Judy Grunberg, PS21 founder and more, dies

VALATIE—“I was in Chatham earlier today,” Deborah Lans said on Monday, “and I couldn’t imagine not bumping into Judy.”

“Judy” was Judith Grunberg, an outsized presence in Chatham and Columbia County, who died August 30 at the age of 86. An obituary appears in this issue on Page 25.

Judy Grunberg

Ms. Lans serves on the board, currently as interim treasurer, of PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century, which Ms. Grunberg founded in Chatham in 1999. As the two women became friends in Columbia County several years ago, they discovered they had both attended the Dalton School in Manhattan, at different times. This led, one evening, to their bursting into the school song at dinner at the Blue Plate restaurant, a dining staple in Chatham that Ms. Grunberg had purchased years before to keep it from closing. Read more…

Will app improve public health?

HUDSON–Despite receiving official approval for a new online application, the Columbia County Public Health Department needs to focus more on getting its messages out to more people in additional ways, says Supervisor Michael Chameides (D-Hudson, 3rd Ward). He spoke about the situation August 21, a week after the full Columbia County Board of Supervisors authorized a contract for the app, which the public can access through cell phones or mobile devices.

Purchase of the app, which is called ThePublicHealthApp.com, was approved August 14, with six supervisors, including Mr. Chameides, voting against the contract. Though twice as many supervisors voted for it, the vote stands out because most resolutions before the county Board of Supervisors pass unanimously.

A state grant will cover the app’s $12,995 startup cost, and there might be additional grants to cover the annual $4,995 maintenance cost. Public Health Educator Victoria McGahan said she expects “a pretty quick turnaround” with the app all developed and ready to use in “a few weeks.” Read more…

New seats will await asbestos abatement

HUDSON–The temporary closing of the elementary school’s auditorium, the initiation of two-year kindergarten, and the presentation of a children’s book written by a relative of a former member of the Hudson City School District Board of Education highlighted that Board’s meeting August 20.

Schools Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier announced that the Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School will not use its auditorium until mid-November. Its old seats have been removed and will be replaced. But before the new seats come, the auditorium must undergo asbestos abatement and painting.

After the new seats are delivered, Dr. Suttmeier said she expects the contractor to finish installing them by mid-November. The District has also ordered new audiovisual equipment. Read more…

Either way wind blows, it’s not good news

The house in Chatham Center that Allen Foster (pictured) lives in was built in 1701. A state historical sign out front reads, “Van Alstyne House, Reputed to have been a fort during Revolution.” Mr. Foster has owned the house for 50 years. About three years ago, two large elm trees that grew on the edge of the CSX property, within the railroad’s property fence, began to die. In early August, one of the two trees fell on the CSX tracks and has yet to be cleaned up. The second tree still stands but is leaning toward the house. Mr. Foster has made several attempts to get CSX to remove the tree before it falls on his house. A representative from the company examined the scene in April and assured him that it would be taken care of, but nothing was done. Calls to CSX by The Columbia Paper were not returned by deadline. Photo by David Lee

Former ICC chief now heads Canaan school

KINDERHOOK–Former Ichabod Crane Superintendent Michael Vanyo is now the superintendent at the Berkshire Union Free School District in Canaan, according to the state Education Department.

Mr. Vanyo resigned from Ichabod Crane in June after two years in the district. In April 2019, he was arrested for a DWI and leaving the scene of a property damage incident in Saratoga County. He was on leave from the district until May, when board announced he would resign in June and that he was working remotely to help with the transition.

The Ichabod Crane board hired Mr. Vanyo in 2017. At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, Mr. Vanyo was on medical leave from August until November after having suffered injuries from a fall while on vacation. Read more…