This week’s letters (June 16-23)

Unwelcome explosions

Saturday night, around 9:30 p.m., I was jarred out of my sleep by what sounded like a military invasion. My poor dogs were in a state of pure panic. I also was extremely frightened. I looked out my window and saw it was fireworks being exploded at the Lazy Swan. Up until then, I had thought the Lazy Swan was more of an upscale-type business. Now it had turned into a 3-ring circus. I called one of my neighbors, and he said, he was startled from his sleep, and he honestly thought he was back in the Vietnam war. That was not a good feeling for a person who suffers from post traumatic stress!

If I still had a working dairy farm, I know for a fact that the milk production would certainly be lowered on Sunday morning. It also must have been extremely terrorizing for the wild deer who inhabit much of the surrounding woods. As per New York state law, S.405.00, Permits For Public Displays of Fireworks, someone on the town board had to approve the permit for this display. When the Saugerties Town Police were asked about it, they had to go to the scene to investigate. It would seem, the town police, had no previous knowledge of this display. All sounds like the normal, “walk all over the dumb farmers” by big business to me.

Barbara Terwilliger Ambrosano



Budget cuts and education

School budgets are very complicated, but the decision of whether or not to pass a budget is very simple. We must vote yes. When we go into an austerity budget we lose our voice. We have no say as to what programs will stay and what will be cut. If your child thrives on sports, too bad. If your child aspires to be an artist or musician, too bad.  Once more we have an opportunity to raise our voices to protect our children’s education. On June 21 everyone must get out to vote yes to our revised school budget. It is the last opportunity we’ll have to let our voices be heard.


Elise Hunt



Energy efficiency workshop

I’m writing to encourage Saugerties residents to attend an upcoming public meeting on how to apply for free or reduced-fee energy audits for your homes and small businesses. The information from energy audits can help you cut your energy costs by hundreds of dollars a year. The meeting will be held on Monday, June 20 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the library on Washington Ave.

We’ve done energy audits on several of our town’s municipal buildings, and the cost and energy savings that have been identified are substantial. For example, just by changing existing older lighting fixtures in all town buildings with new energy efficient lighting we’re saving over $27,000 a year in electricity costs and the cost of such installation was covered, in its entirety, by a joint grant from the federal government and Central Hudson.

I look forward to seeing you on June 20. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me at town hall, 246-2800, ext. 345.

Greg Helsmoortel

Town supervisor


Good sportsmen

I am writing to you about the Saugerties High School baseball team that competed in the Final Four of the nysphsaa playoffs. I am a coach in the Binghamton Babe Ruth program and as such had the occasion to meet the coaches and players from the Saugerties High baseball team. The team was told they could practice at Recreation Park before their state semifinal. When the team showed up, me and my Babe Ruth team were using the field. We gave up the field so that your team could use it for final preparation for their state semifinal. I have given up the field in the past to other teams from around New York State so this is not an unusual occurrence. I usually have prior knowledge that a team may be coming to the field but this year I did not. This did not create any problems with me or my team as most of us hung around and continued our practice session when your team was finished.

I am writing to you because I wanted to convey to you that I was very impressed with the professionalism of the coaching staff and the maturity of all the ballplayers there. I, as well as some of my players, took advantage of the situation to talk with many of the players during the practice session. Every one of the players that I interacted with was very respectful and courteous. As the team was leaving and I fist bumped all and wished them luck in their game, to a man everyone of them thanked me for letting them use the field. While the team may not have succeeded in winning a state championship, I wanted to let you know, that they are all winners in life. That team has got to be one of the finest groups of young men and their coaches that I have met in a long time and I have been coaching in the Binghamton Parks leagues for nearly 20 years. Will you please pass along to the coaches and players that while they didn’t win the state championship, they are all winners in the eyes of this coach. I want them all to
know that I would happily give up my field to their team at any time in the future! For all those associated with this team, I wish them all the best of luck in all their future endeavors. Thank You for your time with this matter.
Larry Butler

Head coach

Binghamton Babe Ruth Program


Two phone calls for our health and safety
Last Monday the New York State Assembly passed a moratorium to not issue new permits for fracking until June 2012. No Republican Senator has offered to co-sponsor the same bill (S5592) in the State Senate. We have one more week until the Senate takes a recess and will not return until January 2012.

