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Veterans Day 2010 headlines

Nov 11, 2010 12:01 am
[caption id="attachment_3780" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Joseph Costa, George Lagonia, Jr., Ronald Morales, Superintendent Mark Sposato, and school employee. "][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3781" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Clifford Campbell, Harvey Weber, Donald McComb, Robert McComb, Kevin Maisenbacher, members of Taconic Hills School Board. "][/caption]

Taconic Hills School Board holds entire meeting in executive session
The Taconic Hills School Board held an entire meeting in executive session to fill a usually-elected open seat on the board. The meeting in the conference room inside Taconic Hills High School Wednesday evening was held entirely in executive session, except for the pledge of allegience (pictured), unanimous votes to open and close the meeting, and another to go into executive session. The vote to go out of executive session, happened in executive session, according to the board. Previously that day in a story in the Register-Star, John Mason called executive director of New York’s Committee on Open Government Robert J. Freeman and asked if the board is violating the state’s open meetings law by doing everything in regard to filling this seat behind closed doors. Freeman quotes the Gordon vs. the Village of Monticello, Supreme Court, Sullivan County, Jan. 7, 1994 case: “The matter of replacing elected officials,” states the decision, “should be subject to public input and scrutiny.” Freeman said he has advised school boards that, “they conduct executive sessions [for this purpose] at their peril.” The Taconic Hills board insisted on meeting privacy and would not even reveal the names of potential candidates for the seat to replace John Mastropolo, who resigned in September. As the board began interviewing Christine Perry for the post -- she told this reporter and Mason her name in the hallway outside the executive session -- the board finally released the list of who sent letters of interest: Tom Bailey, June Simons, Kim Czyzewski, Gail Wheeler, Scott Decker, Annie Christensen, Sally Williamson, Perry, Kenneth Dow (withdrew today), Robert Garon (withdrew Oct. 21), and Joan Spencer. Perry, Williamson, Spencer, Dow, and Decker were granted interviews in executive session, though Dow withdrew today and Decker never arrived and could not be reached by school officials. The board also told the media -- not the public -- the seven questions they were asking of candidates inside the executive session: general items such as what budget cuts should be made, and "What are the most pressing issues facing school boards today?" The board will decide who fills the seat at a meeting next Wed. Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. Voters won't have any input on who holds this seat until it expires May 17, 2011.

Three bat species see 90 percent population drops in NY
Little Brown, Northern, and Tri-Colored bats suffered 90 percent population declines in New York since the first appearance of the "White-Nose Syndrome" began plaguing the hibernating animals in their caves in 2006, according to a recently completed survey by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Indiana bats have declined about 60 percent and "White Nose Syndrome" has now been documented in 32 caves and mines in New York. "Caves and mines that avoided infection in the early years of the disease, perhaps by chance, are now infected," said Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz. "This year's survey included hibernation sites that had not been visited by DEC in decades. What we found was disturbing. We now have sampled sites that represent the full range of environmental conditions across the state – and none have been spared. It is likely the sites not yet inspected are infected as well." DEC is asking members of the recreational caving community to avoid any caves or mines known to house hibernating bats. Population numbers have held steady after steep, first-year declines at Howe Cave and Haile's Cave (located in the greater Capital Region) at roughly 10 percent of their pre-disease count. "Infected animals were present at these two sites, so it's too early to say the decline here has halted," said DEC bat biologist Carl Herzog, "but these two caves represent the most hopeful results in an otherwise negative report."

Hudson city budget
Carole Osterink in The Gossips of Rivertown reports on Wednesday night's Hudson Common Council meeting where Mayor Rick Scalera revealed the 2011 city budget. Her analysis:
"The mil rate (the tax per $1,000 in assessed value) is 12.198420, down from 14.770500 in 2010--a 17 percent decrease. The total taxable value of properties in Hudson increased from 303,174,231 to 373,232,346, so the taxes on a hypothetical property assessed at $150,000 in 2010 and $250,000 in 2011 will increase from $2,215.58 to $3,049.61--an increase of 38 percent.... There will not be salary increases for elected officials, Department Heads, PT 40-hr employees as well as PT hourly employees. The Police Union has previously negotiated a 3% increase for 2011 and CSEA is currently in contract discussions with the city.3. In the Assessor's office the part-time clerk position was cut and added was $68,000 toward the overall cost of a professional revaluation.... The city bus operations will be changed over in early January as we now will work within a Cooperative Agreement with the county. The Bus will continue to provide transportation from the City to the surrounding retailers in Greenport and back with expanded hours from the current schedule.... A public hearing on the budget will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17." Read the entire story here.
Lindsay Suchow's take on the proposed budget is here in Register-Star.

EPA subpoenas Halliburton, seeking fracking secrets
Environment News Service reports:
The U.S. EPA has issued a subpoena to Halliburton, requiring information about the chemicals used by the energy and engineering company to fracture shale rocks, releasing the natural gas they contain. Halliburton was subpoenaed after failing to voluntarily meet EPA's requests for information needed for a congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study to investigate the potential adverse impacts of the practice on drinking water and public health. EPA's Office of Research and Development will conduct the scientific study to examine the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and drinking water quality. Halliburton has been given until December 1 to submit the requested information. The agency is under a tight deadline to provide initial results by the end of 2012 and the thoroughness of its study depends on timely access to detailed information about the methods used for fracturing. EPA expects to begin the study in early 2011. On September 9, EPA asked nine national and regional hydraulic fracturing service providers - BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Halliburton, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, RPC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford - for information. The agency is seeking information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the fracking process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted. Except for Halliburton, the companies have either fully complied with the September 9 request or made unconditional commitments to provide all the information on an expeditious schedule, the EPA said. Halliburton responded only that it would use its "best efforts" and "endeavor to complete its response" by the end of January 2011, according to a letter written by Peter Silva, the EPA's assistant administrator for water to Halliburton Chairman and CEO David Lesar accompanying the subpoena. "EPA believes that Halliburton's response is inadequate and inconsistent with the cooperation shown to date by the other eight companies," Silva wrote.

Long Island company buys old Ceramaseal building in NL
Paul Crossman in Chatham Courier reports that RISA, "a metal fabrication company that makes and installs various products from iron, steel and other metals and turns them into products like staircases, railings and doorways," is attempting to get permits from the Planning Board, and finish their State Environmental Quality Review application before buying the Ceramaseal building in New Lebanon. The company representative claims up to 50 new jobs for the area within a year. Read the entire story here.

Veteran's Day
Schools are closed today.

Nov. 11 is the birthday of Stanley Tucci, Dave Alvin, and Kurt Vonnegut.