Thank you at Woodstock Times, Violet Snow, Dan Barton, Hugh Reynolds and all the local media for the informative and helpful reporting on the flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Irene.
We are in very bad economic times. Finances are drying up. Serious challenges are ahead. Thanks to all of the police departments, firemen, medical response teams, highway department, Central Hudson and NYSEG for having been on the front line and risking your lives when Irene unleashed her fury. You bore the brunt for all of us.
Our area has been hit hard. People are suffering. Having been a resident of Ulster County for almost 60 years, I have never seen anything this bad. Yet, not everything is lost. We still have one another. Let us become a family and unite in helping each other out. Any little deed is important. God is in control. He will not let us down. Having suffered ourselves, may we have a greater empathy when others suffer through future disasters.
In our Woodcrest community in Rifton we were also hit hard yet we want to do our part to help neighbors who are less fortunate. We will stand together. To our knowledge not one life has been lost in our county. Human life is always more precious than material things. We need to thank God. He has all of us in His hands.
Johann Christoph Arnold, Pastor, Woodcrest Community
It is very difficult to dig oneself out of a hole when others keep throwing dirt into it.
WHERE WERE OUR LEADERS
I’ve beheld the tsunami of assistance given by Woodstock’s highway and police departments, fire and rescue volunteers, and heard many stories about the grace and generosity within our community.
But where were the town’s elected leaders in the first days after the storm? The first (and unpublicized) delivery of dry ice from Central Hudson on Day #4 was too little too late.
If town offices can open on a Sunday to issue marriage licenses, and the Library Director was able to reach the flooded library basement on Sunday night, certainly a designated town official could and should have opened a “command central” — within hours after the storm — to coordinate necessary services and communication with residents, non-emergency services [police dispatch didn’t know of water availability at the firehouse], other officials, agencies, media and volunteers.
Power outages are not a new or seasonal occurrence, and a complete disaster preparedness plan must include the following services and low-tech communication issues: Having a designated and competent town official familiar with the overall plan who is able to network with the Red Cross, FEMA, (coolers, food, dry sleeping bags), Verizon (emergency phone bank); the ability to secure deliveries of ice, water — independent of Central Hudson; Immediate postings of notices at the Community Center, Comeau, Village Green and firehouses re: availability of shelters, water, deliveries of ice — and updated regularly; Regular public service announcements on designated “official” radio station(s) at specific times; Coordination and sharing of information with Family, rescue/dispatch/fire/highway officials and business owners; Maintaining working generators at each town office; Opening town offices — or posting notices about reaching town officials; Food donations by restaurants/pantries before spoilage occurs; Provision of Porta Potties, showers.
In the days following, residents need to be able to find accurate information about:
Which town offices are open — and when. Which town services (ie: landfill) are available; Which gas stations are open. Roads passable. Nearest Internet access and open pharmacy/hardware store/veterinarian/ATM; Public transportation schedules; where one can volunteer their help or make donations of time/food/clothing.
I’ve experienced hurricanes in the Virgin Islands and Florida Keys and know how much worse this could’ve been; how fortunate many of us were. But what about next time?
I’m offering my time and expertise to the Town Board, and invite your suggestions. It’s imperative we create a comprehensive emergency plan and designate a pro-active, empowered person (or two) who can think on their feet, solve issues as they arise (or sooner) and coordinate communication between town departments and residents.
Again, 3,000 cheers to the generosity of our volunteers, town employees, residents and friends near and far who’ve shown the true spirit of Woodstock! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
LOW FLYING PLANES
I just recently read the article in the Times by Paul Smart titled “Too close to the ground.”
I am a resident of the area called “Redkill” outside of Fleischmanns. About two weeks ago I saw two airplanes fly very fast and very low over my house. They seemed to “come out of nowhere” flew over my house — I looked up and wondered if they would make it over the hill behind my house.
There were two airplanes — looked like old planes — not modern sleek fighter jets. Both were unmarked and both painted a dull gray. They flew over twice and two different days. I have not seen them since. This occurred midday on weekdays.
Knowing that we have just passed the 10th anniversary of the tragedies of 10 years ago and just hearing that there was report to President Obama regarding possible threat to our country at this time, I couldn’t help but think of these sightings.
THE DA’S SHORTCOMINGS
At a time when Ulster County residents are struggling with high unemployment and falling property values, it has been a major disappointment that the District Attorney has failed to protect our tax dollars from corruption. During his four years in office, we have seen him repeatedly refuse to act in furtherance of the public trust: From the mind-blowing cost overruns of the Jail Debacle, the mismanagement issues at the Resource Recovery Agency and the questionable practices of the former Health Department chief, to the case against Timothy Matthews and the related issues raised about how the District Attorney and law enforcement officials account for public funds used in undercover investigations, the current D.A. has shown little regard for public integrity.
