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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

NYS Flags 35 Schoharie County Residents for Gun Confiscation, Denial Under SAFE Act

Written By Editor on 12/31/14 | 12/31/14

One of the parts of the SAFE Act that is being actively enforced is the provision that those deemed mentally unfit by the state will not be able to own guns. This includes both non-owners that will be denied access to purchase firearms and current owners that will have their firearms confiscated.

According to records from New York State, compiled by there are thousands statewide on a do-not-sell list and 278 current gun owners intended for confiscation.

There are currently 35 Schoharie County residents on the list for being referred to the state for mental illness by medical professionals. Of these, two are current gun owners that, if the law is enforced, have their firearms taken by police.

The names of the residents have not been released and there have been no reports of confiscation as of this date. The Schoharie County Sheriff's Department has already stated that it will not enforce the SAFE Act, passed two years ago.

Meteor Lights Up East Coast, Estimated to Have Landed in Schoharie County

In one of those rare occurrences, a meteor lit up much of the Northeast last night. And the scientists that followed its path seemed to find it... in Schoharie County.

More info from the American Meteor Society:
Below is a 3D trajectory of the fireball’s entry plotted by the AMS using data from the witness sightings. The geometric impact point is located South West of Carlisle, New York ( 42°44’48.07″N, 74°25’4.78″W).

Photo credit: American Meteor Society

Florida Passes New York in Population

New York's population growth faced another major obstacle in the last year, with the state falling to the fourth most populous in the country. New York, with 19.7 million people, fell behind Florida, now with 20.0 million this year.

New York's population growth has stayed nearly flat over the last three decades, while other states see a large surge.

Meanwhile, job growth has also remained nearly flat. New York and Texas were nearly tied in 1990 while now New York is significantly behind.

Environmental Groups Challenge FERC Pipeline Decision

Attorneys for a consortium of environmental groups, including: Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Riverkeeper, Inc. and the Sierra Club have filed a a request for a rehearing of the decision made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to conditionally approve the proposed Constitution Pipeline.

The request sites multiple failures on the part of FERC to adequately address the potential impacts of the pipeline. It is expected that additional groups and individuals also be filling rehearing requests and other legal actions to delay or block the 124 mile long greenfield pipeline which would cut through Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties. A copy of the request for rehearing can be found on FERC’s web site:

Upcoming public hearings to be convened the NYS DEC are expected to attract vocal and organized opposition to the pipeline by impacted landowners as well as community and environmental groups.

Schoharie News Reaches One Million Hits

Written By Editor on 12/30/14 | 12/30/14

Thanks to our loyal readers and former editor Timothy Knight, the Schoharie News has reached one million total pageviews. It's been a great last year and three months and we are looking forward to our next million!

Sharon Man Arrested for DWI after Accident

On Monday, December 22, 2014, State Police at Richfield Springs arrested Jeffrey White, 42, of Sharon Springs, NY for Driving While Intoxicated. The arrest resulted after an accident on US Route 20 in the Town of Cherry Valley. Mr. White was released after posting $500.00 cash bail.
Photo credit: NYSP

Jefferson Woman Arrested for Shoplifting

On December 27, 2014, Troopers arrested Zana M. Margretta, 25, Jefferson, NY for petit larceny. This arrest occurred following a complaint of shoplifting at the Tops Family Market on Main Street in Stamford, NY. An investigation determined that she failed to pay for yogurt when she left the store. Margretta was issued a ticket returnable to the Town of Stamford Court on January 13, 2015.

Worcester Man Arrested for DWI

(Maryland, NY - December 29, 2014) On December 28, 2014, Troopers arrested Ralph A. Basso, 22, of Worcester, NY for Driving While Intoxicated with a reportable BAC result of .10%. The arrest occurred after a vehicle and traffic law stop for failing to stop at a stop sign at County Route 56 and State Route 7 in Maryland, NY. An investigation determined that he was driving while intoxicated. Basso was issued tickets returnable to the Town of Maryland Court on January 6, 2015.

