County considers suit against abundant pain medication

HUDSON–Various Columbia County individuals and groups are taking action to confront the opioid abuse crisis. Five counties in New York State have sued major opioid manufacturers and “doctors who ran pill mills” and at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday, April 19 county Public Defender Robert Linville suggested that Columbia County consider doing the same.

At the same meeting Sheriff David Bartlett reported cooperation with the federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) in addressing the problem of mixing heroin with the synthetic opioid pain reliever fentanyl, which magnifies both the high from the drug and the death rate. And Carl Quinn of Columbia Pathways to Recovery is developing a helpline and needs volunteers to help.

“While there has been laudable progress,” such as the Board of Supervisors’ recent decision to adopt the Opioid Abuse Response Plan, the lawsuits aim “to cut the head off up front,” Mr. Linville said. Opioid manufacturers, he said, are acting to “extend” their products’ reach by giving doctors rebates for overprescribing pills. In Columbia County, “We are awash in heroin and pills. Our citizens are dying.” Read more…

Renamed Hudson Hall stages its revival

HUDSON–On April 22 the friends group of Hudson Hall, the historic building formerly known as the Opera House, celebrated the successful completion of renovations and improvements to the second-floor theater. The event also marked 25 years of collaboration on a project that has transformed the community and rescued one of its most important monuments.

The oldest surviving theater in New York might not have endured if a small group of volunteers had not been inspired by its potential.

“It’s been a long time coming, it’s a good reason for celebration. It took persistence,” said board member Ellen Thurston. Read more…

Immigration issues aired in Chatham

CHATHAM–“You can’t be interested in food in America without being interested in immigration,” the noted author and food expert Ruth Reichl told an audience that packed the Morris Memorial gym Saturday afternoon. “Our entire food system rides on the back of undocumented immigrants.”

Ms. Reichl, a county resident, used that observation to introduce the members of a panel on immigration sponsored by the Chatham chapter of the Indivisible, a nationwide effort started by former congressional staffers to build local resistance to the actions and policies of the Trump administration. The panel members were a constitutional scholar and professor, an Episcopal priest and activist who works with migrants throughout the region, the owner of a local business owner and now a legal resident who survived the trip through the desert to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 15 and a local farmer engaged in the sanctuary movement.

Tom Gerety, now a professor at New York University and formerly president of Amherst College and director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, first offered some history of what he said is this country’s “deeply conflicted” attitudes about immigration. He said those attitudes range from an embrace of romantic sagas about the contribution immigrants have made all the way to the opposite extreme of “disdain, resistance and blame” attributed to immigrant communities who find themselves used by politicians as scapegoats for society’s problems. Read more…

County offers help to Chatham CC4U

CHATHAM–Village Police Chief Peter Volkmann reported last week that the county Department of Social Services (DSS) will reimburse mileage for the Chatham Cares 4U program (CC4U).

The chief told the Village Board at the April 13 meeting that the county would reimburse the village for up to $6,000 in mileage expenses for the program, which arranges for treatment beds for people looking for help for their addiction. Village police find treatment services for addicted people and then drive them to those services in a Chatham police car at no cost to the addicted person. Read more…

Faso holds firm at TV studio town hall meeting

Reprinted with permission from the Times Union

TROY – At his first in-person town hall meeting since taking office in January, Congressman John Faso (R-19th) defended his vote on the Republicans’ failed health care bill before a crowd that wanted reassurance their access to health care would remain intact and affordable.

Dozens of protesters showed up to the event on April 13, lining the street outside WMHT headquarters in Troy with signs and chants expressing disapproval for the congressman’s recent vote. As the town hall broadcast on New York NOW got under way, Mr. Faso held firm, saying he supported the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, after hearing from constituents whose health care costs have soared.

“My approach with the ACA is keep what works and fix what doesn’t,” the Kinderhook Republican said. Read more…