Local Young Lady Competes for Miss Pre-Teen Albany/Poughkeepsie Title

Written By Editor on 3/31/14 | 3/31/14



Ayiana Shaw of Howes Cave was recently selected to participate in the 2014 Miss Pre-Teen Albany/Poughkeepsie pageant competition that will take place on Sunday April 27, 2014. Ayiana learned of her acceptance into this year's competition when the pageant announced their selections following interviewing in the local Albany/Poughkeepsie area. Ayiana submitted an application and took part in an interview session that was conducted by this year's Albany/Poughkeepsie Pageant Coordinator. 

Ayiana will be competing, for her share of thousands of dollars in prizes and specialty gifts that will be distributed to contestants. Ayiana will be competing in the Miss Pre-Teen division, one of four divisions that will have young ladies ages of 10-12 competing in modeling routines, which include casual wear and formal wear. Most important, Ayiana will display her personality and interviewing skills while interviewing with this year's Albany/Poughkeepsie judging panel. Personality is the number one aspect that each contestant is judged on during all phases of competition.

If Ayiana were to win the title of Miss Pre-Teen Albany/Poughkeepsie, she would represent Albany/Poughkeepsie and the surrounding communities at the National Competition that will take place in Orlando, Florida. Over $30,000.00 in prizes and awards will be presented at the National Competition while each winner enjoys this expense paid trip of five nights and six days in Orlando, Florida.

Community businesses, organizations, and private individuals will assist Ayiana in participating in this year's competition by becoming an official sponsor to her. Through sponsorship, each contestant receives all the necessary training, rehearsals, and financial support which will allow Ayiana to become a very confident and well-prepared contestant in this year's Albany/Poughkeepsie Pageant.

Any business, organization, or private individual who may be interested in becoming a sponsor to Ayiana may contact the Miss Pre-Teen Albany/Poughkeepsie pageant coordinator, at 1-877-403-6678.

Seward Propels Budget Funding to Reopen Worcester I-88 Rest Stop

ALBANY, 03/30/14 -- State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) today announced that the agreed upon 2014-15 state budget includes, at his insistence, funding to reopen the NYSDOT rest area along I-88 eastbound between exits 18 and 19 in Worcester.

“I denounced the NYSDOT decision to close this rest area four years ago, and have been working ever since to reverse this affront to public safety,” said Senator Seward.  “Finally, we will be able to tear down the barricades and reopen this service facility, critical to the motoring public.”

In 2010, the New York State Department of Transportation closed six rest areas on interstate highways in what was touted as a temporary measure.  To date, none have reopened.

“When the closures were first announced, I voiced my concern, particularly for the safety of truck drivers who make their living and support their families traveling our highways.  Since that time a host of accidents involving tractor trailers, including one with a fatality, have occurred near the Worcester rest stop.  No doubt some of these crashes could have been avoided if a safe haven was open,”Seward added.

Senator Seward also advocated for budget funds to reopen the I-88 Wells Bridge rest stop (westbound between exits 11 and 12) which was also closed in 2010.

“While the Wells Bridge rest stop was not specifically funded in this state budget agreement, I will continue to advocate for its reopening as well.  In this day and age, when so much attention is focused on ‘texting zones’ and similar measures, we need to enhance highway safety not reduce it,” Seward added.

NYSDOT personnel have  already started to coordinate plans to refurbish and prepare the Worcester rest area for public use.  A formal opening date will be announced shortly.

Life in Schoharie Photo Contest


Since the Schoharie News launched last fall many of our stories have featured tag-along photos, some supplied by organizations filing press releases and other taken originally by us, but whatever the case they have always added a little something extra to our articles.  

With that in mind, we would like to announce our inaugural "Life in Schoharie Photo Contest," where you can submit your photograph of anything Schoharie County to be considered for a $20 gift certificate to Cobleskill Wal-Mart.

The winner of the contest will be judged by the readers of the Schoharie News, who will have three days to review the photos before voting on their favorite submission. 

All contest entries must be e-mailed to aaaabraves@yahoo.com, with the subject "Schoharie News Photo Contest," by noon on Wednesday, and will shortly thereafter be published on the website for our readers to take into consideration. You must include your name and town of residence for your submission to count. 

Goodluck!

Letter to the Editor: Know the Facts About Self-Harm

Written By Editor on 3/29/14 | 3/29/14

Editors Note: Self-harm is a very real threat facing millions of people in this county and the facts and signs described in this letter by Ms. Weightman should be heeded by all friends and families concerned of their loved ones. 

Dear Editor,

March is National Self-Harm Awareness Month.  Self-harm (or self-injury)  is an all too common method used by some to manage their feelings, deal with stressors or anxiety, and/or  to help a person to bring himself/herself out of a state of feeling numb.  Self-harm can take many forms, but is always an unhealthy coping mechanism that can be replaced with new, safe skills and increased social supports.  Secrecy, shame, and guilt often accompany self- injury- leading people to suffer in silence and furthering a vicious cycle of continued self- harming behavior.  It is important to have accurate information about what self-injury is, to dispel myths, and to know what resources are available to treat the issue and support those trying to recover from a pattern of self-harming behavior.

Self-injury is defined as deliberate, repetitive, and non-lethal behaviors that are aimed at alleviating emotional pain or distress.  Self-harm can encompass a range of behaviors, including cutting oneself with a sharp or jagged object or tool, burning, scratching, head-banging, picking scabs or interfering with wound healing, punching self or objects, bruising oneself, or breaking bones.  Self-harming behavior often begins as a behavior that someone uses to regain  emotional control in their lives- allowing for a physical expression of the turmoil they feel inside , but can easily become  ritualistic, compulsive, and no longer within that individual’s control.  

