Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news from Fri., Jun. 30 through Sun., Jul. 2:
The Associated Press reported state police and local law enforcement are increasing patrols over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in a crackdown on drunken driving and other traffic infractions. Sobriety, speeding and seat-belt checkpoints will be set up at various locations through Tuesday. Troopers will also be looking for drivers using cell phones or failing to move over for stopped emergency vehicles. State police issued nearly 11,000 vehicle and traffic tickets during the Independence Day weekend last year. More than 200 people were arrested and charged with DWI and 756 crashes resulted in three deaths.
Kimberly Kindy reported in the Washington Post a medical malpractice bill limiting attorney fees and some patient damages for poor medical treatment was passed by the House last week on a vote of 218 to 210. While 19 Republicans voted against the bill, U.S. Rep. John Faso voted with the majority. Some conservative press outlets touted the so-called Protecting Access to Care Act, as Phase 3 of the GOP's effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. HR 1215 would limit medical malpractice damages for emotional suffering to $250,000 and implement a three-year statute of limitations on an individual's right to sue. Republicans who voted against the tort reform measure called it a massive expansion of federal authority.
The Columbia Paper reported Columbia Pathways To Recovery, in cooperation with Project Safe Point, will provide Free Narcan training Wed., Jul. 5, in Copake. The training is in response to the large number of overdoses in Columbia County during the past week. Anyone interested can sign up on the Columbia Pathways To Recovery Facebook page or simply show up the night of the training. No advanced registration is necessary. “We’ve learned there may have been as many as 15 overdoses and there were 2 that were fatalities. This training is open to all residents who want to know how to administer Narcan to potentially reverse an opiate overdose and everyone that participates will receive a Narcan kit they can take home with them,” Carl Quinn, president of Columbia Pathways To Recovery, said in a statement. The training will begin at 7 p.m., Wed., Jul. 5 at Copake Town Hall, 230 Mountainview Road.
Matthew Hamilton reported at Capitol Confidential Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Fri., Jun. 30, the state of New York will not comply with the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity's voter-data request. The commission claims to be investigating voter fraud in all 50 states. "The electoral process is sacred and New York law has strong safeguards in place to prevent sharing of sensitive voter data and harassment against those who exercise their right to vote," Cuomo said in a statement. Prior to issuing the statement, Cuomo tweeted that the state would not comply, and linked to an NPR story that included a copy of a letter sent by the commission to the Alabama secretary of state seeking first and last names, middle names or initiations, addresses, dates of birth, political party affiliations, last four digits of Social Security numbers and voter history of all voters from 2006 onward. The commission was formed by President Donald Trump through executive order in May after he alleged for months there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. Experts say that while voter fraud is generally uncommon, the few instances are usually connected to local elections.
Daniel Zuckerman reported for Columbia-Greene Media Athens residents unhappy about a tree-cutting job, which included the recent removal of an oak tree on South Franklin Street, brought their complaints to the village board Wed., Jun. 28. Mayor Peter Alberti said the action was taken after a village resident filed a complaint, saying the tree's falling limbs were causing damage to their property. If more damage were to occur, the village would be held liable, Alberti said. Alberti's opponent in the March mayoral race, Catherine Censor, took issue with the decision, saying she was concerned because the tree in question was planted by a descendant of General George Sylvester Nichols in the 1870s. The historic district of Athens, where the tree once stood, includes not only homes, but the sidewalks and trees, she said. “It’s very hard to replace a 200-year-old tree, I understand that,” Alberti said. “The gentlemen who took it down works for the county and he’s an arborist.” The board voted unanimously to form a tree committee, to be led by Village Trustee Gail Lasher.
Mid-Hudson News [dot] com reported Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro was presented with the first-ever Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Hudson Valley Vision Award, Sat., Jul. 1. The award was given by the Trustees of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, and honors those working to improve the future of the Hudson Valley for all residents, through engagement and inclusion. “I am honored to receive this recognition for Dutchess County’s effort to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ and change the hearts and minds of our residents about our neighbors of all abilities,” said Molinaro.
Richard Moody reported for Columbia-Greene Media the Columbia County Cause and Origin team is investigating a fire that destroyed a shed at 28 Rose Street, in Niverville, Thu., Jun. 29. “We had the fire out in about 10 minutes,” said Niverville Fire Chief Tim Stever. He said the fire melted the siding of the garage next to the shed, but it did not harm anyone. Stever said that because the property owners were not home at the time of the fire, Columbia County Cause and Origin was called to investigate.
Emilia Teasdale reported in The Columbia Paper the Chatham Town Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals held a joint public hearing last week on the application submitted by Flying Deer Nature Center to move its camp program from New Lebanon to a 164-acre property on Daley Road, one of the town's 57 unpaved, dirt roads. The town currently has in place a moratorium on new construction on dirt roads, but in April the town board granted Flying Deer a hardship waiver. The public hearing brought out Daley Road neighbors and Flying Deer program participants. Nearly all comments received were in support of Flying Deer and its programs, but neighbors had concerns about traffic and safety. The boards will meet separately to decide on the fate of the project application. The Chatham Planning Board will next meet 7 p.m., Tue., July 11. The ZBA's next meeting is 7 p.m., Thu., Jul. 27. Both meetings will be held at town hall, 488 Route 295, Chatham.
Amanda Purcell reported for Columbia-Greene Media the congregation of Endless Love Temple, lead by the Rev. Edward Cross, is hoping to take over the Masonic Lodge located at 241 Columbia Street in Hudson. The building, also known as Mt. Carmel Lodge, was officially foreclosed on by the city in April for nonpayment of back property taxes. Cross and his congregation have rented the space for the past eight years. It is not clear if the church will seek tax-exempt status for the property. Cross said he is still working on an agreement with the Common Council. The building is currently assessed at $135,000 and the total in back taxes owed is more than $34,000. Representatives of the local chapter of the Masonic Lodge could not be reached for comment.