I am sitting at an outdoor table at a Woodstock eatery. The patio is crowded. People, dogs, bees, sparrows all vie for a prized slice of sunshine. Some people are loud, others quietly read the newspaper. Some shoo the insects away, others feed broken pieces of bread or cake to the sparrows, and others dabble in mischief. A small boy in a stripped T-shirt sits underneath a freshly sheared quarter-inch buzz cut, his scalp shiny beneath the fuzzy coverlet. He chews resolutely on a sandwich, its edges sprout something green and leafy. With him are several adults involved in animated conversation and two other youngsters. One of whom is talking to herself, the other busy practicing his finger to nose dexterity. The boy with the sandwich, like me, is people watching. He works his way around in his seat and slowly considers those lunching at tables scattered around the small café. He takes another bite of his sandwich and reaches into his mouth with tiny fingers to scavenge a small piece of what looks to be in the tomato family. He holds it out over the table, looks at it disdainfully and, crinkling his nose in disgust, deposits it upon his plate. The boy continues his visual search around the bustling patio. His eyes set upon a stout woman with ample bosom and brushed complexion, elegantly ladling a hearty looking, red-colored dish from a bowl to her mouth. Her bright, crisp, yellow blouse staying, somehow, miraculously spotless.
The little boy stares at the woman. She finally detaches her concentration from her meal for a moment and her eyes meet his. The woman smiles. Slowly, like a snail chancing out of its shell, the boy sticks his tongue out. Tentatively at first, and then with gusto. The woman arches her eyebrows, offers the youngster a parting smile and goes back to her meal, still in good spirit. The boy pokes his tongue out at the woman several more times, but eliciting no further response from her, rolls the pinkish appendage back into his mouth and continues his search for another unsuspecting diner and a hopefully a more fulfilling encounter.
The boy takes another bite of his sandwich, and after several chews and a swallow, looks directly at me. He smiles. I stick my tongue out at him. He turns quickly away. His mother laughs.
“Gotcha,” I think. I pick up my bagel and take a bite. As I chew, my own little boy eyes twinkle as I search the nearby tables for another unsuspecting victim.
I keep my dirty laundry in a basket so people who come to my house are not even aware of its existence.
Deputy Supervisor Terri Rosenblum’s denying any responsibility for Woodstock’s budget crisis is nothing short of astonishing. Even Jay Wenk, who voted against the budget, accepted responsibility, as did Bill McKenna, Cathy Magarelli and Supervisor Jeff Moran who all voted for it, as did Terri. Here it is only June and there is no money left to run the Youth Center, no money left for legal representation, town employees leaving, vacant positions going unfilled. And Terri has the gall to ask for our support in her campaign for Supervisor? If she were to write a check to the Youth Center for the $20,000 spent on Steve Barshov’s Stewardship plan rewrite, for which she took sole responsibility to create, it would be a start.
I agree completely with Thurman Greco’s letter praising Terrie Rosenblum as I worked with her for 20 plus years. All statements of her character and intelligence are true...actually understated.
Bath, North Carolina
A CALL TO WOODSTOCKERS
Remember Wonder Works, the wonderful project to upgrade the Woodstock elementary school playground? The whole thing was built in only five days in May, 1989. Do you remember how many Woodstockers turned out to volunteer a little of their time? Well there were hundreds who helped. Were you one of them? Do you also remember the excitement, the beautiful efforts of so many and how the completed project left the whole town of Woodstock feeling inspired and deeply satisfied about our community?
Well, I think it’s time for another useful town project that brings our community together in a similar way. But I don’t know exactly what that project should be. Got any ideas? I’ve spoken to a number of friends who shared some of their ideas. But I’d like to hear from more of you before we decide on what the project will be.
So if you remember the Wonder Works project and would like to get involved again or if you just love Woodstock and would like to participate by sharing your thoughts and ideas we’d love to have you join us. We’ll be meeting at the Woodstock library on Wednesday, June 22 at 8 p.m. Let’s make a difference!
WHAIV FLOAT THANKS
This year’s Memorial Day Parade was another success for our community. Just wanted to extend a thank you to all those who helped with the Woodstock Honors & Appreciates Its Volunteers — WHAiV — float: Neil Schaffer of Schaffer Contracting, Linda and Tom Seeley, Chris Neher, Barry Samuels, Sally and Ron Parker, Ned Houst and the Crew at H. Houst & Son, Larry Beinhart, Gordon Wemp and of course the score of people who helped to build the float which was reassembled this year and repainted and whoever donated the second year of clear, sunny skies.
