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April 19, 2014
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Memorial Day—a journey of remembrance

Memorial Day started as Decoration Day, as proclaimed by General John A. Logan on May 30, 1868.  Read more

Taking care of the roads

Sullivan County’s Multi-Municipal Taskforce (MMTF) was formed in 2008 to create a legal framework that will allow towns to ensure that road damage caused by high-traffic activities is paid for by the companies that do the damage—not the taxpayer. Its efforts are now coming close to fruition: on Monday, May 16, copies of the draft GEIS, technical manuals and template laws for the system devised by the legal firm of Whiteman, Osterman, and Hanna and Delta Engineers were mailed to the member towns (Bethel, Callicoon, Cochecton, Delaware, Highland, Lumberland, Rockland and Tusten).  Read more

The ideal diet

In Woody Allen’s classic film “Sleeper,” released in 1973, a health food store owner from the 1970s is frozen and wakens decades later to a new world. In the following exchange, his doctors discuss his dietary needs:

“Has he asked for anything special?”

“Yes, something for breakfast. He requested something called wheat germ, organic honey and Tiger’s Milk.”

“Ah, yes; those are the charmed substances that some years ago were assumed to have health-giving properties.”

“You mean there was no deep fat? No steak, or cream pies or hot fudge?”  Read more

Democracy is dangerous

The town board of the Town of Delaware, NY recently declined to pass a resolution that would have advocated for a key home-rule principle. Specifically, the resolution would have supported S3472 and A3245, New York State Senate and Assembly bills respectively, that would have reaffirmed the rights of municipalities to control land use within their own borders.  Read more

Just so much gas

“As long as it’s done safely.” It’s a caveat we’ve all heard many times in pronouncements supporting gas drilling.

The desire for safety is certainly not something we would disagree with, but we do have a problem with the way this phrase is used. It is tossed off as a minor corollary to the basic assumption that natural gas drilling is a great idea. Actually gaining assurance that modern drilling techniques in unconventional shale formations will, or even can be done safely, is treated as a kind of footnote.  Read more

From dead ends to lifecycles

In recent years, electronic devices have become an increasingly large percentage of the human waste stream, a problem exacerbated by the fact that so many of the products seem to become obsolete after a few months. It’s a problem not only in terms of sheer bulk—as Sullivan County in particular knows all too well, we are running out of landfill space—but because electronics contain substances that are harmful to the environment and human health.  Read more

A comment on comments

In creating a new, more technologically advanced website, one of the assets The River Reporter was most interested in developing was the comments function, which allows for an ongoing conversation among our readers, and between us and our readers. Such a conversation promotes several goals that are part of our mission as a newspaper and an online presence: to create and strengthen community, and to provide a venue for discussions that lead to constructive solutions of shared problems.  Read more

What causes deficits?

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” With these words, Charles Dickens’ irrepressible but perennially indigent Mr. Micawber sets out a crucial principle that apparently escapes the current-day deficit-hawks in Washington: that debt arises not from one thing, but from a relationship between two things—income and spending. A loss of income can produce a deficit just as readily as an excess of spending.  Read more

Zoning creep

A couple of news stories that have come up over the past few weeks have shone a light on a problem that could potentially threaten the quality of life any of us enjoy in our homes. We call this phenomenon “zoning creep:” the process by which, due to a failure of zoning boards to enforce regulations, poor judgment in applying regulations or a failure to appreciate the cumulative impact of successive alterations, the land use on some particular site becomes radically at variance with the character that the town intends for the zone in which it is located.  Read more

A question of intent

The table of compatible uses on page 134 of the River Management Plan (RMP) lists “gas/oil fields” as a permitted conditional use in the Delaware River corridor. But whether that phrase, written in 1986, can be taken to refer to modern horizontal hydro-fracking operations is a matter of controversy. In thrashing out the issue, we have heard both proponents and opponents of drilling in the corridor make varying assertions as to the RMP’s “original intent” on the subject.  Read more