music, politics, and other issues important to the community.” Evening programs will beam “live web streams of events (games, performances, meetings, lectures) all over the two counties.” Late night and Saturday broadcasts would be devoted to “international radio art, experimental music, and special local broadcasts.”

--------Satellite studios for FM90.7 will be located in the Catskill Community Center and in Columbia County, Mr Roe added. And “workshops to train citizen journalists and reporters” will be offered next year at various locations, before broadcasting begins in 2010.

-------Helping as an advisory council to plan the station’s operations are Dharma Dailey, of Ethos Wireless in Palenville; Max Goldfarb, a Hudson-based artist; Hosneara Kader, of Hudson Family Literacy; Debra Kamecke, Cairo Public Library director; Alan Skerrett, of Columbia County’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Hudson Talbot, vice-president of the Catskill Community Center; and Andy Turner, of the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Agroforestry Resource Center.

-------Prospective participants in planning, grant-seeking and future operations can contact Mr Roe at or 518-622-2598.

------------------------------THE PERMIT BATTLE

--------Broadcasting from the contemplated new Acra studio of the new radio station may depend on the outcome of a lawsuit in which a State Supreme Court judge is asked to nullify or reverse a “purported” decision by the Cairo Planning Board.

--------“Plaintiff-petitioners” in the civil action are Galen Joseph-Hunter, owner of the 29-acre wooded property known as Wave Farm (and wife of Tom Roe), and the non-profit corporation called free103point9, which is a vehicle for radio broadcasting and other activities that come under the heading “transmission art.”

--------Named as “defendant-respondents” are the Town of Cairo, its governing Board, its Planning Board, and each member of the Planning Board. Direct target of the plaintiffs is a “purported” September 8th resolution adopted on a 4-2 vote by the Planning Board, rejecting the plaintiffs’ site plan application. The plan contemplates the establishment at Wave Farm of a two-story center for radio broadcasting and other “transmission art” activities, including special events in the summer.

--------In legal parlance the Wave Farm lawsuit is an Article 78 proceeding, whereby a Supreme Court judges can nullify “arbitrary and capricious” decisions made by local governing boards.

--------(Coinciding with the Wave Farm case is another Cairo-based Article 78 proceeding. In this case Ellsworth “Unk” Slater and other plaintiffs accuse the Town Board of “arbitrary and capricious” conduct in their adoption of a sewer improvement resolution that was pivotal for the fate of the proposed real estate development—commercial and residential—known as Alden Terrace).

--------Characterizing the Planning Board’s decision as legally spurious as well as arbitrary and capricious, the plaintiffs contend that:

*”Malicious bad faith” and “ill will” fueled the Board’s “irrational and arbitrary” treatment of the Wave Farm principals.

*The purported resolution as filed with the Town Clerk was not a valid one, recording a formal vote taken at a duly prepared regular meeting, with reasons given.

*The Board did not formally reject the site plan application, but instead only voted down a motion to approve.

*The Board acted only after the end of a prescribed 62-day limit, whereas relevant local law prescribes that applications not resolved within that period shall be deemed accepted.

*The Board deliberately stalled in its early handling of the matter, in order to handle the case under a new site plan law rather than the law that prevailed when the Wave Farm application was first made.

--------An account of the Planning Board’s action was posted on the October 3rd installment of Seeing Greene. Included in that report were adverse comments made by internal dissenters as well as outsiders. Soon afterward, Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea circulated to Board members and other Cairo officials a warning against making public comments on the matter, in light of the prospect of litigation. His message was characterized by at least one recipient as a “gag order,” although it did not come from a judge or a municipal executive. It may have deterred dissident Planning Board members from reiterating beliefs that could support the petitioners’ complaint.

--------The case has been assigned to Judge Joseph C. Teresi.

--------On Tuesday, Albany attorney Michael J. Murphy, representing the various defendants, submitted to the Court a Verified Answer to the plaintiffs’ Complaint. Judge Teresi is scheduled to take up the case in mid-November, starting with deciding whether the plaintiffs’ cited causes of action suffice to warrant further judicial proceedings.

Friday, October 24, 2008

By the Numbers, Or Not

CATS BACK. There WILL be another Cat ‘n Around show next summer. Directors of the Catskill Chamber of Commerce decided (10/21) to go ahead with a promotion that is geared to the Hudson Valley’s quadricentennial celebration. Riverside communities will be invited to sponsor cat designs that evoke distinctive traits of their municipalities. And (in keeping with a brainstorm from merchant David Miles) Main Street will be dressed to evoke the majestic Hudson River, with crosswalks painted to resemble the various bridges.

