Supers Prolong Jail Debate

Written By Michael on 6/30/15 | 6/30/15

By Timothy Knight

SCHOHARIE - Faced with a string of disgruntled residents on Friday morning, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors balked on settling the jail location dispute, choosing instead to prolong the debate.

Six residents from the Town of Schoharie addressed the county board consecutively, calling for the supervisors to re-open the search process to find a new location for the recently approved relocated Public Safety Facility.

Commenting that there is no doubt you are driving into a historic village along Route 30, Schoharie resident Ruthanne Wilkenson told supervisors "First impressions are important," of which she expressed worries that having the jail at Seebold Farms would hurt that impression.

The designated primary site for the relocation of the county jail, the Seebold property (pictured bottom left) has come under fire for its position just before the entrance to the Village of Schoharie, leaving some residents to caution that it will tarnish tourist appeal to the valley beyond.

Offering that a jail is not "what we want to see in the gateway to the Schoharie Valley," resident Lynn Basselan further said that FEMA allows for the extension of a project's time line, currently set at 42 months, if there is justification, which she argued there is.
However, site documentation reveals that although the jail would be placed in the center of Seebold Farms, with a tree barrier on at least three sides, the secondary site at Zicha Road (pictured bottom right) would be located within yards of Route 7 and would be visible from I-88 to motorists.

Alleging that there was neither transparency nor community involvement, resident Jim Nass was pointed in his remarks, where he said, "The process for selecting the jail site was inherently flawed."

Nass would later question why the Seebold property, valued at approximately $175,000, was being purchased for almost $400,000 when the county has an abundance of vacant land.

Warning that there is at least some risk of jeopardizing the approved $37 million in funding from FEMA if an extension is sought on the agreed upon project time line of 42 months, Flood Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry did comment "There's no guarantee that the reimbursement of prisoners will continue."

Typically not an approved reimbursement by FEMA, the federal agency made an exemption in Schoharie County's case after the county's appeal for a temporary jail to be constructed was denied. Covering 70% of prisoner housing costs, FEMA has saved the county millions of dollars since 2011.
With at least three and a half years until the new facility is built, Cherry estimated that there will be a additional $3.6 million in costs to house the county's prisoners in Albany County, $2.5 million of which is slated to be covered by FEMA.

Few on the county board were satisfied, however. Questioning what the search criteria was for selecting and scoring the potential jail properties, Wright Supervisor Amber Bleau requested that a special board meeting be held to review that information.

Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon concurred, commenting that he "was not aware at that the time it (approving the primary jail site) would circumvent a public hearing."

Cobleskill Supervisor Leo McAllister, a supporter of the Seebold site, was open to holding the special meeting, but only so long as it was held immediately, so as to not jeopardize the hard work that went into securing the approved relocation.

Voting 10-4 in favor of holding the special meeting, supervisors met again on Monday night at 6:30 to further discuss the jail issue.
Supervisors Barbic of Seward, Bradt of Carlisle, Federice of Conesville, and Smith of Blenheim voted against the special meeting, with Mr. Smith arguing that it would only cost the county more money to continue delaying the project, which has recently approved by the Commission of Corrections.

Historic Bull's Head Inn Re-opens in Cobleskill

Written By Michael on 6/29/15 | 6/29/15

By Timothy Knight

COBLESKILL - Established in 1802 by Lambert Lawyer, the Bull's Head Inn is one of the oldest and most treasured landmarks in the Village of Cobleskill, where centuries of history and myth have come to define the fine dining restaurant.

It's that sense of history that led Chris Guldner and his wife Mary Sagendorf (pictured right) to purchase the Inn in 2012 despite it being in need of renovations after sitting unoccupied for several years.

Asking himself at the time what his wife and he were going to do down the road, Guldner had an eye on opening something in food service. He had previously owned a successful small chain of deli restaurants in Saratoga County.

However, it wasn't until after Chris saw that the Bull's Head Inn was for sale online that he realized it was financially feasible to purchase the historic landmark, which Mary said "was difficult to watch it deteriorate and decline," as a lifelong resident of Schoharie County.

Although he had worked in historic restoration and the Seabees while enlisted in the U.S. Navy, Gulder didn't expect the process, which just concluded with the Bull's Head Inn reopening a week and a half ago, to take years of work to full repair and bring to code.

Commenting that they are "glad to be apart of the solution," not only have Chris and Mary restored a cornerpiece of Cobleskill's past, but they have created thirty full-time and part-time jobs that range from cooks and dishwashers to waitstaff.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner service, the Inn includes a newly built pub on the first floor of the structure, while work continues on the historic Cellar Tavern. The couple hopes to open lunch service to the public within the next month.

Featuring a wide assortment of appetizers, burgers, desserts, salads, sandwiches, seafood, and Bull's Head Inn specials, the menu offers something for everyone from the Major's Burger to satisfy your meaty desires to the Settler's Seafood Bucket for a taste of the sea.

Chris would point out that "this isn't about Chris and Mary - it's about the community," and, "We're just honored we had this opportunity."

Believing that patrons will be delighted by the atmosphere and quality of the food, Chris stated "It's not just a restaurant, it is a community gathering place" that people can come and socialize at.

Located at 105 Park Place, the Bull's Head Inn is open for dinner service 5-9 pm Tuesday to Thursday, 5-10 pm Friday and Saturday, and 4-8 pm on Sunday. The pub will remain open until 9 pm Tuesday to Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and close up at ten on Sunday.

Schoharie Agricultural District #3 Under Review

Schoharie County Agricultural District #3 is up for its 8 year review. This district, originally formed on September 27, 1974, encompasses over 2,900 parcels, includes over 72,000 acres and is situated in the Towns of Carlisle, Cobleskill, Esperance, Richmondville, Schoharie, Seward, Sharon and Summit. It is the County’s largest Ag District, and encompasses some of the County’s best agricultural land.

