State poised to make good on school aid promises

HUDSON—The Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education has learned that the school district will receive all the aid budgeted for 2020-21 school year, but for 2021-22 state officials may try again to combine several aid categories that school officials want keep separate.

The possibility that the state would cut up to 20% of this year’s aid hung over school districts until late last month, when the state Department of Budget said that school districts will get all their scheduled aid, HCSD Business Administrator Jesse Boehme reported at the February 2 board meeting.

In addition to state aid, the district is expecting $2.2 million in specific grants plus additional money from the federal CARES Act, Mr. Boehme said. The district has more flexibility in deciding how to use these grants than in previous years, added Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement April Prestipino. Read more…

ICC ok’s sports team restart

KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane School Board voted to approve the start of high risk sports at a special online meeting on February 9. The sports include boys and girls basketball (varsity and JV), boys volleyball (varsity), girls volleyball (varsity, JV and modified), football (varsity), cheerleading (varsity) and wrestling (varsity).

The board included wording in the resolution that there would need to be a testing protocol for wrestling, since it was the one sport about which a couple of board members had concerns.

On January 22, the governor announced that high risk sports were authorized to begin practice and competition on February 1, if permitted by local health authorities. Read more…

Copake hears options for brighter, more connected future

COPAKE—History, broadband and water are the subjects of several initiatives in the works for this town—all with the aim of making Copake a better place to live.

At its February 11 meeting via Zoom, the Town Board heard from Roberta Roll, chairperson of the Hamlet Revitalization Task Force (HRTF) about nominating certain areas of the town for historic designation.

In her presentation, Ms. Roll noted that several areas and buildings in town already have such designations through the State and National Historic Registers. Read more…

Biologist sees wildlife imperiled as rail trail advances

MILLERTON—In a press release last November, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association, Inc., announced that the rail trail extension from Millerton to Ancram is now open. The extension consists of an 8-mile section of graded, bridged, paved and railing-equipped pedestrian trail “perfect for runners, walkers, bikers and outdoors and park enthusiasts of all ages.” The trail, open from dawn to dusk, has restrictions on littering and leashed dogs, and allows no motorized traffic or horses.

A map on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail (HVRT) website, hvrt.org, shows the stops and crossings of the trail as it extends the 23 miles from the Metro North’s Wassaic train terminus in Amenia in Dutchess County to the Copake Falls area of Taconic State Park in Columbia County.

The master plan for the trail’s future has it continuing north to Hillsdale, then west to Craryville and north through Philmont and Ghent to Chatham, at the 46.1 mile marker. A short segment from Black Grocery Road to Hillsdale has been completed but requires the construction of a bridge over Route 22 to finish the Hillsdale connection. The map designates the segments from Hillsdale to Chatham as either “master-planned” or “shovel-ready.” Read more…

Former chief pleads guilty

CHATHAM—Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka announced Thursday, February 11, that Peter Volkmann, 57, of Stuyvesant, formerly the chief of the Village of Chatham Police Department, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and official misconduct before County Court Judge Richard Koweek.

The DA said the conviction was the result of a two-year investigation that began shortly before State Police executed a search warrant issued by County Court Judge Jonathan Nichols January 8, 2019.

Mr. Volkmann pleaded guilty to fourth degree grand larceny for circumventing the state’s post-retirement income restrictions, cheating the New York State and Local Retirement System out of $74,222, according a press release from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office. Mr. Volkmann hid public-source income from 19 municipalities and school districts in excess of the statutory limit by funneling the earnings through a private business, PF Volkmann & Associates. The Times Union cited authorities who said he “funneled the government payments through his firm from about 2012 to 2019.” Read more…