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Weekend in review

Oct 05, 2015 12:16 am
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Oct. 2 through Sun., Oct. 4

Gardiner Harris and Motoko Rich reported in The New York Times Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, announced Fri., Oct. 2, he would step down from his post in December. Duncan was one of the longest-serving members of President Obama's cabinet. He was arguably one of the most power education secretaries in history, and was at times the subject of criticism from both parties, angering Democrats by challenging the teachers' unions and infuriating Republicans by promoting national academic standards. The president announced that he would nominate John B. King Jr., deputy education secretary and recent former commissioner of education in New York state, to replace Duncan. King oversaw the roll-out of the Common Core standards in New York, as well as more difficult standardized tests intended to measure student progress on those standards, despite protests from parents and teachers.

Emilia Teasdale reported in the Columbia Paper the Kinderhook Village Board voted unanimously last month to maintain its own Department of Public Works. The board made plans to move forward with rebuilding the DPW garage off of Route 9. Equipment lost during the fire that destroyed the old building in May will also be replaced. The village did consider the possibility of contracting with the town of Kinderhook for DPW services instead of rebuilding the department. Mayor Carol Weaver said the town offered to take over mowing, snow removal, leaf pickup, and street and sidewalk repair, for more than $230,000 per year, roughly $5,000 less than the entire village DPW budget this year. Most of the DPW equipment and the new building, which has already been designed, will be paid for by insurance from the fire. Weaver said the village is talking to the county about plowing two of the major streets in the village this winter.

Jim Planck reported in The Daily Mail Greene County Solar Array, the county’s solar project in Cairo, has been moved forward with the successful completion of the project’s environmental review. Greene County Principal Planner Ed Diamante (Dee-AH-montay) told county legislators at the recent Public Works Committee meeting that the third and final part of the Environmental Assessment Form has been finished. Diamante said the document establishes that the project will not have a significant impact on the environment. The county intends to construct a 2,200-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on 9.7 acres of county-owned land behind the county’s Emergency Services Center on Mountain Avenue in Cairo.

Rick Karlin reported at Capitol Confidential a handful of Capital Region residents, with their children, dropped off letters at the Capitol Fri., Oct. 2, indicating opposition to Kinder Morgan's proposed natural gas pipeline that would run through the region. Most were from Rensselaer County where a large 40,000 horsepower compressor is set to go. Pipelines like the one proposed by Kinder Morgan are largely federally regulated, but they need state air and water permits from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Roger Hannigan reported in the Register-Star Greenport officials said Thu., Oct. 1, basement flooding from the heavy rains that fell last week was caused by a blockage in the sewer line running parallel to Fairview Avenue. The line was mostly blocked by household paper waste swept along with water illegally channeled into the sewer system by sump pumps and roof leaders. Basements filled with sewage as the clogged pipeline shot water up manholes. Nine basements were affected. To begin the insurance process, officials said they will confirm in the next few days which flooded basements were inundated by sewage, versus natural runoff.

Michael Ryan reported in the Windham Journal resident William Lonecke is calling for term limits for elected officials in Windham. Lonecke intends to circulate a petition, but the document would be non-binding regardless of how many signatures he collects. A decision on term limits rests solely with the town board, Ryan writes, and officials have shown no interest in setting a cap since Lonecke first made the proposal in July. Elected officials, excluding the two town justices, ought to be limited to no more than eight years in office, he believes. The town supervisor, four town board members, town clerk, highway superintendent and tax collector would all be affected by the measure, if passed.
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