· To the Members of the Rochester Residents Association:
· Rochester town Supervisor Carl Chipman sees Internet, zoning code updates as 2014 priorities
· Accord fire destroys garage; no one hurt
· Accord woman charged with stabbing live-in boyfriend
· Kerhonkson man made death threats, deputies say
· Kerhonkson woman injured in Queens Highway accident
To the Members of the Rochester Residents Association:
On behalf of the Rochester Food Pantry, I would like to thank you and the members of the Rochester Residence Association for your ongoing support. The annual end of the year fund drive showed the degree to which neighbors are willing to help neighbors. We received over 120 donations attributable to the fund drive. The $1000 matching grant from the association was met may times over resulting in donations of nearly $15,000.
This is a record amount and a real outpouring of support at a time when it is so needed.
Private donations are especially important, they account for over 90% of our proceeds.
We did not receive any grants from either State or Federal funds last year, yet the need within the Town has not changed. More than 35,500 meals were provided to over 730 families, nearly the same as in 2012, which was a record year. Given the uncertainty of what will happen with food stamps, we may see these numbers increase.
We are fortunate that our Town residents and organizations have been concerned, responsive and generous. Through these donations, both in cash and kind, we have been able to meet the ongoing demand and supplement the food requirements of needy families and individuals in our community.
In addition to normal donations, a number of individuals have given gifts in another’s name or in remembrance of another. Others have asked that their birthday wishes, be “presents” to the Food Pantry. All of these are very creative ways to help the Food Pantry, and all extremely welcomed.
Thank you again, and we hope we can count on your continued support in the future.
Marge Bonner, Corresponding Secretary
Rochester Food Pantry
Accreditation Awarded by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
High Falls, New York – After an intensive year-long evaluation process, Rondout-Esopus Land Conservancy has been formally accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. RELC is one of only 238 land trusts in the United States and the second in Ulster County (after Mohonk Preserve) to have been awarded accreditation since the program was initiated in 2008.
“Accreditation by the Commission represents a major step in our mission to preserve the agricultural heritage, wildlife diversity, historic character and the great natural beauty of the Shawangunk Ridge and the Catskill foothills,” said RELC president Rob Rominger.
For more than 25 years, RELC has been preserving lands in the Shawangunks and Catskills, focusing on the watersheds of the Rondout and Esopus Creeks, rich in biodiversity and scenic beauty, but fragile and susceptible to the destructive effects of unregulated development. More than fifty landowners have partnered with RELC to ensure the permanent conservation of their agricultural, forest and open lands. RELC has protected more than 3,000 acres in perpetuity.
“Accreditation is an important step in our long-term planning for the Conservancy,” said RELC board member and conservation easement donor Peter Hales. “Landowners who wish to protect their lands and, more broadly, the ecological and agricultural richness of this beautiful but threatened region, can look to RELC with renewed confidence. From fragile parcels of land adjoining important watersheds to extensive agricultural holdings deserving protection, RELC now joins a national trust of professionally-managed land-preservation organizations.”
RELC serves not only to preserve and protect threatened lands. It has worked actively with other organizations in the region, including the Open Space Institute, to encourage awareness of the fragile beauty of the American landscape, and to find ways to bring people and their landscapes into more intimate contact. Most recently, RELC has helped to fund extensions of public rail-trails, contributing to the construction of a bridge linking two segments of the O&W Rail Trail through the Conservancy’s extensive Rest Plaus Historic District conservation holdings in Marbletown. In addition, RELC protects a 411-acre parcel, including a hike-and-bike trail, in the former Williams Lake Resort in Rosendale, New York and is expected to add a further 100 acres later this month.
“With accreditation established, we are now in the process of implementing long-term plans to preserve threatened areas within the watershed area, and to encourage public engagement with a landscape providing not just scenic beauty but agriculture, riparian and aquifer protection, and recreational use,” said Rominger.
