Audio recording of Lafarge DEC hearing last night in Ravena

WGXC’s Sam Sebren made it out to record the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation legislative hearing for renewal and modification of the existing Lafarge Title V Air Permit application last night at 6 p.m. at the Ravena-Coeymans Selkirk High School Auditorium.

Click here to listen to mp3 audio recording of the hearing, or paste the following url into your computer’s media player:

Review the complete LaFarge application documents at this link: http://www.dec.ny.gov/dardata/boss/afs/draft_atv_l.html. The DEC will be accepting written comments until May 21. Please mail or email your comments & include the application number so your comments aren’t lost.
Mail to:
Sarah H. Evans
NYSDEC Region 4 Headquarters
1130 North Westcott Rd.
Schenectady, NY 12306
518-357-2069
r4dep@gw.dec.state.ny.us
Application ID# : 4-0124-00001/00112

30 speak, largely worried about mercury at Lafarge

From Brian Nearing in The Albany Times-Union:

Several hundred people turned out for a hearing Tuesday on the proposed state air pollution permit for the Lafarge cement plant, and nearly all gave the same message — the state must do more to limit the amount of mercury and other toxins coming from the smokestack. “I think we are splitting hairs here over just how much they are poisoning us,” said Leigh Jamison, who lives about seven miles downwind of the Route 9W plant in Stuyvesant, Columbia County. Nearly 30 people spoke during the three-hour hearing held across from the plant at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Read the entire story in the Times-Union.

WGXC’s Sam Sebren was at the hearing, and made a recording we will upload on Wednesday.

Senate, Assembly approve extender budget

From Casey Seiler at Capitol Confidential:

The Senate approved the one-week extender on a straight party-line vote, 32-29 [which means Columbia County’s representative Steve Saland and Greene County’s James Seward both voted against the measure], while the Assembly vote was slightly more mixed: 82-56.

From Rick Karlin and Jimmy Vielkind at the Albany Times-Union:

Assemblyman Tim Gordon told the protesters he would vote against a budget extender. He had been undecided about the vote; by tying the furlough provision to a measure that funds the government, Paterson has jammed several legislators, particularly Capital Region representatives whose constituencies include large numbers of state workers. “If it’s not legal, it’s very difficult to vote for,” said Gordon, I-Bethlehem. “I’ve been deliberating all weekend, and I’ve come to my conclusion: I’m voting no.”

Final Lafarge public hearing May 11

Hilary Hawke in The Daily Mail reports:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced a legislative hearing for renewal and modification of the existing Lafarge Title V Air Permit application on May 11, 6 p.m. at the Ravena-Coeymans Selkirk High School Auditorium. All New York State contaminant-emitting facilities must have either a Title V Air permit, a state facility permit or a registration certificate. Lafarge’s permit expired in 2006 and it has been running under an extension since then. The company, which manufactures Portland cement and operates a limestone quarry, has extensive plans for modernizing the plant, the kilns and for reducing emissions. Administrative Law Judge Richard A. Sherman will preside over the hearing session and will accept unsworn statements on both the Title V application and the draft permit. Any member of the public potentially affected by the proposed project is invited to attend and provide oral or written comments. DEC originally gave public notice for the project in November 2009 and provided a 30-day comment period, later extended to 68 days, which ended on January 11, 2010. Rick Georgeson, DEC Region 4 spokesman, said the agency scheduled the May 11 hearing based on 44 comments, all in written or e-mail form, received during the public comment period. He also said 32 individuals expressed interest in further hearings. Georgeson said that after the May 11 hearing, “DEC will issue a response to the public comments. Going forward DEC can either issue or deny the Lafarge permit or issue a permit with added conditions.” The final decision can take anywhere from months to years. Read the entire story in The Daily Mail.

Gordon to host Hudson River estuary forum Thursday

From The Columbia Paper:

Assemblyman Tim Gordon (I-108th) will hold a public forum to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at the Castleton Boat Club, 92 Main Street to discuss ideas and future plans for the Hudson River estuary. Castleton is on Route 9J just north of the Columbia County line. Among the guests at “Our Hudson River: A Community Conversation” will be state Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Coordinator Fran Dunwell, who will present the 2010-12 Draft Action Agenda and will field questions from the community about the DEC’s vision for the river. Other presenters and guests include Rene Van Schaak, a member of the Hudson River Management Advisory Board, and representatives from several community groups in the region. Parking is available at the club as are docking facilities for those arriving by boat.

Local newspaper chain buys last independent Greene County weekly

The Hudson-Catskill Newspaper Corp. — the company that runs the only daily newspapers in each county (The Daily Mail and Register-Star) as well as weekly papers in Chatham, Windham, and on the mountaintop — bought Greene County’s only remaining weekly, the Greene County Local Courier, and The Ravena News-Herald, from George McHugh, today’s issue of the Courier reports. The story names frequent contributor Melanie Lekocevic as new editor, and says H-CN plans to continue publishing both weeklies. The story does not say whether the purchased papers will now get web sites. Earlier this year The Greenville Press ceased publication.