And, it is always important to thank the American Legion Post 1026, along with Kevin Verpent Parade Chair for the wonderful organization and continuation of the Memorial Day Parade, a great Woodstock tradition.
Sam Magarelli, WHAiV
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Mother Teresa said “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” She also said “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
The United Methodist Church will celebrate our 140th Anniversary this year. Each year, the United Methodist Church of Shady performs special community work as part of their Faith in Action Ministry. This year, empty food bags were distributed to our neighbors so that food could be donated to the Good Neighbor Food Pantry of Woodstock. When we collected the filled bags of food we were again overwhelmed at the excellent and generous response from our neighbors. Both the food and cash donations will go along way to help serve those neighbors in need.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our neighbors who never let us down and we appreciate their ongoing kindness and generosity. It is our neighbors who make Woodstock a special place.
United Methodist Church of Shady
GOOD POL, BAD POL
Jeff Moran is a wonderful politician; he gives phony, misleading answers with no difficulty, and he doesn’t even giggle with embarrassment. In this week’s paper, June 9, George Pattison asked him about budgeting in relation to the Comeau Easement Stewardship Plan, and Jeff blamed members of the public for the extraordinary legal costs. Perhaps he’s forgotten the Town Board meeting when we had to ask Mr. Barshov to get legally involved because we were about to be faced with a lawsuit from the Woodstock Land Conservancy. “How come?” you may ask. This came to pass because Terrie Rosenblum, Jeff’s appointee to the Land Use sub-committee, took up most of an 18 month legal window to produce an unusable document that had nothing to do with the needs of the Stewardship Plan.
In George’s article, Jeff claimed that Mr. Barshov found “flaws” in the Easement making it impossible for Terrie to do her work. Terrie adamantly refused the help of members of the public, she refused her work to be seen in public, or in private, and I don’t blame her, but her rigid control and delay cost us $13,500. You should know that after another Board meeting where the public and other Board members managed to nudge her, a few members of the public started and completed a relevant and workable Plan in, hold your breath, three meetings of two hours each, over the course of three days. And this was accomplished in spite of Terrie’s attempt to direct that work into another backwater.
I’m a lousy politician. I give direct answers to questions. I believe in total transparency. I believe in having the public involved with the workings of the Town Board, and the Town Board constantly working with Woodstock’s citizens who are smart, opinionated, and experienced.
According to a recent Daily Freeman article, the German government has announced that it will end its nuclear power program within 15 years. This is one bright light in an otherwise dismal period.
The German nation is one of the most prosperous of the European countries. It has a high employment rate, above average standard of living, and adequate care for their citizens. Its decision to phase out the use of nuclear power is a result of fears following the recent Japanese meltdown, brought about by a tsunami.
Contrast this to our own Administration. It regards nuclear power as safe, clean and inexpensive. The matter of nuclear waste disposal and containment is downplayed by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. In a recent interview by Rachel Maddow, Chu, who is a trained physicist, says the solution to this problem will be solved in the next 50 to 100 years.
We must question this very troubling attitude. It is already 60 years since nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and no safe waste disposal has been found yet. I am not aware of any comments by the current administration regarding this most vital matter. We must express our concerns to our representatives. We need a safe and Clean energy policy. No Nukes.
NOTHING TO DO
If you ask a teenager from Woodstock what he or she are planning on doing this weekend, you will receive a colorful array of answers. They could be from “Probably just chilling with my friends” to “Going into town to hang out.” And if your lucky, you may even get an “Gonna go take a ride into Kingston.” These replies are all just romanticized terms for the one thing the majority of the youth is able to do after school in our local area which is, Nothing. The lack of stimulation in the Woodstock Area for residing youth has become almost crippling. If boredom could be used as an alternative energy source, the teenagers from Woodstock alone would be able to sustain the whole planet for the rest of time. Just the other night, Truman’s in New Paltz, about an hour away from Woodstock, hosted a “Teen Night”. It was $15 admission just to go inside, dance, and have the “night life experience” we all see in Rap music videos. The doors opened at 7 p.m., and me and my friends arrived around 9:30 p.m. We were shocked to see a policemen turning lines of cars away, saying that there was no more room inside. Now, Truman’s night club is a big space, its total capacity being around 1,200 people. When we arrived, it was said that there were more than 1,500 teenagers inside, and around 200 waiting on the line outside the door that stretched all the way around the building (a great majority of them being from Woodstock). The sight was unbelievable, and the desperation these teenagers oozed for the need of something fun to do was evident. People ask why teenagers in Woodstock get mixed up in drugs and do reckless, destructive things. Well, I have an answer for you all: It is because they have absolutely nothing better to do. So this is my advice. If you are looking to aid the youth of Woodstock, help lower the usage of drugs within the underage community, and possibly start a very successful business, start a teen club. Now I’m not talking about something like the “youth center,” which is a place to meet up, get stoned in the woods, and go play pinball. No, I’m talking about a place with actual productive, exciting, activities that will keep teenagers engaged. A place that is both really cool to be at, and also acts as a shelter for teens in the Woodstock area. By creating something along these lines, one would most assuredly enrich the whole Woodstock community, and reinstate in our next generation what the true morals of Woodstock are; Peace, love, and creativity.
