As you must know by now, Dr. Leslie Ford’s contract as Superintendent of the Onteora School District has not been renewed. I understand that she is no longer our acting Superintendent.
It is common knowledge that during this seated board’s tenure they have neither extended her contract on a yearly basis which is common practice nor have they initiated any increases in salary. Our very “transparent” board chose to deny these allegations right up until a most recent board meeting when they chose not to re-negotiate Dr. Ford’s contract and instead pushed for a buy-out.
So, I posed these questions directly to our trustees telling them that their answer would be included in my next letter:
1. To what negligence, on the part of our superintendent, do we owe the decision to replace her?
2. Is this a unanimous decision on the part of each and every board member?
3. If, in fact there is a search, since our budget doesn’t allocate such, where will the funding come from? Our fund balance, maybe?
4. Is it true that the board has already picked a successor internally, thus alleviating the need for a search?
They answered my questions with a form letter stating that this was a confidential matter and they were not compelled to initiate any action until June 30, 2010. By this date, they chose to not discuss any negotiations and instead went for a buy-out.
This board has accomplished very little during its tenure, while our administrative cabinet led by our very competent Superintendent have taken our school district to new and progressive educational heights.
This seated board has operated, time and again, outside the parameters dictated by district policy. They have circumvented decisions made by our administrative cabinet and instead pursued their own personal agendas.
The latest being the instruction given by our trustees to the administrative cabinet to plan for two kindergarten classes of 10 students each in the Phoenicia Elementary School when the administrators had already set forth a very comprehensive and well modulated plan for a one classroom configuration based on the policy of our district to limit kindergarten classes to 23 or less.
Some of our district employees have taken to by-passing our administrators altogether, and going straight to the board to solve their internal problems. Again, against, any district policy and procedures.
Needless, to say, I am fearful of the direction our district is taking. I, personally, take affront to a board who wields its power in such a biased way putting personal agendas ahead of the welfare of the entire student population.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS If I were a gambling man, I would bet that there are people in the Town of Woodstock who believe that they are never wrong. I also believe these same people would take me up on the bet, thinking that the odds would be on their side, which would be logical, especially since there are a lot of “odds” living in this town.
On another note: I wonder how many people, whether they are for or against the proposed juvenile curfew, actually have children under 17 and live in Woodstock.
THANKS FOR DR. LONGMORE
I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of Dr. Longmore and the wonderful service he provides for our town.
Yesterday I took a bad fall and was bleeding too hard and was in too much pain to drive to the ER in Kingston. So I went to Dr Longmore’s and was treated with kindness and received thorough medical attention. Although his office was full, Dr Longmore observed that my wound was bleeding and he immediately attended to it. He also insisted on a follow up visit today at no additional charge.
I hope we all take a moment to acknowledge how fortunate we are to have this amazing doctor in our town. With gratitude.
Just for a moment, please imagine yourself in the check-out line at Sunflower…or maybe Hurley Ridge Market. It is a crowded moment and there are at least ten people around you, waiting to purchase food. You know these people. You are surrounded by people who live down the street from you, who are friends. You know the names of everyone. Each person represents a household.
Now, take a moment to count. Starting with yourself as one, count…2…3…4…and so on until everyone has a number. Stop counting at ten.
When you get to five, this is what you will know: This person routinely suffers from food hardship. When you get to seven, please know that the person who is number seven lives in a household where money for food is insecure. And, when you get to 10, you will know that this person is in a household where the members have difficulty affording enough food on a regular basis.
Now, bring yourself back to present time and place. Things like “food hardship” and “food insecurity” do not have to be a reality.
For all its problems, the State of New York has a system in place to assist all of us who have problems affording food. It’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). It’s really not Food Stamps anymore. When you apply, you receive a debit card which is your SNAP card.
The funds which are loaded into your SNAP card are federal funds. They represent an entitlement which is funded with federal money. When you use food stamps (your SNAP card) you are not only helping yourself but you are also helping the health and welfare of your household members. You are bringing federal dollars into your community and into the State of New York. When you purchase food with your food stamps (your SNAP card), you are helping the merchants at the business you patronize and the farmers market which you visit. (Please note: Our local farm market does not yet take food stamps. A few unsung heroes are working hard to overcome obstacles to get this benefit for us.)
