Charlotteville Fire Department to Host Buffet Dinner March 14th

Written By Editor on 2/27/14 | 2/27/14


The Charlotteville Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a benefit buffet dinner on Friday, March 14th from 5-7:30 p.m. 

Members of the public are invited to attend the community spread, which will feature an exciting Irish themed menu of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, Irish soda break, green bean casserole, and much more.

Cost of admittance ranges from $9.95 for adults, $5.00 for kids 6-12, and no charge for children six and under. For more information, please contact Georgia at 607-397-8054.

Schoharie County ARC To Host Blood Drive in March

Schoharie County ARC will host a blood drive on Thursday, March 13, from 1-6 p.m. at the ARC Campus on Route 30 between Middleburgh and Schoharie.

The blood drive is part of the NYSARC Gives Back Project, which includes ongoing efforts to give back to the community through volunteer programs and by providing essential supports and services to people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families.


To schedule an appointment to give blood, please call (518) 295-8130 or 1-800-RED CROSS. You may also schedule an appointment online at www.redcrossblood.org.  Those donating blood in March will receive a limited Edition Red Cross decal. 

Capital Area Rock Band to Shoot Music Video in Sharon Springs


Sharon Springs, NY - Cuttlebone, a Capital area rock band, will be filming a live music video taking on the subject of government surveillance. The video shoot, which will take place Saturday, March 1st at the historic Smith and Empire building in Sharon Springs, will be the second for the band. Their first video "Greasejoint" accompanied the release of their freshman album, "Welcome to Joe's."

Cuttlebone performing
The 5 piece progressive band will perform the song "HELLo" during the music video. The song, which was written by front man Berto Benac, describes a man's frustration with the government surveillance state. "HELLo" is a part of a larger project, the aim of which is to question the role of the government in the lives of everyday people. "HELLo" will be released as part of a sampler EP in April. The band plans to release the entire project next year.

The video shoot will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the public is invited to attend. The Smith and Empire building is located across from the Roseboro Hotel at 209 Main Street on Route 10, Sharon Springs, New York. 

Letter to the Editor: Gigandet Expresses Thanks, Gratitude for Board's Decision

Written By Editor on 2/26/14 | 2/26/14

Dear Editor,

I am writing to thank the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors which voted on Friday to return me to my position in the Health Department, one I lost in December of 2011. 

Gratitude goes to not only the Board Members present on Friday, many of whom have been tireless champions of truth and right, but also to the Clerks of the Board, department colleagues, other department employees and Directors, retired employees, community members, and dear friends who have been so supportive throughout this difficult journey. Also to www.theschoharienews.com for the unbiased and consistent reporting. 

As word spread in the building it was clear that this decision, which also returns my colleague to her job, was cause for celebration not just for us, but represented a very positive turn for many, many others.

I am looking forward to rejoining the team, sprinkled throughout the county and adjoining ones, that works to give us all resources to respond and recover from a variety of disasters.
    
Most Sincerely,
Eva Gigandet
(returning) Schoharie County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator

Supreme Court Overturns Schoharie Zoning Laws


Ruling that the Town of Schoharie's adoption of Local Law 2-2005 was, "arbitrary and capricious and affected by an error of law," Schoharie County Supreme Court Justice Eugene Devine rendered the zoning laws null and void in a decision handed down on Wednesday, February 19th. The case had been before the Court since 2005. 

Arguing that the Town of Schoharie failed to properly comply with requirements set forth by SEQRA, Cobleskill Stone Products successfully made the case that local lawmakers flouted environmental review standards in the course of adopting the zoning laws. Their repeal is a major victory in Cobleskill Stone's fight to expand mining operations, which had previously been set back by a Court decision on August 21st, 2013 that found they did not have, "vested rights to expand its mining activities to adjacent parcels."

According to Wednesday's decision, town officials submitted two Negative Declarations with either incomplete environmental assessments, or none at all. In addition, the law permitted numerous activities that were not previously allowable in local Agriculture Districts, including manufacturing, telecommunications, technology and research development, etc.

Town officials disputed Cobleskill Stone's arguments by stating the 2005 law was the, "culmination of several years' worth of consideration and consultation with other agencies on the potential environmental impact of the zoning revisions," and therefore, felt it unnecessary to prepare a draft EIS and the negative declarations were drafted and published.

However, Judge Devine would find the town's arguments unsatisfactory as the minutes provided, "offer no insight as to the discussions or deliberations that lead to this conclusion." He would later add that, "the onus of strict compliance with SEQRA procedural requirements was not placed upon CSP, but rather, was an obligation that rested solely with the Board."

Last week's ruling will not be the end of this ongoing dispute; as Cobleskill Stone is in the process of appealing the August decision, the Town of Schoharie must decide what their next course of action will be, and in the meanwhile, the town's zoning laws have been reversed to 1970's standards, possibly complicating 21st century development. 

Maranatha's Future in Doubt

It has been nearly half a year since Marantha Family Center’s new facility on Route 7 closed its doors. The center has moved some classes to its former location on Elm Street in Cobleskill, but the future of the new 62,000 square foot building remains uncertain.

The most notable movement came in October of last year, when New York City investor Da-Lai Wu expressed interest in the facility. He came with an investment plan which he said involved expanding the facility, while also reopening the existing building as quickly as possible. However, Mr. Wu said the complex legal arrangements required for the transaction took longer than he had anticipated. “Records showed that the majority of MFC's revenue occurred from December through part of March,” said Wu in a letter to the editor of The Schoharie News. The duration of the proceedings cut into this important time and this delay, along with a number of other complaints Mr. Wu addressed in his letter, were what Mr. Wu said caused him to retract his offer.