Rachel Schackne, 17
THE ARTS ARE CORE
Onteora Central Schools’ administration intends to make severe cuts to elementary school music next year. Superintendent Dr. Phyllis McGill addressed my concerns by telling me that one way she must ensure students remain competitive is by removing “extracurricular time spent in band, orchestra, and chorus during the [elementary] school day.” She has “worked very hard to embed art and music instruction into core content areas,” and notes that while music enriches student development, it “does not supplant core instruction in ELA, math, social studies, and science.” The very fact that this administration considers music to be simply an “extracurricular activity” is at the heart of my concern. According to the No Child Left Behind Act, the arts are defined as a core subject. The arts are for everyone, and every child should have equal access. Under the new plan to have music rehearsals before the school day, access will most assuredly not be equal as families struggle with additional demands on their time. Removing musical ensembles from the school day will have devastating implications. Music teacher colleagues of mine in similar situations have experienced a sizable increase in attrition rates in their own programs. It’s only a matter of time before instruction suffers at the middle and high school levels as well.
Noted Music Education philosopher and NYU Professor David Elliott has produced a significant amount of research and disagrees with the trend of approaching arts education through integration. In his book, Music Matters, Elliott asserts that “each kind of artistic knowing needs to be taught and learned in its own context through active involvement in artistic making. Musicianship, for example, involves an entirely different kind of cognition than the knowing required to understand visual art, dance, or poetry” (Elliott, 249). On his website, Dr. Elliott also writes that “If music making or listening prove beneficial for the development of students’ spatial, mathematical, or scientific (or other cognitive) abilities, then these benefits will most likely develop more deeply and frequently to the degree that music education programs become deeper and more available to all students.”
As an alumna of Onteora High School and the Eastman School of Music, I continue to benefit from the well-rounded education that I received in my formative years. I implore the current administration to commit to preserving the integrity of the music program for future generations to come.
Michelle Free Rampal
FUNNY HOW THE CIRCLE IS A WHEEL
Those that know me, tell me that those who don’t know me, don’t know me, and I need to find a way to let them know me, because if they got to know me, they would probably vote for me. I once read that most writers sit down and write about themselves over and over again. Talking about myself has never been my strong suit, but I’ll give it a try. This week I would like to talk about being “Green.” I have a 600 gallon tank on a platform just under the gutter of my shed roof. It takes about a 3\4 of an inch of rain to fill the tank which gravity feeds to the garden where it waters my vegetables. We live large all summer on fresh vegetables and then in the fall, over a wood fire, I can my 100 quarts of tomatoes and anything else that will fit in a jar. I heat my house with wood and often use my Dutch oven to cook on top of the wood stove.
Although I am pretty much retired, the dogs and I still get up just before dawn. They check the perimeter while I sip my coffee and watch the woods get light. It’s my roots. I hate to waste any daylight.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that “green” is a nice buzz word, but it doesn’t change anything.
Protecting what environment we have left is only a small percentage technology. It is mostly work.
When I was a young man and the tide of cosmopolitan sophistication was running from the south, a reward for growing as much of my own food as possible, just as my father and grandfather had done, was to be labeled a hick, a hayseed, a hillbilly, or a redneck. Now the wheel has turned, and, I’m “green.”
It’s the same as when I go swimming and go from being fat to being buoyant, nothing has changed but it’s a much nicer word. I was raised by children of the depression. I can’t stand waste; we can make things greener but it’s up to us, no technology can do it for us.
A list of things that should be looked into:
1- A waste oil heater in the highway garage.
2- A canvas ozone in the community center (perhaps the panels can be painted by local artists)
3- If the Emerald Ash borer does kill 7% of our forest, we should find a way to use all that fuel.