As long ago as April, I called on the current D.A. to recuse himself from the case against Lt. Matthews, formerly of the Kingston Police Department and Ulster Regional Gang and Narcotics Task Force, because his role as a potential material witness is an obvious conflict of interest. A shadow is cast on the case where, in providing funds to the police for undercover drug-buys and similar activities, the D.A. himself authorized thousands of dollars in cash to the very man now indicted for stealing public funds.
Moreover, the D.A. has refused to disclose to the County Comptroller his protocols for safeguarding our tax dollars in these secret investigations.
It is time for Ulster County voters to tell the D.A. that public integrity matters. I am ready to be the People’s D.A.
Jon Sennett, Candidate for Ulster County District Attorney
SENNETT FOR DA
It’s almost been a year since we learned that Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s chief executive was fired after employees complained about bullying, sexual harassment, documents being falsified, improper storage of waste materials and unsafe work conditions. Apparently some of those concerns were investigated by the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office, which supposedly found no immediate evidence of criminal wrongdoing but said the state Attorney General’s Office should be brought in to investigate. The trail goes cold here. Am I the only one wondering what happened?
Add this to the non-investigation of the Ulster County Jail cost overrun debacle, and you get a picture of a local District Attorney’s Office that is either distracted or dismissive of serious crimes that affect taxpayer pocketbooks in a big way. It’s time for a change.
There’s a candidate for District Attorney this fall who combines a strong track record of being tough on crime with non-membership in the good ol’ boys club. That’s why I’m voting for Jon Sennett for DA on November 8. Jon has a 17 year track record of being tough on crime, and has overseen a staff of 20 in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. He’s made Ulster County his home. It’s time we give him a chance, and to put into office a fighter for taxpayers.
Linda R. Sakai
Town of Esopus
THOSE WHO ARE SEEKING THE PANTRY
At the Good Neighbor Food Pantry meetings we read a prayer. One line says “We ask that this meeting proceed for the highest good for those who are seeking, but have not yet found, the pantry.”
This is an important line because the journey to the food pantry is just that: a journey. For most of us who shop at the pantry regularly, there are months, maybe years of going down a path leading to the pantry before we finally arrive there.
This journey may include a major accident, the loss of a job. It may include illness, the loss of a home, furniture, car, as well. As we proceed, there is time to adjust to the different stages and events as they occur.
For others of us, the journey may be very short with little or no chance to adjust to the situation. Hurricane Irene created many short, blunt journeys to the food pantry when people in our area lost everything.
As we proceed on this journey, most of us experience a lighter load. When we arrive at the pantry, our load can be very light indeed.
As we go down this path we sometimes become disenfranchised, detached. After all, for example, as the clothes cease to be socially acceptable, the activities become limited and the venue changes. We don’t go to church because we just don’t have the “right clothes”.
The right pantry can offer a lot beyond food for a shopper. For one thing, it can offer a sense of community.
The very act of bringing the food home to cook offers a sense of normalcy to the person or family who shops at the pantry. A client choice pantry offers a range of healthy groceries, including fresh produce. Shoppers choose what they want and cook their own meals. Pantries are cheaper than soup kitchens and other meal programs because they don’t require a lot of staff or big kitchens; there is less waste and fresher food.
The Good Neighbor Food Pantry is such a pantry. People can come in on Wednesday beginning at noon or Thursday morning and shop for healthy, delicious, nutritious foods. Some of these fresh foods come from out of the area. Others come from local farms. Of course, the shoppers love the local food because, for a few moments while it is being prepared and eaten, the family feels a closer relationship with the community. I see examples of this weekly as the shoppers become excited about the produce which is donated by the local farmer’s market. The food from a long way away is equally delicious and nutritious. However, it just can’t compete with the local produce.
We began to meet a few “fast track” shoppers last week as they found the pantry right after Irene. For some, the shock of the event had not really settled in. We met a few more this week.
As you meet someone on the journey to the pantry, or as you find yourself on the journey, it is a much smoother trip if you will realize that your pantry experience can be positive and that you can find your soul being fed as well as your body.
Peace and food for all.
DOG PARK AND HURRICANE DAMAGE
Our Woodstock Dog Park suffered a good deal of Hurricane Damage. Fallen trees have completely blocked the main walk that leads to the park area, crushed the large dog entry gate, a tree is just hanging over the small dog area and the fencing has been compromised and is no longer secure. We will let everyone know when the repairs are made and the
park is secure and safe again.
We thank you for your patience and look forward to seeing you soon.
