Attention, lepidopterists: what’s the flap?

HARLEMVILLE—The Farmscape Ecology Program Butterfly House completed the third weekend of its open house last July 10, a perfect day for observing the insects up close. This is the second year of the butterfly house at the Creekhouse center on 1075 Harlemville Road, where several species were showcased, from the charismatic yellow swallowtail to a green clouded sulphur butterfly.

Biologist Dylan Cipkowski and his interns go to the fields and meadows of Hawthorne Valley Thursdays to collect specimens which they put in the netted enclosure for Friday and Saturday viewing.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail looks for an opening in the Farmscape Ecology Program Butterfly House. The butterflies are released into their habitat Saturday nights.

At the end of the day Saturday, the butterflies are released back to the open space.

Mr. Cipkowski said that the Farmscape Ecology Program has documented about 90 species of butterflies in Columbia County and 650 species of moths, which are genetically very similar. Read more…

Housing chief resigns, Bliss rebuild inches ahead

HUDSON—As the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) seeks a new executive director, its preparations to build replacement housing for its tenants and demolish its existing buildings are “still on good track,” Revonda Smith, chair of HHA’s Board of Commissioners, confirmed on July 16.

The first step will be to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), in order to find a co-developer for the project. On July 7, the HHA opened a public hearing on the RFQ, which it is drafting.  On July 14, HHA’s Executive Director Tim Mattice announced his resignation. On July 16, Ms. Smith said that Mr. Mattice will stay with the HHA until it finds his replacement. “We are uncertain how long it will take to get a new executive director,” she said, adding, “nothing has put us on hold.”

Ms. Smith also said that “at this time our RFQ and public hearing remain open.”

The HHA’s existing buildings consist of Bliss Tower and three low-rises on its grounds.  Together, the four buildings hold 135 apartments for low-income tenants. Read more…

Volkmann sentenced to service, restitution

HUDSON—Former Village of Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann, who once ran unsuccessfully for Columbia County sheriff, was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge for a fourth-degree grand larceny conviction and a one-year conditional discharge with 200 hours of community service for an official misconduct conviction.

Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek sentenced Mr. Volkmann in Columbia County Court, July 19, according to a press release from Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka.

Peter Volkmann hears his sentence in court July 19. Photo by Lance Wheeler

Mr. Volkmann, 57, of Stuyvesant previously pleaded guilty to grand larceny, a class E felony, and official misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, before Judge Koweek, February 11.

At that time, the judge ordered Mr. Volkmann to pay $92,829 in restitution to the Village of Chatham and the State of New York Retirement System prior to his sentencing. Because of his guilty pleas, which translate to convictions, Mr. Volkmann automatically forfeited his public office.

While serving as police chief in the Village of Chatham and earlier as police chief in the Town of Stockport, Mr. Volkmann engaged in a scheme to steal from the New York State Retirement System and padded his pension with $74,222 in public funds, said the DA’s release. Read more…

Canaan celebrated Fourth of July on the water

CANAAN—The Queechy Lake Club, led by its president, Caitlin Schwaeger, saw its 44th annual Boat Parade circle the lake Sunday, July 4.

The local boat parade got its start in 1977, a year after the national Bicentennial in 1976,. Tall Ships came to Manhattan and the Hudson River for the Bicentennial, but the hassle of the drive to New York City, finding parking and navigating huge crowds was daunting. So a group of friends at the Queechy Lake discussed options.

The group consisted of Jim Durgin, Joey O’Hara, Eddie Dignam, John Crellen, and the late Barry Moore. Their “Ah, hah!” moment was the thought of having their own vessels on parade. Thus was born the Annual Queechy Lake Boat Parade to celebrate the town’s Declaration of Independence. Read more…

How much will cameras tell us?

HUDSON—The Columbia County Police Reform Implementation Committee continued its discussion of body worn cameras at its July 6 meeting focusing on two points: what a recording should include from before a police officer activates the “Begin” signal; and whether officers should have to write a report about a recorded incident before viewing the recording.

A “buffer mode” tells the camera how much time to include in a recording ahead of the moment when a police officer initiates a recording with the camera’s “Begin” signal. The county Sheriff’s Office, following New York State guidelines, currently has the buffer mode set at 30 seconds before a begin signal.

Earlier this year, Supervisor Michael Chameides (Hudson, 3rd Ward) suggested changing the buffer mode setting to its maximum possible of 120 seconds. He said that would “provide more transparency,” and some committee members agreed. But County Sheriff David Bartlett had said a shorter buffer protects police officers’ privacy. A Committee member had suggested a compromise of 60 seconds. Sheriff Bartlett said had he would look into the matter. Read more…