Saturday, May 31, 2008

Names, Numbers, Negations

DIRTY GIRL products (glitter balls, scent…) are available at Rebel Katz, the recently opened novelties store (new & vintage, arty and crafty) on Main Street in Catskill. Also offered, along with rock band-celebrating T-shirts and other garments, is Wash Away Your Sins lip balm.

D I R T is the name of a GreeneLand theatrical company, directed by Mary Ellen Petti and performing on the pavilion stage of the Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural & Sports Centre. On Friday (6/6) the troupe will open a summer season with the madcap Jack Sharkey comedy “Who’s On First?” After “First” come “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and then “The Odd Couple.” Check their schedule. The acronym is for Durham Irish Repertory Theatre.

WHY DYNABIL Industries? Dynamic brothers-in-law.

FOGGY DEW=name of new business licensed for Main Street in Tannersville.

DAVID HART of Cairo was hailed on by GreeneLand’s legislators on May 21 (says a Daily Mail story) as Senior Citizen of the Year, in recognition of his rampant services to seniors.

ANDREW DEYO, son of Catskill police officer Rick Deyo, completed basic United States Army training recently and has been deployed to the—so to speak—battle-scarred city of Washington, District of Columbia. As reported by Sgt Paul Echols, who commands Catskill’s newly opened recruiting station, Private Deyo has been assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s Old Guard unit, whose members guard the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Eternal Flame, caskets of luminaries who are being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and Presidents.

45,000+=dollars of net profit from Greene County Council On the Arts’s 20th Beaux Arts Ball, at Hunter Mountain. Special financial credit goes to Bank of Greene County. 59=new members of Catskill Golf Club, most of them attracted by the extraordinary deal offered.

79=average score posted by northeastern New York golf professionals at the tournament on Tuesday (5/28) at Catskill Golf Club. Amid balmy conditions. The winner, Anders Mattson of Saratoga, posted a 69, and only one other contestant broke par.

43=per cent of GreeneLand-based workers in private sector whose jobs are located outside the county. So says Industrial Development Agency Sandy Mathes, as reported in Daily Mail (5/28)

0=total of applications from Cairo-Durham High School seniors for a $500 scholarship offered by the Catskill Kiwanis Club.

4=total of applications (some of them decently written) from Catskill High School seniors for the two Kiwanis Club $500 college scholarships.

8=total of applications from Coxsackie-Athens High School seniors for Kiwanis Club $500 scholarship.

80,000=dollars in State grants to local causes, as announced Thursday by State Sen. James Seward at Coxsackie Village Hall. Included (says a Daily Mail story, 5/30) are sums for a Village playground at Riverside Park, for renovating the Town Hall, for improving the D.R. Evarts library’s grounds, and for “smart technologies” in Coxsackie-Athens schools.

410=cents per gallon cost of regular gasoline at LOWER–priced GreeneLand stations this past week. (On Thursday, 5/29, Hess on West Bridge charged 407 cents, under-pricing adjacent Cumberland Farms by 3 cents. Sunoco on Route 9W, west Athens, charged 420 cents). Those prices are higher than the latest national average, the East Coast average, the New England average, the Massachusetts average, the New York State and New York City averages, and Columbia County choices.

NO, The Home Depot’s Catskill outlet will NOT be closed and replaced by a Target store. It is not one of the 15 Home Depot stores in the U.S. (out of 1970) that, according to official company statements, will be closed.

NO, Bill Muirhead does not get the full salaries for both of the jobs—food management and bus transportation--that he handles for the Catskill Central School District. He does get supplemental pay for the extra responsibility.

NO, the offering of “Soup: Hamburger & cheddar cheese” is NOT an error on the menu of Café 355 (formerly Catskill + Co; formerly Mayflower Café). They do serve that soup. It tastes fine.

NO, Donald Gibson is not Bill Gannon, and neither is he Kresten Bjornsson. In a Daily Mail photo caption (5/19), however, he is identified as Gannon (executive assistant to State Assemblyman Peter Lopez), allegedly presenting to Larry Siracusano (the Chevrolet dealer and good cause supporter) an award as Businessman of the Year. Moreover, the text of the D M story says “Siracusano’s award was presented by…Bjornsson.”

COMING to Tannersville today (11am-4pm). Rubber Duck race & festival in and around Gooseberry Creek. Check At Hunter Mountain, today and tomorrow (and it started last night) it’s the Mountain Jam Music Festival . At the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Doctorow Center, also in Hunter, tonight: “It’s a Grand Night for Singing,” Rogers & Hammerstein music presented by Theater Ten Ten troupe In New Baltimore, at the Van Etten Farm, today and tomorrow, antique farm machinery is exhibited and demonstrated, amid festivities. (518)756-3517.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cat Fete

Those cats are not back. The fifty fetching fiberglass felines that bedecked downtown sidewalks in the Village of CATskill last summer have moved on. “Rip Claw Winkle” and “Rip Van Twinkle,” and “Clawed Meownet” (the Impressionist) and “Pablo Picatso” and “Feline Groovy” are no longer on public show. They now occupy domestic stations in the homes of private buyers, who won them in spirited bidding at the auction that concluded the Village’s inaugural Cat ‘n Around Festival. They have just been succeeded, however, by “Cheetah Rivera” and “Botanicat,” by “Catillac” and “Cat House Cat,” and by48 other glittering kitties.