25,000=dollars to be distributed to good causes, by Catskill’s Chamber of Commerce, out of profits from this year’s Cat ‘n Around auction. Recipients will be the Barry Hopkins Memorial Scholarship program (for a Catskill High School graduate pursuing an arts-releated higher degree), Animalkind, the Aging Services Foundation of Greene County, four families chosen by the Community Action agencies (help in the “Here Comes Christmas” program), the Love ‘n Care pet sanctuary, the Catskill Soccer Club (to help build a new field on land donated by Holcim Cement, at the corner of Route 9W and Embought Road), the Fortnightly Club (to replace Elliott Park playground), and the God’s Storehouse food pantry.

62=number of families that received food supplies from God’s Storehouse, a Catskill Wesleyan Church program, last January.

352=number of families, as tallied by Mary Ivers, that received food supplies from God’s Storehouse last month.

NEW O’. The Catskill luncheonette that had been O’Fratello’s (“Squat & Gobble”) until recently now is O’Henry’s. Proprietor Henry Tice of South Cairo brought that name along from his former Saugerties establishment. The interior look has improved. Open from 5:30am to 3pm.

4700=dollars raised by Catskill Kiwanians at auction and dinner last Sunday (10/19), at Catskill Golf Club, thanks to donors of goods and services (and cash). The money will be recirculated to kid-related good causes.

17=cents of quarterly dividend per share just declared by the parent company of the Bank of Greene County. It’s not a piddling sum. If total dividends for the year are 68 cents (17 cents every quarter), then the return for shareholders, based on the current market price ($11.50), would be close to 6 per cent. Moreover, the bank’s impending earnings report will be salutary. Community banks, unlike the biggies, are doing OK.

333=our guess of the number of Electoral College votes, out of 538, that will go, in consequence of the November 4th presidential election, to Barack Obama. Moreover, seven U.S. Senate seats that are currently occupied by Republicans will be won by Democrats, and 17 seats in the House of Representatives will pass from Republican to Democratic hands. If those numbers do eventuate, they will vindicate what we predicted eight months ago (Seeing Greene, 3/3/08).

DAILY MAUL --“Each year there are a vast number of….”

--“ State Police charged Deandre Hall, 34, of Catskill, with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after refusing to leave room number 28 of the Catskill Inn.”

--“Besides his militia service, Hale was also active in public service before….”

--“Firefighter Bob Abahamson walks passed a line of fellow firefighters….”

--“The principle focus of chiropractic care is assessment and manual treatment of the …spne.”

--“Statistics show back pain incurs an enormous burden on society….”

RUMORS DEPT. >>>That a new DVD-peddling store will open soon in GreeneLand, run by a known smut peddler. >>>That a leading GreeneLand car dealer’s divorce was extraordinarily bitter. >>> That those extended hours at Catskill High School have been meagerly utilized so far. On a recent night when the place was staffed by two monitors (at $14-$16 per hour), by a teacher aide ($16), and by a teacher ($27), one kid came in to shoot baskets. >>>That Gov. David Paterson is afflicted with Dangling Constructionitis. Symptomatic of that malady are successive sentences in an e-mail message he dispatched (10/16) to “Friends”: “As a graduate of Hempstead High School and Hofstra Law School, it felt like the debate took place in my own backyard. And as the proud Governor of New York, the commission could not have picked a better state for the final debate.” >>>That the publisher of Hudson-Catskill Newspapers will subject present employees and future hires to a literacy test. (Many rumors, remember, are false).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fallen EverGreene

GONE, at 91 years of age, after military service and steadfast support for fellow veterans, after six books of local history and countless articles and newsletters (drafted in longhand), after teaching in and out of classrooms, after leading the Greene County Historical Society for five decades, after saving from oblivion the Catskill home and workplace of pioneering artist Thomas Cole, after living frugally and investing wisely and then giving money generously to good causes, after blushing and balking over awards heaped on his frail head, after—in short--an exemplary career of service to GreeneLand and to his country: Raymond Beecher.

EXOTICA DEPT. Among its many distinctions, GreeneLand is world headquarters for a business whose production centeris Lamu. That island (do follow the hyperlink!) is just north of Zanzibar, just south of the recently publicized pirates’ sanctuary off Somalia, winter home of a few Europeanobs such as Princess Caroline of Monaco, retirement paddock for superannuated donkeys, and home to veteran Kenyan craftsmen who specialize in making tables and other items of furniture from their island’s abundant mahoganies. A big order for their individually crafted, dated and numbered, tables is currently being filled for the mammoth Sands Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macau, China. And presiding over this global Solid Mahogany business is Bo van den Assum of, ahem, Catskill NY. Mr van den Assum’s office and workroom occupy a shed at 8 West Bridge Street, behind Mountain T-Shirts.

