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Slush fund: NYS doles out extra cash to fix weather-battered roads

Upstate New York is notorious for its rough winters. But even for those inured to feet of snow and frozen mountain passes, the winter of 2013-14 was a brutal one, marked by long stretches of subzero temps and winter weather that lasted well into April. 

Amid the storm clouds was a silver lining: Towns and villages are getting a little bit of extra cash from the state to fix up roads that took a beating during this year's unusually harsh winter. This spring, the New York state budget included a one-time $40 million fund for winter weather recovery, in addition to $438 million in the state's regular highway budget.  Read more

Letter to the Editor: To the Voters of the Onteora School District

Open Letter to the Voters of the Onteora School District:

My name is Tanya Davis. I am a mother of three, attorney, business owner, and candidate for Onteora Board of Education Trustee. My husband is an Onteora graduate, and I have been a resident of the Onteora District since 2001. My children have attended Bennett and Phoenicia elementary schools. My daughters are both sixth graders at Bennett, and my son is a freshman in the high school. One of my daughters is a special education student in a self-contained classroom.

I have focused my professional career fairly equally on education and the law. I have taught at every level from pre-school to law school. I have advocated for families with special needs kids, I am chair of the District-wide Special Education PTA, past President of the Bennett PTA, and current member of the NYS Bar Association’s Special Needs Planning Committee, Committee on Issues Affecting People with Disabilities and Estate, Trusts & Tax Committee.  Read more

Letter to the Editor: From the Onteora Superintendent

Dear Community Members of the Onteora Central School District,

I’d like to encourage you to come out to the District Budget Vote on Tuesday, May 20, from 2 to 9 PM at your local elementary school. This year there will be three items on the ballot: the 2014-2015 proposed budget, a no-tax-increase Capital Reserve Proposition, and the Board of Education elections.

The $51,876,125 proposed budget represents a 0.52% increase over last year. There will be a 0% increase in the levy.  Read more

Letter to the Editor: Vote in the Onteora school election on May 20

Dear Onteora Community Members,

The Onteora Board of Education is pleased to announce that, for the third year in a row, our proposed annual budget will see no increase in the tax levy. There are no cuts in programs, but rather an increase in the number of High School electives, an additional course in the Middle School, the continuation of a summer Academic Intervention Services (AIS) program for Kindergarten-Grade 8, and some much-needed immediate repairs.

We are also pleased to present to voters a proposal for a Capital Reserve Project that would tackle major, long-term structural repairs and upgrades to our aging facilities. While the vast majority of the work is set to take place at the Middle School/High School, the project also calls for replacement of the Phoenicia Primary School building’s boiler with a dual oil/biomass (wood pellet) system. This will significantly reduce our fuel expenses and carbon footprint, using renewable, sustainable fuel produced here in New York, keeping more of our energy dollars local.   Read more

Flood watch in effect for Catskills

Above: A graphic produced Friday morning by the National Weather Service in Albany, showing widespread flood watches west of the Hudson River. 

Flood watches are in effect across the Catskills region for Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, as heavy rains move into the area.

A slow-moving band of rain is moving from west to east, and is expected to drop an inch or two on the Catskills region before moving on. Hudson Valley Weather is predicting drier weather for the upcoming weekend.

If you have a rain gauge, the National Weather Service in Binghamton is looking for rainfall reports.  Read more

Table limit: New York State releases minimum investment figures for casinos

Photo by Flickr user Mark Menzies; published under Creative Commons license.

Casino developers hoping to land one of four prized licenses from New York State will have to prove that they're investing enough in the project. But although the state's minimum investment figures are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, they're not likely to prove an obstacle to deep-pocketed casino developers, many of whom have already unveiled plans to spend much more than the state's required minimum figures.  Read more

Four injured in Trailways bus crash

Above: An injured victim being treated at the scene of this morning's bus accident on Route 17 in Ramsey, N.J. Photos by Boyd A. Loving; courtesy of the Cliffview Pilot.

A flying car wheel smashed through the windshield of a Pine Hill Trailways bus bound from Kingston to Manhattan on Route 17 around 7:30 this morning, injuring four people, according to several downstate media reports. 

The wheel flew off a Lexus that was driving north, in the opposite direction from the bus, the Cliffview Pilot reports. Two people aboard the bus were critically injured in the accident, and two others sustained head injuries.

One of the injured victims was airlifted to a hospital, and a few others were transported by ambulance, NorthJersey.com reports.  Read more

New York State bans wild boar hunting

Above: A trailcam in Delaware County catches a nocturnal glimpse of an elusive wild boar. Photo taken in August 2013; courtesy of USDA APHIS.

A statewide ban on the hunting and trapping of feral swine -- also known as wild boars or Eurasian boars -- went into effect on Monday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced in a press release

Until recently, boars were largely unknown to New York State, even as burgeoning populations of wild pigs wreaked over a billion dollars' worth of destruction a year across other parts of the country. But in recent years, feral swine have been found breeding in the wild in a few parts of New York State, the descendants of boars that escaped from private "canned" hunting preserves. 

Many other states have encouraged the hunting of wild boars in an effort to control their populations, but without much success. Banning the hunting of an animal that state officials want to rid the landscape of seems paradoxical. But scientists who study the animals say that allowing private hunting can interfere with state-sanctioned efforts to bait and trap boars, and has even encouraged hunters to release more of the animals into the wild for sport.

  Read more

Flood watch in effect across Catskills

Above: A graphic from the National Weather Service in Binghamton, showing the flood watch area across upstate New York and Pennsylvania that is in effect Wednesday through early Thursday morning. 

Heavy rains are in the forecast for eastern New York and Pennsylvania Wednesday afternoon and evening, prompting the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue flood watches across the Catskills region.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to arrive this evening and overnight, with between 1.5 and 4 inches of rain forecast for the Catskills. Forecasters at NWS and Hudson Valley Weather say the eastern Catskills will get the most rain, with lower totals expected for the western end of the region.   Read more

Ulster County police release name of car theft suspect who was shot by deputy

Above: Car theft suspect Brandon Rifenburg. Photo courtesy of the Ulster County Sheriff's Office.

The Ulster County Sheriff's Office waited eleven days to release the name of a suspect who was shot by police after a car chase through several towns. But on Saturday, April 26, deputies finally named the man in a public news release: 20-year-old Brandon Rifenburg of High Falls. 

Rifenburg was shot while being taken into custody on the night of April 15, after leading local and state police on a car chase that ran through Marbletown, Kingston, Ulster and Saugerties before ending on Route 28 in Hurley. Police say that after a dispute with a family member, Rifenburg stole a car from the Vly-Atwood neighborhood in Marbletown, then sped away from an officer who attempted to stop the vehicle. 

During the police pursuit of the stolen car, Rifenburg drove through two sets of tire deflation devices set up to stop the car. Police say he lost control of his damaged vehicle while trying to ram two police cars that were pursuing him.   Read more