The Cat ‘n Around festival (also touted, of course, as the Cat’s Meow) had its origins last year as a Chamber of Commerce promotion. The aim was to boost local spirit and to bring in lots of tourists. The model was experience provided by other up-state towns: Saratoga with its horse figures, the plastic pigs of Guilderland, and Bennington, Vermont’s Moosefest. That promotion, in 2005, featured almost-life-sized critters bearing such names as “Driving Moose Daisy,” “Any Which Way But Moose,” “Mooselight in Vermont,” “Moose in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Moosemobile,” “A Moose For All Seasons,” “Metamorpho-Moose,” and the elusive “Anonymoose.”

The Catskillian idea was to invite artists and craftspersons to submit designs for the ornamentation of fiberglass cat figures, 20 inches high (plus 10 inches of tail). Local sponsors then would pick their favorite designs, paying five hundred dollars toward the cost of bringing to life, so to speak, the imagined animals. Fifty designs would be picked from the entries, and at the end of the summer, after being displayed on stands all around town, the cats would be auctioned off, with a quarter of the gross proceeds going to the makers.

The project attracted a multitude of candidates. Among the winners were creations bearing such names as {{“Rip Van Twinkle” and “Rip Claw Winkle,” “Feline Groovy” and}} “Purr-Fection,” “Catillac” and “Catatonic” and “Community Cat-alyst,” “TemPuss the Time Cat,” “Garden Ecatstacy,” “Sno-Cat” (by Hunter Mountain plowman David Slutzky), “Clawed Meownet” (the Impressionist) and “Pablo Picatso,” “Kaaterskill Katy” and “Copy Kat,” “Sophisticat,” “Backpack Cat,” “Mia Feral” and “Meow-tain Music.”

In terms of artistry, in terms of cleverness, in popular attraction, and in eventual dollar values, the Cat ‘n Around festival of 2007 turned out to be, well, a howling success. At auction at summer’s end, the cats went to buyers for up to $4600.

Could that success be repeated? The idea of staging a sequel right away aroused plenty of misgivings in Catskill’s Chamber of Commerce. The directors decided to take the risk.

As it turned out, the Cat ‘n Around festival of 2008 is bigger, and it could well turn out to be better—more popular, more lucrative for the artists and other good causes—than the original. This time, from a crowded field, 62 cat designs were chosen by sponsors. In artistry and inventiveness, the new cats have turned out to be every bit the equal, collectively, of their predecessors.

“Phil the Philatelic Cat,” sporting thousands of cancelled stamps (and crafted by a county judge), now welcomes visitors to the Village Post Office. Chocolatey, partly unwrapped “Kit Cat” adorns the sidewalk in front of The Candyman. “Americat,” done in red, white and blue, with top hat, guards the county courthouse, while “Aquaricat” fronts Fish & Friends. “Cop-Purr,” one of artist Kenny Rich’s five copacetic creations, guards the Police Station and bears at remarkable resemblance to the Chief. “Sweet Dreams” offers comfort to a dentist’s patients, and “Mr Catzedo” fronts The Bridal Shoppe.

Greeting pedestrians who stroll by Catskill’s Community Theater is “Cinema Cat,” whose body paint touts Manx Brothers movies along with “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof “ and “What’s New, Pussycat?” as well as “Claws,” “The Great Catsby,” “The Sound of Mewsic,” “An American in Purris” and the classic “Catsablanca.”

Catlantis with Luna.jpg

Mounted elsewhere along Main and West Bridge streets in Catskill are clubs-hefting “Caddy Cat” (sponsored by the Rip Van Winkle Country Club), “Aero Cat,” “Pussy Willow,” “Cat House Cat” (Pat Feinman’s remembrance of things past on Main Street), "Cat Fish" and “Cat Bird” (and yes, it is), “Blue Jean Cat,” "Kiki la Doucette," “Jean-Claude Kitty” the downhill skier, “Santa Claws,” “Cooked to Purr-fection” (outside Village Pizza). “Catlantis,” “Copurrnicus,” “Botanicat,” “Captain Kiddy,” “Catson Pollock” the messy modernist, the fivesome called “Katzenjamer Kittens” and, gracing The Wine Cellar, “Wet Your Whisker.”