But why would someone hurt themselves on purpose?  People who engage in self-injury do so for a variety of reasons. Many report feelings of loneliness, anxiety/fear, emptiness, detachment, anger, feelings of self-hatred or worthlessness, guilt, etc.  For some,  self-harming harming acts as a temporary reprieve from stress and anxiety they are experiencing.  For others who may struggle with feelings of emptiness, emotional detachment and numbness; the self-injury and pain lets them feel SOMETHING and reminds them that they are indeed alive.; the brain also releases endorphins –chemicals that are thought  to “soothe” people.   The relief, however, is temporary.  Feelings, stressors, conflicts come back, and so does the urge to self-harm. A self-destructive pattern often develops without intervention.

There are many myths and misconceptions about self-harm, so it is important to have the facts.  Taboos and misconceptions can get in the way of you or someone else getting the help they need.  Let’s explore some commonly held myths and discuss the facts.

Myth: People who self-harm are just trying to get attention-talking too much about it will just them make them do it more.

Fact: People who self-harm often do it in secret.  People carry an immense amount of fear, shame and guilt about the behavior.  Talking about it is the first step to that person feeling connected to someone else and opening the door to more healthy coping strategies.

Myth:  People who self-harm are trying to kill themselves.

Fact:  The majority of people who self-injure do NOT want to die.  They are trying to cope with their emotional pain.  In fact, for many it is the only way they have found to go on living.  However, self-injury is closely linked with depression and a higher risk of suicide, which is why it is so important to seek help.

Myth: A person has to be “crazy” or dangerous to cut or hurt himself/herself on purpose.

Fact:  Many people who self-harm suffer from depression, anxiety, and/or a history of trauma-just like millions of others in the general population.  Many have a history of sexual and/or physical abuse. A trigger, such as conflict, or remembering a traumatic event can lead a person to utilize self-harm as a way of coping with the feelings.  It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population engages   in self-injurious behavior. 

Myth: Only teenage girls cut- and they will grow out of it.

Fact:  Although the prevalence of females who self-harm is higher than in males, there are boys who engage in self-harm as a way of managing their feelings.  Self-harm often begins in puberty, but without treatment can persist into adulthood.

Self-injury can be hard to detect, but there are some signs, or “red flags” to look for if you are worried about someone you care about:

Unexplained cuts, bruises, scars-often on wrists, arms, thighs, or chest
Sharp objects or cutting instruments in a person’s belongings- such as razors, knives, tacks, or safety pins, needles, glass shards, etc.
Frequent “ accidents” used to explain away chronic injuries, cuts, or bruises
Covering up- insisting on wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts even in hot weather
Isolation and irritability, spending time alone for extended periods of time ( especially in bedroom or bathroom)
Frequent blood stains on clothing, towels, bedding, or blood-stained/soaked tissues

If you or someone you care about is struggling with self-harming behavior there are resources, supports, and professional treatment available.  Connecting with a support network and ending the secrecy that often accompanies this behavior can be a big step in regaining control over self-harm.    For more information visit:

SAFE (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives

The help and support of a professional may also be needed while a person is working to overcome the cycle of self-injurious behavior.  A therapist can assist a person in identifying roots and triggers, communicating assertively, and managing emotions through healthy coping strategies.  Your local mental health clinic will have information on service providers and treatment options in your area.

Shannon Weightman, LCSW-R
Staff Social Worker
Schoharie County Mental Health Clinic

SUNY Cobleskill Students Spill the Beans on 'Confessions' Facebook Page


With confessions detailing illegal drug use, crude sexual acts - including cheating and self gratification - and other university oriented hi jinks, SUNY Cobleskill students have been anonymously spilling the beans on Cobleskill Confessions, a facebook page that was created barely two weeks ago and has since attracted over 1,600 likes on the social media outlet.

This is not a new development for higher education, as Inside Higher Ed published an extensive article last year on the spread of so called 'college confession' pages, which has caused concern on campuses nationwide over the privacy and anonymity of their students.

Cobleskill Confessions has thus far published slightly less then three hundred status updates, most of which are innocent enough - students admitting to crushes, thoughts on residence halls and their administrators, and even one tale documenting the successful theft of kittens - but many are far more sinister, and include various crimes and encounters with university police. 

The page guarantees that, "anything you submit is 110% anonymous," and that there is no way to track who the confessions belong to as students submit their comments on an outside google resource that requires no name, email or any potentially identifying information to be disclosed. From there submissions are reviewed to make sure they comply with several page rules that prohibit stating specific names, confessing to extremely illegal crimes, and so on. 

Recognizing the growth of the page, Cobleskill Confessions has announced the trial run of a counterpart service that seeks to infuse image based confessions into their regular postings, which is expected to further blur the lines between harmless college fun and the darker, more repugnant 'confessions' that have come to define the page and the college's reputation. 

Schoharie County ARC Legacy of Love Gala Set for April 5th

Written By Editor on 3/28/14 | 3/28/14

Schoharie County ARC Legacy of Love Gala Set for April 5th

The Schoharie County Arc Legacy of Love Gala will take place from 7-10 p.m.  on Saturday, April 5th at the Days Inn & Suites of Schoharie. Lydia Kulbida, on-air News Personality for WTEN in Albany, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.  

The event will also feature musical entertainment by Patrick Michael Del Rosario, a Spirit Grab and the live drawing of the Las Vegas Getaway raffle (4 nights/5 day stay at the MGM Signature Hotel including a cash prize of $1250 to cover airfare and expenses).  

Over 100 items will take center stage in the area’s largest silent auction including: tickets for performances and sporting events, jewelry, home furnishings, tools, gift baskets, beauty products, overnight stays and day trips; an assortment of gift certificates for items such as massages, health and beauty services, auto maintenance, dining out, and a variety of other merchandise too good to miss.  

Doug Cater will serve as the Auctioneer for the Live Auction. This year’s live auction will feature an iPad air, a Belgard Fire Pit kit, a load of crushed stone, tickets to the ballet at SPAC, an overnight stay at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, a digital camcorder, a Herkimer Diamond Mine Adventure Package, tickets to the Glimmerglass Opera, tickets to a NY Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox game, and a gift certificate for the landscaping services of Cedar Ridge Landscaping. 

