An open letter to New Paltz Town and Village elected officials:
As a former New Paltz Supervisor, I am embarrassed by your response to the municipal water crisis this week. The initial response of notifying local radio, TV, newspapers, principal users and placing info on social media was a good start and probably eventually reached most users, but what about those who arrived home late Monday night from being away, or those who only seldom use or never use those facilities? You should have prepared a pass-out sheet with all important data and used Town and Village personnel to visit each and every user and providing them with a flier, explaining the problem and action required with a contact avenue for updates. If no one was home, then leave the flier tacked to the appropriate door or doors. You used to be able to do this for billing.
Anything less was unacceptable.
David S. Lent
Taking reservoir #4 and the lagoons offline
After we flushed our water distribution system last week, there were no detections of petroleum products in any of the samples collected and analyzed by the NYS Department of Health. We believe isolating and bypassing reservoir #4 plus taking our treatment plant’s lagoons offline were the important first steps.
Our water treatment plant filters Catskill Aqueduct water purchased from the NYC DEP and water from our four reservoirs near the Mohonk Preserve. The filter’s backwash and collected solids are moved to the lagoons during the treatment process. In the lagoons, sludge waste settles and separates from supernatant (soo-per-NAY-tent). The supernatant is the clear water that is returned back to the head of the plant and blended with aqueduct or reservoir water. Sludge gets removed, is dried and is then hauled to landfills.
The lagoons are like large outdoor swimming pools with a lining. Our lagoons were rebuilt this past summer as part of the plant’s $5.5 million upgrade.
Our plant operator stopped recirculating any supernatant from the lagoon back through the plant once we issued the do-not-drink advisory on February 10. On Friday, February 14, the DEC helped New Paltz by freeing up space in the lagoons and hauling away 5,300 gallons of liquid supernatant that tested positive for trace amounts of heating oil contaminants.
The lagoons continue to be isolated and offline while we take more samples of its supernatant and sludge. The lagoons will again be tested for Semi-Volatile Organic Compound (SVOCs) and VOCs. This sampling will help determine the next steps for getting the lagoons completely clean. We anticipate draining them and cleaning their walls with potable water. Even after those next steps, we will take more samples once it fills again to see how much more remediation is necessary.
The lagoons will need a clean bill of health before we return to using them normally.
Mayor Tim Rogers
Lack of public notice about water emergency
I am writing today in regards to the lack of public notice from our Mayor in New Paltz, Tim Rogers, regarding the health advisory of public water. It is now Wednesday, February 12, 2020 and I still have not received any notice of this public safety issue. According to the mayor, just simply posting something on Facebook, or relying on social media and word of mouth is the BEST way he has to offer in terms of sending out this public health notice?
I have not received a single phone call, nor piece of mail, nor have I received even a flyer as a Village resident about the warning not to use water for consumption. I find this appalling that four days later I still have not received any official warning from the mayor. What alarms me even more is that, the mayor and Village officials have everyone’s mailing addresses, hopefully phone numbers, but are thinking that by posting on websites or social media that all citizens use social media and that the mayor considers other people’s word of mouth the most appropriate way to disseminate crucial information. (By the way, I am quite sure that not everyone subscribes to social media and, in fact, I only was informed about this water ban from a friendly neighbor at 4 p.m. on Monday, February 10).
As I recollect, social media and word of mouth are not always a guaranteed, effective and reliable source of information. Receiving an actual official notification from the mayor via phone or mail, would be. What concerns me even more is that if there were to be another safety warning of even greater threats, we again as citizens of the Village or Town would not be appropriately informed (seriously, if there was not internet what would be done)? Again, this is a disgrace. I am not saying the mayor needs to say the cause of a threat or concern (I do understand a full investigation needs to be done, which takes time and resources). What I am saying is that at the very least every citizen has the right to know by official means, that there is a public warning. By all means, the mayor and Village have all Village residents mailing addresses, as they sure are able to send out bills collecting payment several times a year for taxes and water bills. But yet they fail to send out an important public notice like contaminated water?
I would appreciate you addressing how you WILL disseminate important public information in the future, and as soon as possible. Thank you very much.
