Copake embellishes walls with town’s past

The panel dedicated to the Copake Movie Theater, which opened in 1933 and fell victim to arson in June 1990.

COPAKE—The corridors of Copake Town Hall are lined with town history.

A ceremony to cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Copake Town Hall History Exhibit took place the morning of August 13.

The exhibit consists of 24 18- by 24-inch panels, with more to come, each depicting some significant facet of Copake history. Framed in wood and hung on newly-painted walls, the panels invite Town Hall visitors to stroll down the hallways and take a nearly 200-year visual journey into Copake’s past through photographs and text.

The exhibit has been more than two years in the making and is the product of an ad hoc committee: Copake Historian Howard Blue; graphic designer and artist Peter “Nick” Fritsch, and longtime former Town Clerk Vana Hotaling, who grew up in Copake and “contributed her deep knowledge of this little Town and its people,” Supervisor Jeanne Mettler said in her remarks at the ribbon cutting.

“For some of you this will all be brand new, you will be seeing things you did not know about Copake. For some of you, this will be a walk down memory lane,” the supervisor noted. Read more…

Hot county job market freezes out some

(Names of some interview subjects are disguised to protect their privacy. –Editor)

GHENT—They are seemingly everywhere. Hiring signs line Columbia County’s major roads. Are Columbia County businesses finding the workers they need? In a virtual interview the question was posed to Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC). His response was, “No. Not enough people.”

That’s not a situation likely to be remedied based on U.S. Census data. The county’s senior population increased 36% since the last Census and now makes up 25% of Columbia County. The 18 and younger population decreased 34% and currently makes up 16% of the county’s population. Growth was flat for other age groups.

Referencing the 2020 Census, Mr. Tucker said Columbia County has 2011 “identified businesses” that employ 22,000 workers, leaving “700 people out of work or looking for work.” Columbia County’s low unemployment rate, 2.4% in May 2022, was 1.7% lower than the state average. Said Mr. Tucker, “People think everything is rosy. But low unemployment is not favorable to people looking for work.”

According to the U.S. Census, half of the county’s businesses are in the service industry and 75% have less than 10 employees. Mr. Tucker acknowledged that there is “clearly a disconnect” between what businesses are offering in terms of wages and benefits and what workers want. Read more…

Fans seek funds to save lighthouse footings

HUDSON—The Hudson Athens Light House, children of arrested parents, the visually impaired, Kite’s Nest, summer parking, and ward boundaries received attention at the Hudson Common Council meeting July 19.

The Common Council endorsed the application by the Hudson Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society (HALPS) for a grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the purpose of making the light house shovel-ready for construction necessary to keep it standing.

Sue Senecah of HALPS explained later that the lighthouse was built in 1874 on 200 wooden pilings, packed with mud and protected by large boulders called rip rap. But since then, the wakes of large sailing vessels have “sucked” boulders away, threatening the pilings with oxidation.

To keep the lighthouse standing, the HALPS plan envisions protecting the pilings with new boulders, repacking them with mud and building a metal “protective curtain” around the lighthouse’s base. But before these steps can begin, possible issues with soil and asbestos need to be dealt with and permits must be obtained. Read more…

Residents voice many concerns with Iron Star ‘glamping’ proposal

ANCRAM—To hear more public comment on the proposed Iron Star Retreat Center and to determine what factors associated with the project will have significant impacts on the town were the focus of discussion when the Planning Board convened a continuation of the public hearing on this controversial “glamping” (glamorous camping) proposal, July 25.

Nan Stolzenburg, the Planning Board’s planning and environmental consultant; the board’s Attorney John Lyons and Planning Board Engineering Consultant George Schmitt were all present. Also there were Iron Star applicant and owner Stacey Shurgin and her attorney, Taylor M. Palmer. The board’s stated purpose for the evening was to review the list of potential adverse moderate to large impacts and discuss and determine information needed to address these potential impacts along with continued work toward completion of the Environmental Assessment Form Part 2.

Under consideration by the Planning Board are Iron Star applications for a Special Use Permit, Lot Line Adjustment (Subdivision) Approval, and for Site Plan Approval for a proposed retreat center on a 147-acre property at 2540 State Route 82. The project is on the south side of Route 82, south and west of Wiltsie Bridge Road, northwest of Roche Drive and east of Poole Hill Road, within the town and county agricultural districts. Read more…