All Landowners in the District will receive an Agricutural District Review Worksheet in the mail. In order to document the impact of agriculture in this district, it is important to complete the Worksheet. The information will be compiled and forwarded with additional supporting documents to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Worksheets need to be returned by July 13, 2015.

In addition to the survey, if you have comments or would like to suggest modifications to the District, the County is holding a 30 day public comment period on the district. Comments are being accepted from June 12, 2015 to July 13, 2015. A copy of the map showing the entire district is available for review at the County Clerk’s office, 284 Main Street, Schoharie, NY, or on the County’s web site at
http://www.schohariecounty-ny.gov/CountyWebSite/Planning/planningservices.html. Comments and modifications can be sent to Sheryl Largeteau, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, PO Box 429, Schoharie, NY 12157.

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors is required to hold a public hearing on this Ag District. The hearing is anticipated on August 21, 2015 at 10:00 am during the regular Board of Supervisors meeting on the third floor of the County Office Building, 284 Main Street, Schoharie, New York.

Benefits for Farm Operations in Agricultural Districts in New York State:

• the mandate that State Agencies, as a matter of policy, encourage the maintenance of viable farming in Agricultural districts,
• the limitation on the exercise of eminent domain and other public acquisitions and the advance of public funds for certain construction activities,
• the limitation on the siting of a solid waste management facility on land in agricultural production,
• the limitation on the power to impose benefit assessments, special ad valorem levies or other rates or fees in certain improvement districts or benefit areas,
• the requirement that local governments, when exercising their powers to enact and administer comprehensive plans and local laws, ordinances, rules or regulations do so in a manner that realizes the intent of the Agricultural Districts Law and does not unreasonably restrict or regulate farm operations, and
• the requirement that applications for certain planning and zoning actions impacting on a farm operation within an agricultural district or on lands within five hundred feed of a farm operation within an agricultural district, include an agricultural data statement designed to allow the review agency to evaluate the possible impacts of the proposed action on the functioning of the farm operation.

Additionally, the Agricultural Districts Law establishes a land classification system used to assign agricultural assessment values to qualified properties both in and outside of a district, creates a process for the review of agricultural practices, discourages private nuisance lawsuits due to an agricultural practice which is determined to be sound, provides for advisory opinions as to whether particular land uses are agricultural in nature and requires disclosure to prospective grantees of real property that the property is in an agricultural district.

If you have questions about the Ag District Program, or other matters related to review of Ag District # 3, please contact Alicia Terry, Senior Planner at her office number 295–8770 or email at aliciaterry@co.schoharie.ny.us.

Sheriff's Office Announces Drug Busts

Written By Michael on 6/28/15 | 6/28/15

By Schoharie News Staff

SCHOHARIE - The Schoharie County Sheriff's Office has made several arrests stemming from an ongoing drug investigation.

On April 24th the Sheriff's Office arrested Melissa Teich, 20, of Carlisle on charges of three counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. Teich was selling controlled substances from her residence in the Town of Carlisle, she was arraigned in Carlisle Town Court and remanded to jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bail or $30,000 bond.

On March 26th the Sheriff's Office arrested Paul St. Piere Jr, 58, of Dorloo after a search warrant was executed on his residence. St. Piere was charged with Unlawful Possession of Marihuana in the Third Degree, and three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. St. Piere was arraigned and released to return to the Town of Seward Court.

The Sheriff's Office and the New York State Police CNET Unit are continuing their investigationa within Schoharie County.

Animal Shelter to Host 1st Annual Fore the Animals Golf Tournament on August 15

By Schoharie News Staff

HOWES CAVE - The Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley has announced that it will host its 1st Annual Fore the Animals Golf Tournament on Saturday, August 15, 2015 at the Cobleskill Golf and Country Club.

It is a fundraiser for the Shelter and they are seeking items to be used in a raffle. They will be collecting individual items, gift cards, memorabilia, and gift baskets that they can raffle off and raise money to help support their mission.

In addition, they are offering a wide variety of sponsorship opportunities for the day of the event. These include:

• Top Dog Sponsor – $550 Includes 4 golfers plus a pin flag and tee sign
• Cool Cat Sponsor – $275 Includes 2 golfers plus a tee sign
• Tee Sign Sponsor - $100
• Pin Flag Sponsor - $100
• Tee Sign and Pin Flag Combo - $175

All raffle donations must be received by August 1st. You may drop them off at the Shelter during normal business hours Wednesday – Sunday: 1pm – 5pm at 304 Howes Cave Road, Howes Cave, NY.

If you need your donation picked up or have other questions about the event, please contact Todd Smith at 234-1872 or Maggie Jackman Pryor at 231-2076.

Green Wolf Patio Grand Opening

Written By Michael on 6/27/15 | 6/27/15

MIDDLEBURGH - Green Wolf Brewing Co's footprint is about to grow a little bit bigger in the Village of Middleburgh this coming weekend with the official grand opening of its beer garden and patio, located in the parking lot behind their building on the corner of Main Street and Baker Avenue.

Set for this Friday through Sunday, June 19-21, the patio's grand opening coincides with the start of summer, and offers Green Wolf's craft beer enthusiasts with an outside environment to enjoy their beverages.

Featuring beer, food, and fun as part of its beer garden's grand opening this weekend, Green Wolf will be holding raffles on Friday and food will be offered as well. Furthermore, the brewery's tap room will soon be expanding its hours of operations to Thursday evenings.

Unofficially open since the 1780 Beer Challenge in early May, the beer garden and patio has become an instant hit with Green Wolf customers in as much as the brewery has with the community at large since its opening in December.