Those interested in the work of the RELC can go to the Conservancy’s website, at http://www.relandconservancy.org/. Up-to-date announcements of RELC events can be found on the Rondout-Esopus Land Conservancy Facebook page.
TOWN OF ROCHESTER WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS SURVEY ANNOUNCED
In January the Town Board formed The Town of Rochester Telecommunications Committee and tasked it with studying wireless service issues in the town. Its membership is comprised of elected and appointed town officials, fire and safety volunteers, and residents of the community. The Telecommunications Committee is calling on the residents to assist in the study by helping identify the areas in the town that have inadequate or no wireless services.
To achieve this, the committee has developed a seven-question survey about the availability of wireless service at the household level. All residents are encouraged to complete the survey whether they believe their current wireless service is satisfactory or not and the survey will take just a few minutes to complete. The committee stresses that completing the survey in no way obligates residents to sign up for or change their wireless services. The information will be studied and combined with field tests to produce a map illustrating the areas of Rochester that have inadequate or no wireless service, the first step in the process to improve the availability and quality of wireless service throughout the town.
The survey is available for download on the town website, www.townofrochester.net or printed copies may be obtained at the Town of Rochester Town Hall, Town Clerk office, 50 Scenic Drive, Accord. The survey is available in both electronic and paper format. Completed surveys should be returned by March 1 and may be returned either by email or printed and returned by to the Town Clerk office, either by mail or in person.
Rochester town Supervisor Carl Chipman sees Internet, zoning code updates as 2014 priorities
By William J. Kemble, email@example.com
Thursday, December 26, 2013
ACCORD >> Rochester town Supervisor Carl Chipman considers getting high speed Internet connections for town residents and updating zoning codes to be priorities for 2014.
Chipman said recently that broadband needs to be offered throughout the town.
“That’s a necessity and we’re going to have to find out how to do it,” he said.
“We did get our contract signed with Time Warner, which did help to expand it, but we’re not where we need to be in our town,” Chipman said. “There’s too much geography that doesn’t have coverage and too many gaps and today it retards any kind of economic development and it’s a matter of quality of life for our residents, too.”
Chipman expects there will be an emphasis on updating land use regulations during the coming year.
“We’re working at trying to make our zoning codes even better and ... easier to deal with,” he said.
“We want to make the planning process even quicker and people friendly,” Chipman said. “When we rewrote our zoning laws after we did the comprehensive plan back in 2007 and we redid our zoning laws to match the comprehensive plan in 2009 there were certain areas we couldn’t see. There are always gaps and holes and certain usages that weren’t listed and it creates a problem for somebody.”
Among plans that are not expected to be given a priority after a big buildup in 2013 is moving any offices or programs to the former Rosendale Elementary School.
“We had discussed moving our planning and zoning there and the courts, so there is a lot of things tied in,” he said.
“I don’t see anything at the moment that points to us making a move right now,” Chipman said. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions and as far as funding goes we’ll have to see what happens. Currently, I don’t see us moving right away.”
Chipman said that plans to move recreation programs to the school have not been well-received in the town.
“I’ve got a lot of feedback from the senior citizens that use our recreation area quite a bit and they’re not very much in favor of it because that is another seven or eight miles for them to travel,” he said. “With our Recreation Department there is a youth commission and that would be a little difficult to move.” (Freeman)
City Hall Road Cell Tower Upgrade Questioned.
AT&T plans to upgrade antennas at the tower, which was built in 1997. Town Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Davis reported that work had been done without propert permits. An attorney representing AT&T indicated that work was done on the tower, including the installation of guy wires, without a permit.
Councilman Tony Spano was appointed Deputy Town Supervisor
Councilman Spano appointed as liaison to: Board of Assessment Review, Accord Fire District
Councilwoman Sherry Chachkin appointed as liaison to: Planning Board & Historic Preservation Commission, and Justice Court
Councilman Tavi Cilenti appointed as liaison to: Youth Commission, Environmental Conservation Commission.
Councilman Brian Drabkin appointed as liaison to; Highway Department, Zoning Board of Appeals, Parks and Recreation.
