Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news from Fri., Jul. 14 through Sun., Jul. 16:
Bill Williams reported for WCTW-FM, The Cat, Hudson mayoral candidate Earl Swanigan pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges, Thu., Jul. 13, in Hudson City Court. Swanigan, 53, was accused of inappropriately touching a woman and was arrested by Hudson police in June. It was alleged he entered the woman’s unlocked home without her permission as he went door-to-door collecting signatures on a nominating petition.
Claire Hughes reported in the Times Union Albany Medical Center and Columbia Memorial Health in Hudson announced last week plans to combine cardiology services. The formal affiliation between the two health systems was approved by the state 18 months ago. The uniting of the cardiology departments is one of several efforts intended to strengthen medical services at Columbia Memorial, said Dr. Steven Frisch, Albany Med’s senior executive vice president. Albany Med has also been sharing physicians or helping the Hudson hospital recruit doctors in obstetrics and gynecology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, radiology and other specialty areas. Albany Med helped Columbia Memorial to recruit a new cardiologist last year, bringing the number of heart specialists in Hudson to six.
Ryan Hutchins reported at Politico New York the work at New York Penn Station's is running slightly ahead of schedule after the project's first week, according to Amtrak. Crews completed the replacement of two switches and prep work on another key component of the infrastructure, and have also removed old rail in advance of the replacement of Track 10. “We’re slightly ahead. We’re happy,” Scot Naparstek, Amtrak’s chief operating officer. said Fri., Jul. 14. The massive undertaking is expected to be completed before Labor Day. Thousands of commuters on NJ Transit and the Long Island Railroad have seen their trips to Manhattan lengthened by the work. Some have been forced to transfer to ferries or subway service to finish their trips.
Rick Karlin reported in the Times Union E-ZPass users who travel the Northeast this summer will find a variety of fees depending on which state they are traveling through and where their transponder is registered. A New York traveler taking the Massachusetts Turnpike to Boston, for instance, will pay more on their E-ZPass tag than those in the Bay State. Crossing the Rhode Island's Newport Bridge will cost a New Yorker $4, while Rhode Island residents will pay 83 cents on their E-ZPass transponders. As it now stands, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine now charge higher E-ZPass rates for out-of-state motorists. In some cases, those rates are as much as four times more. This summer the AAA Northeast umbrella group wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation requesting the DOT step in and mediate the interstate E-ZPass problem, but has received no response.
Diane Valden reported in The Columbia Paper the Columbia Land Conservancy will receive $68,500 in state grant funds for water chestnut control at Meizinger Lake at Hand Hollow in New Lebanon, one of 10 public conservation areas managed by CLC in the county. The award was part of $1.7 million in Environmental Protection funds grants announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last week. The money was distributed among 35 municipalities, not-for-profits and institutions statewide to help control, limit and remove invasive species. Water chestnut has become a significant environmental nuisance, according to the state. It forms nearly impenetrable floating mats of vegetation, which create hazards for boaters and other people using water bodies for recreation. CLC Executive Director Peter Paden said the plant removal plan will not only improve Meizinger Lake, but will also help Reilly Pond at the Alan Devoe Bird Club-Wilson M. Powell Wildlife Sanctuary, Pitt Hall and Hunt Club roads in Old Chatham.
Amanda Purcell reported for Columbia-Greene Media it is looking less likely that the Endless Love Temple will be able to legally redeem the foreclosed Masonic Lodge on Columbia Street in Hudson. “Last week my church was deeded a building...that had been foreclosed on by the city and we hold the deed now,” the Rev. Ed Cross said. However, the building, also known as Mt. Carmel Lodge, was officially foreclosed on in April for nonpayment of taxes and the city subsequently took ownership. Crossed offered to establish a payment plan with the city to pay the back taxes owed, but it may be too late in the process to do that. The previous owners of the property, the local chapter of the Masonic Lodge, have been unresponsive to notices sent by the city, and the building will be scheduled for auction in approximately three months. Common Council President Claudia DeStefano asked Cross to appear before the finance committee at its scheduled meeting this week. “That will probably be the best opportunity to talk about this,” she said.
Claire Hughes reported in the Times Union Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is being urged to declare a state of emergency due to the heroin and opioid epidemic statewide. More than 1,600 people have signed Columbia Pathways to Recovery’s petition, calling on the governor to recognize the epidemic as a public health emergency. The move comes on the heels of a spike in heroin overdoses in Columbia County during the last weekend in June. The Columbia County Department of Health confirmed at least 13 overdoses and two deaths that weekend. Law enforcement officials suspect a mix of heroin and other more potent opioids like fentanyl or carfentanil was circulating. It is unclear what a state of emergency declaration would do to address the epidemic, and top lawmakers question the value of the strategy. In its petition, Columbia Pathways calls on the state to make resources available immediately given the magnitude of the problem. A spokesman for the governor said New York does not need to declare a state of emergency to access additional funding. The current state budget includes $214 million in appropriations to expand addiction prevention and treatment services.