The cost to attend the Legacy of Love Gala is $35 per-person (in advance) or $45 at the door. Las Vegas Getaway raffle tickets are $30 each and a limited number is available. Event information is also available online at www.schohariearc.org  

All proceeds from the event and the raffle will benefit the Schoharie County ARC Foundation, which helps support un-funded and under-funded needs, supports and opportunities for people with developmental disabilities served by the Schoharie County ARC. 

The Legacy of Love is presented by Fenimore Asset Management, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, Sterling Insurance and SEFCU Insurance Agency. To make a donation or for more information on the Legacy of Love Gala, please contact Tammy Ruise, Public Relations/Fundraising Coordinator at (518) 295-8130 ext. 256. 

Cuttlebone Releases Music Video Filmed in Sharon Springs


Sharon Springs, New York - The capital area progressive rock band Cuttlebone has announced the release of their new music video "HELLo" on YouTube. The video was shot before a live audience on March 1st at the Smith & Empire building in Sharon Springs.

The music video, which can be viewed here or below, addresses the "issue of the American surveillance state and our loss privacy," according to an official press release issued by the band Thursday evening. "HELLo" will be released in addition to three other songs as part of an enhanced EP in early April.

  
"HELLo" is part of a larger multimedia project called "The Dog," which is a commentary on the role of the government in the lives of everyday people. The band, which is seeking support from the public to help them with funding to finish up the first leg of the project, plans on releasing "The Dog" in mid to late 2015. 

You can support Cuttlebone by helping the band reach their goal of raising $2,000 by Wednesday, April 2nd. As of this article's publication, the group has raised slightly less then 25% of funds necessary to keep the low-budget project afloat. 

Vote in Our New Poll: How do You View the County Board?

Written By Editor on 3/27/14 | 3/27/14


Here is a chance for our readers to weigh in on how they view the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors three months into their 2014 legislative session. Although several freshmen supervisors are still adjusting to the ways and habits of the legislative body, enough critical issues have been discussed to gauge the public's attitude toward their style of governance. 

The survey, which simply asks whether you view the county board favorably or unfavorably at this time, is located on the right-hand sidebar of the website and will remain open until Monday morning. 


Nite Train to Rock Caverns Palace Saturday, March 29

On Saturday, March 29, 2014  from 9 pm to 1 am, Nite Train will be rocking at the Palace.  

“The Nite Train Band with the High Voltage Horns celebrates the release of "Best Man", their rollicking new collection of 10 original tunes that should have the dance floor hopping all night long. Led by the band's Songwriter bassist-vocalist Ken Briggs. Nite Train has been cranking out hot blues sounds since 2003, but they took it to a new level last year. 

The proof is on the rip-snorting disc, which was recorded at Greg "Captain Squeeze" Speck's Stonewall Studios in Rensselaerville.  This is jumping stuff -- the kind of blues that definitely won't give you the blues. Party on!”.  – Greg Haymes, music critic, Albany Times Union.

“We are excited to have Nite Train join the lineup of area bands join the stage at the Caverns Palace,” said Nick Halampalakis “This Saturday night will be an exciting one for sure.

Opinion: County Administrator Won't Cut It


In the midst of two hours of back and forth arguing over the $2.6 million stream bank project budget shortfall this past Friday, Town of Broome Supervisor Bill Smith voiced his first public support for adopting a county administrator to provide additional oversight in Schoharie County government. Two months ago, the Schoharie News would have agreed; today, not a chance. 

There is no telling how we have reached this point in county affairs, as the tale varies depending on who you talk to in power, but one thing is for certain: there are no easy fixes to this crisis of mismanagement and corruption, and no band-aid solutions that will correct our county's faulty heading. 

Supervisors Milone and VanWormer should both be applauded for recognizing the status quo needs to be disrupted in some form on the county board, and that local government is in desperate need of real oversight after the Ethington and AECOM scandals. However, elevating one person - whether it be an administrator or an empowered Chairman - just wont cut it anymore.

The reason being is that nothing would change. Occupants of both proposed positions would be beholden to the county board for reappointment or reelection, and as such, they would be temperate in leadership as to not jeopardize their status. In addition, what's to say either position wouldn't become just a scapegoat of the very entrenched power they are being proposed to oversee?

Herein lies the crux of the county's dilemma - if we cannot trust the system we have to work, and neither of the proposed solutions would move the football beyond supplying the county board with a public scapegoat - then what other course of action is left but to consider taking the ultimate step and approving the creation of a county executive. 

Although the proposal is the bane of the board's existence, can we look at this objectively for one minute: is there any conceivable way having an elected, full-time county executive who would have the power to check the excesses of the Board of Supervisors, while monitoring the actions of department heads and ensuring all gears of county government work properly turn out bad? 

We don't think there is, but we could be wrong, of course. The editorial view of this internet newspaper has and always will be that reform is needed to sweep the ills of corruption, mismanagement and the public's lack of faith in local government out of the county system once and for all. But what do we know? We're just idealists... The only people who can change the system are the people of Schoharie County.  

Stamford's Historic Rexmere Claimed by Flames

Written By Editor on 3/26/14 | 3/26/14


After standing for over one hundred and fifteen years, hosting thousands upon thousands of guests at its height, the historic Rexmere Hotel stands no more in Stamford after being engulfed by flames yesterday morning. It took only a couple of hours for the seven story structure to succumb to the fire, despite the gallant efforts of hundreds of firefighters. 


The Watershed Post was on the scene, capturing haunting photographs of the once prized mansion and offering extensive background information about the structure, which was recently put on the market after being utilized for years as administrative offices by BOCES

Photo credit: Lissa Harris, Watershed Post
Among the estimated three hundred area firefighters on scene, several companies responded from Schoharie County, but little could be done to save the wooden tinderbox from the destructive flames that brought upon the official end to what was once a thriving network of wooden, majestic 19th century hotels that will never be seen again.

Dedication of Sharon Battle Monument Planned for Memorial Day


American Legion Post 1269 in Sharon Springs has announced plans to honor the memory of five American soldiers killed in the Battle of Sharon with a monument dedication on Memorial Day.

