Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news, Fri., Sep. 29 through Sun., Oct. 1:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Fri., Sep. 29, additional personnel and medical supplies have been deployed to Puerto Rico through the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort. On Friday morning 72 Port Authority personnel from the agency's Aviation, Port and Police departments, as well as the Office of Emergency Management, followed an advance team of five that departed Thursday. Cuomo also sent 53 members of the state police to assist with security operations and 10 additional experts from the New York Power Authority to assist the Puerto Rican government with its ongoing power restoration efforts. Plus, a shipment of more than 5,000 doses of vaccine and medication, as well as basic first aid supplies and other items were dispatched from Long Island's Republic Airport, bound for San Juan, Vieques, and Culebra.
Emilia Teasdale reported in The Columbia Paper educators joined responders in the latest drug crisis panel to be held in Columbia County. At the Substance Use Disorder Community Forum held at St. John the Baptist Church in Valatie, Sat., Sep. 23, representatives from Twin Counties Recovery Services, the county mental health department, and other organizations participated, along with Ichabod Crane High Assistant Principal Daniel Farley and family physician William Murphy. The forum moderator, Ichabod Crane Elementary School teacher Adam Vooris acknowledged the drug epidemic is present in the community. Many on the panel spoke of accepting addiction as a disease that requires treatment and understanding that people dealing with addiction come from all types of families and communities. Farley said every administrator in the Ichabod Crane district has been trained to administer Narcan, the drug used to counter act the effects of an opioid overdose. He said they also have various programs, as well as health classes that talk about the effects of drug use.
Claire Hughes reported in the Times Union two reports released Fri., Sep. 29, found the state Education Department is slow to investigate nurse and nursing home complaints that have the potential to impact the safety of patients and residents. The department took on average five times longer than it should have to scrutinize alleged serious offenses by nurses, according to an audit by the office of state ComptrollerThomas DiNapoli. Those allegations included reports of sexual or physical abuse, or working under the influence of alcohol. The comptroller recommended that SED improve its investigation process and more actively monitor professional misconduct by nurses. “SED has taken steps to improve the process but more is needed to identify the few bad actors from the many responsible professionals who’ve chosen nursing as their career,” DiNapoli said. Nursing is one of 54 professions overseen by SED. The department is charged with monitoring licensure and practice, including investigating complaints and prosecuting misconduct.
Daniel Zuckerman reported for Columbia-Greene Media the Greene County Legislature approved a resolution last week to upgrade cyber security measures, wiring, cables, software and computer equipment in the county office building, located on Main Street in Catskill. Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said the idea to overhaul the county network came up after the Greene County 911 Center system was successfully upgraded this past spring. The new equipment will include cybersecurity software to help prevent attacks and hacking, Groden said. "If the Pentagon can get hacked, county government can get hacked,” he said. The existing technology in the building, which includes 375 computer stations operated by county employees, is more than 15 years old. The upgrade is expected to cost $200,000, and will take 90 to 120 days to complete.
Ariél Zangla wrote in the Daily Freeman on the pros and cons of a proposed state constitutional convention. The decision to hold it or not rests with voters in November. Gerald Benjamin, director of The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz, is one of the leading proponents for the convention. He said the state government is broken and the convention will provide a means for the people to take back power. Benjamin is a former Republican chairman of the Ulster County Legislature. He said the convention could result in term limits for elected politicians, among other reforms. At the same time, groups like New York State United Teachers and Citizens Action of New York are urging voters to vote “no,” on November 7. They are part of a larger coalition of organizations called “New Yorkers Against Corruption.” Ravi Mangla, communications manager for Citizens Action said reforms like term limits can be achieved through the legislative process and that a convention would be like opening Pandora’s Box. The last time New York held a constitutional convention was in 1967. If voters say 'yes,' this year, delegates would be elected in 2018, and the convention held in 2019.
Bill Williams reported for WCTW-FM, "The Cat," the Radio Shack in Greenport closed, Fri., Sept. 29, after its closure was rumored for months. The chain of wireless and electronics stores was founded in Boston, in 1921. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015 after 11 consecutive quarterly losses. Its subsequent parent company, General Wireless, then filed for bankruptcy in March 2017, and announced its intention to close nearly all of its company-owned stores after Memorial Day. The Fairview Plaza location opened in the early 70s.
Anthony Fiducia reported for Columbia-Greene Media the Cat's Meow Auction and Gala, held Sat., Sep. 23, raised nearly $40,000 to support beautification efforts in the village of Catskill. The event is presented by the Heart Of Catskill Association and was held at Historic Catskill Point. The evening culminated with the auctioning off of 45 cat sculptures that have been on display in the village all summer. The highest bid cat this year was “Rosso” by Ellen DeLucia. It was sponsored by Shook-Porto Insurance, and went for $2,000. The money raised last year was used to add lighting and picnic tables at Dutchmen's Landing. Event organizers are considering further improvements at the park, including the construction of a pergola, with the proceeds from the auction held last week.