4- It would be a good idea to point our solar panels at the sun.
BRIEFLY BUT SUCCINCTLY
A short answer to the questions raised by a letter last week, plus the promise of a fuller discussion on the gentleman’s stoop:
1- Do not sell the Town Hall. The recent news of our distressed finances may delay its complete improvement, but it is a fine, lovely building and the Town should maintain a presence on its main street.
2- Several persons deeply involved with the Comeau Stewardship Plan may attest to my commitment for the preservation of the Comeau. In my eight years as supervisor the commercial district did not grow one square inch on the zoning map. If I am given another two-year term I don’t see why it should grow even a quarter square inch. This applies to the Bearsville corridor, too.
3- The Gateway District is actually the Gateway Overlay, an area that extends across separate zoning districts. Its creation in the 1989 zoning law was truly visionary, for it did indeed help make far more likely the resurrection of the Woodstock Playhouse that we see today. Leave it alone.
4- Robin Segal and Jerry Washington have given to the D.E.C information relevant to the municipal water supply’s ability to meet the needs of the proposed RUPCO project, and the Town will simply have to abide by whatever determination is made by that State agency.
5- Terrie Rosenblum is actually a nice woman, and not at all insidious, as is stated in last week’s letter. I will only go so far as to say I think I am the better candidate for town supervisor.
TOWN PLANNING IS NOT COMPREHENSIVE
As a native of Woodstock, a Planning Board member, a land surveyor and Woodstock’s Wetlands and Watercourse Inspector, and now, a candidate for Town Board, my perspective on the Town’s land use policies and practice is multi-dimensional. My experience has shown that Town planning which is not based upon a well-developed and periodic reviewed Comprehensive Plan is often shortsighted and ill-conceived. I believe we need a comprehensive plan to be the vision and guideline for all proposed development and changes in the laws and zoning in town. In Woodstock, a Comprehensive Plan could be developed in-house using volunteers which would avoid the need to hire outside consultants.
Comprehensive planning would allow for the Town’s varying (often opposing) interest to be considered simultaneously. These include:
1- Promoting appropriate scale, type and design of business and economic development;
Maintaining a high level of environmental quality;
2- Preserving the unique blend of cultural and scenic resources that the Town has to offer;
3- Enhancing our historical resources;
4- Improving the Town’s pedestrian and bikeways;
5- Continuing to work on low impact harmonious affordable housing opportunities; and 6. Improving our recreational and park facilities for all residents.
More importantly, it would allow long-term infrastructure issues (like the Town’s water supply) to be considered over time rather than becoming a crisis.
THE MUSIC STORY
The Onteora Central School District has an excellent music program, and I have been privileged to attend many of their concerts this spring. I truly appreciate the quality of our program, our outstanding music teachers, and the multiple ways in which our students thrive in this stimulating and enriching environment. Also, I understand that the quality of our music program has deep roots into our elementary schools. Children at the elementary level receive weekly music class. Beginning in grade three, students who play an instrument receive weekly instruction during the school day. Lastly, in grades four, five and six, students on a weekly basis can participate in music ensembles and chorus.
The Onteora School District must also ensure that our students are well educated. As I have told the community in many forums, we need to improve student performance so that more students graduate, and that our students exponentially improve academically to meet the demands of the 21st century.
The District has an excellent faculty and we offer many challenging and enriching courses for our students at the secondary level. While we have an excellent primary program, the structure of our intermediate program (grades 4, 5, and 6) limits our ability to create the kind of learning environments our older elementary students need and deserve. Currently, students in grades kindergarten, first, second and third actually spend more time in core academic instruction than students in grades four, five, and six. Teachers in grades four, five, and six do not consistently provide social studies and science instruction on a daily basis and, according to the Columbia Teachers College Writers’ Workshop, our students are not regularly engaged enough in writing. This is because our extra-curricular music ensembles and classroom instructional time compete for the last hour of each school day. At approximately 2:40 p.m., every day different sub-groups of each class leave the room for extra-curricular music. Since the entire class is not present during this time, classroom teachers are unable to introduce new learning or continue important classroom projects.
Academic standards have increased and it is essential we provide adequate preparation for our children to compete in a global marketplace. Recent research indicates that children from the United States are not spending enough instructional time engaged in reading and writing in non-fiction text and content; this seems to ring true for the children of Onteora. In order to maximize our classroom instructional time at the intermediate level, we will provide our students with project-based learning with an emphasis on in-depth, inquiry-based social studies and science with extensive reading and writing across the curriculum. Additionally, project based learning would allow us to incorporate relevant experiences in art and music.
