Highlands Current Audio Stories

Highlands Current

The Highlands Current is a nonprofit weekly newspaper and daily website that covers Beacon, Cold Spring, Garrison, Nelsonville and Philipstown, New York, in the Hudson Highlands. This podcast includes select stories read aloud. read less

Reporter’s Notebook: Is Crime Up in Beacon?
Today
Reporter’s Notebook: Is Crime Up in Beacon?
If you’ve had your eye on social media over the past five or six weeks, you’ve probably seen the declarations: “Old Beacon is back,” or “Beacon is catching up to Newburgh.” After a number of felony arrests, some social media users suggest that crime — particularly violent crime — is rising in the city. Do the numbers bear that out? Here’s a summary of what has happened recently. On Dec. 16, members of the Dutchess County Drug Task Force arrested Raequan Keemer, 27, on charges that he had crack cocaine that he intended to sell. The arrest was attributed to the task force’s ongoing investigation of drug sales in Beacon. Keemer is due in City Court on Feb. 15. On Jan. 1, Beacon police responded to a report of a body found in a stream in a wooded area near Teller Avenue and Henry Street. While police announced last week that Walter Miranda, 58, had died of a head injury likely sustained in an accidental fall, speculation was rampant in the interim, with online threads amassing scores of comments. Two days after Miranda’s body was found, on Jan. 3, a Beacon man was arrested when police said he turned himself in after allegedly setting fire to a Wolcott Avenue house. The man, Brian Atkinson, 56, had been scheduled to appear in City Court that day for an eviction hearing initiated by the owner of the house. Atkinson’s next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 23. On Jan. 13, police announced the arrest of a Forrestal Heights resident accused of possessing an illegal “ghost gun.” The unregistered weapons are assembled from parts or kits that include an unfinished piece such as a frame or receiver with no serial number. Officers said that Charles Plowden, 35, was detained on Main Street with the handgun and a 31-round, high-capacity magazine loaded with 24 rounds of ammunition. He is due to appear in City Court on Wednesday (Feb. 8). On Jan. 26, Putnam County sheriff’s deputies arrested two Beacon residents following a report of domestic violence in Philipstown. The department said in a news release that deputies had responded about 11:50 p.m. to the parking lot of a business on Route 9, where they determined that Jaznia McCrae, 23, had been tracking her ex-boyfriend, Naije Perrette, 23, because she was angry he had taken his new girlfriend to a Brooklyn Nets basketball game. McCrae is accused of ramming Perrette’s vehicle several times as they drove north on Route 9. After the vehicles stopped in a parking lot, McCrae allegedly threw automotive oil on Perrette and on the inside and outside of his car. Police said Perrette then assaulted McCrae and battered her vehicle and broke several windows with a car battery he removed from his trunk. Perrette fled the scene, police said, but was soon arrested in Wappingers Falls by the Putnam officers with help from the New York State Police. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and felony criminal mischief and released with an order of protection. McCrae was taken by the Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps to NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, where she was treated and released. She was charged with two counts of felony reckless endangerment, felony criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license. She was arraigned in Philipstown Town Court and, because she was on probation, remanded to the Putnam County Jail. A day later, Beacon officers arrested Max Kleiner, 31, who is alleged to have stabbed a woman in her Wolcott Avenue home. When officers arrived at the scene, Kleiner was still inside the home with blood on his clothes, police said. The woman, who suffered multiple wounds to the neck, was transported to a hospital, where she was treated and released, according to the department. This week, Matt Landahl, the superintendent of the Beacon school district, announced that city police had identified the person who made an online threat toward Rombout Middle School. In addition, Beacon police have made no arrests in the Christmas Day 2021 killing of Rene Vivo, 65, a vete...
Few Answers for Long COVID
Today
Few Answers for Long COVID
Some Highlands residents still recovering Julie Cohen entered NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor on March 29, 2020, with COVID-19 symptoms and spent eight days on a ventilator. The Beacon resident is convinced the doctors and nurses there saved her life, but it was only the beginning of some three years of memory lapses, shortness of breath, a heightened sense of smell and a racing heart. “My heart rate can go from 50 to 190 for no reason — just getting up and walking to the bathroom,” said Cohen. “And there’s nothing wrong with my heart.” Her symptoms are some of the most common ones associated with “long” COVID-19, the little-understood but increasingly studied constellation of health issues that afflict people months or years after their initial infection. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists more than 20 commonly reported ailments associated with long COVID, ranging from fatigue and palpitations to chest pains, erectile dysfunction, insomnia and rashes. “You can’t say there’s one symptom,” said JC Prinzo, a Philipstown resident who struggled for months last year after contracting the virus. “Everybody you talk to has something different.” Among New York residents, about 7.6 percent of adults who have caught the virus say they are experiencing long COVID, and about 20 percent of those people have “significant activity limitations,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. After initially baffling doctors, long COVID is now a recognized condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Congress has approved more than $1 billion in research funding and hospitals have opened specialized clinics. There is additional good news, according to recent data from the Census Bureau. Among people who have had COVID, the percentage reporting long-term effects declined nationwide (to 28.3 percent in January from 33.2 percent five months earlier) and in New York (23.7 percent from 30.6 percent). While there are medications available to treat the various symptoms, a definitive cause is still elusive and there is no specific treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health. Prinzo’s doctor prescribed medication to treat his COVID symptoms when he tested positive on his birthday in July but could offer nothing for his long COVID. For five months, he battled fatigue so profound it prevented him from bicycling and walking, and made even minor tasks difficult. “I’d have to sit down and take a rest after taking a shower,” said Prinzo. “That’s how bad it was.” Cohen’s saga began when widespread infections first hit New York state. She came down with a fever that hit nearly 104 degrees. Fatigue set in. By April 1, 2020 she was sedated and on a ventilator. Doctors removed the ventilator on April 8 and Cohen was discharged three days later. But over the past three years, she has experienced a range of ailments, including peeling skin; a “cytokine storm,” which can lead to acute respiratory distress; and the memory lapses known among long COVID sufferers as “brain fog.” When she first drove a car after leaving the hospital, she had to pull over. “I forgot how to drive,” she said. In October 2020, Cohen sought help at Mount Sinai’s Center for Post-COVID Care, which had opened five months earlier and, according to the hospital, was the first care center of its kind in the country. But Cohen said it was physically difficult to travel frequently to Manhattan. She still endures episodes of brain fog, fatigue and palpitations. “While long COVID does affect my health, I have learned to manage it with medications and supplements, and amazing family and friends,” she said. October 2020 was also the month that Westchester Medical Center launched its Post-COVID Recovery Program. In March 2022, behavioral health specialists from the hospital published findings from a study of patients. Comparing long-COVID patients to asymptomatic study participants, researchers found that lon...
Putnam Health Commissioner in Final Year
Today
Putnam Health Commissioner in Final Year
Plans to retire after failing to get needed degree Dr. Michael Nesheiwat will continue to lead the Putnam County Health Department this year, but as interim commissioner after failing to meet a state requirement that he earn a master’s degree in public health. A resolution approved by the county Legislature’s Personnel Committee on Monday (Jan. 30) confirmed County Executive Kevin Byrne’s appointment of Nesheiwat until Dec. 31, when the doctor plans to retire. MaryEllen Odell, who preceded Byrne as county executive, named Nesheiwat as interim health commissioner in 2016 to succeed Dr. Allen Beals, whom Odell had placed on administrative leave. (Beals settled with the county soon after for $41,750.) In 2019, Odell recommended that the Legislature remove the “interim” from Nesheiwat’s title. At the time, the Carmel resident gave up his family medicine practice and his job as head of the medical staff at Putnam Hospital Center, which he had held since 1992. A few months earlier, in November 2018, the state had informed Putnam County that Nesheiwat needed to have a master’s degree in public health to serve as commissioner. So legislators approved his appointment on the condition he pursue one. When his appointment ended in March 2021, county lawmakers approved a 1-year extension, and then another that expired in December 2022. Paul Eldridge, the county personnel director, told the Personnel Committee that Nesheiwat was not able to complete the master’s degree “due to extraordinary circumstances in the last four years,” such as the pandemic and a measles outbreak. The state Health Department said Nesheiwat could only remain if he again served as interim commissioner, according to Eldridge. “Dr. Nesheiwat communicated these circumstances, along with his plan to retire by the end of 2023, if approved to continue as commissioner of health,” said Eldridge. “He’s been an asset throughout the entire pandemic and I’m very glad that he’s agreed to stay on throughout this transition as interim health commissioner,” said Byrne on Monday. In 2020, questions arose about Nesheiwat holding multiple side jobs, including being employed by a private firm that had been given a contract to provide medical care to inmates at the county jail. Nesheiwat had been appointed as the jail’s medical director by the Legislature, but in 2019 it contracted care to PrimeCare Medical of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which hired Nesheiwat as an employee. State Judge Victor Grossman cited Putnam County code, which states that an official shall not take any action that “may result in a personal financial benefit,” including for his or her outside employer, clients, business or family. The county charter also stipulates that the health commissioner “shall serve on a full-time basis.” Nesheiwat responded that his employment with PrimeCare presented “no conflict” with his duties as commissioner. He is also one of the county’s three elected coroners.