GAUGING THE RAIN
Bob Berman, in last week’s Woodstock Times, offered the idea that more of us should be sporting rain gauges around our home properties, just for the fun of it I presume. Or to heighten our appreciation of our wonderful climate.
While I have no problem with this suggestion, I do think that Bob should have been a bit kinder to those so inspired by pointing out some of the ‘hazards’ involved.
First, if installation instructions are followed well, the gauge should be mounted well away from any trees and structures that will distort the rain fall pattern near the gauge. This usually means placing it well away from a convenient window, thus making it very difficult to read without actually going out to it and eyeing it exactly level with the top surface of the water.
Then there is the duty to actually remember to observe the gauges as the rain starts and stops and to keep any records that one cares to have to tell stories about. You know, about the time we got that gusher that filled the gauge up to over flowing in nothing flat [when actually there were already three bees drowned in their by the water from the last rain which we forgot to clean out]. Unless one is ready to invest in some kind of very expensive automatically recording [and self cleaning] apparatus, we are talking dedication here.
Additionally, rain gauges will almost certainly collect far more than the local rain. Let’s start with a random sample of all of the smaller insect species in this area. This can be quite entertaining for the biologically curious, of course, but if one is not meticulous at keeping the gauge free of these passersby then our readings will be of lesser precision.
Other likely items collected by rain gauges are leaves, twigs, guano [well, not technically guano, which is from bats, but you get the idea] of various colors and consistencies and resistances to cleaning, dust [some of which might actually be from meteorites, of course, which may be what Bob was interested in, in the first place], etc.
And, last but not least, the wisdom to realize that especially in the spring and fall, we often get cold rains followed quickly that night by clearing skies and...ta dum, you guessed it, freezing temperatures which quickly expand the water as it turns to ice and, voila, shattered rain gauges.
I have noticed as I wander around this area a lot more abandoned rain gauges [or more like remnants there of] than actively used ones. Hmmmmm. I wonder why that is?
We lived two blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11 and were there on that fateful day. We consider ourselves among the lucky ones. On the eve of the first anniversary we decided to go away for a reflective retreat which we have continued every year since. We have bounced from Pennsylvania to Long Island for several years for our annual retreat. Five years ago, through Woodstock healer Lainy Reicher, we discovered Woodstock. For the past five years Woodstock has become synonymous with our annual retreat. The peaceful St. Gregory labyrinth and Pam’s tribute flag have become part of our ritual. But mostly what brings us back is the embrace of the people of the town of Woodstock and even tourists like us who come here for the ideal of peace and love which reside in all of us, but is out front in Woodstock. Here peace is not just a word or a symbol; we have found it in the air. There is nothing more affirming than walking your streets and hearing spontaneous music being played. Thank you Town of Woodstock for your embrace.
George and Joann Touloupis
CELL PHONE SHOULD BE A PUBLIC UTILITY
I moved to Phoenicia two years ago from Woodstock, knowing that there was no cell phone service. So I got a basic landline for emergencies when electrical outages would cut off my digital phone service.
But after Hurricane Irene, the landline went down. I saw that as merely an inconvenience until I started thinking about all the people who’d been stranded during the storm and couldn’t call for help because there is no cell service in so many places. Like the people on Oliverea Road who’d been trapped by the mudslide — no one could get in or out, and they couldn’t even call for a helicopter if needed to airlift an injured person to a hospital. Like friends in Bearsville and Willow whose loved ones were sick with worry because there was no way to communicate whether things were all right or dire. And then I heard the story about the almost-100-year-old woman living on Route 28 in Mt. Tremper — she couldn’t communicate with her son to tell him she was being evacuated. She didn’t know his house was completely surrounded by water, making it a temporary island, and he didn’t know whether she was even alive. Because there is no cell service along that part of Route 28.
It is a rare place in this country without electric and telephone lines, whether or not the utilities serving those areas find it profitable. My understanding is that this is a safety issue, and utilities have to offer service to all but the most remote places. Why isn’t the same true for cell service? Cell phones are no longer a luxury; they are a necessity. And I believe cell phone companies should be required to provide access to every area that wants it. The companies can divvy up the less populated areas so no one company is unduly burdened.
Here in Phoenicia we actually have a cell tower, just no subscribers because the population density means it’s not a money maker for wireless companies. I’m sorry, but that just isn’t a good enough reason to leave so many people without the means to communicate and unable to get help if they need it.