Photo credit: Ed Munger,
Daily Gazette
Many of the problems with finding an investor stem from the conditions surrounding the facility’s initial construction. A large portion of the funding came from grants. The terms of these grants stipulate that only the current owner, Stella McKenna, can have any share of ownership. This means that, before any investment contracts can be signed for Maranatha, a waiver of this requirement must first be agreed to. Although the Town of Richmondville did file a request for such a grant, Mr. Wu said the request came too late to be effectve. He cited this delay as one of his primary concerns upon exiting from negotiations.

In addition to these legal barriers, any potential buyers of Maranatha also face many financial problems. The facility has approximately $31,000 in unpaid electric bills, which were the initial reason behind the closure. Marantha also faces an approximately $20,000 equipment audit of the facility’s construction grant. The property is also in foreclosure.

The financial liability and legal troubles facing potential investors are typically cited as the prime reasons for the apparent lack of interest. Mr. Wu, among others, has made the case that the Town of Richmondville has the ability, in at least some cases, to waive or delay these burdens. The Town, however, is reluctant to accept too much risk, which they say is out of fear that taxpayers will be left to pay the facility’s expenses, should the business fail again even with investment.

Now, as Mr. Wu begins pursuing another property interest in Middleburgh, Richmondville residents and membership holders are left with Marantha’s message, written on the sign in front of the new facility for most of its closure. “Reopening ASAP.”

Sheriff's Office Discovers Summit Man Trapped in Home, Suffering from Hypothermia

Editor's note: The Sheriff's Office filed the following press release early this morning to local news organizations.

At 12:15 today, February 25, 2014, the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Office received information from a concerned citizen reporting that a subject who resides on Mud Lake Road in the Town of Summit was potentially in need of assistance. 

The Sheriff’s Office, Richmondville Fire Department and The Summit Rescue Squad responded to the scene and found entry to the house was blocked due to a large amount of snow. There was no indication that anyone had been in or around the house for several days.

Upon entry they found a 76 year old male resident in serious need of medical care. There was no heat in the home.  The subject was suffering from hypothermia, frost bite and dehydration. The subject was transported to Cobleskill Regional Hospital and admitted in serious condition. 

The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that during this cold weather, they should check on their elderly neighbors or call the authorities if they are unable to do so.

Any questions related to this press release can be directed to Sheriff Anthony F. Desmond. Sheriff Desmond can be contacted by calling 518-860-3092.

Local Officials Participate in Pro-Active Webinar

Written By Editor on 2/25/14 | 2/25/14

Cobleskill, NY (February 24, 2014) – Creating Healthy Places To Live, Work and Play hosted a webinar at SUNY Cobleskill for elected officials and road crews to learn Cost Effective Solutions for Complete Streets on February 24th. Representatives from towns and villages as well as County level employees were invited to participate in this viewing and discussion.

Complete Streets is a way of looking at roads being used by all – cars, buses, trucks, as well as bicycles, wheel chair and pedestrians.  It looks at access to being able to get from one place to another by the mode of transportation that is best for the individual.  

Currently in Schoharie County Sharon Springs and Schoharie have adopted Complete Street Policies that were crafted with assistance from LaBerge Group from Albany; their assistance was supported by Creating Healthy Places grant funds.  Blenheim and Middleburgh are working on drafting  policies  with LaBerge group currently.

The webinar offered inexpensive ways to implement Complete Streets within communities, whether it is during a planned restriping of a road to enlarge a shoulder for bicyclists and pedestrians or if it is a making a plan to clear not only sidewalks, but curb cuts so that people can easily cross streets.  The webinar was presented by Jeff Olsen from Alta Group in Albany and sponsored by TriState Transportation and DASH NY.  After the webinar, a discussion was held on projects to consider locally as well as how to fund some of the more costly changes being discussed by communities through the NY Rising discussions.

Complete Streets have several benefits including allowing for people to have a walkable community.  Complete Streets also can improve the economics of a community by creating a more conducive environment for people to shop in downtown stores.  Complete streets can improve the environment by encouraging people to walk and bicycle instead of take a car for short trips or to use public transportation to get where they are going and thereby reducing emissions released into the air.

Creating Healthy Places is a grant funded through New York State Department of Health to address the growing problem of obesity and its effects on chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and Chronic Heart Disease.  The Grant was awarded to SUNY Cobleskill in 2010 for 5 years with $875,000 coming into the community to work on access to fresh fruits and vegetables and places to be physically active.  For more information or questions, please contact Maureen Blanchard, Project Coordinator at (518) 255-5294.

Supervisors Vote Down Casino Proposal


Schoharie County Supervisors voted down a proposed resolution Friday evening that, if adopted, would have signaled the Board of Supervisors interest in seeing a casino constructed within county limits. Sharon Town Supervisor Sandra Manko offered the eye-catching resolution for consideration.

Despite hearing arguments that building a casino in Schoharie County would lead to increased job creation and human tourism, legislators voted down the proposal 1118-1616. Supervisors Buzon, Jordan, Manko, Milone and Skowfoe voted in favor, while the rest were either excused or against .

Commenting that her no vote wasn't against the casino in principle, Wright Town Supervisor Amber Bleau told the Schoharie News she felt that, "our local infrastructure isn't prepared for the traffic." She would go on to add that, "I'm also concerned with the potential for increased drinking and driving."

Last November New York voters approved a statewide initiative by fourteen percent authorizing up to seven casinos to be built in the state. Schoharie County residents narrowly supported the ballot measure by a mere two hundred votes, indicating the public is just as split on the issue as its officials. 