The Town Board also appointed an ad hoc Telecommunications Committee to review wireless coverage as well as local laws regarding cell phone service.
RVSD Looks To Close The Achievement Gap
By Terence P. Ward
ACCORD – Poverty is a significant predictor of student success, superintendent Rosario Agostaro told the Rondout Valley school board at its meeting on February 11. Agostaro drew upon data collected from several years of standardized tests, comparing local students' performance against other rural districts, to demonstrate how family income relates to proficiency in testable skills.
The superintendent used several data sets to illustrate the point, including one that tracked proficiency in English language arts, or ELA. 43 percent of Rondout Valley students, and 46 percent statewide, were deemed proficient for their grade level, but for those in poverty, the numbers were 15 percent in the district, and just 13 percent statewide. Scores in most standardized tests dropped dramatically as the state aligned with the Common Core standards for the 2013-14 school year, but the gap remained similarly large.
"There's no doubt that there's a negative effect," Agostaro told the board. "All the tests show the same pattern of stratification by income."
The challenges of poverty, however, are too complex for a school district — or the entire education system, for that matter — to resolve it without outside help.
"The state needs to provide wraparound services," to address the various poverty-related factors which can impact performance, the superintendent added. For example, "A kid with bad teeth, who can't afford to go to the dentist, isn't going to be able to eat well, or concentrate on their lessons."
Schools largely use participation in the free and reduced-price lunch programs as bellwethers of poverty, and those programs have become relied on heavily by poorer families.
"If we have a snow day, there are kids who don't eat," Agostaro said.
While much of the solution must come from beyond the schools, Agostaro had some suggestions about how to address the income-related achievement gap within the district. He said that after-school and summer interventions are "the most fruitful possibility" for doing so. These interventions "are not summer school," he explained; rather they are focused sessions which reduce the amount of regression children experience when they are away from learning between school years. Ideally the district would provide transportation, since many families in poverty don't own a car, or the one they do is already in use.
"I'm not sure if we have the budget," for all of his proposals, Agostaro admitted, but the need to address the situation remains. One suggestion the superintendent repeated is for the state to remove the "gap elimination adjustment," which literally cuts state school aid that's already been allocated in order to balance the state budget. Governor Cuomo announced that this year's budget is expected to have a surplus, and Agostaro has been saying for some time that it's time to remove the gap elimination adjustment.
"We could do a lot with the $1.7 million we lost last year," he said. (Shawangunk Journal 2/13/14)
By Terence P. Ward
ROCHESTER – The 209 corridor is an important route to the southern part of Ulster County, but it doesn't host a lot of business activity between Stone Ridge and Ellenville. That's especially bittersweet given that the state route's presence is largely to blame for the decline of Main Street in hamlets like Kerhonkson, High Falls, and Accord. Groups like the Friends of Historic Kerhonkson and the High Falls Civic Association are working hard to put their hamlets back on the map, but what shall become of quiet Accord, so named because its residents couldn't come to an agreement as to what it should be called?
In a word: trails.
While local business and political leaders acknowledge that the Nevele opening as a casino could result in a boost up and down the 209 corridor, Ulster County's tourism trade takes a different tack in the bucolic town of Rochester. Rolling landscapes, views of the side of Skytop that many visitors have never seen, and the promise of a completed rail trail from Kingston to Ellenville to help tourists take it in are what Accord in particular, and the Rondout Valley in general, feels it needs to flourish.
At present, that rail trail stops at Lucas Avenue and picks up again two miles later. To the north, Marbletown is planning to construct the final bridge needed to complete its portion; there are plans for the southern trail to go through lands owned by the Nevele and the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. With no existing rail bed remaining in Rochester, an exact route is not yet agreed upon, much less approved by any affected land owners.
"Where would we cross the Rondout?" asked town supervisor Carl Chipman to illustrate the challenges ahead. "Would we have to cross Rochester Creek? There are many possible routes, such as along the canal berm, but the town can't decide on its own. We would need Ulster County planning help, and the DOT would have to weigh in for anything along 209 and Lucas Avenue."