NOT ENOUGH INFO ON RADIO
I applaud the comments of Dee Dee Halleck and Maya Horowitz in last week’s paper taking our town leaders to task for failing utterly to communicate with residents who had no power and no Internet access — which was most of us. I agree with Halleck and others that the only sure means of communication under extreme conditions is the good, old-fashioned battery-powered radio or car radio, and local radio stations. I listened constantly during those first hours and days to WAMC and WDST, and apart from a few call-ins and storm-related announcements early on, and Central Hudson’s occasional and largely ineffectual public service messages, I heard nothing from our town’s officials about the status of things. My only real source of information was the Police Dispatcher, who let me know when the roads were unblocked, whether the pharmacy had power, and where to get dry ice. And I had to drive halfway to Kingston to get a signal to call dispatch. If there was worse flooding, or a blizzard, that, too, would have been impossible.
The Highway Department, Rescue Squad, fire companies and police served the community admirably, as always, and they deserve our thanks. But our town needs an emergency command center that can also accommodate ordinary citizens, supplied with a powerful back-up generator, wifi access, and landline phones for public use. (The library has wifi, but no generator, and they run on a separate budget from the town anyway.) We need a few computers with printers to run off fliers that can be distributed or posted around town and in outlying areas as well. And if the Supervisor is on vacation — even a lame duck Supervisor like Jeff Moran — he or she should cut it short and return to help out in a crisis.
Finally, and perhaps most important, town officials need to immediately arrange a meeting with Gary Chetkof, the President and principal owner of CHET-5 Broadcasting LP, which owns and operates WDST. One letter in last week’s paper claimed to hear public service information on WDST, but like Alan Sussman and Halleck, I heard little or nothing but music when I tuned in continuously. Chetkof owes the town the public service of interrupting scheduled broadcasting for emergency information, reports from the Highway Department, Police, and Town Supervisor, and regular status updates throughout the crisis. If they want this town to support them and their advertisers, including the constant stream of concert promotions, including from our own Bearsville Theater, from which they profit, they must be prepared to play a much bigger role in the next emergency, whether it’s a hurricane, flooding, forest fire, blizzard or cyber-attack. You may have read about the DJ Jay Fink at Windham’s WRIP-FM who stayed on the air for 13 straight hours at the height of the storm and its aftermath, cutting into regularly scheduled programs, taking calls from people in physical danger, and disseminating the latest emergency information. Woodstock should have no less.
LEST WE IGNORE
As we honor the tragedy of 911, we must not ignore, or deny the many discrepancies and unresolved questions of that world changing event.
No airplane parts or human remains were ever recovered from the smoldering trench at the supposed crash site in Shanksville, Pa. No bodies or airplane parts were ever recovered from the Pentagon, not even the plane’s two huge titanium engines, built to withstand temperatures of 5,000 degrees.
We must admit that WTC 7 collapsed at freefall speed into its own footprint, as could only occur from a controlled demolition. Let us honor the many fire fighters and other witnesses who reported huge explosions just before the incredulous collapse of the Twin Towers.
Collapse from fire does not account for the extensive, finely pulverized dust which filled surrounding neighborhoods, as much as a foot deep a number of blocks away. Samples of that dust contained conclusive evidence of nano-thermite, a high tech demolition compound that melts steel almost instantly. The structural steel from the towers was removed and immediately shipped off and destroyed, making any forensic investigation impossible.
Our shock and dismay should not obscure the fact that intelligence and air defense systems were so thoroughly compromised and dysfunctional that day as to refute and negate any “rational” explanation. While Bush and Rice and Rumsfeld repeatedly stated that no one could have imagined airliners being used to attack domestic targets, Pentagon records reveal extensive preparations for such scenarios, and intelligence warnings that such attacks were immanent.
As we honor our thousands of loved ones lost and soldiers sacrificed, let us also honor the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Afghan and Pakastani lives taken in desperate pursuit of control of Middle East oil (the life blood of the world economy), a pursuit thinly masked and justified by the traumatic shock incurred that day and seared forever into the collective mind, ironically known as 911 — the call for emergency assisstance.
MANY TO THANK FOR VOLUNTEERS’ DAY
There are many who deserve to be thanked for all their help with the Town Picnic on the 7th Annual Volunteers’ Day. Tamara Cooper for such a great job in so many ways and all those at Family of Woodstock who helped to pick up the food from 26 restaurants, Barry Samuels, Tom and Linda Seeley for always being there and being helpful in so many ways, Cathy Magarelli for helping to set up and run the food table with Barry Samuels, Tom Seeley, Eric Glass, Brett Glass, Fran Breitkopf, MM Cligget Reynolds and Terrie Rosenblum. Fran Braun, Paula Carberry, Mary Lou Paturel, Pieta and Ella Williams for helping to run and organize the buffet food table, Donna Sorgen for helping to run the registration table along with Elaine Jaffe, Bobbie Cooper, Vicky Reiss, Nikki Goldbeck, David Goldbeck, Beth McLendon, Rik Flynn and Susan Richman from UlsterCorps for helping with set up, check in and information and take down, along with Yvonne Sewall and John Grant, Michael Rosario, Kezia Cooper. The members of the American Legion Post 1026, Varick Graver, Shea Cocks, Tom Barton, Robert Wagner, Kevin Verpent for outrageous help with the tables, chairs, set up and the plants that decorated the stage and taking down the event. Thanks to Gallo’s, Peggy Fusco and Richard Fusco for the great looking plants that decorated the stage.