To meet the needs of all children, for the 2011-12 school year, we will be changing the elementary band, orchestra and chorus for students in grades four, five and six from the last hour of the instructional day to before school for an hour in the morning. In closing, please know that this has been a very difficult but necessary decision. I have been in discussion with administrators and music teachers regarding these changes. Next year, we will be working closely with the music teachers to ensure that the morning music goes well, and with the classroom teachers to ensure that instructional time is maximally utilized. We will also be working closely with the Transportation Department to ensure the elementary students are comfortable on the bus.
Phyllis McGill, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Onteora Schools
TWO PHONE CALLS FOR OUR HEALTH AND SAFETY
Last Monday the New York State Assembly passed a moratorium to not issue new permits for fracking until June 2012. No Republican Senator has offered to co-sponsor the same bill (S5592) in the State Senate.
You can change that with these two phone calls. We have one more week until the Senate takes a recess and will not return until January 2012.
1. Call State Senator Majority Leader Dean Skelos at 518-455-3171. Tell him to put the health and safety of New Yorkers ahead of the profits of the oil and gas industry. Ask him to co-sponsor S5592 and assure it is passed. As head of the Senate we all look to his leadership in heading off what could become the environmental crisis of our state.
2. Call our State Senator John Bonacic at 845-344-3311. Ask him to co-sponsor S5592 for a new moratorium to wait a year before they frack our state. Please mention that the Union (PEF/encon) representing the professional, scientific and technical employees of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are in support of this moratorium until June 2012 and urge him to honor this request as he did last year. The Senator needs to step up to the plate to both protect New Yorkers and assure our support for his re-election.
We need a moratorium to give the DEC and all of us the time to address the serious inadequacies of the current regulations that govern hydro-fracking. To understand these issues go to http://tinyurl.com/3v5bkea for recent testimony on the health effects of fracking taken by the Assembly Committees on Health and Environmental Conservation.
Democracy is not a spectator support. Please make these two calls now. And ask family, friends and colleagues to do the same.
ORDA — NO THANK YOU
Having not only spent a massive chunk of my life in the region in and encircling Lake Placid, but once owned property there, I can tell you this much; some people in the North Country will kill you for a nickel.
ORDA was created to develop the area, not only Whiteface Mountain, but the roads as well for the 1980 Olympics. Since the 1932 Olympics was once held in Lake Placid, that was the dream to have the Olympics there once again.
Many more trees were felled, stunning, picturesque roads blasted and destroyed unecessarily to bring tourists to see the 1980 Olympics under ORDA. Though ORDA has built many venues for the Olympics and later on tried to lure and attract world class athletes to train and live in Lake Placid, today, under poor management, ORDA has lost money.
We here in the Catskills, though we most definitely do care about unecessarily destroying the slopes of Bellayre, do desire to have it run most effectively, and ORDA is not the answer.
And they call those that care about the environment, tree huggers. So that is how they think in a nutshell.
KISS OF DEATH FOR MUSIC PROGRAMS
This past April 3 I sent a letter to the Onteora School Board of Education regarding its superintendent’s intent to move all of our elementary performing group rehearsals to an hour before the start of the school day. This would call for our young musicians to wake an hour early, board packed buses with Middle School and High School students and, after drop-off at the high school, then transfer to a smaller shuttle...finally to return to their respective schools for rehearsal.
When I asked the Superintendent what the rationale behind this move was she stated that our 4th, 5th and 6th grade teachers needed more “core” subject instruction time at the end of the day. Upon asking if she had considered any other possible scheduling options the statement was made that she had met with our three elementary principals and it was already a “done deal.”
Moving the schedules outside of the school day has proven to be the “kiss of death” for many district school programs. Realistically, parents do not want their young children riding buses with older teens...especially in a district as geographically wide-spread as ours. Most kids have expressed concern at having to wake early to face such an ordeal.
Onteora Central School has often been referred to as a “lighthouse” district. A primary reason for this is its unusually strong art, language and music programs. Although our district-wide enrollment has decreased over the past few years our performance group enrollment has not. Anyone with real estate located within the district knows that realtors often include “Onteora schools” in their listings to attract buyers for these very reasons.
Following this past Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting when the public was first made aware of this scheduling plan, I can’t help but ask these questions. If this was indeed a “done deal” last March then why is it that parents just now hearing of this?
