W.LEBANON–“Hi, Gramma,” the young man said to Dorothy DeBella last Monday. “What’s wrong,” she asked. The young man told her that he was in jail in Montreal, that he had accompanied a friend for a night in Canada, and that the friend had been carrying marijuana, discovered at a border check. He needed $2,500 wired to him immediately to get out of jail. “Please,” he begged her, “don’t tell anyone.”
And like any grandmother, Mrs. DeBella moved heaven and earth to help her “grandson” in what has become known as the “Grandma scam.” At 9 p.m., when her “grandson” hadn’t made his promised call after she and her husband, Joseph, drove to Chatham in that day’s snowstorm to wire the money, she called her grandson on his cell phone. “‘What are you talking about?’ He thought I’d lost my mind,” she said. Then she called the State Police.
WHO KNEW that owls could swim?
Richard Guthrie, a prominent birder in this region, got a call early last November from a colleague about a snowy owl swimming in the Hudson River. The report originated with the crew and passengers aboard the USS Slater, a WWII destroyer escort, now a floating museum, moored near Albany. At the time Mr. Guthrie wondered whether the spotters had actually seen a gull, goose or swan.
But it did turn out to be a snowy owl in the southernmost part of its range. And the bird had come to rest on an outcropping of rocks on the Rensselaer side of the Hudson.
HUDSON—Salvatore Cascino is a registered hauler of solid waste, but the only solid waste he ever hauls is leaves—never garbage.
Mr. Cascino testified to that among other things when he took the stand Wednesday, March 11, during his ongoing civil trial in state Supreme Court at the Columbia County Courthouse.
The case, being heard by Acting State Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols, stems from allegations by the Town of Copake that Mr. Cascino violated town codes by building and dumping illegally on his 300-acre property called Copake Valley Farm.
HUDSON—The county Board of Supervisors has officially approved a plan that calls for the Department of Social Services to move out of its headquarters in the city to the old Ockawamick School building on Route 217 in Claverack, which the county now owns.
The plan also calls for a “satellite” office of the department to remain in the city and for a shuttle bus to transport clients to and from the new site seven hours a day.
The plan triggered an outcry in Hudson from the moment it was introduced last year, because over half the agency’s clients live in the Hudson Zip code, which includes the city and parts of several surrounding towns. Opponents of the move say it will put barriers in the way of people who most need the services, because the Ockawamick building, which the county will renovate and remodel, is six miles from downtown Hudson.
CHATHAM–Welcome to The Columbia Paper, the website for a new, weekly newspaper of the same name covering Columbia County.
Many of the folks who will write for this publication previously worked on The Independent, which was shut down by its corporate owner, the Journal Register Co., February 6. All of us hope to serve the community with accurate, fair and timely stories and features about this region.
We expect to produce a weekly printed edition of the news you see here and more beginning very soon. But because an actual newspaper is a lot more expensive to produce and distribute than a website, we must first find the money to sustain that part of this project.
We warn you in advance that there will be rough edges. We’re only beginning to learn how to use this website, and we don’t yet have an office or a business phone. But we are completely committed to providing information to this community, and for whatever it’s worth, we promise to do our best to honor that commitment.