Chatham prepares to reopen, cautiously

CHATHAM—The Town Board discussed the town’s Reopen Chatham committees and the ways they plan to safely open Town Hall and the town courts at their workshop meeting on June 4. Also at that meeting the board voted to leave the beach at Crellin Park closed for now and not hire lifeguards at this time.

The Highway Department Garage will remain closed to the public, according to Supervisor Donal Collins. He also said at the meeting, held on the Google Meets platform, that Town Hall would be closed to the public for the rest of June.

Town Clerk Beth Anne Rippel said that even though the building is closed, the staff is still working and answering questions over the phone and through email. She talked about plans once the building does reopen. “We have everything hammered out,” she said of the reopening plan. Read more…

Major solar farm plan heats up

COPAKE—Pandemic or not the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment continues to move forward on projects like the 60-megawatt solar facility proposed in Craryville.

In his May 14 update on the Hecate Energy project called “Shepherd’s Run Solar,” Copake Deputy Supervisor/Councilman Richard Wolf said the project is proceeding under the Article 10 law, “which allows developers to largely circumvent local zoning laws and approval processes, and to get state approval instead.”

Mr. Wolf, the town’s project liaison, delivered his monthly update at the May Town Board meeting held via video conference. Read more…

The nose knows

The third in a series of Covid-19 testing clinics in Columbia County was conducted Monday, June 1. The county Department of Health set up a pair of testing stations under the awning of the front door at the John L. Edwards School building in Hudson. Candidates for testing could pre-register on line at the Department of Health website, but the team also accepted walk-ins. The tests are nasopharyngeal swabs which according to the DOH website are most effective for detecting the virus in actively sick people. The cost for the testing has been offset by private donations. Luella Harrow of Hudson works in the medical field and says that the test is necessary for her work. She has no signs or symptoms. Conducting the test is Columbia County Deputy EMS Coordinator Greg Fox. Assisting him is R.N. Janice Brodowski. Photo by David Lee

Mabb: Contact tracing system ‘not ready for prime time’

HUDSON—With controversy erupting in counties around New York State over the Department of Health’s CommCare contact tracing system, Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) Director Jack Mabb said in the June 7 county-issued Covid-19 update press release that the county DOH is prepared to proceed with the system provided some fixes to it occur.

“The system as currently devised doesn’t work. It makes my staff miserable. However, my staff does see some good things in it, and we are not walking away from it at this point. “CommCare does get some things right, such as the way it asks questions and the way it’s formatted, but it’s simply not ready for prime time. I think it wasn’t properly piloted and instead was rolled out too soon,” Director Mabb said in the release.

“I suggested in a meeting last week with state officials that the state take a two-week pause with CommCare and get it fixed. If they can work out the bugs, we’d be happy to use it. I’m already thinking of pausing it here and give staff time to learn how to make it work,” he said. Read more…

Governor extends deadline for school budget ballots

ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on June 7 that he will issue an Executive Order extending the deadline for school districts to receive school budget ballots. To be counted, school budget ballots can be accepted by hand delivery through 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9 and received by mail through Tuesday, June 16 by the school district.

The governor also signed legislation (S.8130-D/A.10516-A) extending the deadline to submit absentee ballots until the day of the election. To be counted, primary ballots must be postmarked by June 23. The Governor previously issued Executive Orders allowing all New Yorkers to vote absentee in the June 23 primary elections and ensuring every New Yorker registered to vote receives a postage-paid absentee ballot application in the mail. Read more…