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Weekend in review

Jul 25, 2016 5:00 am
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jul. 22 through Sun., Jul. 24:

Daniel Zuckerman reported in The Daily Mail the village of Coxsackie issued a water conservation notice Fri., Jul. 22, effective until further notice. The village joins neighbor New Baltimore, which enacted conservation measures in late June. Coxsackie residents are being directed to voluntarily conserve water. If voluntary conservation measures prove unsuccessful, the village will then enforce mandatory conservation. Under the notice, swimming pools were required to be filled before Friday, and residents have also been advised to refrain from washing cars or watering lawns. Residents are also asked to run dishwashers for full loads. If they wash dishes by hand they should not leave the water running to rinse, and showers should be short in duration. Mayor Mark Evans said the timing of the decision was unrelated to the state of New York’s drought watch. On July 15, the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued the first statewide drought watch since 2002. The DEC reports precipitation has been lower than normal, with deficits of four to eight inches during the last 90 days, and groundwater and stream flow levels are measuring well below normal throughout the state.

Scott Waldman reported at Politico New York the city of Newburgh is calling for blood tests in light of news that thousands of city residents may have been exposed to toxic chemicals in their water supply. The substances PFOS and PFOA have been linked to serious health problems in humans, and is an ingredient in firefighting foam, including the type used at the nearby Stewart Air National Guard Base. As with other sites where perfluorinated chemicals have been found in New York, it is unclear how long the toxic chemical has been in the water. Newburgh city manager Michael Ciaravino noted the state collected blood samples in Hoosick Falls to determine exposure levels there, and said it was time to develop an “appropriate response” in Newburgh. Depending on the extent of the pollution in Newburgh, an even larger portion of the public could have been exposed to chemicals in their water supply than in Hoosick Falls or nearby Petersburgh. State health department spokesman James Plastiras said the Cuomo administration’s top priority is to reduce exposure. He said in a statement, “We will continue to take decisive action to support the city and its residents, and are actively engaged with federal partners,...working to find solutions that provide the tools the community needs to better understand possible exposure to PFOS.”

Victoria Addison reported in the Register-Star Columbia-Greene Media has reached an agreement to outsource the delivery of its publications to the Albany-based Times Union. The deal is effective August 9. Todd Peterson, vice president of circulation at the Times Union, said, "We are really excited to be able to help at Columbia-Greene Media...." Columbia-Greene Media Publisher Mark Vinciguerra said the Times Union will deliver in the territories both publications currently share, and eventually also allow for delivery in some areas where the Columbia-Greene publications are currently received by mail. The new arrangement will save Columbia-Greene Media money, Vinciguerra said.

The Associated Press reported Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Thu., Jul. 21, signed legislation expanding the state's "Move Over" law. Drivers statewide must now slow down and move over for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers, as well as police and maintenance vehicles along the roadside. The old law applied only to approaching vehicles with flashing red and white, or amber lights. The expanded law now includes vehicles with flashing blue or green lights operated by volunteer fire or ambulance workers. Violators are subject to a $275 fine and three points on their license.

Matthew Hamilton reported at Capitol Confidential state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is warning that the state may face budget gaps in the coming years. In an analysis released Fri., Jul. 22, DiNapoli’s office said the state may face potential budget gaps averaging less than $5 billion annually over three fiscal years starting in 2017. DiNapoli said in a statement. “New York’s rainy day reserves are at low levels compared to many states and the use of temporary resources to meet recurring expenses contributes to the state’s potential outyear budget shortfalls." In response, the Division of Budget spokesman Morris Peters said DiNapoli is “cherry picking data and ignoring key details in its reporting.” He said the state’s fiscal position is sound and spending restraint has resulted in reliable funding for programs that include education and health care.

Emilia Teasdale reported in the Columbia Paper on the status of efforts by Valatie officials to deal with a derelict factory and aging hotel located in the village. Mayor Diane Argyle told the village board at a recent meeting the process of foreclosing on the mill building located on River Street can now begin. The structure once housed broadcast equipment manufacturer Energy-Onix. Its founder and owner, Bernie Wise, passed away in 2013, and the property is now in probate, Argyle said. The mayor said she has been contacted by people interested in purchasing the building, but nothing can be done until probate is completed. Argyle also said the village building inspector will be inspecting all apartments located in the US Hotel on Main Street. That building is owned by the Valatie Local Development Corporation. Some residents have complained that the US Hotel is not in compliance with village zoning law. Gunther Fishgold, who owns several businesses near the building, last month raised concerns with the village board about the dilapidated state of the property and the safety of the apartments. The US Hotel is currently for sale.

Greg Hudson reported in The Daily Mail the public was absent for a public hearing held this week on the Greenville Central School District's proposal to participate in the New York State Smart Schools Bond Act. The district provided the required 30-day notice, said District Clerk Jackie O'Halloran, but no one showed up for the meeting, held Mon., Jul. 18. “There were no comments on our district website and not a soul was there to comment at the hearing,” O’Halloran said. The proposal calls for the district to make use of more than $1 million in state funding for educational technology. Under the plan, Greenville schools would make several purchases including computer-controlled laser cutters for the district’s manufacturing program and MIDI music composition keyboards for the music department. The Board of Education will vote on the proposal at its regular meeting, August 8.

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