State Police Arrest Parolee Wearing Devil Mask for Burglarizing Central Bridge Church

Written By Editor on 2/24/14 | 2/24/14


An ongoing investigation by the Cobleskill State Police has led to the arrest of two local suspects for the January 27th burglary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Church Street in Central Bridge. From the State Police's official release:
During the early morning hours of January 27, 2014 two subjects forcibly entered the church and damaged numerous doors, cabinets and locking mechanisms while attempting to locate items to steal. The value of the damages is approximately $18,000. They stole approximately $160.00 and two backpacks from the Boy Scout Troop 46, which maintains a storage room at the Church.  Also stolen was approximately $40.00 from the church Family History Center.
The suspects have been identified as eighteen year old Roger Graham (pictured left) and twenty-six year old Justin Pethick (pictured right), both of whom reside in Central Bridge. Graham was arrested on February 4th and charged with Burglary in the Third Degree, while Pethick was caught on February 20th and charged with Burglary in the Third Degree, Petit Larceny and Unlawful Possesion of Marihuana. Both were arraigned in the Town of Cobleskill and remanded to Schoharie County Jail. 

Graham
Pethick
According to the press release Pethick, who was also on parole, wore a devil mask during the burglary to conceal his identity. He was charged with Petit Larceny due to a separate complaint filed by Apple Food and Grocery, located on Route 7, in which he is, "accused of stealing tobacco and cigarettes while employed there."

Cobleskill State Police were assisted in their investigation by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Schoharie County District Attorney's Office. 

Middleburgh Town Board Welcomes Wu, Discusses Other Business


New York City investor Da-Lai Wu may have moved past obtaining Maranatha's $5.3 million physical fitness complex, but he hasn't given up on the idea of opening a gym in Schoharie County. On Wednesday evening he apprised members of the Middleburgh Town Board on his intentions to possibly open up a facility on Route 30 in the vacant Grand Union. 

Explaining that he would like to rent the building for six months to begin with and then bring exercise equipment in to test his business model, Mr. Wu looked toward expanding the center to include several tennis courts in the future. Courts that he hopes will be used to host youth tournaments, and keep local players in Schoharie County year round. 

Middleburgh Town Supervisor Jim Buzon expressed the board's sentiment by stating it would be, "wonderful to see [Grand Union] in use again." The Supervisor would go on welcome the investor into the community and offered to speak at next month's planning board meeting in support of his proposal. 

In other business, the Middleburgh Town Board:
  • voted unanimously to re-approve a two-year contract with MEVAC. In addition, Mr. Buzon informed board members that he included funding for the emergency squad in his requests to New York Rising, stating that the town, "appreciates all the work."
  • voted unanimously to set fire inspection fees at $20 per year/$60 per three-year period for commercial properties, while exempting non-profit/religious institutions.
  • heard from Town Assessor Robert Mann Sr. that the town provided cell phones offered little to no reliable coverage, and that there was confusion over what numbers to call by the public. Town Councilman Frank Herodes motioned, and board members voted unanimously in favor of returning town phones to Mid-Tel provided land lines. 
  • voted unanimously to re-appoint former Town Councilman and Village of Middleburgh Mayor William Ansel-McCabe as a Marriage Officer for the Town of Middleburgh.
  • voted unanimously to set a public hearing on Wednesday, March 13th at 7:15 pm to consider the 2014 Village Fire Contract. The hearing will take place during their regularly scheduled March meeting. 

Opinion: Abatements Offer Welcomed Incentives


     Schoharie County Supervisors voted solidly Friday afternoon to approve two local laws that offer generous tax assessment exemptions to first time home-buyer construction and specific home improvements. Good, it was the right decision - as Mr. Milone has argued for months - nothing bad can come from offering these incentives. 

      If just one family decides to move into Schoharie County because of them; and they build a new home, enroll their children in local schools, and help fuel the economy, the abatements can be deemed a success. While growing the struggling tax base is their primary reason for implementation, encouraging young families to settle in county is at the heart of the issue. 

     Take for instance the editor of this publication. Although I am currently renting and getting by paycheck to paycheck, my intention is to one day purchase or build my own home. And the exemptions adopted last week give me hope of that home being located one day in Schoharie County, with a head start from my community to ultimately succeed.

     Consider how the abatements work: if you choose to purchase a plot of land and build your own house, the assessed value of that construction will be halved that first year and will gradually be brought up over five years. The effect will be not only the increased value of that property, but the expansion of the local tax base.

     It would afford young families the opportunity to build their dream home without facing the burden of significant taxation right out the gate. That in itself is a noble cause, but the law's side effect of potentially bringing in fresh, economically vibrant blood is the true upside to abatements, if they take a foothold.

     Local schools are facing significant challenges from declining enrollment, and small towns are lopsidedly aging without the next generation there to fill the void fifteen, twenty years from now. These exemptions have the potential to both draw in young people to take a chance in Schoharie County, and to keep them here - as in my case - to settle permanently. 

     Of course, we will only be able to examine whether abatements result in increased residential construction when the three year sign-up period lapses in 2016 and they sunset entirely in 2021, but even if they fail to meet a majority of the county board's expectations... At least they tried, and they weren't afraid to explore new paths to make our community better.
      

Vote in Our New Poll: Do You Approve of Chairman Van Glad's Job Performance?

Written By Editor on 2/23/14 | 2/23/14


With almost two months of leadership under his belt, Schoharie County Board Chairman Tony Van Glad has administered a more cautious, bi-partisan county legislature than local residents are used to seeing. But his approach is not without its detractors, and many have criticized the board's alleged lack of direction.

Van Glad was elected Chairman of the Board
over former Chair Phil Skowfoe in January
Here is your chance to weigh in: what is your opinion of Chairman Van Glad's job performance atop the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors thus far? Please vote in our poll located on the right-hand side bar of the website, which will be open until Saturday, March 1st. 

Artisan's Gallery to Host Catskill Candies and Confections on Saturday March 8


The Artisan's Gallery, located on 322 Main Street in Middleburgh, will be hosting Raelene Bond of Catskill Candies and Confections on Saturday, March 8th from noon until 4 pm to showcase her homemade chocolate creations and much more. Free samples will be available from the Margaretville based shop. 


