Santa has deep roots here. Santa was everywhere at the Valatie WinterWalk Saturday, December 9, appropriately so since according to the Valatie Santa Claus Club, Valatie residents organized the nation’s first Santa Claus Club in 1946. The club’s story began just before Christmas in 1945, when a group of Valatie men learned of a young girl suffering from a terminal illness. They used their military separation pay to purchase a Santa Claus suit and a gift for her. On Christmas Eve, Santa paid a surprise visit to her home. The men then decided that they should do this for all the young children in the village. At this year’s WinterWalk, Santa installed himself on the stage of the Valatie Community Theatre. Photo by David Lee

Bridge kids make new site their own school

HUDSON–The Bridge Alternate Transition Program (ATP) is approaching its fifth year of offering youths an alternate path to high school graduation while expanding the courses, services and activities it provides.

Located at the Warren Street Academy (WSA), 11 Warren Street, Hudson between Front and First streets, the ATP admits 16-year-olds who have fewer high school credits than expected for their graduation cohort if it is determined that the student would have a better chance of eventually getting a high school diploma in the ATP. The program has smaller class sizes and more attention to social emotional development than the traditional high school setting. Students can stay in the ATP until getting enough credits to graduate, even if it takes them until after their 18th birthday. There is “no pattern as to how many years a student can stay here,” WSA Principal Daniel Kalbfliesh said in a November 30 interview.

ATP students “get their academics at the WSA” but remain members of their home high school and can participate in its extracurricular activities said Mr. Kalbfliesh. He called the WSA a “service to the home school district.” Many of its students graduate on the stage of their home high school. Read more…

Panel explains the ways culture spurs economy

HUDSON—Positioning the arts and a cultural life as a core strength of community development was the theme of Columbia County’s Creative Economy: Arts, Culture & Tourism Forum held at Hudson Hall on December 8.

Throughout the morning event, Gary Schiro, outgoing executive director of the Hudson Opera House, was saluted for the work he has done there. When Mr. Schiro was hired in 1998 as the first executive director, many at the time considered him the “babysitter of a white elephant with an uncertain future,” said Tony Jones, board president of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), which presented the event.

Mr. Schiro did not dispute that assessment, noting in his speech welcoming attendees that “20 years ago, this entire block was abandoned. No one then understood the impact of a creative economy.” But thanks to diverse programming for residents and visitors of all ages, the nay-sayers were proven wrong. Read more…

State OKs East Chatham traffic light

CHATHAM–The state Department of Transportation has approved a plan to put traffic lights and one-way signage on the Albany Turnpike Bridge in East Chatham. The announcement was made last month and released last week.

The state has been reviewing the plans for almost two years and the town received funds through the office of state Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd) in 2016 towards the cost of the project.

The bridge goes over train tracks owned by CSX. According to Chatham Town Supervisor Maria Lull, the Town Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the rail company in 2013 to rebuild the bridge “at no cost to the town in exchange for the town’s assumption of ownership and maintenance responsibility of the bridge upon completion.” The town has yet to take ownership of the bridge. Read more…

Hudson residents generate community wish lists

HUDSON – An “ideas lab” last month generated a variety of suggestions for making Hudson a place “where children and families can thrive.” Held November 5 at Helsinki Hudson, the gathering was part of the Raising Places project of Greater Good Studio (GGS), a Chicago-based organization that says it “designs tools for social change.”

CGS has been in existence six years, according to Project Director Sara Cantor Aye of Chicago. The goal of the Raising Places project, she said, is to “inspire community transformation by empowering local change agents to build healthier places where children and families can thrive. We wanted to learn about how child-centered places are created.”

Funding will come from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read more…

K’hook fatal crashes prompt call to go slow

KINDERHOOK–At the last regular Town Board meeting of the year, Councilwoman Patsy Leader thanked emergency responders who dealt with two fatal car accidents on Route 9 last month. She said at least one of the accidents involved speeding on the state route that runs through the town. “We have to start watching our speeds,” she said at December 4 meeting.

Ms. Leader thanked the local fire companies and the rescue squad, as well as local law enforcement, for their response to the accidents on November 16 near Golden Harvest and on November 22 near Birch Road, saying they “were not easy scenes.” Each accident involved one fatality.

Town Supervisor Pat Grattan said the county Sheriff’s Office had asked to borrow the town’s electronic speed sign–which shows drivers their speed as they drive by it. Mr. Grattan said that the sign was set up along a section of Route 9. He said Sheriff’s Office had “stepped-up” patrols in that area as well. Ms. Leader said state police were also patrolling the road. Read more…