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Friday headlines

Apr 15, 2011 6:37 am
TH approves tax levy hike of 2.78 %
John Mason of the Register-Star reports that the Taconic Hills Board of Education this week approved a $32.6 million budget that represents a 1.92 percent increase in spending and a 2.78 percent hike in the tax levy for the coming year. The increase was the same as would be implemented should the budget vote fail and the district was forced to a contingency plan. $450,000 will be taken out of the district's Employee Retirement System reserve and $150,000 out of an Unemployment Reserve. Another $650,000 would come from funding current positions through Title One grants. More savings have to be found to match cuts in the budget, which superintendent Mark Sposato said would likely include music, art or technology, leaving elementary school and basic high school classes intact. There was some worry, during the vote, about past teacher salary negotiations and deals, as well as the district having a lesser graduating rate than nearby Chatham School District.

Group celebrates Grange Week 2011

Hilary Hawke has a story in the Ravena News-Herald about the upcoming National Grange Week from April 16 through 22, and how the local Ravena Grange will be holding a kick-off chicken and biscuits dinner on April 16 beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the Grange Hall on Route 143 in Coeymans Hollow. An open house and awards ceremony on April 18 will feature presentations of the Grange Community Citizen Award and Granger of the Year. "During Grange Week we want our community to know the Grange is a living organization that has a lot to offer," said Ravena Grange President Alfred Kirmss of his chapter, which has close to 100 members. The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry is the oldest surviving agricultural organization in America and helped fight railroad monopolies, advocated for rural postal delivery service and supported the suffragette movement in earlier years. There are local Granges in Copake, East Chatham, and

Lebanon Valley Historic Society documenting, preserving town history
Paul Crossman writes in the Chatham Courier about history-keeping efforts in the Town of New Lebanon, where the oldest pharmaceutical company in America, The Tilden Company, was once based in New Lebanon and a major economic and historic contributor to Columbia County. The Lebanon Valley Historical Society, it turns out, has started “The Tilden Project” to "uncover the effect of the downfall of this national corporation on the economy, landscape and people of New Lebanon and document oral histories, photographs and artifacts of the company and its progressive decline." In addition, the historical society hopes to digitalize its entire collection and put it on CD, which will then be available to anyone in the community through the New Lebanon Library.

Pay freeze would hurt pensions of aging state work force
Rick Karlin reports in the Times Union that negotiations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state employee unions have not taken full account of the long-term pension effects of pay freezes being sought. "As the baby boom generation sweeps through New York's public sector work force, more and more union members are approaching retirement," he writes. "They are well aware that their pensions are typically calculated by averaging their three highest earning years, which usually come at the end of a public employee's career -- if only due to longevity-based raises. Because of the impact on their pensions, thousands of union members view a pay freeze as something lasting far beyond the expiration of the contract." According to a state Civil Service Department's 2010 report, 62 percent of the state work force is 45 or older, and 25 percent is 55 or older. Talk about past generation gaps still getting fought over...

Environmental groups urge DRBC to extend gas drilling moratorium
The fracking battle is aiming at the core of the Marcellus Shale gas drilling areas, with environmental groups from four states now urging the not to move forward with gas drilling in the river basin until thorough studies have been completed and can prove drilling is safe. Mid Hudson News Network reports that the groups expressed outrage, and delivered over 30,000 public comments, over the DRBC’s proposal to allow hydrofracking to begin in the Delaware watershed, putting an end to the existing moratorium on any watershed drilling. The groups include Delaware Riverkeeper, Environment New Jersey and Catskill Mountainkeeper.

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