New restaurant moored to long tradition

CANAAN–Some people think of it like an old friend who’s come back to town, having changed a bit for his travels. It’s the feel Joseph Massero, the new owner of the Backwater Bar & Grill, is shooting for. Under different owners and by different names, the restaurant/tavern that has occupied the site has been a local dining experience. Then it was vacant for two years until August 3, when the restaurant re-opened under the former Backwater name.

Tammy Flaherty, a life-long Canaan resident, was one hoping the restaurant would re-open. She has fond memories of what was then the Red Inn, where, as a young child, she would see friends and neighbors. “It was very family-oriented,” said Ms. Flaherty.

Apart from the Cottage and Crow’s Nest at Magpie, both on Route 295, the Backwater is the only other restaurant in town and the only one on the east end. Ms. Flaherty can recall when local residents had several restaurant/tavern choices, including the Queechy Lake Motel Restaurant, the diner at the B3 truck stop (most recently Lily’s), Poppy’s and the Pyrenees. In this economy where the threat of a double-dip recession looms, the fact and the timing of this re-opening is a pleasant surprise to people here.

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Schools advised to hang on to aid from feds

HUDSON–The Hudson City School District, along with other school districts here and across the country, will soon receive more cash from the federal government. Some will come from economic stimulus programs and this week the federal Department of Education said New York State will receive almost $700 million as one of nine states ranking highest in the Race to the Top program. Half of that money is supposed to go directly to school districts.

But with all that additional money in or about to enter the pipeline from Washington, will any of it offset the impact of major cutbacks in state funding that led the Hudson to cut 50 jobs this spring?

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce hosted a brunch last week at Columbia Greene Community College that brought together school superintendants and business people from both Columbia and Greene counties before the announcement of the award of Race to the top funds. At the event college President James Campion asked state Senator Steve Saland (R-41st), who represents all of Columbia County, about the distribution of new federal stimulus funds intended to boost the economy by allowing school districts to rehire teachers who lost their jobs because of the state cuts.

The Senator, a former chairman of the Senate Education Committee who is running for reelection against Democrat Didi Barrett this fall, said that in spite of the good news that any infusion of money would represent for local school districts, he believes the districts should exercise caution.

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Board hears support for teacher put on leave

CHATHAM–The high school library was packed for Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, with parents, students and Chatham alumni speaking out in support of music teacher Mark Giordano. Mr. Giordano was placed on paid administrative leave in February for what he was told was “inappropriate behavior.”

The board has yet to announce its decision on whether it will reinstate Mr. Giordano or pursue disciplinary actions. There are no criminal charges involved.

Before the public comment period at the August 24 meeting, board President John Wapner read a statement saying that the board and Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo could not talk about the situation with Mr. Giordano. But he said that if allegations are provided to the district, school officials fully investigate them. He said that if the allegations “meet the standards of credibility governed by education law,” the board follows a specified process for dealing with the employee named in the allegations. He told the crowd that the board would make no comment or respond in any way to the audience.

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Brown proposes new post to run county day-to-day

HUDSON—Roy Brown (R-Germantown), chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, thinks the county is long overdue for someone to run government more efficiently, though he doesn’t want that job for himself. Instead, he’s pressing for the county to hire a full-time administrator, and this week a key committee of the board agreed to help him fast-track his proposal.

Mr. Brown publically introduced his plan Tuesday, August 24, at the meeting of the Board of Supervisors County Government Committee, presenting a report he created with data from the New York State Association of Counties. The report shows that Columbia is one of only nine counties in the state that still delegates the day-to-day administrative chores of running county government to the leader of the county board rather turning over those tasks to an appointed, professional administrator or an elected county executive. There are 62 counties in the state counting the five boroughs of New York City.

Columbia County’s annual budget is $147-million, and the county hundreds of employees. Members of the Board of Supervisors, including the chairman receive part-time salaries.

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Basilica Industria’s new owners stick to script

HUDSON–A waterfront landmark will soon change hands. Known for the last decade or so as Basilica Industria, the brick building at 110 South Front Street was built in 1884 as a foundry and forge for making steel railway wheels, used into the 1980s for rendering hide glue, and refashioned nine years ago into a 13,700 square foot avant garde art and performance space by Patrick Doyle and Catherine Smith. It soon be owned and operated by Livingston residents Bill Stone and Nancy Barber, with their son Tony Stone of Hudson, and his partner musician Melissa Auf der Maur.

Mr. Stone, an artist influenced by the Fluxus movement often associated with Yoko Ono, has also developed loft buildings in New York City. He will have a show of his art in Manhattan later this year at the James Fuentes Gallery. Filmmaker Tony Stone’s feature, “Severed Ways,” which depicts the Norse discovery of North America in the 11th century, was screened at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan. Ms. Auf der Maur, a base player who is now on tour with her band in Vienna, recently released a new album, “Ooom.” She played with Courtney Love’s band Hole for five years and with Smashing Pumpkins for one year.

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