THIRTY-SIX YEARS ago, four Catskill women decided that their town needed a swimming pool. Nan Guterman, Nancy Ursprung, Sara Wolven and Julie Myshral formed a non-profit corporation called The Swimming Pool League for Safety and Health (SPLASH) and they proceeded to raise funds. Two plays written and produced by Ms Guterman brought in $25,000. A raffle and bake sales yielded another $8000. Since $33,000 was not sufficient, and since no municipal grants were available in thos days, the women bought Certificates of Deposit whose value, in the ensuing 14 years, through double-digit inflation, grew to $100,000. In 1998, Ms Guterman’s husband Jack joined the SPLASH board and suggested a change of direction: using the foundation’s income to support local causes. That suggestion was adopted, along with a change of name following the death, in 2000, of the founder. In the past ten years the Nan Guterman Foundation has helped the Catskill Community Center, the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation, Hospice, the Columbia-Greene Community College Foundation, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the Catskill Education Foundation, the Greene County Council on the Arts, Little League, the Babe Ruth League, and Friends of Beattie-Powers Place.

BIODIESEL. All or some of what you ever wanted to know may be available locally, thanks to a new co-op (headed by Michelle Richardson of Grazin’Angus Acres in Ghent) whose members brew diesel from waste vegetable oil. Interested GreeneLanders can learn more from

FLU SHOTS for adults will available soon, at various sites, from the county’s Public Health Department, at no cost to Medicare members ($21 for non-members). Also, pneumonia shots will be available for seniors. Locations and dates: Washington Irving Senior Center, Catskill, this Wednesday (10/15); Jewett Senior Center 10/17; Coxsackie Senior Center, 10//24; Tannersville Village Hall, 10/27; Acra Senior Center 10/28; Athens Senior Center, 10/29.

THE WEEKEND. Check and for information about farmers’ markets (Catskill, New Baltimore, East Durham), Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain, a meatball contest (among other things) in Windham, Saturday Stroll in Catskill (photo history of town & village, art, hayrides, pumpkins, Halloween scares, Community Orchestra concert), Ginseng Festival (Sunday)….

DAILY MAUL. “The Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department recently removed two horses that were considered to be starved and mistreated from a Columbia County location.” “The arrest stems from [reported burglary] at the Catskill Country Club in Palenville. An investigation revealed that at approximately 4 a.m. the Country Club was been broken into….” “The settlement comes from an assessment challenge by city officials and Supervisor Dennis Lucas said that the agreeable value came about through problem solving strategies….”

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Title Search

“BE GREENE WITH ENVY” is the title of an article (by Amy Lubinski) in the latest Chronogram magazine. It is billed as the first in a six-part series on GreeneLand.

“FROM FARMHOUSE TO FABULOUS” is the title of the cover story in the Life-Home section of the TimesUnion last Saturday (10/4). It’s all about an early-nineteenth century riverside home that has undergone a lavish transformation as designed by architect Scott Wallant for summer residents Richard and Jean Bassin. They call the place Bassinova.

“DIANE KEATON: The Actress’s Passion for Art and Design Are On Display in Her Beverly Hills Residence” is the title of the cover story in the current (“November”; “Hollywood at Home”) issue of Architectural Digest, with many pictures featuring interiors of the lady’s Spanish Colonial Revival mansion in Beverly Hills, as designed by GreeneLand’s Stephen Shadley. “Stephen is a fantastic collaborator,” says Ms Keaton, “and he…makes people feel good about what they’re doing to their homes.”

“WOODY ALLEN: On New York’s Upper East Side, An Old World Feel for the Writer and Director” is the title of another article in the current A.D., with lots of pictures of interiors as designed by—who else?—Stephen Shadley, who “was introduced to Allen by their mutual friend Diane Keaton.”

PRINCESS TEA PARTIES is the title of an incipient book by GreeneLander Janeen (“Cooking With Class”) Sarlin. Targeted for girls aged 4 through 10, it offers guidance on decorations, costumes, crafts, food, and beverages suitable for specially themed tea parties: African Princess, Lotus Princess, Cowgirl Princess, Indian Princess, and so on. Publication by Chronicle Books of San Francisco is set for June 2009.

