Was it cruel? Paper asks local vet

Diane Valden in The Columbia Paper attempts to see the point of view of Hillsdale farmers Jim Clapp, 76, his wife Ida, 74, and their son Charles, 49, who were each charged last week with 33 misdemeanor counts of failure to provide proper sustenance to some of their dairy animals by Columbia-Greene Humane Society investigators and Sheriff’s deputies. (They pled not guilty Wednesday.) While the Clapps are not talking, Valden did speak to local veterinarian George Beneke who was at the Clapps’ Sunny Mead farm when humane society officials visited:

“It’s complicated,” he said of the situation. The Clapps “have had it tougher than a lot of other farmers,” said Dr. Beneke, who has over 40 years of experience in the field. “They haven’t had any excess money for treatment and vaccinations, and I wished they had wormed them, but there was feed in front of those animals, though there was not money for grain,” he said. “Some of the animals looked very well and others looked very thin, but there are a lot of thin animals in the county right now, if you look closely,” Dr. Beneke said. “They were trying to do the best with the feed stuffs they had–haylage and corn silage–but some of it had spoiled. Though they tried to use only the best of it, it was very difficult.” Before the sale of the milking herd, the three of them were trying to take care of 175 head, which is more than they should have been doing, he said. The family hoped to make it through the winter, waiting for the spring grass so they could pasture the animals. The dead animals died of gangrene, mastitis, giving birth and scours–none of them died of starvation, the vet confirmed. “Their judgment could have been better,” says the vet who remained sympathetic to the difficulties the family faced. Still “it takes some source of income” to pay for an adequate parasite treatment and vaccination program, he said. Ron Perez, humane society president and investigator, agreed the “economic woes” of dairy farmers is a factor in the case, but he said that the Clapps are experienced dairy farmers and should have asked for help from the humane society and the local dairy community. Read the entire story in The Columbia Paper.

Next DSS meeting is Thursday at 4:15 p.m.

Franceseca Olsen in the Register-Star reports that Columbia County Board of Supervisors’ Space Utilization Subcommittee, which is trying to find a location for Department of Social Services within 60 to 90 days, meets today at 4:15 p.m. at 325 Columbia St., Hudson. Olsen reports that at a Columbia Economic Development Corporation meeting this week, BOS Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown, and Supervisor (and county budget/corporate compliance officer) Art Baer, R-Hillsdale, “vocally opposed the CEDC’s plan to use $14,000 to fund a study of the economic impact on moving DSS out of Hudson.” The CEDC will pay Camion and Associates from New York City, “for the purpose of conducting a study on the economic impacts derived from the location of … DSS.” Read the entire story in the Register-Star.

UPDATE: Register-Star’s Olsen attended meeting and says, “the Board of Supervisors’ Space Utilization Subcommittee Thursday evening… voted unanimously to, ‘limit site selection to only within the city of Hudson without documenting the need for DSS to remain within the city limits.'”

Pay raises for Columbia County employees

The Register-Star reports that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors voted for a two percent pay raise for county employees Wednesday night. Supervisors voting “yes” on the pay raise were: Chairman Roy Brown, R-Germantown; Jeffrey Braley, R-Austerlitz; Reggie Crowley, R-Copake; Deputy Chairman Larry Andrews, R-Ghent; Art Baer, R-Hillsdale; Ed Cross, D-Hudson2; William Hallenbeck Jr., R-Hudson3; Deputy Chairman Bart Delaney, R-Hudson5; Pat Grattan, R-Kinderhook; Kevin McDonald, R-Livingston; Leo Pulcher, R-Stockport; and Valerie Bertram, R-Stuyvesant. Voting against: Art Bassin, D-Ancram; Robin Andrews, D-Claverack; Ray Staats, D-Clermont; Minority Leader Jesse DeGroodt, D-Chatham; Lynda Scheer, R-Gallatin; Ed Nabozny, I-Greenport; John Musall, D-Hudson1; William Hughes, D-Hudson4; and Margaret Robertson, D-New Lebanon.