In addition, the Artisan's Gallery is fully prepared for springtime - offering unique gifts for everyone, and every occasion through June - with free wrapping thrown in for those special Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and graduation mementos purchased in-store. The Gallery is open regularly Wednesday through Friday 10-5 and Saturday 10-4. 


Schoharie Skating Starting at 4pm Today

Written By Editor on 2/22/14 | 2/22/14

In just about an hour, skating will begin at Schoharie's Fox Creek. All are invited.

From the Schoharie Promotional Association's Facebook:


Come on down to Fox Creek Park today starting at 4 PM. Even though the sun and rain have severely affected the ice skating rink, we will still have a bonfire, music, food and a chance to get out to meet and talk to your neighbors!

Split Board Approves Countywide Tax Abatements


With months of controversy setting the stage for Friday's public hearing on tax abatements, Supervisors and concerned residents spent almost an hour and a half arguing the merits and pitfalls of two proposed local laws that if approved would put in place countywide exemptions for first time homebuyer construction and certain property improvements.

Arguing that the exemptions would, "get people to look at Schoharie County," Middleburgh Town Supervisor Jim Buzon and others made the case for passing the local laws. On the flip side, Carlisle Town Supervisor Larry Bradt insisted there is, "no free lunch," and that abatements amounted to nothing more than, "a feel good law."

A majority of Supervisors disagreed. Casting two separate roll call votes on the abatement proposals, the county board approved Local Law #5 (property improvements) 1718-1009* with Mr. Barbic, Mrs. Bleau, Mr. Bradt, Mr. Federice and Mr. McAllister in opposition, while passing Local Law #6 (first time homebuyer) 2314-413*. 

Tax abatements entered the public discourse after the Town of Schoharie adopted them last fall. Since their town-wide enactment, Supervisor Gene Milone has spearheaded efforts to see them span not only the still-recovering Valley communities, but the county as a whole. The Village of Schoharie and the Town of Blenheim have recently approved their own versions of law, while the Towns of Esperance and Middleburgh have extensively considered them.  

It remains to be seen whether the abatements will truly, "draw families into our communities," as Mr. Milone stated forcefully before his colleagues Friday afternoon, or if Mr. Bradt's repeated warnings that they will end up costing local taxpayers in the long run, come to fruition. 

* - weighted vote

Middleburgh Adopts Public Safety Committee


Town of Middleburgh board members, who convened Wednesday evening after last week's snowstorm cancelled their regularly scheduled meeting, approved a draft proposal submitted by Councilman Brian DeFeo that would form a standing joint committee between the Town and Village of Middleburgh to address and review all aspects of public safety within the municipalities. 

The Public Safety Committee would consist of a member from both the Town Council and the Village Board of Trustees; one officer each from the Middleburgh Fire Department, the Huntersland Fire Department, and the Middleburgh Volunteer Ambulance Corp. In addition, both the Town and Village would be able to appoint an unaffiliated member of the public as well.

After briefly discussing the proposal, the Town Board unanimously adopted Mr. DeFeo's proposal in its entirety. The Town Councilman is planning to attend the respective organizations March meetings in order to personally invite their members to participate in the new committee.

Committee members would meet on a quarterly basis and would oversee a variety of public safety issues, including fire prevention, emergency medical response, and law enforcement concerns. Any operational expenses would be shared equally by the Town and Village governments.



Breaking News: County Board Reinstates Gigandet and Grimes

Written By Editor on 2/21/14 | 2/21/14


Following a prolonged executive session, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors voted 13-1 this afternoon to reinstate Eva Gigandet and Penny Grimes as employees of the county Public Health Department. The board sanctioned Fitzmaurice Report identified both women as being wrongfully terminated by Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington during her, "reign of terror."

Town of Carlisle Supervisor Larry Bradt was the lone vote in opposition, arguing his decision was based on the lack of information concerning their compensation and severance packages. Neither Supervisor Vroman of Summit, nor Smith of Broome were present for the afternoon session. 

Visibly emotional after the vote, Ms. Grimes told the Schoharie News on both her and Ms. Gigandet's behalf that they were appreciative and thankful for the county board's decision, which came over four months after the report was publicly released and Mrs. Ethington was placed on administrative leave for her actions. 


Winter Advisory in Effect (February 20, 2014)

Written By Editor on 2/20/14 | 2/20/14


The National Weather Service in Albany has issued a winter advisory for much of Upstate, New York - including Schoharie County - until eleven this evening due to updated weather models indicating that the local area, and surrounding communities, could expect several inches of snow mixed with sleet to impact the area. 



County Board to Meet Friday (February 21, 2014)


The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors will be holding their second regular monthly meeting of the 2014 legislative session tomorrow morning at nine, which will be immediately (currently scheduled for two in the afternoon) followed by a public hearing on Town of Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone's proposed countywide tax abatements. 

No agenda has been published on the county website at this time, but sources have indicated that Supervisors may possibly consider rehiring Eva Gigandet and Penny Grimes, two former Health Department employees that were systematically targeted and fired by now-suspended Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington during her, "reign of terror," according to the infamous Fitzmaurice Report.

Stay tuned to the Schoharie News for immediate coverage of tomorrow's county board meeting on both the website and facebook. 

Middleburgh Town Board to Meet Tonight (February 19th)

Written By Editor on 2/19/14 | 2/19/14


On account of last Thursday's gigantic nor'easter that dumped upwards to three feet of snow in parts of Schoharie County, the Town of Middleburgh was forced to cancel that evening's monthly board meeting - the first time that has occurred in decades - and it was rescheduled for this evening at 7:15 p.m. at the Middleburgh Town Hall that is located on 143 Railroad Avenue.