Swamp Angel 2.jpg Cat'n Hook.jpg

Installation was completed on Friday (5/23). According to a rookie reporter for the local newspaper, “streetwalkers are already picking favorites.”

Mikato 1.jpg Kaatskill Cat 1.jpg

Pictured: "Catlantis" by Ellen DeLucia, with her pet Luna; "Swamp Angel" by Peg Greason; "Cat 'n Hook" by Cynthia Mulvaney; "Mikato" by Maj Kalfus; "Kaatskill Cat" by Jim Cramer.

Friday, May 23, 2008

GreenLand School$

Decisions about public school funding and leadership in GreeneLand were made last Tuesday by voters. Majorities of GreeneLanders who took part in five school districts’ elections made favorable decisions on proposed outlays for 2008-09 totaling $136 million. The voters accordingly endorsed budgets that anticipate outlays amounting, on average, to about $1850 per enrolled student. Margins of support for the proposed budgets in the county’s five districts were substantial. At the same time, all incumbent school board members who sought re-election were returned to office.

Those results were similar to what occurred in most school districts of the mid-Hudson region. In all but five—Hyde Park, Marlboro, Pine Plains, Walkill, and the big district of Kingston—participating voters supported the budgets that were proposed and the incumbent board members who sought re-election.

Participants in GreeneLand’s school district elections amounted, as usual, to a fraction of eligible voters. Turnout also was substantially lower in the most populous district, Catskill Central, than in the others. Thus, 828 votes were cast at Catskill High School’s gymnasium, while 1016 were cast at the Coxsackie-Athens polling station, 925 in Cairo-Durham, and 839 in Greenville (along with 346 in Hunter-Tannersville and 309 in Windham-Ashland-Jewett).

The low Catskill turnout could be due in some measure to the abnormal paucity of publicity in local news organs.

Support for the proposed budget also was low in Catskill relative to other Districts. The Yeas and Nays, as reported in The Daily Freeman and The Daily Mail, were 459-369 (Catskill), 611-403 (Coxsackie-Athens), 589-336 (Cairo-Durham), 534-305 (Greenville), 239-107 (Hunter-Tannersville), and an overwhelming 252-57 in Windham-Ashland-Jewett. The latter result, as noted by reporter Michael Ryan, reflects durable local sentiment. In the past four district elections, voters have cast 1187 votes in favor, and only 282 against, proposed Windham-Ashland-Jewett public school budgets.

Seeing Greene’s intrepid number crunchers have compiled figures that serve to illuminate aspects of public schooling in GreeneLand.

  • Enrollments: Catskill, 1600; Coxsackie-Athens, 1440; Cairo-Durham, 1670; Greenville, 1440; Windham-Ashland-Jewett, 450; Hunter-Tannersville, 479.
  • Budgets (as approved): Catskill, $37.4million; Coxsackie-Athens, $25million; Cairo-Durham, $26million; Greenville, $26million; W-A-J, $10.6million; Hunter-Tannersville, $12.24million.
  • Cost per pupil: Catskill, $20,800; Coxsackie-Athens, $15,600; Cairo-Durham, $15,000; Greenville, $18,000; W-A-J, $23,500; Hunter-Tannersville, $25,300.
  • State aid: Catskill, $16million; Coxsackie-Athens, $9.3million; Cairo-Durham, $14.6million; Greenville, $11.5million; W-A-J, $2.5million; Hunter-Tannersville, $2.5million.
  • State aid as portion of district budget: Catskill, 43%; Coxsackie-Athens, 37.2%; Cairo-Durham, 58.4%; Greenville, 44.6%; W-A-J, 28%; Hunter-T’ville, 21%.

Those figures indicate that the costs of public education in GreeneLand’s various districts, viewed from the standpoint of outlays per pupil, differ substantially; they range from $15,000 to $25,300. The contrasts also show an odd pattern: while outlays per pupil are heaviest in the two small-enrollment districts, the biggest district, Catskill, comes next. Moreover, the districts differ in the proportions of their budgets that are funded by State (and Federal) allocations as distinct from local property taxes. These differences are due to, among many other variables, variations in their proportions of Special-Needs-classified students, who quality for extra doses of State aid.

Meanwhile, with regard to the governors of GreeneLand’s school districts, incumbents Andrew Jones and Karen Haas were returned to office on the Catskill School Board, as were incumbents Joseph Garlands and Joseph Cardinale in Coxsackie-Athens (with Michael Petromale succeeding the retiring Leo Palmateer), William Alfeld and Susan Kusminsky in Cairo-Durham (joined by Carl Kohrs and Debra Armstrong), Gregory Lampman and Rosanne Moore in Greenville, and Gerry Loucks in Hunter-Tannersville.

