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Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news from Fri., Feb. 24, through Sun., Feb. 26:
Rosa Acheson reported in the Register-Star a severe storm felled wires and trees throughout Greene and Columbia counties on Sat., Feb. 25. The Greene County Sheriff's Office received six or seven reports of downed trees and wires before 7 p.m., including one account of a tree going through a house in Lexington. No one was injured in the incident. In Columbia County, power outages were reported in Kinderhook, Stuyvesant and Livingston. The last of those outages were expected to be restored by early Sunday evening. The Daily Freeman reported as of Sunday afternoon, Central Hudson crews were busy at work addressing 170 active outages, affecting more than 6,000 customers in the mid-Hudson region. The utility said most customers would have their power back by Sunday night. During the storm power was lost to a total of 32,000 Central Hudson customers. Ulster County was the hardest hit with 17,000 outages, followed by Duchess County with 7,500 and 4,000 in Orange County.
Victoria Addison reported in The Daily Mail U.S. Rep. John Faso made a stop at a lumber treatment facility in Athens Fri., Feb. 24. The rookie Republican Congressman from Kinderhook has been under fire for his refusal to hold town hall meetings with constituents during the House's February break. He visited Northeast Treaters of New York, a company that manufacturers pressure-treated lumber, for more than an hour, said Robert Collette, the company's general manager. The Treated Wood Council, a K Street-based lobbying group for the treated wood industry, facilitated Faso's visit on Friday. Collette said Faso took a tour of the Athens facility, and learned about the company's history and its goals. "I think it [the visit] went very well," Collette said. On Friday, Faso also attended an editorial board meeting with the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, held two constituent meetings, and met with state officials in Albany to discuss Medicaid. Faso was a no-show at an unofficial town hall meeting organized by Citizen's Action in Kingston on Friday evening. The Daily Freeman estimated nearly 600 people turned out for the event, filling a school auditorium and leaving others on the street. Activists at that meeting wrote out postcards to Faso in light of his absence. Faso's 19th Congressional District predecessors, Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Chris Gibson, regularly held local town hall meetings during their terms.
Rick Karlin reported at Capitol Confidential state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Fri., Feb. 24, issued reports on spending, revenue and student enrollment numbers during the 10-year period, from 2005 to 2015, for schools located outside of New York City. Spending during that period rose by an average of 1.4 percent per year, and statewide per-pupil spending was $22,658. While spending was up, the number of students enrolled in schools outside of New York City fell 7.6 percent. The four-year graduation rate in 2014-15 was 86 percent with some regional variation. Among those graduates, the number who received a Regents or advanced Regents diplomas increased 11 percentage points since the 2004-05 school year.
Lorna Cherot Littleway reported in The Columbia Paper a recent study by the town of Hillsdale Broadband Committee has raised concerns about the Federal Communications Commission's data on local internet service. Committee chair Tod Wohlfarth said at a recent meeting of the town board the state's Broadband for All program uses data provided by the FCC, which could be erroneous. As a result, Hillsdale could easily lose out when funds for service upgrades are distributed by the state. In Phase 1 of the Broadband for All program, the state awarded $54 million to expand service in Columbia County. Wohlfarth said internet provider FairPoint Communications has not shared information with the committee about how much it requested or what areas will be targeted. FairPoint did not apply for phase 1 money, but has applied as part of phase 2. Phase 2 awards were expected to be announced in late January, and have now been delayed. Wohlfarth said the current maps "need to be fixed" to make sure Hillsdale gets fully wired.
Brendan Lyons reported in the Times-Union two Ohio attorneys said Hoosick Falls' officials may be misleading the public into thinking the two PFOA litigators have reviewed or endorsed a proposed settlement between the village and two companies blamed for polluting the community's water supply. Two Cincinnati lawyers, D. David Altman and Robert A Bilott, have led groundbreaking court cases involving the toxic chemical. Hoosick Falls Deputy Mayor Ric DiDonato said in a Facebook post this week that the village's legal team spoke with Altman and Bilott, "and many other legal experts to get their opinions on the development of this agreement throughout the process." But the two attorneys said the deputy mayor's claims are false. Altman said he was contacted by Hoosick Falls residents "who tell me that some officials and others are saying or implying that I have reviewed and voiced support...of a possible PFOA settlement involving the village. I have done no such thing....." Bilott also denied he has reviewed, or approved the settlement proposal. In a related story, Lyons reported U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is urging the village board to table the matter. Gillibrand said in a letter to Borge that she has some serious concerns about the terms of the agreement, believing the terms stipulated, "...are not in the best interests of the residents of the village of Hoosick Falls." That letter will be delivered to the village board before a special meeting Mon., Feb. 27, when the board is expected to consider the proposal. The $1.04 million proposed agreement is the result of negotiations between the village and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International. Both companies have operated the manufacturing plants blamed for polluting the village's well fields.
Roger Hannigan Gilson reported in the Register-Star data generated and collected by Columbia County 911 between July 2015 and July 2016, was cross-referenced with traffic volume data from the state Department of Transportation, and "road lengths," to produce the paper's list of Columbia County's "most dangerous roads," released Sat., Feb. 25. At the top of the list: Route 82 between Livingston Road and the Taconic State Parkway; followed by Route 23 approaching the Taconic State Parkway from the west at number 2; Fish and Game Road was third; followed by Route 203 between Valatie and Chatham at number 4; and Fairview Avenue in Greenport, rounding out the list at number 5. Joslen Boulevard, erroneously identified as Joslen Avenue, in Greenport, received a honorable mention.