The men, part of Colonel Marinus Willett’s command of Mohawk Valley Militia, were killed on July 10, 1781 while fighting Tories and Indians led by John Dockstader. After discovering that nearby Currytown had been attacked and burned, Willett gathered about one hundred and fifty men and found Dockstader’s force camped in Cedar Swamp, about one mile east of modern day Sharon Springs. Although outnumbered two to one Willet managed to draw the enemy into an ambush and defeat them.  

The planned monument is being jointly funded by the American Legion and the Sharon Historical Society.  It will consist of a bronze plaque, fastened to a boulder, and bearing the names of the five American patriots killed.  The monument will be placed near Bowmaker Pond for easy accessibility since the actual battle site is near busy Route 20. The plaque will be on display at the annual Memorial Day ceremony which will take place in front of the Sharon Springs Central School on May 26, 2014 at 11:00 am.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the monument, which will be inscribed in memory Capt. Robert McKean, Pvt. Frederick Bellinger, Pvt. Adam Kittle, Pvt. Caspar Lerhri and Pvt. Ebenezzer McMicle, may send a donation to Sharon Springs American Legion Post 1269, PO Box 204, Sharon Springs, NY, 13459.

Middleburgh Basketball Player Always Shoots for His Personal Best

Albany, NY  – Capital Region Orthopedics is pleased  to announce a driven athlete that is committed to playing basketball and refuses to let anything keep him from performing at his Personal Best. 

Ryan Brown, now a sophomore, is a student at Middleburgh Central School. Ryan is passionate about playing basketball. He is a standout player not only for his talents, but also for his condition.

Ryan was born with amniotic band syndrome, which has affected his limbs. Ryan has only one foot and a total of six fingers.  He wears a a prosthetic foot, and he runs faster than most of his teammates. As a matter of fact, he even shattered his prosthetic foot during a basketball game, but he got right back into playing the game with a spare prosthetic. 

After high school, Ryan would like to continue his journey as a basketball player. His goal is to join the US Paralympics basketball team. Ryan’s coach says, “ There’s no limitations that he sets for himself.” With his driven attitude and willingness to succeed, Ryan is capable of doing anything at his Personal Best.

DCC to Hold 9th Annual Meeting

Written By Editor on 3/25/14 | 3/25/14

The Dam Concerned Citizens will be holding its ninth annual meeting on Tuesday, April 8th at 7pm at the Fultonham Union Church on Route 30. Representatives from the NYC DEP will speak on the Gilboa Dam renovation progress and the operations support tools that the organization is putting into place. There will be news about the three proposed USGS dam gauges along the Schoharie Creek. All are invited.

Local Mayors, SALT to Recognize National Service

On April 1, from noon until one at the Middleburgh Reformed Church, Schoharie Area Long Term (SALT) along with Mayors' Avitabile and Holmes will join more than 1,000 mayors across the country in a day of recognition to highlight the impact of national service on city challenges.

SALT, joined by Mayor Avitabile of Middleburgh and Mayor Holmes of Cobleskill will host a luncheon and press conference to recognize and thank our AmeriCorps VISTA members for their commitment to national service as well as our committed long term volunteers for their dedication to rebuilding our community.  SALT will also be kicking off a spring volunteer recruitment campaign for ongoing recovery work and to build up a pool of volunteers who will be ready to serve Schoharie County in the event of a future emergency.

The nation's mayors are increasingly turning to national service and volunteerism as a cost-effective strategy to address city challenges at a time of fiscal constraint.  Currently, eight AmeriCorps members serve in Schoharie County, proving vital support to Schoharie County residents by assisting with ongoing flood recovery efforts. Since 2012, over 23 AmeriCorps VISTA members have served with SALT.

The Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service is a national bipartisan effort to recognize the positive impact of national service in cities, to thank those who serve, and to encourage citizens to give back to their communities.

Jaycox Welcomes NY Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to County Clerk's Office

On Tuesday, March 18th, Barbara J. Fiala, the NY State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, came out to Schoharie to see first-hand the restored County Clerk’s Office and Department of Motor Vehicles. A former County Clerk herself, from Erie County, Commissioner Fiala has toured many Counties across the state and likes to stay in touch with those Clerks whose DMV offices are truly the “face-of-the-DMV” for so many customers across New York.

Commissioner Fiala was unable to attend the Open-House which Schoharie held last year, and County Clerk Indy Jaycox has kept an open invitation to the Commissioner to visit our scenic valley. “I am so glad to come back to Schoharie and see this beautifully renovated DMV office, particularly after witnessing the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irene,” said DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala. “I commend County Clerk Indy Jaycox, her staff and everyone else who was involved in this amazing recovery. You should all be tremendously proud of your perseverance over this disaster.”

Commissioner Fiala (middle) with Assistant Commissioner
Omarr Evans (left), and County Clerk Indy Jaycox (right)
Accompanying Commissioner Fiala was her Assistant Commissioner DMV/County Clerk Liaison, C. Omarr Evans, pictured here with the Commissioner and Indy Jaycox, the Schoharie County Clerk. Jaycox had over 19 years of service in the Schoharie Department of Motor Vehicles before becoming Schoharie’s 37th County Clerk.

Blenheim Considers Dissolving Town Judgeship


After serving thirteen years on the local bench, Town of Blenheim judge William Kniskern has handed in his resignation, effective March 31, to town officials. Kniskern, who was first elected as a write-in candidate in 2000 with only five votes, submitted his reasons for stepping down to Supervisor Shawn Smith earlier this month. 

At a special board meeting held on March 14 to announce the resignation, members of the Blenheim town council weighed their options moving forward. Initially the consensus was to advertise the vacancy and accept resumes for the board to consider, but upon further discussion town officials voted to explore the possibility of consolidating the court with an adjoining town.

Supervisor Smith, who made the adopted motion, told the Schoharie News that, "if we can do this it should save tax payers in both towns money." He would go on to add that in addition to Blenheim shedding the cost of the court, "the other town should be able to increase their revenue without any additional costs."

