Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., May 27 through Mon., May 30:
Greg Hudson reported in The Daily Mail despite having their church closed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany last week, some parishioners of St. Patrick's Church in Catskill are actively looking for a way to rescue the historic 1885 building. The diocese said it made the decision to close the parish because the structure had fallen into disrepair and it could not be repaired. Parishioner Deb Johnson said that was not the outcome expected when the church was closed in 2008, seemingly for roof and ceiling repairs. Johnson said parishioners were told that ultimately the church would be re-opened. Anthony Petriani said church members raised more than $250,000 in pledges for a capital fund. He said, “To this day, we don’t know if or how it was spent, because repairs were never made to the building.” Petriani alleges the structure was neglected due to managerial error by those in charge of the church. The Friends of St. Pat's group is now organizing a petition, appealing to the diocese to allow for the reopening of the church. Petriani said, in addition to completing the needed repairs, a parish debt in excess of $1.5 million will also have to resolved before the doors can open again. It may be difficult to make this happen, he said, because since 2008, more than 600 families have left the parish and they are scattered among other parishes within the diocese and elsewhere. Petriani said he hoped Albany Diocese Bishop Edward Scharfenberger would make himself available to the Catskill parish as they seek a resolution. He said, “He should come here, show his face and listen to us, his people.”
Josefa Velasquez reported at Politico New York amid a push to curb the use of opioids and heroin statewide, a coalition is pushing the state Legislature to widen access to prescription medications with abuse-deterrent properties. Encouraged by the creation of the governor’s new heroin task force, groups ranging from substance abuse organizations, the NAACP and the Sheriff’s Association are urging support for a bill to do just that. In a memo in support of the legislation, the New York State Sheriffs Association said drugs with abuse deterrent properties can serve as a powerful weapon in fighting prescription opioid abuse. Medications with abuse-deterrent properties are harder to crush or liquefy, making it difficult for people to snort or inject them. Both the Senate and Assembly passed similar bills last year, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In his veto message, Cuomo said that while the intent of the legislation was laudable, research on the impacts of such drugs has only just started, and it was too early to tell whether the law would achieve its intended effect.
Roger Hannigan Gilson reported in the Register-Star local politicians and residents are expressing varying degrees of support for ride-sharing services operating upstate while the state Legislature works on a bill to allow them north of New York City. These types of ride-sharing services use phone apps to connect independent drivers with people in need of rides. The independent drivers are not currently permitted to operate upstate. A bill co-sponsored by Assembly member Pete Lopez and state Sen. George Amedore would establish insurance requirements and regulate companies, such as Uber, and allow them to operate north of New York City. Amedore said having ride-sharing in the area would benefit people in rural areas with limited transportation options. He said, "These types of (ride-sharing) services will complement each other — many of the areas where they will be able to operate don't have cab service options or if it is available it is very expensive." The legality of Uber and other ride-sharing services, has been challenged by governments and taxi companies, who allege that its use of drivers who are not licensed to drive taxicabs is unsafe and illegal.
Brian Hubert reported in the Daily Freeman Tuesday, May 31, marks the last day of the Catskill Mountain Railroad's 25-year lease with Ulster County. The county recently put out a request for proposal for a new operator for two portions of the 38-mile corridor, one near Kingston and the other in the town of Shandaken. Dave Hilliard, the railroad’s vice president, said only that it bid on both the eastern and western portions of corridor. Hilliard said an interruption in the railroad’s popular theme excursions, like the Polar Express, is inevitable. There was a sense of disappointment that the rides would disappear among railroad passengers this weekend. Melissa Bowen, of Pine Plains, came with her daughters. They wanted to ride the train before the railroad closed. Bowen said she was not pleased with plans to convert part of the corridor into a rail trail. “We don’t need another rail trail,” she said.
Jeanette Wolfberg reported in the Columbia Paper at latest count, the Columbia County Department of Social Services houses 46 homeless people in hotels. The report was provided by DSS commissioner Kary Jablonka to the Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee earlier this month. According to Jablonka, the 46 include eight families of two or more people. The remainder are single individuals. Not included in the full count are several people with no permanent address staying with friends or relatives. That undisclosed number includes some children, who were identified by their respective school districts.
Rick Karlin reported at Capitol Confidential in his latest ad, 19th Congressional GOP primary candidate Andrew Heaney appears to be tying himself to presumed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. In the message Heaney says, ”Donald Trump and I represent everything that John Faso and his cronies hate. We don’t take special interest money and we can’t be bought.” Heaney then alludes to his opponent's work as a lobbyist and his tenure in the Assembly, referencing Faso's missed votes. Faso responded, noting that during his 16 years in the Assembly he was recorded as voting 97 percent of the time and cast almost 24,000 votes on the floor and in committee.