Letter to the Editor: Wu Sets Record Straight




Dear Editor,


In light of some online rabble-rouser’s absurd and untruthful comments, it is time for me to set the record straight regarding my involvement in the Maranatha Fitness Center (MFC). My willingness to invest in the MFC was offered with the specific intention of salvaging a recreation facility both needed and wanted by the community. All grant monies had already been spent almost a year before my awareness of MFC, much less my involvement, and my only intent was to move forward.

Every business has its model, including a health club. Records showed that the majority of MFC's revenue occurred from December through part of March, which is well within the industry's standard parameters. However, the drop-off in membership from May through September was so large and is so unique to this locale, that the limited revenue-producing time period specifically requires an abundance of success just to keep the business running without some exceptionally creative programming during the warmer months—which I was confident that I could provide. Additionally, to invest in a business which was running such a large deficit and with no working capital, required that the business model be altered to produce a greater percentage of return on the investment, including, equity ownership. With that said, in September 2013 I asked for two concessions from the Town and the Village of Richmondville in order to have a reasonable amount of time to get the business running again before having to cover all the arrears.

I first asked the Town to allow me to postpone a federally requested grant audit that cost $20,000 dollars, and which carried absolutely no penalty if not done. They agreed to give me a postponement opportunity, but wanted me to put $20,000 dollars in escrow, which is the same as not giving me a postponement. I also asked the Village of Richmondville's board to stretch out the electric bill payment of $31,000 dollars over three months, which they denied. Since neither the town nor the village was willing to make any concessions, under the health club model described above, in which the profits of the winter months must carry the business through the lack of activity in the summer months, the requirement of such a large initial payment after the winter term had already begun, made the investment untenable.

On top of that, the town’s delay in requesting a waiver from the state regarding the recapture of any funds related to the grant—the only way to have allowed me to obtain equity ownership—and which the state offered in late September, as well as numerous times in October and November, made it almost impossible to work within the business model and timetable required to make MFC successful. The need for a substantial infusion of capital then became way more than the business model's standard. By the time the town requested the waiver in mid-December, (which protects the taxpayers from having the state ask for any recapture of funds from the original grant) it was just too late in the season to get MFC’s doors open and viable.

The rabble-rousers who protested and focused on what was, and not what is, over these past couple of years—like they were Soviet citizens protesting the USA hockey team's win over their own team in Sochi, days after the game already ended—and especially, since those actions so severely affected the town officials' courage and their ability to move forward with what was necessary to allow the business model to flourish until after Election Day, has caused the facility to remain closed, and for all of the public debts to become solely the taxpayer's responsibility.

In my opinion, that is exactly why all in the community should ignore those who want to cry about what went wrong back in the day, and who refuse to make any efforts to find a way to currently make the situation better for everyone. They make a lot of noise which benefits no one, while this valuable community resource remains closed, and most likely, affected in a grossly negative manner by this year's intense weather conditions. The bottom line is that the facility could have easily been reopened, and everyone in the community would have had something healthy and enjoyable to occupy their time without having to hibernate in their homes due to all of the cold and snowy weather conditions which we are now experiencing.

Sincerely,


Da-lai Wu

State Police Arrest Richmondville Man for Endangering the Welfare of a Child

On February 19, 2014 State Police in Cobleskill arrested Zachary R. Foland, 21, of Richmondville, NY for assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The incident occurred around 3:30 a.m. at an address on State Route 7 in the Town of Richmondville. The victim and her children left the residence and reported the incident to State Police.  

Zachary Foland
Foland was arrested when he turned himself into the State Police later that same day. Foland was charged with assault in the 3rd degree, criminal obstruction of breathing, and endangering the welfare of a child, all misdemeanors. Foland was arraigned in the Town of Richmondville Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail in lieu of $5000 cash bail or $10,000 bond.   

Poll: Rebuild Blenheim Bridge

Written By Editor on 2/18/14 | 2/18/14

With the controversy about the Blenheim Bridge mounting and letters to the editor arguing for one position or another, Schoharie News readers are similarly divided. After a week of polling, our readers were asked if they would prefer to rebuild exactly where the bridge was exactly how it was, to build a replica in another location, or if the cost is too great for such a project.

- Yes, exactly where it was 194 (53%) 
- Yes, but as a replica elsewhere 19 (5%) 
- No, the cost and risk is too great 140 (38%) 
- Undecided 12 (3%)

The controversy will not dissapate anytime soon about the issue. With such a result, be sure to vote in our newest poll on our sidebar, whether or not you approve of the Schoharie News.


Cobleskill Police Blotter (February 18, 2014)

The Cobleskill Police Department submitted the following press release concerning recent arrests by their officers in the Village of Cobleskill: 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

     At 4:00 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Ashlee C. King, 22, of Cohoes, NY, for a Bench Warrant for failing to pay a fine.  She was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail on $5,000 Bail / $10,000 Bond. She is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on February 18th at 5:00 p.m.       

Friday, February 14, 2014

     At 8:06 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Christopher M. Majewski, 32, of Warnerville, NY, for 2 Counts Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle 2nd. He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail on $100 Cash / $200 Bail.  He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on March 4th at 5:00 p.m.
           
Saturday, February 15, 2014

     At 12:45 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Enrique Rivera, 23, of Cobleskill, NY, for Violation of the Village Noise Ordinance.  He was issued an appearance ticket and released.  He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on March 11th at 5:00 p.m.  The property of at 155 MacArthur Avenue was posted for Unruly Gathering per the Village Noise Ordinance.

     At 2:19 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Albert M.V. Chapman, 24, of Brooklyn, NY, for violation of the Village Noise Ordinance.  He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on March 3rd at 5:00 p.m.  The property at 110-1 Mallard Lane was posted for Unruly Gathering per the Village Noise Ordinance.


     At 8:55 p.m. Cobleskill, NY, arrested Robert J. Ambroz, 41, of Cobleskill, NY, on a Bench Warrant for failing to pay a fine.  He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail on $125 Bail. 