Richard Travers, president of the Rondout Valley Business Association, agrees.
"The rail trail is our best opportunity," he said. "Accord will become a booming place once the Rondout Valley reaches critical mass."
That's an idea that Chipman is completely behind.
"The Rondout Valley's fortunes are tied together," he said. "It's not competition. We can make this a destination of choice."
He shared some of his vision of what such a destination might look like, saying, "I have a dream of an Ulster County marathon being run from Kingston to Ellenville."
How soon that particular trail is completed is anybody's guess, but there are other plans afoot to give the area a shot in the arm. Travers and Chipman each have ideas that would divert car traffic to the area, along with the tourism dollars traveling within.
"I've been talking with the Ulster County Tourism people about suggesting that drivers get off the thruway at exit 17 and take Route 209," Travers said. "It's not a longer trip, and they would avoid the New Paltz traffic."
Chipman is pretty much on the same page, but he's focusing specifically on those who come up to enjoy Mohonk's scenic views.
"A lot of stakeholders don't like the congestion," he said. "I'd like to get them to park in the hamlets down here, and we could arrange shuttles to get them up the mountain." That would relieve bottlenecks, and get tourists out of their cars someplace other than the Mohonk Preserve itself.
That's not to say that there aren't other opportunities in the wings for Accord. NY Rising, the pot of money promised by the state to rebuild with resiliency after the storms of recent years, is likely to boost infrastructure needed to support the agri-tourism which is a key component to the area's livelihood. Should the Nevele get its hoped-for gaming license, it will bring jobs and even more tourists. In nearby Rosendale, the Williams Lake Project has started to demolish the old hotel so that a new resort may rise from the rubble.
At the moment, Accord's Main Street is quiet, and Route 209 carries a fraction of the cars it did in decades past. There's just one tiny grocery store, and no place to eat a hot meal. Some of the old buildings are in frightening disrepair, shadows of their former selves. But trails bring tourists, as the Walkway Over the Hudson has proven, and tourists bring dollars, so it's possible that Accord and its neighbors have their toughest days behind them.
"A rising tide carries all boats," Travers said. "The hopes of Accord are tied to the future of the Rondout Valley as a destination."
By Paula Ann Mitchell, Daily Freeman
Monday, February 10, 2014
NEW PALTZ >> The so-called “cruise-ship bug” known as norovirus has been identified as the source of the illness that sickened at least 200 people at the Mohonk Mountain House in recent days, Ulster County health officials said Monday.
Dr. Carol Smith, the county commissioner of health, said the Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany confirmed the presence of norovirus, which causes a stomach flu that can last from one to three days.
On Friday, Mohonk Mountain House closed for the first time in its 145-year history after both guests and staff came down with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.
The historic resort has hired BMS Cat, a Texas-based company, to disinfect “every inch” of every one of the hotel’s 260 rooms, according to Nina Smiley, the director of marketing at Mohonk.
Smith said the norovirus tends to thrive from November through early spring and is particularly resilient.
“It lives in multiple places. It’s very easily spread, and it’s very easily communicated,” Smith said.
She added that it could very well have been in the food as well as any other surface of the hotel.
“It could be in the linens. It could be on the doorknobs. As a virus, it can be communicated various ways in various routes, including food and surface areas,” Smith said.
She applauded Mohonk for taking the precaution of closing for a week and for contacting the Health Department right away.
“When we have a situation that we become concerned about, we typically will engage a dialogue with our regional health department office and we work with them as well as the central office of the state Department of Health in Albany,” she said.
“We’ll typically do an on-site investigation, where we send our communicable disease nurses and our environmental health department staff, and they ... get as much data together as possible, including investigating and doing questionnaires. It’s trying to look at the epidemiology of the situation.”
Smith said while there have been no other reports of norovirus in Ulster County, other places in the state have been affected.
Mohonk, meanwhile, plans to reopen on Valentine’s Day, and Smith said she has confidence it will be ready for guests.