Columbia County’s Serpico

The New York Times profiled Frank Serpico, the New York City policeman who complained about corruption on the force, and got a movie made based on his life. The Times interviews him at a health-food store in Harlemville, near his Columbia County home where he raises chickens and guinea hens on 50 acres with no TV or internet. At the end of the story the writer, Corey Kilgannon, shows Serpico the Al Pacino-starring movie, he claims for the first time, at the Kinderhook library.

Officials stressing One City Centre purchase

Check out that headline in The Register-Star by the usually smarter writer Francesca Olsen. If you read deep down in her story you see why the officials are stressing a future building purchase: they don’t want you to think about the tax increase they just passed. Five paragraphs in Olsen mentions “Local laws renewing an additional half-percent of mortgage tax and an additional $2 per $1,000 of additional transfer tax on real property were also enacted.” Finally, seven paragraphs in, Olsen quotes Rick Rielly, president of the Columbia-Greene Board of Realtors, saying, “These are taxes, any way you look at it.” Olsen doesn’t even dare to say who voted for the tax, only that, “The renewal of taxes passed, with Supervisor John Musall, D-Hudson 1, abstaining, Supervisor William Hughes, D-Hudson 4, voting no on the additional transfer tax, and Supervisor Ed Cross, D-Hudson 2, voting no on the renewal.” Cross voted no on both taxes.

UPDATE:
Here is who voted for the mortgage tax:
Ancram’s Thomas Dias; Canaan’s Richard Keaveney; Chatham’s Jesse DeGroodt; Claverack’s James Keegan; Clermont’s Raymond Staats; Copake’s Reginald Crowley; Gallatin’s Lynda Scheer; Germantown’s Roy Brown; Ghent’s Lawrence Andrews; Greenport’s John Rutkey Sr.; Hillsdale’s Arthur Baer; Hudson’s 4th Ward-William Hughes, 5th Ward -Bart Delaney; Kinderhook’s Douglas McGivney; Livingston’s Philip Williams; New Lebanon’s Margaret Robertson; Stockport’s Leo Pulcher; Stuyvesant’s Valerie Bertram; Taghkanic’s Elizabeth Young. The same group voted for the transfer tax, except for Hudson’s William Hughes, who voted against.

Today’s local headlines

Brown replaces Scheer as deputy on county board
From Parry Teasdale in The Columbia Paper

HUDSON — Chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) shuffled the leadership of the board, with Germantown Supervisor Roy Brown (R) replacing Gallatin Supervisor Lynda Scheer, as a deputy chairman of the board. Baer’s announcement of the move Friday said that Ms. Scheer resigned from the post “for personal reasons.” Brown stood with Baer on his controversial plan to buy the Ockawamick School building on Route 217 in Claverack and, initially, move much of the Department of Social Services there from Hudson. The change takes effect September 1.

Copake board finds ways to agree except on the deficit
From Diana Valden in The Columbia Paper

COPAKE – This is the sort of amazing story about local town meetings that is almost never written ’round these parts. Instead of deciding one of the night’s actions constituted a story and the rest did not, Valden bullet points 10 items that the usually contentious-across-party-lines town board agreed on last week. Then she writes how Councilman Bob Sacks, who has advocated cutting the town’s police force to cover the recently discovered large deficit, reported he was told by the Sheriff’s Office that patrols from that office cover Copake and all of Columbia County 24/7. Sacks also quoted the supervisors of other towns saying they could not afford their own police force and had no need for one because of coverage by the Sheriff’s Office and State Police. Copake Town Police Commissioner Jeff Nayer, then shouted, “Other towns don’t set what we do!” Mr. Nayer said that the Police Department had offered to cut 17 percent of its budget to help the town deal with the deficit, while other departments offered nothing.

New parties make ballot for November
From Jim Planck in The Daily Mail

Have A Voice candidates Karen Deyo, Keith Valentine, Linda Overbaugh, and Joseph Izzo will appear on the November ballot, as will Grassroots of Durham candidate Les Armstrong. The Have a Voice folks are Republicans, joining fellow GOPer Overbaugh in this bid to stay on the ballot for the four Catskill Greene County Legislature seats, after errors in her previous petitions kept her off the Republican line. Likewise with Armstrong, a Republican attempting to primary against Elsie Allan but now facing Allan and Democrat Sean Frey for the Durham seat on the legislature. Overbaugh and Armstrong’s third-party bids went unchallenged by opponents.