“PRESIDENT of the New York State Magistrates Association” is the official title acquired recently by GreeneLander Richard Roberg. As reported in The Daily Mail (10/5/08), the association represents the State’s part-time Town and Village judges, in whose company, in Coxsackie, since 1981, Judge Roberg has belonged. He also is a retired teacher of high school mathematics.

BAILOUT FALLOUT. GreeneLand’s U.S. Representative, Kirsten Gillibrand, voted Nay on the so-called “bailout” bill last Monday (9/29), and she voted Nay again on Friday’s revised version. So did neighboring Ulster County’s Representative, Maurice Hinchey. They accordingly did not join the 58 Representatives--33 Democrats ( including 13 members of the Congressional Black Caucus), 25 Republicans—who switched from Nay to Yea.

------On both occasions, Ms Gillibrand and Mr Hinchey parted company with the Hudson region’s other Representatives (Mike McNulty, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, John Hall), and from all but one of the 22 other Democrats in the 29-member New York State delegation. On both occasions, too, they bucked the recommendations of the Bush Administration, their Congressional leaders, their home State’s U.S. Senators (Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer), and their presidential nominee (Barack Obama).

-------Ms Gillibrand’s votes were not assailed by her electoral challenger. In successive statements the Republican candidate in the 20th district, Sandy Treadwell, said he would have voted against the revised “bailout” bill as well as the original, which “should have been tossed out completely.”--

-------In a Press release, Ms Gillibrand characterized the original version of the bill as “not the right approach” to economic rescue; it “has insufficient oversight and protections and does not address the root causes of the crisis or the poor economy.” She later said that the revised version still was “fundamentally flawed.” She did not identify what provisions would have made the bill acceptable to her. She did not post her statements on her web site.-------

-------Mr Hinchey did post his comments, saying the bailout bills did not do enough in the way of “real regulation” of financial markets and of job-promoting direct “economic stimulus” provisions.

-------Congressional voting on the bills exhibited odd alignments. Staunch opposition came from reputed arch-“conservatives” such as Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts of Kansas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, as well as from former Republican Representatives Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay. At the same time, some of the steadfast opponents were reputedly arch-“liberals” such as Senators Russ Feingold (Wisconsin) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio).

-------David Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist who is usually classified as a centrist conservative, stigmatized the 228 Representatives who voted Nay on Monday as adherents of a “revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed.”


532 = cost in cents to post a message by certified mail (return receipt required), even if it only travels a half-mile and is part of a bundle of messages to nearby addresses.

66 = number of addressees of a certified mail message that went out from Catskill post office in early September. The message notified recipients that a meeting of the Catskill Village Zoning Board of Appeals would be held on September 15th at the Washington Irving Senior Center, in the matter of variances sought for the Union Mills Lofts project on Water Street.

35112 cents=cost of that mailing, billed to variance applicant.

500 = number of feet from Union Mills site defining outside limit of eligibility to receive notice of Planning Board hearing on variances. (In other words, all owners of properties located within 500 feet of subject site shall by law receive such notices).

0 = number of addressees who came to the hearing.

66=number of addressees to whom certified mail notices were sent again, at $5.32 apiece, following the no-turnout meeting. The notices announced a second ZBA hearing on Union Mills matters, on October 1.

0=number of neighbors who attended the October 1 meeting.

“DEVELOPER’S SELLOUT.” Twenty condominium units of the Catskill Creek development are going up for auction. Three- and four-bedroom dwellings, originally priced in the range of $280,000 to $480,000, will be offered for bid on November 1st at the Teaneck NJ Marriott Hotel by SheldonGood & Co, whose publicity touts a “fabulous auction event” offering a“truly unique opportunity” to achieve “affordable access” to “the vacation mecca of the Hudson Valley” and to “the wondrous Catskill community.” Eight units, ranging in size from 1600 to 1900 square feet, will be offered without reserve price. Successful bidders must pay the auctioneer a fee (euphemistically called a buyer’s premium) amounting to 10 per cent fee of the sale price. They also become responsible for condo fees of $247 per month. The units, located off the south end of Main Street in Catskill, will be open for inspection on weekends before the auction date.

THE B.I.G. CAMPAIGN is under way. Visitors to Catskill Point for Saturday’s farmers’ and artisans’ market, plus the spicy Chili Cook-Off, were welcomed by county legislator Karen Deyo with gifts of special “Think BIG” shopping bags touting the Buy In Greene campaign. The idea is eminently worthy of support. But when locally baked bread is priced at the market at $5.75 per loaf, and big cookies (such as chocolatey “Chip Van Winkles”) at $2 and $2.50, and tamales at $4 apiece, and apple pies at $20, and so on, it’s not easy being Greene.