Now, here is something important. There are federal funds available to help people who are having trouble purchasing food. And, if you are a senior, research shows us that food stamps (SNAP cards) are grossly underserved by seniors. There are a lot of seniors in Woodstock. (Sometimes I talk to people who think Woodstock is only seniors.) This is an entitlement that we are not using. Why not? It’s money that has been set aside for us to use.
We have lived and worked hard all our lives. We deserve the opportunity to use the benefits that we receive. This includes assistance with food.
Your first step is to apply. You can get your application at Family, or the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, or at the Food Stamp Office in Kingston. The second step is to fill out the paperwork (of course) and make an appointment for an interview. There are a lot of things that you need to gather for this interview. What’s important here is to not leave out any medical expenses you have. Your healthcare costs can assist you in getting more money loaded on your SNAP card.
Then, go to the interview with the food stamp worker. Ask the worker to make copies of everything and give you a copy to keep. If you can’t go to the interview, ask for a phone interview.
The last step is to go shopping.
If you are not approved, ask why. Ask for a hearing. Don’t just take “no” without learning a lot more. None of this is going to cost you any money. The final outcome can very well mean that you can purchase more food than you could before you got your card.
SUPER SUMMER PROGRAM FOR SUPER KIDS
I had a lovely time seeing the Spring Valley Puppet Theatre on Thursday evening at the Woodstock Public Library even though I am in the upper reaches of the recommended age of “5 and up.” Michael Graham’s production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” was creative, humorous, fanciful and his showing the audience of children and adults how the different types of puppets work was informative and delightful. Lesley Sawhill, Coordinator of Children’s Services, made sure the children were seated up front and the readers in the summer program were rewarded with beads for their necklaces (a bead equaling 15 minutes of reading). The presentation was part of the Summer Reading and Story Program at the Library which inspires a love of stories for all ages.
And there are programs for all ages: For the youngest (age 6 mos.-2 years) there is Starfish Storytime on Wednesday mornings. The 2-5 year-olds have Pollywog Pre-school on Tuesday afternoons. The Lilliput Players are for 4-7 year-olds on Wednesday afternoons where they can play out classic stories. For the 6-8 year-olds there are Reading Adventures on Thursday afternoons where young readers are encouraged to read stories from around the world. The Summer Reading Program recognizes school age children who continue to read through the summer by giving a bead for a necklace after each 15 minutes of reading, a Summer Reading tee shirt for 10 hours of reading and a free book coupon after 100 beads. Linked to the Summer Reading Program are Thursday evening events from the Puppet Theatre to a talk on Astronomy by Bob Berman.
Saturday mornings there is a series of Story Adventures, and a PG rated movie each month on Saturday afternoon. There is a Manga club throughout the year for teenagers. Visit the Library to obtain a flyer with specific dates and times of the summer events or to the website, www.woodstock.org. The programs are of high quality and teach with a light hand, helping children acquire reading and creative storytelling skills while having a good time.
So bring your children, grandchildren or visitors’ children to the Woodstock Library. The building is old but it is comfortably cooled for summer and all who love stories are welcome.
Doris Goldberg, Trustee, Woodstock Public Library
VAGUE AND UNSUBSTANTIATED REASONS
Communiqués from the Palace on the Hill are getting more bizarre all time. Supervisor Moran declares a water emergency for the water district and then is quoted in the Freeman as saying there is “no water emergency,” he was just being proactive. I guess that was reassuring to all the gardeners in the water district. No doubt being proactive is good. This is especially true when it is based on fact. Unfortunately, as we have seen in past edicts from the Supervisor’s office, facts have nothing to do with actions. There are only some vague and unsubstantiated reasons given. However, Mr. Moran’s water decree does point out a lack of preparedness by his administration in dealing with potential water emergencies. Clearly, there is no plan in place. Only edicts. As Mr. Washington pointed out in letter to these columns (July 8) there is a dire need for the town dig deeper wells to alleviate the danger of water shortages due to the lack of capacity and to protect the water supply from contamination. Maybe Mr. Moran should spend more time in his office on the hill, on long range planning, rather then going around town cutting down trees.
