Audubon Explorers Program trains future conservation leaders

CRARYVILLE–“There’s nothing out there that’s going to get you,” said Larry Federman to Saran Keira from Guinea West Africa and Carla Pierre Louis from Haiti. He was instructing the two interns, high school students from Brooklyn, in the fine art of paddling a kayak in preparation for a week’s camping with fellow high school students scheduled to arrive shortly for a four-day Explorers’ program at Rheinstrom Hill Audobon Center and Sanctuary.

At first the interns were worried about what might be in the water, but soon Mr. Federman had them maneuvering with confidence enjoying the experience of being afloat on a sunny with just enough breeze blowing to keep us cool. Read more…

New Leb residents join suit against motorcycle track

NEW LEBANON–At a special meeting July 26 the New Lebanon Town Board voted to file for “interested party” status in a lawsuit being brought by town residents and others against the neighboring Town of Stephentown. The lawsuit, according to Lew Oliver, the plaintiffs’ attorney,  seeks to “annul” the approval of a use variance the Stephentown Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) granted to the Lebanon Valley Speedway July 1 to operate a motocross course.

Motocross is a motorcycle racing sport on a dirt track that includes hills, sharp turns and other obstacles. Read more…

ICC faces more departures, some slots eliminated

KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane school board approved six more retirements at Tuesday night’s regular board meeting. Earlier in the summer 13 staff members retired mostly due to state retirement incentives. Interim superintendent Lee Bordick said the district was currently interviewing candidates to fill some of the positions created by the retirements.

At the August 3 meeting the board also heard from a student who is hoping to build a memorial to veterans from the Town of Kinderhook in Glynn Square, a park on land the school district leases from the village. Read more…

Who makes the (new) grade?

School officials now have to explain state changes on test scores

ALBANY– State Education Commissioner David Steiner announced new standards in grading of the state English and Math assessments in 3 through 8 grades last week. The new standards, or as the state calls them “cut points,” apply to tests students took during the 2009-10 school year, so the grade some students received in June will be different when they return to school in September.

In separate interviews with The Columbia Paper, both Chatham School District Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo and Ichabod Crane Interim Superintendent Lee Bordick expressed support for the state’s decision to reevaluate the test scores, but they questioned the timing. Read more…

O’Neill steps down

Housing Resources chief O’Neill to leave; some have praise, but not in Copake

HUDSON—Kevin O’Neill, the man in charge at Housing Resources of Columbia County, Inc., for the past 16 years, is moving on.

Mr. O’Neill confirmed this week that he is no longer executive director, but is sticking around for “a couple of months” to assist with the transition, as Deputy Executive Director Stephanie Lane takes on the top spot at Housing Resources, a private not-for-profit organization that has assisted residents with housing needs since 1984.

Mr. O’Neill told The Columbia Paper the reason for his exit is that Housing Resources will “not be doing a whole lot of real estate development in the next couple of years—and that’s what I do.”

Housing Resources Board of Directors President David Pearce confirmed Mr. O’Neill’s imminent departure by phone and said a press release on the subject was sent to the media last week. The Columbia Paper still had not received the release by press time yesterday, but did get a copy of a July 26 letter sent by Mr. Pearce to Michael Scutieri, the mayor of the Village of Millerton, where Housing Resources is currently in the process of developing an affordable housing project.

The Pearce letter informs the mayor that Mr. O’Neill has been replaced and talks about the drastic change in the housing industry over the past two years.

“In this difficult economic time, Housing Resources is redefining its goals as an agency while staying true to our mission… Affordable housing development will not be a major focus for the organization in the near future” though the agency “expects to continue to work toward the success of our current developments in Chatham and Millerton,” Mr. Pearce says in the letter.

The “change in leadership” decision was mutually agreed upon by the Housing Resources board and Mr. O’Neill, according to the letter, which calls the move “appropriate.”

Read more…