State: Maybe later for Cascino ruling

COPAKE–The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has decided not to decide right now whether the town Planning Board review of Salvatore Cascino’s massive building project complies with state law.

  Last November, after a six-month site plan review, the Planning Board rejected Mr. Cascino’s proposal to build several structures on his 300-acre property called Copake Valley Farm.

   A resident of Larchmont, Mr. Cascino owns a Bronx-based waste hauling business and has a 12-year history of violating federal, state and town laws on his property located along the east side of Route 22.

   Mr. Cascino’s proposal included plans to construct a 24,900 square-foot composting barn, a grain dryer, two 70-foot-high grain storage silos and an 18,500-square-foot run-in shed.

   The county Planning Board and the town Planning Board’s agriculture consultant and engineer all recommended rejection of the plan.

   But attorney Anna Kirschner, who represented Mr. Cascino before the Planning Board, requested that the state agriculture department, commonly called “Ag and Markets,” determine whether the Planning Board had acted in accordance with the state Agriculture and Markets Law.

   In response to that request, William Kimball, director of Agricultural Protection and Development with Ag and Markets, wrote a 10-page letter dated March 11 to Town Supervisor Reggie Crowley and Planning Board Chairwoman Marcia Becker, to say that his department had determined that Mr. Cascino was engaged in a “farm operation.” Because of that, Mr. Kimball said the Planning Board’s site plan review process should have been expedited and was “unreasonably restrictive.”

   In light of Mr. Cascino’s history as a scofflaw, the Kimball letter provoked outraged reactions from State Senator Steve Saland (R-41st), Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro (R-103rd), the Columbia County Democratic Committee and members of the Copake Town Board, all of whom wrote to Governor David Paterson demanding his personal intervention with Ag and Markets on behalf of the people of Copake.      

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County records second confirmed case of swine flu

HUDSON—The Columbia County Department of Health has reported a second confirmed case of H1N1 swine flu. The child who had the illness has fully recovered, according to a release from the department issued Friday afternoon, June 5.

   The person with county’s first confirmed case, reported last month, has also recovered fully.

   Despite the spread of the virus around the world and the news coverage on some deaths attributed to it, many of them in Mexico, local health officials asked the public to keep in mind that this virus usually causes only a “mild illness similar to seasonal flu.” The deaths and cases of serious illness associated with the illness have frequently been in patients that health officials describe as having other, unrelated health problems, including conditions that affect breathing.

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Dems grapple in New Leb

NEW LEBANON–Incumbent Town Supervisor Margaret Robertson faces a challenge from within her own party when town Democrats caucus June 9. In a letter appearing in this edition of The Columbia Paper, two-year Town Board member Allen Livermore has announced his candidacy for the office.

   Town Democratic Chair Leonard “Rocky” Brown said this week that he doesn’t know which candidates are running. But incumbent Town Justice Shaun McHugh charges that Mr. Brown has held “a couple of closed-door, invitation-only meetings,” with potential candidates–to which neither he nor Supervisor Robertson were invited. 

   Mr. Brown could not be reached for further comment before press deadline. But  Ms. Robertson said she had learned about one of the meetings and attended uninvited. She said Mr. Brown called it a platform meeting but  that she said that required  a public notice, adding that a platform should be decided by “the 523 registered Democrats in town.”

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Berkshire connector stoppages announced for this week

ALBANY–The New York State Thruway Authority today announced steel placement, for an overhead bridge project at Interchange B1 on the Berkshire Connector, will require periodic traffic stoppages until Friday, June 12, weather permitting, according to a release.

During the scheduled project, traffic will be brought to a complete stop while construction crews install steel girders for an overhead bridge at Interchange B1 (US 9 & I-90 West) at milepost 6.5 of the Berkshire Connector. The periodic traffic stoppages are expected to last no longer than 10 minutes each. Motorists are advised that they may experience residual traffic delays as a result of the stoppages.

Periodic traffic stoppages are scheduledfor the westbound lanes on Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The $7.5 million bridge project is being performed by Kubricky Construction Corp. of Glens Falls and is scheduled for completion in Fall 2009.

The Authority will activate its Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) to advise motorists of the lane closures. Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) will also be posted in advance of the area to provide motorists with notice of the required traffic stoppages.

As always, motorists are reminded to remain alert and aware of their surroundings while traveling through the construction work zone. Motorists should also keep in mind that fines for speeding are doubled in construction work zones.

The Authority said in the release that it appreciates motorists’ patience and understanding as this essential highway improvement project takes place.

Rep. Murphy picks Hudson for regional office

Congressman Scott Murphy (D-20th) speaks to a crowd of well-wishers and local politicians at the opening Monday of his new district office at 621 Warren Street in Hudson. Photo by David LeeHUDSON—Not that he was counting, mind you, but Scott Murphy said he’d been a congressman for “four weeks and five days” as of Monday, June 1. That’s the day he officially opened his new district office at 621 Warren Street, on the corner of South Seventh Street.

Fresh off a special election victory in the race to fill the seat previously held by now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Mr. Murphy, 39, a Glens Falls Democrat, made his way slowly through a small crowd of about 65 well-wishers to the storefront that will serve as his office serving Columbia, Greene and Dutchess counties. Those are three of the 10 counties that all or in part comprise the ungainly 20th District.

Alluding to the series of recounts that delayed the announcement of a winner in the March 31 contest against former Assembly GOP Minority Leader James Tedisco, Mr. Murphy said he has been hard at work on many issues in the brief time he’s been in Washington. He pointed with pride to his first policy speech on the House floor, in which called for an amendment that will aid returning veterans who want to start their own businesses.

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