Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jul. 21 through Sun., Jul. 23:
Bill Williams reported for WCTW-FM, The Cat, Hudson Police Officer Mishanda Franklin-Cox will compete in the World Police and Fire crossfit competition next month. Franklin-Cox recently participated in the regional Police and Fire games and earned a high enough score to qualify for the world games, where she will represent the city of Hudson. The World Police and Fire Games will be held Aug. 7 through 16 in Los Angeles. Approximately 10,000 athletes representing law enforcement and firefighting agencies worldwide are expected to compete in more than 70 events.
The Daily Freeman reported beginning Aug. 19, callers in the 518 area code must dial all 10 digits of a number when making any call, as the new 838 area code goes into effect. New phone hookups will be assigned the 838 extension, but everyone must now dial either 518 or 838 to complete a local call. Existing phone numbers will not change, and anyone with an emergency can still dial 911 to reach emergency services.
Debby Mayer reported in The Columbia Paper Germantown High School has a new principal. James DiDonna of Hurley signed a four-year contract with the district, effective July 1, through June 30, 2021. DiDonna replaced longtime principal Karol Harlow. DiDonna is a native of Kingston, and holds degrees from Fordham University and the College of St. Rose. He worked in finance in New York City before returning to Kingston in 1999 to teach elementary school. DiDonna then transitioned to administration, first as an assistant high school principal in the Ellenville district for five years and later as middle school principal in the Pine Plains Central School District for five years, before taking the job in Germantown.
Rick Karlin reported in the Times Union the members of Albany’s union movement this week marked the passing of one of its leaders, Josephine Sano, who passed away at the age of 97. Sano taught social studies in the Albany City School District for 44 years. After becoming a teacher, Sano became involved in the teachers’ union. “She was smart and tenacious,” said Paul Cole, secretary treasurer emeritus of the state AFL-CIO. Sano was instrumental in helping merge two separate statewide organizations, forming them into what is now New York State United Teachers. The union eventually grew from about 200,000 to 600,000 active and retired members.
John Ferro reported in the Poughkeepsie Journal a recent paper has revealed that suicide is an indicator of a trend in Lyme disease cases that is often overlooked. The report, published in June, suggests that suicidal thoughts in patients with Lyme and other associated diseases may provide context for the thousands of unexplained suicides in the United States each year. More than 44,000 people took their own lives in 2015, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The paper's author, New Jersey-based psychiatrist Dr. Robert Bransfield, estimates that as many as 1,200 of those suicides may be attributed to Lyme and associated diseases. He also found more than 14,000 incidents of self-harm and 31,000 suicide attempts were also ascribed to Lyme. "...Failure to adequately diagnose, failure to adequately treat and the progression of the disease over a span of many years often leads to suicide," Bransfield said. He suggested the risk is greater among veterans and outdoor workers who are more likely to be exposed to ticks. Dr. Daniela Stokes, a Poughkeepsie-based infectious disease specialist, said there is a strong association between a manifestation of Lyme in brain tissue and suicide. She said late Lyme is now considered one of the triggers for psychiatric illness, among those with a genetic predisposition.
Anthony Fiducia and Richard Moody reported for Columbia-Greene Media the town of Hillsdale in Columbia County, and the village of East Nassau in Rensselaer County have submitted a petition to the state Public Service Commission requesting a rehearing and clarification on the conditional approval of the merger between internet provider FairPoint Communications and Illinois-based Consolidated Communications. The PSC approved the merger in June, with specific conditions, including mandatory investment in network reliability and improvements to service quality. Among other things, the petition asks the PSC to require Consolidated to meet with stakeholders, including petitioners and public officials, before the merger is finalized. “This is an opportunity to get things right,” said Peter Cipkowski, town supervisor of Hillsdale. “FairPoint has uneven service. We want to ensure that there’s a plan in place to serve everyone.” Cipkowski said the town is recommending funds be used to upgrade technology, taking all homes into account, more community involvement and public transparency on updates, and that Consolidated follows through.
Jimmy Vielkind reported at Politico New York former 19th Congressional District candidate Zephyr Teachout has been nominated for a seat on the Democratic State Committee. The Fordham law professor also challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 primary. “...I’m thrilled to take this position. There’s a lot I need to learn about the inner workings of the party, but I plan to work with the progressive caucus,” Teachout told Politico. Teachout was nominated for a seat in the 106th Assembly District, which covers parts of Dutchess and Columbia counties between Hudson and Poughkeepsie. She will succeed the late Doris Kelly. Teachout is expected to sworn in this week when the state committee gathers near Albany.
Daniel Zuckerman reported for Columbia-Greene Media the Greene County Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning wants visitors to experience the area through virtual reality headsets. As part of the project, called “Virtual Reality Video Experience for the Catskills,” the county would receive 15 virtual reality headsets to place at high traffic venues such as resorts, county visitor centers and major area attractions. The headsets would allow visitors to view videos of the area, showing outdoor experiences such as hiking, art and cultural locales and winter sports. Under a proposed resolution from the legislature, two types of headsets would be purchased. The price tag on the program is $100,000. The county will submit grant application on behalf of the entire Catskill Region with the Capital Region Economic Development Council to fund the program.