Kinda tall for elves, aren’t you? Santa and Mrs. Claus were serenaded with traditional Christmas carols played by a seven-member ensemble from the Ghent Band (on the staircase) as the Clauses entered the Ghent Town Hall Sunday evening, December 2. The town hosted the annual tree lighting and, for the first time, the lighting of a menorah celebrating the first night of Hanukkah. More than 60 people showed up for the event. Santa arrived by fire truck. The ensemble also played for the crowd outside awaiting the holiday lights. Photo by David Lee

Parkway diner destroyed by fire

O’s Eatery ablaze Saturday, December 8. Photo by David Lee

AUSTERLITZ–O’s Eatery, a diner at 309 Rigor Hill Road along the east side of the Taconic State Parkway, burned down Saturday evening, December 8.

The call first came in to the Austerlitz Fire Company and the Chatham Rescue Squad—originally reported as an appliance fire at 6:25 p.m. That was updated to a deep-frier fire at shortly after 7.

In addition to Austerlitz, other fire companies called in were: Ghent, Philmont, Chatham, East Chatham, Craryville,  Niverville, North Chatham, Tri-Village, Canaan, Lebanon Valley and a Hillsdale truck still decked out with Christmas lights from the Copake Holiday Light Parade the same evening. Red Rock firefighters stood by in the Austerlitz quarters. Read more…

Service Board says apartments near completion

HUDSON– At the Columbia County Community Services Board (CSB) meeting November 28 Jeff Rovitz, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties (MHA), announced that Greenport Apartments is “on track to be fully occupied by December, ahead of schedule.”

Mr. Rovitz said that Greenport Apartments has 66 units, about half reserved for people with mental health issues and half for households who qualify on basis of low income. Rent is based on income. Some renters are on Section 8, some not, Mr. Rovitz said.

Greenport Apartments houses both singles and families, with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The MHA owns and operates it. Meeting participants said there should be more setups like Greenport Apartments, concerned the when these apartments fill up, there will still be people with mental health and income issues waiting for supportive housing. Read more…

State grant helps vets with re-entry

HUDSON–The Columbia County Veterans’ Services Department has become a beneficiary of the PFC Dwyer Fund, which helps veterans re-enter the civilian world. Department Executive Director Gary Flaherty reported on the grant at two recent meetings.

The benefits consist of a $100,000 start-up grant and quarterly booster grants. Examples of what the money can be used for include peer-to-peer supportive interaction between veterans, helping veterans pay household bills if they have trouble covering them and helping families of incarcerated veterans. Mr. Flaherty said he is “working on a master plan” for use of the grants.

The PFC Dwyer Fund comes from New York State. Columbia County got enrolled “with the help of state Senator Kathleen Marchione,” Mr. Flaherty said, adding that “Senator Marchione has been really good to us.” She is retiring at the end of this year. Read more…

Society to preserve Millay’s Steepletop home perseveres

Edna St. Vincent Millay and Eugen Boissevain c. 1923. Photo courtesy of

AUSTERLITZ—Last May, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society at Steepletop announced the Save Steepletop campaign, an effort to raise $1 million to keep the house, visitors’ center and grounds open to the public next year.

Press coverage, including an article in The New York Times, was widespread and sympathetic.

Nevertheless, a second letter went out this fall from Vincent Elizabeth Barnett, president of the Millay Society Board of Trustees, announcing that despite an “outpouring of support from poetry, culture and history lovers,” the board had made the “painful but responsible decision not to reopen Steepletop to the public in 2019.” Read more…

County sets fee for drop-off recyclables

KINDERHOOK–The Town Board has authorized the Town Clerk to sell permits to residents who bring their recycling to the county’s waste stations.

Currently there is no charge to bring recyclables to any of the county’s waste stations, but starting in 2019 the county will charge $50 for one-year-long permits per household and $35 for residents 65 and older. There will be a $100 fee for residents from outside the county.

The county Solid Waste Department said this week that it plans to have more information about the permits later this month. Town clerks will be able to sell the permits to residents if the towns agree to participate in the permit program. This will only be for residents who use the county’s Solid Waste Department’s stations for recycling. Several villages, including Valatie and Kinderhook, which are both in the Town of Kinderhook, use a private company called County Waste from Greene County to pick up residents’ recycling and garbage at their houses. Read more…