Beacon Mayor: City in ‘Excellent’ Shape
Today
Beacon Mayor: City in ‘Excellent’ Shape
Kyriacou delivers State of the City address In a word, the City of Beacon is in “excellent” shape. That was the theme of Mayor Lee Kyriacou’s State of the City address on Monday (Jan. 30). The 25-minute speech was the first of its kind during Kyriacou’s tenure as mayor and covered his three years in office. Kyriacou noted that the COVID-19 pandemic hit less than three months after he was sworn in. While the City Council spent time early in 2020 creating the Main Street Access Committee and considering firehouse consolidation, in March the pandemic and ensuing shutdown changed everything. As mayor, Kyriacou said he had to shift “to providing regular broadcasts on COVID counts and precautions, keeping City Hall and city services operating safely, avoiding a total Main Street shutdown and urging everyone to do their part and stick together.” At the same time, a national conversation about civil rights and policing began after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. “During these difficult times, everyone did their part; we stuck together,” Kyriacou said. “As a community, we have largely come through these trials better — not without loss, sacrifice and government help — but also with accomplishing long-term improvements in how we live and work, how we treat one another and how we ensure that no one is left behind.” From there, Kyriacou provided updates across a number of fronts. Municipal finances Kyriacou called Beacon’s financial position “the best in memory.” He spoke about negotiating a 10-year sales tax-sharing agreement with Dutchess County that will net the city $20 million. Property tax rates are at their lowest in at least a decade, he said, “and I am committed to reducing them further to ensure that increasing property values don’t increase our taxes.” The mayor also touted the $115 million that new construction has added to Beacon’s tax rolls, which he said has created revenue without increasing tax bills. Public safety For the first time ever, the city included $200,000 in its 2022 budget to hire Ambulnz, a private ambulance firm. That funding is part of the 2023 budget, as well. The city also hired paid, or “career,” firefighters, ensuring that two firefighters are on duty at all times. Construction is expected to begin this spring on the city’s centralized fire station, ending two decades of consolidation studies and debate. Kyriacou also praised the hire of Lashaveous Dicker, a mental health case worker who has worked with Beacon police since 2021. Infrastructure Kyriacou said that Beacon’s infrastructure — 55 miles of roads and sidewalks, underground water and sewer pipes, drinking water and wastewater treatment plants and parks and recreation facilities, among other assets — “is in the best shape it has been in decades.” This spring, a full rehabilitation project, including repaving and new sidewalks, will begin on Fishkill/Teller Avenue. The city has secured federal and state funding allowing the $10 million project to be undertaken at almost no municipal cost. Last year, the city repaved Main Street from end to end “for the first time in decades,” adding safety features such as corner “bump-outs” and new pedestrian crossings, Kyriacou said. Quality of life The mayor called Beacon a “leader in affordable housing,” noting that, in Dutchess County, only Poughkeepsie has more below-market-rate apartments. He cited the sale of the city-owned lot next to City Hall, which added 72 affordable units through construction of the West End Lofts. (The city sold the 3.14-acre lot to developer Ken Kearney in 2016, when Randy Casale was mayor. Kyriacou, then a member of the City Council, voted in favor of the deal.) Kyriacou also spoke about “tighter” zoning on Main Street, where developers must now provide a “public benefit,” such as publicly accessible green space or added affordable housing, to build a four-story structure, and along Fishkill Creek and the Hudson River, where new developmen...
A Poet and an Artist Entwined
Today
A Poet and an Artist Entwined
French-language classmates produce new book As students in a local French class, visual artist Anita Jacobson and poet Joan Turner found their takes on the world often felt entwined, or entrelacé. Spurred on by the assessment of their teacher, Jacqueline Coumans, that “their talents would show beautifully together, side by side,” the women have produced a book, Entrelacé, which they call “a labor of love and friendship.” The women previewed the book at the Desmond-Fish Public Library in Garrison recently and will do so again with an exhibition of Jacobson’s collages that opens today (Feb. 3) at the Garrison Art Center and continues through Feb. 12. At 3 p.m. on Feb. 11, the art center will host a reading by Turner and a talk by Jacobson about their process and inspiration. It will be followed by a sale and signing of Entrelacé, which was designed by Clara Pereira and includes 19 poems and images, to benefit the art center. The book’s genesis was the French lessons, which Coumans began in 2017, initially over Zoom. Participants are required to speak in French. Turner said something that struck Coumans’ fancy, and “she asked me: ‘Why don’t you write a poem?’” Turner recalls. “I thought it was French homework. She then turned to Anita, asking: ‘What about you?’ “We’re both a little shy about our work, but Jacqueline kept encouraging us — saying that, ‘this is going to be a book.’ She was a real coach, mentor and friend. It was a great intellectual expansion for me.” Jacobson recalls that “every time we’d meet, she’d ask ‘Et alors?’ (‘And, so?’), until finally it took off, independently. All of this was during COVID — a wonderful way to escape.” Turner thinks that more “marinated in my brain” during the pandemic. “My thoughts were more serious about the world,” she says. Initially, Turner would send a poem to Jacobson, who would attempt to capture it in a found-objects collage, without being too literal. “That was the challenge: to get people to look beyond what Joan was saying,” Jacobson says. “To meet it in my own way, I started to get more abstract.” Turner noticed. “I felt Anita was constrained trying to fit into my words,” she says. “We felt our way and shifted into going back and forth, picking out things that struck us.” Turner’s background is in anthropology and gardening. Jacobson studied art history at New York University and co-founded the New York Tenement Museum. “This project brought out all these submerged qualities we both had,” Turner says. Jacobson cites the works joined under the title “Sunday Morning.” Her collage, a depiction of pollution, embodied by a bird drinking oil, was done first. Then Turner interpreted that portion of the collage: A nearby finch bends to quench its thirst. Even the tiny cricket chirping in his quiet corner echoes the rhythm of time, accepting what is here. At peace with the unknowing mystery of life. “It was entirely different from what I had intended,” Jacobson says. “We just laughed. With art, everyone comes to it with a different mindset, different facets. To me, that’s just stunning.” In another work, “The Changing Breeze,” Turner wrote the poem first. Jacobson made the last line, “How much sorrow can a tear retain?” a focal point of a collage, working from “more ideas than words to get the feeling of what Joan had to say.” The poem is “a little sad,” Turner says, but Jacobson says “the imagery isn’t, so it balances out the sadness. I love the iciness of the image. For a face, I used a button, doctoring it up, pushing it through other objects. I got the background from a National Geographic image of a cherry with dewdrops. I copied it and it came out blue — there was something wrong with the machine. I also pulled a rubber necklace apart and added beautiful, transparent paper. The Changing Breeze By Joan Turner Winter leaves reluctantly Leaving behind its snowy tatters. The days are longer, brighter The more fresh and clear. The warm breeze stirs the dormant plants While the Ro...