Response to viewpoint article “Saving the Ridge, Again” on Feb. 13
Controversy surrounding the issue of whether to repair or remove the dam on the Palmaghatt Kill at Tillson Lake includes the issue of protection of the stream’s ecological value. Several recent Tillson Lake studies affirm the value of the Lake’s habitats and species, while general regional research affirms the benefits of dam removal for certain species of fish and for stream health. But because all streams are not the same, it’s best to evaluate each case individually. I’m commenting as a wetland specialist/ecologist who conducted one of the recent ecological studies on Tillson Lake, confirming that a large portion of the Lake area is wetland. We tend to divide watersheds into sections that correspond to town boundaries or areas where we live or recreate. However, the streams, wetlands and uplands that comprise watersheds are best protected as one interconnected system.
The Palmaghatt begins on the Shawangunk Ridge and flows for about 7.5 miles to the Shawangunk Kill, draining a watershed of almost eight square miles. On the Ridge, the Palmaghatt ravine’s wild land supports a variety of rare species. Below the Ridge, both upstream and downstream of Tillson Lake, the stream levels out and flows more slowly, often through agricultural and developed land. These lower reaches of the stream are a different stream habitat and are affected by impacts from adjacent land uses; for example in many places, vegetated buffers along the stream are insufficient for water quality maintenance or habitat protection. Many of the rare species that thrive on the Ridge cannot thrive here. The Lake and adjacent wetlands support different groups of wetland and open water species. All of these ecological communities in the watershed contribute to its ecological value.
The health of the Palmaghatt depends on its riparian corridor and the nature of adjacent land uses. To protect the stream’s long-term health, we need to know more about its water quality (eg. temperature, pH, nutrients, macroinvertebrates, dissolved oxygen) and how it changes as the stream flows from Ridge to Lake to Shawangunk Kill. All of the waters and wetlands within the watershed are connected and most of them have in some way been affected by human development. It isn’t constructive to evaluate ecosystems by pitting them against each other, eg. lake vs wetland vs stream; they collectively provide habitat for an impressive variety of species. The Shawangunk Ridge is affected by land development along its base. In the valley, there is a high need for accessible places for boating, fishing or birdwatching, and other recreational and educational experiences — especially those accessible to kids. Public land at Tillson Lake along with the Palmaghatt provide a wildlife corridor and habitat connections between Ridge and Valley, and can contribute to protecting the integrity of the Ridge. Tillson Lake as part of the Palmaghatt system can be a valuable ecological, educational, and recreational resource.
Trump: No Gods before me
In the 2008 primary campaign, candidate Barack Obama scorched himself with the comment that some frustrated voters “cling to guns and religion” in making their political choices. Outrage poured from evangelicals, the GOP messaging machine and even from Hillary Clinton. Criticizing people’s faith, regardless of context, was a third rail.
After his impeachment acquittal, Donald Trump lashed out at Mitt Romney, accusing him of using his “religion as a crutch” to defend his vote to convict the President for abuse of power. In his Senate speech Romney, a devout Mormon who served as a bishop for his church, declared that his oath before God and the nation, and his own conscience, could lead him to no other verdict.
Clearly, Trump doesn’t think “religion” is a good enough reason to defy his demands for loyalty. People of faith can ponder the apparently competing demands of their eternal God and the idol who currently commands the stage.
When I first attended meetings of the New Paltz Transportation Implementation Committee with “A Laughing Matter” columnist Dr. Mark Sherman (never miss it!), I thought he was “off” in an interesting way.
This group’s mission was to make suggestions for improving getting around in New Paltz. Once, the acting director of the Department of Transportation (DOT) attended, and I asked him how the DOT determined speed limits. Dr. Sherman answered, saying speed limits were set at the speed most drivers drove on sections of the roads. Stunned by what I thought was an absurd answer, I re-asked the director of the DOT and he said, “Basically, he’s right.”
I have walked in swamps, but this one was dangerous. Now, years later, New Paltz has turned its attention to people walking into cars and cars smashing into people — many even protected by white paint on the road!
Last night, returning home from work at about 6 p.m., I saw a young guy dressed in dark clothes do a double bull evasion as he crossed Main Street towards P&G’s. Neither car slowed, each car passed him at the same moment, probably blinded by oncoming headlights. Ole! A skillful, lucky, stupid matador was unharmed. It was the paint.
P.S. After writing this letter, the death of Orson Bean, hit by two cars crossing the street, was announced. Now I am angry.
College reaches out to thank the campus community and others
Last week’s water situation proved once again that our campus community and partners in the village, town, county, SUNY System and state government come together successfully in challenging times, reflecting our collective commitment to the welfare of our students and our entire campus community.
