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Weekend in review

Nov 30, 2015 12:02 am
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Nov. 27 through Sun., Nov. 29

Charlie Holmes reported in The Daily Mail the Odyssey of the Mind 2013 World Champions were honored this weekend with the unveiling of a commemorative sign installed on the lawn of Hunter-Tannersville Central School.  The sign was commissioned by the Greene County Legislature. Team members Emily Farrell, William Garrison, Dylan Endy, Neal Staatts and Troy Bates were joined by coaches Dawn and Richard Outtrim at the unveiling. In the Odyssey competition, team members are asked to apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretations of literary classics. After making its way through regional and state contests in 2013, the Hunter-Tannersville team successfully completed the world finals held at Michigan State University. The students battled three teams from South Korea, two from Singapore and from Mexico and Poland, as well, to take the world crown. “Being one of the smallest schools in New York state competing and then going on to the world stage — it is an amazing feat. It really is,” Hunter-Tannersville Superintendent Patrick Darfler-Sweeney said.

William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman both the state Thruway Authority and the developers of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline have declined to discuss how much revenue is at stake for the requested use of approximately 117 miles of the Thruway corridor. This question is among several other unanswered concerns around the $553.2 million project. State Thruway Authority press officials issued a statement saying there is no public information available about how revenue would be determined. A Pilgrim Pipeline spokesperson said it is way too early in the process to engage in that particular discussion. The Thruway route is worth at least $294 million to the pipeline company, according to the developers. The Authority, already under political pressure for rising vehicle tolls, is searching for ways to pay for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. A proposal has been floated in the state Legislature to fold the New York State Bridge Authority, which operates the five vehicle bridges in the Mid-Hudson Valley, into the Thruway Authority. Some officials worry the tolls on those bridges could rise to subsidize the Tappan Zee construction if the bridges were to become part of the Thruway system.

John Mason reported in the Register-Star Hudson Mayor William H. Hallenbeck Jr. last week declared free parking throughout the city in December. Suspending the use of all parking meters from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31, both on-street and off, is an annual custom. It is designed to give a boost to local merchants during the holiday shopping season.

Dan Goldberg reported at Politico New York the state is reporting zero HIV/AIDS infections have been passed from mother to child during the past year, for the first time since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began. "Pretty terrific stuff," said Dan O'Connell, director of the state's AIDS institute. Two decades ago, New York had one of the highest rates in maternal transmission nationwide. In 1990, nearly 1,900 HIV-positive women in the state gave birth, with up to 700 of those babies born infected. New York's success comes on the heels of reports that Cuba has also eliminated mother-to-child transmission. The state's Maternal-Pediatric HIV Prevention and Care Program began in 1996 and required all women in prenatal care receive HIV counseling, and testing was recommended. With advances in screenings and medications, the number of infants born with HIV began dropping dramatically.

Jeanette Wolfberg reported in the Columbia Paper the homeless headcount in Columbia County was a topic of discussion at the November meeting of the county Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee meeting. At that meeting, Social Services Commissioner Kary Jablonka said Department of Social Services data indicated 24 hotel rooms had been rented in the month of October to shelter those seeking assistance from the department. However, Hudson 4th Ward Supervisor William Hughes, Jr. said, the schools have counted 165 children with no permanent address. This number most likely comes from more than 24 households, he said. Even though the 24 households accounted for by DSS was less than the 29 reported in September, and 54 last fall, Jablonka called homelessness in the county a big problem. He said, "Homelessness is a larger issue than how many people we pay hotels for.”

Rick Karlin reported in the Times Union the "tax freeze" property tax rebates have started to go out to homeowners statewide last week. Property owners inside the individual taxing districts that kept their budgets within the state's tax cap will receive checks. The money is rebated directly to the homeowners, essentially freezing the local property tax since the state covers the increase. Some school districts, municipalities and entities like fire districts and libraries, exceeded the cap. In those instances, the state rebate will not reflect those increases, which are shouldered by the taxpayer.
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