EDITORIAL: Bipartisan for real

EARLY MONDAY AFTERNOON on the lawn of the West Ghent Community Center more than 20 people gathered to hear good news everybody there already knew. Second-term Congressman Antonio Delgado, a Democrat, has won approval in the House of Representatives for projects in his 19th District.

There were roughly equal numbers of elected officials and the press. The occasion was to highlight the agreement in the House to spend $829,594 in four towns in Columbia County: Austerlitz, Canaan, Ghent and New Lebanon. The goal is to fund installation of cable that can carry high-speed internet service to all 300 homes that don’t yet have access to what’s called broadband service.

That would be $2,765.31 per home, if divided equally, which it won’t be. Some homes will be harder to reach than others, which means it will cost more to reach them. But the funding is local news, because having access to broadband service means more than being able to buy stuff on Amazon or livestream movies. Its other uses include participating in virtual classrooms, tel-medicine, working from home and all sorts of connections we haven’t thought of yet. Read more…

EDITORIAL: You’re hesitating?

WILL ONE MORE editorial about the pandemic—anything about the damn pandemic—matter? As far as anybody knows, the virus won’t be swayed, not now or ever. But anything that helps us avoid Covid’s reach is worth consideration.

Let’s start on an up note. Jack Mabb is director of the county Department of Health, which is running the local vaccination effort. This week he said, “I think we’ve done really well.” He was commenting on how many people in the county have had at least one shot of a vaccine that protects them from Covid-19. Right now the figure is 72% of the county’s population age 12 and over are vaccinated. That’s at or near the goal required for herd immunity, that magical point when so many people are immune to the virus that it can’t infect enough people to continue spreading on a mass scale.

We still don’t have an approved vaccine for kids under 12 and school begins in a little over a month from now inside school buildings. But only 36% of kids in this county aged 12-to-18 are vaccinated at this point. The schools are planning to take what precautions they can. So far, school districts have received only advice from the state on how to minimize the threat from Covid. Read more…

EDITORIAL: This won’t take long

PLEASE PUT THE FOLLOWING NOTE on your calendar, preferably the one you use. We are taking a day off August 26. We will publish what we lovingly call a “double issue” on August 19. It will be marked on the front page “Issue 33-34.”

We’ll resume our regularweekly schedule September 2. For those who are keeping score, that will be Issue 35.

We know that many of you are busy people or have things on your mind more important than remembering this notice of a temporary ripple in our regular publication schedule. You many not get the time to read this editorial or you may be distracted by the shock that summer has gone by so fast! So we’ll print reminders in the paper as we get nearer to the date. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Slower is not better

WHEN DID THIS ISSUE ARRIVE in your mailbox? We should be asking that question on a regular basis. But plans to measure and track deliveries get shunted aside in favor of finishing the current issue and starting to assemble next week’s paper.

But we do stop and pay attention whenever a subscriber reports that papers are arriving days late or not at all. We check our records and talk with the paperless subscriber. Sometimes there are real mysteries involving out-of-state post offices where strange creatures gobble up copies of The Columbia Paper at night and then disappear. Other times, we suggest the subscriber have a conversation with the local postmaster. When that happens deliveries miraculously resume. And now and then we confront threats to subscriptions that can’t be resolved with common sense and good will.

This paper is printed early Thursday mornings in Pittsfield, Mass. We haul them to our office in Ghent, label all the copies that go to subscribers and drivers deliver them to all 33 post offices in Columbia County. The post office staff take over from there and they do a fantastic job. We literally could not publish this newspaper without the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). But that could change if plans announced by the postmaster general take effect. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Looking for a rescue

FOR MANY, LAST YEAR’S LOCKDOWN squeezed the dimensions of the world into a home, a car and a video screen. That ignores a presidential election and personal milestones. But you get the point. The pandemic lingers and yet the switch has been set to the “On” position. Now, suddenly, it feels like way too much is happening.

We can recite the big issues by heart though few of us have enough memory cells to keep track of all the threats. And who’s counting, anyway? Probably only those who depend on others—government programs, charities and us, their neighbors—to see them through to better times or just to make it to the week ahead. But while there are many acts of generosity there are also times when the need is great but the donors are tapped out. What then?

Two weeks ago Diane Valden reported on the Ancramdale Neighbors Helping Neighbors Association in the Town of Ancram. One of the projects of that volunteer organization is to pick up a ton, literally, of food each week in Albany and haul it to the association’s food pantry at an Ancramdale church. Right now it’s feeding 90 people. Read more…