Many individuals and agencies worked long hours, shared expertise and rapidly provided needed resources to solve the problem and support our operations. With their commitment and tireless work, we uncovered the problem and made sure our water is safe to drink. Additionally, we all collaborated and communicated well during a period of uncertainty.
First, let us thank the following partners for identifying the problem and bringing it to a swift resolution:
• Village of New Paltz
• Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
• NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services — Office of Emergency Management and Office of Fire Prevention and Control
• NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
• NYS Department of Health
• Ulster County Executive’s Office
• Ulster County Emergency Management
• Ulster County Department of Health
• Town of New Paltz
The water issue not only affected thousands of on-campus resident students and our employees, but also the thousands of commuting students who reside in the Village and the Town.
On campus, we call out several departments that rose to the challenge, though this is by no means an exhaustive list. We know there were many single acts of generosity and assistance that we continue to learn about. The stories we have heard are heart-warming and inspiring. We are grateful to our:
• Office of Emergency Management
• Office of Environmental Health and Safety
• Office of Facilities Operations
• Residence Life and other Division of Student Affairs staff
• The Center for International Programs (CIP)
• Our colleagues in Campus Auxiliary Services and Sodexo
• Office of Communication and Marketing
• Office of Undergraduate Admission
• Office of Records and Registration
• Student Association Leadership
For example, the Office of Student Activities and Union Services mobilized quickly in collaboration with Trailways to procure buses to expedite students’ trips home and their return to campus yesterday. Student Affairs staff and Student Association leadership helped students load buses, and Residence Life staff organized fun activities for those who did not go home — 233 students, mostly international students, resident assistants and athletes in season under the theme: “Water You Doing This Week?” CIP organized a trip to the Palisades Mall. As state-provided water began to arrive on campus, Moving and Trucking staff and Sodexo staff, with assistance from residence life staff, our emergency management team and campus volunteers, delivered pallets of water quickly to residence halls and the Student Union and later to administrative and academic buildings.
We thank faculty who remained in communication with students as events unfolded, who kept labs and studios open, held office hours and responded to student concerns and questions.
Please notify Mike Malloy, director of environmental health and safety, at extension 2385, if you notice anything unusual with the water.
We hope that many of you had an opportunity to get some well-deserved rest this weekend and are ready to resume our core work of teaching and learning this week — even as we know some were dealing with a water main break on campus yesterday as well!
We made our decisions last week based on available information and our commitment to the well-being of our community. We always look to learn from every incident so that we can respond even better when the next issue arises. We are grateful to be part of a special community that weathers storms like this in such a supportive and collaborative way.
Donald P. Christian
Interim Provost and VP for Academic Affairs
VP for Finance and Administration
VP for Student Affairs
L. David Eaton
VP for Enrollment Management
Erica Marks, VP for Development and Alumni Relations
Chief of Staff and VP for Communication
Tanhena Pacheco Dunn
Associate VP for Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
SUNY New Paltz
Re: vicious cycle
As is often the case with climate news, the big news is really the smaller news. Last week the temperature in Antarctica reached a remarkable 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. (Scientists are still debating the exact number). The big news, though rarely mentioned, is that the permafrost is certainly melting.
During the two decades that we have been familiarizing ourselves with climate change, there’s always been an ominous threat called “permafrost.” When the permafrost melts, the hundreds of billions of metric tons of organic carbon will release carbon dioxide and methane. This event is accompanied by terms like “non-linear,” “turning the corner,” and “dreaded.”
Scientists are not entirely certain as to why the poles are warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. They’re also finding it difficult to predict what will happen next. However, it’s incredibly clear that this recent warming will release MORE greenhouse gasses which will combine with the gases that human activity emits.
Right now, the most important thing we can do is elect leaders who believe in climate change and see it as our number-one threat.
Dan and Ann Guenther
A “biased press” is the enemy of the people
“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”
— Actual headline of story reporting the death of the murderous leader, Abu Baker al-Baghdadi printed in the Washington Post
“In your hearts you know he’s right.”
— Campaign slogan of 1964 presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater
In Light of the Above, actual headline (later removed because of public ridicule by some in other media outlets) the following is a satirical poke at the story indicative of the Fourth Estate’s clear and present bias.
The New York Times: Suicide death of austere religious scholar is under investigation. Subpoenas are expected to be issued by Congress soon.