Pet Talk Column: Hedgehogs

By Lorraine Fancher

Have you ever thought about having a pet but just couldn’t see all the clean-up of fur from cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.; but still wanted something to cuddle?

Then, you may consider a hedgehog. These spiny little creatures are actually quite cuddly despite their quilled exterior. These African and Southern European native mammals, are nocturnal, solitary creatures, and prefer to be a single pet. They are naturally clean and have very little odor. They like to be active but enjoy a quiet peaceful setting. Children tend to be overwhelming for them and usually end up scaring them. They have a unique ability of curling up into a ball of quills when scared or resting. This quilled armor protects them and helps repel water. Beneath this tough exterior lies a sweet-natured, adorable, inquisitive, soft little animal. They have a long pointy nose with a charcoal tip and small dark, round eyes set against a very fine textured, creamy beige coat. The variety of hedgehogs seen in pet stores is usually of the African Pygmy variety and grow to roughly 6-9 inches. In captivity, their lifespan is usually about 4-6 years but have been known to live as long as 10 years.

They are very easy to care for and after initial set up; are relatively inexpensive to keep in comparison to most other pets, including fish. They require a large cage; over-sized is best. This provides them with ample space to move around and exercise. They like multiple levels, tunnels, and balls to play with. They are incredibly entertaining and really love to play. Their diet is protein based and can be from a hedgehog pelleted food or dry cat food. They also can be fed canned cat or dog food for moisture as long as it’s chicken or beef variety.

They love treats of crickets and meal worms and even enjoy fruits and veggies like, peas, carrots, grapes and apples. A stopper bottle for water is sufficient and also gives them something to play with. Toys and closed wheels are great additions to their cage and should be rotated weekly to clean and just change up their environment. They will use a litter box (hedgehog sized), which should be filled with recycled paper pellets for litter. Bedding is shredded paper as well.

Depending on the personality of your hedgehog, you will know how much handling you can do. They don’t actively seek out attention, but some really enjoy it, while some are indifferent and even others dislike it. Keep this in mind when selecting your hedgehog. When they are raised from a juvenile, they become quite friendly usually. Older adopted ones, tend to be more scared or timid. They are great little animals and deserve to go to great homes.

For more information, I recommend the following websites www.hedgehogcare.org, www.hedgehogheadquarters.com, and www.hedgehogcentral.com. Check these wonderful animals out!

Lorraine Fancher, LVT

Mr. Smith Goes to Schoharie

Written By Michael on 6/26/15 | 6/26/15

As part of the Governor’s budget legislation, this year’s New York State budget mandates that every municipality submit to the State Government a plan to consolidate with another municipality. The State has further mandated that if any Town or Village fails to submit such a plan to the State, the residents of that Town or Village shall be penalized.

This financial penalty is to be levied against residents regardless of whether consolidation will actually save money. As a result, this new mandate which the state, in its infinite wisdom, has universally placed upon all local governments is having a negative effect on the residents of municipalities which have either already consolidated services out of necessity or have been conservative enough to ensure that services are being provided at the lowest cost possible.

There is no doubt that many villages, town and cities across New York State may benefit financially from consolidating services. This is especially true in larger metropolitan areas where elected officials and department heads receive lavish salaries for providing a small amount of oversight to those that perform the necessary work required to keep our roads and infrastructure in good condition.

However, when this one size fits all mandate is applied to small rural communities, such as those in Schoharie County, the results are that our residents are being unfairly penalized by the State Government. Take for example the sharing of services and cooperation agreements that have already been created to save money by many Towns in Schoharie County. Blenheim, Fulton and Gilboa currently contract with the same Code Enforcement Officer so that the three Towns can split the costs of having a professional code enforcement officer; Blenheim and Middleburgh currently utilize one individual as the Tax Assessor for both municipalities; Blenheim, Fulton, Schoharie and Wright use the same person to serve as their animal control officer; and the list goes on. This sharing of services was voluntarily done years ago in an effort to cut operating costs. This is among the type of arrangement that state is mandating take place today. And if no plan is submitted to the State then the municipality fails to comply and the residents will be penalized.

Therefore, Towns which have done this voluntarily in prior years will be penalized for having already taken these steps. The State’s mandate is not tailored in a way that allows for past consolidation and sharing of services to be considered. As a result, the Towns and Villages which have consistently done the correct thing by reducing costs will be penalized for doing it before the State’s mandate went into effect. Meanwhile, those municipalities which have engaged in a waste of taxpayer’s money for decades will be rewarded because they can now take the steps to do what they should have done years ago.

While the above described sharing of services between municipalities is a possible way to reduce operating costs, the State’s mandate on consolidation is ultimately designed to achieve a more far reaching result in that it seeks to eliminate smaller municipalities and have the services they provide passed over to larger governments. This plan is based entirely on flawed logic.

The State has decided to mandate consolidation because they believe that larger governments are better and more efficient than smaller ones. Any reasonable person familiar with government in the least bit can realize that this is completely incorrect. In fact, the opposite is true. The smaller the government is, the more efficiently and cost effective it is to operate. Thus, smaller local governments can provide better and more particularized services to their residents at a lower cost than a large cumbersome government agency. A perfect example of this would be to review our highway department in the Town of Blenheim. We have a Highway Superintendent that not only performs the managerial and oversight work required for the Department, but also works on the roads every day. This one difference of having a working highway superintendent is the result of being a small department. Larger highway departments have a least one full time manager (and sometimes multiple levels of management). Thus in larger departments our tax dollars go to pay the salaries and benefits of these individuals, whereas the tax dollars of residents in smaller municipalities go directly to maintaining and repairing roads. This is one reason why we in the Town of Blenheim pay nearly the lowest dollar amount per mile to maintain and repair our roads. This same scenario is true across the board as a recent study on consolidation has revealed that it is actually more cost effective for larger Departments, such as the County Highway Department, to contract with smaller municipalities to plow and sand certain County Roads.