Kinderhook’s Gibson to challenge Murphy in U.S. 20th Congressional District


WGXC recorded the nomination speech of Kinderhook Republican Congressional hopeful Chris Gibson today at 3 p.m. at the Desmond Hotel near the Albany airport. Click here to listen to an mp3 recording of Gibson’s short speech plus four questions from the assembled media. WGXC’s Tom Roe asks Gibson what he would do to help struggling dairy farmers in rural Greene and Columbia counties. Gibson said he supported the concept of eating locally grown food, and mentioned a farm workers bill in the state legislature. Gibson will try and unseat Democratic incumbent Scott Murphy in the fall. Gibson was the point guard of the Ichabod Crane High School basketball team, and a Colonel with 24 years in the Army including four combat tours of Iraq and one tour in Kosovo, with an array of medals such as a Purple Heart and two Legions of Merit. He has a Masters in Public Administration and PhD in Government from Cornell University, and served as a Congressional Fellow with U.S. Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA).

Cairo Chamber of Commerce hosting jazz series at Gallagher’s

The Cairo Chamber of Commerce continues their jazz series at Gallagher’s Banquet Hall, 513 Main St. in Cairo, at 8 p.m., Friday, February 19 with Rensselaerville‘s Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers will perform at the Fat Tuesday concert. Tickets are $15 in advance (at Chamber office, 536 Main St., 622-3939).

AG: New York settles with Lafarge over emissions

From Casey Seiler in Capitol Confidential:

[A] multistate settlement, just announced by the office of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, includes 11 other states and affects operations at 13 cement plants — including the Ravena facility that’s been the subject of controversy for years.

According to the Attorney General’s press release, the settlement requires LaFarge to take the following steps:

* Eliminate a total of over 9,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 26,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each year from its plants, including those in upwind states whose pollution impacts New York.
* Either construct a new Ravena plant – as the company has proposed – or retrofit the existing facility with aggressive air pollution reduction technology. In either case, Ravena’s air pollution emissions will be cut by roughly 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each year – equivalent to reductions of more than 30% and 80%, respectively.
* Pay a civil penalty and provide funding for environmental benefit projects totaling $5.07 million, with $3.38 million of that amount going to the federal government and the coalition of states receiving $1.69 million. Of that amount, New York State will receive $490,000 to fund energy efficiency and pollution reduction mitigation projects in communities near the Ravena plant.

Local state senators vote against same-sex marriage

Local New York State Senators Jim Seward (who represents Greene County and other areas) and Steve Saland (who represents Columbia County and other areas) both voted “No” today on the Same-Sex Marriage vote in the New York State Senate. The measure failed, 38-24. In May, local Assemblyman Tim Gordon, D-108th, voted “yes” on the bill, while Pete Lopez, R-127th, voted “no”, and Marc Molinaro, R-103rd, was absent.

Today’s local headlines

Time to end name game
The Greenville Press, no web site, no links

RENSSELAERVILLE – Linda Fenoff reports in The Greenville Press that 40 members of the Chase family hold elected, appointed, or paid positions in Rensselaerville. The town’s Budget Committee wants a job description for all appointed town positions. A nepotism law failed there last year, but the code of ethics was updated. The budget committee has also recommended that the Town Board use a zero-base budget, starting each budget proposal from zero rather than basing each year’s budget on the past year.

Greene Rooms
http://seeinggreene.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html

GREENE COUNTY – Dick May’s Seeing Greene blog digs deeper into one of his favorite subjects, the Friar Tuck Resort on Route 32. Friar Tuck recently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and, according to May, owes, “Ulster Savings Bank ($3.1 million), tax authorities ($400,000), a fuel supplier ($266,000), and food providers.” May uses the story to troll Trip Advisor for consumer reviews of local resorts. He finds that Friar Tuck, Catskill’s Quality Inn, and Hunter’s Kaatskill Mountain Club get bad reviews, while Freehold’s Sunny Hill; Acra’s Lange’s Grove Side and Acra Manor; Windham’s Catskill Lodge, Catskill Maison, Hotel Vienna, and Thompson House; Hunter’s Hunter Inn and Scribner Hollow Lodge all get glowing notices.

Central Hudson Raising Rates
http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2009/06/19/news/doc4a3b0de85bb6a375184110.txt

POUGHKEEPSIE — Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. won permission from the state Public Service Commission on Thursday to raise the rate it charges for electricity delivery by 8.5 percent and the rate it charges for natural gas delivery by 23.5 percent. The rate hikes, which take effect July 1, were approved in a unanimous vote by commissioners, who agreed with the recommendations of state Administrative Law Judges David Prestemon and Jeffrey Stockholm that Central Hudson be allowed to raise its revenue projections by $38 million for electricity delivery and $13.6 million for natural gas delivery.

Unemployment Down In Greene County
http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2009/06/19/news/doc4a3b0c0387195406564277.txt

ALBANY — New York’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 8.2 percent in May, up from 7.7 percent in April, the state Labor Department announced on Thursday. The may rate is the state’s highest since February 1993. Locally, the unemployment rates rose from April to May in Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Orange and Sullivan counties. Joblessness decreased slightly in Greene and Delaware counties. In New York City, the May unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, an increase from 7.8 in April 2009 and a significant jump from 4.8 percent in May 2008. The highest rate outside New York City — 9.7 percent — was in Steuben County. The lowest unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in Tompkins County.

LIVE TONIGHT:

First Gay Pride Festival in Greene County, all day, Catskill with Chrissy Budzinski, Anthony Michael, Nedra Johnson, Cantinero, The Young Brothers, Amy Serrago, and others.

Downtown Ensemble with Brian Dewan, accordian, Bill Hellerman, voice, Yvette Perez, vocals/keyboard, and Peter Zummo, trombone, 8 p.m. at Hudson Opera House. $15.