Hospital workers, union protest CMH wages

State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-46) spoke at a gathering last week in Hudson on the call by union members for higher wages at Columbia Memorial Health. Photo by Lance Wheeler

HUDSON—Protesters gathered in Hudson’s 7th Park Thursday afternoon, September 1 calling for higher wages for registered nurses and other healthcare workers at Columbia Memorial Health. The workers are members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Among those supporting the hospital’s workforce was state Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-46). The union is also pressing CMH to fill what they say are 350 open positions.

But hospital CEO and President Jay Cahalan said in a written statement before the gathering that the hospital “for many months has been voluntarily raising wages considerably for numerous positions where the shortages are most critical.” He also said that CMH wages “are competitive in the current market for many job titles.”

Mr. Cahalan attributed much of the financial strain on CMH to the impact of the pandemic and to federal reimbursements for the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs, which account for approximately 75% of CMH income. Many of those reimbursements do not cover the cost of that care, he said. Read more…

Big ideas come from little free libraries

SPENCERTOWN—Have you ever wondered about the little free libraries mounted on trees and posts around the county? Most especially, have you wondered why there is a little library in the parking lot of the Claverack Free Library?

Littlefreelibrary.org was founded in Hudson (Wisconsin) in 2009, by a teacher’s son inspired to bring reading to his community 24/7. The non-profit claims 150,000 little free libraries (LFLs) in more than 100 countries that can be found using a map on its website.

Some of Columbia County’s little libraries are registered with the organization, but most have their origins in other stories. The Claverack Free Library, the town’s main library (so named to signify freedom to access information) sponsors four LFLs. In 2017 the local Hover Foundation granted Claverack the funds for middle school children to design and construct four LFLs with the help of engineering students. The students decided where the LFLs would be installed. Why is one in the Claverack Library’s parking lot? The kids said, “What if someone comes to the library and it’s closed? They’ll be so sad,” according to Thea Schoep, the library director. With similar logic, LFLs were placed at the Town Halls in Ghent and Taghkanic because those towns do not have libraries. Users enjoy the informality of the LFLs and the “donate a book, take a book” ease of use. Read more…

Hudson, ICC teams have deal to share pool

HUDSON—The Hudson City School District (HCSD) and Ichabod Crane Central School District (ICC) agreed in late August to merge their swim teams for the 2022-23 season. The two districts are about tied for having the highest student enrollment among Columbia County’s six public school districts.

This will be ICC’s first time participating in high school interscholastic swimming in a few years, ICC’s new Athletic Director Dave Ames said on August 26.

Ichabod once had a swim team, but it has no pool of its own, so it used the pool at Hudson High School.

According to Mr. Ames, HCSD called ICC in late spring and proposed the merger, because the HCSD anticipated the number of qualified students applying for its swim team would be low. The printed agreement gives the reason for merging as “it is in the best interest of both parties to merge,” for the sake of “economy and efficiency.” Read more…

That’s some chicken

Opening day of the 181st Columbia County Fair was Wednesday, August 31 at noon with events running through Monday, September 5. Before the gates opened, Trentyn Dusenbery of Ghent explained some of the features of his American Standard Jersey Giant chicken. He is in the 5th grade and this is his second year showing his poultry at the fair. The fairgrounds are located off Route 66 in Chatham. The full fair schedule and additional information are available at www.columbiafair.com. Photo by David Lee

K’hook funded for more roadside Slow-Down! signs

KINDERHOOK—The Village Board announced that two new speed signs are up in the village with two more coming soon. At their August 17 board meeting, Trustee Mark Browne announced that four signs had been purchased, as part of the village budget.

According to an email from Mr. Browne after the meeting, village officials are initially deploying the signs in areas where previous state Department of Transportation and village studies “have indicated that excessive speed violations are prevalent.”

The signs, which will record and show the driver’s speed, will be placed on Albany Avenue and Hudson Street. Trustee Browne said at the meeting that the next two signs will go on Eichybush Road and Gaffney Lane next. “The objective of this endeavor is to remind drivers to slow down and to obey the posted speed limits,” Trustee Browne said in the email.

The village did have a speed sign up at one time and conducted a speed study in 2017. There has been talk of speed bumps to slow down drivers near the baseball fields at Rothermel Park, especially during Little League season. Read more…