If the Superintendent instead decides to hold these rehearsals at the MS/HS building, has she fully considered the logistics? (ie. space for nine groups to rehearse, instrument and music storage, conflict with MS/HS staff, etc.) Do her referenced “Performance Index Trends” accurately reflect our increasing “poverty index” levels and is this inclusive of the movement of several of our (more motivated) students to charter and private schools? Why are we citing MS/HS “index trends” when we’re talking about elementary students? Does any of this justify cutting off our music program at the knees?
There is one last end-of-the-school-year meeting scheduled. Please contact the high school’s central administration with any questions.
MUSIC IS NOT EXTRACURRICULAR
We are writing to formally express our concern over the possible schedule change concerning the music program at Woodstock Elementary.
First, we would like to say how grateful our family is to Mr. Boyer, along with all of the Woodstock Elementary music teachers. Together, they have created an incredibly rich and rewarding music program — one that the District and our entire community can be extremely proud. We truly believe our son excels at school, across all disciplines, in part out of his love and appreciation for the music program and his involvement with Band, Jazz Band and Chorus throughout the day.
We strongly believe that removing the music program from regular school hours will do a great disservice to the program and to much of the hard work our music teachers have invested to make it the valued program it is today. By changing the time of music instruction to a before school class at 8 a.m., will surely create a great deal of stress on the children and families that support the program. This logistically would result in multiple drop offs for parents with more then one child, potentially long bus rides for our elementary children who would have to ride with teenage high school kids to Onteora High School, then back to Woodstock Elementary and further extend what is already a long day. The transportation issue would also result in our elementary children’s exposure to the upper grade kids behavior on the buses...one of the very reasons we so value our local community elementary school. But perhaps most importantly and tragic, this proposed shift could very well dampen the enthusiasm and ultimately the participation of a large segment of the children who look to music as an important and central part of school — not just an extracurricular activity. The academic evidence is beyond doubt — music instruction enriches all aspects of a child’s learning. As such, together, we must find a way to embrace this educational asset so the largest and most diverse group of students can continue to enjoy the rewards.
So please, we encourage and implore the administrators and teachers of Woodstock Elementary to continue to work together to find a manageable solution that addresses the current scheduling conflicts from both sides — but maintains our beloved music program within the confines of the proper school day. Surely we can manage what so many others schools can. Our community and our children will only be stronger as a result.
David and Gina Maloney
THE PEACEFUL PATH
It’s been ten years and still we stand — Woodstock Women In Black — on the Village Green every Sunday from 1 p.m.-2 p.m. with our peace and justice signs, flyers and Mary Frank’s stark images. “When will they ever learn...when will we ever learn...” in Pete Seeger’s Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Indeed, when will we stop allowing billions for obscene wars and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations? The attempted destruction of the social programs that help support education, the elderly, infirm, unemployed and those in poverty is the result of those — us — who do not learn.
Women In Black is dedicated to sharing the inspiring message of equal justice, non-violence, compassion — the path to peace is peaceful.
WWIB is honored to witness the support of friends, townsfolk and visitors to our dear community. We welcome all who would stand with us — children, women and men — for whatever time you can spare and you don’t have to wear black. Peace is healthy for children and all living beings. See you on the Green.
Judith Chase, WWIB
STILL MORE ABOUT WHY I AM RUNNING
Yesterday I was in town asking people to sign my designating petition, so I can run in the Democratic primary in September. I was deeply moved by the passion and intelligence that the people I spoke to brought and by the breadth of issues that they saw confronting the town in the coming years, from the maintenance of the town’s business community to the environment, from the looming budget deficit to the issues confronting our youth.
In keeping with my pledge to make listening my foremost priority on any issue, I ask anyone who is interested to call me at 679-0062, or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the issues they think are most important. I do not promise to agree with you, but I do promise to listen to you. I do, however, ask the five yentas not to call me.
By the way, I have kept and will continue to keep my pledge to not have a Facebook page.
SHIFTING THE FOCUS
Incredible! Bizarre! These words don’t begin to describe Councilwoman Rosenblum’s explanation of her part in the Town’s budget fiasco (Woodstock Times, June 9). She is quoted as saying “It is also important for people to understand that we were not part of Jeff’s process in the preparation of the budget and moving money from one place to another. Jeff does not seek our advice (in that process). If I were in his shoes I would have done it differently, but we are different people.” Oh. She is not part of the process? Didn’t she participate in the formulation of the budget? Didn’t she vote for the budget and the fund transfers? She and the Supervisor may be different people but they seem to have always acted in concert and for the most part, outside the public purview. She has without question backed Supervisor Moran with her vote on all his questionable proposals. As a member of the Town Board isn’t she supposed to be more than a rubber stamp? Isn’t she required to do some critical thinking on matters before the Town Board. If she doesn’t understand the duties and responsibilities of a Councilperson what makes her think she is capable of handling the job of Supervisor.