It remains to seen how Blenheim handles judge Kniskern's resignation and whether the town will consider dissolving his position altogether. Answers to that question may be available at the small community's April 7th town board meeting. 

Lots of Finger Pointing, But No Action on Stream Bank Project

Written By Editor on 3/24/14 | 3/24/14


Hours of discussion yielded no action, but afforded Supervisors and AECOM the ample opportunity to throw plenty of blame around in the wake of last week's report detailing the county's stream bank remediation project is facing a significant budget shortfall amid allegations of unapproved contract alterations by county officials. 

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Upon learning the project was approximately $2.6 million in the hole Friday afternoon, Chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors Tony VanGlad sounded a conciliatory tone that, "somehow the board has to find the ways and means to get this project going." He would later go on to add, "hopefully by the end of this month, we'll have an answer."

Chairman VanGlad's comments came after an hour of contentious back and forth between supervisors, AECOM representative Patty Flores, and County Treasurer Bill Cherry over the project's unexpected budget shortfall facing the county and how exactly events unfolded as they did to get them to this point. 

Supervisor Milone kicked off debate by questioning the contract's alleged alterations made past the term of then-Chairman Harold Vroman, a concern that was forcefully addressed by County Attorney Mike West who stated that, "it was signed well before the end of his term." Unmoved, Mr. Milone and others questioned why the contract was altered to begin with from a fixed percentage to a work based fee. 

Ms. Flores, speaking on AECOM's behalf, blamed both a lack of communication between interested parties and the board's lack of knowledge in the original rfp as to how the project reached this point in the first place. She would later state that her firm never proposed lump sum figures for projects of this nature, upon which she conceded there were additional costs added in the aftermath of last spring's flooding.

Visually frustrated over Ms. Flores statements, County Treasurer Bill Cherry rose to defend the county board's actions by stating supervisors had voted to enter into the contract with AECOM at 15% of costs, or $3.2 million, and that both the county board and himself have, "been under this impression that it was 100% covered." The project's original cost was estimated at $23 million and was expected to be completely reimbursable by the federal and state governments. 

Supervisor Skowfoe then expressed his disappointment over AECOM's lack of communication and at one point addressed Ms. Flores directly and stated, "shame on you for not being straight forward." Seconds later, Supervisor Jordan would go on to allege the county's project contacts have known of the shortfall longer then the board has.

Stating AECOM was assured all of the funding, Ms. Flores placed the project's future in the county board's hands by commenting that her firm could only be as effective as the county enabled them to be. She would conclude her statement by adding that regardless of how they had gotten there, "at the end of the day, we need to be paid."

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The Board of Supervisors would not publicly address the issue again after recessing for lunch. They did enter into executive session with co-project managers Alicia Terry and Dan Crandall, in addition to County Treasurer Bill Cherry, to presumably discuss more sensitive aspects of the issue. No action was taken, but Ms. Terry was reportedly seen smiling as she left the session. 

Poll: Majority Back Caverns Casino

In Schoharie County's current economic climate, a casino is an acceptable deal to most, according to the latest Schoharie News poll. In our unscientific poll, over the last week, a clear majority back a casino going to the Howe Caverns complex. This comes just two weeks after rejecting a general idea of a casino by a narrower margin.


Would you support a casino at Howe Caverns?

Yes: 204 - 66%

No: 103 - 33%
Undecided: 4 - 1%
Total: 311


By an almost two-to-one margin, readers back the project, coming after the County Board made an initial step to support such a project.


Cobleskill Police Blotter (March 24, 2014)

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

Monday, March 17, 2014
    
    At 10:51 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Philip Ruckdeschel, 50, of Cobleskill, NY, for Harassment.  He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released.  He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on March 25th at 5:00 p.m.

     At 1:04 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Kevin J. Pierce, 24, of Cobleskill, NY, for Unlawful Possession of Marihuana.  He was issued an appearance ticket and released. He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on April 1st at 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

     At 2:10 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Jacob I. Armlin, 20, of Blenheim, NY, for Unlawful Possession of Marihuana.  He was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on April 1st at 5:00 p.m.

Friday, March 21, 2014

     At 2:30 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Michael P. Wilson, 27, of Cobleskill, NY, on an Arrest Warrant for Assault 2nd.  He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and released.  He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on March 25th at 5:00 p.m.
           
Saturday, March 22, 2014

     At 10:05 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Sarah E. Harbison, 19, of Cobleskill, NY, for Unlawful Possession of Marihuana.  She was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on April 15th at 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

    At 5:33 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Aboubakare Kakord, 22, of Corona, NY, for Criminal Trespass.  He was issued an appearance ticket and released.  He is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on April 8th at 5:00 p.m.

County Fire Fighters Complete Training Course

Written By Editor on 3/23/14 | 3/23/14

Members from multiple fire departments from across the County and outside have undergone training. In a post on the Schoharie County Fire Wire Facebook  page, the group successfully completed the NYS Scene Support Operations class. Firefighters from Carlisle, Cobleskill, Esperance, Jefferson, Richmondville, West Fulton and Stamford Heights participated.


Photo credit Schoharie Fire Wire.

6th Easter Bunny Photo Shoot to Support Local Wildlife

The New York Wildlife Rescue Center is sponsoring their sixth annual Easter Bunny Photo Shoot fundraising event on Saturday, March 29th at Middleburgh Hardware located on 316 Main Street in the Village of Middleburgh. 

Activities will start at eleven and last until two, during which you can have your photo taken with a bunny or lamb and learn something new about our local wildlife. Live Birds of Prey will also be on location for viewing and question/answer sessions. 

In addition to cute family photos, the event is a wonderful opportunity to support the Middleburgh based non-profit animal rescue, which relies on private funding to support all of its releasable and non-releasable wildlife. For more information call 518-827-7760.

Volunteers Help in Three Flood Projects

Written By Editor on 3/22/14 | 3/22/14

Volunteers in Middleburgh helped fix up three projects in town. The cooperation between the SALT, the Village of Middleburgh, and the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brought together over a dozen volunteers. This group assisted in fixing up three office spaces on Railroad Avenue.






