The “struggle” of making art is a known phenomenon. We all have a picture of some creature frantically pursuing his ideas with no realistic financial grounding. But yet, the commitment and the result of his or her endeavor leaves us all in admiration of the achievement. You cannot tell an artist in pursuit of his art that it is financial suicide. Creativity and creative expression is the motor of our society and it must not stop. Opus 40 is creative expression on a grand scale. When Harvey Fite ceased to exist everybody said “Wow! Look at this!”
I’m disappointed to see that the discussion over the future of Opus 40 is turning into a political debate, Republicans verses Democrats. Please let us get away from that misguided approach.
Opus 40 is an institution that has existed for over 40 years and is known as an artistic achievement worldwide (this is not an exaggeration). Harvey Fite took it upon himself to make a mark on this region for the future. He used raw local material, in an organic way and true to the land. He used his smarts to build and make his sculpture last without artificial binding. He brought to our attention the unique nature of bluestone. And, as a force of nature he took it upon himself to rearrange it in a meaningful way. It took him almost 40 years. How many of us can hold their enthusiasm for 40 years? Isn’t that by itself something to celebrate?
We are all familiar with the beauty of a stone fence that winds through the land. It has a functional, a purpose, the aesthetic aspect of it is almost coincidental. Just imagine the enthusiasm and excitement Fite experienced when he saw the abundance of material and how it could serve his imagination as an artist to create something of artistic value, rather than a functional one: an environment of “ins and outs” and different levels and plateaus. Opus 40 is an interactive adventure of aesthetic value for the world to enjoy.
The importance of this cultural monument has multiple values and must not be measured by current fiscal difficulties. We all know that the economy goes up and comes down. Opus 40 should be valued on its merit. It need not be a drain on our economy, it can be made profitable while serving the community and beyond.
Opus 40 says something about Saugerties as a community. When you leave Saugerties and someone asks you, where is Saugerties? All you have to say is that it is the home of Opus 40. And, if he says, “never heard of it.” Then you should tell him. If he considers himself a man of culture he is obligated to see Opus 40 for himself. There are few of us that walk in nature with our mouths open in constant admiration and wonder. There are fewer of us who can take nature, alter it, and leave us in wonder and make us see something we did not see before. Harvey Fite was one of the few.
Z. Willy Neumann
SCHOOL BOARD MISTAKES COST MONEY
Like the Sword of Damocles hanging over school budget voters: if you don’t pass the budget, there will be no sports. In this economy, there should be no increase over last year’s whopper. That should be the a priori dictum. In the real world, many of the taxpayers have had their hours, salaries or even their jobs cut the things that we support, i.e. government, must realize that there is a limit to the money available to spend. Past boards have made fiscal mistakes; for example, having to pay two superintendents and granting lifetime health insurance to another superintendent upon retirement, only to have him “retire” and take a job in another district. The only way to get out of contracts that the district cannot afford and to have more money that directly benefits the students is bankruptcy. That’s called a terminus a quo. State laws governing school boards need to be changed. How do you think the stockholders of a $50-million corporation would react to a solicitation of directors that stated: “Wanted directors: no qualifications, no salary”?
Peter A. Lawrence
On Feb. 17, a news article about the Opus 40 project by Saugerties Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel appeared in a local newspaper. In the article, Helsmoortel wrote that the additional money spent on the project was taken from his “discretionary” fund. However, I spoke to two people with intimate knowledge of the town budget who said no such fund exists.
Perhaps Helsmoortel dreamed up his discretionary fund to account for the fact that the town spent over $12,000 more than he promised on Opus 40 without a Town Board vote.
The Opus 40 project is the latest of a series of missteps that have defined Helsmoortel’s tenure. He and the members of his political regime claim transparency, yet, time after time, important decisions are made behind closed doors. Helsmoortel and crew claim fiscal responsibility, yet property taxes have almost doubled during his tenure and the Town’s bond rating has been lowered.
Political regimes like Helsmoortel’s thrive on voter apathy and disinterest. The only way to bring our town government out of the shadows and into fiscal sanity is to keep informed and ask the tough questions to hold our leaders accountable. By doing this, we can prevent future Opus 40s, carousel purchases, and poorly handled personnel matters that have hurt taxpayers during Helsmoortel’s reign.
