The Saugerties Area Council of Churches would like to express its heartfelt thanks to the community once again for its overwhelming support of our Christmas Toy Store mission project. Our 23rd year was a huge success! Parents came and shopped for Christmas for their 337 children! If it weren’t for the continued support that we receive each year, from businesses, community groups, and individuals, this would not be possible. Thanks also to the numerous volunteers who donated their time in order to make Christmas happy for the children of our neighbors. May God bless you all in the New Year!
Chairman, Christmas Toy Store
When I was asked by Saugerties Times for the 2015 Looking Ahead issue what efforts I would like to see made on the local level to help those afflicted with mental health issues who slip through the cracks within our health care system, this was my full response: “I would like to see more funding provided by federal, state, county and private sources in order to improve the treatment and care that is provided for those who suffer from mental health issues. In addition, a better coordination of pre-existing resources can improve the treatment of those afflicted with mental health issues. One idea examines how EMT service technicians could be more intensively trained on how to look for signs of specific mental illnesses at the point of intake.”
And in responding to an additional question about improvements within the health care system in general, I responded: “it is very important that we all work together to improve specific elements of our heath care system within the state and federal levels of our health system which in turn will provide better health care for all of us at the county level. The reimbursement rates from Medicaid and Medicare that are being received at the Health Alliance Campus at Kingston and Benedictine Hospitals falls short of what is being received at Northern Dutchess Hospital and Vassar Brothers Hospital. Recently, lower reimbursement rates were blamed for net operating losses at the Kingston-based hospitals. Increased revenues from higher reimbursement rates will allow the Health Alliance Medical Group to offer better compensation packages to perspective doctors and nurses which will attract doctors and nurses to come to Kingston rather than go elsewhere for employment.”
Anyone who has heard me speak or write about issues related to health care, I generally provide detailed answers on these issues. However, due to space constrictions in last week’s edition of Saugerties Times, my answers were not printed in their entirety. In the future, I will be writing about many of the flaws and problems that I have found within the United States’ health care system along with proposed solutions to help alleviate these flaws. Health care is an extremely important issue, and I strongly believe that our elected officials on the federal and state levels have historically let us down by passing shoddy legislation that does not provide proper oversight and coordination amongst the power brokers within the U.S. Health Care System. As a legislator, I plan on constructing and contributing towards legislative solutions that directly focus on what these legislators have been unable to see and incapable of correcting.
Ulster County Legislature
Oppose the pipeline
Many of us breathed a sigh of relief when we heard that Gov. Cuomo made the decision that fracking was unsafe and would be banned in NY State. It took years of understanding the science and the health impacts and writing comments and making sure our voices were heard. We heard DEC Commissioner Martens and Dr. Zucker of New York State Health Department report that fracking could not be proved to be safe and that they wouldn’t want their children to have to live next door. Thank you! Now we do not want any child or family to live next door to a fracking well, whether they live in Pennsylvania or North Dakota. We do not want pipelines carrying that fracked gas or oil through our communities putting those families who live next door to those wells at risk and putting New York State families at risk as well.
On Saturday, Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. we will be holding an informational forum about the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline which is being planned to carry the very volatile and explosive Crude Oil which has been fracked in North Dakota (and transported by rail to Albany), down the New York State Thruway Corridor to New Jersey refineries.
There is ample evidence that pipelines leak, explode and pollute the land, that there is little oversight of present lines, that this pipeline will not replace the barges and trains but will only add another danger to our community. There is little or no benefit such a pipeline presents to our community- only the risks. Much of the crude or refined oil will be slated for export.
Already representatives have been approaching landowners in Saugerties to get the right to survey their lands. No permits have been granted, no right of way granted…yet
Out with the old
Judith Hansen, superintendent of the Kingston Water Board, is charged with “supplying its inhabitants with pure and wholesome water” and overseeing the maintenance of the critical infrastructure that delivered that water. Regrettably, Hansen’s Water Board has for years engaged in a policy of deferred system maintenance. It’s promoted regressive water rates that reward large users at the expense of average families and failed to engage the community in a comprehensive water conservation program. Tragically, this perfect storm of policy failures has left Kingston with system repairs totaling an estimated $18 million.
Incredibly, Hansen now wants to throw the communities of Kingston, Ulster, Woodstock and Saugerties under the bus in order to solve this problem that she and her board created. The plan Hansen and her cronies are selling to the public and our politicians is based on an 85-year-old water “decision,” a 50-year old water study and a multi-billion dollar payday for Niagara. It’s obsolete, misleading and dangerous. Clearly, it’s time for a fresh approach with proven, common sense ideas that reflect a 21st century vision.
Let’s start by rewriting the Water Board’s upside-down rate schedule which, by charging successively lower rates for greater usage, actually discourages conservation and encourages water waste. Consider that the average Kingston family that uses less than 3,000 gallons per month pays almost 40 times the unit rate that large users like Niagara would pay for its 52 million gallons: $40.13 vs. $1.33!
By augmenting a revised Water Rate schedule with enhanced water conservation measures as a serious water management strategy, we could eliminate the need for Hansen’s drastic plan to sell 30 percent of our municipal water to a single corporate customer that would pay rock-bottom water prices and compete, by whatever means necessary, with local citizens and businesses for what would have ipso facto become a scarce resource.
It’s 2015, out with the old and in with the new. We can’t let Ms. Hansen and her Water Board put us in harm’s way any longer.