Woodstock town government takes virus precautions

Woodstock town supervisor Bill McKenna briefed the town board and public about precautions taken amid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) but, as of Wednesday, March 11, has neither recommended nor ordered any large events be canceled.

At the regular Town Board meeting March 10, McKenna said he’s on a daily conference call with county officials and has directed maintenance staff to double its routine, making sure to scrub every contact surface in town offices including doorknobs, light switches and toilets. Gloves are available for people in positions where they frequently handle currency.

“The biggest takeaway is just to be smart. Wash your hands and wash them again. If you’re not feeling well, stay home,” McKenna said. If you feel you have the symptoms related to COVID-19 — a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath — and you need medical attention, call 911, he said.


Normally, town employees are required to supply a doctor’s note if they miss more than three days of work. That is suspended and everyone is on the honor system. “I’ve said if you do feel sick, just take the time off and don’t worry about it,” McKenna said.

The county will be reviewing large gatherings for criteria such as the ability for attendees to maintain 6-foot separation from each other and whether a large number of elderly people will attend. The county has not recommended any cancellations but continues to monitor events, McKenna said.

The Woodstock Bookfest has voluntarily canceled out of concern about large gatherings.

McKenna said he has been in contact with Bearsville Theater, which plans an April 11 open house to showcase the remodeled facility. He advised them to monitor the situation.

As of Wednesday, March 11, there are two confirmed case in Ulster County. Two are under mandatory quarantine and 16 have self-quarantined.

No area schools have closed. However, should a teacher, student or employee develop symptoms or test positive, the school must close for 24 hours for a deep cleaning, then officials will re-evaluate the situation before reopening.

“The best advice is people shouldn’t panic,” McKenna said. “Eat well and get a lot of sleep. If you feel run down, hibernate.”

McKenna said he met with the Senior Recreation Committee because it runs regular classes and exercise groups with a segment of the population that is more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. Programs will continue as scheduled, but attendees will be monitored. Instructors should be made aware if any attendee exhibits symptoms they should be asked to leave, he said. Senior Recreation programs have mostly smaller groups, so the 6-foot separation recommendation can be followed.

Councilman Richard Heppner expressed concerns for employee safety and wanted to make sure they have all the necessary equipment. McKenna said a big hurdle is obtaining hand sanitizer. He hopes he can obtain some from the state, which has begun manufacturing its own.

“I just want to say thank you to the town clerks and the employees. They’re on the front line,” Councilman Lorin Rose said.

Councilman Reggie Earls said the Ulster County Department of Health is looking for volunteers to answer a hotline and answer COVID-19 questions. Training will be provided. Call (845) 481-0331 for information.

McKenna strongly warned people not to rely on information from Facebook since there is a lot of false information, including a recent rumor that members of the Sunday drum circle were whisked away and tested positive for coronavirus. That turned out to be false.

McKenna said anyone can call his office at 845-679-2113, ext. 17 to verify any rumors.

Information is also available through the county by emailing covid19@co.ulster.ny.us or calling the state Department of Health at 888-364-3065.

Board opposes Bridge-Thruway Authority merger

In his budget request, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for the merger of the state Bridge Authority and Thruway Authority. Area towns are opposed to the move amid fears it will pull money away from bridges to close a deficit caused by the costs of the Mario Cuomo (Tappan Zee) bridge, which is under Thruway Authority control.

“The merger would likely in fact negatively affect the Bridge Authority’s Hudson River crossings and lead out residents and businesses subsidizing the costs of the Thruway Authority’s improvements outside of our area through higher tolls,” reads part of the Woodstock’s resolution.

McKenna said though he dislikes memorializing resolutions, this move affects many Woodstockers who cross the river daily. The resolution passed with Heppner abstaining because he felt he didn’t have enough information.

Town to purchase electric car

In furthering of its green initiatives, the board approved the purchase of a Nissan Leaf electric car for shared use by the Building Department and Assessor’s office.

The vehicle from Kingston Nissan is $27,500 on a state bid and a $2000 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) incentive is included in the price. The town has applied for a $5000 Department of Environmental Conservation grant, bringing the cost down to $22,500.

The town has been setting money aside for the purchase of electric vehicles.

Walkers will provide Comeau update

Les and Jess Walker will update the Town Board and public about the progress of a planned renovation and addition to the town offices on Comeau Drive on April 7 at 7 p.m.