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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Local Chefs, Local Food: Schoharie Bounty of the County

Written By Michael on 7/6/15 | 7/6/15

SCHOHARIE - The greenhouses are decked out in all their floral glory, so the backdrop is ready for the third annual Bounty of the County Dinner starting at 6 p.m. on June 27 at The Carrot Barn at Schoharie Valley Farms. The evening is a benefit for S.A.L.T. (Schoharie Area Long Term, Inc.) that continues assisting victims of 2011 floods caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee that hit Schoharie County.

Chef Tyler DeGroff, Chef de Cuisine at New World Bistro Bar in Albany, with other local chefs, will create a four-course, seasonal gourmet dinner with locally grown ingredients. DeGroff was raised in Schoharie County and graduated from the Capital Region BOCES - Schoharie Campus culinary department. He began working in the restaurant field right after graduation.

Dinner is at 7 p.m. and consists of four courses. The first course, said Chef DeGroff, is traditional tamale with a local twist -- stuffed corn and peas, plus pea tendrils and fresh cilantro. The second course is Arctic Char with White Puttanesca. Chef DeGroff’s Arctic Char comes from the fish hatchery at SUNY Cobleskill. “I plan to smoke the char and serve it with pasta made fresh with local eggs. I love to eat pasta as an intermezzo at dinner,” noted Chef DeGroff.

For the main course, Chef DeGroff plans braided beef short ribs, caramelized in coconut milk. “Delicious,” he said, adding it will likely be served with a stir fry of local vegetables.

Dessert is being donated by SUNY Cobleskill. Chef JoAnne Cloughly, chairman of the culinary department, will make a vanilla bean yogurt pane cotta with a strawberry - rhubarb compote and a lemon wafer cookie.

The dinner also will showcase local food, beer, wine and spirits, and include a silent auction.

The evening begins with cocktails at 6 p.m. with local musician Matt Durfee performing.

The cost is $150 for cocktails and dinner. Tickets are available through the S.A.L.T.,

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Conesville Law is in Town Residents Best Interests

Written By Michael on 7/5/15 | 7/5/15

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your request for information on the proposed Conesville Local Law Imposing a Lien on Insurance Proceeds for Buildings Damaged or Destroyed by Fire. Your interest in Conesville is appreciated.

The intent of this proposed local law is to remove a health and safety hazard while protecting the taxpayers of Conesville from potential financial burden by ensuring the property owner uses a portion of an insurance payout towards their legal obligation to remediate or demolish the structure in question by placing sufficient funds in an escrow account until the work is done.

I cannot claim this law as an original idea that I devised. After asking the New York State Association of Towns to help me investigate a possible solution for a potential problem structure in the Town of Conesville they found a local law in the Town of Rotterdam which addresses the very same issue. With some changes, the Rotterdam law was used as the Conesville template and has been reviewed by legal counsel and is in full compliance with New York State General Municipal Law and the New York Insurance Law. Interestingly, after hearing of the proposed law for Conesville; I am told several towns have since contacted our Town Attorney to discuss their interest in enacting a similar law in their town.

In addition to the need to protect the health and safety of our residents my concern is also the cost to the taxpayers of Conesville. A structure involved in a devastating fire which caused me to start this effort was condemned several months ago but the owner has failed to take action. Yes, there are legal remedies to force compliance. Unfortunately, if the owner does not take action it will be the taxpayers who will have to fund the demolition and then the Town would have to seek to recover those costs through legal action and a lien on the property which has minimal value. Our options for satisfactory recovery are limited.

At the public hearing some said this law is heavy handed and unfair to the owners of condemned structures who carry fire insurance. Not so. If the owner has the funds in their insurance to cover demolition or remediation, we are only ensuring they fulfill their legal obligations. Is it fair or unfair for the owner leaving the expense of demolition to the taxpayers of Conesville?

One individual at the public hearing claimed insufficient notice and publicity was given to the public hearing for this law. The local law was advertised in a legal notice as required, notice of public hearing was placed on the Town web site, publicized on the roadside announcement board at Town Hall and the proposed law was made available at the Town Hall. Since I took office I count as one of my accomplishments the fact the Town of Conesville has never been as transparent as it is now. Not even close.

The whole point of a public hearing is to solicit input and comment from interested parties. We did that and will incorporate some of the comments into a revised version without compromising the intent of what we are trying to accomplish which is to protect the health and safety of our citizens while protecting them from the financial burden of the Town picking up the tab to take down the structure if the owner does not.

