Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., May 19 through Sun., May 21:
Rosa Acheson reported in the Register-Star Hudson Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton and Police Commissioner Martha Harvey signed the Welcoming and Inclusive City executive order Thu., May 18, restricting Hudson police cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Harvey said she expects related department policy to be issued in 60 to 90 days. The order formalized a resolution passed by the Common Council in March. The order "is completely in line with what the police chief has been saying the practice is all along — that Hudson police don’t stop people on the street or pull people over and ask for proof of citizenship," Harvey said. The order directs that Hudson police will not stop, question, interrogate or arrest a person based solely on their immigration status. It also requires Hudson police to act on ICE detailer requests only if a judicial warrant is presented. During the past three months, approximately 20 people have been detained in Columbia County, according to the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement. More than a dozen people were taken in Hudson. Hamilton and Harvey signed an earlier executive in February, limiting ICE access to city resources.
Rick Karlin reported at Capitol Confidential the Empire Center last week released a database identifying more than 800 so-called ”double dippers” statewide. Double dippers are public sector employees who receive special permission to collect government paychecks for more than $30,000 a year, and continue to receive a public pension. The practice has long been controversial since to get such a waiver, the hiring agency is required to go through "extensive recruitment efforts" to demonstrate they were unable to find anyone to do the job other than the waiver recipient. Of the 849 double dippers on the Empire Center list, only one is employed in Greene or Columbia counties. Livingston resident and Hudson Police Chief Ed Moore currently receives a salary of $85,000 per year from the city while drawing down an annual pension from the Division of State Police in the amount of $94,000. According to the Empire Center database, Moore was granted limited approval of a 211 waiver for the first time in March 2013, the month he retired from the state police. Since then, he has received a total of five waivers, the most recent effective through October 2016, according to the center.
Audrey Matoff reported in The Greenville Pioneer efforts in Greenville to build a new firehouse stalled after a May 8 meeting ended without a consensus on location. "It seems the board is still split on the location on where to build the firehouse. The motion was made to put the discussion about the new firehouse on hold and that motion was passed," fire Commissioner Theodore Nugent, Sr. said. Opinions differ between 15 acres the fire district owns on State Route 81 near Greenville Center, and two locations closer to the town's commercial center, one near the town park, the other next to the St. John the Baptist Church on Route 81. All three locations have various roadblocks including wetlands, "ledge rock," and other safety concerns. The fire commissioners have no plans to meet further on the issue.
Ariél Zangla reported in the Daily Freeman it is possible the tick population will increase this year throughout the Hudson Valley. “You should always be careful, but it could be more dangerous this year than usual,” said Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. Ostfeld said the predicted increase in blacklegged ticks and tick-borne disease came from work done at the Cary Institute. He said one of the best ways people can protect themselves is by using a permethrin-based repellent on their clothing. He said the permethrin kills ticks that crawl on treated clothes and shoes. And because nymph ticks are found on the ground and on low vegetation, it is particularly important to treat shoes and socks with the repellent, he said. The state Department of Health’s website at www [dot] health [dot] ny [dot] gov [slash] tickfree provides information on protecting against ticks and tick-borne illness, as well as a video that details the proper way to remove a tick that has become attached.
Emilia Teasdale reported in The Columbia Paper Kinderhook residents turned out last week for the regular meeting of the Village Board to hear what officials are doing about two dilapidated houses on Sunset Avenue. Village Code Enforcement Officer Glenn Smith said he issued warnings about violations at 14 Sunset Avenue and the owner of 12 Sunset sent a letter to the board saying he was making needed repairs. Both two-story residences appear to be vacant. The property owners were given deadlines to complete the required work. If they do not bring the buildings into compliance, the village is prepared to take them to court, Smith said. The board took the action after several residents in April asked the village to take action. No further public comment was offered following Smith's presentation at the meeting last week.
William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman three Ulster County BOCES [BOE-seez] students have named the winners of a NASA competition to create meals for the International Space Station. Kingston High School students Lauren Hoetger and Sara Freer, along with Wallkill High School junior Angelina Violante won for their Strawberry-Rhubarb crisp. NASA expects to send the dessert to the space station next year. “Our original plan was to make a peach frangipane, which is like a peach cobbler, but NASA contacted us and said ‘no crumbs, you can’t make that,’” Hoetger said. “So we changed it and ... had to make variations to our recipe to change the carbohydrates and sugars and fats.” The Ulster BOCES team was one of 10 teams to make it past the regional competition to the finals, held on April 20 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The team’s recipe will be included in an astronaut cookbook for preflight preparation.
Daniel Zuckerman reported in The Daily Mail Tannersville Mayor Lee McGunnigle submitted a letter to the state Comptroller’s Office in response its April audit of the village water system. McGunnigle said he does not object to the audit's findings and recommendations, but he believes a passage in the report about leakage and unmeasured water in the village is inaccurate. “The system is totally tight — we’re not losing water,” McGunnigle said. The report was critical of the Tannersville Village Water Department, finding that staff was not required to perform periodic reconciliations of water produced to water billed; the village’s water supply infrastructure has deteriorated; and the governing board had not created policies and procedures to ensure proper billing and collection of water rents. The village has to come up with a correction plan, McGunnigle said. The new water system now under construction will be efficient and could last up to 60 years, he added. “Ever since I got into office, all I care about is water quality,” McGunnigle said. “...The water system is constantly getting better.”