The fact is that the larger the government is, the more waste is has and the less efficient it is for its residents. As a result, we need to call upon the State to evaluate their mandate for consolidation before the State forces the few efficient governments we currently have into becoming inefficient- consequently driving our property taxes up once again.

Shawn Smith
Blenheim Town Supervisor

Letter to the Editor: Milone Updates Residents

Dear Editor,

As we all know the long awaited FEMA funding to construct a new home for Niagara Engine Co. No. 6 in Schoharie is forthcoming. I wish to congratulate the many individuals that worked tirelessly to make this happen, particularly the officers and members of Engine Co. #6. I wish to thank Mayor Borst and the Village Board as well as all of the members of the Schoharie Town Board and Simmons Recovery for the support that was necessary to convince our representatives at the next levels of government that a new fire station was necessary. Special thanks to our new President and Chairman of the Board, Niagara Engine Co. No. 6, Marty Pierce, for his many years of dedication and leadership. A special thank you to all our faithful and dedicated volunteer fire fighters.

On another note, I wish to inform you that the long effort made by some of our County Supervisors to have an environmental impact study conducted concerning the health risks associated with pipelines and compressor stations has captured the attention of the American Medical Association. At a meeting conducted a week and a half ago the Association adopted a resolution calling for legislation to have that environmental impact study conducted. We have been working tirelessly for a study of this nature before DEC issues the final permits to Constitution Pipeline. A letter has been sent to our Governor signed by the Chairman of the County Board apprising the Governor of what has now taken place and also requesting his assistance on this so important issue. The letter has also been forwarded to every county in the state requesting their support as well. Our efforts to protect the health and safety of all Schoharie County residents continues.

Several weeks ago I and a few other supervisors had the pleasure of meeting with Senator George Latimer. The Senator whose district covers Westchester had a tremendous interest in what he may be capable of doing for upstate residents. One of the main issues discussed was mandate relief as well as the Safe Act. The Senator agreed that there were changes necessary to the Safe Act legislation and that he would do everything possible to promote change. On Monday June 8, 2015 the State Senate voted to repeal elements of the Safe Act. All 31 Republicans and 4 democrats voted in favor of Bill S5837. Senator Latimer voted in favor of the bill’s content. The bill has been referred to the Assembly. Anyone wishing to read the bill’s content can do so on line.

Gene Milone,
Town of Schoharie Supervisor

The Schoharie View: Jail Must Remain in Schoharie

Written By Michael on 6/25/15 | 6/25/15

Schoharie County is fast approaching the four year anniversary of Hurricane Irene, when we lost businesses, homes, livestock, and most importantly to this editorial, our Public Safety Facility in the Village of Schoharie. The jail was completely wiped out by Irene's flood waters and ever since then the county has operated without that essential component, sending all of our inmates to Albany County at a significant cost that has, thankfully, been largely covered by FEMA.

However, now that FEMA has approved the construction of a new Public Safety Facility outside of the floodplain, and the County Board has designated Seebold Farm as the site to place it, all hell has figuratively and literally broke out in the Town of Schoharie. Expressing concerns, fears, and worries of having a jail in their neighborhood, dozens of residents surrounding the Seebold property have come out of the woodworks to protest the jail's placement in their backyards.

Many have commented that they were simply not aware that Seebold Farms was being considered as a potential site, or that there was not enough sufficient coverage of the County Board's June 2014 decision to designate it as such. We sympathize with their plight, because public officials often do not go above and beyond the call of order to inform residents of major decisions outside of the press.

That being said, we must ask: is this fight really worth it?

If Schoharie loses the jail, we honestly believe that the community is in for a world of financial pain and suffering. The Town would lose its assessed value, resulting in an immediate loss of sales tax revenue, which would have to be picked up by the taxpayers. Furthermore, the Village of Schoharie would face a significant loss in revenue from providing water and sewer to the Public Safety Facility, resulting in, again, likely a fee that would have to be picked up by the taxpayers.

It is simply not a cost that the still recovering valley community cannot afford at this time. Supervisor Milone told town residents that if they brought an alternate solution to Seebold to his attention, he would bring it before the County Board for its consideration. Good for him, he is properly representing his constituents. But any solution that removes the jail from Schoharie should be an immediate non starter.

- Timothy Knight,
Editor and Publisher,
The Schoharie News.
Tuesday, June 16th, 2015.

Dr. Best House Receives Pair of Donations

By Schoharie News Staff

MIDDLEBURGH - The Dr. Best House and Medical Exhibit received two donations totaling $3,000 during Saturday's Middleburgh Heritage Day to put towards repairing the local exhibit's Carriage House, which is need of $22,500 in repairs.

Presented with a $1,000 check by Eleanor and James Spencer on behalf of the Middleburgh Rotary Club and a $2,000 check by Middeburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile on behalf of the Village, the Dr. Best House put a significant into the funds neccessary to make the needed repairs.

Accepting on behalf of the Dr. Best House, Director Bobbi Ryan has worked tirelessly to raise funds, to sustain the exhibit, and to promote all that the hidden treasure of Middleburgh has to offer history and medical enthusiasts.

Mayor Avitabile commented that "The Village recognizes what an insitution the Best House is for Middleburgh and Schoharie County, and we are happy to have it be a central feature of the Heritage Trail."

The Middleburgh Rotary Club's $1,000 check was donated fully by funds raised by the Middleburgh Sloughter 5K in early May, while the Village of Middleburgh's donation came from the village's Heritage Trail Grant that is funded by the New York Council of the Arts.

