New Paltz elections heat up

New Paltz's election day is hurtling towards us, and the race is unusually lively this year with four candidates for village mayor and nine for three village trustee posts.

There have been a number of opportunities for villagers to meet their slate of potential leaders, and both the New Paltz Gadfly blog and the New Paltz Oracle, SUNY New Paltz's award-winning student newspaper, have covered them. 

Last week, the Oracle covered an event featuring all 13 of the candidates at the Woodland Pond Candidates’ Forum. According to the story, the audience focused on divisions between elected officials:   Read more

Hinchey announces he has colon cancer

Congressman Maurice Hinchey put out a press release today announcing that he's being treated for a curable form of colon cancer. From Hinchey's website:

Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY) today announced that he is being treated for a curable form of colon cancer and has begun receiving a course of treatment that doctors expect to result in a full recovery. Hinchey will maintain a regular work schedule while he undergoes care.

The congressman is receiving radiation treatment at Ulster Radiation Oncology Center in Kingston, New York. He will subsequently have surgery at Albany Medical Center during the congressional recess period in June followed by a brief course of chemotherapy. Hinchey will work and travel to Washington, DC for votes throughout the entire course of treatment.

The following is a statement from Dr. Randall Rissman of Woodstock, New York who is overseeing the congressman's entire course of treatment:  Read more

State Police arrest Schoharie farmer for animal abuse, then release him to care for animals

A farmer in the Schoharie County town of Seward was arrested by State Police out of Cobleskill this week after dead cows and malnourished horses were found on his farm last Saturday, according to a State Police press release. But according to a press release from the Schenectady, Saratoga and Schoharie County SPCA, the State Police arrested Casalaina on his Hidden View Farms property on Wednesday because he allegedly shot a horse.

Gregory Casalaina: NYSPGregory Casalaina: Photo from NYSPAccording to the State Police press release, Casalaina was arraigned and then released back to his farm, where he "has been working  ...  since Sunday to properly dispose of the dead animals and provide the others with food, water and necessary care." 

The SPCA is outraged that Casalaina is being allowed to continue to care for the animals. Calling the conduct of the State Police a "botched arrest," SPCA Chief Mathew B. Tully issued a statement calling for the immediate removal of animals from the farm:

“The SPCA does not support the decision of a New York State Police sergeant who chose to keep the animals in the care of somebody accused of starving them when our agency was ready, willing and able to care for the animals once seized with the assistance of a farm sanctuary,” said SPCA Chief Mathew B. Tully. “This was a dire situation that should have been treated as a serious crime. Animals suffered and died a horrible death and the person responsible should be punished accordingly. The suspect was released within hours while the animals stayed and continued to remain in his possession. This is unacceptable,” added Tully.

Several news outlets have seized upon the story, including WTEN and WRGB. You can watch WTEN's take, which is sympathetic to the SPCA, below.  Read more

Kingston's water gets clean bill of health

The Daily Freeman shared an annual report about the quality of Kingston's drinking water today, and it's pretty good news:

Water Superintendent Judith Hansen said Kingston residents will be receiving the 2010 report about the quality of the city’s water and that she’s happy with what it says.

“Last year, we conducted tests for over 80 different contaminants and are proud to report that our system has never violated a maximum contaminant level,” the report states.

Kingston's water comes from Cooper Lake in Woodstock, fed by the Mink Hollow Stream, and (unlike New York City's water) is filtered, at a treatment plant in Woodstock. The plant, which has a capacity of 8 million gallons a day, was built over 100 years ago. Like New York City, Kingston owns conservation land in its mostly-undeveloped watershed, but at 8.6 square miles, the Kingston watershed's footprint on the surrounding community is far smaller.  Read more

Gun fired in Neversink town hall costs two officials their jobs

Two employees of the Sullivan County town of Neversink resigned this week in the wake of an incident on Monday in which a handgun was allegedly fired in the town hall.

According to several sources that declined to give their names on the record, town code enforcement officer Dave Sparling was showing his handgun to colleague Susan Kitson, the deputy town clerk, when Kitson accidentally fired the gun.

No one was hurt in the incident, and no police report was filed. But both Sparling and Kitson resigned earlier this week.

Last night, the town board of Neversink met to appoint an interim code enforcement officer to replace Sparling until a permanent replacement can be found. John Perrella, who held the job before Sparling, was appointed to the position.

