Woodstock 104 seeks to fill gaps on WATV

Randi Steele (photo by Felicia Kacsik)

Randi Steele (photo by Felicia Kacsik)

The Woodstock Town Board heard a generous proposal from the town’s new community radio station, implored the Postal Service not to continue its downsizing and refinanced bonds to save taxpayer money at its February 10 meeting.

In what could be seen as a win-win situation for the town and new station Woodstock 104, Birds of a Feather Media CEO Randi Steele offered the town unlimited rights to rebroadcast the radio station on public access television Channel 23. This would allow greater exposure for the new radio station and provide local-interest programming during downtime on the TV station.

Now, when Channel 23 is off the air, people see a logo with no audio. The station used play elevator music, much to people’s annoyance, but it is now silent when there is no programming, she said.


The current Community Center reconstruction causes frequent interruptions for Channel 23 and creates confusion for viewers. Woodstock 104 can fill those gaps an ensure there is always content on the station, Steele said. “Woodstock 104 offers itself as Woodstock’s only noncommercial not-for-profit broadcaster to fill the audio gap on Channel 23,” Steele said in her proposal. Woodstock 104 can also provide vital emergency communications during inclement weather, thanks in part to dual backup generators.

The radio station has been doing part-time testing since September, mostly Thursdays from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., but will soon be running close to full-time, Steele said.

Woodstock 104 provides programming from many who are also producers on the TV station, rebroadcasts Town Board meetings and fills gaps with national shows like Democracy Now.

Broadcasting at 104.1 FM, the station’s official call letters are WIOF, though they’d rather be known as Woodstock 104.

The setup at the TV station would be as simple as feeding the output from an FM radio into the equipment that displays the logo when the station is off-air. Producers just need to push a button as they do now when they end their show, Steele said.

Supervisor Jeremy Wilber said the board will discuss the offer and make a decision soon. Though pleased with Steele’s offer, Councilman Bill McKenna want to make sure there is a “kill switch” in the event the town deemed programming from the radio station inappropriate.

Steele assured the board the town would have complete control over the audio feed and could turn it off at any time at the TV station’s control room.


Please, Mr. Postman

As reliability of mail in Woodstock remains questionable, plans by the Postal Service won’t make it any better if it moves forward with plans to close a processing and distribution center near Poughkeepsie.

To express its disgust, the Town Board unanimously passed a resolution urging the Postal Service to keep the center open.

“This plan would severely delay all classes of mail delivery” and “the delay of mail would negatively affect residents and local businesses and would harm our community.”

The Woodstock post office stopped sorting local mail some time ago, meaning even a letter delivered across town goes to Albany and back. Compounding the issue, the closing of the Poughkeepsie facility would delay mail to and from other parts of the state and country.

Town Clerk Jackie Earley has complained that tax bills and other important correspondence with townsfolk often gets delayed or returned undeliverable.

The resolution calls on the town’s congressional delegation to stop the impending closure.

Councilman Jay Wenk blamed the situation on a bloated federal budget and an emphasis on defense and other issues that could using scaling back.


Seeking an engineer

To help start projects funded by the state’s New York Rising program, the board voted to advertise a request for qualifications for a project engineer. New York Rising is a program to aid towns, villages and cities affected by recent hurricanes including Irene, Lee and Sandy.

Requirements prohibit Town Board members from being involved in selecting the engineer, so the town will form a five-member committee that will forward its recommendation to the board, Wilber said.

Projects include replacing culverts on Lane Road and Reynolds Lane and reconstruction on John Joy Road to deal with flood-prone areas.

When those projects are done, Wilber said, the town may be able to leverage leftover money with the state Department of Transportation to fund much-needed repairs to storm-battered Route 212 through the center of town.


It’s all black and white

The Planning Board wrote a letter asking the Town Board to stake claim to water from Cooper Lake in the ongoing discussions about a proposed water bottling plant in the town of Ulster.

For the town to assert its claim, the Planning Board suggests the town make formal application for use of the water, a step Wilber says is unnecessary and very costly.

A 1929 decision already lays out the town’s rights and the Town Board recently hired an Albany environmental attorney to make sure those rights don’t get lost in the shuffle.


“It’s in black and white,” McKenna said, with Wilber in agreement.

Niagara Bottling plans to build a bottled water plant in the town of Ulster near the old IBM plant, now Tech City. The proposed plant could draw up to 1.7 million gallons of water from Cooper Lake, which is in the town of Woodstock but under Kingston Water Department jurisdiction. Kingston would sell the water to the town of Ulster, which in turn would sell it to the bottling plant.

The plan has prompted concerns about the impact such a large water draw would have on Cooper Lake and the nearby aquifer.


And all that legal mumbo-jumbo

In a complex maneuver, the town refinanced what’s left of a $3.18 million bond for the highway garage to take advantage of drastically lower interest rates. The balance of the debt, some $1.9 million was subject to a 4.25 percent interest rate. The current rates hover just above 2 percent, meaning the town can realize a savings of $10,000 to $15,000 per year for the next 10 years by re-funding the bond, Wilber explained. The refinancing will not result in additional payments.

While it will result in significant savings, this, like any bonding transaction required the reading aloud of legalese. To the chagrin of those present and to Wilber’s voice, this one totaled more than six pages and took 17 minutes to read.


It’s Showtime!

The board authorized Wilber to sign agreements with Showtime Productions for a two-day use of part of the Mountainview parking lot, one-day use of the Comeau sledding hill and one-day use of Andy Lee Field for filming of Happyish, a comedy series to air on the cable channel.

The production company will pay the town $1,000 per day each for using the sledding hill and Andy Lee. Town police personnel were previously filmed for other scenes and the company paid them $50 per hour for their time, Wilber said.