It was reported in the same article that $40,000 had been budgeted for legal fees this year and that Steven Barshov, the special counsel for matters related to the Comeau easement was paid approximately $13,500, mainly for his work on a draft stewardship plan for the Comeau. Moran claims “A very big chunk (of the budgeted funds) went to Steve Barshov’s firm because the draft stewardship plan prepared by the town’s land use subcommittee was found to be deficient by very vocal members of the public.” This is simply another attempt at “smoke and mirrors” by the Supervisor to shift the emphasis elsewhere, away from him and Deputy Supervisor Rosenblum, both of whom have tried to undermine and delay the Comeau Easement since the day they were sworn in. It was Supervisor Moran who insisted on hiring Barshov as special counsel, whom he once demeaningly referred to as a “Park Avenue Lawyer.” As the article points out, the town’s land use subcommittee consisted solely of Councilperson Rosenblum. It was Rosenblum who insisted that the proposed changes to her totally deficient stewardship plan by an ad hoc citizens group be vetted by Barshov. In true political fashion when you are caught red-handed, give a self serving mea culpa and shift the focus.
SUP FOR FARM ANIMAL SANCTUARY
This Thursday, June 16, at 6:45 p.m. at the Town Offices there is a public hearing to present a draft of a new special use permit (SUP) for the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
A SUP is not required for the farm animals, who are allowed by zoning laws, but for the public-access and educational aspects. The old SUP (still in effect) was vaguely worded in parts and led to some problems interpreting and enforcing the SUP — particularly when it came to visitors, events and fund-raisers.
After attending more than ten Planning Board meetings we feel we have an SUP draft that not only addresses all the issues but bends over backwards. For example, we’re restricted to only four daylong events a year at the site, down from no limit at all before.
One of the most contentious issues is whether or not amplification should be allowed for guest speakers and music on a small scale, like at our annual Jamboree event. We’ve been told by the Planning Board Chair that if one of our fund-raising events exceeds the town noise ordinance that we will be violating our SUP and it could be revoked. According to the code, 57 db at the property line is the acceptable level. Using a professional decibel meter and did a quasi-scientific experiment wherein we ran our rider mower backwards until the noise level measured 57db. It was about 300 feet away before it reached that level. So we ask: is it fair to hold a nonprofit organization to a standard — for the mere four events allowed a year by this SUP — which is unknowingly exceeded by many homeowners regularly?
For those who feel the sanctuary is a valuable addition to the town please consider making an appearance. It would mean the world to us, will help resolve the permit, and we can get back to our important work.
Jenny Brown and Doug Abel
Co-Founders, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
STILL NO WATER FOR RUPCO
The DEC has issued a Water District Permit to the Town of Woodstock concerning Woodstock Commons hookup. However, “By acceptance of this permit, the permittee agrees that the permit is contingent upon strict compliance with the ECL (Environmental Conservation Law), all applicable regulations, the General Conditions specified and any Special Conditions included as part of this permit.”
The major points of the Special Conditions are as follows:
1- Pump tests to reconfirm the individual and combined maximum day capacity of existing wells conducted no earlier than July 30, 2011 and be completed in accordance with the NYSDEC Division of Water Pump Test Procedures and shall include monitoring of the Sawkill River. The proposal for these tests must be submitted within 60 days for the DEC’s review and approval. The test results must be submitted to the DEC no later than January 1, 2012.
2- The Town must evaluate the need for improvements to the existing water distribution system interconnection with the City of Kingston, results by January 1, 2012.
3- The Town must submit a comprehensive and complete Water Supply application to the DEC no later than January 1, 2012 to obtain a permit approval for all water district extensions, out of district users and water system interconnections.
Finally, an agency with some sense! The DEC saw through RUPCO’s lies in the DEIS. Design capacity does not equal actual capacity as RUPCO tried to spin their words.
And where’s the money for all that testing? As far as I know we don’t have a budget for it this year and if it goes into next year’s budget, how much of an increase would that be? Don’t we have enough of a financial crisis now with a total deficit of $350,000 that alone could increase our taxes by 20 percent next year?
As the old familiar saying goes, just say No.
