With one school closed, board renames another

HUDSON–The Board of Education renamed a school, voted Willette Jones its new vice president, appointed officials for the new school year, welcomed new staff, and discussed how to inform teachers of policy changes at its organizational meeting Monday, July 2.

The board changed the name of Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School to Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School, as of July 1. That school now includes all grades from pre-kindergarten through 5th. Built as the High School in 1937, it has held a variety of grades since the High School moved to its current building in 1972. Additions enlarged it in the mid-1990s and this past year.

The closing of John L. Edwards Primary School (JLE) became official as of July 1. But summer programs scheduled for JLE’s grounds will still take place. “We still own the building. It’s just not a school,” said Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier. Read more…

ICC mulls how much to spend and when

KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane Board of Education discussed the cost of a proposed capital improvement project at their regular meeting on July 10. Several board members said that they would support at project that was around $20 million, or at least $15 million, to deal with several major issues at campus buildings.

The board is working with a district facilities study that suggested $30 million in repairs and upgrades are needed to the school’s buildings. More recently a board committee has been working with the architecture and engineering firm CSArch to look at a proposed scope of work, which includes roofing and window repairs, road work and upgrades to some of the classrooms, especially in the middle and high school buildings.

The board is considering a suggestion to break the project into two or three phases, which would be five years apart. The work proposed in phase one currently would cost about $15 million. Voters would have to approve each phase at special elections. The board hopes to have a vote on phase one this December. Read more…

State culls too-busy Beebe beavers

AUSTERLITZ–Beebe Hill State Forest, 2,018 acres of woods in Austerlitz, is the site of a beaver kill sanctioned and carried out under the auspices of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. These critters, the largest rodents in North America, are simply too good at what they do best, namely, build dams and live in the resultant ponds.

The Sierra Club calls them ”the ultimate ecosystem engineers.” They create habitats beneficial to a multitude of wildlife, reshape watersheds, recharge aquifers, and help address drought and pollution.

Michael Clark, DEC Region IV wildlife manager, described the permit process and the rationale for beaver kills in a recent interview. In the case of Beebe Hill State Forest, it is flooding of local, county and state roads that led to this current eradication effort. If one tries to get these industrious creatures to relocate by removing a dam, overnight they will replace what was removed and stay in place. They are industrious and persistent to a fault. Read more…

Dam report considers worst case scenarios

PHILMONT–Two municipally-owned dams in Columbia County are in the “High Hazard” class, according to a report on dams across the state issued by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli last month.

But don’t panic just yet, the label is misleading.

According to a “Guidance to dam hazard classification” document prepared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Division of Water Program Policy: “The hazard class of a dam is an indication of the estimated consequences if the dam were to fail. It is not an indication of the condition of the dam.” So, it’s more about the severity of the damage that could be done downstream if the dam gave way than it is about the shape the dam is in. Read more…

Ghent welcomes e-cars to get a charge here

GHENT–With the official opening of its first electric vehicle charging station, Ghent has been deemed a Clean Energy Community by the NY State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on June 21 with the Ghent Town Board, members of the Ghent Climate Smart Committee, and Chatham Village officials present.

The charging station, located in the parking lot of Kinderhook Bank in Depot Square, was installed as a part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative and has made Ghent eligible to apply for a $35,000 grant for use in funding further clean energy projects. Since its activation on May 10, the charging station had around 50 uses by the end of June.

“The charging station’s activation completed the last of four high-impact, clean energy actions that led to the town being designated a NYSERDA Clean Energy Community,” Town Supervisor Mike Benvenuto said. “I would also like to thank Chatham Mayor Tom Curran and the Village Board for their cooperation in locating this charging station where it will greatly benefit both the town and the village.” Read more…