A recent special operations raid resulting in the apparent suicide death of the austere Religious Scholar, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is being investigated by the Congress. Based on a whistleblower report that the so-called hero of the raid, a Special Operations Military Working Dog (SOMWD) volunteered for the mission, Democrats, led by Congressman Adam Schiff, are calling for an investigation to determine whether the Dog, a known Islamophobe, had any connections to Vladimir Putin or Ukrainian officials. Leader Adam Schiff’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is expected to issue subpoenas to both the hound and his trainers within days. President Trump, who “green lighted” the raid and, apparently, has something to hide, is calling the investigation a “fox hunt.” Trump has ordered all those subpoenaed to defy the Congress’ attempt to undermine the rights and privileges of the POTUS. The President is justifying his order based on the seldom used and archaic, Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has announced that any such order is unconstitutional and merely another attempt by Donald Trump to “cover up” the truth and “obstruct” The Congress from exercising its, lawful, oversight authority. The harried hound, a male Belgian Malinois named Conan, is also accused of racism, by Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, for his apparent use of blackface during the raid as revealed in a widely circulated photo of the canine. A White House spokesperson stated that such charges, based upon the fact that “some dog did something,” are frivolous and absurd. The hound may also be charged with a hate crime according to an anonymous source within the Department of Defense.
While it is wrong to assert that a press that follows sound journalistic principles of accuracy, independence and fairness is an enemy of the people, a “Biased Press” is, indeed, a threat to the freedom of any society. Unfortunately, because of the present political climate, far too many in the “Fourth Estate” consider bias virtuous when it is leveled against those who disagree with their world view. However, as Arizona’s long-deceased former Senator, Barry Goldwater (who once stated “Extremism in the cause of liberty is no vice”) might say, “A politically biased, ideological, press is not virtuous.” And if I’m correct in my assessment of Goldwater’s sentiments in this regard, perhaps, it would not be wrong to suggest that…in our hearts we know he is right.
Fact vs opinion, # 50
FACT: Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, a member of the National Security Council (a top Ukraine expert for the council); a decorated soldier; recipient of the Purple Heart, the Combat Badge and a Ranger School Diploma; a 20-year Army veteran, fired by a draft dodging president since he, Vindman, suspected there was something improper to Trump’s telephone call to the President of Ukraine, a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement between both presidents; he therefore sounded the alarm and was escorted out of the White House as if he was a criminal!
OPINION: I want to ask you stalwart men and women who think Donald Trump is the ‘Second Coming of Christ’, “what do you think your grandfather and great uncles who fought in World War I, your father and uncles who fought in World War II, your brothers and cousins who fought in Korea and Vietnam and now the Middle East — how do you think they would feel and feel about a tap-dancing, draft dodger firing a veteran doing his job, upholding the principles of his country that he (Trump) himself never believed in or experienced and they themselves fought for? How do you think they feel or would feel if they were still alive? Speak up. I want to hear how you, their sons, daughters granddaughters of veterans, neighbors, who laid their lives on the line for this country, think they would feel about Trump’s firing of Alexander Vindman?”
I know two veterans, one a Korea war veteran and the other a Vietnam veteran, whom I just discussed this very issue with. They both are die-hard Trump men, but both of them were highly agitated over the dismissal of this decorated war veteran by Trump. I know of another veteran, my age who was after Korea and before Vietnam, living in Kentucky, Trump base, how he felt about this outrageous behavior on the part of the President. Inasmuch as he is a member of the KKK and a staunch supporter of his Lordship, he blew a fit when he heard about this transgression of Trump’s of Lt. Alexander Vindman.
I believe his Lordship made a crucial mistake here when he slammed the military. His bull dozing, ‘my way or the highway’ could backfire in his face, called ‘blow-back’. The military network is a powerful group with friends, relatives, family, stretched through out the Sun Belt where Trump goes for his support.
He solidifies his strength by going after individuals who are out there by themselves (think Romney), if they were part of a group or union or a solidified Congress against his behavior, he could not get away with this. But he is a bully; he wants his own way with people he can control; he is a ‘deconstructor’, a wreaking ball, a bulldozer of the existing status quo. He wants to make the government over in his fashion. And that is a major concern for the American people. (Hitler was nothing until he assumed full power and I do not need to elaborate as to the finale of that situation.)