“They’re doing everything they can to ensure that everything will be set for that time,” she said.
Pine Grove Hits Its Stride With Core Offerings As The Old Granite Gets New Investors...
By Terence P. Ward
KERHONKSON – After many years of searching for strategies that would bring back business, it appears that the two major resorts in Rochester are finding their stride. Pine Grove Ranch sought success by focusing on its core offerings, and the Hudson Valley Resort has emerged from bankruptcy with new investors who are planning to replace the hotel "from scratch," according to their longtime general manager.
The Granite Hudson Valley Resort, as the destination resort will be known, will be no larger than the present 332-room rambling structure, said general manager Orest Fedash, and will be built on the property while the old hotel continues to operate. Fedash said that the hotel emerged, reorganized, from bankruptcy protection this past December, and that the new investors who now own it are very optimistic about the venue's potential.
It's a big change from 2010, when the resort filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After buying the hotel in 2006 and planning an 18-hole golf course designed by professional golfer Vijay Singh, the financial crisis of 2008 left the owners owing close to $27 million to creditors. But three years later, the bankruptcy is over, and there is talk not only of a new golf course (perhaps only nine holes), but a trail system, as well.
"We want to market ourselves as a family-friendly destination resort with golf course and spa that guests and locals can afford," Fedash said. Possible attractions could include a challenge course with zip lines, snow activities, and the aforementioned trail system, which would connect to other trails beyond the hotel property. The general manager said he is also willing to revisit the idea of video lottery terminals once the state issues gaming licenses for the casinos authorized by last November's referendum.
Together with the Pine Grove Ranch, Hudson Valley Resort last autumn asked the Ulster County Legislature to back a bid to install VLTs. Those hopes were dashed amidst internal political wrangling among Rochester Republicans, and a general sense by the legislature that such a move could jeopardize the Nevele's push to get a class 3 gaming license to open as a casino.
Fedash said that, should VLTs ever be allowed, "We wouldn't have them in the lobby." In addition, "I wouldn't want to run a casino," he said. "I wouldn't want to deal with people who lost a lot of money."
The Pine Grove Ranch's owner, David O'Halloran, has expressed no interest in revisiting the VLT question. Instead, he says that the family-owned business has seen a marked increase in guests by returning to its roots.
"We went back to basics, our core business of horseback riding, outdoor recreation and programs," he said. That also came with a slight name change: what was known as the Pine Grove Ranch and Resort is now the Pine Grove Dude Ranch. There's also been no small amount of effort put into the facilities and programs themselves.
"We put considerable effort into the dining room, where we now have a Saturday Night Hoedown," O'Halloran said. A wider variety of length and type of rides is available, and guests can participate in the care of the animals. All of it has paid off, with the number of returning and new guests on the rise.
"2013 was the first year since 2008 that the decline of revenue stopped, and 2014's advance reservations are way ahead like they were in 2006-7," O'Halloran noted. "We had an unbelievably strong Christmas week, the phones wouldn't stop ringing, and hopefully we can get back to the business we were doing pre-recession in the next couple of years."
While the names of familiar destinations may be changing slightly, the overall mood in the market is decidedly not: it's upbeat, with high hopes for the coming years. (Shawangunk Journal 2/14/14)
By William J. Kemble, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 20, 2014
TOWN OF ROCHESTER >> The Mohonk Preserve is appealing the July court ruling that favored Karen Pardini and her husband, Michael Fink, in a dispute over the ownership of 71.45 acres of a 300-acre parcel.
The appeal was filed last week with the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court.
“I’m not 100 percent sorry they’re appealing because they’re not going to be able to complain that six judges got it wrong,” Fink said. “I’m actually looking forward to five more judges (in the Appellate Division) reviewing the case and having Mohonk now disagree with six judges.”
In his July ruling, state Supreme Court Justice Christopher Cahill found the Mohonk Preserve failed to provide evidence that supported its land surveys. He also wrote that failure to put its surveyor, Harold Van Valkenburgh, on the stand contributed to his decision to find for Pardini and Fink.
