A fine day to appreciate the planet that sustains us all

New Lebanon’s Earth Day clean-up on Saturday morning, April 23, was a great success. About 20 participants gathered at Shatford Park pavilion, divided into teams of four and fanned out to locations along Route 20, Old Post Road and Cemetery Road for an hour of trash collection. The New Lebanon event was organized by the New Lebanon Climate Smart Communities Task Force. Climate Smart Communities (CSC) is a state-wide program that encourages communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve climate resilience. New Lebanon joined in April 2020 and was the fastest to receive its Bronze Certification in the history of the 13-year-old program. Volunteers pictured (l to r) are Cam Dus Patricia Hume, Margie Muse and Steve Muse. Photo by David Lee

Bliss OKs Catskill’s help paying overdue rents

HUDSON—The Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners voted to accept a grant from the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition (HCHC) on behalf of its tenants, to pay overdue rent, at its meeting April 25. Other topics at that meeting included a mural proposal, the search for an executive director, and changes for tenant commissioners. The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) runs the 135-unit income-restricted residences consisting of Bliss residential complex.

In February, the HCHC proposed to pay overdue rent for HHA tenants. Since then, the HHA, the HCHC, and lawyers have been discussing this matter. Now, both the HCHC and the HHA have provided enough information to bring the payment even closer to happening, HHA Interim Executive Director Nick Zachos reported at the April 25 meeting.

The HCHC will give money to a law office, which will credit the money to the pertinent tenants’ accounts, explained Brian Lawlor, HHA’s legal council. With enough details in place, the HHA Board voted to accept the grant. HHA Board Vice-Chair Claire Cousin abstained, because she is also Executive Director of the HCHC Board.)

“This is very exciting on behalf of our tenants,” Mr. Zachos said. Read more…

Districts roll out proposed budgets

GHENT—Local school districts announced their proposed 2022-23 school budgets earlier this month. All school districts in the county hold elections on May 17 for residents to vote to approve the school budgets for the next school year and, in most districts, the election of school board members. District ballots also include propositions. School Boards in the six districts in the county have approved the proposed budget and will have public hearings in May.

The new state budget includes $31.5 billion in total school aid for 2023 school year, the highest level of state aid ever, according to a press release from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office. “This investment represents a year-to-year increase of $2.1 billion, or 7.2 %, compared to school year 2022, including a $1.5 billion or 7.7 % Foundation Aid increase,” says the release. Foundation Aid, first enacted in 2007-08, is the largest unrestricted aid category supporting public school district expenditures in the state.

“The opportunity to pursue a quality education is the silver bullet for so many New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said in the release.

Though most districts start planning months before, waiting for the state aid money is often the last piece of putting the proposed budget together. Districts also account for the state property tax cap, which are different for each district. Read more…

Facts show women faced disrespect

ANCRAM—Disrespectful behavior against women has occurred, according to the findings of an attorney’s investigation. The challenge now is: How to fix it moving forward.

At the January Town Board meeting, Jack Lindsey addressed the board about numerous incidents of “dismissive, sometimes hostile or inappropriate treatment of women who serve the town or come to the Town Hall for constituent services…”

The incidents were related to him in conversations over the past year and a half and the improper treatment came at the hands of certain men presently serving the town, Mr. Lindsey said. Mr. Lindsey’s presentation was the subject of a January 27 story in The Columbia Paper, “Witnesses call out Ancram officials,” which can be found at www.columbiapaper.com

According to town policy, the town is obligated to investigate such claims, Ancram Supervisor Art Bassin told The Columbia Paper this week, so the board enlisted the services of Attorney Elena DeFio Kean with the Hinman Straub law firm in Albany to look into the matter. Ms. Kean started her investigation February 12 and concluded it with the submission of her findings report April 21. She interviewed 20 people—all were town employees, elected officials or volunteers on one or more town committees. Her investigation also included the review of: Town Board memos; draft board resolutions; Town Board meeting minutes; potential proposed draft Code of Conduct; Town Employee Handbook; Town Policy and Complaint Procedure regarding discrimination and harassment; Town Code of Ethics and Ethics Law. Read more…

‘The Creation’ postponed from May 1 date

KINDERHOOK–The start of the 11th season of Concerts in the Village (CITV) has been postponed until an unknown date due to Covid-19. An announcement about the upcoming season appears on page 8 of the April 28 issue. The concert was postponed after the newspaper went to press.