The Dr. Best House and Medical Exhibit is open for hour long tours on Thursday's 10 am to 2 pm May through October or by appointment. For more information you can call 518-827-5142 or by email at drbesthouse@yahoo.com.

Small Business Focus: The Green Iguana Bistro

Written By Michael on 6/24/15 | 6/24/15

By Timothy Knight

MIDDLEBURGH - Opening just a little more than three months ago on the corner of Main Street and Wells Avenue, The Green Iguana Bistro has quickly become the place to go for fine dining in Middleburgh.

Owned and operated by Bob Stevenot and Eric Crater, the concept of a bistro had been thought of for years. However, that thought soon became a reality when Bob and Eric bought a house in the Village, and as Mr. Crater put it, "the opportunity presented itself with this building being for sale."

The long time home of the Middleburgh Library, the building had fallen into a less than pristine state, but that was a task well suited for Mr. Crater, who has worked in historic preservation for years.

With the building's layout fitting the couple's plan for the small and quaint restaurant they had envisioned, their work began immediately after they purchased the structure, and one year later, it was introduced to the public at large.

Modestly commenting that "so far it has been well received by the community," Mr. Crater sorely undersold the response of casual diners and food connoisseur alike to the bistro's opening, who have offered rave reviews of the atmosphere and dining options on social media and by word of mouth.

Featuring a wide offering of fresh and reasonably priced sandwiches, seafood, and burgers in the menu designed by Mr. Stevenot, who graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with a degree in Culinary, it's not difficult to understand why there has been such acclaim for the new eatery's menu options.

Also receiving acclaim is the bistro's intriguing little green iguana that serves as both the logo and name of the establishment.

So why the iguana?

Crediting Bob with the idea, Eric said that it was based on their many travels to the Caribbean, where they had dinned at a restaurant that offered similar menu options and a friendly dining atmosphere. Coincidentally, it also featured an iguana that was green.

And although the iguana is unique enough, Mr. Crater said they, "just wanted to offer a diverse variety of menu choices that is different than what is in Middleburgh and that makes us unique as The Green Iguana."

Located at 104 Wells Avenue, the bistro is open seven days a week, offering new specials every day. Having just recently obtained its liquor license, beer and wine is now sold at the restaurant. To make reservations you can call 518-702-4264 or to find more details, including menu options, you can visit the bistro's Facebook page.

Schoharie's Engine Company to get new Fire House

SCHOHARIE - Announcing that FEMA has approved additional funds totaling $6.4 million to rebuild the Niagara Engine Company No. 6 Fire House in Schoharie, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand praised the rural fire department in a press release issued on Thursday.

“The brave men and women of Niagara Engine Company No. 6 voluntarily put their lives on the line to protect Schoharie County residents from dangerous fires. And for far too long, they were working out of a temporary facility because FEMA put up bureaucratic red tape that prevented them from building a new fire house,” said Senator Schumer.

“Fire stations serve as the nerve center for our first responders to answer emergencies and now Niagara Engine Company No. 6 will be able to consolidate all of its resources and firefighters into one new operational facility to help effectively serve the residents of Schoharie County,” said Senator Gillibrand.

John Wolfe, Chairman of the Schoharie Fire Department Building Committee said, “This project is extremely important to the protection and welfare of the citizens of Schoharie County, and I am excited that we will finally be able to move forward with building the new facility."

Milone to Bring Residents Concerns Before County Board

Written By Michael on 6/23/15 | 6/23/15

SCHOHARIE - Upset over the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors decision to build the new Public Safety Facility at Seebold Farm on Route 30, over two dozen residents came to the June Schoharie Town Board meeting to make their displeasure known.

However, before they got the opportunity to do so on Wednesday evening, Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone addressed the audience, admitting in his comments that he "never anticipated this type of reaction."

Stating that "this facility has been apart of the community for twenty-five years," Milone made reference to a recent letter to the editor that spelled out the potential financial pitfalls the town would face if it lost the jail, including a loss in sales tax revenue.

But, recognizing that the assembled crowd's displeasure was "democracy at work," the town official told residents that "What I want to know is what you are looking for specifically," with a promise that if presented a solution in writing he will "make a motion to step backwards and look at additional properties."

Mr. Milone requested that residents join him at the county board meeting on Friday, June 19th at 9 am to support his proposed motion that will likely seek to restart the search process for a new location.

Milone's promise did not come without his warning that restarting the search process was likely to cost Schoharie County the Federal Emergency Management Agency's reimbursement for housing its prisoners in Albany County, a potential added cost of over half a million dollars to county taxpayers.

Furthermore, if the Public Safety Facility leaves Schoharie and fully disconnects from the Schoharie Water and Sewer District, the Village will lose approximately $35,000 of once guaranteed money, or roughly 8% of its overall pre-flood district income, a loss that will likely have to be picked up by the rest of the district.

Pleased by the supervisor's offer to bring their concerns to the county board, which has the final say on where the new jail will be located, residents led by Wanda Culyer began collecting emails, names, and phone numbers to organize their ideas into a unified and singular effort.

Still, cooperation came only after residents first disrupted reports from the town assessor and code enforcement officer with questions concerning the Seebold Jail site, which led Town Councilman Richard Sherman to repeatedly inject that "we can't do anything about this," because, Sherman pointed out, the decision is the county's to make.

In other business, the town board:

• Heard from Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Weideman that Schoharie has received an additional $6,500 from CHIPS funding for winter recovery. Additionally, Weideman reported that the town's two FEMA buyout properties have been demolished, and that they are at the next level of reimbursement.