Battles of the Tunnel
Today
Battles of the Tunnel
Beacon girls, Haldane boys take trophies in annual matchups It looked like Friday (Jan. 27) might be the night that the Beacon boys’ basketball team reclaimed the Battle of the Tunnel trophy that has sat in a Haldane display case since 2021, after the Bulldogs won the first Battle in 2020. But, despite some Beacon surges, the Blue Devils rallied at the end of each quarter and pulled out a 77-68 victory in front of a full house at the Haldane gym. Beacon played well, and had its best run in the third quarter, when the Bulldogs took a 51-42 lead with 2:12 left. With 2:56 remaining in the third quarter, the game was stopped to celebrate after Haldane senior Matteo Cervone scored his 1,000th career point on a free throw. A wild sequence to end the third saw Haldane’s Will Bradley score on a put-back, Haldane get a quick steal and Cervone bury a long three-pointer at the buzzer, cutting Beacon’s seven-point lead to two (53-51) and putting a charge into the Blue Devils. From there, Haldane rolled, outscoring the Bulldogs 26-15 in the fourth. Beacon rallied for a 61-61 tie with 3:40 left, but Haldane’s 16-7 run closed out the Blue Devils’ fourth win over Beacon in the teams’ last five games. “What an electric atmosphere,” said Haldane Coach Joe Virgadamo. “It was everything you want in a high school basketball game. “We weathered a couple of big runs from them,” he added. “That ending to the third quarter gave us a lot of momentum. We minimized their three-pointers in the fourth and made some big stops.“ Cervone finished with 24 points, followed by Ben Bozsik (17, including 15 in the fourth quarter), Matt Nachamkin (16); Bradley (13) and Ryan Eng-Wong (7). Joe Battle led Beacon with 21 points and seven rebounds, and Darien Gillins scored 18. Adrian Beato had 11 points and Dylan Howard finished with 10 rebounds and six points. “The atmosphere was awesome,” said Beacon Coach Patrick Schetter. “We knew it would be loud and intense — in the Haldane gym, the crowd is right on you. It was a phenomenal atmosphere, great for the community, and both teams had good representation from the community. “They won the last two minutes of every quarter, and that hurt us,” he added. “We had too many turnovers — maybe we tried to do too much to bring momentum into the next quarter, but we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We expected their bigs to be strong but their guards — Eng-Wong, Bozsik and Bradley — performed better than we had anticipated.” Cervone became the seventh Haldane boys’ player to reach 1,000 points a list that includes his coach (in 2001). He joined the varsity as a freshman and has been named All-Section and All-Conference twice. Haldane (11-4) is scheduled to travel to face Croton-Harmon today (Feb. 3) and host Putnam Valley at 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 7. Beacon fell to Goshen, 71-64, on Tuesday (Jan. 31) despite 17 points and 12 rebounds from Howard and 16 points and five boards from Battle. The Bulldogs trailed by 17 at the end of three quarters before making a push. “When playing a high-quality opponent like Goshen, there’s little room for error,” Schetter said. “I’m proud of the fight but a lack of execution in the third quarter, and too many self-inflicted mistakes, put us in a tough spot.” Beacon (10-5) hosted Minisink Valley on Feb. 2 and will face Red Hook on Saturday at Dutchess Community College before visiting Port Jervis on Monday. Video by Jeff McDaniel In the girls’ Battle of the Tunnel game on Jan. 26 at Beacon, the Bulldogs controlled play throughout on the way to a 46-27 victory. Daveya Rodriguez led Beacon with 17 points and Lila Burke and Reilly Landisi each had eight. The Bulldogs led 20-10 at halftime and 34-14 at the end of three. “We rely on our defense, and that’s what helped carry us,” said Beacon Coach Christina Dahl. “The shots weren’t falling at the beginning, but we got into the swing of things and we had some great baskets by Daveya.” Rodriguez said she and her teammates enjoy the Tunnel game. “We lost...
Roots and Shoots: Aquatic Superpowers
Today
Roots and Shoots: Aquatic Superpowers
Between the time I wrote the first draft of this column and my deadline a few days later, I counted another 23 plants in the pond, in addition to the 30 already there. Several yards away, below a thin pane of ice, shone the pops of chartreuse foliage. I noticed the first plants shortly after the New Year and used my plant app, Picture This, to ID them as watercress (Nasturtium officinale). Maybe it was swept downstream during the heavy storm over the holidays when the pond flooded a dam built on the stream by a previous owner. Or maybe the seeds had been in the pond floor and the heavy flow moved them enough to germinate. It’s probably here because someone planted it upstream. Watercress is a popular, peppery-flavored green that is harvested and sold and foraged because it can grow in many settings. Native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa, in the U.S. it’s considered by the Forest Service to be “invasive and noxious” in 46 states, including New York. Clearly, watercress is a hardy plant. While temperatures have been mild this winter, germination information on retail sites that sell seeds list it as needing a temperature of at least 45 degrees. Generally, I’ve found that shallow streams like this one follow surface air temperatures, rising and falling within hours, or a day. The plant wasn’t getting much insulation from its aquatic habitat, but here it is! Some of the plants have grown tall enough in a month to rise above the water. While watercress is considered an invasive in New York, seeds are widely available. The plant is sought after by gardeners and foragers for its high nutrient value. Watercress is a Tier 3 invasive species, meaning the New York Natural Heritage Program, a conservation agency, has found it to be a “highly invasive species in medium abundance with a management goal of containment.” The system has four tiers (Tier 3 is one below the severest) and Abby Bezrutczyk, conservation area manager of the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area, clarified that watercress is being monitered and encouraged me to submit it to iMapInvasives, which I had already done. “Its ecological impacts aren’t fully known and documented, aside from taking up nutrients and somewhat altering stream flow if it grows in a larger mat,” she said. “That’s part of the reason it’s classified as having a moderate ecological impact in New York.” Watercress is a significant issue on Long Island but not as much in the rest of the state. When I discussed my pond with Sam Beck-Andersen, a director of invasive species programs in the Finger Lakes region, he said: “Hand-pulling is a good method for controlling it at this stage. Leaving it allows more opportunity for it to fragment and continue downstream.” Watercress spreads by seed and parts of the plant can root and grow, too. I could harvest it but after reading about the possibilities for ingesting liver fluke and Giardia, parasites that can live on the plant, I am going with a hard “no.” When I initially tried to track down information about watercress, most of the sites I found were about foraging. As with any free salad found in a waterway, eat at your own risk. Gardeners can plant watercress in containers and keep it out of waterways, where it can grow into 10-foot mats, disrupt the ecology of the pond or stream and continue downstream. In this stream, the water flows into Trout Creek, then Wiccopee Creek and Fishkill Creek, a 34-mile tributary of the Hudson River. That’s a lot of potential watercress habitat. My pond is primarily a frog habitat. I love to watch the cloudy balloon egg sacs become tadpoles and listen to the chirps and croaking. I’m not eager to see what impact the watercress will have on them but I might not have a choice. This will be a work-in-progress that will have to wait for warmer days. If you’ve got a wet suit and a will to pull weeds, I could use the help.
