New budget year and old funds are not forgotten

CHATHAM – The Village Board met over the Webex internet platform last week to pass several resolutions moving funds between accounts, some from the 2019-20 budget to the new 2020-21 spending plan, which started June 1.

The board ended up passing 19 resolutions at the June 8 meeting that dealt with moving funds from one budget line to another in amounts ranging from $3.34 (from Building Equipment to Safety Inspector Equipment) to $11,000 (from Transmission District Salary to Source Salary at the Department of Public Works).

Mayor John Howe said the board needed to “zero out” the previous fiscal year village budget as the new budget takes effect. “This is what should have been done for many years,” the mayor said. Read more…

Coronavirus app released; numbers updated

HUDSON—Thirty-seven Columbia County residents have died of the coronavirus as of June 19 at 3 p.m., according to Columbia County Department of Health figures for that date.

The Columbia County has 427 confirmed positive cases with 31 currently active cases of Covid-19.

Of the total 427 cases, 359 have recovered from the virus; 11 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU. Read more…

Attention campers: Sorry, but camp’s canceled

COPAKE—This summer will not be the same in Copake.

The Town Board voted at its June 11 meeting not to open its summer program for youngsters; not to hold its annual Music in the Park concert series on Saturday nights and not to open Copake Memorial Park for now.

During a discussion by Zoom video conference, Copake Supervisor Jeanne Mettler said that about two months ago county Department of Health Director Jack Mabb, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell (R-Stockport) and county Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Robert Lagonia (R-Austerlitz) issued a strong recommendation not to open summer day camps in Columbia County this year.

Governor Andrew Cuomo subsequently changed his mind about summer camps and said they could open under strict guidelines. But the county has maintained its position that camps should not go forward. Read more…

All school budgets win approval

GHENT—Voters in all six school districts in Columbia County have approved annual budgets by comfortable margins. The handful of ballot propositions also were also endorsed.
All voters voted by absentee ballots this year because of the Covid-19 epidemic. There were concerns at the outset that this might lower voter participation but a school official in Hudson said that the total number of voters was higher this election and attributed the participation increase to universal absentee paper ballots making it easier for people to vote. Each ballot included a stamped return envelope for the ballot.

Incumbents were returned to school board seats in several districts but notably not in the Ichabod Crane Central school district, where Board of Education members Tammy Crawford and Susan Ramos were defeated in Tuesday’s election. Newcomers Elaine Berlin and Kelly Firmbach received the most votes, with Ms. Berlin, at 1,879 votes, filling an open seat on the board immediately. Ms. Firmbach (1,854 votes) and John Chandler (1646 votes) will start their terms on July 1. Mr. Chandler has served on the board before, starting in 2010, and was board vice president until he resigned in 2016.

Ms. Ramos received 1,166 and Ms. Crawford received 1,635 in the all-absentee-ballot voting that was supposed to end June 9 but was extended to June 16. Ms. Crawford was elected to the board in 2017 and Ms. Ramos has been on the board for nine years. Read more…

Art Omi adjusts estimates for bigger center

GHENT—The Planning Board discussed Art Omi’s application for expanding the Benenson Visitors Center on a Zoom meeting June 3. The board seemed happier with the attendance numbers presented by Omi at this meeting, but before voting on whether to approve the plans, the board wanted to discuss some conditions.

Art Omi, on county Route 22, submitted plans to board in the spring of 2019 to increase the size of the visitors center. The center, which is at the south side of the 120-acre outdoor sculpture park, currently houses a gallery, a cafe and administrative offices. The new plans would more than double the size of the building to include an educational center, a second art gallery and more office space for existing employees. Art Omi applied to modify the organization’s special use permit, which was granted in 2005 by the town.

The Planning Board closed the public hearing on the site plan in May of this year. At that meeting the board was concerned with the attendance numbers proposed by Art Omi for programs. Omi Director Ruth Adams said she misunderstood what the board wanted and at the meeting last week she said, “We are now presenting adjusted numbers.” Read more…