Photo credit Sheila Donegan, SALT Community and Business Development VISTA.


With MOSA Dissolution Looming, County Approves Casella Resouce Solutions to Operate Transfer Station


Following the New York State Senate's vote to dissolve MOSA on Thursday, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors approved a five year contract with Casella Resource Solutions to manage the county's transfer station in Cobleskill with unanimous support from the county board. 

The contract, which is still under negotiation, would have Casella managing the daily operations and regular maintenance of the facility, while the county would maintain the operating permit and perform major repairs; such as roof and foundation work. 

There will be little to no change for local customers as the contract will neither alter existing operating hours nor limit any form of waste management. Casella has already set minimum operating fees, but the final rates will be determined by the county when the insurance companies issue their quotes.

In addition, according to Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry, tipping fees are expected to remain the same and cover, "most, and perhaps all, county costs associated with owning the former MOSA facility."

The State Assembly is expected to vote on MOSA's dissolution early next week, which could come as early as April 30th if Otsego County has their way. In other action, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to enter into a five year landfill post-closure contract with neighboring Montgomery County. 

In Reversal, Board Supports Local Casino


One week after representatives of Howe Caverns briefed local legislators, state officials, and others on their plans to compete for one of New York State's seven recently approved casinos, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors reversed their close February decision against the concept of hosting one in county with a 13-3 vote in favor of the idea Friday morning. 

Cobleskill Stone General Manager Chris Tague spoke on behalf of Howe Caverns, telling board members that, "we're not solely here... to sell Howe Caverns, but to open up development of Schoharie County," many supervisors, however, questioned the resolution's original language that offered county support for a specific site. 

Among those questioning the original language were Supervisors Buzon, Milone, and Skowfoe, all of whom supported last month's casino resolution but felt it was inappropriate for the board to support one potential location over another, with Mr. Milone stating that he did not believe the county should, "be interested in earmarking for one specific entity."

After almost an hour of prolonged discussion, supervisors voted down the resolution in support of Howe Caverns' project and moved to reconsider last month's failed measure that simply expressed the county's willingness to New York State to host a casino in principle. In response, several lawmakers personally opposed to the concept proposed a public hearing be held on the matter to salve their uneasiness.

The result of which was a confusing trio of votes that saw the county board include a public hearing in the resolution, followed by a motion to set a public hearing for next month, and then finally they moved to take the public hearing out of the resolution altogether. The crowd of public officials and residents alike grew restless over this fifteen minute period of dysfunction. 

In the end, despite the confusion and different viewpoints, only three supervisors voted against Schoharie County hosting a casino for a second time: Barbic of Seward, Bradt of Carlisle, and Federice of Conesville. When asked why he opposed the resolution, Mr. Bradt said that he based his vote on his town's opposition to last year's statewide ballot referendum, and that he, "had to vote to represent the people of Carlisle."

A public hearing will be held next month on the matter.

Flood Grant Applications Due April 11

Written By Editor on 3/21/14 | 3/21/14

Anyone interested in applying for aid through the NY Rising program has about three weeks left to do so. The program, which aims to give grants to homeowners and business owners to pay for previous or current damage from 2011's flooding is closing its window. The program has supplied assistance to residents across the state, including those of Schoharie County.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying, call 1-855-697-7263 or visit www.stormrecovery.ny.gov.

Middleburgh, SALT, College Team Up to Repair Flood Damage

SALT, the Village of Middleburgh, and a SUNY Oneonta fraternity are teaming up to fix up flood damage in Middleburgh's business district. In the collaboration organized through the Mayor's office, the three groups have agreed to fix up two office spaces along Railroad Avenue that remain gutted since the 2011 flood. SALT is providing the materials, worth up to $5,000, Phi Kappa Psi fraternity of SUNY Oneonta is providing labor, and the Mayor's office is coordinating the efforts.

The repairs will start on Saturday, March 22nd at 10 until 4pm. Multiple volunteer days are expected before the offices are completed. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Mayor Matthew Avitabile at 763-6854.

This comes after similar arrangements with the Village, building owners, and SALT to work on three other projects in the business district over the last year.

Local Villages Elect New Trustees Amid Low Turnout

Written By Editor on 3/20/14 | 3/20/14


With turnout failing to reach fifty in either local community, a small number of residents in the Villages of Middleburgh and Richmondville came out Tuesday afternoon to vote in their respective municipality's unopposed trustee elections.

Village of Middleburgh

Lillian Bruno - 44
Sheryl Adams* - 43
Write-in votes - 1

Village of Richmondville

Milan Jackson* - 29
Stephen Shore - 26

Neither Village Board is expected to be significantly altered, as both political newcomers (Bruno, Shore) have already served their respective communities in various ways, while the incumbents (Adams, Jackson) were both appointed to fill vacancies by the existing board's before seeking the position in their own right.

*- Denotes incumbent


State Senate Approves MOSA Dissolution

ALBANY, 03/20/14 – State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I- Oneonta) today announced senate approval of legislation he sponsors, allowing the dissolution of the Montgomery, Otsego, Schoharie Solid Waste Authority (MOSA).  Senator Seward’s bill (S.6181) follows a home rule request from the three member counties and the authority.

“MOSA was created following a home-rule request.  Now, after a quarter-century, it is appropriate to honor a similar request to dissolve the authority,” said Senator Seward.  “With the service agreement governing the authority scheduled to expire in April 2014, the time is now to take this step.”

Along with formally ending the solid waste authority, the bill also includes a plan for the distribution of the authority’s assets and liabilities among the three member counties.

“Each member county has put in a great deal of time and effort planning for the future solid waste disposal needs of their residents.  This state legislation will allow them to move forward,” Seward concluded.

The bill has been sent to the assembly where companion legislation, A.8406, has been introduced by Assemblyman Bill Magee.