Credit: State Police

Cobleskill Police Blotter

The Cobleskill Village Police arrested Nathan Maxwell, 24, of Cobleskill on two warrants. He was turned over to the Sheriff's Office for processing.

The Cobleskill Village Police arrested Lisa C. Shaut, 43, of Fort Plain on charges of petty larceny. She was issued an appearance ticket and released to return to court on January 6th.

The Cobleskill Village police arrested Ashley Constable, 33, of Cobleskill on charges of fifth degree criminal possession of stolen property and petty larceny. She was issued an appearance ticket and released to return to court on January 13.

The Cobleskill Village Police arrested Crystal Butler, 27, of Cobleskill on charges of petty larceny. She was issued an appearance ticket and released to reutrn to court on January 13.

The Cobleskill Village Police arrested Alishia Scala, 24, of Jefferson on charges of fourth degree criminal mischief and reckless endangerment of property. She was arraigned and released.

The Cobleskill Village Police arrested Michelle L. Nay, 37, of Catskill on a warrant on charges of failing to appear for a court appearance. She was arraigned and sent to jail in lieu of $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond to return to court on January 13th.

Rensselaer Mayor Calls for Schenectady Casino Approval to be Stripped

Rensselaer's mayor is making waves with a controversial proposal. Dan Dwyer, mayor of one of the communities that lost out on the gaming commission's decision, decided to press Governor Cuomo to lean on the NYS Gaming Commission. The request was reported in the Schenectady Gazette, citing a letter from Dwyer dated December 29th.

The mayor wrote in part, that the decision was, "inexplicable how the Capital District casino choice could have been the Rivers [project] located on the western edge of Schenectady rather than the Hard Rock Casino on the shores of the Hudson River in the City of Rensselaer and supported by the cities of Albany and Troy."

The approval from the Commission was made unanimously.

This comes right after Governor Cuomo announced that he would ask the Gaming Commission to reconsider allowing a casino into the Southern Tier.

VanGlad Retiring as County Board Chair

County Board Chair Tony VanGlad has held the position for a little less than a year. Now, with the word that he is stepping down the County may have its fifth Board Chairman in recent years. The announcement came after VanGlad's personal commitments were weighed.

The County Board will hold a meeting next Monday, January 5th to decide who will become the Chair and Vice Chair. Potential front runners have been keeping cards close to their chest, but it appears that former Board Chairs will not be selected, according to sources.

Letter to the Editor: Anti-Science Activists Support Deforestation

Written By Editor on 12/29/14 | 12/29/14

The recent pipeline debate seems to have struck a nerve with some. The Schoharie "News" published an editorial in support of a green energy solution. Fine, I guess, if it was workable. One part that made sense was to actually push for energy instead of being one of the anti-everything activists.

Some so-called environmentalists have rallied against the pipeline and carbon fuel. Unfortunately, they don't understand that using coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat has saved the forests.

No-- really.

Using wood to heat houses is as old as time and with the large population boom in the 1800s and early 1900s, the forests of the US and Europe were cut at an alarming rate. When other types of energy were used to heat homes, namely deriving from carbon fuels, deforestation reversed course dramatically.

Contrary to claims that Pennsylvania's economy has been ruined by fracking and unemployment has gone up, using energy has had some positive effects. Frequently spouted "facts" on Facebook are just plain wrong. Someone needs to explain that unemployment has fallen from 8.7% in early 2010 when fracking was first used in PA to 5.4% today (lower than the national average) while GDP has grown from $554 billion in 2009 to $603 in 2013, but don't let facts get in the way of a good narrative. How many jobs have these protesters created again?

So let's get rid of coal, gas, and oil. Okay... so let's get wind! Oh no, the "environmentalists" in this county are against it. Okay, what about hydro power! Oh, wait. Solar! Not ready yet?

So let's use a renewable organic source of energy-- wood! Forested areas in the US and Europe are at the highest levels in over 100 years because people no longer clear cut for heat.

Who will tell our NIMBY friends that their desired policies would clear cut far more forest than any pipeline?