Catskill’s election was preceded, as usual, by the distribution to all district households of a Newsletter that describes, and indirectly urges support for, the proposed budget. The document’s back page customarily is devoted to statements about (and from) the candidates for school board offices. The 2008 Newsletter contained no statements about two of the five candidates. According to editorial notes, no statements from those candidates had been supplied. According to one of those candidates, no word about providing statements came from the District office in advance of the deadline. At the pre-election “Meet the Candidates” session at Catskill High School, the matter of the ‘missing’ statements was not addressed. The two losing candidates, Evan Ulscht and Ernest Armistead, also were the Newsletter’s two ‘missing’ candidates.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Second Serving

BOUND FOR BURMA (=Myanmar) to help with the massive relief effort that is needed in the wake of the disastrous cyclone there are GreeneLanders Robert Berg and his Burmese wife Jalin. They are pivotal people in an established on-the-ground non-profit organization called Better Burmese Health Care . Click on the foregoing link, which leads to their web site. Read the story, and click Contribute! News of the catastrophe has been eclipsed by news of the earthquake in China, but the Burmese storm has killed more than 30,000 people and displaced more than a million. The country’s already-fragile infrastructure,” says Mr Berg, “has been ripped away and a grave human disaster has happened.” Our donations “will go directly to supply safe drinking water through purification tablets, ceramic water filters and tanker delivery. Funds will also support acquisitions and distribution of basic medical supplies through an already established network of Better Burmese Healthcare clinics and other general practitioners. Finally, we are looking at obtaining and distributing large quantities of rice, a daily staple throughout the country.” As an established, Burmese-led operation, BBHC is better positioned than other relief organizations, as Jalin Berg says, “to bypass the obstacles” imposed by “the ass-hole government” and to put services where they are most needed. Rarely are we able to channel support for a major international effort through residents of Leeds.

LANDSCAPE PAINTING with emphasis on Hudson River School techniques will be taught this summer in Athens—especially in the Waterfront Park--by Robert Lahm . Classes will be held every Tuesday, 5:30-8:30pm, from May 27th to July 29th. Enrolment ($137) by way of Athens Cultural Center is limited to 12.

FRAUD CHARGES, according to a report in the North Country Gazette (5/14)—and in no other news organ—have been lodged against two GreeneLanders, who face up to a year in jail after admitting they filed a false burglary report in an unsuccessful attempt to cash in on an insurance claim.” Arrested by Catskill Village police on May 2, and jailed pending a court hearing, were Geraldine Porter, 57, and Dominick Donato, 48, both of Dubois Road, Catskill. “According to the New York State Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau office in Albany,” the Gazette story says, the duo “reported that jewelry had been stolen from their home and then filed an insurance claim. They were charged after Porter withdrew the claim before it was paid and then confessed to filing the false burglary report.” Locally sourced news of the case did not eventuate. The omission could be attributed to acquiescence on the part of Village Trustees and of news organizations (including this one) to the Village Police Chief’s illegal ban on public access to police action reports.

CLOSED unnecessarily, says proprietor Mark Wilcox, is the Greenville Drive-In movie theater. Although it has been a money loser for years, Mr Wilcox tells Greenville Press readers (letter of 5/8), the place could have been kept open if local planning/zoning authorities had not been pig-headed.

GONE from the ranks of GreeneLand journalists, abruptly, is verbally challenged Alvaro Alarcon. The Daily Mail seeks a replacement. For the sake of novelty, will literacy be required?

FOR SALE: The former American Legion Post 110 on Greene Street in the historic district of East Catskill. The place was given to Legionnaires long ago by a Dr Honeyford, but as the ranks of veterans thinned, maintenance costs mounted. The place was old more than a year ago to a private buyer and was converted into a two-family dwelling. Now a “motivated seller” (says listing broker Coldwell Banker) will part with the place for $130,000.


Palenville Beautification Day starts from the firehouse at 9am.

Catskill’s putatively annual bridge-to-bridge “Duck Race” commences at 1pm,followed by a prize- and food-dispensing “After Duck Picnic.” Pertinent details at . Then, downtown’s “Saturday Studios” offer an open reception (from 5pm) for a works of Paul Heath in Philip Walsh’s recently opened shop: Day & Holt Custom Framing & Gallery (349 Main St). M Gallery features Vincent Bilotta on “It’s About Light: Exploring the grand Hudson River Experiment with Contemporary Tools.” The Open Studio, with “Findings from the Artchaeological [sic.] Museum” presents “common objects with extraordinary stories…” Gallery 384’s “(Ado/Obso)lesence” show “explores the transition of character and thought into adulthood” as rendered by Emilie Baltz, Carrie Elston, Asya Reznikov and Emily Orling. At the Arts Council (398 Main St) a juried group exhibition curated by Ron Tunison occupies the ground floor, while the upstairs gallery displays Gary Shankman’s food painting (=paintings of, not with, food). At the Play of Light Gallery, laser wizard Rudie Berkhout ignites esthetic fires. Next door (462 Main St) at Terenchin Fine Arts, the story is “Paper Products.”