AECOM, Casino Likely to Dominate County Board Meeting Friday


The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors will have its plate full during tomorrow's regularly scheduled legislative session, in which board members are expected to both vote on whether to throw county support behind the Howe Caverns casino proposal, and to address the emerging AECOM scandal publicly for the first time since the Schoharie News and the Times Journal broke the story earlier this week.

Supervisors will convene at nine in the morning and the meeting will last as long as necessary. As of Wednesday evening, no official agenda has been published on the county website. 




Vote in Our Poll: Would You Support a Casino at Howe Caverns?

Schoharie News readers may have turned down the general idea of a casino in our poll two weeks ago, but with an actual project making a pitch, the calculus may have changed. Make sure to vote in our sidebar and let us know-- would you support a casino coming into the Howe Caverns complex?

Gallupville Fish Fry this Saturday

Written By Editor on 3/19/14 | 3/19/14

The Gallupville Fire Department Auxiliary is holding a fundraiser fish fry this Saturday, March 22nd. The event, from 5-7pm is a take-out meal for just $9. All proceeds assist the School House Refurbishment Fund.
Photo Credit: Schoharie Count Fire Wire Facebook Page

Seward Meets With Schoharie County American Legion to Discuss Jobs for Veterans, SAFE Act

ALBANY, 03/18/14 -- State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) met Tuesday afternoon in Albany with American Legion representatives from Schoharie County during the American Legion Department of New York annual legislative day.

“Our proud servicemen and women make great sacrifices defending our rights and freedoms,” said Senator Seward.  “I was pleased to discuss their concerns and learn more about legislation supported by the American Legion and our 1.7 million New York State veterans.”

From left, Senator James L. Seward, Schoharie County Commander Gary Schacher, Schoharie County Veterans’ Service Officer Eilene Fisher, Michael Saccento (Middleburgh Post 248), Myron Kniskern (Cobleskill Post 57), Paul Todd (Sharon Springs Post 1269).  
Senator Seward is a co-sponsor of the “NY Jobs for Heroes Program” which passed the senate overwhelmingly earlier this year.  The legislation, which is among the American Legion’s priority bills, creates a state contract preference for service-connected disabled veteran owned small businesses.

“The ‘NY Jobs for Heroes Program’ will mean careers and new opportunities for our returning disabled veterans and their families.  After sacrificing to protect and secure the American Dream our brave servicemen and women should be able to realize that dream themselves,” Seward added.

The American Legion is also calling for the repeal of the NY-SAFE act.  Senator Seward is a co-sponsor of multiple senate bills that would repeal the NY-SAFE Act and additional legislation that would repeal the anti-gun provisions of the law, but leave in place stricter penalties for crimes committed with firearms and measures to deal with the dangerously mentally ill.

“I voted against the NY-SAFE Act because it is an extreme measure which punishes law abiding citizens like our veterans while failing to confront the root causes of gun violence.  I proudly stand with the American Legion in opposition to this act which infringes on the very rights they fought to defend,” Seward concluded.

AECOM Bombshell: Forged Contract Could Cost County Millions, Imperil Stream Remediation

Written By Editor on 3/18/14 | 3/18/14


For fifteen months the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors has been operating under the impression that the county's $23 million stream bank remediation project being administered by the engineering firm AECOM was on track, both financially and construction wise, based on regular monthly briefings provided by the company's on-project representative Patty Flores.

Until last week, that was.

County officials learned in a closed door meeting that not only has AECOM requested anywhere from $1.2-$3 million in additional payments on top of the county board's already-approved $3.2 million agreement with the global design and construction firm, or else they will walk off the project, but that the official contract they came to terms with and signed in early 2013 no way reflects the board's original motion.

The revised version, which was never filed with the county board and may not have been approved by the county attorney, was altered without legal authorization to base the contractual agreement on works performed rather than a fixed percentage of costs. Changes were allegedly made by co-project manager and county Director of Planning and Development Alicia Terry and then initialed by former Board Chairman Harold Vroman.

AECOM's bombshell admission, which paints an unfavorable picture of two county leaders working outside the parameters of the board's approved decision of December 11th, 2012, moved by Gilboa Supervisor Tony VanGlad, has sent local officials scrambling to fill the money gap left by the unauthorized contract. The original $23 million price tag was carefully structured to ensure the county would be reimbursed for all costs by federal and state offsets on a 75/25% basis, a framework that is now imperil.

In addition, Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry told the Schoharie News that the county could face even more financial heartache if the stream bank project's bondholder reneges and demands full payment. Cherry explained that because the original bond was constructed under false pretenses, the county could be saddled with millions in debt, which would then probably be pushed on property owners byway of significant tax increases.

With the project's construction phase set to begin within the next few weeks, supervisors will have their hands full at the upcoming county board meeting on Friday as they will have to decide both how to respond to the allegedly questionable actions of Ms. Terry and Supervisor Vroman that led to this growing scandal, and how to ensure its completion without adding potentially millions in debt. 

Summit Fire Department Spaghetti Dinner March 30th

The Summit Fire Department and Summit Conservation Club are holding a spaghetti dinner on Sunday. March 30th to benefit a local family. The event, that starts at 1pm costs just $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Photo credit: Schoharie County Fire Wire Facebook Page

Middleburgh, Richmondville Set for Quiet Village Elections


Residents in the Villages of Middleburgh and Richmondville are expected to turn out in small numbers this afternoon, as their respective communities head to the polls to vote in a slew of uncontested Village Trustee elections. Citizens will have the opportunity to vote in both municipalities from noon until nine tonight.

Middleburgh

Two candidates are seeking two four year terms on the Middleburgh Village Board. Both seats are uncontested and their terms will expire in March 2018.
  • Sheryl Adams is an incumbent Village Board member who was originally appointed to fill Mayor Matthew Avitabile's unexpired term in 2012 and was then subsequently elected in her own right last March. 
  • Lillian Bruno has held no public office before, but she has represented the Village of Middleburgh on the NY Rising CRP Committee since the summer and is employed as a planner by Schoharie County. 
Richmondville

Two candidates are seeking two two year terms on the Richmondville Village Board. Both seats are uncontested and their terms will expire in March 2016. 
  • Milan Jackson is an incumbent Village Trustee who was appointed to the position in September 2013 following a board member's resignation. 
  • Stephen Shore has held no elected office to this point, but he has served as Chairman of the Village of Richmondville's Planning Board since 2011.

