Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jun. 3 through Sun., Jun. 5:
The Daily Freeman reported much of eastern New York, including parts of the Adirondack Mountains and the Hudson Valley, is experiencing pre-drought conditions. The United States Drought Monitor has classified the Hudson River Valley including Ulster, Greene, Albany, and parts of Schenectady and Saratoga counties as “abnormally dry.” Officials say rivers and streams are at near-record low levels in some areas. They are attributing current conditions to a winter with little snow and a spring with below-average rainfall.
Greg Hudson reported in The Daily Mail Greene County Republicans will back presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump come November, according to county chairman Brent Bogardus. Trump claimed 63.5 percent of the county's vote in the April primary. Bogardus said the results reflect Trump's grasp of the of the issues that matter to Greene County voters. In the 19th Congressional District primary, the Greene Republicans are the only county committee not to endorse John Faso over Andrew Heaney for the Republican line on the November ballot, and to ultimately to fill the seat currently occupied by Chris Gibson. However, Bogardus personally endorsed Faso, saying, “I ask everyone here to step up to support John in his primary campaign.” The full committee officially endorsed state Senate and Assembly candidates George Amedore and Pete Lopez during its annual convention at the county courthouse in Catskill, Thu., Jun. 2. In other Congressional primary news, Democrat Will Yandik picked up the endorsement of Hudson Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton, Sat., Jun. 4. As reported in the Register-Star, the mayor said Yandik has a better understanding of issues on the micro and macro level than his opponent, Zephyr Teachout.
Keshia Clukey reported at Politico New York a forthcoming report from State Inspector General Catherine Leahy [LAY-hee] Scott is expected to blame a “systemic breakdown of security,” for the Dannemora prison break in June 2015. Two men, both convicted of murder, broke out of the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility, and touched off a 23-day search in the North Country, which ended in one man's death and the other's capture, and cost the state tens of millions of dollars. Leahy Scott's report is expected to offer a damning assessment of what made the escape possible, and include a call for systemwide reforms. Among the issues identified, so far: The existence of an empty steam pipe that staff had warned was a security risk. A box of power tools left on a catwalk. A night without routine cell checks. And an internal review that found insufficient evidence that a prison shop instructor had a relationship with an inmate. Assembly member Janet Duprey, a Republican who represents the North Country, says she hopes the report is detailed and accurate. She said it could have an enormous impact on the state's prison system, a key employer in her district, and on morale in its communities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last month the report would be "finished shortly” but should not be rushed. Leahy Scott's office and the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision both declined to comment, citing the pending investigation.
Debby Mayer reported in the Columbia Paper the town of Germantown is making preparations for a review of its comprehensive plan. After a call for volunteers to update the 2007 document yielded few responses, the town board decided it will hire a professional planner to guide a small group of volunteers. Engineering firms Greenman Pedersen and Delaware Engineering, as well as an unnamed third firm have offered to help. Town officials are expected to discuss the scope of services to be provided and cost estimates with the firms' principals in advance of a report to the board during its June meeting.
Greg Hudson, Roger Hannigan Gilson and Victoria Addison reported in The Daily Mail on the status of legislation to increase public awareness and prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses approved by state lawmakers last week. The series of bills passed the state Senate Thu., Jun. 2, after clearing the state Assembly last month, calls on leaders from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Health and state Education Department to collaborate and create educational materials to educate school-aged children on how to identify and avoid ticks and tick-borne illnesses. The measure now awaits the governor's signature. Tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme disease, have erupted in the Hudson Valley in recent years, with Dutchess, Columbia and Greene counties ranking among the highest in rates of Lyme disease nationally during the past decade. Greene County currently has the highest rate of Lyme disease statewide. Ecologists and health care professionals are bracing this year for what could be one of the worst Lyme disease outbreaks on record. With the warm, wet winter and spring more ticks survived the cold months, and the conditions will extend when the ticks are active, Columbia County Public Health Department Director Jack Mabb said. Assembly member Didi Barrett, who introduced the public awareness legislation in the Assembly, said she hopes the governor will sign the bills into law before the legislative session ends, June 16. That will give the involved agencies time to collect and assemble informational material before the start of the school year.
The Columbia County Clerk’s Office has announced the annual K.I.S.S., or Keeping Identities of Seniors Safe, program for local residents will take place Mon., Jun. 6, through Fri., Jun. 17. The program is conducted in conjunction with Certified Document Security, a records management company specializing in the secure destruction, storage and recycling of confidential records. The service is offered to seniors over 60, in towns within Columbia County, as well as the city of Hudson. Documents will be signed over to the clerk and placed in a secure, locked container for destruction by Certified Document Security. Seniors are advised to check with their city or town officials for specific hours of availability and location.