New trial ordered in Hillsdale murder case

ALBANY—The second degree murder conviction of William Demagall has been reversed by a state appellate court. The decision, which faults rulings by County Court Judge Paul Czajka, was issued Thursday, April 2.
     The decision not only overturns the conviction but also requires Mr. Demagall to have a new trial before a different judge.
    On December 8, 2006 a Columbia County Court jury convicted Mr. Demagall, then 23, of stabbing and bludgeoning to death George Mancini in February of that year. Mr. Mancini, 56, a retired schoolteacher, was murdered at his home on Breezy Hill Road, just off Route 23 in Hillsdale.

Read more…

County schools receive $4.5M aid increase

CHATHAM—Tentative school aid figures for all public school districts in the state were released Tuesday, March 31, as the legislature began passing the bills that make up the 2009-10 state budget. All districts in Columbia County will see increases in state aid under the proposal and the combined increase for the county is $4.5 million, thanks in part to assistance in the federal economic recovery act introduced by President Obama.
     Democrats, who control the Assembly and the Senate, scrambled Tuesday, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to adopt the budget ahead of the April 1 deadline set by the state constitution. Republicans, meanwhile, criticized the return to the practice of previous years, which saw budget details worked out in private by the governor and the leaders of the two houses of the legislature.
Read more…

Taconic Hills plans budget that lowers spending

CRARYVILLE—Following a public meeting this evening, Wednesday, April 1, the Taconic Hills School District is scheduled to adopt a budget proposal for the 2009-10 school year that reduces the district tax levy.
     Wednesday morning the legislature in Albany was still rushing to approve a state budget agreed to by the governor and legislative leaders, and the delay has left local school districts stuck between a rock and a hard place. Concerned about the state’s huge deficit and widespread economic hardship, Taconic Hills district officials made major cuts in their proposal, offering voters a stripped down budget with a tax levy decrease of 1.91%. Even if voters were to reject the proposal next month, contractual obligations would not permit much in the way of further spending cuts, officials said.
Read more…

Copake board, county Dems slam ‘farmer’ ruling

COPAKE—The outcry has intensified against the recent state Department of Agriculture and Markets opinion that waste hauler Salvatore Cascino’s activity at his 300-acre property qualifies as a type of farming.
     Mr. Cascino owns a Bronx-based waste-hauling business and has a 12-year history of violating town, state and federal laws on his Copake Valley Farm along the east side of Route 22. Witnesses recently testified under oath that they observed large trucks repeatedly dumping construction debris and what appeared to be trash on Mr. Cascino’s property in Copake.
Read more…