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Weekend in review

Nov 21, 2016 5:45 am
Some of the stories that made the news from Fri., Nov. 18 through Sun., Nov. 20:

Daniel Zuckerman reported in the Register-Star approximately 6,000 households lost power in Columbia County as a result of the early morning snowfall Sun., Nov. 20, according to New York State Electric and Gas. In total, 6,100 customers in Columbia County lost power, while 3,700 customers in Rensselaer County were effected. A NYSEG spokesperson said that while the precise cause of the outages was not known, broken tree limbs and weighed down electrical wires may have been to blame.

Casey Seiler reported at Capitol Confidential Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sun., Nov. 20, delivered his most powerful response so far to episodes of hate speech and other more overt acts of intolerance that have occurred in the wake of the recent presidential election. Cuomo made the comments in an address at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. “I come here today with a heavy heart,” he said. “The ugly political discourse of the election did not end on election day. In many ways, it’s gotten worse — it’s deepened into a social crisis that challenges our very identity as a state and as a nation and as a people.” Cuomo listed several incidents that have occurred in New York and nationwide, and without mentioning any names he said, like many others, he was “soul-sick for the America that I know and I love....The fact is this: If you sow fear, you reap hysteria; if you sow divisiveness, you reap anarchy,” he said. Cuomo said that while the election season “vented and fostered” righteous public anger about income inequality and worker displacement, that emotion must not be “misdirected” at the false target of “people who one sees as different from one’s self.” Cuomo said he would order the State Police and the Division of Human Rights to form a special unit to investigate the most recent acts of intolerance. In a related story, the Associated Press reported a Brooklyn playground named for the late Beastie Boys’ star Adam Yauch was vandalized with swastikas and the words “Go Trump!” The words were spray-painted on playground equipment. The city named the park in honor of Yauch, who was Jewish, in 2013, after he succumbed to cancer at age 47.

Rosa Acheson reported in the Register-Star Community Action Network Connect Columbia met last week at Ghent Town Hall to discuss the initiative to bring affordable broadband to Columbia County. The Ghent Broadband Committee reported Fairpoint Communications now intends to submit an application during Phase 2 of the New York Broadband Program. Committee member David Berman said Fairpoint plans to provide 100 million bits per second service for 7,000 to 8,000 housing units located in Ghent, Chatham and most of eastern Columbia County. A statewide Request for Proposal was issued for Phase 2 of the program on Aug. 3; the application deadline is Nov. 30. The awards will be announced in early 2017. Berman said, "I’m hopeful that all the companies that are eligible would apply for Phase 2 and play an active role in bringing real high-speed broadband to the people of Columbia County."

Emilia Teasdale reported in The Columbia Paper the Kinderhook Town Board Thu., Nov. 10, adopted its 2017 $2.6 million budget. The tax levy will remain below the state-mandated tax cap next year, and Supervisor Pat Grattan stressed how property taxes have continued to decrease over the past years. He said the budget is “below where the taxes were in 2009, 2010.” Among the budget provisions, the bus service for kids traveling to camp at Volunteer Park will be cut. Grattan said the bus had only five passengers last year. The budget also contains a voter-approved increase in the town contribution to the Kinderhook Memorial Library and an increase in the payment for ambulance service to the Valatie Rescue Squad. The budget included 2.5 percent increases for the Chatham, Kinderhook, Stuyvesant Falls and Valatie fire departments that cover the town. Greg Hudson reported in The Daily Mail Cairo town officials voted last week to override the state's cap on the tax levy increase to adopt a $4.4 million budget for 2017. The state-mandated tax levy increase for 2017 was capped at 0.6 percent, but town officials voted to exceed that cap by more than 3 percent. The budget passed requires an increase to the tax levy of 3.68 percent. "We didn’t change too many things in the budget from last year," Town Councilwoman Mary Jo Cords said. Cords said the board voted to increase the tax levy as a way to reduce the amount of money the town would have to draw from its fund balance to balance the budget. "If you have a $100,000 house, your tax will go up by $22," she said.

Jon Pareles reported in The New York Times singer Sharon Jones died Fri., Nov. 18, of pancreatic cancer. She was 60. Jones passed away in Cooperstown, surrounded by the members of her band, the Dap-Kings, and other loved ones. Sharon Lafaye Jones was born on May 4, 1956, in Augusta, Georgia, and spent her first years living across the state line in North Augusta, South Carolina. In 1960, she moved with her family to Brooklyn, growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Jones was discovered in 1996 by Gabriel Roth, a founder of Daptone Records and the Dap-Kings' bassist and main songwriter. She had tried decades earlier to get a start in the music business, but was told by record labels that she did not have the looks to be a performer. Jones is survived by her four siblings.

Daniel Zuckerman reported in The Daily Mail fewer Catskill middle and high school students are failing their courses, according to district officials. Catskill Central School District Interim Superintendent Annemarie Barkman said the failure rate at the middle school has been reduced by 25 percent. At the high school the failure rate is now approximately 35 percent, she said. Barkman said reducing the failure rate was one of five goals set by the administration and the board of education. In previous years the failure rates were as high as 50 percent. "I believe we’re headed in the right direction," she said. "I am just incredibly proud of the hard work our staff has done to make this happen."

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