To Bank of America who promised that they would help and kept that promise, Bob and Karen Bucci and their four children, Maria Grusell, David Star, Nora Castellana, Wes and Dawn Bryson who did everything.
Thanks to Patrick Acker and all the kids at the Woodstock Youth Center who helped set up, inflate balloons, carry cases of water and soda.
The news coverage was good. Chris Farrell from YNN wrote a great news article that was aired on TV. You can still check it out by going to www.ynn.com.
The music was great! Bruce Ackerman, David Hanzl, Rennie Cantine, Bill Phleging, Gordon Wemp, The Lindsey Webster Band, Keith Slattery, Kyle Esposito, Peter Buettner, Jeff Jamal, Paul Baretta, Scott Sharrod, the JV Squad with Joe Veillette, Charlie Pistone and Jerry Mitnick, The Paul Luke Band with Paul Andreassen, PJ, Paul Maloney and Andy Bing. It was quite a show! There are many more neighbors who helped out. Please forgive us for omitting your names. Thanks to all these wonderful people for helping to make it a great day.
Next week, at 7 p.m. Sunday, September 25, at Photosensualis Gallery on Rock City Road there will be an evening of great jazz with Perry Beekman and Lou Pappas plus vocal sensation Lindsey Webster with Keith Slattery. This is a benefit for WHAiV, (Woodstock Honors & Appreciates Its Volunteers.) Come on out and enjoy a pleasant evening of sensuous music in one of the nicest gardens and galleries and in town. Help support the Volunteers’ Day Project. www.volunteersday.org
Also, thanks to Michael Williams and Sally Russ for being so generous with the use of their beautiful gallery. Tickets also available at the Golden Notebook.
Hope to see you there!
Sam Magarelli, WHAiV
WHAT A GREAT WEEK
This week it all shakes out. We find out who the rest of the candidates are. It seems town board seats will be filled on Tuesday, Supervisor however, is another matter. A lot of people who take their politics seriously, are angry about the whole JoJo thing. Please, don’t blame the dog. Some dogs seek greatness, and other dogs have greatness thrust upon them. Win or lose, I’m sure JoJo will get back to the business of offering unconditional love. Something we can all learn from.
As for myself, I’m still walking the perimeter listening to people, and seeing what we can do about the way things have gotten. If you would like to see some of my views, type in Lorin Rose on You-tube on your computer, or call me at 802-6472 and I will be happy to share my thoughts on where we go from here. I used to tell people I was their worst nightmare, I’m a redneck with a library card. Now I smile and tell them I’m their best option, I’m a redneck with a library card. Now for a campaign poem:
Cast your vote for competence and an always open door
Cast your vote for civility, not like it was before
Cast your vote forward thinking to get this town on track
Cast your vote for moving on, no need in going back
Cast your vote for a working man and not political vanity
Cast your vote for resurrection and a dose of fiscal sanity
Cast your vote for a brand new start, that’s what you ought to do
Cast your vote for Lorin Rose, he’ll do his best for you.
THANKS TO WOODSTOCKERS WHO WORKED THROUGH THE STORM
I am very grateful that we have so many competent and caring citizen volunteers, Town employees, and public officials. While the protocols developed by the Town’s Emergency Management Committee worked well to get medical assistance to those who required it, the Town-wide lack of electric and cable service made if it very difficult to pass information to the general public. During Hurricane Irene and its aftermath, I was with family in the Midwest and was able to communicate by phone with the Town Clerk’s office, and with Central Hudson in the daily briefings for officials. Although the Internet wasn’t available to most Ulster County residents for some days after the storm, I posted daily what news I had from Central Hudson and Ulster County on Facebook about power restoration and availability of dry ice and water. Woodstock was fortunate in that we had comparatively little property damage: I thank the great many citizen volunteers who worked through last weekend to raise funds and collect supplies for the residents of harder-hit neighboring towns, an effort that continues through the Woodstock Interfaith council.
A special thank you to our volunteer Woodstock Fire Department, whose members always respond, no matter what the weather or time, not just to fires but to flooded basements and cellars, running pumps throughout the night to keep our residents safe and healthy, and whose Rescue Squad sees that every Woodstocker requiring special medical
attention receives it.