SALT to Host "Fat Tuesday" Buffet to Benefit Flood Recovery


Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery (SALT) will be hosting a buffet style breakfast on "Fat Tuesday," March 4th from 5:30-7:30 pm to benefit local flood recovery efforts. The buffet will be held at the Fusion Community Church, which is located on 375 North Grand Street in Cobleskill. 


With pancakes, eggs, bacon, and much more on the menu, patrons can both satisfy their hunger and support a worthwhile cause for only $10 per adult, and $5 for children age twelve and under if they reserve their spot beforehand. Prices will rise slightly for walk-ins. 

Richmondville Woman Arrested for Possessing Heroin, Other Substances

On February 16th, the State Police in Cobleskill arrested Lindsay Serio, 31, of Richmondville, NY for possessing heroin, oxycodone, and marihuana.  At approximately 2:10 pm Troopers stopped the vehicle in which Serio was a passenger, on I88 in the Town of Schoharie for a violation of the move over law.  During the stop Troopers detected the odor of marihuana.  

Lindsay Serio
A search of the vehicle and its occupants revealed that Serio was in possession of heroin, marihuana, and a crushed oxycodone pill.  Serio was charged with 2 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree, a misdemeanor.  Serio was also charged with unlawful possession of marihuana and possessing a controlled substance outside its original container, both violations.  

Serio was released on appearance tickets and is scheduled to return to the Town of Schoharie Court on March 3rd at 5:00 p.m.  Also arrested was the operator of the vehicle, Khondker Hossain, 25, of Levittown, NY for driving with a suspended license.  Hossain was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the 2nd degree, a misdemeanor.  Hossain was arraigned in the Town of Schoharie Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail in lieu of $500 cash bail or $1000 bond.  Hossain is scheduled to return to the Town of Schoharie Court February 24th at 5:00p.m.  

Local Opposition Persists to Pipeline, Despite New Right of Way Leases


With public opposition quietening in recent months over Constitution's proposed natural gas pipeline that would complete its approximatly 124 mile journey in Schoharie County, the company has been busily working under the radar to negotiate right of way leases from local landowners.


The proposed pipeline, which would originate in Pennsylvania and end in the Town of Wright, passes through seven local townships: Jefferson, Summit, Richmondville, Cobleskill, Middleburgh, Schoharie, and Wright. Thus far, roughly 50% of property holders have granted easements, leaving Constitution in an unfavorable position to justify federal approval.

However, since the New Year, the company has obtained eleven new right of way leases according to the Schoharie County Clerk's Office. The new batch of leases are primarily in the Towns of Schoharie and Summit, including one costly $10,500 contract that secures Constitution passage through Shaul Farms property near the Schoharie Days Inn and Suites.

But despite recent successes local opposition is still present, as demonstrated by the Blenheim Town Board's unanimous decision to ban any form of natural gas production within their boundaries, and the release of an anti-fracking documentary by filmmaker and Village of Middleburgh Trustee Bill Morton. 

Still, to the distress of advocates and supporters alike on both sides of the controversy, little can be done locally to resolve the situation; as that power rests solely with the federal government.

Letter to the Editor: CARRT Encourages Family Activities in February

Written By Editor on 2/17/14 | 2/17/14

Dear Editor,

I am writing to you as a member of the Child At Risk Response Team (CARRT) of Schoharie County.  Over the past 10+ years, I have had the privilege and honor of working with this professional group of men and women who are passionately dedicated to the health and well-being of every Schoharie County child and adolescent.  We work together to prevent, investigate, and prosecute child maltreatment when it occurs here in our own community.

As a team we are celebrating February as the month to encourage Family Activities.  Given this long winter season, February is an opportune time to connect and bond with our close family members.  Consider cooking or baking together, going outside for some sledding or ice skating, rent a family friendly movie, pop the popcorn and snuggle together in the warmth of your TV room.  Spending time together making positive memories is a sure way to increase your family well-being and communication. 

I would like to extend personal appreciation to the numerous folks in our community who have invested in the creation of family friendly activities in our communities such as the Fox Creek Park Ice Skating, Middleburgh Ice Skating, SUNY Cobleskill’s Family Swim Hours, and many other opportunities!  Please consider posting your activities on CARRT’s Facebook Page and we would be happy to help you promote your family friendly activities.  We believe that supporting healthy family activities in our community is an important step in the prevention child abuse and neglect.

The CARRT’s Child Advocacy Center provides: (1) Centrally located services to prevent, intervene, investigate and prosecute as appropriate cases of child abuse and neglect; (2) A non-threatening, child-friendly setting where services can be coordinated; (3) Support for the child and non-offending family members and caregivers during a difficult time, Advocacy throughout investigation, court proceeding and aftercare; and (4) Community education.

Sincerely,

Jennifer M. Schultz, LMSW
CRCS School Social Worker
Middleburgh, NY

Schoharie County Emergency Services Scanner Now Featured on the Schoharie News

In case of emergency or just to stay connected, a scanner is a great tool to see what is going on in the area. If you do not have a scanner, feel free to use the one linked on the Schoharie News site. We have installed the live feed of the Schoharie County Emergency Services scanner live at the top of our always-updated weather page. Check it out and take a look. Bookmark the page so it is handy in emergencies.

Women's Health Clinic in Cobleskill March 18th

From the Schoharie County Health Department's Facebook page:

Free Health Screenings with Bassett's Mobile Mammography Coach!
What: The Cancer Services Program of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties will offer free health screenings to women 40 and older who are uninsured. There are no income guidelines. 
When: Wednesday, February 26, 9 am - 3 pm 
Where: Shoppers Mart Plaza (SCCAP parking lot) 795 E. Main Street, Cobleskill NY
Details: Screenings include pap tests with pelvic exams, clinical breast exams, mammograms and take home colorectal test kits (for men and women 50 or older)

Contact: Please call this toll free number 1-888-345-0225 to set up your appointment.

