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Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jul. 7 through Sun., Jul. 9:
Amanda Purcell reported for Columbia-Greene Media the Hudson Common Council is moving ahead with a plan to have the Furgary shacks listed on the State and National Registry of Historic Places. Located in the city's North Bay, and also known as “Shantytown” and “The Shacks," the site has been closed to the public and dormant for some time. Bill Krattinger, a regional representative with the National Register Unit of State Historic Preservation Office, told the mayor and council members last week the site is eligible for designation. The next step is to prepare documentation for the site, including an analysis of the 17 small hunting and fishing shacks on the property and to make value judgments about them, he said. Krattinger will go to the site with residents and city representatives to review the properties and help determine which of them can be salvaged.
Bethany Bump reported at Capitol Confidential a proposal to allow some charter schools to hire uncertified teachers with as little as 30 hours of classroom experience was approved by the SUNY board of trustees' charter school committee, Thu., Jul. 6. The proposal would allow high-achieving charters to develop their own teacher certification requirements. The action drew immediate criticism from the state teachers unions, which oppose publicly funded, privately run charter schools. The unions called the plan a "shortcut" and "backdoor to certification" that would ultimately harm students. The state Education Department also expressed concern with the proposal.
William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman town of Ulster residents will decide this fall whether the town supervisor's term will be doubled, from two years to four. The Town Board voted Thu., Jul. 6, to put the question on the Nov. 7 ballot. If the measure is approved, the supervisor elected that day will serve a four-year term, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The Town Board said earlier this year in a report that lengthening the term would be “in the public’s best interest.” Incumbent Supervisor James Quigley, a Republican, is running for re-election. He is currently serving his fourth two-year term and is on the record saying two years is not enough time to see certain projects through to completion. The same proposal was defeated by Ulster voters in 2007.
Rick Karlin reported in the Times Union a group opposed to development at the state-owned Belleayre Resort in Ulster and Delaware counties lost its legal battle to overturn the Shandaken Zoning Board of Appeals approval of the proposal last winter. The development plan calls for the construction of two hotels with approximately 360 units, an additional 259 condominiums, plus a spa, golf course and ski trails. “The Catskill Heritage Alliance is obviously disappointed,” said Kathy Nolan, chairwoman of the organization fighting the development proposed by Crossroads Ventures. The alliance argued the project is too big and would cannibalize business from existing lodging and other facilities in the area.
Columbia-Greene Media reported the New York Landmarks Conservancy has announced more than a dozen Sacred Sites Grants totaling more than $178,000. The awards were given to historic religious properties throughout New York, including an $8,000 gift to the Windham Hensonville United Methodist Church in Windham to fund a roof replacement. The Conservancy's sacred sites program was founded in 1986, and has contributed to restoration projects totaling more than $620 million. The program is one of only a few in the country that aids landmark religious institutions and the only program dedicated to assisting an entire state. The Windham church was constructed in 1843, and its rectangular, three-stage tower was added in 1867. During and after Hurricane Irene in 2011, the church served as a FEMA center. And for approximately 18 months, its community room addition served as the local branch of the Ulster Savings Bank.
Brian Nearing reported in the Times Union the state Department of Environmental Conservation reported Fri., Jul. 7, a series of 10 separate spills totally four million gallons of combined sewer overflows were dumped by the cities of Albany and Troy into the Hudson River just north of the Port of Albany. Some of the spills were caused by torrential rains last weekend. Both cities violated state law by not reporting the spills to either the DEC or the general public in a timely way. The spills spanned a period from June 23 through July 2, so anyone who swam or boated in the river during the last two weeks may have been exposed to unsafe levels of municipal sewage. Both cities admitted the problem late Friday and blamed it on worker vacations where responsibility for reporting was not properly reassigned. A DEC spokesperson said the state reserves the right to pursue action against municipalities for non-compliance with reporting requirements. The maximum penalty for violating the law is $37,500 per day.
Bill Williams reported on WCTW-FM businesses located in Chatham are organizing in an effort to draw attention to the hazards of plastic shopping bags, straws, to-go containers and disposable beverage bottles this month, as part of the Chatham Plastic Purge initiative. “All of this plastic is intended to make life more convenient, but it comes at a huge cost to our environment and our health,” said Calliope Nicholas, Chatham resident and campaign organizer. The group will hold events throughout the month of July to raise awareness about plastic pollution.
Emily Masters reported in the Times Union the State Police and State Parks Police will collaborate this month to encourage park visitors to properly secure their seatbelts. The enforcement and educational campaign will encourage drivers and passengers to buckle up, especially children. "By simply buckling up, motor vehicle occupants dramatically reduce their risk of severe injury or death if involved in a motor vehicle collision," said State Police Superintendent George Beach. Troopers and park police will operate checkpoints statewide through Sun., Jul. 23.