State parks in Columbia County fare better than most
From Mike McCagg in ccScoop

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation shows attendance at parks in the Taconic Region of the state park system, which includes Columbia County, is down 3.7 percent in the period from July 2008 through July 2009. Across New York, park attendance is down 4.5 percent, to 27.2 million visitors. Attendance dropped at the Clermont State Historic Site 18.5 percent to 43,456 visitors, at the Clermont State Historic Site 4.1 percent to 61,896 visitors, at the Olana State Historic Site 14.1 to 61,896 visitors, and at Lake Taghkanic State Park, 5.2 percent, to 95,862. At Taconic State Park in Copake attendance was up 12.9 percent to 13,313, and in Copake Falls attendance rose 5 percent to 73,066 visitors.

Farmland Protection on the way
From Francesca Olsen in The Register-Star

Last Tuesday the Planning and Economic Development Committee passed a resolution to apply for state grant funding for developing a Farmland Protection Plan, with matching funds to be provided by the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), as Columbia County is one of the few in the state without such a plan. The Columbia County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board submitted drafts of a plan to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, but was not approved.

Mario’s moves forward with new warehouse
From Paul Crossman in The Register-Star

VALATIE — Mario’s True Value Home Center is planning a new 20,000-square-foot lumber supply warehouse, and hopes to have closed on the new location by sometime in early September, with winter construction.

Today’s local headlines

Proposal leaves DSS in Hudson
From The Register-Star

HUDSON – Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) and Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera stood together at a press conference Tuesday and announced a new proposal that would keep the Department of Social Services in Hudson. The county would buy the One City Centre building on the corner of State and Green streets in Hudson; departments currently in the County Office Buildings at 401 and 610 State Street would move to City Centre. The total square footage of 401 and 610 State Street is 36,000 square feet, 24,000 at 401 and 12,000 at 610 State Street. DSS would stay in its current building on Railroad Avenue for the duration of its lease, which ends in 2011; and then move to One City Centre. Baer called the proposal “a great solution for a difficult problem” and said “I’m looking forward to implementing it.” “The logistics of the planning — there’s a lot to discuss,” said Scalera. “The commitment to keep DSS in the city of Hudson is what we’ve been working for.” Baer previously opposed such a plan, but switched positions because of falling real estate values. The Register-Star says One City Centre was going for $5 million last year, but now is selling for $2 million. “This is not a done deal,” Baer said. “We are only in discussion with the bank. There are still many pieces that have to be put together in the puzzle.”

Copake Green project set to sprout again
From CCScoop

COPAKE – Large developers bring big projects to small towns in this area, and often get special treatment. Like in Copake last week, where Housing Resources Executive Director Kevin O’Neill got to re-introduce his 139-unit Copake Green project to a Copake Planning Board meeting even though he was not on the agenda. From the CCscoop story:

“Although O’Neill did not request to be put on the agenda ten days in advance of the meeting — the Planning Board requirement — [Planning Board Chairman Marcia] Becker explained that, because there was a light agenda in July and because Housing Resources owns land in the town, she believed allowing O’Neill to make his twenty-minute presentation was the right thing to do.’It caused an uproar that we let him speak. . . . So from now on we are adhering to the ten-day rule,’ Becker said.”

Medical center, bank storage get green light
From The Daily Mail

CATSKILL – The Catskill Planning Board approved site plans for the 3,000 square-foot Urgent Care facility proposed for Grandview Avenue and for a Bank of Greene County storage facility on Windsor Street after hearing brief presentations on each proposal. The medical facility used Architect Josh Pulver, a relative of planning board member Michelle Pulver. She recused herself when it came to the vote, but as an anonymous reader commented on the story, “Nothing assures the approval of a project better than hiring the relative of a judge and town planner as your architect, and paying him astronomical fees.”

Copake opts for outside budget review
From The Columbia Paper

COPAKE–The Copake Town Board hired a second accountant to make sure the first accountant’s figures of a estimated $175,000 budget shortfall are correct. “We all agree that our first course of action should be an independent audit to verify the numbers or find out if they are not correct. We have to know where we are,” Town Supervisor Reggie Crowley told the audience at the Town Board’s regular monthly meeting July 9.