Governing Catskill's Schools

Public education in the Catskill Central School District is a 37 million dollar enterprise. Of those dollars, about 16 million come from State and Federal coffers. The other 21 million come from local taxpayers, who are charged at the rate of about 24 cents for each thousand dollars’ worth of assessed value of their properties. The dollars are spent on operations that affect a school population of approximately 1800 girls and boys. The outlay per pupil, on average, is more than 20,000 dollars.

Control over Catskill’s 37 million dollar educational operations reposes most immediately in a nine-person board of directors. The directors are subject to popular election for terms of three years. They serve without pay. They govern by giving directives to, and processing information coming from, a salaried professional Superintendent.

On Tuesday (5/20) three seats on Catskill’s school board will be filled by the will of local voters. Five candidates are standing for election. They are Ernest Armistead, Karen Haas (incumbent), Andrew D. Jones (incumbent), Matthew R. Liebowitz, and Evan M. Ulscht.

To help clarify the choices, the Catskill teachers’ union sponsored yesterday afternoon, in the High School cafeteria, a “debate” among the candidates.

News of that impending event, that encounter between prospective controllers of Catskill’s 37 million dollar educational enterprise, did not appear in the local Press or on radio. Neither did it appear in the Budget 2008-2009 Newsletter that was mailed by the School Board, in advance of Tuesday’s election, to all District voters. (Printed just below the mailing’s title was the slogan “reflecting educational excellence,” twice).

Attendance at the “debate,” apart from the speakers and the moderator (Patricia Houlihan, president of the teachers’ union), consisted of 14 persons, most of whom were candidates’ kinfolk. Parent-Teachers Association members accordingly were absent in droves, as were members of the non-profit support group, the Catskill Education Foundation. So were teachers and administrative staff. So were reporters from news organs other than Seeing Greene. So was one candidate: Mr Jones. If he apologized or sent excuses, no message to that effect was passed to the assembled listeners.

Under Ms Houlihan’s supervision, the four attending candidates made opening statements, responded to questions from the floor, and made closing statements. Apart from providing biographical information, the candidates voiced these views:

>>Ms Haas has “enjoyed” her time on the board. No “worst problem” affecting the schools comes to mind, although a “more friendly” atmosphere may be needed.

>>Mr Armistead is particularly concerned with the District’s various Special Needs programs, and with the plight of children who come from poor, and poorly managed, single-parent homes.

>>None of the candidates knows how Catskill’s schools compare with other Greene County schools in terms of cost per pupil, although Mr Ulscht suspects that the Catskill figure is higher. (He is right)

>>With regard to the Federal law that is known as No Child Left Behind law, no candidate feels sanguine.

>>Mr Ulscht holds that an “administrator” who emits a “kill them all”-type message regarding teachers “perhaps should no longer be here.” Meanwhile, Catskill’s s schools are “at a crossroads.” The “climate” that is needed for effective schooling “does not exist” now. People involved with the schools “need to respect each other again,” perhaps by way of a “revaluation of No Child Left Behind” and a “communication workshop.”

>>Mr Liebowitz shares Mr Ulscht’s concerns about the prevailing atmosphere, voices them more subtly, and advocates “giving teachers back control of their classrooms.”

EVALUATION Judging from what took place at today’s “debate,” as well as from bits of other evidence, we venture to voice the following electoral advice:

For voters who feel optimistic about the present state and likely prospects of Catskill’s schools, the appropriate move is to return the incumbents, Mr Jones and Ms Haas, and to cast their third vote for Mr Liebowitz or for Mr Armistead. This course of action seems warranted in light of the bland, substance-free character of Ms Haas’s words in the “debate” as well as in her Budget Newsletter statement. Equally, it seems warranted not only by Mr Jones’s absence from the debate (and, as it happens, from many Board meetings), but also from the terms of his Newsletter declaration that he “is seeking re-election…as he thinks that the…District is headed in the right direction.”

For voters who feel troubled about the present direction--voters who favor a substantial change of course--the suitable candidates are the non-incumbents: Ulscht, Liebowitz and Armistead.


COMMENTS on this and other installments of Seeing Greene are welcome. If they are signed by the sender, they will be posted. If they are not signed, they will not be posted, although they may shape some passage in a future blog.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Second Sweep

90,000=State dollars allocated, as announced today by Sen. James Seward, to five GreeneLand organizations. The Thomas Cole Historic Site in Catskill, where Mr Seward spoke at a news conference, will receive $20,000 in Senate funding to provide “interpretive” exhibits and an introductory film. Catskill’s Chamber of Commerce gets $10,000 to boost its Saturday Strolls promotion. The Athens Cultural Center gets $10,000 to advance the restoration of its headquarters. The Greene County Historical Society gets $10,000 in help to repair and restore a wall of the 314(!)-year-old Bronck House. The County Arts Council gets $20,000 for headquarters renovation and another $20,000 to support a Jonathan Donald Productions documentary film about GreeneLand history.