Please share this important information!
Contact: Please call this toll free number 1-888-345-0225 to set up your appointment.
Please share this important information!

Schoharie Fire Dept Searching for Disaster Consultant

With the stress of the last several years still present in operations, the Schoharie Fire Department has placed a request for proposals for a consultant to review disaster management. The Department, which was among the most active in 2011's flooding despite losing their original fire house is undergoing major changes as it is moving its operations to a potential new fire house and is pushing hard for an independent fire district separate from control of the Village of Schoharie.

On the Department's website, there are more details about what SFD is looking for. The Department is hoping to select a consultant by March 31st after a series of interviews.

Some of the tasks for the consultant, according to the RFP, would include:

 Represent the Owner and attend meetings with FEMA/NYSOEM on behalf of the Owner.
 Damage Site Assessment & Project Worksheet Formulation.
 Identify Potential Improvements & Maximize Public Assistance 406-Mitigation Funding.
 Meet with Village Trustees, Town Councilpersons, Officers, and Department Heads and
 Collect/Compile Cost Documentation for Project Worksheets (PW’s). 
Proposals are due March 7th at 2pm.

Central Bridge Fire Department Joins Facebook

Written By Editor on 2/16/14 | 2/16/14

The Central Bridge Fire Department has joined many of the other Fire Departments of the County by joining Facebook. In just several days, their page has attracted hundreds of likes. The site is right here for you to like.


Letter to the Editor: Milone Makes Case for Abatements

Written By Editor on 2/14/14 | 2/14/14

Dear Editor, Neighbors and Friends,

Several months ago the Schoharie Town Board adopted four local laws pertaining to tax abatements. The first abatement deals with first time homebuyers or new construction. The second abatement pertains to home improvements for one or two family dwellings. The third abatement provides assistance with respect to living quarters for parents or grandparents 62 years of age or older and the fourth abatement speaks to conversion of non residential property to residential and commercial use. These tax abatements were adopted to encourage not only rehabilitation of homes affected by flooding, but any home that is in need of improvement. Also, taken into consideration was our desire to help our younger generation afford the American dream-a newly constructed home for first time homebuyers with a  5-year tax abatement. We did not forget parents and grandparents who are in need of living with family-giving an 8 year tax abatement on any additions built to existing homes for this purpose. These tax abatements represent opportunity as well as incentive to not only rebuild but to attract new families and businesses into our communities.

Just recently the Village Board of Schoharie also adopted these very tax abatements, the Town of Blenheim as well and the Towns of Middleburgh and Esperance are also considering their adoption. I and the members of the Schoharie Town Board have gone before the school board as well, calling for their participation in this program. I have also requested the Board of Supervisors adopt these tax abatements for Schoharie County simply because school and county taxes are among the largest that we pay.

Some individuals have said that these abatements will cause increased taxation to those of us who currently own homes and vacant land. That is a total misconception.  These abatements stand on their own with no additional cost to anyone. They hopefully will act as a catalyst to encourage new construction and upgrading, adding additional tax dollars to our tax base. 

Please be advised that there will be a Public Hearing on these tax abatements on Feb. 21, 2014 at 2:00PM in the Board of Supervisors Room, 3rd Floor of the Schoharie County Office Building.  It is my hope that all residents come and voice their opinions on this issue as well as have questions answered before the Board takes a vote on adopting or declining these tax abatements for Schoharie County. Clearly if understood, this is an opportunity for our county to open its doors and welcome new residents, lend some help to our children, safeguard our elderly and give our realtors a device to encourage development.  Every empty home, every vacant piece of land where a home was taken down and is now for sale, every vacant storefront has caused an increased tax burden to others. Give these abatements a chance to work.  We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 
Gene Milone,
Schoharie Town Supervisor

Middleburgh Boys Top Germantown Despite Foul Troubles


Coming off of back-to-back victories on the road, the Middleburgh Knights varsity boys squad cruised to an easy 80-66 victory on home court over the Germantown Clippers on Wednesday evening. Led by Troy Hinkley's twenty-one point performance, the Knights offensive play picked up the slack for their defensive struggles.  

Alan Phillipo reacts to his teammate's free
throw attempt - Photo by Bob Roney
Germantown relied heavily upon Tyler Fuchs's twenty-five points to keep the visiting squad competitive, but it was simply impossible to keep up with Middleburgh's double-digit scorers Adam McMullen (20), Ryan Bechtold (17), and Keith Campbell (10).

Because of the Knights sloppy defensive performance, the Clippers took an unprecedented 31 shots from the free throw line, but fortunately for Middleburgh - they converted only eleven of those attempts, squandering valuable points in the process, and sealing the home team's third straight win. 

Middleburgh 80
Germantown  66

                       1st  2nd  3rd  Final
Middleburgh       20  41  63  80
Germantown      17  29  45  66

