Costly new town website in limbo
Recently, the Town of Saugerties’ website received an “F” grade from a good government group. I believe a website can be a powerful open government tool to provide taxpayers with the information they need to monitor town operations.
The current website has some good features, but needs a modernizing facelift. In 2013, the town recognized this and asked the Economic Development (ED) Committee to lead the effort with a budget of $6,500. Collins Communications of Albany was awarded the contract to design the site and provide staff training. Collins apparently subcontracted the design to Create Digital Design based in South Carolina. A test site was completed in December 2013: https://tinyurl.com/saugsite. Over a year later, the test site is incomplete and not accessible from the current town website. Why?
In addition to potentially wasted tax dollars, the way the contract was awarded is troubling. Why wasn’t a Saugerties web designer solicited? An Internet search lists several local web designers. The excellent Chamber of Commerce website was created by a Saugerties resident.
Also troubling is the apparent lack of adherence to the Town Procurement Policy. This policy was updated in January 2013 due to a critical state audit on past town bidding practices. Its purpose is to “assure the prudent and economical use public monies in the best interest of taxpayers” and “to guard against favoritism, improvidence, extravagance, fraud and corruption.” The town policy requires two written price quotations for a contract of this size. When I submitted a FOIL to the town for copies of the written quotations, nothing was provided.
In closing, I urge the Town Board to develop a plan to use the site developed by Create Digital Design so $6,500 in tax dollars aren’t wasted. The town will be soon required to upgrade its website due to increasing state posting requirements. Furthermore, the Town Board should investigate the awarding of this contract and ensure the Procurement Policy is followed in the future.
Joe Roberti Jr.
The restorative effect of nature
We’ve seen notable achievements in four areas that affect the quality of our lives in Ulster County: environment, infrastructure, social responsibility and fiscal responsibility. Thanks to visionary County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County has become a leader in the state of New York.
Another aspect of his vision may come to count for more than any of the above. The idea of a rail trail, connecting Ulster County within itself — and beyond itself to Dutchess, Sullivan, and other counties — offers immeasurable benefits. Many of us will drive less; many will be healthier thanks to readily available exercise; children can ride their bikes safely; companies are more likely to relocate to an area enhanced by rail trails.
Does life seem to be ever-faster paced, and technology seem to require that we spend more and more of our time in a cyber-world? Think what the future holds! If it’s an intensification of the same, Mike Hein’s rail trail vision will have a big impact when it’s realized — the open skies above and the fresh air, the chance to wander in nature at our own pace, the means to explore quiet corners of our beautiful terrain. The list could be endless.
A fully realized rail trail will transform normal, daily life for us and for our descendants beyond what we can imagine at present.
Reverend Susan Auchincloss
Priest associate, Trinity Episcopal Church, Saugerties
Remember the veterans
On Saturday Jan. 24, I attended the Wild Game Dinner which was hosted by the New Paltz Elks’ Lodge# 2568. Proceeds from the $20 admission tickets and any raffles were donated to assist wounded veterans. As news is disseminated in the media about our federal government not adequately taking care of our veterans through providing them with decent benefits or providing them with adequate medical care, I felt that it was important to point out that we all have an opportunity to help support local organizations like the Elks Lodge chapters and VFW Lodge chapters whenever they have fund raising events. For the second year in a row, I was the only elected official in attendance, and although the benefit was held more than 30 miles outside of my legislative district, I was more than happy to contribute to a good cause which supports our veterans. The food was outstanding and the event was well attended, and participants were encouraged to bring leftovers home. For the second year in a row, I dropped off leftovers at the New Paltz Police Station on behalf of the New Paltz Elks’ Lodge, and I was told that the food was greatly appreciated by the men and women who were on duty that night at the New Paltz Police Department.
Later that evening, I attended a showing of “American Sniper” at the New Paltz Cinema. I thought that it was a well produced film which to me was a love story on several levels. In “American Sniper,” Chris Kyle, the main character, was portrayed as man who was in love with his country, his wife and his family, and he took his job in the armed forces very seriously. In protecting the troops that Chris Kyle oversaw, he strived to achieve perfection by protecting everyone that he possible could, and unfortunately there were times where he could not have control over everything around him. Clint Eastwood, the director of “American Sniper,” produced the film in such a way that much of the actual undertones could be left up to interpretation by the individual viewers themselves as to what they thought of the events taking place. With that being said, however, several things could not be left up to the subjective interpretations of the individual viewers: Chris Kyle loved his country, he loved the troops that he fought for, and he loved his wife and family. Through Chris Kyle’s love of his country and his desire to be perfect, he gave of himself to the point where he put in more than 100 percent towards doing his job to the best of his capabilities and in the end it took a toll on him and his family. So the next time you hear of an opportunity to attend a benefit at a local chapter of the VFW or the Elks’ Lodge, please remember what members of the armed forces give to us when they are called into duty and try to attend.
Ulster County legislator
Successful gun raffle
The Auxiliary of Saxton Fire Department would like to thank everyone who purchased tickets for our Henry Rifle gun raffle. The winning number was drawn the evening of Veterans’ Day at Saugerties Outfitters, with Francis “Frank” Raffiani as the winner.
Thanks to Saugerties Outfitters and Buono Funeral Home; Saugerties Outfitters for getting the gun for us and donating the ammunition, Buono’s for printing and donating the tickets.
Saugerties Outfitters was a big help in helping us sell the tickets too, so thank you to them and all of the other ticket sellers.