Putnam Valley Fire Department Seeks Cleanup Costs
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Putnam Valley Fire Department Seeks Cleanup Costs
Illegal dumping cost more than $1.4 million The Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department spent at least $1.4 million of taxpayer funds removing contaminated demolition waste at the site for its new firehouse, allegedly dumped there by a contractor at the invitation of a firefighter. More than six years later, with the firehouse under construction following a state-ordered cleanup, the fire department is taking steps to recoup its costs for what it calls “significant environmental damage” from the illegal waste. Judge Victor Grossman of the Putnam County Supreme Court ordered the contractor, John Adorno of Universal Construction in Yorktown Heights, to appear Feb. 14 to respond to a petition filed by the PVVFD. The department, in a Jan. 18 filing, asked the judge to compel Adorno to identify the owners of the sites where the waste originated, the contractors involved in the demolition and excavation, who arranged to have the material dumped at the Putnam Valley property on Oscawana Lake Road, and who drove it there. The waste — at least 10,000 cubic yards of asphalt, bricks, concrete and lumber — was dumped on property the fire department shares with the Putnam Valley Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Testing of the material found 11 semi-volatile organic compounds, seven metal compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides and materials containing asbestos, according to HDR Engineering, which was hired to clean the site. HDR said it removed 4,235 tons of fill and 83 tons of asbestos. The work delayed construction of the firehouse, which grew costlier to build, according to the PVVFD. In August 2021 the department closed on an $11 million loan to build and equip the facility. Neither Adorno nor the PVVFD responded to requests for comment, but a field report from an official with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), who visited the property in August 2016 after complaints about the dumping, named a firefighter, Charlie Milo, whom it said had given the contractor permission to dump the waste. According to court documents, Adorno told the DEC during its investigation that most of the waste came from Metro Green, a facility in Mount Vernon that recycles construction and excavation material. He said the rest came from a demolition project on Water Street in the Bronx, according to documents. The DEC eventually determined that the fire department was operating a solid-waste management facility without a permit. Under a consent decree with the agency in January 2019, the PVVFD paid a $5,000 fine and for the remediation, which began in 2020 and was completed in 2021. This is the second court case related to contamination at a PVVFD property. The Putnam Valley Central School District filed a lawsuit on Dec. 21 against nearly two dozen companies over the contamination of the well that supplies drinking water to students, faculty and staff at its elementary school. The companies manufactured products containing polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of chemicals used in nonstick and stain- and water-resistant coatings and in foams used by firefighters to suppress blazes caused by liquids such as jet fuel. Their use has been linked to illnesses such as kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol. The lawsuit says the source of the contamination is the use of firefighting foams at the department’s firehouses on Canopus Hollow and Peekskill Hollow roads.
Tompkins Terrace Tax Plans Shift
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Tompkins Terrace Tax Plans Shift
City of Beacon could approve new pact Related Companies, the owners of the Tompkins Terrace low-income housing complex, has shifted gears and plans to ask the Beacon City Council, rather than Dutchess County, to approve a 40-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement in advance of beginning a $14.5 million rehabilitation project. If approved, the deal would allow the company to make annual payments in place of property taxes for the duration of the agreement. The payments would be split among four jurisdictions: the city, the Beacon school district, Dutchess County and the Howland Public Library. The company will still ask the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) for sales tax exemptions for equipment and materials used in the rehab and for tax-free bonds, which are needed to secure state tax credits for below-market-rate housing. Related said it plans to spend more than $75,000 per apartment to upgrade the 193 units with new doors, painting and kitchen and bathroom improvements. HVAC equipment will be replaced and community upgrades, such as a computer lab, free Wi-Fi in all units, new playgrounds and new water heaters will also be installed, it said. The company hopes to begin construction in mid-2023, with a target completion date of July 31, 2024. Related will pay to place residents in hotels while their apartments are renovated. Bypassing the IDA would allow the city to write provisions into the PILOT agreement guaranteeing that tenants cannot be forced out and that Tompkins Terrace remains below market rate, City Administrator Chris White told the council during its meeting on Monday (Jan. 23). “The most important factor for me is locking in the affordability for 40 years,” White said on Tuesday. The complex has an existing PILOT agreement that was approved in 1976 by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal; it would be replaced by a deal with the city. If the PILOT is approved by the council, five of the seven property-tax-abatement agreements in Beacon would be administered by the city. It oversees agreements with the Beacon Housing Authority, West End Lofts and the Meadow Ridge II and Highland Meadows senior developments — all below-market-rate housing complexes or, in the case of the Housing Authority, agencies that manage affordable housing sites. The two other PILOTs in Beacon — for 23-28 Creek Drive and the Davies South Terrace low-income development — were approved by the Dutchess IDA. Under the existing Tompkins Terrace agreement, Related’s annual payment is 10 percent of the rent collected by the development in the previous year, or about $284,000 for 2022. Related has proposed starting a new PILOT with a Year 1 payment of $310,000. The payment would increase 21/4 percent each year, peaking at $738,297 in Year 40 — for a total of $19.75 million over four decades. Justin Glanda, a Related representative, said working with the city “simplifies the process and allows us to move faster to make capital upgrades and extend the affordability protections at the property.” However, the proposal puts the City Council in the position of approving a contract that involves the Beacon school district, as well as the county and the Howland library. The annual payment from Tompkins Terrace is distributed to the four taxing entities based on their tax rates. For 2022, that meant the school district received 56 percent of the money, while the city got 34 percent, the county 8 percent and the library 2 percent. Because Related is seeking a long-term PILOT, the IDA would have required the company to ask the Beacon school board (and the city) for letters of support. Meredith Heuer, the president of the school board, said on Wednesday that “this is the first I’ve heard” of the pivot from the IDA. Before she could comment on the change, Heuer said she would “have to take this to the rest of the board, because that’s our process.” City Attorney Nick Ward-Willis said on Monday that the next step is fo...
‘Not a Tourist Attraction’
1w ago
‘Not a Tourist Attraction’
Committee presents Philipstown path proposal A standing-room-only crowd packed Philipstown Town Hall on Jan. 18 to hear a presentation by the Philipstown Trails Committee on the proposed walking and biking path that aims to connect the Recreation Center, Constitution Marsh Audubon Center, the Desmond-Fish Public Library and the Garrison School. During its presentation, the committee differentiated its plans from those of the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail, a linear park along the Hudson River between Cold Spring and Beacon. The Fjord Trail project has drawn criticism from some residents concerned it will exacerbate overcrowding by visitors to the village. When Megan Cotter, a member of the Town Board, asked where people would park for a proposed connection point near where Route 9D meets Bank Street in Cold Spring, Marianne Sullivan of the Trails Committee said there would be no parking. People would be expected to walk to the path, rather than drive there. “You don’t think tourists are going to come in?” Cotter asked. “The plan is to build it around the needs of the residents, who would be moving through the community where they live in order to get to a community resource,” Sullivan said. The Trails Committee was created five years ago after a survey by the Philipstown Community Congress found that residents believed the biggest need in the community was more walking and bike paths (clean water was second). At Town Hall, the committee presented the results of research it has conducted. It said that, on average, about 32 crashes a year take place on Route 9D, with 71 percent attributed to driver error and the remainder to factors such as deer or debris. In a survey, 87 percent of parents said they do not let their children ride their bikes along or near Route 9D, although 67 percent said they would consider it along a safe path. Area A: Cold Spring Area B: Route 9D North Area C: Route 9D South Area D: Garrison In its draft feasibility study, the Philipstown Trails Committee divides the potential routes for a community walking and bike path into four areas showing possible pathways with broken lines and listing the pros and cons of each. The results were not a surprise to residents at the meeting, who described Philipstown as generally unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists. “It’s terrifying to walk in this town” because drivers speed and ignore crosswalks, said a Cold Spring resident who lives at the intersection of Route 9D and Route 301. Town Supervisor John Van Tassel said the crossing guard at the Garrison School has been hit “several times” despite the presence of a traffic light and crosswalk. The trail is still at least five years off, the committee said, and would be built in stages. Funding must be secured for its construction and ongoing maintenance, and the route is not finalized, said Dan Biggs, a landscape architect with Weston & Sampson who is working with the committee to identify routes. The committee is leaning against routes along the river because, in addition to having to maneuver around private land and eagle nesting habitats, Biggs said, making the route too scenic might attract tourists. Download the preliminary draft report. Van Tassel agreed with that tactic. “What we’re trying to address is serving the local population, not making it a tourist attraction, and not bringing in more people,” he said. “This is so your child can get on a bike and ride from Haldane to the Rec Center.” One “favored route” would wind down Indian Brook Road, the residents of which recently rallied to have the town close a parking area used to access the short trail to Indian Brook Falls and the road to the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center. The state parks department restricted access to the falls after the trail washed out, but the parking lot remains closed, effectively preventing the public from accessing the marsh unless they hike in or live nearby. The Philipstown path could restore public access to the marsh, but severa...