• Heard from attorney Allison Phillips that the Schoharie County Planning Commission took no action on the municipality's proposed 6 month moratorium extension, meaning that the town could not take any action on it until thirty days after the commission's decision.

• Heard from John Wolfe of the Niagara Engine Company No. 6 that FEMA has approved an additional $6.4 million in federal funds to rebuild and relocate the company's fire house outside of the floodplain.

• Voted to hold a special town board meeting on Monday, June 29th at 5:00 pm to resolve the moratorium issue.

Middleburgh Considers its own Moratorium

MIDDLEBURGH - Residents in the Town of Middleburgh urged town board members to implement a moratorium on quarry expansion and solar farms Thursday evening, but the municipality took no action.

Calling on councilpersons to consider a moratorium to allow for the completion of the township's comprehensive plan, Joan Gallagher cited the protection of the valley community's rural character in addressing the board.

Gallagher's comments came on the heels of news breaking that Carver Stone is seeking the expansion of their quarry operations in Middleburgh, while Borrego Solar is attempting to build solar arrays despite it currently being a prohibited activity in the town's zoning regulations.

Mirroring her compatriot's comments in favor of a moratorium, Marjorie Troidle pointed out "there was a negative environmental impact" on Carver Stone and further commented that a lot of residents in the town were unaware of where the project is in the process.

Although expressing sympathy with the residents call, Town Supervisor Jim Buzon cautioned that Carver Stone's "draft environmental impact study has not been completed" and that a period for public comment still has to be held, both of which could take several months.

Furthermore, commenting that a moratorium had been discussed at a joint meeting of the town and village earlier in the week, Buzon indicated that opinions were mixed on the idea and that, "we should wait on the comprehensive plan before we make any rash decisions."

Expected to be completed by October, the new comprehensive plan is likely to lead to the rewrite of the town's zoning regulations.

As for Borrego Solar, the company's requests have been rejected by both the Planning Board and the Code Enforcement Officer, with solar representatives recently appearing before the Planning Board again to argue that according to case law they are an approved activity as a public utility.

Buzon disagreed, saying that only a public entity could qualify as a public utility; not a private company that would make profits from the transfer of electricity.

In other business, the town board:

• Heard from Town Highway Superintendent Dale Nunamann that the highway crew has laid stone and oil on School House Road, Oak Meadows Drive, and other town roadways. Nunamann further reported that prices have gone through the roof for stone, although the budget should be okay overall.

• Voted to appoint Janet Mayer to manage the administration and Charley Spickerman to manage the financial aspects of local projects funded by New York Rising.

New Grocery Store Coming to Cobleskill?

Written By Michael on 6/22/15 | 6/22/15

By Timothy Knight and Joslen Pettit

SCHOHARIE - The Village of Cobleskill might be getting another grocery store to the detriment of the Schoharie Valley.

After years of negotiating with representatives of Big M Supermarkets to bring a grocery store to the Schoharie Valley, Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone announced at his town board's June meeting on Wednesday evening that the Syracuse based food chain is looking to possibly open a store in Cobleskill instead.

Breaking the news after Middleburgh Town Supervisor Jim Buzon and himself have worked on trying to bring the supermarket chain to the valley for over a year and a half, Mr. Milone said that he was disheartened by Big M's decision, which he and Buzon had only recently learned about in a closed door meeting.

Telling the two supervisors that they know Cobleskill has a guaranteed four to five million dollar per week grocery market, Big M representatives indicated that they are interested in the vacant Rite Aid building and one time Eckerd Pharmacy on Main Street in Cobleskill near NBT Bank.

However, that was news to Cobleskill Mayor Linda Holmes.

Telling The Schoharie News that she was unaware of Big M's interest in the vacant building, Mrs. Holmes said on Thursday afternoon that, "we have no application at our codes office from Big M."

Still, Big M's decision was a major blow to the Schoharie Valley. Pointing out that there had been attempts to locate a potential store in Middleburgh, but that "the landowners killed that concept" with excessive land prices, Milone was blown away by the rejection of a deal he characterized as one "you couldn't refuse" in Schoharie.

Working out a deal with the owners of the old Catholic Church in Schoharie, the chain was offered two years of no rent and no taxes to come into the Village of Schoharie, but alas, store representatives thought differently, and turned their attention toward Cobleskill, where two grocery stores already operate.

Functioning without a major grocery store since Hurricane Irene wiped out the Grand Union store in Middleburgh, residents of the Schoharie Valley and the southern portions of the county have had to travel to Cobleskill, Duanesburg, or Stamford to buy their groceries since August of 2011.
Although Middleburgh has seen some strides with the opening of a Dollar General store on Route 30 and The Olde Corner Store in the Village, the need for a full service supermarket remains; a need that public officials had hoped would be filled by Big M Supermarkets.

The largest independently owned supermarket chain in New York, Big M currently operates twenty stores in both New York and neighboring Pennsylvania. Despite being in a prime position to come into the Schoharie Valley, the grocer has faced financial pains since the 2007 recession began, selling seven stores to Tops Friendly Markets across the state.

Cobleskill, in addition to having Wal-Mart and Price Chopper, also has several big box pharmacies - CVS and Rite Aid - as well as Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and smaller delicatessens and locations that sell food products.

Multiple calls to Big M Supermarket's corporate offices were not returned.

Sharon Springs Moves Forward on Bathhouse Revitalization

Written By Timothy Knight on 6/17/15 | 6/17/15

SHARON - The Sharon Springs Town Board voted last Wednesday to allow Sharon Springs Inc. to remove the roof and floors of the Sharon Springs Bathhouse.

Part of the reason for the municipality's name, springs of magnesium and sulfur made the bathhouse a prominent vacation destination and the spa became a prosperous resort community, attracting the attention of the Vanderbilt family and Oscar Wilde. 