Each day, it becomes clearer and clearer that the town of Saugerties can no longer afford to have Greg Helsmoortel as our supervisor.
Chair, Saugerties Republican Committee
WHAT THE CONSTITUTION ACTUALLY SAYS
We are so lucky to be American citizens. As the second decade of the 21st century begins, with diverse political and social perspectives ebbing and flowing like our “river that flows two ways,” let’s take a moment to celebrate our country, our Constitution, and especially its benefits.
Our country was founded upon a radical idea; that people should be governed by their consent; that the liberty of each citizen be protected and preserved by a well constructed constitution, protecting each of us from potential runaway governmental power; that every citizen is guaranteed three basic rights, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. We all know them; the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness (not, let’s note, the right to happiness, but the right to pursue it).
The Constitution of the United States of America was created to further guarantee and ordain those three rights stated in the Declaration in a firmly established supreme law of the land (Article VI).
Surprisingly, the Constitution itself uses the word “right” only once. (Article I, Sec. 8 protects authors’ and inventors’ ownership of writings and discoveries.)
In addition, citizens are not entitled to anything, except the three rights. The three or four uses of the word entitle(d) connect entitlements to the states, not to individual citizens.
In the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) the word “right” appears five times, but essentially, not as a right to something, but as a protection from government overstepping its constitutional bounds.
Seventeen more amendments have been added to The Bill of Rights. A couple were mistakes. For example, Amendment XVIII (Prohibition) had to be overturned by Amendment XXI (Repeal). The word “right” is used only six times in those added seventeen and is connected to voting, i.e. Amendment XIX – Women’s Right to Vote.
A friend recently disagreed with my viewpoint asking, “What about my right to an education?” I replied that education was a matter for the states to administer. States passed laws requiring citizens to be schooled through mid teen years. Therefore, education is a legal requirement, not a right. Which brings me to the essential point.
For all American citizens, everything under the protective legal canopy of our three basic rights is essentially a benefit. We are a people with abundant benefits, protected by law.
As we begin 2011, we can all be proud of being Americans, grateful for our benefits, and feel fortunate to have a Constitution that has kept our country going and solid through the best and the worst of times. It works.
We’re so lucky.
LIBRARIES SAVE US MONEY
Some weeks ago, a letter to the editor of the Saugerties Times described how a library patron discovered that her use of the library saves her $14,000 a year! This may be surprising to many and hard to believe by some but, in fact, she used the NYS Library Use Value Calculator (http://tinyurl.com/lib-calculator). This calculator will register your library use — from books to videos to music CDs to newspapers/magazines to reference resources to facility-use — and calculate the dollar value of this use.
I can provide a personal example. My wife and I, between us, borrow at least one book each week. If I calculate these books as hardcovers it comes to $960. Often we use the inter-library loan system: add $52. When our three grandsons come to visit in the summertime, we borrow about 25 videos: add $78. We, perhaps, borrow 12 audio books per year: add $273.
There’s more but need I go further? That comes to $1319 per year and that’s a very minimal, conservative estimate, just for two adults and visiting family. If we calculated the value for a young family with, say, three children it would come, of course, to much more!
So what about your library taxes? A home assessed at $200,000 will pay less than $51 this year for the library budget and less than $48 this year for the bond issue (which will be fully paid and end in 24 years). That’s less than $99 per year, less than 27 cents/day. Our new library has expanded facilities for teens, children and seniors. It has excellent computer facilities for those who have no computer at home or, more to the point, for those who need one when they are there. Your organizations can schedule space for meetings. There are presentations, book clubs, educational events, children’s activities, and much more. If you think about it, your library is one of the best deals you have. Take full advantage of it!
LEBLANC PLEDGES FISCAL PRUDENCE IF REELECTED
I, Suzanne LeBlanc, have declared and will run as an incumbent for the position of village trustee. My name will be listed on Row B, the Home Party line, and I would appreciate your support.
