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July 12, 2014
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my view

The River Reporter may print submissions of up to 600 words as My Views on its editorial pages. They must be signed and include the correspondent’s phone number. My Views are printed on an as-space-permits basis only; we recommend that readers who want to be sure that their views are represented submit a 300-word letter. No more than one My View from any one author will be printed in any three-month period. The deadline is 1 p.m. on Monday.

Clarification about the Narrowsburg School

We would like clarify apparent misunderstandings of, and rectify misstatements made by others regarding our offer to the Sullivan West School Board (SWSB) for the Narrowsburg School building and the nearby 14 acre parcel.  Read more

The long-ago death of a Vietnam soldier recounted

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers may recall a feature article in The River Reporter (November 6, 2013) about native son Dennis Baker’s book, “Restless Hearts: What if Fallen Heroes Could Go Home? a fictional account using the real names of local soldiers who fought in and did not return from the Vietnam War. Recently, we heard from Baker, who recounted this incident that is helping bring closure to one soldier’s family.]  Read more

Why the Buto offer is not higher

I feel compelled to bring a major flaw in the thinking of the Sullivan West School Board (SWSB) to your attention and hopefully to the attention of your readers.  Read more

Black bear controversy in the Catskills

The population of black bears in the Catskills is steadily rising. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 2013 black bear harvest summary, 636 bears were taken in the southeastern zone of the state. This number is up from the 2012 hunting season, which had a take of 442 bears, and is also higher than the previous five-year average of 521 bears taken per season.  Read more

Changes rehab addresses local concerns

First, Changes [Treatment and Recovery, Inc.] would like to thank the Sullivan West Central School Board for all of their hard work and time spent. It was no easy task, knowing how people felt, to make this decision. Secondly, we would like to clear up some of the confusion and misconception that we have been reading about:  Read more

Competitors for the Narrowsburg School speak

NARROWSBURG, NY — This week The River Reporter received press releases from both parties that have placed bids to purchase the old Narrowsburg Central School from the Sullivan West School District. We print these statements here for your perusal.

Press Release from Changes Treatment and Recovery, Inc. (6/16/14)  Read more

A right to peace and quiet

Those of us who live along the Delaware River near the Lander’s Skinners Falls Campground can certainly empathize with the residents of Bethel and the “Backlash over Mysteryland ‘Noise’” described in The River Reporter’s last issue (June 5-11). For years we have suffered music blaring till early morning hours without any noticeable control. As mentioned by Randy Weinstein, the bass from these events can be deafening. Many times one cannot have dinner outdoors or leave windows open on cool summer nights because of the booming bass and illegal fireworks echoing through the river valley.  Read more

A tribute to my mother

Be born at the end of May in 1961. Grow up in a Polish and Irish Catholic household in Queens. Lose yourself in the strident world of ballet. Wake up at 5 a.m. every morning to practice. Get called a “bun head” at school, and be the tallest girl in your grade. Don’t let it bother you, because you like being a tall bun head. Move to Long Island in high school, lose yourself in the transformative world of acting.  Read more

Drug court success, one case at a time

[The following is an open letter to the Sullivan County Drug Court written by Bazely B., a participant in the court’s assistance and oversight program.]  Read more

Obamacare’s bright promise

April 1, 2014 will forever be a bright spot in American history, as President Obama announced from the White House Rose Garden that more than seven million Americans secured health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. For these deserving Americans, having quality, affordable health insurance was no April Fool’s joke. It was a dream that finally came true.  Read more

Another idea for locating the food hub

In Sullivan County, where agriculture is considered one of our primary economies, why not teach it here?  Read more

Will the governor’s property tax reform really work?

Our new New York State (NYS) budget includes an interesting section that Gov. Cuomo believes will lessen our local property tax burden. It builds upon the 2% property tax cap enacted back in 2011 that requires local governments to cap annual tax rate increases at 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever was less. It further stipulated that any proposed taxation above the cap needed a 60% supermajority approval by voters. Now, the 2015 state budget calls for a two-year freeze of residential property taxes for homeowners in jurisdictions that keep their tax increase under the 2% tax cap.  Read more

Would an Orange County casino mean none for Sullivan County?

The time is nearing for developers to submit their applications to build casinos in New York State.

The decision will impact upstate economic development like none other, particularly Sullivan County.

