Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news from Fri., May 12, through Sun., May 14:
Diane Valden reported in The Columbia Paper Columbia County Acting Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols did not let Salvatore Cascino out of the Columbia County Jail following a hearing, May 8, but could do so on May 18. The Larchmont, Westchester County, resident has been behind bars for 258 days, and has spent 19 years battling local officials over violations of federal, state and town laws for illegal dumping, building and excavating at his "Copake Valley Farm," located along the east side of Route 22 in Copake. Cascino is currently in jail for failing to obey a court order to remove more than 9,600 cubic yards of illegally dumped solid waste from his 300-acre Copake property. Town officials will inspect the property soon, and Cascino has hired a new attorney.
The Times Union reported New York is expanding its fight against the emerald ash borer. The invasive beetle has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America, including many trees in upstate New York. State officials said this week they will increase the size of the state's so-called restricted zone to step up the fight against the pest. The emerald ash borer's larvae can be moved long distances in firewood, logs, branches and nursery stock. The state has accordingly created extra rules to control the movement of these items in and out of the zone. For instance, wood chips may not leave the restricted zone between April 15 and May 15. Columbia, Dutchess, Greene and Ulster counties are all located within the restricted zone and affected by the quarantine.
The Daily Freeman reported the Columbia County Agricultural Society has launched a college scholarship program for students entering any field of study related to agriculture. The society is the non-profit organization that presents the Columbia County Fair every year. Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to two students who have been active in the fair, are completing their senior year at a county high school this year and will be enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited two or four-year college beginning in the fall. Applications must be submitted by August 1. Information is available at Columbia Fair [dot] com.
Casey Seiler reported in Capitol Confidential former Congressman Chris Gibson’s book, “Rally Point: Five Tasks to Unite the Country and Revitalize the American Dream,” from the Twelve publishing house, will arrive in stores Oct. 3. The book, “looks past the 2016 election, past the finger pointing and conventional political thinking, to focus on clear, primary principles that conservatives must debate and defend to protect the future of America,” according to promotional materials. Gibson is a former colonel in the U.S. Army. The Kinderhook Republican served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is currently the Visiting Professor of Leadership Studies at Williams College.
Josepha Velasquez reported in Politico New York upstate New York has a shortage of practitioners able to certify patients for medical marijuana use, according to the state Department of Health. Nearly a dozen counties had no certified practitioners as of May 8; Columbia and Greene counties are among 13 other counties with only one certified practitioner. Patients eligible for medical marijuana include those diagnosed with cancer, HIV or AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s or chronic pain. As of early May, there were 1,000 practitioners able to certify the more than 18,000 eligible patients in the state’s program, which has been criticized for its restrictive nature.
Rosa Acheson reported in the Register-Star the Livingston Town Board will vote May 25 on a local law that would ban future mining activities by Red Wing Sand and Gravel and other companies in the town’s residential district. The local law would change permissible land uses under the town zoning law. The board action follows an eight-month mining ban, which was enacted following several months of discussion and public hearings. Livingston Town Hall was filled to capacity last week with residents who came out to support the new local law. Livingston Neighbors Association President Joe Sweeney submitted a document to the board with more than160 signatures, 65 testimonial comments and several letters in support of the proposed law. In addition to Red Wing, there are five active sand and gravel mines listed in Livingston, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Claire Hughes reported at Capitol Confidential with mosquito weather approaching, state health officials are cautioning New Yorkers to take care against Zika, West Nile and other mosquito-borne illnesses. There have been no cases of Zika from infected mosquitoes in New York, but residents have contracted the disease after traveling abroad. Health Commissioner Howard said avoiding unnecessary travel to Zika-affected areas and use of insect repellent are two of the most effective tools to fight the virus. Zika is linked to a birth defect in babies born to pregnant women infected with the virus. The state offers blood and urine testing for pregnant women anytime during pregnancy.
Jeanette Wolfberg reported in The Columbia Paper the Hudson Board of Education honored the high school's robotic team at its May 8 meeting. The team, under the guidance of technology teacher Jack Beyer, made it to the semifinal level of a competition held in Suffern, Rockland County, which included teams from Turkey, Ecuador, Britain, Puerto Rico and New York City. The team also made the quarterfinals in the Tech Valley Regional competition. The team built a robotic machine that was able to move, threw Whiffle balls and suspended itself from a horizontal pole.