Letters (May 5-12)

mail-letter-sqA Solar Experience

In 2013 I had a ground array solar system installed on our property. Since that time I have only paid the monthly “delivery charge” of about $24 per month for electricity. Our biggest uses of power are our well pump and our hot water heater and some large motors on some tools I use intermittently. When the kids were still with us our bill was about $150-250 per month.

I got nine proposals from six companies during the process of choosing and learning enough about panels. My first exploration involved Solar City, who promptly said our roof was not big enough, and was too shady to support their “free” system. They looked our house up on Google Earth and gave me an instant answer. They would not do ground based systems only roof based systems. I went on from there learning and choosing.

I paid one company $1000 to “engineer” the system. I did not choose that company because their price was 50% higher than many of the other choices I had for installers.


I settled upon one installer who gave me a comprehensive cost analysis showing that if power increased 5% per year, I could “make” 10 percent on my investment. Since that was way higher than any bank would pay me to hold my money, and about the average amount over time that my 401K provided, it was a no brainer.

Just eliminating that bill every two months helps cash flow and since the investment equals or is much lower than the long term financial gain over time, it made sense for my choice.

The next step will be to install a battery back up system and then eliminate that “delivery charge” completely. Tesla has a possible solution on the horizon, and natural “flow batteries” are also possible. These utilize quinones which are naturally occurring molecules as the basis for power storage.

My only regret is that I did not switch over to LED based lighting sooner than I did. I am still replacing those mercury polluting compact fluorescent bulbs which our Saugerties landfill charges $2.50 to recycle and Home Depot accepts for free. I’ve have been informed that the last community workshop of the Solarize Saugerties campaign will be May 19 at the Saugerties Senior Center from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. If you have not checked this out yet here is an opportunity. They can recommend installers.

Larry Ulfik
Fishreek Resident


Bed race is back

Marjorie Block’s celebrated bed rolling contest of Saugerties has apparently returned and, like most inquiring minds in these parts, I’m wondering why. The interest that drives this theme must be some sort of inside thing among 50 something native-borns like Marjorie. Being a 70 something that began living here at 25, well past puberty, I can only relate to observations over my almost 50 years here to come up with a guess about why we have this “bed race.” That guess is that beds are an allusion to Saugerties as a “bedroom community” when these 50 somethings grew up. It may have a pinch of the traditional concept of “moving day” added in to give it some history, perhaps from experiences of moving from starter house to starter house that these youth of Saugerties had in common as they began their own families, when rents were rock bottom in the seventies and early eighties.

The obsession with identifying with “wacky” activities among present day 50 somethings brings them together and I’m sure that is good for them, but I hope Marjorie can fill in some gaps here and tell us her explanation of why this is part of a tourism program, unless it’s a homecoming event, in which case the tourists that are not returning home as “Old Timers” need to be enlightened with her history of this “historic event.”

Michael Sullivan Smith


Off and running

Spring is here! And so are we. We are excited to be running for Saugerties School Board this May and wanted to provide a brief introduction of ourselves.

As a team, Katie, Paul, and Elena bring a strong commitment to fostering a positive dialogue among our families, our schools, and our community on all the issues we are facing as a district.

Katie Emerson-Hoss brings over two decades of work in early childhood, special education, and leadership development. Katie is eager to share her deep knowledge of building effective systems for learning and wellbeing along with her prodigious ability to forge consensus and ensure all voices are heard. Katie served on the board of Saugerties Art Lab for five years and worked with many community partners to bring enrichment projects to the children and families of Saugerties.

Paul Van Schaack brings deep experience in the Saugerties public schools as a parent of three children who have successfully moved through the regular and special education systems. In addition to his 30 years of work in the corporate world, he has provided 15 years of service as a member and an executive in the Saugerties and Regional PTAs. Paul is also well known in the district for volunteering time and energy in various projects that directly serve the children of Saugerties.

Elena Maskell brings broad knowledge of and deep experience with school board procedures and education law. She has served over six (6) years as District Clerk in local N.Y. school districts and is currently the secretary to the superintendent at Red Hook Central School District. Elena is a non-union employee serving in a confidential managerial role, which, coupled with her role as a parent of two children currently attending SCSD, provides her a unique perspective on how things can be run effectively. Elena expects to contribute a great deal of positive energy to the Board.

We look forward to talking with you around town and at the upcoming community forum events for meeting and talking with the candidates. You can also post comments and questions on our Facebook page “Working Together Evm2016.”

Katie Emerson-Hoss,
Paul Van Schaack, Elena Maskell


Hidden Truths In Valentino’s Ghost

What is the relationship between images presented to the American public and American foreign policy in the middle east? What is behind the rabid popularity of Donald Trump?  Why is an entire culture being demeaned? Why has hatred become the catchword of the day? A film about America’s cinematic portrayal of Arabs and Muslims reveals hidden truths: “Why do they hate us?” “Why do we hate them?”

The premise of the film Valentino’s Ghost (to be screened at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills this Friday night,  May 6, 7 pm) focuses on the fact that distorted images lead to injustice — and the other way around — America’s foreign policy agenda drives the U.S. media’s portrayals of Arabs and Muslims: a vicious circle.  Valentino’s Ghost received a standing ovation at the 2012 Venice Film Festival as well as at international screenings. However, in the states, the film was summarily rejected by every single A-list American film festival. A Sundance selection committee member commented that the movie was “by far the best documentary” that year, but that they could not show it because it was “politically too hard-edged.” Thus: suppressed.

The film has now been revived and updated and is exactly what we need desperately to see: a “politically too hard-edged” film that exposes realities that have and continue to control ourselves and our national policies — films that instill prejudice, hatred, violence, war. Curiously, this hour and a half documentary can be entertaining, as viewers recall the many films presented, but at the same time, Valentino’s Ghost displays the horrid specter behind our national consciousness and dispels the illicit courtship of ourselves by our media. See you at Friday’s screening!


Jane Toby


Support for school board candidate

Paul Van Schaack, Elena Maskell, and Kate Emerson-Hoss are interested in serving on the Saugerties Central School, Board of Education this year. Being my neighbor for many years I know Paul to be a civic-minded person who has participated in many community and school activities.

Having three sons who have completed their education in the Saugerties schools, Paul and his wife have been involved in their activities from K-12th grade. Whether holding leadership positions at both the local and regional level P.T.A, involvement in fundraising, chaperoning or cheering at sports events, Paul has been present giving his time and support. His continued interest for the youth of our community is commendable.

Please consider a vote for my good friend and neighbor Paul Van Schaack and his co-candidates on May 17.

Betty Jorgensen