Job shuffles leave Hudson shy 2 school administrators

HUDSON–City School District (HCSD) officials are so good that everybody wants them, Supervisor Maria L. Suttmeier told the Board of Education meeting last month.

This year the HCSD has experienced a turnover of high-profile staff, including three administrators leaving during school session for “higher” positions in other districts. “It’s hard to turn down a central office job,” Dr. Suttmeier noted on December 4. The changes opened administrative positions, some of which the HCSD filled quickly. But others, as of December 4, remained open.

One change in widely-known officials was announced over the summer and is still forthcoming, because Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds George Keeler said he will retire some time in 2020, though the date is not set. Last July, in anticipation of this change, the school board presented James Boyle, newly hired as head of maintenance, to work with Mr. Keeler, in preparation for taking over Mr. Keeler’s position when the time comes. Mr. Boyle is glad to have Mr. Keeler as a “sounding board,” Dr. Suttmeier said. Read more…

His lens has a wide angle

HUDSON–Photographer Jacob Elbaz’s gallery at 711 Warren Street displays Mr. Elbaz’s photographs, along with paintings, drawings and photographs by a variety of artists in a variety of styles. The gallery is part of the Three Rivers Art Project, a not-for-profit corporation Mr. Elbaz started in 2015 for the purpose of providing Middle Eastern artists with funds, supplies and resources, promoting their artwork and fostering opportunities for them to meet American artists, art collectors, and arts representatives. It has three branches: Sde Nehemiah in northern Israel, 77 Mercer Street in Manhattan, and Warren Street.

Mr. Elbaz, a dual citizen of Israel and Canada and a permanent resident of the United States, was born in Morocco in 1945 and moved to Israel when he was about 8. There, he spent most of his youth on Kibbutz Sde Nehemiah, where three rivers meet. Dyslexia made reading difficult for him. But his first girlfriend’s father was a photographer and awakened in him an interest in photography.

Shortly after completing his compulsory military service as a paratrooper, Mr. Elbaz bought a camera and took pictures as an amateur. “I taught myself. I never studied photography or art in an institutionalized way,” he says in a book about his pictures. Read more…

Re-re-re-review, but no vote yet on GRJH

COPAKE—A decision on the GRJH, Inc. application to build a gas station/convenience store in Craryville may happen in the foreseeable future.

The matter is before the Copake Planning Board for site plan review. At the board’s December 5 meeting, a majority of board members voted to finally close the public hearing that has been lingering for more than two years.

The site for the controversial proposal is on the northwest corner of the state Route 23, county Route 7 and Craryville Road four-way intersection, between the Craryville Post Office to the west and the Craryville United Methodist Church to the east. Craryville is a hamlet in the northwest part of the Town of Copake. Read more…

Columbia County History: County’s 19th century poor and ‘insane’

SOCIETIES’ TREATMENT of their unfortunates is an old and usually sad story. In 1972 TV reporter Geraldo Rivera dealt with this in a shocking report on conditions in Staten Island’s Willowbrook State School, which housed children with intellectual disabilities. As Mr. Rivera and others reported, its residents were housed in filthy conditions and sometimes subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

New York State’s earliest attempt (as a state) to care for its poor and mentally ill came via a 1784 law mandating that each town elect two overseers of the poor to distribute money to the needy. Subsequently, an 1824 law attempted to promote more regulated humane treatment of the state’s unfortunates. County Boards of Supervisors had to purchase land on which to construct tax funded poorhouses. From a contemporary perspective, several of the law’s provisions, including use of solitary confinement to deal with difficult inmates, would be quite controversial. Also, although inmates were denied voice in the decision, they could be farmed out to private, outside employers. The employers had to give suitable support for such persons. This was not slavery, but it was arguably close to it.

The county’s first poorhouse, a part of which was a farm, was established in 1830 in Ghent. In 1857 the racially segregated facility was the subject of a comprehensive report which noted that it consisted of a brick main building and some two-story wooden ones, all unventilated. Paupers occupied 18 rooms of the main house, which was warmed by stoves. The basements were occupied as kitchens, etc. Also, a 204-acre farm, yielding an annual revenue of $1,400 was connected with the almshouse. Read more…

Do funding changes cut care for disabled people?

HUDSON–Whether changes for fiscal reasons cited by officials really support people’s needs came up frequently at the meeting of the Columbia County Community Services Board (CSB) November 20, a session that also included an update on finding a location for a special education pre-school.

The County Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Productivity Committee has mentioned the County’s outpatient mental health clinic as a possible target. Supervisor Sarah Sterling (D-Hudson, 1st Ward), a member of that Committee and the Board’s liaison with the CSB, indicated that the committee’s plans are currently too uncertain for her to report.

CSB Chair Beth Schuster and county Human Services Director Michael Cole both said that if somebody is scrutinizing or has an issue with something regarding mental health or human services in the county, they should speak directly with the CSB. “It is the CSB’s role to see adequacy of care,” Mr. Cole said. Read more…