Our Highway Department did an amazing job clearing and repairing roadways and our police force worked to keep our residents safe even during the worst moments of the storm, capably aided by our hardworking Police Dispatchers, who worked hard to keep up with the overwhelming call volume.
Special thanks also to Deputy Supervisor Terrie Rosenblum, who coordinated intra-governmental communications and daily distributions of dry ice and water; to Town Clerk Jackie Earley and deputies Lynn Sehwerert and Michelle Osuna, who staffed the Town offices in the dark; to Police Chief Clayton Keefe and Chief Police Dispatcher Laurie Hamilton, who worked long hours to maintain public safety and order; to Water/Wastewater Superintendent Larry Allen, who with Ken Scott kept our infrastructure running and repaired; to Acting Building Department head Ellen Casciaro and Maintenance Worker Denise Macaluso; who worked throughout the day of the storm to assess damage; to Councilman Bill McKenna, who worked tirelessly with the Water and Highway in dealing with the consequences of Irene, and especially to Superintendent of Highways Mike Reynolds, who, aided by deputies Kevin Peters, Debbie Hastie, and his topnotch crew, demonstrated once again that there is no better highway department in the county. Thanks also to Central Hudson and the crews who continue to work in our area.
Hurricane Irene tested everyone, reminding us of the devastating power of wind and water and of the importance of community: knowing your neighbors, lending a hand if you can, or reaching out for help when in need. Perhaps this is what life is all about.
FLOTILLA REPORT AND FILM
I am writing this letter to ensure that our community is aware of the point of view of two upcoming events. The third Tuesday in the month from June through September, Middle East Crisis Response has sponsored free film screenings at the Saugerties Library about Palestinians. Our upcoming screening will take place Tuesday, September 20. The first three films presented the lives of Palestinians, largely from a Palestinian perspective. The upcoming film is different in that it explores Israel/Palestine from the perspective of Jewish Israelis within an Israeli peace movement, largely unknown to us here in the states. The film Voices from Inside: Israelis Speak will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Saugerties Library Community Room. The producer, Margery Wright, will be on hand to talk about the film and to answer questions. The other event I wish to clarify is the Hudson Valley to Gaza: Report Back from the Freedom Flotilla II a report from members of our community who were at the helm of launching the American ship, the Audacity of Hope, as part of the international flotilla in the Free Gaza campaign. This report-back of an amazing event will take place on Sunday, September 18, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Woodstock Town Hall. During their stay in Greece to board the ship, our friends experienced a part of Greek society also little known to us here in the states, in addition to meeting international activists and contributing to a growing international movement for Palestinian equal human rights. I sincerely hope that members of our Woodstock community can be present at these events that embody and highlight life-changing experiences.
RAISING DOLLARS FOR PHOENICIA
Thanks to the citizen’s militia who joined me on Tinker Street over Labor Day Weekend with gusto. We were honored to help our hurricane-devastated Shandaken neighbors via the Phoenicia Rotary Club.
An inimitable Woodstock sonata of diversity coalesced wealthier donors with those who expressed financial duress, yet dug deep into their pockets (enough so to collect some lint and a guitar pick). Diverse volunteers ran the gamut from pre-schoolers, to a smiling teen, and a senior. Some with tattoos and others with city do’s. Black and White, all harmonized in concert.
It was a melodious moment when Ken Jacobs and I staggered into the bank with a pillowcase plumped full of singles, a coffee can chock full of soaking wet bills, two huge kitchen bowls laden with pocket change, and a giant sauerkraut jar stuffed to the brim with compassion, cash and checks.
Symphonic contributions abounded: Diane O’Donnell who directed my inquiry to Rob Stanley, Shandaken Town Supervisor. Mike Ryan, who facilitated my liaison with Ken Jacobs, Phoenicia Rotary President. Buffy Kibe, Executive Director, SHARP Committee Phoenicia, now partnering with Rotary to distribute the fruits of our labor. Woodstock Meat Market and Taco Juan’s fed and hydrated us. Ongoing Collections at Saugerties Animal Hospital and Golden Notebook, the latter making this Sunday’s 4 p.m. reading at the Kleinert a benefit. Collection agents rallied by word-of-mouth: Oona and Zef Fessenden, their friends Nancy and Ailene, Johanna White, Sharon Broit & her 13 year-old daughter Ava Mateo, neighbor Erik (who’s surname eludes me), Laura Shapiro and her tent, Lisa Ketchum, Kathy Barrett, Heather Free, Eric Hughes, Jon Alden, Tracy Van Wagenen, Bobby Weiss, and Athena Hughes and Olivia Weiss, ages 4 and 5 respectively, who jumped with joy at every donation they received and stomped their feet when they didn’t. To all who donated “gifts in kind” and to those who shuttled them by car and truckload to the Relief Centers. To the many we directed for volunteer work at the Phoenicia CERT Station/Mama’s Boy Café. To Mike Denson, who rushed over to turn-off my propane line as yet another apple tree uprooted onto my generator. To the Woodstock Police who were wonderfully protective. Especially to Friedrike Merck, whose generous spirit set the stage for a lucrative performance.
