Martin speaks to Copake Democrats

COPAKE—Columbia County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Virginia Martin will be the guest speaker at the next meeting of the Copake Democratic Club, Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m.
The meeting takes place at the Taconic Shores Clubhouse, 53 Lake Shore Drive.
Commissioner Martin will speak about Republican challenges to hundreds of absentee ballots during the recent special congressional election.
Many of those challenges were made against Democratic voters in Copake. Commissioner Martin will describe the procedure used to confirm absentee ballots and will answer questions about state election law as it applies to residency issues.
All interested Democrats are invited. For more information email

Can you hear me now?

ANCRAM–Some town residents say they have a backlog of cell phone rollover minutes.

   Why? Because their cell phones don’t work in the southeast corner of Columbia County, so they can’t use up the minutes they have accrued.

   But thanks to the efforts of Ancram’s cell phone committee of one–Bob Roth–that will soon change. Mr. Roth has been working on improving cell phone service locally for about two years and was finally able to make significant progress with help from former Congresswoman, now Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

   Greeley Ford, a network sales support manager with AT&T, came to the May Town Board meeting to assure residents he is working on the problem and Mr. Roth made it happen. But it won’t happen overnight.

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Jail inmates put down roots

GREENPORT–Tomatoes, peppers, squash, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, yellow and green beans, rosemary, parsley, basil and a variety of lettuces are among the crops now being planted across the region by backyard gardeners, vegetable farmers and inmates at the Columbia County Jail.

   That’s right–inmates.

   So far, 11 with green thumb prints have enlisted in the new Inmate Horticulture Program, which Sheriff David W. Harrison Jr. introduced at a recent press conference.

   In a corner behind the jail, next to a newly started compost pile and a couple of impounded vehicles, within the fenced-in perimeter of the County Public Safety Building compound, a 50- by-200-foot area of what used to be lawn has been stripped of its top layer of sod.

   Three-yards of composted cow manure was trucked in from Gro Max in Claverack and spread across the 1,000-square-foot plot. Then a Rototiller, donated for a day by Air Compressor Plus in Ghent, was used to work the manure into the soil.

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Swine flu case confirmed in county


HUDSON—Tests have confirmed the first known case of H1N1 swine flu in Columbia County, according to a release issued by the county Department of Health Saturday afternoon, May 30. Officials say case is a mild case and the patient is expected to make a full recovery.

   The health department has been using a previously established emergency preparedness plan since public health agencies nationwide began to track the spread of the virus several weeks ago. The plan includes increased surveillance, additional protocols to reduce the possibility for transmission of the virus in health care facilities, and education and awareness in conjunction with the state Health Department, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

   Last week Columbia Memorial Hospital treated a patient from Greene County who also tested positive for the illness. That patient was also expected to recover completely, and health personnel suggested that the patient may have contracted the illness in New York City, not locally.

   The health department did not release details on the latest case.

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Husband and wife dead in murder/suicide

KINDERHOOK—Timothy L. Conway, 58, shot and killed his wife Sarah Witham-Conway, 50, with a 12-gauge shotgun, then turned the gun on himself in the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 27, Columbia County Sheriff David Harrison Jr. reported in a press release late today.
    Autopsies on the two bodies found at the 101 Rabbit Lane home were performed at the Albany Medical Center Thursday by Dr. Michael Sikirica, a forensic pathologist.
   The examination confirmed that both died instantly of gunshot wounds. The gun was recovered at the scene.
   The couple has two children, Katherine Conway, 20, and Spencer Conway, 16; neither was home at the time of the shootings.
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