Richard "Halliburton"

Two Arrested for Burglary in Fulton

Two Montgomery County residents have been arrested by the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office with assistance of the Amsterdam Police Department following the investigation of a burglary of a residence which occurred on December 19, 2014 on Rossman Hill Road in the Town of Fulton. During the burglary money, prescription medications and a safe were taken.

Arrested on December 26th for Burglary 2nd Degree, after they turned theirselves in to the Sheriff's Office were Kristi Morreale, age 33 and Joseph Coleman, age 31 both of Amsterdam.

The subjects were arraigned in Fulton Town Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Jail in lieu of $2500.00 bail each. They are to return to court on December 30th.

The investigation is continuing and it is anticipated that some of the stolen property may be recovered.

Broome Audit Reveals $16,000 in Improper Spending

The small Schoharie County municipality of Broome has been chided by the Office of the New York State Comptroller for failing to effectively manage and oversee the town's financial assets over a fourteen month period beginning in January 2013 and ending this past March.

In an official audit released on Friday, December 19th, the Comptroller's Office Division of Local Government and School Accountability criticized the town board's past failure to ensure taxpayer dollars were being appropriately expended and accounted for. 

According to the report, which is available for public consumption here, missteps in oversight had occurred in the management of the Court, of the Highway Department, and in the administration of storm-related reimbursements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

However, the largest blow was not dealt to the previous town board but to former Town Highway Superintendent Michael Parker, who after he was defeated in his November, 2013 bid for re-election, engaged in a one man shopping spree against the board's wishes:
...the outgoing Highway Superintendent was able to make two purchases for loader tires (four separate invoices) over $16,000 without the required authorization forms being approved. These purchases were in opposition to the Board’s intent because the Board was considering purchasing a new loader. These purchases were made after the Highway Superintendent lost his bid for re-election, but before the end of his term in December 2013. Although the current Board initially would not approve these invoices for payment and attempted to return the tires to the vendor, the tires had already been partially used and, therefore, were not returnable. The current Board eventually paid the invoices. 
Furthermore, in his continued display of mismanagement, Parker failed to maintain records of invoices or Town man and machine hours related to flood repairs for federal reimbursement. As such, the municipality may not obtain the full $235,900 it was eligible for.

Broome Supervisor William Smith, who had not been in office during most of the audit's time frame, commented in response to the report that "We agree with the findings within the audit and corrective measures have been taken and procurement policies have been followed since Jan 1 2014."

Smith defeated former Supervisor Anne Batz in November, 2013. 

Opinion: Area Needs to Build 21st Century Green Energy

Schoharie County may be sleepy, but it has been the center of major energy battles over the last decade. From the fight over wind energy to a county utility to fracking and pipelines to concerns about the Power Authority dam, energy always seems to be in the forefront.

Now that the Governor has finally pushed for fracking to be outlawed, the area needs to be proactive and build its green foundation. There is no immediate way to make the area completely environmentally friendly, but there are a few ways to start:

  • Work on establishing a county energy utility or cooperative. It already works in Richmondville, where energy prices are regularly less than half that National Grid offers the rest of the area. Being able to create new incentives and methods for alternative energy and net metering will only help the consumer.
  • Schoharie County's plans to construct significant solar panels is a step in the right direction. The privately owned panels will pass along the savings to the consumer with no negative consequences. The expansion of such a project would be a major boon to taxpayers.
  • It is well past time for wind power to be considered. One of the big disappointments of the last decade has been that people and groups that proclaim themselves environmentalists led the change to kill the potential wind plans in the towns of Richmondville, Cherry Valley, and Fulton. Concerns that the wind farms would be privately owned should be secondary to the benefits in green energy, reduction in tax bills, and reduction in energy costs. Cherry Valley was offered a 25% cut to local electricity costs for residents, substantial PILOT payments, and no cost to the community.
There is much talk about keeping the area pristine and out of the clutches of the large oil and natural gas companies. It's time for both political parties to work together to at least begin the process of weaning the area off of existing energy systems, whether municipally or privately. Any group or individual that claims that the pipeline and fracking should not come to the area but opposes green energy initiatives should explain how they would meet the area's energy needs realistically.