In announcing the State-budgeted awards, Senator Seward hailed "the rich history" and--thanks to recent developments--"the bright future" of GreeneLand

2700=pounds of debris collected last Friday and Saturday by the scores of participants in Catskill’s Operation Clean Sweep. Trash was collected (by hand, by stooped-over volunteers) from Main Street, the public library, Water Street, West Bridge, West Main, and Dutchman’s Landing. Conspicuous among Saturday’s volunteers were crews from Lowes and WalMart, along with Village President Vincent Seeley, Village Trustee Joe Kozloski, Public Works boss Lewis O’Connor and Code Inspector Michael Ragaini. Among contributors of time, money and/or resources were Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Kiskatom Reformed Church youngsters, Nancy Richards and Robin Smith (chief organizers), Kelly Stabbe, Joan Young, Susan Kozloski, Holcim, the Fortnightly Club, the Garden Club, Mountain Tshirts, Brockway Landscaping, Divine Enlightenment, Panini Café (to be), and Transfer Station personnel.

30=souls allegedly saved in another “Operation Clean Sweep” that uh, swept Main Street. ten years ago. According to a Harvest Newsletter, volunteers from the Full Gospel Tabernacle here took to the streets “to compel lost sinners to come to the house of God.” In spite of intimidation by local cops, who warn “our young preachers” that they “will be arrested” if they “harass the drug pushers,” this Clean Sweep yielded “30 salvations of young people involved in drugs and prostitution.”

BUSTED lately, according to local newspaper reports: >>>William Malley, mayor of Hunter, on suspicion of driving in Hudson while intoxicated. He allegedly failed to stop at a red light and crashed into another motorist. Hunter Trustee Michael Tancredi, his political adversary in Village politics, says Mr Malley should resign. >>>George E. White, Greenville school bus driver, on suspicion of endangering the welfare of a child. Responding to a heads-up from elementary school principal Peter Mahan, State Police investigators formed the judgment that the 65-year-old driver had allowed a 10-year old pupil to change seats in exchange for a hug, and on previous occasions had given her candy, money, his telephone number, and suggestive comments. >>>Maceo Jones, 55, of Catskill, convicted by GreeneLand jurors of robbing an elderly East Durham couple, Patrick and Noelle Ryan, who had given him employment. The length of his prison sentence felonious crimes will be announced next month by Judge George J. Pulver Jr. And the judge will not be weighing the conduct of a model citizen. In 2005 Jones achieved a twofer: arrests within three days for different offenses. On a Wednesday he was arrested, arraigned and then released on bail ($100) for allegedly making criminal use of a Social Services Benefit card, namely, selling the $100 card to his sister, for $35, instead of using it to utilize prescribed services. Then on Friday he was riding in a car driven by Victoria Arnold (aka Vicky Roe). The vehicle was stopped by a police officer who recognized Ms Arnold as the recipient of three active suspensions. When Jones was instructed to exit the car, along with Ms Arnold—he too had no valid driver’s license, so the car had to be towed away—he made a fuss about undergoing the customary pat-down. The ensuing proceedings prompted his arrest on charges of resisting arrest and being in possession criminally of an illegal substance, namely, crack cocaine.

ACTORS WANTED for roles in a summer staging here of Amadeus, the Peter Shaffer play that was made into a superb movie, are available. The show will be performed in late July and early August at Historic Catskill Point. Director Joseph Capone is auditioning non-Equity candidates (by appointment; telephone 943-2680) for the parts of Constanze Weber (“early 20’s; beautiful vocal quality; energetic; great acting range”), Johann Kilian von Strack (“50’s; groom of the Imperial Opera; commanding presence, extremely articulate”), and Baron van Swieten (“50-60; prefect of the Imperial Library; elitist and vain; commanding presence”).

JOHN KIEBART, who served for 28 years as a State policeman in GreeneLand and then did eight years as sheriff (prior to the advent of Dick Hussey and then, since January, of Greg Seeley) died yesterday of cancer. A wake will be held on Monday from 2pm at the Traver-McCurry mortuary in Catskill. Sheriff Kiebart was honored 18 days ago at a heavily attended ceremony in Prattsville, where his name was given to the sub-station that he had opened in 1993.

TONIGHT we can enhance our “Sense of Taste” and our “Sense of Place” in the same, well, place. At the Catskill Community Center, wine expert Michael Albin will distribute tastes of his favorite beverage, together with edifying observations, while photographic artists Susan Wides and Fawn Potash exhibit placefulness (the opposite of placelessness). The entrance fees will support the Center’s program of photographic instruction for youngsters.