Cold Spring Prepares for Parking Change
1w ago
Cold Spring Prepares for Parking Change
Residential permits, meters will be implemented this year The Village of Cold Spring is poised in the spring or early summer to implement its long-awaited parking plan, which will include residential parking permits, along with metered parking on Main Street on weekends and holidays. At a board workshop on Jan. 18, Mayor Kathleen Foley said the village is also working with state legislators to get approval to expand residential permits beyond the 11 streets east of the Metro-North tracks. Down the road, the village will inquire about adding metered parking on Main Street east of the traffic light — a state road which would require a special permit — and lower Main Street. Irene Pieza, who lives on Paulding Avenue, noted that she won’t benefit from the residential plan and that, even now, when events are held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, parking is “pushed up” onto her street. She also raised concern over people who “store” their cars on side streets, sometimes for weeks or months. Trustee Eliza Starbuck encouraged Pieza to submit photos to the village when she sees an uptick in parking in her neighborhood. “It’s not complaining, we need that data; it’s really helpful,” Starbuck said. Stone Street resident Patti Damato questioned the value of promoting mass transit as a means of getting to Cold Spring, commenting that the Metro-North train platform is already often overcrowded with visitors. Many people arriving by car, she said, are from New Jersey and Connecticut, which offer no public transit to the village. The proposed Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail connecting Cold Spring and Beacon will only increase traffic, she said. Barbara Taggart, who lives on West Belvedere Street, said on busy weekends both sides of the street are filled with parked cars and she doubted larger emergency vehicles would be able to get through. Kathy Gardiner, a Fair Street resident, expressed what she called a “suite of concerns” over the plans for Fair Street. “It’s one of the only streets, in addition to Main and Route 9D, where you can have two-way traffic” allowing vehicles to get in and out of the village, she said. She also said the number of hikers going to the trails makes the street dangerous and that adding Saturday parking “will make it even worse for residents.” Foley said additional policing during the peak tourism season will be considered in the 2023-24 budget. The introduction of metered parking, primarily on Main Street, will increase revenue substantially, the board predicted. It also proposes making Fair Street one way on weekends, with metered parking on Saturdays; the tradition of free Sunday parking for churchgoers will continue. Improved enforcement, a proposed village tax on overnight accommodations such as short-term rentals, and an increase in docking fees could also expand revenues. “This is a major change and it’s going to be uncomfortable for a lot of people,” Starbuck said. “It will take a lot of patience, and feedback is always welcome.” Foley added: “We will make changes as we need to and will be very transparent about it. It’s going to take some experimentation and flexibility.” Fjord Trail Foley urged village residents to attend a Fjord Trail open house at the Cold Spring firehouse at 6 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 2). The session will deal with the HHFT Parking and Shuttle Study and how it relates to the village, including topics such as vehicle and pedestrian congestion, restroom facilities, trash management, parking and a proposed shuttle. The mayor expressed concern over a recent change in lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review of Phase 1 construction of the trail, the Breakneck Connector, which she said was modified “late in the game” on Dec. 22. Foley said that was the first time the village had received “proper notification” that lead agency status had shifted from the Town of Fishkill to the New York state parks department. “I’m hoping we’ll see greater transparency, greater clarity about the vi...
Facebook Friends — in 3D
1w ago
Facebook Friends — in 3D
Beacon woman organizes “middle-aged” meet-ups This past September, Alexandra Florio, a recent, middle-aged, Brooklyn-to-Beacon transplant, was feeling a touch isolated. The daunting process of making friends, together with several career shifts, left her with what felt like an abundance of time on her hands. Born and raised in Manhattan, with an affection for big-city anonymity, Florio prides herself on not being self-conscious — “If I want to walk around in my pajamas, cool — I’m not embarrassed” — which she decided to put into action. On the spur of the moment, while browsing the Beacon, NY group on Facebook, she posted this message to its 14,500 members: The post quickly had 529 likes. That inspired Florio to post again, this time with details: Months later, Florio is still surprised at the resounding response she received to these initial posts and more recent invitations to meet at the Roosevelt Bar in the Hudson Valley Food Hall. She thinks it’s “because I was asking about single-sex companionship and that got attention in a way that a co-ed suggestion would not. With a same-sex [straight] environment, there’s no potential for some kind of sexual or romantic interaction. I like men plenty, but I have a boyfriend and I’m not looking for that kind of interaction. “Also, men sometimes dominate the social navigation and it becomes a complicated environment,” she says. “Sometimes men tell a lot of stories, and women are just listening. It’s not a secret that many men like women’s positive attention very much, and men aren’t necessarily trying to be obnoxious, but it can be an impediment to getting to know each other.” Along with the droves of women, there were also some, from Florio’s perspective, “weirdly negative” responses from men. “Teasing, lightweight, with the point of view of ‘I’m going to show up and tell you that men are OK.’ They could only conceive of all women as talking smack at men.” Florio is candid about the posts being self-serving. “I moved to Beacon, unexpectedly in March,” she says. “I didn’t know anybody, had no connections and couldn’t drive, so I needed ‘them’ to come to me. People suggested making a club, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I post spontaneously, when I’m free, hoping to reach whoever’s around. “Honestly, everyone I’ve met through this thing has been surprisingly terrific,” she adds. “I wonder why, at times, and think it may be because it eliminates women who spend energy pandering to men, and also women who only light up in the presence of men.” The largest gathering so far has been eight women, although typically 100 to 200 respond — but they keep returning, and friendships have been forged. Off-shoot groups have formed, too. Florio says she finds it compelling that many women are looking for close female friendships, not just a roster of casual connections. “I’m not someone who has had a lot of acquaintances,” she says. “Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a sister, but that female best friend who knows you so intimately they could write your biography is what I want. I guess what came as a surprise to me were there were so many women who responded saying they were seeking more than just acquaintances. “The beauty of starting things is that you control the emotional tone. The women I have had the pleasure to meet through this have been great. In fact, I’m suspicious of women who can’t get behind the idea of hanging out with only other women sometimes.” Raised by a single mom, Florio graduated from the all-female Wellesley College. (She is now a single mom herself, of two young adults.) She has sold real estate for many years and recently wrote a reference guide to navigating the New York City market. She also does writing and creative consulting. Florio promises to post more notices in the Beacon, NY group for spontaneous meet-ups, when she finds herself free. “I don’t actually do a lot of talking while we meet,” she says. “I’m just interested in the women who are there, and I’m de...
Body of Work
1w ago
Body of Work
In departure, guest artist will exhibit at Buster Levi The linear space at the Buster Levi Gallery in Cold Spring will soon be divided by six 3-feet-by-4-feet panels, adjacent to each other and meeting in a corner, as part of a show by painter Liz Foulks that opens Feb. 4. “It helps with the depth,” she explains. “These panels will be a large and prominent part of the exhibition, plus there will be vertical, narrow paintings. There will also be a few small pieces, providing contrast, particularly in color.” The exhibit will open at the Main Street gallery with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. and continue through Feb. 26. Foulks considers the panel paintings a “new investigation” into a theme she explored in an earlier show at the Ildiko Butler Gallery in Manhattan when she shared a series of charcoal drawings based on variations of the human figure, “mostly sourced from classical sculptures and the emotional tenor of Romanticism,” she says. At Ildiko Butler, the panels were assembled into a work measuring 2.5 feet by 20 feet. Foulks decided to return to the fundamental concept at Buster Levi while working in acrylic paint, which she finds “more nuanced than charcoal. These paintings use a dark ground made by applying multiple layers of black gesso and then bringing the highlights out of the shadows.” Another difference between the two exhibits, says Foulks, is the amount of exaggeration in the figures, which she hopes creates “a disorienting experience” by “shifting familiar sights into otherworldly contexts using the most familiar and personal of forms — the human body — as a source of manipulation.” She plays with the viewer’s vision through “surprising transformations of arms, legs, fingers and other bodily forms: calves morph into collarbones, elbows into knees, thighs into forearms.” The show is a departure for the collective, which usually features the work of its members. Foulks, who lives in New York City, proposed the idea of exhibiting as a guest artist to Bill Kooistra, and he and the other members gave it the green light. Foulks, who works as a creative director at an advertising tech firm, says she is excited to return to a concept she calls “corporeal landscape.” It involves mixing “anchors of realism” with anatomically fictionalized parts. “That’s what makes the pictures powerful,” she says. “I love painting body parts — there’s so much detail and structure and contrast in the ligaments.” Foulks, who grew up in Mahwah, New Jersey, says she knew early in life she would be an artist. “I found a lot of passion in it,” she says. At Fordham University, where she studied visual arts, she took drawing classes and “explored the body a lot, evolving into more of an abstract take on it. It has led to skills that have flourished over time.” She has a side gig creating custom portraits of people and pets. After a break from painting, she says she began painting animals on commissions as a way to re-introduce herself to the art. “The graphic design [at her day job] lets me tap into a different way of thinking, while painting pushes me to put physical energy into the work, so I can pour myself into it,” she says. The Buster Levi Gallery, at 127 Main St. in Cold Spring, is open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. See busterlevigallery.com and lizfoulks.com.