It is the job of the Town to protect the physical and financial interests of all of us. When I saw the same law in another town in neighboring Schenectady County I felt it was my duty to bring forward the idea of this opportunity which would be of benefit to our residents. It will be the decision of the Town Board to decide if this proposed local law makes sense for Conesville. I can live with whatever is decided. But the residents of the Town of Conesville will also have to live with that decision.

William A. Federice, Supervisor
Town of Conesville

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Conesville Law Unduly Burdens Town Residents

Written By Michael on 7/4/15 | 7/4/15

Dear Editor;

Homeowners in Schoharie County who purchase Fire Insurance beware of a controversial town lawproposed by Conesville Supervisor Bill Federice.

A Public Hearing held Wed. June 10 allowed comment on the law imposing lien on insurance proceedsfor buildings in Conesville affected by fire. Its intent claims to compel property owners to clean up after fire, giving surety that the insured not abandon their property upon receiving their settlement.

The proposed law cites purpose as: ‘more often than not when a building is damaged or destroyed byfire, that property owner will abandon that premises and fail to clean up, demolish and remove buildings and debris, even though insurance payments may have been received.’

The standing room only crowd presented mixed opinions, most believing that the law would assist the town in ridding itself of ‘condemned properties’, potentially saving the town/county costly removal. The actual number of homes abandoned from fire over 10 years by Mr. Federice’s own admission - ONE and that owner continues paying taxes on a building with interior damage. To date, no building in Conesville has been removed by town or county due to fire loss.

Federice opened the hearing by reading a prepared synopsis defining his objective, never reading aloud the proposed law. Assuring mortgage liens satisfy first, the town lien then superseding any other liens. Debate began when residents questioned differences in his explanation of law comparing to the document text. Evident his overview didn’t match the law’s wording; he admitted one change was necessary, encumbering further expense placing public announcement for a new hearing.

It’s passage allows the town to claim against insured’s proceeds implementing municipal law article 22 causing establishment of a ‘tax district’. The district is then authorized and empowered to take claim to proceeds of a fire insurance policy when perfected with article 331 of insurance law. A special account is created securing monies until the Supervisor feels satisfied to release funds. The release process unduly burdens homeowner’s already suffering hardship from their loss requiring filing of an affidavit and fulfill 6 intrusive requirements.

Some suggested discrimination against homeowners with insurance, others agreeing it fails to address existing eyesores collapsed from snowload, storm damage or neglect, and lack of provision addressing future occurrences of the same.

Suggestion was made to update current building codes (unchanged since 1984) incorporating and enforcing present NYS laws protecting against abandonment. The hearing adjourned without a vote promising more conversation on July 8. Councilmen Paul Tubiolo and John Sweatman voiced opposition leaving Kelly Smith and Mr. Federice supporting the law, leaving absentee Councilman Bob Proudman as the potential tiebreaker.

How does this affect you if you do not live in Conesville? Mr. Federice boasted that other Supervisors within county show interest in proposing this law in their towns. Unable to stop Federal government from such wide over reaches, small town rural areas can. If not for overwhelming public interest and opposition this law could have passed, only to be realized at one’s most devastated moment, whenfacing hardship of recovering from something so emotional and life altering.

Unfortunately, WE need to seek out information. With more residents attending meetings, there’s less a chance of these types of loophole laws passing by dark of night. I urge you to contact your town officials voicing opposition to any possibility of this law being proposed. Inform your neighbors, log on to the County website, force transparency. In order to make our communities more pleasant to live in we must realize that good neighboring starts with informed public engaging in the process of governing.

Joanne Noone

Celebrate Independence Day in Grand Style in Schoharie County

Written By Michael on 7/3/15 | 7/3/15

COBLESKILL - On a battle site of the Revolutionary War, the 4th of July is celebrated in grand style in Upstate New York’s Schoharie County.

At the Old Stone Fort:

The celebration of Independence Day begins at 10 a.m. as The Old Stone Fort Museum holds its annual Independence Day celebration until 4 p.m.

The Old Stone Fort was attacked by British, Loyalist American and Native American forces in 1780, and is located near George Mann's Tavern, site of a Loyalist, or "Tory" uprising in 1777. It houses exhibits on the American Revolutionary War, including a cannonball that struck the building in 1780.