Cuomo: Reopen Casino Application for Southern Tier

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced his support for allowing a casino near the Binghamton area. Even though the state Gaming Commission rejected a bid for a casino in the Southern Tier, the governor is now calling for one to be placed there.
"If you agree to this request, the (casino board) should quickly establish a process for the fourth license that could be complete as expeditiously as possible as the Southern Tier needs jobs and investment now."
This part of the state has the highest unemployment rate and was one of the few parts of the state with substantial support for fracking, which will soon be outlawed. Cuomo shifted his position on a Southern Tier casino after pressure from local lawmakers.

There was broad shock that none of the Southern Tier casino applications were approved, including among his backers:
Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural was seething over being passed over, telling reporters after the announcement that he felt like a "fool" after he contributed $800,000 at Cuomo's behest last year to help a referendum pass that legalized casino gambling in New York.
There is no indication that a similar action will happen for the Capital Region.

Schoharie Community Meeting January 12th

The Annual Schoharie Community Meeting will be held on Monday, January 12th at 7 PM at the Town Hall. This meeting is an informal gathering to share information with village and town residents, businesses, organizations, and local officials -- get the facts and updates, ask questions, make announcements and introductions, meet your neighbors -- get involved — it’s your community (Refreshments will be served). Sponsored by the Schoharie Promotional Association

Info from the Schoharie Promo Association.

Vote in Our Poll: Reflecting on Howe Caverns Casino

Written By Editor on 12/28/14 | 12/28/14

Make sure to vote in our new poll about your thoughts on the Howe Caverns casino proposal and the reason the New York Gaming Commission rejected it.

2014 Schoharie Leader Runner Up: Matthew Avitabile

With almost twice as many votes as the next nominee, Schoharie News readers chose Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile as the 2014 Schoharie Leader Runner Up. He was nominated several times for the recovery Middleburgh has undertaken during his administration.

Avitabile cut his teeth taking on the mayor's responsibilities before he was elected in 2012. In 2011 he set up and ran the first volunteer efforts in the village, including setting up a relief fund that was able to send every flood victim a check from the village government.

After being elected in 2012, he started an ambitious program to rebuild flood damaged buildings, shore up existing businesses, and attract new ones. He utilized grants, low interest loans, and flood relief funds to get almost $200,000 to businesses that went through the flood. He assisted with organizing more volunteers and filling out NY Rising flood grant applications for businesses that suffered from Irene.

His work with the Middleburgh Village Board in saving almost $1 million in grant programs also helped establish two new parks in town, including two new pavilions. This funding and the ideas of Trustee Bill Morton created the wildflower project that has brought in visitors over the last two years.

Middleburgh's budgets are also helpful to taxpayers. For two consecutive years, the Village budget actually went down and for three straight years there have been no tax increases-- the only municipality in the County able to do so.

This year was a year of major expansion for the community, with the opening of a pet store, pharmacy, grocery, and brewery. Altogether, over a dozen new businesses have opened in the last three years and almost all flood damage is now repaired.

"I'm honored by this award," Mayor Avitabile told the Schoharie News, "Thank you very much and I hope for another solid year in 2015."

Letter to the Editor: Middleburgh Effort Paying Off

Reader Tim Hines recently donated land to the Village of Middleburgh to construct new park land:

Open letter to the Middleburgh Village Board and Mayor Avitabile,

I am glad the board has decided to accept the land in Middleburgh. I would also like the board and townspeople to know the main reason I am donating this land to the town is because of my dealings with you. From the time I first met you during the flood and all the times since it has been a pleasure to work with someone with so much passion and caring for their job. I am also impressed by how you care for people and for doing what's right.

 I look forward to wrapping this up and turning the land over to the town for its use as a part of the park in a timely manner. If there is anything I can do please let me know and I will be glad to assist. Please keep me posted as to your progress and please keep up the good work you are making a difference from all that I hear.

-- Timothy Hines

The Best of the Summer

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