Best way to fight flu? Stick with it

Maria Ostrander, RN, (c) administers a flu vaccine shot with Laurene Lee (l), a Columbia-Greene Community College nursing student keeping records, Saturday, October 3. This was the third in a series of six drive-through flu immunization clinics in the county. 102 people signed up for immunizations at the C-GCC campus. County Health Director Jack Mabb indicated that beyond the obvious benefit of immunizing people against the flu, the clinics were also a rehearsal for the time when a Covid-19 vaccine will be made available. Two officials from the state Office of Emergency Management were in attendance to observe the process and advise. Mr. Mabb said he was very proud of this vaccination team, which he said was working with speed and efficiency. Photo by David Lee

Nursing home fined $22K for Covid-19 violations

Reprinted with permission by the Times Union

VALATIE – Three Capital Region nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Health for infection control and other lapses during the coronavirus pandemic, state health records show.

The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell in Columbia County received one of the largest fines statewide at $22,000 for multiple violations that had “potential to cause more than minimal harm,” according to inspection reports. Violations centered around inadequate or improper use of personal protective equipment, failure to clean hands, improper groupings of suspected Covid-19 patients, and failure to notify residents of positive cases or deaths.

The state Department of Health has conducted 1,908 on-site inspections (1,165 at nursing homes and 743 at adult care facilities) since the pandemic’s March arrival in New York to ensure facilities are following proper infection prevention and control protocol, spokeswoman Jill Montag said. It has issued 95 citations to 77 nursing homes and levied $328,000 in fines against 23 facilities as a result. Read more…

Four charged in alleged Handy beating

HUDSON—Four county residents were arraigned in Columbia County Court this week on charges stemming from the beating of Kinderhook resident Harold Handy in July.

District Attorney Paul Czajka announced Wednesday, October 7, that Judge Richard M. Koweek has unsealed an indictment and arraigned the defendants on the following charges:

Alex Rosenstrach. Photo by Lance Wheeler

• Alex Rosenstrach, 37, of Kinderhook, second-degree gang assault, a class C felony; second-degree assault, a class D felony; two counts of third-degree assault, a class A misdemeanors; first-degree unlawful imprisonment, a class E felony; third-degree coercion, a class A misdemeanor; second-degree reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor; Read more…

ICC student board member reports smooth start

KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane Board of Education appointed Ruth Moore to an open seat on the board at the October 6 meeting. Ms. Moore will finish the term of board member Jessica Berner, who resigned in September. The term will run through May 2021.

School Board President Matthew Nelson thanked the candidates who applied for the board seat. He said after the district announced the vacancy on the board they received several responses. The board met with two of those respondents at a special meeting September 29.

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, the board went into a brief executive session, then reopened the public session and appointed Ms. Moore. Mr. Nelson said that she will bring a “tremendous amount” of experience to the board. Ms. Moore was until recently the executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension for Dutchess County.

The board held the meeting in-person at the primary school cafeteria and online with Zoom. Read more…

Charges highlight stakes in absentee voting

HUDSON—Due to the pandemic, state election law was recently amended to allow every voter eligible to vote in the November 3 General Election to vote by absentee ballot on the basis of “temporary illness or physical disability,” according to the county Board of Elections website; voters don’t need to be sick or infected with Covid-19 virus. “Temporary illness” includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like Covid-19.

Requests for absentee ballots have increased—see voting instructions below—but a new wrinkle emerged last week when, on September 29, county Republican Elections Commissioner Kelly Miller-Simmons announced in a press release that she had filed a complaint with state and federal authorities against the county Democratic Committee for “misuse of mail indicia and fraudulently misrepresenting an absentee mailing.”

Ms. Miller-Simmons’ complaint concerned an envelope sent by the Columbia County Democratic Committee to registered Democrats that contained a request for an absentee ballot. But the return envelope carried the return address of the county Board of Elections, not the Democratic Committee. She also claimed the Democrats did not have the right to use the indicia, the printed postage used for large scale mailings. Read more…