And the Senate could have brought this charade to a halt if they were interested in justice. As I mentioned in the last letter, two main reasons why they are keeping their mouths shut and I will touch upon this again and again and again. He is doing this country no good. Oh, he throws a bone here and there, but behind the scenes he is tearing the previous administrative and congressional rulings apart and setting the stage for his overthrow of the present government! I recommend the book by Bob Woodward, Fear, Trump in The White House, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, 10020. Get it and read it. Wake up for Christ’s sake!
I have a follow-up comment regarding Misha Harnick’s editorial. Like the writer, I have the same issue. I live on North Manheim Boulevard. I always must shovel twice. After the plows come through, the compacted snow and ice is shoved up onto the already cleared sidewalk. I agree with the writer the assessment was exorbitant and unfair. There should be care taken by the Public Works Department or at the very least consideration given to the homeowner who by not their fault has to clear the sidewalk a second time. Last year, I was sick with the flu and had a 104 fever. I found someone to shovel the snow, well begged them really, and paid $40. Sure enough, the plows shoved the compacted snow onto the sidewalk, and I had to have it re-shoveled, paying another $40. As the writer’s arguments make a good case asking that the Village provide a courtesy to notify the homeowner before fining an excessive penalty as there may be extenuating circumstances (illness, broken equipment or another very valid reason — perhaps, even a death in the family). Where is the compassion? Why can’t the public works deoartmenttake a little extra care. I am also 65 years old, a senior citizen. A fine of $415 would impact me severely financially, as well it probably would to every homeowner in the Village.
The MLK Day Celebration of Service was a success
On behalf of UlsterCorps, I would like to express our profound gratitude to the speakers, musicians, sponsors, supporters and volunteers who made our 11th annual MLK Day Celebration of Service such a great success: speakers County Executive Pat Ryan; Congressman Antonio Delgado; Pete Shults, Ulster Savings Foundation; Rev. Evelyn Clarke, honoring the memory of Esther Taylor-Evans; and Jon Nyquist, honoring the memory of Tom Nyquist; musicians The Mead Mountain Resonators; Marji Zintz; Jason Sarubbi, Split Rock Studio; our sponsors Ulster Savings Bank; Anderson Center for Autism; Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley; Family of Woodstock; People’s Place; Ulster Literacy Association; Raising HOPE; Assemblymember Kevin Cahill; Rondout Valley Lions Club; Green Cottage for the beautiful centerpieces; Adams Fairacre Farms; Agnes Devereux Catering; Blue Mountain Bistro-to-Go; Bread Alone Bakery; Cucina; Deborah & Michael DeWan; Dutchess Creamery; Garden Cafe; Hudson Valley Farm Hub; Main Course Catering; Shindig; Tops & Yum Yum Noodles for the feast; The Bakery; Hudson Valley Current; Marysa Sacerdote Jewelry; Mother Earth’s Storehouse; Rosendale Cafe; Rosendale Theatre; Signature Fitness; Stone River Gear; Vitality Yoga for the great raffle prizes; the volunteers from Bard’s Class of 2023 and Center for Civic Engagement and our amazing UlsterCorps U-Team and Board for all your help with the event; Anne Coleman for the great photos; and most of all, to the volunteers we honored throughout the day for your service to our community.
Beth McLendon Albright, Director
E Pluribus Unum
Timothy Snyder, the Yale history professor and author of the New York Times #1 bestseller On Tyranny, recently said a number of things we should all take to heart: “It’s horrible that these people [who’ve lost positions and reputations after standing up to Trump] have faced consequences. The rest of us should feel solidarity with them, and try to make it understood that those consequences are worth something, that we hear them — that we will do something about it.
“We have a long tradition of recognizing heroes as the people who resist power. Freedom isn’t a ride you take; it’s something you have to take hold of. A lot of us have to be willing to dissent. When a lot of us dissent, it’s no longer dissent — it’s opposition, and people aren’t so lonely, and more people can have courage. Because you can pick on a hundred people, but it’s a lot harder to pick on a million.”
Right on! There’s strength in numbers, and none in numbness. If all of us with eyes to see, hearts to feel, and hands to join rise up together in opposition, we can slay the dragon.
We’ll do it by organizing, by marching, by protesting, by rallying, by candlelight-vigiling and doorbell-ringing and letter-writing, by speaking loudly and clearly to our government and gently but forcefully to our children — especially those of voting age — and then by going to the polls, en masse but as one, and restoring the United States as the Land of Opportunity rather than the land of opportunism, a nation united and not a nation divided.
After all, we’re the UNITED States. And our motto is “E Pluribus Unum”: “Out of Many, One.”