When walking the Comeau last week I met people looking to interview walkers as to their favored use of the nature trails as opposed to the soccer fields. I fumbled through with an impromptu response, but I would like to present a more articulate point of view here. Specifically, the Comeau is a treasure of accessible natural habitat for our children and ourselves! I taught preschool and 1st grade for 22 years. I firmly believe that exploring our natural environment is essential for young children. Nature is awesome, real magic at work, and young children know it! They can spend hours playing happily in the water, the mud, the forest, observing and discovering with wonder the way our world works. The past week my three year old grandchildren spent all day, every day, at the stream, cool and content and grokking the real world.
Soccer is great for kids too! I recall many a beautiful fall morning and spring afternoon at the field, and I am looking forward to being back there again in a few years...However, we must also all work together to maintain the unspoiled natural playground of the Comeau for years to come.
FIX ROUTE 375
I will not harp on the fact that Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu believes that his nation has a perfect right to military equipment (supplied and or paid for by the taxpayers of the United States (that is the ninety nine lower income percent of us), whereas the Palestinians of compressed Gaza must not be supplied with such. No, my complaint which I have perhaps some chance to be acted on, is the fact that there is an ever increasing breakdown of the right side of Route 375 from Route 28 to Woodstock. This causes undue wear and possible damage to auto tires on the right side, and even possible damage to the steering mechanism on that side. It also tempts drivers to hold the far left side of the road, thus increasing the possibility of collision with a car going in the opposite direction, especially on a sharp curve. If deemed necessary by our ever concerned board, a very small percentage increase in taxes, for a very short time, ought to pay for some reasonably long-lasting repairs.
LIBRARY’S DIGITAL TREASURES
When I got up this morning, I skimmed the headlines of all the newspapers printed in New York, browsed through 2300 magazines (give or take), downloaded a best selling book to my blackberry, and took a civil service test. After breakfast I found my great grandfather in the 1900 census and started learning Spanish on Mango.
I did this all from the comfort of my home, sitting in front of my computer. All I needed was my Woodstock Public Library card. How awesome is that?
With your Woodstock Public Library card you too have access to 28 Data Bases each focusing on different topics such as: health, the environment, business, art and music, home improvement, food, gardening…a plethora of options. The magazines and newspapers are current — but you can look up archive issues. Twayne’s Author Series describes and analyzes works of major authors, writing movements, diaries from the 1800s and specific topics, like women novelists. You can download audio books and keep them up to a whole week. Explore BrainPop, a well organized interactive education site for teachers and students. Besides EBSCO KIDS Search, there are six encyclopedias to use, a variety of dictionaries and atlases. The census site also has files on Revolutionary War veterans plus books to help with genealogy and history. If you want to take a practice SAT or GED test, that is certainly an option.
It’s too much to comprehend. One really must go to Woodstock.org and root around. In addition to all the books, magazines, DVD’s and CD’s that are physically ready for you to request or check out, Tuesday through Saturday, at our very own Woodstock Public Library; there is a virtual world of information waiting for you Everyday. Get your library card and Check It Out!
Katryna Barber, Woodstock Library Trustee
On July 4 and July 5, Amma Sri Karunamayi, Woodstock’s own Divine Mother, made her 11th annual visit to Woodstock, once again transmitting to the hundreds of people who attended her programs — and no doubt our whole area — a breath of spiritual freedom and inspiration, compassion, divine delight and powerful blessings.
These programs would be impossible without lots of help from our community. For their generous donations, SMVA Trust, Amma’s non-profit organization, thanks Chronogram, Emmanuel’s Market, Mother Earth’s Storehouse, Sunflower, Garden Cafe, Adams Fairacre Farms, St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Mirabai Books and Shoprite. Thanks also to the kind staff at the Bearsville Theater, and to Kim at Sunfrost for the love she cooks into her delicious food.
A host of volunteers gave unstintingly of their time, energy and resources before, during and after the programs. Thanks especially to Maria Sofia Van Dooijeweert, Joy Lofstrand and Peter Goodman, Dawn Markle, Jasmine Shah, Marcy Avery, Bonnie Smith, Shyama Bhargava, Maya Horowitz, Lynn Duvall, Lynn Walcutt, Wayne Waller, Mandy Wolfson, Carol Tabak, Dawn Meola, James, Susan Butterfield, Maureen Yuskova, Bella Salerno, Evelyne Pougeot, Andy Filangeri, Sahaja, Kimberly Kay and many others.
