Sgt. Shawn Farrell II remembered at Memorial Day ceremony in Accord
Legislators At Work...
School Budgets Pass, Incumbents All Win In Tuesday's Elections
RVSD Hears Report On Troubled Students
Schenectady woman stole from town of Rochester home
Kerhonkson man jailed on felony drug charges
ACCORD >> One of the most poignant of Monday’s Memorial Day ceremonies was the one held in the town of Rochester in memory of Sgt. Shawn Farrell II.
Farrell, 24, of Accord, died on April 28 of wounds he suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire in Nejrab District, Kapisa province, Afghanistan.
Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman spoke about how easy it can be to think of the fallen as faceless and generic.
“We honor those that fell, but a lot of the time we think of them as generic,” Chipman said. “... We don’t think of the faces and the families. You don’t see that. When we lost Sgt. Shawn Farrell, it hit home. We lost one of our own. This was a loss for our community.”
Chipman spoke about the sacrifice not only of Farrell, but of his family, who attended the ceremony.
“I believe we should also recognize the loss and thank those in his family, who have made the sacrifice,” Chipman said. “They’re the ones who won’t have him at the table for the barbecue today, who won’t have him there for Christmas — maybe in spirit, but not in body. Thank you for your contribution.”
Other local officials spoke in remembrance of Farrell throughout the ceremony.
Ulster County Legislator Lynn Archer, D-Accord, asked that, at 3 p.m., everyone stop and remember Farrell and say a prayer.
“As you go about your day, your barbecues and what have you, I would like for you, at 3 o’clock, to stop and think about those we have lost,” Archer said. “Think about Shawn and say a little prayer. And then go on with your day.”
Farrell graduated from Rondout Valley High School in 2008. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. (Freeman 5/2/7/14)
Zoning Board of Appeals holds public comment period on application for indoor riding rink at Flying Change Farm on Airport Road relating to whether a site plan review should have been held prior to the issuance of a building permit.
City Hall Road Cell Tower Improvements were completed without a required permit. The Town’s code enforcement officer has required that the unpermitted work be removed.
Town Board announces receipt of $3.0 million in grant money -- $2.5 million for Rondout Creek and Rochester Creek flood mitigation.
Historic Preservation Commission holds meeting to discuss proposal to establish an Alligerville Historic District.
Legislators At Work...
Archer & Greene Settle Into New Legislative Roles
By Terence P. Ward
RONDOUT VALLEY – In November, voters in two Rondout Valley districts sent new faces to the Ulster County Legislature. Lynn Archer and Manna Jo Greene are both women who were sitting on their local town councils (Rochester and Rosendale, respectively) when they decided to shift gears and run for the county lawmaking body. As they have grown into their new roles, both now report that the job is different than it appears from the outside; the hours are longer and the debates are characterized by more respect and less partisanship than they expected.
Working as part of a group of twenty-three is much different than it was as one of five on a town board, both legislators agree, and it's a dynamic that brings advantages along with challenges.
"On the town board, you have four other people to influence but here it's nearly four times that number," Archer said. "It's a different dynamic."
She cut her teeth on that process with a resolution to ask the State of New York to pick up the tab for the second primary that's occurring this year, a cost that's generally passed down to the towns.
"Not being able to agree on a single date is a waste of money, and I think the state should pay for it," she said.
Greene is experiencing something that wasn't always evident during her prior elected service: respect.
"I was not sure if people would take me seriously," when she first took office, because she's "been perceived as a crunchy granola tree hugger, even though I care as much about a healthy economy as a healthy ecosystem," she said. "I have found a greater appreciation for what I can contribute than I expected."
While she never mentioned any specific instance, at times she was chided and scolded by her fellow board members during public meetings as a Rosendale town council member.
The lack of partisanship — at least in committees, where the bulk of the legislature's work is done — made an impression on both women. Each described their peers as being focused on representing the residents of the county, rather than the interests of their parties.