Part of the annual celebration is Jeff O’Connor of Cobleskill, who not only reads the Declaration of Independence at the Old Stone Fort, but also is part of the argument for a new country.

“It’s a passion,” said Mr. O’Connor. “It’s my other life.”
For 15 years, Mr. O’Connor has spent the 4th of July at the Fort, reading, leading, and reacting to lessons learned from the war for independence.

“Here in Schoharie County, at the time of the revolution, people were pretty well off under royal rule. They were born Tories and had to become revolutionaries. It tore families apart and it’s no mystery as to why,” Mr. O’Connor noted.

“There are 17 recorded toasts at a gathering celebrating the win of the revolutionaries. I’ve done the toasts in the past. But, I’ve never taken the role of a Tory,” he said.

Readings of the Declaration of Independence and other documents of the time will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Throughout the day, museum staff and historical re-enactors will engage in “living history” and visitor-interactive debates on the issues of taxation, self government, and armed militias rebelling against the government.

All Independence Day outdoor activities are admission free. The regular museum admission rates apply to indoor exhibits. The event is co-produced by the Schoharie County Historical Society and the Burning of the Valleys Military Association, a regional organization of groups and individuals portraying early American history in and around the Schoharie, Mohawk and Hudson Valleys. Stone Fort Days, a large battle re-enactment event is scheduled for October 3 and 4, 2015.

And, in Cobleskill:

Later in the day, an Old-Fashioned 4th of July celebration takes over downtown Cobleskill and the Cobleskill Fairgrounds.

It starts at 2 p.m. at the Fairgrounds with food, crafts, music and dance.

A lineup begins at 4:30 p.m. for the annual parade “shows off the county,” said Jacqui Hauser of the Cobleskill Partnership, Inc., one of the organizing groups.

“The parade is hometown charming and lots of floats dress up in old-fashioned d├ęcor to give a feel of yesteryear. At 5 p.m., the parade marches through downtown to the Fairgrounds, “where there is a family fun park and people waiting. Of course, the fireworks are at dark and just excellent,” Ms. Hauser said.

Also working on the 4th of July celebration in Cobleskill are Friends of the Fourth and the Fusion Churches. Fireworks are paid by donations.

Creating Healthy Places Assist SNAP Benefit Recipients

By Maureen Blanchard

COBLESKILL - Creating Healthy Places is trying to assist families who receive SNAP benefits to make some healthy choices. Many feel that fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive to purchase and they rely more on processed foods. To promote healthy eating Schoharie Fresh will provide $5 in Veggie Bucks with every $10 SNAP purchase through them.

This is funded through Creating Healthy Places. Families can purchase any food products through Schoharie Fresh and then get $5 towards vegetables either that day or in the future. Schoharie Fresh sells locally produced meats, poultry, eggs, baked goods, syrup and honey, teas, fruits and vegetables. Everything sold is produced in Schoharie County. The Veggie Bucks must be used before August 31 or before funds run out. This was done in the fall with $2 Veggie bucks and Schoharie Fresh attracted several families that were able to take advantage of this. We are hoping the $5 in Veggie Bucks can help families extend their food budget and add in some fresh local foods.

Schoharie Fresh, SUNY Cobleskill and Creating Healthy Places also have worked on a Better Foods Better Budgets presentation that was presented at Community Maternity Services in Schoharie this week. Families enjoyed a kale salad, vegetarian chili, corn on the cob and strawberries. They were shown how to prepare these foods as well as a cost analysis. Maureen Blanchard demonstrated cooking corn in a microwave to not only save time, but also to reduce the work and mess that many families use as a reason not to cook corn on the cob. When you cook the corn in the microwave with the husk still on, it makes less mess to shuck the corn after it is cooked. Cut off the bottom and squeeze from the top and the cooked corn comes out clean. Families and staff were amazed at the time saving feature of cooking corn like this.

Jason Evans, PhD prepared the chili and the kale salad. The kale salad was a huge success even with the children present eating it and asking for seconds. It was topped with a store bought ranch dressing with some honey added to it. Recipes were provided to the families as well. Jason and Maureen also talked about how to change recipes to make them more appealing to individual families.