Court Sides With GOP On Ravitch, Paterson Vows To Appeal
From The Daily News’ The Daily Politics

ALBANY – State Supreme Court Justice William R. LaMarca granted the Republican Party’s motion for a preliminary injunction that prevents just-appointed Lt. Govenor Richard Ravitch from “exercising any of the powers” of the LG’s office, pending a final judgment, noting there is no provision in the Constitution that allows the governor to appoint a replacement LG when a vacancy occurs in that office.

Today’s local headlines

The local and statewide deadlocks took tiny steps toward resolution Wednesday. The Register-Star reports that Supervisor Doug McGivney, D-Kinderhook, introduced a resolution at the last minute at the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Full Board meeting Wednesday that the Board of Supervisors will “endorse the concept of exploring the obtaining and retention of the services of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) for the purposes of review, study and recommendations concerning all aspects of building or capital needs of Columbia County.” It passed unanimously. But don’t think this means the kerfuffle between Columbia County Supervisor Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) and the city of Hudson, largely over where the Department of Social Services ends up, is over. “That’s one of the areas I think they would provide us potentially with some assistance,” he said. “I think we’re going to expose them to the process that the Board went through, let them take a look at the data, and if they can come up with some other option, then we’re certainly going to listen to it….At the same time, we’re not going to pull the emergency brake and stop all our actions with respect to engineering and design with respect to Ockawamick,” said Baer. “How could you invite people in to study something while you are moving forward? I don’t think that’s acceptable to this problem,” Linda Mussmann of the Bottom Line Party and TSL said. “The reality is we need a plan that’s going to work. That, I think, finally, everybody has understood.”… New York Govenor David Paterson appointed Richard Ravitch to fill the vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor, according to Capitol Confidential. Ravitch is a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. There will clearly be legal challengers to whether the Governor is allowed to appoint a lietenant governor, as potential Governor candidate Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has already announced the move is illegal. Columbia County Assemblyman Marcus J. Molinaro (R,C,I-Red Hook) wasted no time calling the move unconstitutional, and said, “Ravitch…masterminded the $2.3 billion MTA bailout plan that include[d] a devastating payroll tax which disproportionately hurts Hudson Valley businesses, school districts, municipalities and not-for-profits.”… The Town of Athens implemented a resolution to add a $150 fee to all 50-foot non-commercial wind turbines, according to The Daily Mail…. The Times Union gives Hudson’s Baba Louie’s a “pretty serious rave.”… The Times Union terminated 15 full-time and three part-time employees, including 11 full-time employees in the newsroom, according to the paper. Among the employees let go were Monica Bartoszek, a senior editor and the newspaper’s reader representative; Alan Wechsler, author of a regular column about the outdoors; Bill Callen, sports editor; and Marlene Kennedy, business editor and a weekly columnist. The Newspaper Guild said, “the Company’s actions come while the parties are supposed to be negotiating layoff criteria, talks that resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Last week, the Guild filed two information requests over the proposed criteria, which the newspaper has yet to answer.”

Today’s local headlines

Art Baer, the chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, sat down with The Register-Star after taking a lot of heat in that paper the last few months without much comment. Baer, R-Hillsdale, generally continued his fight with politicians in Hudson in the 90-minute interview, blaming the criticism on meetings being held in that city, and saying that Hudson officials think only of themselves. Baer has been criticized for proposing the county move the Department of Social Services from Hudson to Ockawamick and close and relocate the Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center from Philmont. Just this week he stirred up another storm by advocating moving homeless people into the 139-year-old St. Charles Hotel in Hudson. “His major frustration has been his inability to communicate with the public,” The Register-Star wrote. “We don’t have media, we don’t have coverage,” Baer said to the media…..The Daily Mail reports that Catskill’s revised subdivision law will be available for public review next week, with a public hearing soon after….The Austerlitz Town Board adopted a zoning law Thursday, according to The Register-Star. Town Supervisor George P. Jahn also said that the Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Philmont should not be moved to Kinderhook at the town’s meeting….The Town of Durham wants to put a cell phone antenna at 44 McAfferty Road, according to The Daily Mail. Some residents, who probably put cell phones next to their brains occasionally, say the 90-foot-high tower will give them cancer. The town kept the public hearing open until June 30.