VOLUNTEERS GET FOOD TO THE PANTRY
The monthly delivery of the Good Neighbor Food Pantry got us off to an early start on Tuesday. The many volunteers included Bobbie Blitzer, Hatti Iles, Mike Lourenso, Jim Hansen, Paul Shultis, Lisa Calcagno, Cary Baldwin, Catherine Hazard, Walter Bost, Linda Freaney, Al Abrams Bruce Abrams and others. Our friend Gene took a lot of pictures which we hope to use on our web site, our brochure, our facebook page, etc.
This shipment was totally lacking in soups, canned milk, tuna fish, sardines and eggs. A volunteer went out and bought the eggs. That’s a big deal because the volunteers at the pantry are making every effort to offer eggs to the pantry shoppers every week. Because we have a refrigerator we are able to do this. All in all, about 1000 people visit our pantry every month.
The pantry food delivery in July will be on Tuesday, June 19. Please mark your calendar and join us if you can.
If you need cardboard boxes, come over about 10 a.m. on the 19th. You are sure to find just the size and number of boxes you need.
The monthly Board Meeting of the Pantry will be held on Monday, June 27 at 7 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend our meeting which is held in the basement of the Woodstock Reformed Church.
Prior to the meeting of the Board, a training class is scheduled for persons interested in volunteering in the pantry. To come to the training class, please arrive at the Woodstock Reformed Church at 6 p.m. Monday, June 27. This class is also a good one to attend if you are just interested in learning more about the pantry and how it works. Refreshments will be served.
There is much to be read about the poor and social service but very little is written about the experiences of the individuals who visit our pantry and/or soup kitchens, emergency shelters, battered women’s shelters, etc. It’s important to approach this subject from the individual experience because that’s the only way we can learn the texture and fabric of the lives of people living on the margins of society and churches. People find themselves developing a profound resourcefulness and strength. They adapt and continue, no matter how deep their suffering.
Volunteers develop the ability to work in the pantry with integrity. When this happens, we are all healed. Food and healing go together. This changes everyone.
Peace and food for all.
Note to the Town Board: Stop…do no more harm. Work to fix the dire budget and resulting tax increase problems you have created. There are five and a half months to do it. Woodstock has been severely mismanaged. Please…no rewriting the Zoning Law. It certainly may need updating and simplifying, but hopefully the new board may be able to actually handle it professionally and with real community involvement and real transparency.
And please, no more plans to build any new town offices with gobbledygook financial strategies laid out by the supervisor. For instance: the explanation in last week’s Woodstock Times for the fixes to the current budget, which concluded with a repeat of the plan to sell the Woodstock Town Hall, instead of renovating it. The supervisor’s assessment stated that selling Town Hall could generate new tax revenue, not increase taxes and fix the 2012 budget (to be worked on by the current Town Board starting this August!) But oops, they forgot that the Police and Dispatch would still need a space. Rent it from the new owner? How soon will the “…municipal coffers” be filled with enough new tax revenue, from Town Hall as a retail space, to build something for the Police and Dispatch?
According to the paper, supervisor Moran has stated “…Woodstock’s taxpayers must determine the level of services that they require and…are willing to pay for” and he doesn’t know because “…only about 20 people make their views known.” This is outrageous, considering there is only a ten-minute segment at Town Board meetings for citizens to express themselves in a timed one minute until they are gonged off, usually with no response from any member of the Town Board.
The Town Board of Woodstock must try to focus on repairing the damage and it might be a good idea at this point to spend some of the coin in our coffers for more professional accounting consultants.
NO MORE POST TURTLES
Note to Terrie Rosenblum: voting with “supervisor” Jeff Moran 100% of the time over the course of four years is not an indication of leadership, any more than “I was only following orders” is an indication of innocence.
TRIM THE CORNERS, PLEASE
Wonderful June is here with the trees and shrubs in full foliage and looking beautiful. But it can make driving dangerous. This foliage is so abundant in many places that it becomes impossible to see clearly at intersections. And the highway department is not responsible for cutting back this stuff so it is up to the people to do it.
So I am asking all of you who live on corners to take a good look at the growth of foliage at your corner and cut it back as necessary. Please be a good neighbor and help make our highways safer for all of us.
KEEP THOSE BRICKS COMING
Wow! In less than a week from conception, more than 30 ‘brick by brick’ donations have arrived, for which the Youth and Family Council of Woodstock is grateful. Thank you all. We are also forming an Advisory Board, looking for parents of teenagers to participate as well as teenagers. It takes a village…please call 845-532-1354.
Mary Lou Paturel