Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Dec. 25 through Sun., Dec. 27
The Daily Mail reported that former Catskill school superintendent Kathleen Farrell will receive more than $337,000 from the district in the coming year, according to the terms of a recently released severance agreement. Farrell's resignation is effective Dec. 31, but she has been on paid administrative leave since November. The full severance agreement was recently acquired by The Daily Mail under the state's Freedom of Information Law. Under that agreement, Farrell will receive an annual salary of nearly $176,000 through 2016. By January 2017, the district must also pay Farrell $24,000 in severance and more than $100,000 for accumulated sick and vacation days. She will also receive 90 percent of her health premium costs from the district for the duration of her retirement. Farrell and the board of education have remained mum on the reason for her rapid departure. The severance agreement offered little insight on the possible cause, saying only that "differences arose between the board and Ms. Farrell in relation to her duties" as superintendent, including the implementation of some provisions of her contract.
John Mason reported in the Register-Star an estuary education center could be coming to the southern embayment of Henry Hudson Riverfront Park in Hudson. Earlier this month, the city Common Council authorized the Hudson River Sloop Club to apply for a grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to fund infrastructure repairs and improvements to the embayment. If the application is successful, the council will offer a license agreement to the club to establish the center. The grant would include payment for the services of a landscape architect, materials for the project and the cost of construction, in addition to equipment for the center as well. The plan calls for the use of a former shipping container to be outfitted with windows, doors and a solar power system that would allow the facility to operate off the electrical grid. The sloop club has a steering committee of six members, and claims a membership of more than 200 people.
Michael Ryan reported in the Windham Journal in year-end business the Jewett Town Board chose to renew a two-year agreement with the town of Windham for emergency medical services. Under the pact with Windham, medical rescue calls will be answered all day, every day in Jewett and be available to transport the sick or the injured to one of four regional hospitals. Town board members approved the ambulance contract without debate. The board also renewed a three-year contract with the Greene County Department of Human Services for its nutrition program. The county and the town have partnered on the nutrition program since 1984. Under the program, weekday lunches are provided to seniors at the town hall and delivered to home-bound seniors throughout the week and on weekends. Jewett is home to one of five senior centers located in Greene County.
Jeanette Wolfberg reported in the Columbia Paper on the details of a conversation held earlier this month by the Hudson City School District about its proposed construction project. District voters go to the polls February 9 to decide the fate of the nearly $20 million project. The main features of the plan include the addition of 18,000 square feet of space to the intermediate school, the construction of a 400-meter track and additional upgrades to outdoor athletic facilities, the replacement of lighting fixtures, as well as plumbing, electric and fire safety upgrades. Two additional questions before the voters will ask if the new football field should have natural or artificial turf, and if the field should also have lighting to allow for night games. Those additional two items would increase the price tag by approximately $1.35 million. Still undecided is what upgrades should be performed at John L. Edwards Primary School, which the district may close in five years. Schools statewide undergo a building survey to evaluate health, safety and structural concerns every five years. The last such survey rated Hudson’s buildings “satisfactory.” As for the $20-million proposal, Superintendent Maria Suttmeier said, “We could have stopped at $10.7 million, but we didn’t. We don’t want to be shortsighted.”
Marie J. French reported in the Albany Business Review the companies behind two proposed natural gas pipelines are pushing New York's Department of Environmental Conservation for quick approval. "Bird migration patterns" are the latest reason that Cabot Oil & Gas and Kinder Morgan want quick approval for, respectively, the Constitution Pipeline and the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline. If approved, both would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, with the NED pipeline continuing across Albany and Rensselear counties into Massachusetts. “If we don’t get something this year, with each day that passes, it becomes more and more difficult to meet our in-service date,” Constitution pipeline spokesman Chris Stockton said, referring to the second half of 2016, when the pipeline is scheduled to begin service. “We’re confident that we can still make our in-service date if we get approval before the end of the year.”
Holland Cotter reported in The New York Times American painter, sculptor, and printmaker Ellsworth Kelly has died at the age of 92. His death was announced Sun., Dec. 27, by Matthew Marks of the Matthew Marks Gallery in Manhattan. Kelly was associated with hard-edge painting, color field painting and the minimalist school. He was born in Newburgh, Orange Co., to an insurance company executive and former schoolteacher. He attended public school and went on to study art at Pratt Institute and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Kelly had lived and worked in Spencertown since 1970.