Humbaugh Memorial ski race held a Catamount

Racers receive the trophies after the Miles Humbaugh Memorial Inter-club Ski Race. Photo by David Lee

COPAKE–It was warm for an afternoon on February 12 and there were little more than patches of snow around, except for the ski hill at Catamount in Copake where skiers participated in the annual Miles Humbaugh Memorial Inter-club Ski Race. There were 178 racers on the start list, ages 6-14.

They came from Bousquet, Berkshire East and Catamount. After the race, participants and their families gathered around the trophy table to get their awards from first to fifth places.

“This race is special,” said race organizer Karin Tanenbaum. “This is a warm, family program with parents volunteering to help the day run smoothly. Our inter-club racers are excited about racing at their home mountain, some for the very first time.” Read more…

New Leb lecture: ‘Railroad’ to freedom passed nearby

THE COLUMBIA COUNTY LIBRARIES ASSOCIATION hosted a Zoom presentation about pre-Civil War abolitionist activities in the Hudson River Valley and Capital Region on February 20. The guest speaker was Paul Stewart, co-founder of the Underground Railroad Education Center in Albany.

Stewart’s talk focused on the 1820s–1850s. Stewart said that initially the escape routes to the North were called the Underground Road and those activities were kept secret. Coded language was used with “hard goods” referring to men and “soft goods” to women. According to Stewart, there were concerns “about how much to tell.”

Not until the 1840s did “road” expand to “railroad” to connote speed. Also, efforts to help “freedom seekers” were more public, organized and aggressive. Stewart explained that the term “freedom seekers” as opposed to “fugitive slaves” or “escapees” communicates better the goals of its travelers.

Stewart said that Blacks had leadership roles and that the Underground Railroad was more than a series of safe houses or stations. He emphasized that it was a “movement,” with a web of several pathways. Stewart added that new research has shown that Blacks not only traveled north; some went south to the Caribbean nations and southwest to Mexico. Read more…

Why can’t we fix child care’s failings​?

(The last in a series on the lack of child care in Columbia County)

GHENT—New York State has barely half as many early child care slots as demand would require, with the gap in rural areas exceeding that in urban ones, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. The infant and toddler child care crisis in particular is estimated to cost the state $9.8 billion every year, according to the Council for a Strong America. Compared to other developed nations, the U.S. is ranked 40th (of 41) in its childcare policies and practices, according to UNICEF.

What should we do to address the issue?

At the hearing before the State Senate Standing Committee on Children and Families mentioned in prior articles, the same suggestions were repeatedly put forward: (1) increase wages for child care workers, many of whom currently earn poverty-level wages; (2) raise the income eligibility level for subsidies available to families, so that two-wage earner families may be eligible; (3) create an online and simplified enrollment process to obtain subsidies, because a significant number of eligible families do not apply for the current subsidies due to the cumbersome process; (4) create a universal child care system for all families regardless of income or immigration status.

In her proposed fiscal year 2024 budget Governor Hochul has put forward a number of actions intended to address the childcare crisis. These include a tax credit to businesses for the creation and expansion of child care slots; raising the income level for subsidies to the maximum allowed by federal law; putting the application process for subsidies online, and directing unspent federal funds to provide $389 million in bonuses for child care workers and recruitment assistance for child care providers. Read more…

Early arrivals check in

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a worldwide project inaugurated in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society as a means of monitoring the ebbs and flows of bird populations. Birds are the first indicators of climate and environmental changes. By rallying the public to get out and look for birds for four days in February, researchers have a huge data gathering mechanism. The Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) hosted an event Saturday, February 18 at the Ooms Conservation Area on Rock City Road in Chatham. A group of about 24 people with binoculars, cameras and coffee gathered for a tour guided by expert birder and CLC Trustee Will Yandik. Sightings included a little group of bluebirds (pictured), which Mr. Yandik identifies as a “climate change species” because normally they wouldn’t be this far north in the winter. Also observed or heard, were the Carolina wren, a raven, tree sparrows, ducks and geese and a mocking bird. A total of 25 different species were identified on Saturday morning. Pictured is the group reacting as a chickadee perches on a branch just above them. Results of the bird count can be found at Photos by David Lee

County board turns attention to safety and health

HUDSON—The Columbia County Board of Supervisors, at its monthly meeting February 8, authorized the appointment of the following people to the following positions:

•Elijah L. Faulkner and David Hilbert to the Fire Coordinator’s Cause and Origin Team, which helps local fire departments determine what caused specific fires. The two appointees are members of the Canaan and Niverville fire departments, respectively

•Terry B. Porter to the County Planning Board, for a three-year term ending December 31, 2025, to represent Region #7, Gallatin and Taghkanic. Those towns nominated him

•David Newman chairman of the Columbia County Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Task Force until December 31, 2023; and Donald Meltz, Jr., as Climate Smart Communities coordinator. Read more…