The blues return to Austerlitz. A crowd turned out at Old Austerlitz Village to watch Trish Marki of the Wildlife Institute of Eastern New York lead the birds of prey demonstration at the 16th annual Blueberry Festival Sunday, July 26. Also at the event were blueberry treats including blueberry pancakes, ice cream and pie; entertainment, artisan demonstrations and vendors. The Austerlitz Historical Society sponsors the festival every year and puts all proceeds towards maintaining the historic buildings on the eight-acre property owned by the society. Photo by Scott Langley

Public defender calls for ‘new approach’ to heroin

HUDSON–“Heroin is a scourge. It’s not only a police and crime problem. It’s a health problem. It’s a vertical malignancy,” Public Defender Robert Linville told the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee at its meeting Thursday, July 16.

He said that heroin addiction is passed down through generations, adding, “We are awash in it in Columbia County,”

“Our children have friends who have died of it,” Mr. Linville said. “I know pregnant women who are addicted. Their babies will be born addicted.” Sometimes the mother was born addicted. Read more…

Hudson school board reaches full strength again

HUDSON–Sumayyah Shabazz joined the Hudson City School District Board of Education at the board’s meeting Monday, July 27. She fills the vacancy created by the recent resignation of Peter Rice.

Ms. Shabazz was the only person to apply for the position, and at the meeting the board appointed her unanimously. Immediately, Ms. Shabazz took the oath of office, administered by Board Clerk Frieda Van Deusen, and took her seat at the board table. All seven places on the school board are now filled again. Read more…

State gives 14 power line plans an F

HUDSON–The state Public Service Commission (PSC) staff has issued an Interim Report recommending the state agency drop consideration of all but 8 of 22 proposals for new or upgraded high voltage electricity transmission lines through the Hudson Valley. Several of the remaining proposals would still run through parts of Columbia County.

The proposals were initially requested after Governor Cuomo, in his 2014 State of the State address, called for an “Energy Highway” plan to upgrade and expand the state’s electrical power grid. One focus of that plan was to eliminate what experts have called “bottlenecks” in the high voltage lines that bring cheaper power from upstate sources to the New York City metropolitan area and the rest of the southeastern part of the state. Some of those lines considered part of the bottleneck run through Greenport, Claverack and Livingston, and have been in place for decades. Read more…

AG goes after Cascino

New charges filed in supreme court cite continued violations

COPAKE—The weather isn’t the only thing heating up around here. The State Attorney General’s Office is fired up about Salvatore Cascino’s numerous violations of state law and regulations over the past few years and has been filing a storm of legal papers aimed at putting Mr. Cascino in the hot seat.

Mr. Cascino, 75, is a serial scofflaw who has a 17-year history of violations of federal, state and town laws for illegal dumping, building and excavating. Read more…

K’hook hands off assessments to county… for now

VALATIE–The Kinderhook Town Board has approved a contract to have the county Real Property Tax Service Agency take over the assessment services in the town. The board made the decision at its regular monthly meeting Monday evening, July 13.

The town’s assessor, Tom Griffen, retired recently after working under a contract with the town for several years. At this week’s board meeting the board hired his clerk, Cathy Knott, to continue working in the assessor’s office Mondays to Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon during the summer for $20 an hour. Read more…