TOMORROW (5/10) brings to downtown Catskill, most likely, a sense of repletion. Shops, galleries and food outlets will stay open late. Vintage cars, trucks and—with special emphasis—motorcycles will be on show up and down Main Street. At the same time, Saturday strollers will be welcomed (most audibly, by the Drum & Bugle Corps) to the new Welcome Center at the Community Center, and to the Center’s program fair (lots of information about lots of projects and organizations). Among representatives there will Liza Dichter ( ) and Dharma Dailey ( ), who will present the plan for the new community FM radio station, with training and participation available ( (About this event--more info at ), a Daily Mail scrivener envisioned a ribbon-cutting, door-opening concept: “The long-awaited ‘nerve center’ concept at the …Center will cut the ribbon and open it’s [sic.] doors this weekend, featuring a smorgasbord of …activities.”)

SUNDAY is (so say the greeting card makers) Mother’s Day, which could be celebrated by attendance at a performance by Bard Conservatory students who play and sing music of DeFalla, Garcia Lorca, Bernstein, Bowles, Cook, and Rachmaninov. From 2pm at Beattie-Powers House in Catskill.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Post May Day Post

BIG DEAL. Foreclosure auctions in GreeneLand take place every week. The amount of lien (what the defendant owes the mortgage-carrying plaintiff) seldom reaches as high as $200,000. A property at 158 Jefferson Heights Boulevard, for example, will be auctioned on May 23d, with lien advertised as $156, 504.18. But a property that is slated for auction next Friday (5/9) at 11am, in the usual place--the lobby of our county courthouse, on Main Street in Catskill--is different. The advertised ”amount of judgment,” apart from “interest and costs,” is an “approximate” $1,433,544 and 15 cents. The property, whose address is given as 844 Sunside Road in Cairo, occupies a 104-acre site, where a big upland house) overlooks a glorious eastward panorama. Along with the house (“magnificent” but substantially deteriorated even though recently constructed, according to witnesses) come a barn and an equestrian complex. The defaulting defendant is Valerie T. DiDamo, who is of special interest as the former wife of a formerly prominent local lawyer, Kevin Maldonado. The default goes back to 2006, not long after the loan was granted (in September 2005) in the amount of $1.3 million, with promised monthly payments of more than $8000. The estate project, sources tell us, sprang from a huge legal settlement that came Mr Maldonado’s way. Its abrupt end sprang from a marital split.

DIRTY DEAL? Residents of homes abutting East Red Mill Road in Greenville have complained about a neighboring car and motorcycle race track. “I’m eating dirt,” says James Week (Daily Mail, 4/24). “I want out of this town so bad I can’t tell you,” says Patrick Leonard (Greenville Press, 4/24). When the aggrieved neighbors turned to the Town Council for relief, they got—and so did the Council members—a surprise: former Town Supervisor Aldo Cardomone, along with former Town Attorney Andrew Brick, had signed an agreement stipulating that Kearney Rally Village’s commercial operations do not violate the relevant rural-residential zoning regulations, and the dust and noise arising from rally sprint events do not constitute a public nuisance. The other Town Council members, as well as the neighbors, were not told of that agreement.

BAD DEAL? Senator James Seward commends the idea that, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, taxes on gasoline be suspended. If the State tax were suspended, he says in a May 1 mailing, motorists would “save” 33 cents per gallon. If Federal and local taxes also were suspended, we would “save” about 65 cents per gallon. That result “would reduce costs for hardworking families, local businesses who [sic.] have to fuel their delivery trucks, students and commuters. Lowering gas costs will lead to cheaper prices for consumers across the board.” Actually, consumer goods prices would go down only if vendors chose to reduce them. By the same token, gasoline prices would go down only if, and to the extent that, vendors chose to pass along the “saving.” Meanwhile, governments would lose revenue, generating unanticipated debts that would not go away; they would need to increase taxes of some other kind. And motorists’ incentives to reduce gas consumption, thereby easing the shortage that has driven up costs, would be reduced; instead of driving less this summer, we would drive more.

BACKWARD BOYS. Latest report of High Honors achievers among 12th graders at Catskill High School cites 14 girls, only 8 boys. At the Honors level, girls outnumber boys by a margin of 8 to 4. It’s no different in the lower grades, or in other GreeneLand and regional schools. Among the highest 12th grade achievers at Hunter High School, 4 out of 5 were girls. Among achievers of the next-highest rank, 5 out of 8 were girls. What should be done? Gender-based remediation? Extra points for boys on tests?

GO LOCAL! The call to buy stuff in GreeneLand rather than elsewhere applies not only to gasoline and other consumer goods, but also to government papers. For example, DO NOT renew your driver’s license or registration by means of the pre-addressed mailer that comes from the State Department of Motor Vehicles in Albany. GreeneLanders who do that, says County Clerk Michael Flynn, cost us “tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue per year.” To avoid that pitfall, bring your renewal forms to the local DMV office (411 Main St, Catskill; 719-3255) or mail them to PO Box446, Catskill 12414. Similarly, DO NOT procure or renew your passport, or get a passport card, at a Post Office. Go instead to the County Clerk’s office. The fees are the same but the money stays here.