Allowing one, better yet, two casinos in our area will have the potential to revitalize the Catskills, which has experienced years of economic decline.  Read more

The face of addiction in Sullivan County

A few years ago my friend told me that we had friends who were addicted to heroin. I scoffed and said, “Well, I don’t know any.” Little did I know that a few years later I would know all too well.  Read more

Summing up the Bloomingburg election

When the dust cleared on the last day of the Bloomingburg voter registration trial a number of issues were made clear. One very important concern was left unclear.  Read more

‘Sparring’ over the site for a food hub

After reading [last week’s] article in the Times-Herald Record, headlined “Sullivan spars over food hub; most legislators oppose $110k deal,” I can only shake my head. The property they are “sparring” over is an approved lot in an industrial park that I own and developed at a cost of close to one million dollars. The property proposed by Legislator Alan Sorensen is a vacant lot across the street from mine, which is zoned for residential use and has no approvals for any development whatsoever.  Read more

Our high local property taxes: how they hurt

We’re just emerging from the worst economic recession since the 1930s. Unemployment, “underwater mortgages” and property tax burdens took their toll on struggling homeowners throughout the nation. Sullivan County suffered more than most. Even today, years after hitting bottom, the New York State Labor Department finds 8.9% of Sullivan County’s workforce unemployed, a number higher than the state or national averages and much higher than the 6.5% rate reported just prior to the recession.  Read more

Those who talk the talk must walk the walk

I cannot help but feel that some of my colleagues have enjoyed talking the talk about economic development for the past two years, but have failed to walk the walk when it comes time to support initiatives that would truly benefit Sullivan County’s economy.  Read more

Do dairy farms need more milk security?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened a public comment period with the nation’s state agriculture departments to hear their suggestions for hardening the security of dairy farm milk houses and bulk milk tanks. Design of potential new security regulations comes in the final implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA). Under the act, FDA alone is tasked with oversight of developing anti-terrorism security measures to be implemented on dairy farms. State recommendations to FDA are due by March 31, 2014 and will be published in the Federal Register.  Read more

Remembering Art Peck

Art Peck was a unique individual. Much has been written about him since his death such a short time ago. Art left his mark on this community in many ways. He successfully expanded the market he bought on Main Street, Narrowsburg, NY to a new building on Kirk Road and later opened two more stores in nearby towns. He then found a way for Peck’s employees to own the business.  Read more

Letter of resignation from Glenn Swendsen

[The letter below was sent by Town of Tusten Highway Superintendent Glenn Swendsen to the Tusten Town Board on March 10.]

Dear Supervisor Wingert and Town Board,  Read more

Why are property taxes so darned high? Part III of this series, continued

This article is the continuation of “Why are property taxes so darned high?,” a multi-part series examining Sullivan County’s local property tax burden. Most recently, I wrote about two reasons for our high taxes: (1) a huge growth in the size and costs of local governments and (2) the rural nature of the county with its sparse population footing the bill for local services, especially road maintenance, which is very costly. Here are a number of other reasons for our high property taxes.

Reason #3: Lack of commercial tax base
  Read more

Why are property taxes so darned high? The third in a series of articles

The first article in this series, published by The River Reporter on December 26, 2013 revealed that Sullivan County’s local property tax burden is among the highest in the nation, more than twice the national average. The second article, published in our January 30, 2014 issue, provided a general overview of the kinds of local government services that tax revenues pay for. This, the third in our series, explains why our local property taxes are so high today.  Read more

Protecting our water supply from chemicals

Most of New York State’s drinking water comes from right here in the Catskills, and it is renowned for its taste and purity. Our water is simply amazing, and we need to protect it for all of us who live here, and the 19 million people in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who rely on water from our Delaware and Catskill watersheds. Our Catskill water is so pure, it reaches the taps of New York City unfiltered. Sadly, for the most part, we take it for granted that its purity and supply is being protected with vigilance by governmental regulatory agencies.  Read more

Your local property taxes; The second in a series of articles

The first article in this series (published in the December 26, 2013 issue of The River Reporter) focused on the comparative cost burden of Sullivan County’s property taxes. It revealed a sobering fact: measured as a ratio of the incomes of the county’s residents, our property taxes rank among the very highest in the entire country. Indeed, our “property tax effort”—our ability to pay—places our taxes in the top 1% nationwide. Property taxes take almost 7% of the annual incomes of Sullivan County residents, while typical homeowners elsewhere in our nation pay less than half this much.  Read more

A response to ‘In defense of the slaughterhouse’

Jennifer Young’s op-ed piece, “In defense of the slaughterhouse,” (The River Reporter, December 19-25, 2013) demonstrates in-depth awareness of the horrors of factory farming, yet characterizes meat consumption as okay as long as it’s “grass-fed.” She admits “it’s healthier to be a vegetarian,” but adds, “not because meat is bad for you.”  Read more

Time to reform milk pricing rules

[Editor’s note: This open letter, calling for real reform of the current USDA milk pricing formula, was sent to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture Committee, with a copy to The River Reporter.]