You can change that with these two phone calls.
1. Call state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos at 518-455-3171. Tell him to put the health and safety of New Yorkers ahead of the profits of the oil and gas industry. Ask him to co-sponsor S5592 and assure it is passed. As head of the Senate we all look to his leadership in heading off what could become the environmental crisis of our state.
2. Call our state Senator John Bonacic at 845-344-3311. Ask him to co-sponsor S5592 for a new moratorium to wait a year before they frack our state. Please mention that the Union (PEF/encon) representing the professional, scientific and technical employees of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are in support of this moratorium until June 2012 and urge him to honor this request as he did last year. The Senator needs to step up to the plate to both protect New Yorkers and assure our support for his re-election.

We need a moratorium to give the DEC and all of us the time to address the serious inadequacies of the current regulations that govern hydro-fracking.To understand these issues go to for recent testimony on the health effects of fracking taken by the Assembly Committees on Health and Environmental Conservation.
Democracy is not a spectator support. Please make these two calls now. And ask family, friends and colleagues to do the same.
Rosalyn Cherry
New Paltz


Decks and Docks a great success

The fourth annual 2011 Decks and Docks Tour on the Esopus Creek was in every way a great success. As a fund-raiser for Esopus Creek Conservancy (ECC), this was our best year yet. Over 60 kayakers and canoeists came from Saugerties as well as surrounding towns such as Hurly, Kingston, Woodstock, Lake Hill and from as far away as NYC, Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey. But best of all was the congenial, friendly atmosphere following kayakers as the launched from the beach, many with the help of kayak instructor, Steve Wykoff from Catskill Kayak Instruction. Steve also paddled along with boaters during the tour giving welcome pointers to novice kayakers. Hosts and Hostesses, along with ECC volunteers greeted the paddlers to their decks, docks, porches and patio. One delighted kayaker summed it up; “I can’t believe how gracious the homeowners are!” And it’s true that they are really the heart and soul of Decks and Docks.

Students from Saugerties High School provided a new highlight to the tour this year as they serenaded boats as they paddled by Esopus Bend Nature Preserve or lingered to listen.

Not enough can be said about the community support that makes this event a possibility for ECC. Each year Kenco Work and Play Outfitters sends kayaks and canoes to the beach for use by tourists. This year the Saugerties Marina also lent us kayaks. Much to our relief, George Terpening’s crew worked hard to restore the beach from a mudslide resulting from months of turbid water and flooding, to a walkable pre-flood sandy beach launching spot.

That this event attracted so many kayakers from near and far is due solely to the generous coverage and promotion of this event by publishing community, locally the Saugerties Times and Post Star, Daily Freeman and many other community news groups as well as Woodstock Radio, WDST, Anastasia Redman at Lighthouse TV and our film producer, David Becker. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Other generous sponsors for Decks and Docks were Adams Fairacre Farm, Dig, Sprout House, Herzogs, P.C. Smith Hardware and Krause Chocolate’s (who lent us their parking lot for the day).

And not to be forgotten and most appreciated, Deputy Joe Steyer of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Navigation Unit once again patrolled the creek during the event and provided a safe boating environment for kayakers.

A very warm and heartfelt “thank you” to all of the above, and also to the Decks and Docks working group, and ECC volunteers work during the event and behind the scenes to make the event possible. They are: Brenda Scott, Chris Florsch, David Becker, Greg Perantoni, Joel Schuman, John Bassler, John F. Baker, Leeanne Thornton, Mary O’Donnell, Rich Dooley, Marie Martinez, Rita Galchus, Kate Shuter, Ed Schreiber, Moira Adamowicz, Samantha Peterson, Logan Callahan and Kinsey Irvin. This year we were also joined by RSVP volunteers, Pat Turco, and Jean and Frank Margus.

