Delgado gathers data for push to expand broadband service

GREENPORT—On Friday, October 4, Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-19th) convened a Congressional Field Hearing with Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks at Columbia-Greene Community College (C-GCC). The hearing was titled, “Closing the Digital Divide: Connecting Rural Americans to Reliable Internet Service” and focused on the need to expand rural broadband access and affordability in upstate New York.

The hearing featured testimony from two members of the Columbia County community: David Berman, co-chair of Columbia Connect, and Dr. Cliff Belden, Chief Medical Officer at Columbia Memorial Health. Also testifying on Friday were Tim Johnson, CEO of Otsego Electric Cooperative in Edmeston; Shannon Hayes, owner of the Sap Bush Hollow Farm Store and Café in West Fulton; Jason Miller, general manager of Delhi Telephone Company in Delhi; and Superintendent Brian Dunn from the Middleburgh Central School District.

They all talked about the different issues that affect their rural communities and, for many, how slow internet access speeds affect the businesses they run. Read more…

Valatie Rescue Squad asks for funds transfusion from town

VALATIE–Kinderhook Town Supervisor Pat Grattan presented the proposed 2020 town budget at the Town Board meeting on Monday. He said the numbers in the proposed budget are “a wish list” and the board needs to meet to work on getting the budget under the state mandated tax cap.

One noticeable increase in the proposed budget is about $100,000 more next year in the budget line for the Valatie Rescue Squad (VRS). VRS Executive Director Scott Bowman was at the October 7 meeting to present the increase to the board. In 2019, the town budgeted $209,469 for VRS. The proposed 2020 budget has that number as $308,063. Mr. Bowman said that VRS has been running in the red for several years and this year the squad is looking at $115,000 deficit.

“Prior to that we’d run a little bit in the red, a little bit in the black,” he told the board. But he said, “The cost of providing the service has just sky rocketed.” Read more…

Public has say on making old school a new City Hall

HUDSON–An architect hired by the city presented images last week of how the school district’s now-closed John L. Edwards School building (JLE) might look with city offices and additional facilities in it.

The presentation, at a public forum September 30, comes after the Hudson City School District Board of Education closed the school last summer and now seeks to sell the building on State Street.

Hudson officials have been interested in moving City Hall to a site with more space and easier wheelchair access. The architect, Mark Thaler, reported that his firm, Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson, was “charged with doing a feasibility study” on the city buying the JLE for that purpose. This hearing dealt with concepts and visions; the financial implications will receive attention October 15 at a Common Council meeting. Read more…

Our very own ‘major minor’ film festival

From 10 films in 2 days to 70 films in 10

CHATHAM—FilmColumbia begins its 20th anniversary season Friday, October 18, and on tap among some 70 films from 15 nations are two that kicked off the first festival, 20 years ago.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (October 19) is part of a salute to James Schamus, who wrote and produced the film and made it part of the fledgling festival. “Dinner Rush” (October 24) is now digitally restored.

“I’m delighted to bring them back—on the big screen,” said Larry Kardish, who, with Peter Biskind, programs FilmColumbia. Kardish is senior curator emeritus for film and media at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Biskind is an author and film historian. Read more…

State says Sal’s a…farmer?

COPAKE—Since Salvatore Cascino seems to be unable to convince the Copake Planning Board he’s a farmer, he’s decided to try his line on state regulators who don’t know him so well.

It’s a tactic he’s used before.

In March, April and May of this year, Mr. Cascino’s right-hand man, David Weiner, appeared before the Copake Planning Board, representing his boss in the matter of two site plan reviews. One review seeks site plan approval for existing buildings, some of which Mr. Cascino has already built without permission, and the second review seeks approval for three more new structures that will yield 64,200 square feet of enclosed or semi-enclosed space—all to be used in Mr. Cascino’s “farm operation known as Copake Valley Farm,” according to a proposed operating plan submitted by Mr. Wiener. Read more…