Dear Senator Stabenow,  Read more

Milford at the tipping point

Small towns are fragile, none more so than Milford, a town of a half-mile square that sits on the edge of the largest and most economically active metropolitan region in America. The fact that it exists, mostly intact, is a testament to its citizens and some luck. But it is facing a major change that could end up being the tipping point of protecting this national treasure.  Read more

The wealth gap

The fraudsters behind a pyramid scheme go to great lengths to make the program look like a legitimate multi-level marketing program. Pyramid schemes don’t work unless somebody loses. Those at the bottom of the pyramid are essentially defrauded by those on top.” (www.sec.gov/answers/pyramid.htm)  Read more

A derailment by any other name is still….

The derailment of the Metro North 5:54 a.m. from Poughkeepsie was tragic indeed. Derailments are rare, but they do occur more often than we hear about. Most of the derailments happen at low speeds and rarely involve injuries. The 5:54 wasn’t so lucky. As it rounded the curve after the Spuyten Duyvil station, it derailed, left the tracks, and the head car barely missed landing in the Harlem River. The engine and all 10 train cars crashed that morning, most landing on their sides or seriously listing.  Read more

Engineer responds to Denning windmill controversy

Regarding the small privately owned wind turbine electric generator proposed to be placed above Yaegerville Road in the Town of Denning, it should be obvious to everyone that energy produced from clean accessible renewable sustainable “green” resources is better for everyone than to burn coal, or gas, or nuclear fuel in a thermal electric generation facility. We should encourage the use of wind energy. Each project though small, though tall, will be an incremental improvement for our environment.  Read more

Homelessness; It’s not just an urban problem

The same factors that contribute to urban homelessness, that is, a lack of affordable housing and insufficient income, also lead to rural homelessness. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness Geography of Homeless report, there are approximately 14 homeless people on average for every 10,000 people in rural areas. Perhaps the most distinguishing factor of rural homelessness is the access to services. Many rural homeless assistance services lack the infrastructure to provide care to their homeless population. Limited modes of transportation and the tendency for federal programs to focus on urban areas are contributing reasons for the lack of adequate services for the rural homeless. Rural areas also tend to have higher rates of poverty.  Read more

Taxing carbon

With the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change being released lately, scientists are as sure that we are causing the planet to warm by burning fossil fuels as they are that cigarettes kill. We can now see the negative effects of climate change right out of our windows. From extreme floods and mega-droughts affecting our food supplies to sea level rise and higher and more powerful storm surges devastating coastal communities, climate change is costing our economy dearly.  Read more

Our town, your town, whose town?

Once again this election season, I received campaign literature with a bold headline: “This is OUR Town!” This time the candidates are Lang and Pierce for town council. I have tried to figure out just who belongs to “Our Town.” I wondered if I owned our town, seeing as how I was born and raised here. Then I thought maybe seniority had something to do with it. I would hope that these are not requirements in either case.  Read more

Delaware’s new zoning in a nutshell

It’s not easy to keep straight in your mind just what the controversial new zoning law in the Town of Delaware is all about. I find this a helpful trick: Draw a square on a piece of paper and then draw a line across it so you have two parts, the top one smaller than the bottom. In the top part, write “DR,” for Delaware River zoning district. In the bottom half, write “RU,” for Rural Use zoning district. Before the changes, there were many parcels of land in Delaware like this.  Read more

Legislators support gaming

On November 5, the people of Sullivan County and the entire state face a monumental decision. Do we vote to amend the New York State Constitution to allow class three gaming in New York State? The implications are enormous. What is at stake are the billions of tourism dollars that pass over our borders into New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Canada and now Massachusetts each year.  Read more

The Delaware River needs a song

We are head over heels for your personality
Our relationship with you is life-long
Time spent together is unforgettable
Amazing river, you need a tribute song

Need an artist who resonates with your tempo
Appreciates when the rhythm is slow
Responds to the natural crescendo
Write a chorus that speaks to your flow

A mix of rock for your bottom,
Some blues for your mountain skies
Country for the scenery
Inspired by love, as is seen through your eyes

You mirror the goodness in each of us
And mirror the goodness in the world
An unlimited source of intelligence  Read more

Is a summer camp the same thing as a drug rehab facility? One candidate responds to citizen’s query

Zoning is likely to be a campaign issue this year in the Town of Liberty, at least in part, because town officials are split about whether zoning should be changed to prohibit the expansion of summer camps in residential neighborhoods. What is clear, however, is that in some cases, officials don’t enforce the zoning that already exists.  Read more

Our Congressman replies

Dear Staff and Publisher of The River Reporter,  Read more