They break bread and cupcakes together. Event Chairperson Tonya Carter (l) and Lucy Eldridge (second from l) apply the whipped cream to a slice of pie as Summer Shea watches at the fourth annual Whole Lot of Love Roast Beef Dinner held in the Copake Memorial Park Building. The feast and silent auction is a Valentine’s Day fundraising event put on by the Episcopal Church Women of the Church of  St. John in the Wilderness in Copake Falls. The event is always open to the public, and according to Ms. Carter, it is not just geared toward couples but to individuals as well. As the diners moved from their main course to the desserts, the estimate was about 100 dinners were served or taken out. Photo by David Lee

Hudson school upgrades look to April start date

HUDSON–The Board of Education awarded the general construction work contract for Hudson High School’s new athletic field to Shaker Flats Landscaping, Inc., of West Lebanon, for $1.9 million at the board meeting Monday, February 13.

Athletic field plans are “still under budget,” and “they’re still talking about breaking ground April 17,” Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier told the meeting.

Thanking the community for its generosity, the superintendent said that district officials have begun considering whether the new scoreboard could add “bells and whistles.” Last fall administrators were uncertain whether the new field would even have a scoreboard, but that changed after a recent contribution from the Hudson River Bank and Trust Foundation for $2,500. Read more…

Chatham sees need to more than double water charges

CHATHAM–Attendance was sparse but the questions were plentiful last week at the Village Board hearing on a proposal to raise water and sewer service charges by over 150% in some cases.

Ahead of the February 9 hearing the board mailed all village water users a letter that outlined the need for the increases and showed how rates would change. The water system also extends southeast from the village down state Route 66 into the hamlet of Ghent, and some water customers outside village would also see an increase.

Mayor Tom Curran acknowledged at the hearing that the board had already determined to approve the rate increase. Only seven members of the public turned out. A heavy snowfall earlier that day was followed by frigid temperatures, but the residents who did show up asked detailed questions about the increases and by the end of the 50-minute hearing the board decided to continue the hearing later this month. Read more…

Supervisors deal with services, sales tax

HUDSON–The Columbia County Board of Supervisors passed resolutions relating to sales taxes, bus service and housing at the full board meeting Wednesday, February 8.

Among the resolutions was the annual request that the state legislature to allow Columbia County to continue its 4% sales tax, instead of the default 3% sales tax the state permits counties to charge. The current 4% tax authorization expires November 30, 2017 and the county’s request would extend it for two years, through November 30, 2019. Routinely, the county has requested and the state has approved the extra 1%, which is also the rate in most counties around the state.

The county tax is in addition to the state’s 4% sales tax, making the full sales tax in Columbia County 8%. Reasons the resolution gives for extending the extra sales tax include “mandated costs for Medicaid, pension, and state mandates,” which remain a burden, despite “cost saving measures” taken, and are “likely to increase in the foreseeable future.” The 2017 county budget submitted to the legislature includes the anticipated revenues from the extra 1% tax. Read more…

G’town joins schools hiring social workers

GERMANTOWN–The Board of Education approved the immediate search for, and hiring of, a social worker for the district, at its February 8 meeting.

Student needs in the areas of counseling and social work were discussed before the unanimous vote. “We’re seeing an increased need in students this year, for this service,” said Superintendent Susan L.S. Brown, adding that superintendents in other districts report a similar increased need. Read more…

Protest crowd prompts talk of law

KINDERHOOK–At last week’s Village Board meeting Mayor James Dunham raised the question of whether the village needs some sort of mass gathering law. Mr. Dunham said the issue came up after hundreds of people gathered in front of Congressman John Faso’s Kinderhook office on the village square last month to protest Mr. Faso’s stance on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican congressman represents the 19th Congressional District, which includes all of Columbia County. He began his first term last month, and protesters have called on him to hold town meetings with constituents. Mr. Faso lives close to the center of the village and protesters marched from the square to his house and talked to him on the sidewalk in front of his house for about 45 minutes at the January 28 event. Read more…