Susan Bolitzer



The Palestinian POV

I’ve chosen Fragments of a Lost Palestine (75 minutes), directed by the French film-maker Norma Marcos, to initiate a new film series at the Saugerties Library (third Tuesdays of the month, 7:30 p.m.) sponsored by Middle East Crisis Response. The film (to be shown June 21) is an artistic, intimate portrayal of a people so little known to us here in the states and so rarely viewed in their everyday lives. I was surprised to recognize the young girl in this film when I saw it aired at the Boston Palestinian Film Festival this past fall.


Yara is the teenage daughter of Toine, cultural liaison to the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem, where I’ve done volunteer work interviewing Palestinian women and their families. The director, Norma, is Yara’s aunt. It was wonderful to step across the line that divides one culture from another, one people from another, and get to know ordinary people who have been labeled “terrorists” and treated as “taboo” by our country. I want to give our community the unique opportunity to know these people as real people—an opportunity I have had—and so I hope this film will launch that voyage of discovery.

Jane Toby



Health department should weigh in on fracking

I believe that your paper and our friends and neighbors, everyone in Ulster County would like to know about the following letter which was sent to Dr. Hasbrouck, director of the Ulster County Health Department a week ago. We await a reply from him. Please consider coming out to hear what he has to say. We will be walking regardless, rain or shine.

Thank you, Chris Countryman,  Shokan.

Dr. Hasbrouck:

We are writing you as members of Walk about Water, a women’s grassroots action campaign seeking to raise awareness of the threats posed to our county by fossil fuel extraction. As mothers and grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters concerned about the health and well being of our families, we have much in common with the mission of the Ulster County Health Department.

Recent testimony to the New York State Assembly by Dr. Sandra Steingraber and Dr. Adam Law concerning the Health Effects of Hydrofracturing Technology describes with scientific expertise the nature of our concerns. (Video available on Youtube.)

Much of Ulster County sits atop the Marcellus shale formation. Although our county Legislature unanimously passed a resolution prohibiting the leasing of county-owned land for shale gas drilling, those lands are only a small percentage of the county. We fear the leasing of mineral rights is already underway throughout the county and assert that although there is much to say about money and energy when it comes to gas mining, it is first and foremost a public health issue.

The partial moratorium on hydraulic fracture gas mining placed by executive order of Gov. Paterson last December is due to expire in July. We feel, as does Dr. Steingraber, that to proceed with this technology without first conducting comprehensive health studies is a tragedy in the making. In light of responsibilities assigned the health departments in the dsgeis, we would like to support our local Health Department to have a strong voice in policy making decisions. We also need information and leadership from you. If the following questions can’t be adequately answered then we request that your office join us in prevailing upon state health authorities to support a ban on shale hydrofracture mining of any kind.

What can we do as individuals to protect our drinking water and our health if a drill rig comes to our neighborhood? Will the county keep a database that reveals the location of lands that have been leased? If people act to test baseline water samples in a timely manner, what are the legitimate protocols and what official body will archive the results? In what ways can the Health Department help citizens demand accountability from polluters when the public health is at stake? What role will the Health Department play in helping doctors recognize and alleviate the symptoms of environmental poisoning?  This letter is an invitation to work together with us to bring local health issues to the forefront in the shale gas mining discussion. We are planning a two-day Walk About Water on Sunday, June 19 and Monday, June 20, a twenty mile distance. We anticipate arriving at 300 Flatbush Ave. around 2 p.m.

We would like to attract the press to this event with some music, a speaker, some fun and colorful theatrics followed by a walk to your office door.
We hope you will be willing to greet us there with an official public Health Department statement in response to our concern for the waters and the health of our community.

Thank you for your consideration.

Christina Countryman, Linda Leeds, Deanna Carpe, Lisa Montanus, Bess Path, Mary Finneran, Joy Ohrvall, Joan Walker-Wasylyk

Walk About Water


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There is one comment

  1. Lazy Swan Neighbor

    We too were a little surprised to see the fireworks at Lazy Swan, but we sat on our porch and watched them over the tree tops and held hands thinking how fun – a couple maybe just got married. And even if it was a grey day they are starting out, and it’s all ahead if them. Of all the surprises in life, this was a pretty nice one. We LOVE the Lazy Swan.

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