In the past four years, my main interest was to offer economic and administrative efficiency in the operation of our village government. I have accomplished this goal in several ways. With the cooperation of the Town Board, I was able to eliminate the duplication associated with town and village highway costs. As a result, Village property taxpayers were relieved of the burden of paying for the maintenance of town highways.
After three years of planning and negotiations, the merger of the town and village police departments was accomplished Jan 1, 2011. The feedback from citizens has been positive and laudable. I actively participated in leading the successful completion of this effort. As a result, the quality and efficiency of safety operations in the town has been upgraded. These are real and noteworthy examples of interagency cooperation.
Also, I have attempted to maintain and improve quality-of-life issues within our community. I spearheaded a revision in our local law controlling property maintenance as related to keeping unlicensed/uninspected vehicles on property as well as efforts to control trash storage from street view.
If reelected, I will continue to dedicate my efforts to maintain and improve the quality of our village in a most responsible financial manner.
Thank you for the opportunity to have served and your continued support would be appreciated. Vote March 15, 12-9 p.m. at Village Hall.
MARTIN FOR VILLAGE TRUSTEE
Our village elections are coming up March 15. Please support Brian Martin for the position of trustee. Brian is a life-time village resident, and supports a home and family in the village. Brian has served on the Village Fire Department for many years, rising to the rank of chief of the department. Brian cares so very much for the friendly village of Saugerties, and wishes to keep it that way. Let’s support Brian Martin.
Mary Rightmyer Kimble
SUPPORT NEW VISION CANDIDATES
I support William Murphy for mayor for the village of Saugerties. Bill is an outstanding mayor for the village. Bill works hard for the residents of the village of Saugerties. Bill handles all problems in a timely manner for the village. Bill is a family man, which shows in his management style.
He generally cares about his community. Bill not only is the village mayor he also gives back to his community by running the SAA youth basketball program. It is my honor to work with Bill on the Village Board. Bill is running unopposed, but let’s show our support and vote for this outstanding mayor and person.
For the position of trustee, I support Jeannie Dirie, Patrick Landewe and Brian Martin.
Jeannie has been an outstanding trustee for the village of Saugerties. She works hard for the residents of the village of Saugerties on all quality-of-life issues. Jeannie also works on all the special events for the village.
Patrick has also been an outstanding trustee for the village. He works on all environmental concerns for the village. He has helped rewrite village law, is currently working on the Esopus turbidity problem and is working with the town on the Saugerties hiking trail.
Brian is a former fire chief, a former police dispatcher and a retired village employee. I personally know Brian and he is a great person, a team player with an excellent work ethic. Brian would make an excellent Village Board member.
Village residents please vote on March 15 and support the New Vision Party.
LANDEWE FOR TRUSTEE
Unfortunately we don’t live in the village and so won’t be voting on Tuesday, March 15. However, we’ve had the good fortune to work with and become friends with Patrick Landewe. We’ve seen how dedicated he is with whatever cause he chooses to work on and spends innumerable hours researching to get all the facts, for instance, the DEP turbid Esopus Creek releases. He is focused, organized, intelligent and has excellent ideas to help make the village even more beautiful and friendly. We are lucky that he has chosen to live in our community. Please vote on Tuesday to keep this gracious public servant working for the village.
Dock and Kate Shuter
FRACKING IS RISKY
Three recent news articles have analyzed in depth the lax oversight and regulation of the natural gas industry in its drilling method of high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing: its extraction process of recycling wastewater laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens such as benzene, radioactive elements such as radium; the toxic risks from this wastewater when taken to sewage plants unable to treat it, then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, with radioactivity at levels higher than previously known or considered safe (Ian Urbana, New York Times , 2/27, 3/2, 3/4/11). A suggested use for this wastewater, a salty kind known as brine, is for de-salting roads; this use, however, also carries risks as containing radioactive contaminants which can then run off into fields and leach out into waterways.
As a resident of Saugerties since 1991 and as a lawyer involved in environmental issues, I am writing to urge the town to use extreme care and caution in considering this or any other variant of a technology whose long-term health effects are unknown, in order to protect public health and safety.