Vegetables at local farmers markets are usually less expensive than at grocery stores as the farmers are selling directly to the customer. Foods are also fresher – most harvested that day and therefore have better taste and nutrition. Farmers markets do not sell per pound on fruits and vegetables and so families are better able to budget money than at the grocery store. And Claire from northern Saratoga, travels to Schoharie County every couple of weeks to purchase through Schoharie Fresh because it helps her family to budget money for vegetables and there is a greater diversity in what is sold and foods last longer because they are fresher.

The next presentation will be at the Community Dinner in Cobleskill on June 26th. We will be providing a salad for the meal and also do some demonstrations and provide information to families.

Green Wolf Brewery Expands

Written By Michael on 7/2/15 | 7/2/15

By Schoharie News Staff

MIDDLEBURGH - The popular Green Wolf Brewing Co. took another step forward last week, with the expansion of its hours to Thursdays and the official opening of its Beer Garden behind the brewery.

Recently marking their six month anniversary of opening, Green Wolf has since become a must stop for residents of the Schoharie Valley, inasmuch for the rich locally brewed beer as the welcoming and inviting atmosphere.

Patrons were treated to free food all weekend and were entered into a raffle where they could win a free growler of finely brewed Green Wolf beer, which recently bested the MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. in the 1780 Beer Challenge.

Showing Off for a Good Cause

By Timothy Knight

SCHOHARIE - Dozens of cars and hundreds of spectators crowded into Schoharie on Sunday morning to take part in the 5th Annual Schoharie Sloughter Car Show.

Held on a beautiful Fathers Day on Spring Street and in the county office parking lots, the show featured a craft show on the lawn and awards presented by John Van Wormer Septic Service and Big Johns Portable Toilets.

Although a time to take in the beauty of American manufacturing spanning the past and present, at the end of the day it was all for a good cause to embetter humanity.

Annually donating proceeds to a worthy local charity or group, this year's funds were donated to The Patriot Highlander Challenge, a not for profit organization that raises money for wounded military veterans.

Raising funds by holding an annual challenge where men and women of all ages compete on an extreme obstacle course at Sunny Knoll's Farm, this year's event is set for Saturday, August 29th.

The introductory event, held last September, was attended by hundreds and raised thousands of dollars.

For more information you can visit the challenge's website at or find them on Facebook.

County Inches Closer to Admin

Written By Michael on 7/1/15 | 7/1/15

By Schoharie News Staff

SCHOHARIE - Progress has been made in Schoharie County's search for an Administrator to oversee the daily administration of county government.
Stating "we made a lot of progress since we had our last meeting," Town of Conesville Supervisor Bill Federice, who serves as chairman of the Administrator Committee, informed supervisors on Friday that the Personnel Office has received nineteen applications for the position.

With Friday coincidentally being the last day applicants could submit resumes for consideration, the next step in the process is to convene the Community Stakeholder Committee that will assist in the interview process.

Organizing on July 13th to go over their role and to discuss an interview strategy for the applicants, the Community Stakeholder Committee will consist of a mixture of department heads and local residents.

Starting the following week, Mr. Federice said they are planning to start the interview process on Monday, July 20th through Wednesday, Jule 22th, after which an assessment and recommendation of the candidates to the Personnel Committee for subsequent interviews by the county board will be made.

The county board is expected to conduct its interviews of the final candidates by late August, so long as the timeline is followed as presently scheduled by Federice and company.

Appointed to the Community Stakeholder Committee is: Cindy Barber, Paul Brady, Gail Breen, Chris Claus, Randy Crasper, Mike Hartzel, Indy Jaycox, Ann Meyers, Kevin Neary, John Riedl, Barb Schaffer, Gail Schaffer, and Ron Stevens.

State Police Arrest Texas Fugitive

By Schoharie News Staff

COBLESKILL - New York State Police stationed in Cobleskill have announced the arrest of Antwone D. Ford, 39, of Texas during a traffic stop on I-88 in the Town of Cobleskill.

Ford was the passenger in a white tractor trailer which was stopped for speeding. During the interview of the driver and passenger, Ford provided Troopers with a false name.

After further investigation it was revealed that Ford was a Fugitive from Justice in Texas for Burglary.

The fugitive was arrested for False Personation, a Class B Misdemeanor, and remanded to Schoharie County Jail as a Fugitive from Justice awaiting extradition.

The operator of the tractor trailer was additionally issued multiple traffic tickets and his vehicle was towed after members of the State Police Commercial Vehicle Unit noted multiple safety and log book violations during an inspection of the vehicle.

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 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

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,, and 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

The Best of the Summer

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