At its height the spa hosted around 10,000 people each summer and made the small community very prosperous, even boasting a direct rail line to a ferry station that would link to New York City and other metropolitan areas, such as Boston.

However, business began to dry up for the small community in the mid twentieth century due to a lack of tourism.The bathhouse closed and has since fallen into a state of dilapidation. Since then members of the community have attempted to further revitalize the community where many grand hotels and small beauty stores can be found.

With Wednesday's vote, the Sharon Springs Incorporation may be rapidly on its way to renovating the structure in the hopes of attracting more tourists to the area. The town board unanimously passed the legislation allowing them to remove the decrepit ceiling and other areas of the building with compromised integrity.

In other business, the town board voted to:

  • Approve the opening of the community pool on the 27th of June.
  • Reappoint Robert Countryman to the Joint Planning Board for the next 7 years.  

Conesville Hosting two Events This Weekend

This Saturday, June 20th the Manorkill Cemetery Association is having a fundraising chicken and rib dinner sale at the Conesville Fire House starting at 12:00 noon until sold out.

On Sunday, June 21st, the Conesville Fire Department Auxiliary is having a Father's Day Pancake Breakfast at the Conesville Fire House from 8:00 to 11:00

Opinion: Money, Money, Money...

Written By Timothy Knight on 6/16/15 | 6/16/15

Money - we all subsist off of it. Businesses need money to operate, people need money to live, and governments need money to govern. 

However, it should be said, that there is a reasonable expectation that all three will be diligent enough with their resources, as to not harm others, but what happens when outside forces conspire to harm your money supply?

That is the conundrum that the Village of Middleburgh is presently facing. 

Faced with a multitude of lawsuits from a single individual, the municipality paid over $7,600 in legal fees over the last budget cycle to defeat the suer and his frivolous suits. That amount is equal to roughly one percent of the village's entire budget and nearly equal to the amount in levies that taxes were raised by this past year. 

Coincidence? 

The Mayor of the community, Matthew Avitabile, made a good point at Monday's meeting, when he pointed out that more had been spent on legal fees associated with this string of lawsuits than on the village's successful wild flowers and the recently constructed pavilion combined. 

Although few residents were at the meeting, we believe that a vast majority would say community oriented projects such as what the mayor referenced are worth far more than a continuous legal battle in court.

A continuous legal battle in court brought upon by the former mayor. We will offer no comments as to the validity of the petitioner's suits, for that is not our role, but we do find it offensive that someone once tasked with the responsibility of leading the village is now actively working to bleed it financially. Whether that was intended or not, that is the result of the former official's actions.

Once again, governments need money to govern. They need resources to fix sidewalks, pave roads, promote community minded projects, and so forth, but what they don't need is an ever increasing legal fee line item that is driven by the whims of a single individual for whatever his motives are, because it's not only harmful to the government, but to the people who provide the funds - the taxpayers.

- Timothy Knight,
Editor and Publisher,
The Schoharie News.
Tuesday, June 9th, 2015. 

Pet Talk Column: Chinchillas

Written By Timothy Knight on 6/11/15 | 6/11/15

A member of the rodent family and descendants of the 11 chinchillas first brought to the United States in 1923, by Mathias Chapman; these furry, big eyed, 4 toed, bushy tailed critters, can make great pets for the right homes. They are related to guinea pigs and porcupines and originated in the Andes Mountains in Northern Chile. The colors we see today are typically gray or brown with black tips developed through selective breeding, but were originally from yellow mottled fur. They have long been prized and hunted for their fur, to the point of endangerment and now are a protected, wild species. The ones we see today are raised on chinchilla breeding farms for their fur or the commercial pet industry. They grow to roughly 10-14 inches in body length with the tail adding another 5-6 inches. Their life span is 15-22 years and is full of activity.

  So, is a chinchilla the right pet for you? They are primarily nocturnal, meaning they spend most of their active time at night, while sleeping by day. Are you a night owl too? They like routine and stress easily over frequent changes or noisy conditions during sleep times. Their favorite times of day are dawn and dusk and have the most energy during this time. They are extremely playful and need a large area to be able to run around and play in. They love tunnels and hiding under or in things. Our furry friends like a lot of roughage, so their diet consists of quality grass hay and chinchilla pellets. They have sensitive stomachs, so their diet needs to be consistent with little to no change. Are you careful, precise and consistent? Do you like taking dirt baths? No, well Chinchillas do. Volcanic dust baths twice weekly is a favorite pastime of theirs. This dust bath helps keep their coat thick and clean by removing dirt and oil. 

   In the wild, Chinchillas live in large social colonies, but in captivity, they can do quite well as a single pet, if they are given plenty of room, activities, handling and toys. If they are raised from a young age, they will become quite friendly and tame. Do you like your own space? Chinchillas do too. They get selective about their amount of space and handling and decide if they want to be cuddled or not. They have teeth that continue to grow, so they need lots of safe things to chew on to keep the length of their teeth down. They are funny and curious little critters and are sure to make you laugh.

  Still not sure if this is the pet for you. These pets need to be near a veterinarian that handles exotic animals, so they can get regular check-ups and vaccinations. They are also not recommended to be in homes with small children due to their want to handle and play with them. I suggest you learn as much as you can about any potential pet, prepare your home, and consider any potential needs for you and the pet before getting your pet, especially chinchillas. For more information on these wonderful animals full of curiosity and mischief; I recommend the following sites: 

•www.chinchillacare.org 
•www.livescience.com/chinchilla
•www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/chinchilla-care-advice 

   Find out if a chinchilla is for you!