Living Green: Can We Save Winter?
1w ago
Living Green: Can We Save Winter?
I used to fall into the “hate-winter” camp. It meant gray days, long nights, shoveling and having to slow down and put things on hold when the roads were impassable. It was a forced timeout between the more fun and busy seasons. All that changed during the pandemic shutdown. For my own sanity, I forced myself to go outside in all types of weather. Winter took on new meaning: It was an evening bundled up and gathered around a bonfire on New Year’s Eve in 2020 with friends. It was a sledding party for my daughter’s seventh birthday in February. It was ice skating on a pond and walking in the woods when all was quiet. And it became a reassurance, every time it snowed, that it was not too late for the planet. We still had snow! For those in the “love-winter” camp (my husband, a skier, celebrates snowfall), there is growing awareness that the cold and snow is time-sensitive, that it may not be here for much longer. Over Christmas break into early January, European ski resorts were forced to close. Much of Europe, but especially France, Italy and Switzerland, has been experiencing record-high temperatures and rain. Green Christmases are increasingly common in the Alps. I can’t remember the last white Christmas I had in Garrison. Was it 2015? This year, the Victor Constant Ski Area at West Point still hasn’t opened; when I called to ask if they had a date in mind, they said the end of January, maybe. The 2030 host city for the Winter Olympics hasn’t been named yet because it may be cold enough in only a handful of places. My family and I recently moved from Garrison to Lake Placid, in the Adirondacks. Here, winter is not just a season, it’s an identity. When I talk to people, everyone has a winter sport. Lake Placid was the location of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics and recently hosted the FISU World University Winter Games with athletes in 12 sports from 600 universities and 48 countries. Part of the preparations was a serious upgrade in snowmaking capabilities, because we can no longer count on getting snow consistently. Or when we do, it may not stay. We also experience the drastic swing of very cold to very warm in December, from a 4-degree Christmas Eve to 47 degrees four days later. The ice on Mirror Lake went from 8 inches to 4 inches in a week. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised. Scientists have been telling us for decades that this would happen because we continue to burn fossil fuels and haven’t slowed deforestation, industrial agriculture or unfettered consumerism nearly enough. (OK, scientists haven’t addressed unfettered consumerism, that’s me.) To its credit, the World University Games put together a Lake Placid Save Winter Team that created a sustainability plan for its event. It included hosting a three-day conference on the intersection of climate change and winter sports; using an electric bus to move athletes; planting 1,500 tree seedlings; using electric batteries instead of diesel generators and using the first combustion-free torch and cauldron. It also included composting food waste; setting up a food-recovery system; discouraging single-use plastic water bottles; sourcing uniforms from sustainable vendors; and recycling banners. Talking about climate change and incorporating solutions should become second nature to every business and organization, because global warming is touching everything we love in this world. If you hate change, you’re really going to hate climate change. You may not love winter, but you will miss the snow.
Former Newburgh Man Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy
1w ago
Former Newburgh Man Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy
Federal jury finds him guilty in 2021 attack on Capitol Roberto Minuta, the former owner of a Newburgh tattoo parlor, was among four members of the Oath Keepers convicted on Monday (Jan. 23) of seditious conspiracy in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Minuta, who lives in Prosper, Texas, formerly owned the Casa Di Dolore on Broadway in Newburgh. He was convicted along with two men from Florida and one from Arizona. The jury deliberated for 12 hours over three days. A sentencing date has not been set. The judge freed the men to home detention. Minuta was arrested in Newburgh on March 8, 2021. An FBI agent testified that Minuta, then 37, was at the Capitol “equipped with military-style attire and gear,” including ballistic goggles, a radio earpiece and radio, hard-knuckle tactical gloves, bear spray and apparel emblazoned with a crest related to the Oath Keepers militia. He “aggressively berated and taunted” police officers before entering the building, the agent said. Minuta was among the men who provided security on Jan. 6 for Roger Stone, an adviser to then-President Donald Trump. Minuta was charged with 17 other members of the Oath Keepers; their trials were separated due to the number of defendants. He was indicted on five counts: seditious conspiracy; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of an official proceeding; conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties; and tampering with documents or proceedings. He was convicted on the three conspiracy charges and obstructing an official proceeding but acquitted on the tampering charge. Among the other nine men from the area arrested following the attack, two from Mahopac and one from Carmel pleaded guilty in 2022 to entering the Capitol. Here is the status of the other prosecutions: Edward “Jake” Lang, Newburgh Arrested Jan. 16, 2021; remains incarcerated The FBI said Lang, 26, can be seen in the crowd wearing a green-and-black gas mask and striking officers’ shields with a bat. At a hearing in December 2021, a prosecutor said Lang had turned down a plea deal with a sentence of up to about 6½ years. In the most recent ruling in his case, on Monday (Jan. 23), a judge denied Lang’s motion to have the charges dismissed. William Pepe, Beacon Arrested Jan. 12, 2021; released on personal recognizance Prosecutors allege Pepe, Dominic Pezzola of Rochester and Matthew Greene of Syracuse acted together as members of the far-right Proud Boys by coordinating travel and lodging, using earpieces and radios to communicate, dismantling barriers and breaking windows. Following his arrest, Pepe was fired from his job at Metro-North in Brewster. He was indicted on four counts, including conspiracy; assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; and aiding and abetting. His next court date is Feb. 3. Gregory Purdy Jr., Kent Arrested Nov. 10, 2021; released on personal recognizance A 2016 Carmel High School graduate, the 24-year-old was one of six candidates in May 2020 for two seats on the Carmel school board (he finished fifth) and in 2016 managed a campaign by his father, Gregory Purdy-Schwartz, a Republican who hoped to unseat longtime state Assembly Member Sandy Galef, a Democrat whose district included Philipstown and Kent. Purdy Jr. was indicted on nine charges that included assaulting, resisting or impeding police officers and illegal entry. His uncle, Robert Turner, 39, of Poughkeepsie, who traveled with him and faces the same charges, was arrested Nov. 22. Both pleaded not guilty. Purdy’s next court date is Feb. 7. Matthew Purdy, Kent Arrested Nov. 10, 2021; released on personal recognizance Gregory Purdy’s younger brother, 22 and also a Carmel High School grad, was indicted on four counts, including disorderly conduct and illegal entry. He pleaded not guilty. His next court date is Feb. 7. William Vogel, Pawling Arrested Jan. 26, 2021; released on personal recognizance The FBI says Vogel, then 27, recorded himself inside the Capito...