The entertainment award goes to Woodstock Times’ creative writing in covering our endeavor. A standing ovation for the resilience of those on whom infamous Irene wreaked her havoc. Let’s all be aware that many area communities have ongoing and urgent needs,
RADIO CRITICISM ON TARGET
Letters regarding the behavior of the local radio station during life threatening hurricane Irene were on target. The station displayed a Bushian “go out and shop” mentality as it continued commercial programming. It was a disgusting display of inept, puerile, hedonistic, station management, while those of us in Phoenicia were in need of real round the clock directives, information, and organization. We were grateful for the Albany station, 90.3 FM, who’s round the clock programming kept us calmed and informed. But the failure of this local radio station to be “grown-up” in the center of an immediate, local calamity is profoundly disturbing and implies a lack of good judgment by ownership.
1) Finding employment and activity for local youth has been a growing challenge. 2) Our roads are dangerous. Innovations such as air bags, radar braking and rear view video are just able to keep pace with bad situations, like drunk and texting drivers, falling trees, washouts etc. 3) Fiscally our town is having some issues, to put it mildly.
A) The Paradigm Party (formerly the Garden Party) offers these unusual solutions: A1) A para-police ‘squad’ could politely enforce all current vehicle and traffic laws. These “Rainbows Riders” could include younger teens, ‘townies’ (17-22 year olds) and a few adult (Police and Justice Court) advisors, all to be patterned on the Boy Scouts of America (coed) Explorer Scouting model. After extensive training (and vetting) warnings for common infractions such as; rolling through stop signs, failure to yield to pedestrian and bicyclists, keep right or signal, sounding horn when not in a dangerous situation, drifting over the double yellow, misaimed bright headlights, tail gating etc., would be targeted. If these warnings are not heeded ticketing would commence. The NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law ($2 at NYS DMV) and abridged Booklets would be free and readily available.
A2) If this ‘squad’ were to (legally and constitutionally) come about not only could, (would/should), employ youth, re-fill town coffers, make our roadways much, much safer, but reduce our carbon footprint — slowing traffic and making mass bicycling a viable option for many more Woodstockers.
Response to The Garden Party has been limited, so, in order to more accurately reflect our platform our new name is now The Paradigm Party, with garden and other committees and initiatives.
Hurricane Irene was devastating here in the Hudson Valley. We had lost electricity for almost a full week, and thus did without plumbing, lights, telephone, TV, internet. Our only tool for communicating with the outside world was battery radio, and the stations were mostly playing pre-recorded stuff.
We lived in a kind of daze, moment to moment. Little by little we learned of the devastation nearby. We had gotten off easy. Homes in Margaretville, Fleischmanns, Big Indian ,Phoenicia were badly damaged or completely destroyed. Most basements flooded. Almost everyone lost their boilers, heaters, or whatever they had in their basements.
As news got around, it was one sad story after another. Brand new homes or recent additions gone in the flood. The images that we saw on TV, when electricity was restored, were not of strangers in Florida carrying what was left of their belongings in a wheelbarrow, or looking sadly at what was left of a washed away house, but of friends and acquaintances in the same tragic scenes. Roads, bridges that were part of our normal transport were closed or washed away. The long silent lines patiently waiting for emergency water and ice, was us.
I think the whole community was in a kind of PTSD.
I think, hope, that as of this writing everyone has their electricity back, although convoys of emergency vehicles still race up and down route 28.
The larger story though, has shifted. Reports from the hardest hit areas, Phoenicia, Margaretville, etc. are of an unprecedented outpouring of community spirit. Of neighbors helping neighbors. Children, teenagers, able bodied adults pitching in to help those in need. The pictures in the media now are of smiling young faces, the words, ones of how good it feels to help. There is talk of resilience, gratitude ,empathy.
I think for many of us, life will never quite be the same. There was life BI (before Irene) and life AI (after Irene).
On behalf of the citizens of Shandaken, Phoenicia Rotary would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed time, labor, resources and money to the flood recovery efforts after Tropical Storm Irene. The record flooding on Sunday, August 28 devastated roads, bridges, power and communications across the Town, creating a need for immediate public safety efforts by Town, State and Federal officials, led by Supervisor Rob Stanley. As services were slowly restored, the enormity of the needed recovery work became more apparent. A volunteer effort was mounted through a Civilian Emergency Response Team, coordinated by Phoenicia Rotary, at the request of Supervisor Stanley.