 Lorraine Fancher, LVT

New York Legalizes Some Fireworks

Written By Timothy Knight on 6/9/15 | 6/9/15

By Schoharie News Staff

The New York Legislature has passed a convoluted bill allowing the legalization of some types of fireworks. However, in order for the sale of these fireworks to be allowed, each County must specifically pass an enabling resolution. No plans to do so in Schoharie County have been announced.

New York was one of four states to disallow the sale of fireworks. The new section 405 of the NYS Penal Law now allows the sale of "ground based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke."

The new state statute allow severely restricts the periods that fireworks are sellable. The law only allows sales between June 1st and July 5th and December 26th through January 2nd. All other periods would remain illegal.

Furthermore, most types of fireworks still allowed in most other states will remain illegal here. The NYS Division of Homeland Security site reads, "All other types of consumer fireworks, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners and aerial devices, remain illegal statewide."

Tornado Watch Until 8pm Tonight

Written By Editor on 6/8/15 | 6/8/15

NWS has issued a tornado watch for Schoharie County until 8:00pm tonight. A Tornado Watch indicates that conditions are favorable for tornadoes in and near the watch area, which may pose a risk to life and property.

Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. If you see a tornado, or are warned of an imminent tornado, Pick a tornado safe room in your home such as a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Make sure all members of your family know to go there. Don't forget pets if time allows.

Keep up to date with our current weather page.

Schoharie County: A Love Affair With Automobiles

Written By Timothy Knight on 6/4/15 | 6/4/15

SCHOHARIE - A love affair began in 1903 in Upstate New York’s Schoharie County.
   
And, it just keeps growing with the years.
  
Schoharie County’s love of the automobile is captured throughout the county with a series of car shows and a museum that houses Schoharie’s first car.
   
At the Old Stone Fort Museum in Schoharie, a 1903 Rambler has a place of honor. Owned by then Mayor of Schoharie, Perry Taylor, the automobile was donated to the museum. Made of mostly wood, the mayor’s wife Eleanor Taylor was the first woman to get a driver’s license in New York State.

 Today, the love affair with automobiles also shows itself beyond the museum walls with a series of car shows and cruise ins as well as events that salute cars and other vehicles of long ago.
  
“Here we have a lot of car collectors and owners of classic, antique cars,” said Phillip Liddle who organizes car shows in Schoharie County.
  
On June 13, 14, 20 and 21, The Hudson-Mohawk Chapter of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association, Inc., presents the 48th Annual Gas Up at 106 Murphy Road in Schoharie. 
  
This tribute to antique steam, gasoline and oil engines shows them in action daily. There are also antique military vehicles, fire trucks, antique trucks and automobiles to enjoy.
   
On June 21, it’s time for street machines, rods, muscle cars, antiques classics and more at the 5th Annual Schoharie Sloughter* Car Show in the Village of Schoharie. Proceeds from this show ware donated to The Patriot Highlander, a group that supports wounded veterans.
   
You never know where vintage cars will be. But chances are excellent they are part of the annual Jefferson Heritage Day on the village’s Main Street as a celebratory parade steps off at 11 a.m. on July 11.

Then on July 19, it’s time for the annual Schoharie Valley Region Antique Automobile Show at the Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center in North Blenheim. A wide variety of antique vehicles features 24 classes of vehicles, dating prior to 1990. 

These include family transportation, wagons and vans. There also will be displays of antique outboards and early single-cylinder farm engines and equipment. Proceeds are shared with the Leather Stocking Honor Flight, Elks BPOE 2040 Scholarship Fund and the Animal Shelter of the Schoharie Valley.

Cruisin’ in the Caves, a car and motorcycle show, takes place on Aug. 8 (rain date Aug. 9) at the county’s largest show cave, Howe Caverns. It’s a benefit for Ronald McDonald House and for Kaitlin’s Journey which benefits a child with severe medical problems.
   
On the fourth Friday of every month through October, there is a “Cruise-In” at the historic The Dr. Best House in Middleburgh. The cruise-in is open to all makes and models of vintage, classic, muscle, Ratrod and motorcycles. 

Schoharie Seeks Extension of Moratorium Until 2016

Written By Timothy Knight on 6/2/15 | 6/2/15

SCHOHARIE - Town board members in Schoharie agreed on Wednesday evening to seek a six month extension of the municipality's moratorium on heavy industry, solar farms, and other previously prohibited activities while the town continues to move through the process of implementing a new land use law. 

A public hearing was set for the regularly scheduled June 10th town board meeting so that town residents would have the opportunity to address councilmembers on the proposed extension.

Operating under a set of zoning laws dating back to the seventies because of the Supreme Court's February 2014 ruling that rendered the municipality's 2005 zoning laws null and void, the Schoharie Town Board has passed a series of moratoriums. The last of which was set to expire in July.

Town Councilman James Schultz expressed his opinion that "it is very important that we do not rush the process and that we make sure the land use law fits with the changing times and the needs of the residents and businesses."

Legislators made the decision to seek an extension to the moratorium after speaking to the town's zoning attorney David Brennan in executive session. 

Town Supervisor Gene Milone commented that the town board had received some new documents from Brennan, and that the final draft of the new zoning law is in the process of construction. Upon their completion, they will be forwarded to the both the Town and County Planning Boards for review.

Mr. Milone estimated that two to three public hearings are likely to be held on the draft zoning laws. 

Starting back in 2005 when the last set of regulations were adopted, Schoharie has been embroiled in a decade long fight with Cobleskill Stone Products, which operates a quarry within the township and has long sought to expand its operations. 

CSP argued in early 2014 that town officials had failed to properly follow environmental requirements set forth by SEQRA. A position that then Schoharie County Supreme Court Justice Eugene Devine agreed with. 

 Judge Devine stated in his February 19th, 2014 decision that Schoharie's 2005 zoning laws were "affected by an error of law."
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