Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jan. 8 through Sun., Jan. 10
Jim Planck reported in The Daily Mail on the Hunter-Tannersville Board of Education's rejection of optical system machines in favor of old style ballot boxes for the annual board election and budget vote to be held in May. A law passed in 2001 prohibited the continued use of the lever machines. Implementation of the law was subsequently delayed, but the grace period is ending this year. Superintendent Patrick Darfler-Sweeney lamented the loss of the "perfectly working, very reliable machines," but said the district must now be in compliance. Darfler-Sweeney said renting the optical machines from Greene County would cost in excess of $7,000 a year. If the district bought its own machines, the initial investment would up to $12,000, plus an additional $4,000 per year, minimum, which would be cost prohibitive. Darfler-Sweeney said the cheapest and valid option was to choose paper and a locked box. “You can go back in time, but you have to go really far back in time, in order to be compliant,” he said. The number of boxes needed, and whether additional inspectors were necessary must still be determined.
Diane Valden reported in the Columbia Paper Ancram roads chief Jim MacArthur has retired after 20 years of service to the town. As the December Town Board meeting got underway, Supervisor Art Bassin called the gathering “significant” because it was MacArthur’s last meeting as highway superintendent. MacArthur, who was never a fan of the monthly government formalities, said it was his last meeting “period.” MacArthur's successor, Jim Miller, was also serving his last meeting as a Town Board member. In his remarks to the board, MacArthur said the town’s Highway Department is a much better place than it was when he started in 1996, and he said the roads are in much better shape, as well. MacArthur thanked town residents for giving him “the opportunity to work for them for the last 20 years. But now it’s time to retire,” he said. Bassin said he was grateful to MacArthur for getting things done and that his ability to deal with residents was impressive.
Michael Ryan reported in the Windham Journal plans are underway to relocated GNH Lumber from the west end of Main St. in Windham, to the former Police Anchor Camp, on the eastern entrance to town. Nothing is certain at this point, Ryan wrote, but the intention is to get the company out of way of consistent flooding and keep them in the community. The town has submitted an application for a $15,000 grant from the Catskill Watershed Corporation to pay for a feasibility study on the move. The Greene County Industrial Development Agency and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection are potential partners in the project. IDA executive director Rene VanSchaack said, “The hard part is financial, the cost of relocating and what to do with the current facilities. That’s where the DEP would come in as part of their buyout program, so a lot of elements have to blend.” GNH Lumber was named an anchor business in a Local Flood Analysis prepared by the engineering firm of Milone & MacBroom in the aftermath of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
Jillian Nadiak reported in the Register-Star new Greenport Supervisor Ed Nabozny has chosen not to collect an additional $3,000 in salary as the town's budget officer. Nabozny said the responsibilities of the budget officer are already a part of his job as supervisor, for which he receives an annual salary of $14,500. He said, "There is no need to add a stipend for something that I am already charged with performing." Nabozny said the funds designated for that purpose can now be used for anything. Salaries for all of Greenport's elected officials in 2016 remain the same as last year, while non-union clerical employees received a two percent raise. During the coming year, town board meetings will be held on the first Wednesday of the month, beginning at 7 p.m. at Greenport Town Hall.
The New York Times reported Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sun., Jan. 10, reintroduced his plan for the state to pay for college courses for those incarcerated in the state prison system. The proposal would be paid for using roughly $7.5 million in criminal forfeiture funds from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. An additional $7.5 million will come from private matching funds. The governor's office it hopes to enroll approximately 1,000 individuals statewide in the program over the next five years. Cuomo formally announced the college plan in Harlem, in a speech before the congregation of the Mount Neboh Baptist Church. The initiative is part of a broader criminal justice agenda the governor will revisit on Wed., Jan. 13, when he delivers his annual State of the State address, which will also encompass the 2016 executive budget.