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Weekend in review

Aug 28, 2017 12:05 am
Corrected: Mon., Aug. 28

Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Aug. 25, through Sun., Aug. 27:

Richard Moody reported for Columbia-Greene Media a fire on Division Street in the village of Catskill gutted a residence and caused damage to two nearby buildings and a garage. The village fire department was called to the location around 6 p.m., Fri., Aug. 25. “When we arrived the entire back of the building was on fire, as well as a garage in back and an adjacent building,” said Assistant Fire Chief Patrick McCulloch. McCulloch said the Greene County Cause and Origin determined the source of the fire was unknown. The Red Cross provided assistance to three adults and one 13-year-old child.

William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman Bard College will hold a public information meeting Mon., Aug. 28, on a $190 million project that would integrate existing agriculture activity on campus with academic programs housed in a new science building. Under the plan, 34,000 square feet of space will be created with the construction of a three-story building next to the Rose Science Building and an expansion of the Kline Dining Services Building. The Bard and Montgomery Place farms are available resources that can be used to create a larger program of sustainable agriculture and food service, said a college spokesman. The public hearing is necessary because Bard will be seeking to support the program and construction through a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan. The public information session will be held at 1 p.m., Mon., Aug. 28, in the George Ball Lounge in the Bertelsmann Campus Center on Annandale Road.

Richard Moody reported for Columbia-Greene Media Hudson city officials said Fri., Aug. 25, the city intends to initiate an Article 78 action against the Greenport Planning Board, alleging its negative declaration on the modifications to the proposed A. Colarusso and Son haul road was incomplete and inadequate. The Greenport board gave the project a green light through the required State Environmental Quality Review Act review and ultimately approved the project last week. The city is seeking the reversal of the negative declaration and a mandated Environmental Impact Statement. Contacted Friday afternoon, Greenport Town Supervisor Edward Nabozny said he had not received a notice of the lawsuit.

Daniel Zuckerman reported for Columbia-Greene Media construction of the Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts facility in Catskill is scheduled to begin in November. Internal demolition of the former Dunn Building and Supply center along the Catskill Creek on Water Street began a few weeks ago, Lumberyard Executive and Artistic Director Adrienne Willis said last week. Asbestos removal from the roof has been completed and more asbestos abatement is underway. Phase one of the construction will include artist housing and the theater. The work is expected to take between eight months to a year to complete, Willis said. Lumberyard’s inaugural 2018 summer performance season will be held at venues such as Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill and the Hudson Opera House in Hudson.

Richard Moody reported for Columbia-Greene Media Hudson residents gathered last week at a meeting called by 1st Ward Alderman candidate, Democrat Kamal Johnson, to air concerns about the proposed use of $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds recently awarded by the state. Those in attendance said they were left out of the application process and demanded the imminent year-long planning process be more open. Current plans for the $10 million include development of Furgary site improvements, establishment of waterfront pedestrian connectivity routes and lights at the Promenade Hill Park Gateway, adaptation of the Dunn Warehouse for year-round use, construction of a public pier for recreation between boat slips and more. There is also a proposal to establish free citywide WiFi. Many present at the meeting said the existing plan does not address affordable housing, the city’s No. 1 need. Residents said the community felt left out of the process of applying for the grant. Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton said there will be more resources for people to stay informed and to participate in the upcoming planning process.

The State Education Department last week released the results of the 2017 grades 3 through 8 English language arts and mathematics tests. Overall, student scores showed slight improvement, but significant gaps remain among students of color and the economically disadvantaged. However, New York State United Teachers called the results "virtually meaningless" because the exams were based in the Common Core standards that are no longer being taught. In ELA this year, students in Greene County testing proficient in ELA increased by 1 percentage point, to 27, up from 26 percent in 2016, but still well below the state average of 40 percent. In Columbia County, the percentage of students testing proficient increased by 2 percentage points, from 32 in 2016 to 34 percent in 2017. This year, 31 percent of students in Columbia and Greene counties scored proficient in math, an increase of 1 percentage point over the previous year, but less than the state average of 41 percent. Districts in Greene County with the highest percentage of students scoring proficient in ELA include Windham-Ashland-Jewett (41 percent), Greenville (31 percent) and Coxsackie-Athens (30 percent). The Windham-Ashland-Jewett (47 percent), Hunter-Tannersville (36 percent) and Catskill (35 percent) districts had the highest percentage of students testing proficient in math this year. In Columbia County, districts with the highest percentage of students scoring proficient in ELA included Ichabod Crane (41 percent), Chatham and New Lebanon (40 percent). In 2017, the Chatham (41 percent), Ichabod Crane (39 percent) and Germantown (38 percent) school districts had the largest percentage of students scoring proficient on the math exams among the county's six districts.

Amanda Purcell reported for Columbia-Greene Media the sentencing of former Hudson mayoral candidate Earl Swanigan has been postponed for two weeks. Swanigan pleaded guilty July 13, to touching a woman without her consent as he was collecting signatures for his nominating petition. The sentencing was postponed to September 7, by city Judge Brian J. Herman last week. The postponement was requested by defense attorney Dennis McEvoy to allow him the opportunity to respond to a pre-sentencing report. Swanigan is a candidate in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for mayor. It is unclear at this point how his conviction will impact his candidacy.

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