"There's a lot of grandstanding on the floor of the legislature, and the impressions I had of the legislators were based on some pretty harsh back-and-forth across the aisle," said Greene. "The people I had preconceived notions about have really impressed me with the quality of their questions, and I think they're doing a good job protecting the public interest. We have different ideas about how to do that, but I am impressed by the quality of some of the questions that are being asked."
Archer also sees the body as being more about problems than politics.
"I caucus with the Democrats, but at the end of the day, if I have a difference of opinion, I call someone directly," she noted, describing her fellow lawmakers as "focused on the problem, and understanding that we're all in this together."
The lack of interpersonal history with others in the legislature is touted as a strength by both Archer and Greene, who say that they are able to more clearly see the issues since their vision isn't clouded by that sort of bias. That kind of interplay was at the fore when John Parete was elected chairman over the objections of his party, who wanted to give Hector Rodriguez the spot.
There's also a lot to learn as a legislator, and not just about swaying opinion.
"I feel like I'm back in school again," Archer said, adding that there's a certain urgency to master the new skill set quickly. "Two years is not a lot of time to accomplish anything."
"It's turning out to be more work than I expected," agreed Greene. "In Rosendale I understood the issues, but with the legislature it's a lot more work."
The extra time she's devoted, she added, is definitely worth it.
Two years is certainly a short amount of time for some of the problems that these two are interested in. Archer campaigned on bringing broadband access to all corners of the county, and wants to see the system of interconnected rail trails completed, seeing both as economic development issues. Greene is concerned with sustainable development that creates long-term, living-wage jobs and is resilient against the types of weather events Ulster County has seen more and more frequently in recent years. These are issues that are more likely to be resolved over decades, rather than in the two years a legislator has between elections.
Greene, who has spent 14 years at Clearwater working on the same kinds of issues that she is advocating for now, is no stranger to the long view. She was the recycling coordinator for Ulster County when the idea of separating waste was considered an imposition.
"I hope to bring some organization, and get a full scope of the issues," said Archer. "I'm a problem solver," she added, and problems needing solutions are not in short supply. (Shawangunk Journal 5/29/14)
Rondout Valley residents also voted to approve their district budget, of $59.41 million, a 2.4 percent increase over 2013-14, by 920 to 448.
Current board members, James Ayers and James Blair won re-election with 829 and 805 votes. They will be joined by Glenn Dannahan who received 745 votes. Thomas Tacti had 616 votes.
There, the numbers breakdown shows that out of a total districtwide population of 16,764, 20.9 percent are under 18 and 14.1 percent are over 65. Racially, the district is 93.4 percent white, with 1.3 percent black population and 6.3 percent Hispanic. (Excerpt from Shawangunk Journal 5/22/14)
By Terence P. Ward
ACCORD – Trustees of the Rondout Valley Central School District Board of Education were given a training in the use of a "dangerous risk assessment" at their meeting last week. Dr. Kevin Smith, a forensic psychiatrist who works with school districts and police departments, provided the training at the request of Superintendent Rosario Agostaro and explained that assessing the potential for dangerous behavior is more effective than attempting to predict specific episodes of violence.
"Dr. Smith helped us with two very, very severe situations, including one just one day ago," Agostaro said of the speaker. "That situation ended positively." He provided more detail to the board later in the meeting, during executive session.
The major factors that increase that potential, Smith told the board, were present in every school shooter since 1992, when data were first collected on the phenomenon. They include categories so broad as to be nearly meaningless in a school setting, such as age range (13-29) and gender (males are ten times as likely to commit violence as females, and are guilty of all mass murders, Smith said). Other risk factors include mental distress, lack of social supports, use (including abuse) of alcohol and other drugs, and a loss of rational thinking from factors ranging from sleep deprivation to adolescent hormones. Previous violent behavior and availability of weapons are also important factors, but some social factors can be even more troubling: a student who has no significant other, including a recent rejection or break-up, and particularly a child with no attachment to any adult, may be headed for trouble.
"A lack of solid attachment to an adult is a very bad prognostic indicator," Smith told the board.
While some teachers and administrators were concerned that staff might be encouraged to view students as potential problems, the training provides for most with student contact simply to be aware of the risk factors and report them to the school counselor. The rationale is that not every risk factor will present itself to any one observer, and a more highly-trained individual would be better prepared to evaluate the entire picture.
