Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Apr. 7 through Sun., Apr. 9:
The New York Department of Transportation advised motorists that the work to repair a series of slopes along Route 23A between Haines Falls and Palenville, restarts Mon., Apr. 10. Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day, from April 10 to April 14, motorists may encounter flaggers along this stretch of Route 23A. Beginning Mon., Apr. 17, traffic will be reduced to a single alternating lane controlled by traffic signals during the construction. Work is expected to be completed by August. No full road closures are anticipated this year as part of this project.
Joseph Spector reported for the Poughkeepsie Journal the state Senate was expected to give final approval to the state budget after the $153 billion spending plan was passed by the state Assembly, Saturday. "It really did a lot of great work, this budget, on a number of levels," Cuomo said Sunday on 970-AM in Manhattan. The agreement was due March 31, making it more than one week late. The spending plan includes free SUNY tuition beginning this fall for those from households earning $100,000 a year, and increases to a $125,000 threshold by 2019. The budget also includes legalizing ride-hailing services outside New York City, raising the age of criminal responsibility from age 16 to 18 and requiring local governments to find ways to share services to lower costs. The agreement also provides for a $1.1 billion increase in aid to public schools. Senate Republicans hailed the budget, calling it a victory for all New Yorkers, while Democrats were critical of the process and the failure to include tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants and ethics reform in the final plan.
Mid-Hudson News [dot] com reported the state-owned Belleayre Mountain ski resort secured $8.5 million under the state's 2017-18 spending plan. Assembly member Kevin Cahill and Sen. James Seward fought for the funding that Cahill said will help restore and enhance the facilities. This is the fifth year the Kingston Democrat pushed for support to ensure what he says is Belleayre's "fair share" of the resources allocated to the Olympic Regional Development Authority. The authority has operated Belleayre since 2012. Belleayre Mountain is a four-season ski resort located in the Catskill Mountains in Highmount, Ulster County.
The Times Union reported Columbia County Sheriff David P. Bartlett Sat., Apr. 8, recognized two deputies for preventing a choking death last weekend. Deputy Heath Benansky and Jason Garvey were off-duty and eating dinner at Yiannis at Chatham House in Chatham when fellow diner Bill Mickle began choking, Bartlett said. Mickle's wife Michelle tried the Heimlich maneuver twice, but her husband continued to choke and could not breathe. Deputies took over, successfully dislodged the food and restored his breathing. Bartlett recognized the deputies at the Zone 14 Police Academy graduation held at Columbia-Greene Community College.
Daniel Zuckerman reported in The Daily Mail the Greene County Legislature Public Safety Committee last week approved a resolution in support of a state Senate bill that would repeal the SAFE Act in upstate New York and limit it to Kings, Queens, Richmond, New York and Bronx counties. Provisions would be made to remove restrictions on transferring guns to family members after a gun owner’s death and removing background checks when purchasing ammunition. The Assembly co-sponsors of the bill include Pete Lopez and Steve McLaughlin, both Republicans. The SAFE Act places restrictions on responsible gun owners and fails to address the issues of people who obtain guns illegally, Lopez said this week. He hopes the bill addresses what he calls a clash of cultures between urban and rural parts of the state. County Sheriff Greg Seeley addressed the committee prior to the vote, saying, "Since it’s been enacted, Greene County is no safer with this bill. It just makes the honest man a criminal." Member Gene Hatton, a Republican representing Athens, made the motion to advance the bill. Public Safety Committee Chairman and Cairo Republican, William Lawrence denied the law has been effective in combatting crime. "The people who want to do something evil will find a way to do it," Lawrence said. "Banning all guns from people who are trying to live innocent lives is not good."
Emilia Teasdale reported in The Columbia Paper the Ichabod Crane Board of Education reviewed its proposed $38.9 million 2017-18 budget last week. The proposal represents a 2.22 percent increase in spending next year, with a proposed tax levy of 1.47 percent. “There are no cuts of program or staffing in this budget,” Superintendent George Zini said last week. “We are able to maintain the services that we have." If additional aid is awarded under the newly approved state budget, Zini said there are plans to add a few new positions, such as a districtwide instructional technology specialist, and to give substitute maintenance workers a raise. The board will make final changes to the spending plan at a special meeting on Wed., Apr. 12. The board will conduct its budget hearing, May 2, preceded by a school board candidate forum. In addition to the annual budget vote and board elections, Ichabod Crane voters will also be asked to approve the purchase of five school buses and one van when they go to the polls May 16.
William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman school boards in the 22 component districts of Questar III BOCES [BOE-seez] districts will vote April 25 on Questar’s proposed $6.1 million administrative budget for 2017-18. The administrative budget is part of an overall Questar III spending plan for next year, totaling $70.4 million, 1.6 percent less than its current operating budget. Proposed spending next year has been decreased across the board. Questar III Superintendent Gladys Cruz said Fri., Apr. 7, the overall reduction in program costs is a result of efforts to be more efficient. Questar III includes school districts in Greene, Columbia and Rensselaer counties. Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES, were created by the state Legislature in 1948 to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts outside of the state's largest city districts.