If you’d like more of Amma, or weren’t able to meet her this year, this past Saturday night, Amma gave her first of what m ay be many online video messages, which can still be accessed at www.ustream.tv, search: SMVA Trust. There are also two excellent interviews with Amma at ww.vimeo.tv/Souljourns, and more information about Amma at www.karunamayi.org. If you’d like to receive notice of future events, and if you’d like to come to monthly satsangs, gatherings at which we’ll meditate, connect with Amma and review her teachings, email Woodstock@karunamayi.org.
Amma invites all of us to come to the homas, sacred fire ceremonies, she’s offering at 9 a.m. this Sunday, July 18 in Princeton, New Jersey, and in Westchester on Friday, July 23, as well as the gala Guru Purnima Celebration on Sunday, July 25 at 5 p.m. at the Ganesha Temple in Flushing, Queens. If you’d like to carpool and can offer a ride or need a ride to these free events, email Woodstock@karunamayi.org.
Thank you, Amma, for once again coming all the way to Woodstock to grace us with your divine presence.
MAVERICK ROAD HIGHWAY
The historical marker at the corner of 375 and Maverick Road reads, “Maverick Road leads to the Maverick, famed for festival, art, theater, music and the simple life.”
These days Maverick Road is famed more as a high speed short cut for big rigs and hurried commuters. As residents of Maverick Road for 12 years we’ve watched as traffic problems have gone from bad to worse.
Maverick Road has become an unsafe passage for everyone, whether you drive, bike, walk or jog. Concerns expressed over the years by residents to the county administrators about the dangers of Maverick Road appear to have fallen largely on deaf ears.
For over 100 years Maverick Road has been a treasured country lane and now it is time to take measures to preserve its invaluable history before it slips away. Restoring sensible traffic laws to Maverick Road like lowering the speed limit and restricted large trucks is a very good place to start.
Bill and Lisa Mead
The clear cutting of five large healthy shade trees in the Rock City Road paid parking lot this week is a crime against our town and its environment. Town Supervisor Jeff Moran, apparently scared by a story of a branch falling in Central Park and killing a small child, has now declared by his actions that any town tree dropping a branch will be cut down entirely, and every tree nearby will be cut down as well just for safe keeping. The poor tree guilty of dropping a dead branch on a parked car was apparently a large, live, healthy cottonwood, a species predisposed to dropping its dead branches. The other victims of this carnage were elms (healthy) and a large Norway Maple (also healthy). I have written to the Supervisor asking that the town be responsible and have our lovely shade trees pruned annually of their dead branches to avoid them dropping on cars or people. Cutting these important shade and oxygen producing trees down entirely is not the answer and will lead to a very unshaded, barren, and uninviting town. But maybe that’s what Jeff Moran wants?
A CURIOUS TALE
Last Sunday around 6 p.m., I was driving home from a Maverick concert. As I passed Bradley Meadow I was stopped by a Woodstock police van. A courteous young officer asked for my driver’s license and registration card, telling me that he had “run” my plates while I was driving and that my license had expired. Indeed it had, as I discovered only then (a consequence of my having moved and failed to receive the usual notice about the need to renew). He took my cards back to his van where he remained for quite a while, running them as well, I supposed. When he returned he handed me a ticket and my cards, saying that he would allow me to drive on and advising me to get my license renewed as soon as possible (now done). I asked him what had prompted him to run my plates — had I been violating some traffic rule? “No”, he assured me, smiling; “I run everyone’s plates, nothing personal.” That startled me more than had the discovery that my license had expired.
I counted myself lucky that he hadn’t taken me to the station and booked me, or that I hadn’t been caught with my expired license as the result of an accident. But then I began wondering: Was this officer running everyone’s plates (how could he run “everyone’s” plates?) on his own initiative or on orders from the chief? If the latter, is everyone driving within range of the Woodstock Police Department subject to investigation without doing anything suspicious? Might this be a state-wide practice? Are there other sorts of officials employing other electronic means of investigating us routinely? What does this do to the doctrine we’ve grown up with that everyone is presumed innocent, absent any indication to the contrary?
Please, someone at headquarters tell me it isn’t so.
