Woodstock police, highway, fire and other departments helping out in the crisis

(Photo by Brian Hollander)

Town offices are closed to the public, but employees are still conducting government business under new precautions to protect them from the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

“The community and employees all pull together in a time of need,” said Supervisor Bill McKenna at the Town Board business meeting as board members spaced themselves far apart to keep within social distancing guidelines. Deputy Supervisor Maria-Elena Conte volunteered to stay home and keep the density down in the room.

Reporters and members of the public distanced themselves from each other. It was the only meeting open to the public for the rest of March.

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Workers in various departments have pitched in where they can in the community. The Highway Department sent a crew to unload a delivery to the Good Neighbor Food Pantry. Since the Youth Center is closed, the director and other staff will help answer the county COVID-19 hotline.

The police dispatch is making a list of people who need wellness checks while they are confined to their homes. Call 845-679-2422 to add someone to the list.

Drop boxes are set up in the lobby at 45 Comeau Drive to leave applications and other paperwork.

Deputy Town Clerk Lynn Sehwerert said the office is taking future bookings for town facilities such as Town Hall and the community center with the caveat that they may get bumped due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I just want to thank our employees,” Councilman Richard Heppner said.

McKenna recommended supporting bars and restaurants during their mandated shutdown by ordering takeout. The state Liquor Authority has suspended rules to allow alcohol to be taken off premises from bars. 

Aside from avoiding gatherings of large groups and washing hands frequently, the board stressed maintaining a 6-foot separation to minimize exposure.

“Social distancing is extremely important,” Councilwoman Laura Ricci said. “You may be a carrier and not realize it.”

No workforce reduction

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a recent COVID-19 briefing, suggested at least a 50 percent workforce reduction in municipalities including nonessential employees for the remainder of the crisis.

“I don’t have any nonessential employees,” McKenna said when asked about Woodstock’s plans.

The workforce is taking precautions though, he said. The Assessor’s Office is working split weeks and the desks in the Town Clerk’s office are set back from the counter and spaced apart.

If a meeting with a member of the public is absolutely necessary, the employee will sit at the opposite end of the table.

Town gets grant for cemetery improvements

A $206,000 grant from the state Division of Cemeteries will help the town make desperately needed repairs to the Woodstock Cemetery on Rock City Road. When a municipality takes over a cemetery, as Woodstock did in late 2017 from the defunct Woodstock Cemetery Association, it can make a one-time wish list of improvements and equipment to be funded by the state.

McKenna said every item was approved.

“I want to thank my assistant Ashley Slovensky and Heather Eighmey in the Highway Department.” The two have been taking classes on grant application writing and were instrumental in getting the funds approved.

The Cemetery Task Force helped get pricing and put together the list of the needed items.

“There were multiple cost estimates. We had to justify everything,” McKenna said.

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