Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news from Fri. Apr. 28 through Sun., Apr. 30:
Amanda Purcell reported for Columbia-Greene Media hundreds of people turned out Sat., Apr. 29, in Hudson to express concern and alarm over what they characterize as an assault on the environment by the Trump administration. The march was a sister event to the People's Climate March held at locations nationwide, and was timed to coincide with President Donald Trump's 100th day in office. In Hudson, the marchers assembled in 7th Street Park before making their way down Warren Street. Speakers included Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, and state Assembly member Didi Barrett. Barrett told the crowd, “It’s just mind-boggling that we are still fighting to make sure our air is clean and our drinking water is safe and healthy....”
Rick Karlin reported in the Times Union a bill that would allow police to use a sort-of Breathalyzer for distracted drivers has bipartisan support in Albany. The technology tells police if drivers have been using their smartphones in the moments before a car accident. "We are having more distracted driving accidents than drunk driving,'' said state Sen. Terrence Murphy, a Hudson Valley Republican. Across the aisle, Brooklyn Democrat Assembly member Felix Ortiz, said, "Distracted driving impairment is equal to the drinking impairment and needs to be dealt with." Critics of the measure are concerned about police access without search warrants. "Enforcing this proposed law would violate people's privacy and could potentially impute guilt for innocent activities," wrote the New York Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others, in a memo opposing the bill.
Jeanette Wolfberg reported in The Columbia Paper Columbia County officials are contemplating the idea of taking legal action against major opioid manufacturers and some physicians. Columbia County Public Defender Robert Linville recommended the action to the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee on April 19, as a way to combat the growing opioid epidemic. Such lawsuits aim “to cut the head off [the problem] up front,” Linville said. The drug manufacturers, Linville said, are acting to expand their reach by providing doctors with rebates for overprescribing pills. In Columbia County, he said, “We are awash in heroin and pills. Our citizens are dying.” The Public Safety Committee agreed to discuss Linville's suggestion with the Opioid Abuse Sub-committee, and the members are also considering the possibility of inviting representatives from the law firm handling similar cases to speak with local officials. According to Hudson Fourth Ward Supervisor Bill Hughes, seven people in Columbia and Greene counties died from heroin abuse during a three-week period in March.
Eric Anderson reported in the Times Union National Grid said Fri., Apr. 28, it is seeking permission from the state Public Service Commission to increase its electricity and gas delivery rates. If approved, the new rates would take effect April 1, 2018. A Public Service Commission spokesperson said the request would be closely examined. Regulators in the past two years have rolled back utility rate hike requests submitted by Consolidated Edison, Orange and Rockland Utilities and National Fuel Gas. Under the proposal, a National Grid residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity every month would see the delivery charge rise by 21.8 percent, or $11.23 a month. Natural gas customers using 77 therms a month would receive a 24.8 percent increase in their delivery charge, or $10.38 a month. National Grid said it has invested $6 billion to make its network more resilient and reliable. The utility serves 600,000 gas customers and 1.6 million electricity customers in upstate New York.
Patricia Doxsey reported in the Daily Freeman Inquiring Minds of Saugerties has been named to the Huffington Post's list of the top 50 independent bookstores in the country. The store, located at Partition and Main streets in the village, came in at number 28. Bookstore owner Brian Donoghue, said he was “thrilled” by the recognition. “We’re a community bookstore, we’re in a historic town and I think that helps,” he said. “I think our staff is really friendly and warm and welcoming and we have a really eclectic selection [of titles].”
Amanda Purcell reported in the Register-Star Morton’s Market, a grocery store selling Hudson Valley-made products for more than 100 years, closed its doors Fri., Apr. 28. The store sold groceries, refrigerated and frozen products, seafood and non-food items, including cleaning supplies. Morton's, owned by food service distributor Ginsberg’s Institutional Foods, will now become a will-call center for local customers. As part of the move, Ginsberg's will close its call center in Hudson. "Our distribution business continues to grow, and being able to be more efficient for our local customers is one of the biggest drivers of making this change," said John Brusie, Ginsberg’s chief operating officer.
The Daily Freeman reported fire departments throughout New York, including many in the Hudson Valley, participated in the seventh annual RecruitNY event over the weekend. Firehouse doors were open to the public Sat., Apr. 29, and Sun., Apr. 30, in an effort to increase membership in volunteer fire service. Activities provided visitors ways to sample what it means to be in fire service, and volunteer firefighters were available to speak about the requirements to join. Fire companies in Chatham, Stuyvesant Falls, Taghkanic, Oak Hill, East Durham and Coxsackie participated.
Karrie Allen reported in The Daily Mail the town of Lexington has announced it will break ground on a new waterfront park along Schoharie Creek in early May. The park will be located just east of the land owned by the state Department of Conservation on County Route 13A, a spot now commonly used for fishing. The park will include a pavilion, a public bathroom and picnic facilities, a playground, barbecue pits and a parking area. Once built, the park will be maintained by the town. The town is currently looking for volunteers to do everything and anything, from planting trees and moving picnic benches," and help building the pavilion and playground. The hope is to have the park finished by the end of the summer.