Murphy new mayor in Saugerties

From William J. Kemble in The Daily Freeman:

The Village Board Monday appointed Trustee William Murphy mayor for the next year as a full-time replacement for the retired Robert Yerick. The appointment was made in a unanimous vote, with the first order of business for Murphy, a seven-year trustee, to leave the Village Board table to acknowledge the cheers of his daughters Jillian, 6, and Jaclyn, 9, with kisses. Yerick, who served as mayor for 12 years, stepped down on March 2 due to health problems. The second order of business for Murphy was to let residents know that agendas for future meetings will be posted on the village Web site. “I want a more public-friendly environment, more input from the public, and that’s why I want to make myself available evenings,” Murphy said. Murphy said office hours are expected to be set for Mondays and Wednesdays, with Thursday evenings and Saturdays set aside to meet with residents by appointments.

Opus 40 for sale

The Watershed Post is reporting that Opus 40, a massive bluestone sculpture built by Harvey Fite over 37 years on an abandoned quarry, is for sale for $3.5 million. The Saugerties property includes a house with 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,860 square feet of living space, and that world-renowned earthwork. From the story:

Since Fite’s accidental death in 1976, Opus 40 has been maintained and kept open to the public by his family. The current owner, Fite’s stepson Tad Richards, wants to sell the property so he can retire. Susan Barnett of WAMC reported today that the town of Saugerties is looking into buying Opus 40. Special projects coordinator Vernon Benjamin hinted that it might qualify for federal stimulus funds: Opus 40 is shovel ready, so to speak, for cultural and arts organization type use. That’s a bit of a shift from last week’s Daily Freeman story, which reported that the town was looking for a nonprofit to take over the site. What seems clear is that Saugerties has a stake in the future of Fite’s masterpiece–and that Opus 40 becoming a private playground would be a great loss, both for the town and for the cultural heritage of the region.

Today’s local headlines

Greene Supports Cement

CATSKILL — Greene County lawmakers on Wednesday roundly endorsed operations of local cement manufacturers to remind state and federal officials that the industry is important to the local economy. The support was given in a unanimous vote, with one absence, during a county Legislature meeting, where officials asked that funding for modernization be considered for Holcim U.S. and Lehigh Northeast Cement Co. in Catskill as well as LaFarge North America in Ravena in Albany County.

Ulster has first swine flu death

KINGSTON – Ulster County Thursday reported its first swine flu associated fatality. The individual was a man from Saugerties who had been hospitalized with underlying medical conditions in addition to the flu.

Hudson Valley Job Losses

The Hudson Valley lost another 18,300 jobs year over year in June, bringing to 746,400 the number of people who have become unemployed in the last 12 months, the state Labor Department reported Thursday. Putnam is feeling the least relative pain, with a 7 percent jobless rate last month. At the bottom, Sullivan and Greene, close to 9 percent.

DOT: Portions of Route 23 to close

ASHLAND – The Department of Transportation will be close a section of Route 23 between the towns of Ashland and Prattsville starting July 20 to address long-recognized slope stabilization problems adjacent to the old Catholic church. Both lanes will be shut down to fix the road. This is the first of three jobs, totaling $2.2 million, on Route 23, though the other two will not shut down both lanes. A detour will be set up on Route 296 in Windham and then onto Hensonville and Hunter, where they can connect with Route 23A into Prattsville, more than 20 miles out of the way.

Utility ratepayers could get stuck for millions in unfunded stimulus program

ALBANY – The federal stimulus package is going to providefunds for New York utilities – including Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation and Orange and Rockland Utilities – but the money would only pay for half of the cost of the $1 billion program. Smart grid utility projects proposed by the utility companies may qualify for stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The term smart grid refers to the application of various digital technologies to, among other things, modernize and automate transmission and distribution assets to anticipate and respond to system disturbances, enable greater use of variable energy sources, including renewable energy, and provide the capability for customers to control their energy consumption effectively.

Greene Lawsuit Settled

CATSKILL — Greene County lawmakers have agreed to pay an engineering firm $35,000 to settle a lawsuit over disputed bills for services. At a Legislature meeting Wednesday, officials said the county had withheld $24,899 from Crawford and Associates Engineering for services on the county Mental Health building in Cairo and $30,368 from the firm for its alleged failure to include required electrical services in the design of the county Highway Department building in Athens. The firm had sought $95,000 in its lawsuit against the county.

Artist and musician Roger Mason moves studio into Chatham’s clock tower

CHATHAM – Musician Roger Mason, who has played with Bob Dylan, Itzhak Perlman, John Denver, members of The Band, the Carradine Brothers and Larry Campbell, who produced Levon Helm, is moving his studio into the third floor of the clocktower in Chatham.