Cobleskill Police Blotter (March 18, 2014)

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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

     At 2:00 a.m. Cobleskill Police issued a summons to Quade F. Kirk, 20, of Ava, NY, for Possession of Alcohol by a person under the age of 21.  He was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on April 1st at 5:00 p.m.
   
Friday, March 14, 2014

     At 1:48 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Jennifer M. Loeber, 30, of Cobleskill, NY, for DWI, Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08%, and 1 other vehicle and traffic ticket.  She was released and is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on April 1st at 5:00 p.m.

     At around 8:05 a.m. the Cobleskill Police Department received a call about a suspicious male in the area of 161 Elm St., who seen running from that location into the woods. Patrols began an immediate search of the area and located a male subject attempting to hide in-between some vehicles that were parked in the driveway of 161 Elm St. The male was taken into custody without incident and was identified as Brent D. Speeding.
     At 8:30 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Brent D. Speedling, 35, of Howes Cave, NY, for Criminal Contempt 2nd.  He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail on $2,000 Bail / $4,000 Bond.  He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on March 18th at 5:00 p.m.
           
Saturday, March 15, 2014

     At 2:03 a.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Robyn Federico, 31, of Cobleskill, NY, for Unlawful Possession of Marihuana.  She was issued an appearance ticket and released.  She is to appear in Cobleskill Town Court on April 1st at 5:00 p.m.

     At 4:03 p.m. Cobleskill Police arrested Joseph Cooper, 27, Homeless, on a Bench Warrant for failing to appear for a court appearance.  He was arraigned in Cobleskill Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail on $500 Bail / $1,000 Bond.  He is to return to Cobleskill Town Court on March 18th at 5:00p.m.

Artisans' Gallery to Host Bubblerations this Saturday

Written By Editor on 3/17/14 | 3/17/14


As part of National Bubble Week, the Artisans' Gallery will be hosting "Bubblerations," an event honoring the warm weather past-time and the official coming of spring to winter weary New York. It is scheduled for Saturday, March 22 from 11 am-3 pm at the gallery's shop on 322 Main Street in the Village of Middleburgh. 


Inside the gallery both adults and kids will have the opportunity to compete in the bubble gum blowing contest, with original bazooka bubble gum; while outside the kids will have a chance to pose for the bubble wand photo contest, with winners being decided by which photos receive the most votes on the shop's facebook page

Easter Egg Museum Expands Open Hours

In another step forward for Schoharie, the Easter Egg Museum is expanding its hours over the coming months. According to a post on the Schoharie Promotional Assocation's Facebook page, the museum will be open during the weekends between April 4th and April 20th. The profits from the opening will go towards the Schoharie Free Library. The location will be open between 10-5 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On Easter Sunday, the museum will open from 12pm-5pm.

For information about volunteering, interested people can contact Debbie Paden at 295-8184.

Plurality Supports Fracking in Schoharie County

With over one hundred and fifty votes cast since Monday, a narrow plurality of Schoharie News readers support the idea of fracking - in one form or another - within Schoharie County. The result is surprising to say the least, given the strong local opposition to the Constitution Pipeline that was expressed in a similar survey last December.

Do you support fracking in Schoharie County?

Yes, no matter what                 - 19 (12.6%)
Yes, if environmentally safe     - 57 (37.7%)
No                                            - 72 (47.7%)
Undecided                                - 3 (1.9%)

The poll's margin was narrow at just four votes, and it reflects the county's divisive split on the contentious issue, but opponents of the controversial method of natural gas extraction should feel comforted that overall 84% of voters opposed any initiative that would be harmful to the environment, a major concern at the forefront of their fight. 

Free Health Screenings in Middleburgh April 9th

Written By Editor on 3/16/14 | 3/16/14

From the National Bank of Coxsackie:
The Cancer Services Program of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties is offering FREE health screenings to women 40 and older who are uninsured. There will be a FREE screening at The National Bank of Coxsackie Middleburgh Branch on Wednesday, April 9th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 1-888-345-0225 for your appointment.

Howe Caverns Casino? Owner Makes Pitch to Local Leaders

Written By Editor on 3/15/14 | 3/15/14


A casino might be coming to Schoharie County after all.

In a meeting between representatives of Howe Caves Development Corp., LLC and Senator James Seward, Assemblyman Pete Lopez, members of Congressman Chris Gibson's staff, as well as other local officials earlier this week, Cobleskill businessman Emil Galasso, who wasn't present at the meeting but whose daughter and staff was, announced Howe Caverns' interest in hosting one of the seven casinos approved in last year's statewide ballot measure on their sprawling property.

Howe Caverns
Mr. Galasso, who purchased the popular natural attraction in 2007 with businessman Charles Wright, touted the property's 330 acres of shovel ready development approved land in a press release filed Friday evening, in which he stated that after, "long consideration, he and members of his team have officially decided to pursue the process for the Howe Caverns property to be considered."

Adding that Schoharie County has suffered economically from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee's effects in August 2011, Mr. Galasso believes the proposal could spur local job growth, infrastructure repairs, and restore economic value to the county and surrounding areas, if approved. 

Pubic sentiment, however, is mixed on the idea of welcoming a casino into the county. Local residents approved the statewide ballot measure by just two hundred votes last fall, while the Board of Supervisors voted down a resolution last month that would have signaled the county's willingness to host a gaming venue. In addition, 53% of Schoharie News readers opposed the idea in a recent survey

Thanking local leaders for attending the meeting, Mr. Galasso concluded that based on his forty-five years of experience as a businessman, he found that in comparison to other proposed sites that Howe Caverns had to, "make the most sense due to its location, economic activity, opportunity for business development and beauty of the Schoharie Valley."
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