Around the Region
1w ago
Around the Region
Newburgh: Sewer Tunneling to Begin On Jan. 12, microtunneling began in the City of Newburgh as part of wastewater and stormwater infrastructure upgrades. The $6.1 million project is the first cleanwater infrastructure construction project in the state to receive funding from a federal infrastructure law. In addition, the state is providing $21 million in grants and interest-free loans for the construction of larger sewer pipes and other upgrades to prevent high-water problems and reduce pollution in the Hudson River. A boring machine was delivered to the city earlier this month; it will allow remote-operated trench digging and pipe-laying through bedrock. The project will include the installation of 8,700 linear feet of sewer piping, and microtunneling is needed for a 2,000-foot-long portion. Croton: No More Hydrilla The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced that it has eradicated the invasive hydrilla plant from the Croton River. Hydrilla verticillata was discovered in the river, which is a tributary to the Hudson, in 2013. The $3.5 million project that began in 2017 was the first large-scale effort to control an aquatic invasive plant managed by the DEC, the agency said. Hydrilla spreads rapidly and forms dense mats of vegetation. Its decomposition can also pollute drinking water. The DEC used herbicide to treat hydrilla, which was found at 190 of 446 survey points in the Croton River. In 2022, no hydrilla was found at any of the points, or in the Hudson River. The DEC will continue to monitor the Croton River until 2026. Orange: Polio Virus Found A new test of wastewater in Orange County turned up two samples that were positive for the polio virus, one in Harriman and one in Middletown, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. The strains were linked genetically to the case of a 20-year-old Rockland man whose legs were permanently paralyzed by the disease. He had not been vaccinated, officials said. Weekly tests in other nearby counties have not found any of the virus. The polio vaccination rates for children at age 2 are 60 percent in Rockland and 59 percent in Orange, according to state data. The rate is 78 percent in Putnam and 76 percent in Dutchess. Red Hook: First Ticket from Bus Camera The Red Hook Police Department issued its first ticket using a camera installed on the stop arm of a school bus when it recorded a driver passing illegally, according to The Daily Catch. The system captured the license plate of a 42-year-old woman who passed the bus while its stopping arm was extended and its lights flashing. The cameras were installed on district buses in April. Mahopac: Schools to Drop Indian Mascot Under pressure from the state Education Department to retire its Native American mascot, the Mahopac school district said on Jan. 17 it would drop its Indian, The Journal News reported. Students will vote in May on a replacement. The Education Department told districts last year, including Wappingers Central, that they needed to have a plan to retire their Native American mascots by July or face cuts in state aid. The Wappingers district said it is waiting for proposed regulations on Native American mascots to be approved in April before it decides what to do with the Indians of Ketcham High School. At the same time, the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department unveiled an updated logo for its fire-rescue unit that one Native American scholar called “a disgusting and inaccurate way to portray Indigenous peoples.” Mohegan Lake: Movie Theater to Close Regal’s United Artists Theatre at Cortlandt Town Center will be closing. Regal is the second-largest movie-theater chain in the country. Its parent, Cineworld, filed for bankruptcy in September. According to Variety, the company said it could save $22 million annually by not renewing leases at 39 complexes, including in Mohegan Lake. The first leases renew on Feb. 15. Other theaters on the list are located in Buffalo, Ithaca, Union Square in New York City...
Notes from the Cold Spring Village Board
Jan 22 2023
Notes from the Cold Spring Village Board
Officials, residents discuss how to manage the crowds The Cold Spring Village Board meeting on Wednesday (Jan.18) was unusual in that it dealt with a single, though quite complex, issue: how to better manage the growing number of visitors coming to the village. The session wasn’t intended to produce answers. Billed as a community discussion and attended by about 25 residents in person and via Zoom, it did bring into focus the challenges faced by elected officials, businesses and residents with the 2023 tourist season just around the corner. Further off, but potentially more daunting, is the completion of the Hudson Valley Fjord Trail, a project whose organizers predict will bring some 500,000 visitors annually to the 7.5-mile Cold Spring-Beacon corridor. Construction of the first of three phases, the Breakneck Connector, is expected to begin this year. The issues are not new: crowds, traffic, parking, pedestrian safety, enforcement, trash, and finding the revenue to improve things. One of Trustee Eliza Starbuck’s introductory slides summed up the problem succinctly: “In Cold Spring, tourism is huge, but village resources are small.” Some highlights from the nearly two-hour meeting: Parking The village is poised to implement its long-awaited parking plan this spring or early summer. It will include residential parking permits along with metered parking on Main Street on weekends and holidays. Mayor Kathleen Foley said the village is also working with state legislators to expand the residential parking area beyond the 11 streets east of the Metro-North tracks. Down the road, metered parking will be considered for Main Street east of the traffic light — a state road which would require a special permit — and lower Main Street. Starbuck added that parking information for visitors will be expanded, and use of public transit encouraged. Irene Pieza, who lives on Paulding Avenue, noted that she won’t benefit from the residential parking plan and that, even now, when events are held at St. Mary’s Church, parking is “pushed up” onto her street. She also raised concern over people who “store” their cars on side streets, sometimes for weeks or months. Starbuck encouraged Pieza to submit photos to the village when she sees an uptick in parking in her neighborhood. “It’s not complaining, we need that data; it’s really helpful,” Starbuck said. Stone Street resident Patti Damato questioned the value of promoting mass transit as a means of getting to Cold Spring, commenting that the Metro-North train platform is already often overcrowded with visitors. Many people arriving by car, she said, are from New Jersey and Connecticut, which offer no public transit to the village. The Fjord Trail she said, will only increase traffic. Barbara Taggart, who lives on West Belvedere Street, said on busy weekends both sides of the street are filled with parked cars and she doubted larger emergency vehicles would be able to get through. Enforcement Foley said additional policing during the peak tourism season will be considered in the 2023-24 budget. Revenue The introduction of metered parking, primarily on Main Street, will increase revenue substantially, the board predicted. It also proposes making Fair Street one way on weekends, with metered parking on Saturdays; the tradition of free Sunday parking for churchgoers will continue. Improved enforcement, a proposed village tax on overnight accommodations such as short-term rentals, and a reevaluation of docking fees could also expand revenues. Kathy Gardiner, a Fair Street resident, expressed what she called a “suite of concerns” over the plans for Fair Street. “It’s one of the only streets in addition to Main and Route 9D where you can have two-way traffic” allowing vehicles to get in and out of the village, she said. She also said the number of hikers going to the trails makes the street dangerous and that adding Saturday parking “will make it even worse for residents.” Crowds The village is reevaluati...
Central Hudson Woes Continue
Jan 20 2023
Central Hudson Woes Continue
Lawsuit alleges ‘deceptive and improper practices’ Less than a month after the state Public Service Commission issued a damning report on Central Hudson’s botched, $88 million upgrade of its billing system, a group of customers has filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging “unlawful deceptive acts and practices” related to the rollout. The suit, filed Jan. 6 in Dutchess County Supreme Court, seeks a jury trial that would determine monetary damages for the plaintiffs and other customers. The suit was filed by Lowey Dannenberg, a law firm with offices in New York City, on behalf of six customers in Dutchess, Orange, Greene and Ulster counties and a class of “similarly situated consumers who have been incorrectly billed” from August 2021 to the present. According to the suit, that class of consumers is “so numerous and geographically dispersed” that its exact number is unknown but likely in the thousands. (In its report, the Public Service Commission said that overcharges affected more than 8,000 customers.) Other Central Hudson customers who were affected will be notified if a settlement is reached and be given an opportunity to file a claim, a Lowey Dannenberg representative said on Wednesday (Jan. 18). A Central Hudson representative said the company was reviewing the lawsuit but had no further comment. Since its rollout on Sept. 1, 2021, the utility’s billing system has been riddled with errors. One plaintiff in the lawsuit who lives in Wappingers Falls said that he didn’t receive a bill for four months but, without warning, in November was charged nearly $4,500. He has yet to be provided with justification for the “onslaught of bills” or an accurate reading of his meter, the suit alleges. Another plaintiff, a Kingston man, said he received a bill for $1,113 for mid-January to mid-February 2022, more than double what the man had averaged for previous 30-day periods. Further, the man shut off the power in his residence in March but was still billed $525, according to the lawsuit. The suit also takes the utility to task for statements made since the billing system rollout, including comments that attributed high energy prices to cold weather, increased global demand and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, citing the report by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the lawsuit attributes the widespread billing issues to Central Hudson’s “hasty” release of a billing system that the utility “knew was riddled with bugs and defects.” The company “did not bother to adequately train and educate its own staff,” leaving employees unprepared to face angry customers, it said. In addition, the suit alleges “a slew of other deceptive and improper practices,” including failure to read consumers’ meters, unlawfully withdrawing funds from consumers’ bank accounts and billing consumers “exorbitant amounts” for electricity and gas they did not receive. Following its six-month investigation, the PSC, which regulates the electric, gas, water and telecommunication industries in New York state, is considering a civil penalty. It also plans to investigate Central Hudson’s expenditures for the billing system. Jonathan Jacobson, a Democrat whose district in the state Assembly includes Beacon, this month introduced a bill that would regulate when utilities can render estimated bills, a practice that Central Hudson employed when its new system erroneously stopped creating bills for prolonged periods. The legislation would permit estimated bills under certain circumstances. But it would require utility companies and municipalities to submit to the PSC a model procedure for the calculation of estimated bills that incorporates best practices and technology and accounts for any barriers to the use of actual meter readings. If adopted, the law would protect consumers from excessive fluctuations in their month-to-month bills, Jacobson wrote in a memo in support of his legislation. He also suggested that the growing availability of remote meter-reading technol...