ON TOUR: “Moby Dick Rehearsed,” an Orson Welles play directed by GreeneLander Casey Biggs, and “The Prophecy of Isaiah,” written and directed by Isaac Klein from a text written by his father, GreeneLander Art Klein. “Moby” was performed recently in, of all places, New Bedford MA, and soon it will have a Manhattan debut, attended by the author’s daughter. “Prophecy,” dwelling on the wages of wealth, played in Easthampton. Isaac’s next projects include being assistant director of a “Camelot” revival (at Lincoln Center, with New York Philharmonickians forming the pit orchestra), and then as assistant director of “West Side Story” revival.

RECENTLY, according to Press reports and other sources: >>An applicant for a job in a big-box GreeneLand store, after telling his interviewer that he had attacked his former boss with a claw hammer, was--would you believe?—not hired. >>Near-GreeneLander Gary Owens, of Ravena, bought a Win For Life lottery ticket at a delicatessen on Route 9W, scratched his way to a “$10 million” (pre-tax!) windfall. >>Wasana and Harold Nicholos launched a celebration of the 10th anniversary of their Thai restaurant operation (336 Main St,Catskill), by lopping 20% off prices for a month. >>Dana Wegener and Mary DiStefano celebrated their second year of business as the MOD café at 395 Main St. >>Lloyd Zimmerman of Black Horse Farms joined an Agriculture Commission jaunt to Havana, aimed at selling New York food products to Cubans (whose ability to pay is extremely limited). In the words of a Daily Mail scribe, “An array of foods…were [sic.] presented to Cuban officials….” >>Light, substantially more than before, illuminates the sometimes-enlightening resources of the Catskill Public Library, thanks to the recent renovations. >>Bob Hempstead, he of the big white moustache and the vintage vehicles, was dubbed “Environmental Hero” by GreeneLand legislators for his 37 years of work in GreeneLand’s Highway Department, including 22 at head of solid waste recycling. >>Spring turkey hunting season opened yesterday, and Outdoors columnist Dick Nelson warned hunters about the abundance, in wild turkey habitats, of Lyme disease-spreading ticks. New York leads the country in the incidence of that scourge, and Greene County ranks sixth in the State. >>Four minors were nabbed by State police on suspicion of perpetrating burglaries in downtown Cairo. >>Unemployment in GreeneLand was estimated by the State Labor Department to amount to 6 per cent of the labor force. That’s a slight decrease from February’s 6.2%, but a jump for March 2007’s 5.2%. It also is higher than the State-wide figure of 5.1%. >>Moves are afoot in Catskill to require that pet cats be licensed. In that connection, a local journalist reported, so to speak, that “James White, of Summit Avenue, approached the Catskill Village Board to address the issue he’s had with his neighbor, of whom he says has become the harbinger of feral cats.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS Tonight (5/2): Dinner dance in support of the eminently support-worthy Community Action of Greene County, with silent auction and with music by luscious, anything-but silent Lex Grey & Company. or 943-9206.

Tomorrow (5/3): Nickel social fund-raiser at Washington Irving Senior Center in Catskill. 943-1343. *“Lensworks,” an exhibit of photographs by 14 Greene County Camera Club members. Opening reception from 6pm with music and refreshments augmenting “aesthetic stimulation” at Athens Cultural Center. and *“Artist Takeover!” show at BRIK (473 Main St, Catskill), opening party at 5pm, with 25% of proceeds from sales of works by 6 Capital Region artists, allocated to Animalkind. 943-0145.

Sunday. “Thomas Cole’s ‘Sketch’ Paintings: An Exploration of the Creative Process” opens the 2008 season at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, and does so with a never-before-assembled collection of Cole’s field sketches, in oils, along with his original brushes and palettes and with field sketches by Hudson River Schoolmates Sanford Gifford, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Church. The show will be open for public viewing from 10am. At 2pm, the curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum, Eleanor Jones Harvey, will elucidate the creative process that is represented by those and other Hudson River School preparations.

GOLF SEASON has resumed, and with it comes alluring advertised deals. For example, Rainbow Golf Club beckons players with an offer of $49 (with coupon) for two weekday cart riders. Also of note are recently suggested terms for shots and situations. An unreadable putt is a “James Joyce,” while a putt that looks straight but isn’t is a “Rock Hudson.” If you blundered but got away with it, you achieved an “O J”. And if you got away with it in the form of a ball hitting water but bouncing out, why, that must be a “Ted.” As in Kennedy. A chronic hooker would be a “Heidi” (Fleiss). A right-bending shot would be/could be/might be a “Rush’(Limbaugh), while a vicious slice is a “Coulter.”