The town board also passed a motion prohibiting any town employees from bringing firearms into a building owned or leased by the town, until further notice.

PETA accuses Oprah-lauded Delhi animal hospice of neglect and abuse

Susan Marino on an Oprah segment that was aired last year.

The Times-Union broke the story yesterday: People for the Ethical Treatment of animals has released an uncover investigation of Angel's Gate Animal Hospice that accuses the Delhi operation of neglecting and abusing animals.

This is a huge blow for Angel's Gate, which is run by owner Susan Marino. Marino has garnered accolades from such lofty figures as Oprah and Rachel Ray for her pioneering treatment of disabled and dying animals. But PETA says that its operative, who posed as a volunteer at the hospitce, documented animal abuse. From the Times-Union story:  Read more

Saint Sabrina

Image from Sabrina Artel's Facebook wall; illustration by Heather Carson.

As of last Sunday, Sullivan County has its own patron (matron?) saint: Sabrina Artel. She's the one-woman powerhouse behind Trailer Talk, a traveling radio show produced from Artel's 1965 Beeline camper trailer that's equal parts community media, democracy in action, and homemade brownies.

Artel was canonized last Sunday, along with corporate pranksters the Yes Men, in a rollicking ceremony by the Rev. Billy Talen and the Church of Earthalujah at New York City's Theater 80, which is home to Rev. Billy and his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir every Sunday night. 

The Rev., who sports a bleach-blonde pompadour and delivers his sermons with televangelist bombast, is hilarious, but his gospel of anticonsumerism is serious business. A little more about the Church of Earthalujah, from their website:  Read more

Crossroads developers file project revisions with DEC

The latest news in the glacial saga of the maybe-someday-to-be-built Belleayre Resort happened yesterday -- the resort's developer, Crossroads Ventures, filed its revised environmental impact analysis of the proposed Shandaken resort project with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The Catskill Mountain News, the Times Herald-Record, and the Daily Freeman all had the story.

According to the Daily Freeman's Jay Braman, who also wrote the CMN story, this is the first sign of life for the project in three years:

Crossroads attorney Dan Ruzow said the document was filed with the state Department of Environmental Conservation early last week.

The state agency has 45 days to review the document to determine if it adequately addresses all of the environmental concerns raised three years ago, but Ruzow said Crossroads will not hold the agency to that timeframe.

Although the DEC may decide to approve or deny the project's latest iteration, there's still a big obstacle standing between Crossroads Ventues and breaking ground: New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Last May, DiNapoli refused to approve a state purchase of 1,200 acres of land in Shandaken from Crossroads Ventures because, he contended, the price was $1.4 million more than the land was worth. According to the Catskill Mountain News, DiNapoli wrote:

“While I understand that you have identified this as a priority project important to the Catskills economy, environment and watershed, you have not provided justification that adequately supports such a large premium over the fair market value calculation done by your staff after gathering information, which included professional appraisals. You may resubmit this contract for further review if value factors change significantly,” he added.

As far as we know, Crossroads hasn't reduced its asking price, DiNapoli hasn't changed his position, and without the land deal, nothing can happen.

Temple Grandin comes to Stone Ridge

Temple Grandin, the renowned animal behaviorist who is also the world's most famous autistic person, will be in Stone Ridge this week to talk about her twin passions: livestock handling and autism.

Grandin will be giving two lectures at SUNY Ulster, the first on "Humane Treatment and Behavior of Livestock Animals” on April 21 at 6 p.m, and the second on "no-nonsense ideas" for living with autism, on April 22 at 9am. 

Grandin is one of the pioneers of humane slaughter techniques for animals, which she insists should include stunning the animal so that it is unconscious and feels no pain. Her empathy with animals, she has said, stems directly from her experience as an autistic person. From a 1997 New York Times profile about her:  Read more

Despite snack cake bait, bear who attacked woman lays low

The Times-Union reports this morning that the most wanted bear in Greene County has escaped its death sentence.

After the bear held down a Cairo women with its paw while riffling throgh garbage bags in her driveway last week, New York Department of Environmental Conservation authorities set a trap in the driveway and vowed to euthanize the first bear caught. 

The trap was baited to tempt bears with sweet tooths, according to today's story:

The DEC smeared the floor of the steel trap with sweet-smelling syrup and row of yellow snack cakes. A jug half-filled with honey is tied to a rod that, when pulled, triggers a door to fall across the open end of the trap, sealing an intruder inside.  Read more