The Mohonk Preserve, on its website in July, said of the ruling: “The judge’s determination in this case was based largely on an 1881 deed that predated the preserve’s ownership by more than 110 years, as well as activities on the land which preceded the preserve’s ownership,” they wrote.
Mohonk spokeswoman Gretchen Reed said at the time that the “judge’s decision didn’t address what we believe to be defects in the defendants’ chain of title.”
The dispute is the third legal battle over ownership of various sections of a 300-acre parcel purchased by Pardini and Fink from Marellan Associates in 1987.
The first case was won by Pardini and Fink in 1997, when the Shawangunk Conservancy claimed ownership of more than 136 acres.
In 2005, the Mohonk Preserve filed suit against Fink and Pardini, claiming it owned a 38-
acre parcel. The couple settled by selling the land for $15,000.
Friday, February 7, 2014
KERHONKSON >> A 46-year-old Kerhonkson woman was injured Thursday morning in a two-car accident at Minnewaska Trail and U.S. Route 44/state Route 55, according to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office.
Suzette Yenzer of Berme Road was treated at the scene for minor injuries and was later taken to Ellenville Regional Hospital, deputies said.
At about 7:10 a.m., deputies said, Yenzer, who was driving a 2012 Nissan sedan eastbound, was stopped on Berme Road in Kerhonkson when her vehicle was struck in the rear by a 2005 Toyota sedan operated by Paul Einfeldt, 45, of Minnewaska Trail, Kerhonkson.
Deputies said Einfeldt, who was not injured, failed to see traffic stopping ahead of him. No tickets were issued.
By Freeman staff
Monday, January 13, 2014
ACCORD >> A fire that destroyed a detached garage at a home on Upper Cherrytown Road is not considered suspicious, the Accord fire chief said on Monday.
The blaze at 55 Upper Cherrytown Road was reported at 5:30 a.m. Sunday and was under control in about 45 minutes, said Chief Paul Ryder.
Ryder said the fire remained under investigation but was not considered “malicious.”
The garage was at the home of Felipo Faso, owner of Felipo Auto Imports in Kerhonkson, Ryder said.
No one was injured in the blaze.
By Freeman staff
Monday, January 27, 2014
ACCORD >> An Accord woman was arrested after stabbing her live-in boyfriend, state police said on Monday.
Susan E. Koledi, 38, was charged Sunday with felony assault and misdemeanor possession of a weapon, according to troopers at the Wawarsing barracks.
Police said Koledi was involved in a dispute with her boyfriend Sunday afternoon that escalated to the point where she stabbed him in the leg with a knife.
Koledi was arraigned Sunday evening in Rochester Town Court and released with an appearance ticket.
Her boyfriend’s condition was not immediately available
Police did not identify the boyfriend or provide the address where the stabbing occurred.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
KERHONKSON >> A 57-year-old man was arrested after threatening to kill a man and his family, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
Gregory J. Sage, of Terwilliger Road, Kerhonkson, was arrested at his home Wednesday and charged with the misdemeanors of menacing and aggravated harassment, deputies said.
The Sheriff’s Office said it was notified at 6:50 p.m. Tuesday about several alleged harassing phone calls made by Sage to a business owner regarding the business owner and his family. Police did not identify the business owner or the business.
Sage was sent to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
By Brian Hubert, email@example.com,
Sunday, January 26, 2014
TOWN OF ROCHESTER >> A Kerhonkson women was injured after a Saturday Afternoon car crash on Queens Highway in the town of Rochester.
Ulster County Sheriff’s Deputies said Elizabeth Jennings, 53, was traveling west on Queens Highway when she made a sharp turn to avoid a deer.
She then lost control and crashed into a utility pole, Deputies said.
Jennings was transported to Kingston Hospital by Kerhonkson Accord Rescue for facial lacerations and a leg injury, Deputies said.
Deputies said no tickets were issued.