The response to the call for volunteers was remarkable. Nearly 500 people participated, and contributed nearly 2500 total volunteer hours. Participants and hours will continue growing this weekend when volunteer efforts resume. Young children, students, families, church groups, school groups, grandparents, and 80-year-olds came from Shandaken, throughout the Northeast, and from as far as Virginia and Florida. Some arrived with equipment, others with hand-tools; everyone brought a willingness to work and help. They did whatever they could to muck out basements and homes, remove waterlogged belongings and furniture, sort clothing, stock food, and clean sand from garages, driveways, and sidewalks. Often their greatest contribution was simply to show up and demonstrate to a resident that they were not going to be alone in their efforts to recover — that others cared and would help. It was a remarkable outpouring, especially those who returned day after day, or people who left their own damaged homes to come help others in worse circumstances. Shandaken is deeply indebted to all those who answered the call to help!
As the Town comes back, and Shandaken will be back, we must remember the hundreds who stepped up when needed the most. We especially want to thank the many organizations who not only sent volunteers, but provided material help, information, access to the media, cleaning supplies, hand tools, protective gear and refreshments for the workers. We hope this list is complete, and we apologize if we’ve missed anyone!
Mama’s Boy Restaurant — support for Rotary tent, CERT volunteer tables; Phoenicia Methodist Church — food, clothing, household donations; Red Cross — cleanup kits, drinking water; Salvation Army — cleanup kits; Lowes — shovels, gloves, masks, trash bags, mops, buckets; Home Depot — shovels, gloves, masks, trash bags, mops, buckets;
National Guard — security, traffic; NY DEP — trucking, rubbish removal; Ulster Savings Bank — FEMA information, copying; Margaretville Hospital — Hospital van in Phoenicia; Ms. Kelly Cubas — amazing Labor Day Woodstock fund raising with Woodstock contributors; Church Communities (Bruderhof) — volunteer teams of brothers and sisters; Phoenicia Supermarket Deli — food fund raising; WDST 100.1 Radio Woodstock — media support, interviews, announcements; Massage Therapists, Physical Therapy volunteers — healing the tired and sore; Various TV crews — media support, resident interviews; Rotary District 7210 — web announcements, volunteers;
Phoenicia School Teachers — teams of volunteers; Workers from Verizon — teams of volunteers; Out-of-State and local Utility Crews — restoring power; checking safety of homes; Shandaken first responders — rebuilding bridges and roads, ambulance care;
Mt. Tremper Buddhist Monastery — meals for residents; Belleayre Ski Center — shelter, food, showers, medical care for displaced residents; Belleayre Concert Series — Bela Fleck fund-raising concert; Aesthetic Landscape Care, Hastings on Hudson NY — trucking, trash removal; YNN TV, Ch 6 — media coverage of volunteer efforts; Woodstock Times — media coverage of volunteer efforts.
Thanks again to all, but especially to the hundreds who gave of their own time and effort to help the residents of Shandaken!
Ken Jacobs, President
FUN FREE FILM FEST
I want to thank Nate and Shelli of the Woodstock Museum for holding their twelfth annual Free Film Festival this year. After some confusion with the town about the availability of Town Hall, where this even has been traditionally held, Nate and Shelli decided to hold their Fest at the Woodstock Museum in West Saugerties this year. I think they made a good decision.
Although the Museum is not as accessible to walk-ins at the Town Hall on Tinker Street, this year’s event had a respectable turnout despite the disastrous weather before and during the Fest on Sunday night and Monday. Friday and Saturday nights were happenings with campfires, drumming and light shows. Paul McMahon, “the rock and roll therapist,” started things off Friday, followed by a personal appearance by Joe Barton and his stories of the 1960s on the lower east side. Joe provided a memorable experience.
The Woodstock museum has its own comfortable theater with a larger screen and better sound than Town Hall. Shelli makes the best ice cream cake I’ve ever tasted. The home roasted turkey salad sandwiches, salmon croquettes, popcorn and brownies can’t be beat. Somewho, holding the Film Festival at the Woodstock Museum this year made the event much more fun. If you couldn’t make it there this year, plan on going next Labor Day weekend. The Museum conducts tours each weekend during spring, summer and fall. Woodstock Museum can be contacted at 845-245-0600, or see woodstockmuseum.org. Thanks again, Nate and Shelli, for a good time this year and I’m looking forward to next year’s festival.
FIND MY CANE
While voting at the Democratic Primary at the Community Center in Woodstock, I left my cane behind when I left. It is a crude wooden cane with two pheasant feathers on the shaft. If you have my cane or have seen it, please contact me at 679-9042. The cane has very special meaning to me.