Elizabeth J. Shafer
THANKS FROM ART LAB
On behalf of Art Lab, I want to express a big thank you to the following businesses and individuals for making our 4th annual Mardi Gras Celebration one of the most successful:
Dave’s Coffee and Wine House, for generously allowing us to take over your establishment on Saturday for our party and let the good times roll, Thank you!
Dutch Ale House, for donating a big ole pot of the best gumbo this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. It was perfect! Not too spicy and not too bland. Can’t have Mardi Gras without the gumbo, don’t you know!
Cleoma’s Ghost, now next to gumbo there has got to be music. And for the fourth year in a row Buffy and Roger from Cleoma’s Ghost has caused us to get up and dance and dance and never want to stop.
Lucky Chocolates - Thank you Rae! “Throw Me Something Mister”—that’s New Orleans speak during a parade. And Lucky threw us paraders chocolate gold coins – what a yummy blast!
Hudson Valley Bakery, like the gumbo and the Cajun music you need a King Cake to complete the Mardi Gras party! Thank you Connie!
Dallas Hot Wieners, the best hot dogs in town! Enough said!
Keri Gartman from The Pig for delicious noodle salad and Spencer Brandes for the killer mac and cheese.
It takes a village to celebrate Mardi Gras and we thank all of you who came out and danced, ate, paraded and made art with us.
Until next year…Happy Mardi Gras y’all!
Katie Cokinos, Katie Hoss, Diane Congello-Brandes, Melanie Avallone, Krista Munger, Edith Bolt and Elizabeth Stegmayer
Saugerties Art Lab
SUCCESSFUL BOWLING TOURNAMENT
On Feb. 20 the Boys & Girls Club, Saugerties Unit, held our fourth annual bowling tournament. Proceeds from this fundraiser will be used to offset the costs of operating the club facility on Partition Street. Without fundraisers the club would not be able to offer vital programs our Saugerties youth need to prepare them to succeed in today’s challenging world.
The Board of Directors gratefully acknowledges everyone who supported this popular event and helped to make it so successful. Special recognition and thanks go to the following individuals:
Rob Houtman of the Saugerties Bowlers Club. This is the fifth year Rob has graciously donated the facility to host our bowlathon. His generous ongoing support of the club is truly a gift.
Damion Ferraro volunteers his time to coordinate /our bowling event. He tirelessly works with the Board to organize and run the event, including record keeping for the teams and brackets during the tournament. There would be no tournament without Damion.
Platinum Sponsors: Pro-Printers (donated all the signage for the event), Mike Saporito Photography, Bishop’s Gate Realty.
300 Game sponsor: The Center of Health.
Mirabella’s for supplying pizza for the event at cost.
Robert Sinnott Allstate Agency for donating the purchase of the pizza.
Lane sponsors were: Albright’s One Ton Trucking, Brian Murphy’s Plumbing & Heating Inc, Helsmoortel Realty, Village Apothecary, Electronic Control Concepts (Gary and Marge Bishoff), Naccarato Insurance, Town & Country Liquors, Methods Tooling & Mfg, Inc, R. Kiniry Heating & Plumbing, Kiniry Excavation, Inc, Rondout Savings Bank, Ronald K. Myers, CPA, Dr. Debra Koehn, Erica Guerin, Esq., Sue’s Restaurant, Kosco Oil, Sawyer Savings Bank, MHVFCU, Leighton Enterprises, Stone Pony Deli, Richard Lykes Martial Arts, Saugerties Teachers Association, Saugerties Electric & Saugerties Outfitters, Chris Cortes & Family, Kaufman General Contracting, Friends of the B&G Club. And last but definitely not least, a sincere thank you to all the bowlers for coming out in support of this event.
President, Saugerties Boys & Girls Club
I LOVE MADISON, WISCONSIN
Imagine, a bunch of Democrats, along with some Republicans getting out on the streets, in the cold, standing firm for democracy, and holding their own without any violence. Did you ever think that would come from Wisconsin? I didn’t. Michael Moore made our present situation clear, in his emotional speech to the Wisconsin people, when he stated:
“400 obscenely wealthy individuals, 400 little Mubaraks, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer bailout of 2008, now have more cash, stock, and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined.”