Letter to the Editor: Resident Invites Da-Lai Wu to Hold Maranatha Discussion

Dear Editor:
Da-Lai Wu is a businessman who asked for concessions from the Town of Richmondville and the State of New York in exchange for investing in the failed Maranatha Family Center.  Despite receiving concessions he has not come forward to invest in the facility or to pay any of its substantial debt.  Mr. Wu recently posted comments on the Schoharie News Facebook page in which he blamed critics of the facility for its failure and claimed that Maranatha was a positive thing for the community, despite millions in taxpayer monies that are now gone.
Mr. Wu’s statements point to what could be the saddest legacy of this failed facility – a failure to learn anything from its demise. Most of the community understands the Center closed after a year despite millions in grants, low interest loans and tax exemptions, but little more. Most people do not know that for more than four years red flags were raised about the projects planning, approval, funding and oversight. They also may not know that internal emails sent by those directly involved in the project called out financial irregularities, cast doubt on the honesty and accuracy of claims made by the developer and even warned about potential jail time for misusing public funds. Most area residents do not understand how many mistakes were made by local, County and State government agencies that repeatedly ignored poorly defined business plans, ever changing and unrealistic blueprints, unauthenticated claims of job creation and absurdly incomplete zoning and environmental reviews while the powers that be responded to intense pressure from influential politicians and fast tracked the ill-conceived project in hopes of a quick gold-shovel photo op.
Mr. Wu is inadvertently correct that the developer was not fully to blame. She, after all, just wanted to build a multi-million dollar facility with no real capital, no expertise to run it and little sense of responsibility to the community she thought should pay for it. The real culprits were those who helped her do it. With smoke screens like those thrown up by Mr. Wu we will never address the egregious failures that occurred at the Town, County and State Level.  Instead the millions lost will be swept under the carpet and written off at taxpayer expense and the real reasons why it all happened will never be addressed.
In response to Mr. Wu’s comments,  I have invited him to participate in a public discussion of the details of the Maranatha failure, including the project’s review and approval, allocation and accounting of funds and the various claims made to justify continued public funding as the project careened towards failure. I believe such a discussion is important to the community and would be eye opening, even to Mr. Wu, who is either joking or really believes that those who exposed the problems with Maranatha somehow caused them to not pay their bills and go bust.
If the taxpayers deserve anything for the money they invested in, and lost to, Maranatha it is the knowledge that such a blatant violation of the public trust and welfare will not happen again. To date Mr. Wu has not responded to my invitation.
Bob Nied

SUNY Cobleskill Cancels Thursday Afternoon, Friday Classes

Written By Editor on 2/13/14 | 2/13/14


With worsening snowfall creating traffic headaches across Schoharie County and the surrounding area, SUNY Cobleskill announced the cancellation of all afternoon classes from 3:30 on today, and all scheduled classes tomorrow. In addition, college offices and campus services will resume operations in the morning. 

Snowfall Predictions Increase for Today's Storm UPDATE: Even Higher

The storm that has already brought an inch of snow to the area is expected to be significantly stronger than previously believed. A winter storm warning has been issued from 10am today until 10am Thursday. Initial snowfall estimates have been revised upward to 8-14 inches total, with more snow falling in the eastern Catskills. Schoharie County falls within the 10-14 inch zone.

Credit: NWS
Snowfall is expected to consistently fall at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour with a maximum of 3 per hour by late Thursday. This will then slow down by Friday morning. Temperatures will reach a high of 26 today and fall to 20 tonight. Tomorrow, the thermometer will peak over freezing, at 35 and fall to 20 overnight.

EDIT: 9:24am: Channel 6 has updated this prediction to be more dire:

WNYT has it even higher:



Remember to keep it tuned to the Schoharie News weather page for constant updates.

Lady Knights Claim WAC Championship

Written By Editor on 2/12/14 | 2/12/14


The Middleburgh Lady Knights varsity squad capped a phenomenal 2013-14 season by claiming the WAC Championship in a nail-biter Tuesday night. Led by seniors Amanda Roney and Taylor Cater, the Knights held off the Fort Plain Hilltoppers 51-45 at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Photo credit: Bob Roney

Fifteen Foot Elevated Blenheim Bridge Visual Conception


With two hundred votes already cast in our Blenheim Bridge poll (located on the right-hand sidebar of the website), members of the Blenheim Long Term Recovery Committee wanted the following visual conception of a rebuilt, 15 foot elevated bridge for our readers to consider before passing final judgment. 


Seward Welcomes Schoharie County Youth Bureau to Capitol

ALBANY, 02/11/14 – State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) yesterday met at his Capitol office with members of the Schoharie County Youth Bureau. 


“The community value of the services provided by the Schoharie County Youth Bureau is impossible to quantify,”said Senator Seward.  “The group offers quality programming that provides our youth with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have, leading to productive futures for those involved.  I appreciate hearing their personal success stories and will be advocating for programs like this as we negotiate a final state budget that meets the real needs of New Yorkers.”   

High school students from Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School and Middleburgh Central School joined advisers with the Schoharie County Youth Bureau for a discussion with Senator Seward on current activities as well as future funding needs.  The meeting was part of the Association of New York State Youth Bureau lobby day.

Schoharie has You Covered for Valentine's Day

Written By Editor on 2/11/14 | 2/11/14

The Schoharie Promotional Association has many local businesses lined up to take care of all of your needs for this Friday.
Need some ideas for your Valentine? Stay local! County Café is serving dinner on Thursday, February 13th, beginning at 4 PM, reservations required 295-7777. Blue Star Café is taking reservations for Friday, February 14th for surf and turf dinner, 295-7557. Apple Barrel is serving dinner with live music, 5 to 8 PM along with fresh flowers, specialty gourmet chocolate cakes, chocolate covered strawberries, cards, 295-7179. Flowers and gifts at the Little Posy Place, 868-1313 (call to order flowers); Gifts at Generations, the Hive, Apple Barrel, Vroman’s Quilts and Gifts. Salons: J Lacy Unisex Hair Salon; You’re Worth it. For him: Creekside Sports, Valley Hardware.

Vote in Our New Poll: Should the Blenheim Bridge be Rebuilt?

Here is a chance for our readers to weigh in on the contentious debate over whether or not the Blenheim Covered Bridge should be rebuilt using either federal or local tax dollars. The debate has been standoffish at times between Blenheim residents and Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry, but no true gauge of the public's opinion has been taken to this point.

Readers have four choices in this new poll: Should the Blenheim Bridge be Rebuilt?

Yes, exactly where it was
Yes, but as a replica elsewhere
No, the cost and risk is too great
Undecided

The poll is located on the right hand sidebar of the website. 

Hurt in an accident? Search Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC for great info on getting money.

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