Barn fire claims dairy farm

Despite quick response, wind fans flames that destroy livelihoods

COPAKE–Fourth generation dairy farmers Nancy and Paul Miller, sister and brother, lost not only their livelihood, but their way of life when fire consumed the main dairy barn and about half their herd at Snook Hill Farm, 257 Empire Road, the afternoon of Thursday, December 17.

Fifty-two dairy animals were killed. Some farm machinery and three buildings were destroyed by the fast-moving, wind-whipped blaze.

Read more…

Knock, knock, it’s Santa at the door–Really!

VALATIE–Signs leading into the village declare that this is the home of the Santa Claus Club, 1st in the Nation. The local tradition of “Santas” visiting village youngsters at their homes on Christmas Eve started over 60 years ago and is still going strong today.

The Santa’s helper I talked to, who goes by the name Joe Pawlik the other 364 days of the year, said that the club has about 30 members. Nine Santa Clauses go out on December 24 to pass out gifts and bring Christmas joy to some 600 kids in the village.  Karen Keeler, who grew up in Chatham and is now in her early 30s, remembers “begging my parents to go to my uncle’s house [in Valatie] and wanting to make sure we got there on time to see Santa Claus,” she said.

Read more…

At Christmas local churches beckon to all

HUDSON–Regardless of religious convictions, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day offer everyone a chance to experience centuries-old modes of seasonal celebration in solemn, dignified and joyful communal gatherings.

Christmas and Easter services draw more people–church members and visitors alike–to religious establishments than any other Christian observances. And many local religious leaders say they want the general public to know that anyone who would like to attend these special services is invited to be their guest. Below is just a sampling of what’s happening at a handful of the many churches in the county.

Read more…

Vote challenges may proceed but court limits GOP options

ALBANY–A state appellate court panel issued a brief but mixed ruling last week on whether county Republicans could pursue the case challenging absentee ballots from the November 3 election in the Town of Taghkanic, most of which were cast by second home owners.

The five judges of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division of the Third Judicial Department affirmed a decision by county Judge Jonathan Nichols allowing lawyers for the Columbia County Republican Committee and its chairman, Gregory Fingar, to challenge the 62 remaining Taghkanic absentee ballots. But the appeals judges undercut the GOP’s central argument in the case, that the voters in question should not be allowed to vote in Columbia County because they also have homes outside the county.

Read more…

Through twists and turns, ribbon candy makes a comeback

HUDSON–Ribbon candy wasn’t something Jim Vasilow intended to do when he reopened the family business in 2002.

“I watched them do it as a kid, and I knew how labor intensive it was,” he said in a recent interview. “But as word got out that we were opening a new store, the first question out of their mouths was: Oh, are you going to do the ribbon candy? Peanut butter filled ribbon candy was what my grandfather and uncle were renowned for. They did it all by hand. That’s crazy work, so I did some research.”

Read more…