I must say that Michael Moore’s facts are usually not fictitious, as Huckabee and Bachman’s are, so wow! That’s a startling statistic, and it proves that our country has abandoned its stated raison d’être. We no longer have a government, “Of the People, For the People and By the People.” Instead we have a government “Of the wealthy, for the wealthy and by the wealthy.” It’s as simple as that.
So, what do we do next? Support the people of Wisconsin in any way possible, and stop the wealthy’s thus far successful method of “Divide and Conquer.” I know that there are more “Non-Tea Party” Republicans than there are pro. They just stick together because, well, their bosses tell them not to “Divide and Conquer.” But that seems to be falling apart, and many true Republicans are beginning to turn away from their leaders.
So, let’s not lose hope. Let’s find what We, the People have in common, and vote for people that tell the truth, that have the intellect and knowledge to make informed decisions, and that are not being sponsored by billionaires, no matter what party they belong to. And — let’s do more to spread the truth to all of our friends and family and vote in people that represent We, the People.
WE SHOULD KNOW WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM
As a citizen and shopper concerned about the health, environmental, ethical, and socio-economic hazards of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and industrial-scale factory farms or CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), I am writing to inform your readers about a new consumer campaign calling for Truth-in-Labeling. The campaign, sponsored by the Organic Consumers Association, is calling on conscientious grocers to implement voluntary package or shelf labeling of foods products containing GMOs and/or products coming from large factory farms or CAFOs.
Although “USDA Organic” standards and labels prohibit the use of GMOs or CAFO confinement practices, the overwhelming majority of non-organic foods in grocery stores or supermarkets today fail to reveal whether or not they likely contain GMOs or come from a factory farm supply chain. Up to 90 percent of U.S. soy, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets are now genetically engineered and routinely laced into foods with no labels or safety testing whatsoever. And of course hapless animals confined in CAFOs are reared on a diet of genetically engineered corn, soy, cottonseed, and drugs.
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Biotechnology Industry Association, approximately 80 percent of current grocery food items contain GMOs; while according to U.S. Department of Agriculture records, the majority of beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and eggs now come from CAFOs.
CAFOs breed pathogens, pollute water-sources, add tons of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere and systematically abuse and mistreat animals. CAFOs are defined legally by the Environmental Protection Agency as containing 1,000 beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 pigs, or 125,000 broilers or 82,000 laying hens or pullets.
Health and ethically minded consumers such as myself believe that Americans have a right to know where our meat, dairy, and eggs come from and whether or not our produce and the ingredients in processed-foods have been genetically engineered. Conscientious, consumer-friendly grocery stores should clearly identify all food products containing non-organic soy, corn, cottonseed oil, canola, sugar beets or GM growth hormones with a label or shelf sign that says “May Contain GMOs” and identify all beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and eggs that come from CAFOs with a label or shelf sign that says “CAFO.”
To sign a nationwide petition urging major grocery store chains to voluntarily adopt Truth-in-Labeling practices go to: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/action.cfm
“RACE TO NOWHERE” SCREENING
I want to invite everyone who reads this to come to a free screening of “Race to Nowhere” on March 16 at 6 p.m. at the Saugerties Junior-Senior High School auditorium at 310 Washington Ave. Made by a concerned parent, the film brings up a wide variety of issues related to the pressures children, teachers, and schools are facing. “Race to Nowhere” is being screened all across the country to open a conversation that includes everyone who is concerned about the education we are funding and children are receiving. There will be a panel discussion following the movie that includes local parents, teachers, administrators, and students. All of us at Saugerties Art Lab are eager to hear what the movie makes you think and feel about education and learning for the children in our community. Please come and add your voice to the conversation. Doors open at 6 p.m. for snacks and the movie begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information email us at email@example.com or check out our website at www.saugertiesartlab.com. The event is being co-sponsored by Saugerties Junior-Senior High school and the Woodstock Day School. For those partnerships I am so grateful. Thank you. See you on Wed March 16! Spread the word!
Saugerties Art Lab Coordinator