Veterans Court Opens in Beacon
Jan 20 2023
Veterans Court Opens in Beacon
Program aims to help vets charged with crimes Judge Greg Johnston had just one name to call on Wednesday (Jan. 18) for Beacon’s infant veterans treatment court. The pioneer participant, accompanied into the courtroom by Alyssa Carrion and Victor Zamaloff of Mental Health America of Dutchess County, stood before Johnston and answered questions about his counseling and general progress. Did the counselor talk about triggers to alcohol use, Johnston asked, before scheduling the next appearance for February. Then Zamaloff rose to add something: The man was enrolled in emergency medical technician school and on the road to becoming a volunteer firefighter. “Feel free to not be so modest,” Johnston said to the veteran. Monthly updates like the one taking place at Beacon City Court on Wednesday are one feature of veterans treatment courts, a program created to offer ex-military members charged with misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies a chance to avoid jail and prison. Veterans referred to the court and accepted win a deferral of their prosecution but must commit to at least a year of monitoring by judges and address underlying problems such as alcohol and drug addiction, homelessness and joblessness. Buffalo created the first court in 2008 and Dutchess in 2022 became the 34th municipality approved for one by the state. Former county judge Peter Forman, who lost his seat to Jessica Segal in 2020, led the effort to get a court for Dutchess. Participants charged with felonies who agree to the program are monitored by Segal at Dutchess County Court in Poughkeepsie, while Johnston supervises veterans charged with misdemeanors. Both judges can refuse to accept defendants referred by public defenders and private attorneys, but that rarely happens, said Tammy Bender, the resource coordinator for Dutchess’ veterans court program. (A bill introduced by former Assembly Member Sandy Galef and enacted in 2021 allows ex-service members to have their cases transferred to a county with a veterans court. For example, a veteran being prosecuted in Putnam County, which does not have a court, could ask that his or her case be moved to Dutchess or Westchester.) In addition to Mental Health America, the federal Veterans Affairs medical centers at Castle Point in Fishkill and at Montrose, just south of Peekskill, are partners. “I am gratified to see Beacon Recovery Court expanded to focus on those who have served our country,” said Johnston. “It is particularly valuable that the veteran participants are paired with a peer mentor who is well-suited to understand their unique background.” Carrion understands the difficulty veterans face when they leave the military. The West Point graduate, 40, served five years in active duty and three in the reserves. Carrion said she felt “lost” after ending her military career in 2012. Veterans are “built a certain way in the military” that is different from civilian life, and others carry trauma from combat duty, said Carrion. She was working in banking, and feeling purposeless, when a job opened up with Vet2Vet, a peer-mentoring program that MHA runs, about three years ago. Now she manages MHA’s Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Program, named for a U.S. Army veteran who killed himself in 2020 at age 25. The program arranges treatment for suicidal veterans who are not enrolled in the VA health care system and offers therapies in art, horseback riding, music and yoga. “It’s my people, and being able to help even one veteran get through, survive, make their life better, is just worth it,” said Carrion. “Even on my worst day, it’s better than my best day in banking.” Zamaloff, 73, joined MHA two years ago after retiring as an emergency medical technician and firefighter for the Arlington Fire Department. As a medic in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1980, he did not deploy to Vietnam but saw the war’s toll while treating wounded soldiers at Fort Sam Houston in Texas and other military hospitals. He spends ...
The Rise of ‘Tranq Dope’
Jan 20 2023
The Rise of ‘Tranq Dope’
Animal sedative mixed with opioids causes gruesome wounds Four months after a Hopewell Junction man crashed a tractor-trailer into a tavern on Salt Point Turnpike in northeastern Dutchess County, the Hyde Point Police Department released the results of his autopsy. The Dutchess County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the driver, Craig Dickson, was high on morphine and fentanyl, the powerful scourge behind record increases in accidental overdoses from illicit drug use. The coroners also found a third drug: xylazine. Approved for use by veterinarians as a tranquilizer, the addictive sedative is increasingly being mixed with opioids like heroin and fentanyl to create a concoction called “tranq dope.” Like opioids, xylazine depresses breathing and heart rate. When combined with those other drugs, it raises the risk of overdose deaths, which grew last year in Dutchess and Putnam counties. An autopsy found fentanyl and xylazine in the blood of a 14-year-old Dutchess County boy who was discovered unconscious in his home in January 2022, according to a report from the state Office of Children and Family Services. And because xylazine is not an opioid, it doesn’t respond to naloxone, or Narcan, a medication used to revive people who have overdosed. “It leaves responders with very little that they can do to help,” said Lauren Johnson, a community engagement facilitator with the Prevention Council of Putnam. First developed by Bayer and never approved for use by humans, xylazine was detected in 15 of the 103 people who died of opioid overdoses in Dutchess in 2022 through September, according to the county health department. In 2021, the tranquilizer was present in five of 86 people who died of overdoses, and in two of 103 opioid overdoses in 2020, according to the agency. Last week, the Putnam County Coroner’s Office said it recorded one overdose death involving xylazine in 2020 but none in 2021 or 2022, although opioid fatalities rose overall from two to 19. Because routine drug screens do not detect xylazine, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), official totals could undercount the number of fatalities involving the drug. Dutchess used a federal grant to begin expanded toxicology testing in 2019. The FDA first approved xylazine in 1972. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, veterinarians use the drug to sedate cats, cattle, dogs, sheep and other animals before treatments, and as a pain reliever and local analgesic. Studies involving humans were stopped “due to its severe hypotension [low-blood pressure] and central nervous system depressant effects,” said the DEA. Blurred vision, disorientation, drowsiness, staggering and respiratory depression are some of the other effects, said the agency. The tranquilizer was first detected in heroin about 20 years ago in Puerto Rico. In November, the FDA issued an alert about xylazine being mixed into street drugs, and its effects, including the developing of open wounds. Wounds can develop in areas of the body not used for injecting, it noted. “The tranq dope literally eats your flesh,” Brooke Peder, a Philadelphia resident battling addiction who lost a leg to an infection from a wound and also may lose an arm, told The New York Times. “It’s self-destruction at its finest.” As its prevalence grows, so do the warnings from health officials. On Dec. 27, New York City issued a public health advisory about the high prevalence of fentanyl in heroin and discovery of xylazine in the bloodstreams of a growing number of people who died from overdoses. The state Department of Health mentioned xylazine in an advisory on Dec. 9. The Putnam County Prevention Council has been distributing — at special events, naloxone trainings and its office in Carmel — test strips that people who are addicted to opioids can use to determine if their drugs contain fentanyl, which is still the main driver of fatal overdoses. Johnson is hoping there will soon be a test strip for xylazine. “That’s ...