Friday, September 18, 2009

Greene Prospects

TRANSFORMATION of the current Haines Falls Free Library, located on the 1500-square-foot former Marian religious center, into the Mountain Top Library & Learning Center, an 8000-square-foot facility, with meeting rooms and continuing education programs as well as reading matter, just across the street from Hunter-Tannersville High School. But only $1.3 million of the needed $2.25 million has been raised so far. Latest grants have come from the New York State Arts Council (for design work by architect Scott Wallant) and from the Catskill Watershed Corporation ($250,000 for various operations).

CONSTRUCTION on a prime 15-acre site in Coxsackie, with facilities for young (starting with the county’s first licensed day-care facility) and old, for girls and boys and grown-ups, of a GreeneLand YMCA. It will eventuate by 2011 iff community financial support eventuates on a sufficient scale. At information sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, in Coxsackie and in Catskill, Chairman Hugh Quigley launched the “viral giving” drive to generate donations in relatively small amounts from lots of GreeneLanders. Such donations are important not only for what they contribute to the goal ($5 million) but also for what they demonstrate to prospective big-ticket donors (corporate, governmental and individual). Already in hand, thanks to big start-up contributions, is a $1.7million kitty. Our own United States Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, will aim for a $500,000 earmarked Federal contribution.. To get on the bandwagon, go to Please.

BEAUTIFICATION, by way of vines and paintings, of the footbridge connecting Water Street on the east side of Catskill Creek, with the west side leading to Catskill's Middle and High schools. It’s an idea offered by Jessie Able and by Open Studio artist Dina Burtstyn to the Village Board, and received sympathetically. RESTORATION of the noble old Athens Opera House so as to accommodate a micro-brewery, restaurant and music hall. Promoter Ken Landin hopes to do this, on the strength of a small outlay by him of capital, personally executed restoration work, a $240,000 Quantum Fund loan (with subsidized rate of interest), State grant, and (we fear) magic.

ELEVATION to partner (the youngest ever, at age 33) in the Albany office of the global 800-lawyer firm of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, of GreeneLander Alexander Louis Betke II, who is better known locally as Alex Betke, Town Supervisor of Coxsackie, Village attorney of Catskill and Saugerties, Democratic Party wheelhorse, father of four, Little League coach….. (This information did not come first from Mr Betke).

"MOONLIGHT RIDGE," a housing development for seniors, of 33 units on 18 acres at 49 Vedder Road, town of Catskill. If, among other things, the Planning Board approves.

LAWSUITS against the Lafarge company, focusing on its Ravena cement plant. Although no suit has been filed yet, and no direct claims of injury from toxic emissions have been voiced, the New York personal injury law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg organized a big informal event in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School auditorium, with Erin Brockovich herself as the draw.

PROSECUTIONS of suspected GreeneLand miscreants. Felony fraud charges, having to do with forged medical prescriptions and false business records, have been laid in Cairo Town Court against Christopher and April Hamilton, 27 and 29, of Catskill. Drug-peddling charges and a grand jury indictment have emanated from State and local police investigation of Gerard McCarthy, 51, whose suspected place of business was the Catskill Inn. Summer L. Smith, 27, of Cairo, has been arrested for allegedly making multiple phony 911 calls to Columbia County’s emergency center, even after being told to desist.

READING TO ROVER sessions for Catskill school kids. The goal of this after-school program, says Superintendent Kathleen Farrell, is to improve “reading skills (particularly oral fluency) in young children…. There is a body of research…that indicates that reading to a dog improves concentration and oral fluency—-the dogs love the attention and kids love having an ‘audience’ that is focused entirely on them, and is uncritically responsive to their voice.” Last Sunday (9/13) at the Parents, Partners and Pancakes gathering at the high school, the local director of the Good Dog Foundation ( ) distributed literature on the program and. Uh, interviewed prospective canine auditors. Successful trainees receive certificates affirming their fitness for work in hospitals and hospices as well as schools. Still to be determined is how the dogs will be graded on comprehension tests.

MORE MAULINGS of the English language by Daily Mail scribes ("They also lived next to Michael's family who had been in the horse barn and paddock"; 8/21), and by Cairo clerks ("Any interesedt party for the following surplus items may be viewed at the Highway garage").

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