I want to thank the panel Jeff Moran, Fern Malkine-Falvey, Eric Glass, Sue Caroll, Alan Sussman, Nicholas Sveikauskas, and Sam Magarelli who hosted the forum. The audience who participated, the ten people who signed up for the Youth Task Committee, those who helped raise six hundred and five dollars at the auction purchasing handwoven scarves and a Harry Temple print. Thanks to Barry Cherwin auctioneer, David Menzies, who recorded the event to video, Angela Sweet and John Cordeiro. Thanks to my friends Marshal Baer, Monelle Richmond and Star Nigro for posters. Thank you Janine and John Mower, who donated a table at the Farmers Market and to Jewel Magie and her daughters, Gabriele and Madeline who tended the table; thanks to Sonia Malkine, and to any of you I may have forgotten, thank you. Please get involved, call Fern at the Youth Center, 679-2015, and see how you can help. Let’s support our Youth, show them we care.
Mary Lou Paturel
RUPCO FINDINGS STATEMENT While six years may seem like a long time to people, it is not too long to take a proper look at the environmental impacts of the RUPCO proposed housing project. The vote to accept the Findings statement was the culmination of all the work done to-date, however, that vote was not based on a thorough discerning review of the Findings. If it had been, the vote would have been no.
Through the years, we have uncovered inconsistencies and real issues that the Planning Board chose to ignore because they wanted to vote yes. They grew tired after a while and just wanted to push it through. Comments that they themselves (current and previous boards) brought up earlier for further review, when asked again, decided to let it go.
But that may prove to be their mistake since there are real issues that should not have been ignored. We’ve written about them all but I’ll summarize just a few again.
- Traffic safety at the entrance way (no site distance was done to or from Whites Lane or allowance made for on street parking).
- Road width on Playhouse Lane (hence conflict with county guidelines).
- Proposed site is not in the Hamlet Water or Sewer District (the Planning Board should not have made the determination that it is in the districts but rather left it open for the final determination by the Town Board where the jurisdiction lies).
- Elwyn Quarry Lane is not adequate as an emergency access road since it does not accommodate 2-way traffic.
- Lack of an ecological ‘hard look.’ The evaluation report with regard to vascular plants and vertebrate lacked detail and the wood turtle, a species of Special Concern was not thoroughly investigated (even the Planning Board’s lawyer thought there was a 300 ft. buffer built into this project but it wasn’t).
Upon advice from their lawyer, “the Planning Board may also rely upon the common-sense judgments and personal familiarity with the area possessed by members of the Board.” Where was their common sense when they voted?
There is still time, the final vote is still to come, and as their lawyer once said at one of the public hearings, they can say no.
THANKS TO MARY LOU
I would like to thank Mary Lou Paturel for donating beautiful chenille scarves that she wove, to raise money for the Woodstock Youth Center. Anyone who has ever watched a weaver at the loom knows what hard work it is. The $600 that she raised this past weekend at the Colony Café will help us buy much needed equipment for the children. I thank her for her always being there for us.
Fern Malkine-Falvey, Youth Program Director
CREATE A NEW PARADIGM
If the Town Board had not brought the idea of a curfew up this conversation would more than likely never have taken place. Now solutions will arise and in the end as a community we can all feel good that we have contributed to making our town a better place to raise our children and grandchildren. It takes a village. Great ideas will come out of this situation. In my humble opinion. Thank you Town Board members and hats off to the contributions made by our citizenry.
Lanee L. Barra
FUTURE WATER WOES? The continuing water use restrictions expose the distressed condition of Woodstock’s water supply infrastructure. Clearly with increasing demands, these restrictions will become more frequent and severe. Two new restaurants will open this year: the Country Kitchen next door to Tinker Cinema and the beer can café on Rock City Rd. Restaurants are prodigious users of water. The RUPCO affordable housing project will add 56 living units to Woodstock’s water system. Adding significant users of water to a system that is already strained is bound to cause more frequent water use restrictions for homeowners.
But planning for additional developments is proceeding apparently without consideration of the obvious limitations of Woodstock’s water supply. The Planning Board recommended expanding the Bearsville Neighborhood Commercial zone to accommodate additional retail stores and affordable housing. The supervisor’s Economic Development task force is looking at ways to expand commercial activity in Woodstock. None of these proposals appear to have considered that Woodstock’s current water system would be unable to support the additional demands and development without severely impacting current users.
The water system is part of Woodstock’s fundamental infrastructure, and it appears that little or nothing has been done to plan for increased usage and development. Perhaps it’s time for the town board to add improvements to Woodstock’s water supply to their list of problems that need to be addressed.