Copake fends off  hackers and diggers

COPAKE—The Town of Copake came under attack by technological forces on two fronts recently.

At the Town Board’s July 11 meeting, Supervisor Jeff Nayer assured those present that the town was no longer in the business of unintentionally selling Viagra on its website.

It seems when visitors to the town’s website ( clicked on a topic there, instead of being able to read the minutes of past board meetings or find out when the assessor has business hours, they were swept away and confronted with the opportunity to get great deals on the purchase of erectile dysfunction remedies and a multitude of other types of drugs.

After receiving several calls about the matter, the supervisor said it was determined that the website had been hijacked by computer hackers who installed unauthorized malware causing unsuspecting citizens to be diverted to a sketchy pharmaceutical site.

Mr. Nayer said that between GoDaddy Inc., an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company, and Columbia County’s Information Technology (IT) Department, which deals with computing technology, networking, hardware, software and the Internet, the siege was thwarted, the malware expunged and the website “cleaned up.” Programs had to be updated and it ended up costing a few hundred bucks.

In another technology-related incident, Mr. Nayer said he was called to Copake Memorial Park early the afternoon of July 10 because a crew working for Spectrum had decided to bring in a backhoe to dig a trench from a pole on Mountain View Road near the skating rink through the park to the Community Building to install a new fiber optic line for cable television service.

Spectrum, a/k/a, Charter Spectrum, a trade name of Charter Communications, markets consumer cable television, internet, telephone and wireless services.

But the town had not requested nor given permission for any such digging, especially at a time when the town’s children’s summer program was underway and youngsters were playing in the park.

Mr. Nayer was on the scene with Highway Superintendent Bill Gregory, who also serves as park superintendent. Mr. Nayer said he told the Spectrum crew they could not just come in there and start digging. They identified themselves as subcontractors for Spectrum and said they had permission to be there. When the supervisor asked them who had authorized the digging and they could not give a name or show any documentation, he told them to stop, clean up their mess and leave.

In a follow-up phone call, Mr. Nayer said the crew had left behind a bunch of rocks that needed to be raked out and he had been trying to reach a supervisor at Spectrum, Rich Coonrad, to get someone back there to complete the cleanup.

The Columbia Paper also tried to reach Mr. Coonrad to get his side of the story, but the call was not returned by press deadline.

In other business at the July meeting the Town Board:

Resolved to approve an application by the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association (HVRTA) for a Rail Trail Park Project Grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). The trail project (known as Harlem Valley Rail Trail Route 22 Crossing) is the subject of the grant for construction of a walkway over State Route 22 between Orphan Farm Road and Black Grocery Road, a site within the jurisdiction of the Copake Town Board. The grant program requires that the applicant obtain the approval/endorsement of the governing body. Mr. Nayer said the grant is for $400,000 and that HVRTA will still have to find another $2.5 million elsewhere to secure the funds needed to complete the project. The ultimate goal is to build a 46 mile-long recreational trail linking Wassaic to Chatham on an abandoned portion of what once was the New York and Harlem Railroad line

Endorsed an Eagle Scout project proposed by Boy Scout Alex Chamberlain of Copake, a member of Troop #752, to construct handicapped accessible picnic tables. The scout will raise the money to buy the materials needed, build the tables then donate them to the town for use in the park.

Appointed Lynn C. Hotaling to a full six-year term as the town’s sole assessor. Mrs. Hotaling was previously appointed to a one-year term following the resignation of embattled former assessor J. Craig Surprise in January 2018. Her new term starts October 1, 2019 and ends September 30, 2025. Speaking in support of Mrs. Hotaling, Councilmember Jeanne Mettler said she had attended Grievance Day last year and saw a long line of residents contesting their assessments. This year, she said two people came to grieve. “I think this is a good appointment,” she said.

The Town Board’s next meeting is Saturday, August 10 at 9 a.m.

To contact Diane Valden email

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