A number of reasons were given for the higher propensity for violence among 13-29-year-olds. Smith explained that their wisdom does not develop as quickly as their bodies, and that hormones peak during these years as the person matures. He referred to the factors collectively as a "trifecta of violent behavior." He also reminded the board that violent tendencies may also be turned inward, through self-harm and suicide attempts, but that the factors remain largely the same.
In other business, the board returned to the subject of new tax exemptions to veterans and the disabled, discussing ways to poll district taxpayers on the matter.
Speaking in advance of a meeting of the facilities committee, board member Michael Redmond said, "It looks like solar will not be profitable" for the district, and that in his opinion, "it's a dead issue." He was referring to a proposal to spend a portion of money received from NYSERDA on solar panels on top of the high school. The money was a rebate for energy-efficient design elements included in the renovation project undertaken last decade, and using some of it for solar panels would have resulted in additional rebates on top of whatever energy savings the array would provide.
That renovation project was part of a larger capital plan for the central campus, and there still remains one nagging item of business from that time: naming the campus roads. A number of names were proposed during and shortly after the bond was approved by the voters, but none of them received enough support to be approved. Official road names could be incorporated into GPS data, allowing emergency personnel and school visitors alike to find their way around more easily.
The current proposal is to name the roads First, Second, and Third streets. Board president Breanna Costello declined to call a vote, citing the lack of a formal resolution to approve. (Shawangunk Journal 5/22/14)
Schenectady woman stole from town of Rochester home, damaged vehicle tires, Ulster County sheriff’s deputies say
TOWN OF ROCHESTER >> A Schenectady woman has been jailed on charges of criminal mischief, a felony, and petit larceny and possession of stolen property, misdemeanors, following report Saturday of vandalism and larceny at a town of Rchester home, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office said.
Ameria Venable, 26, of 1749 Albany St., Apt. 1, Schenectady, removed items from the home at 4 Little Sam Road and caused damage to six tires on three different vehicles in the driveway, deputies said Sunday.
Deputies said they responded to a report of a theft and criminal mischief at the residence around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
Venable was later located in the town of Newburgh by the Town of Newburgh Police Department and was arrested.
Several of the items reported stolen were recovered, deputies said.
Venable was arraigned in Rochester Town Court and was sent to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail pending a court appearance. (Freeman 5/25/14)
WAWARSING >> A Kerhonkson man in possession of illegal drugs and a substantial amount of cash was arrested on U.S. Route 209 by members of the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team, according to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office.
Troy Blackwell, also known as Troy Rivera and Troy Cruz, 39, of 74 Minnewaska Trail, was stopped Wednesday by URGENT members, along with dogs from the Sheriff’s Office, and found to be in possession of crack cocaine packaged for sale, heroin, marijuana and about $4,000 in cash, police said.
Blackwell was charged with three felony counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
He was arraigned in Ulster Town Court and sent to the Ulster County Jail without bail. (Freeman 5/29/14)
• Drug sales: Anibal Rodriguez, 52, of Kerhonkson, was sentenced Thursday by Ulster County Judge Donald A. Williams to six months in jail and five years probation for criminal sale of controlled substance, a felony. Rodriguez was arrested on Dec. 21, 2012, by the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team and was charged with one felony count of criminal possession of a controlled substance and one felony count of criminal sale of a controlled substance. Rodriquez pleaded guilty on Dec. 13, 2013, to felony criminal sale of a controlled substance. (Freeman 5/23/14)
• Unlicensed operation: Virgil Dean Taylor, 30, of Rochester, was arrested by Ulster County sheriff’s deputies at 10:19 a.m. Saturday on Little Sam Road and was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, a felony. He was also charged with two counts of trespass, a violation. Deputies said they responded to a trespass complaint from a Queens Highway resident, and when they arrived, were told the suspect left the property in a silver Volvo. Deputies located the Volvo at 4 Little Sam Road. Taylor was arraigned in Rochester Town Court and sent to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $500 bail pending a court appearance. (5/5/14)