COLUMBIA COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE
Post Office Box 507
Ghent, New York 12075
For Immediate Release
March 26, 2009
CONTACT: Christopher Nolan, Chairman, firstname.lastname@example.org (518) 755 5089
The Columbia County Democratic Committee at its monthly meeting last night acknowledged via resolution its strong and continued support for the Town of Copake in its ongoing struggles with long time waste-hauler Salvatore Cascino. "The Committee had a lively discussion that emphasized the importance of protecting the environment and the integrity of farmers and farming in Columbia County and in New York State," said Christopher Nolan, Chairman. The Committee also acknowledged the vital role played by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets in protecting farming and the long established right to farm.
The Committee heard from Copake residents that Mr. Cascino had used his property in Copake to dump DEC prohibited materials and other activities and that the Copake Planning Board had denied his request for approval to build a new structure on the property. A majority of the Committee held that the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets not be manipulated by operators who pose as agricultural enterprises to mask activities which damage the environment and effectively undermine the legitimate efforts of genuine hard working farmers in our communities. The future of farming, the environment, water quality, and public health and safety in the Hudson Valley were deemed at stake and vulnerable by the County Democratic Committee.
The resolution urged the Department to reconsider and reverse their opinion concerning Mr. Cascino, Copake Valley Farms and Bronx Recycling LLC and recognize that the possibility that the proposed structure will not be used for farming.
The Committee also urged Governor Paterson to intervene in this matter on behalf of the Town of Copake and the legitimate farming operations throughout the Hudson Valley and stop repeating illicit practices. "The proposal suggested by NYS Agriculture and Markets that Copake Valley Farms is in fact only a farming operation must be addressed and revaluated," said Cyndy Hall, 1st Vice Chair of CCDC. "If Mr. Cascino is allowed to do this in Copake, all of Columbia County and beyond will be vulnerable. There's a lot of garbage and construction debris in New York City. We don't want it dumped in Copake or anywhere else in Columbia County."
The CCDC resolution continued to request that the Commissioner of NYS Agriculture and Markets review all applications and asks for his intervention to ensure that other operators of solid and hazardous waste hauling and disposal businesses do not undercut the importance of the Commissioner's office in protecting farming by posing as agricultural operations.
Copake Councilwoman and CCDC committee member Linda Gabaccia said, "The heart of this issue is not allowing Ag & Mkts power to protect our local farmers to be diluted by those who would attempt to skirt the law under the protective cloak of agriculture. We need a mechanism for Ag & Mkts to be able to screen those waste haulers with questionable records and repeated violations, from the legitimate farmers who are the true stewards of the land and our greatest resource for protecting the quality of rural life." ###
COLUMBIA COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE
WHEREAS, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets has issued an opinion proposing to overturn a decision of the Planning Board of the Town of Copake which denied site plan approval to Salvatore Cascino for a 24,900 square foot building allegedly to be used as a barn; and
WHEREAS, the Columbia County Democratic Committee strongly supports the right to farm in Columbia County and supports the role of the Commissioner in supporting and protecting farmers as authorized by the Agriculture and Markets Law; and
WHEREAS, the public record reveals that Salvatore Cascino primarily runs a waste hauling and disposal business under the name Bronx Recycling LLC, which has a history of violations of environmental laws in numerous municipalities, including, but not limited to, Waterbury, CT, Dover, NY, and the Town of Copake in Columbia County; and
WHEREAS, such violations have a corresponding record of noncompliance involving fines, contempt citations, and orders from federal and state agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General of the State of New York; and
WHEREAS, operating a waste hauling and disposal business under the guise of farming undermines the role of farming in our communities and poses a threat to the environment, including specifically surface and groundwater resources, not only in Columbia County but throughout the Hudson Valley;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Columbia County Democratic Committee supports the Town of Copake and urges the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to reconsider and reverse his opinion in view of the record environmental violations of Salvatore Cascino and Bronx Recycling LLC and the possibility the proposed structure will not be used for farming; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Governor Paterson is urged to intervene in this matter on behalf of the Town of Copake and legitimate farming operations throughout the Hudson Valley to put a stop to these repeating practices; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Commissioner is urged to review all applications for his intervention carefully to ensure that other operators of solid and hazardous waste hauling and disposal businesses do not undercut the importance of the Commissioner's office in protecting farming by posing as agricultural operations.
March 25, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
BY Chris Churchill
Teasdale edited The Independent, right up until the faltering Journal Register Co. last week closed the well-regarded newspaper serving Columbia County and southern Rensselaer County.
But even as Teasdale prepared that paper's final issue, he was considering ways to keep the news flowing. And this week, he launched The Columbia Paper.
For now, the product can be found only at a work-in-progress Web site, www.columbiapaper.com. But Teasdale is lining up investors and advertisers, and preparing to start a bona fide ink-on-newsprint publication.
Wait. He wants to start a newspaper?
In this economy?
When advertising revenues are plummeting and even the big metropolitan dailies are cutting back?
Yes, he really does.
"I think advertisers need an inexpensive way to reach into homes and connect with eyeballs," said Teasdale, who for now is producing the content for his paper on a refurbished Dell computer in his Chatham home.
Others agree that a new weekly can survive in Columbia County. In fact, there was considerable surprise that Journal Register, which also owns The Record in Troy and The Saratogian in Saratoga Springs, decided to close The Independent.
To many outside eyes, the paper looked healthy -- and profitable.
Journal Register has also closed or sold publications in Connecticut and its home state of Pennsylvania. This week, the debt-ridden company closed seven papers in Dutchess County and one in Putnam County.
"I don't think any of those papers closed because the community couldn't support a newspaper," said Michelle Rea, executive director of the New York Press Association, a trade group for weeklies.
Rea said it's quite rare for a weekly or community newspaper to close. In fact, there are more weekly papers today in New York than there were two years ago.
Such papers are often deeply linked to their hometowns -- as became evident when The Independent closed. The move saddened people like Colonie resident Tom Nardacci, a 34-year-old who grew up reading the paper and continued to check it online when he moved from its distribution area.
"Community-based newspapers also do so much more beyond reporting the news," he said. "They help to create an identity for smaller communities."
Teasdale said response to the shuttering of The Independent is an inspiration that has energized him for his new endeavor. He has learned, over the last week, just how much people appreciated his old employer.
"That kind of response is so rewarding," the editor-turned-publisher said. "People have just been so great."
Teasdale, who turns 61 today, said he's not naive. He's run businesses before, and worked for many years in the newspaper business.
So he's not ready to promise that The Columbia Paper will succeed. And while he'd like to hire his old staff at The Independent and pay them to work on The Columbia Paper, for now he can't do so.
"People don't realize how expensive it is to produce and distribute real news," he said.
Register-Star to Stop Publishing
Sunday and Monday Editions
By Roger F. Coleman
COLUMBIA COUNTY - Next month, Hudson-Catskill Newspapers will be re-launching the Register-Star as a daily newspaper published Tuesday through Saturday. The final Sunday edition Register-Star will be published on Sunday, Feb. 22, and our new weekend edition will debut Saturday, Feb. 28.
This publishing frequency will help us manage the increasing costs of delivery and printing without having to pass the added expense along to readers and advertisers. This schedule will also enable us to produce the most compelling and useful local newspaper that fits the community's lifestyle and support level.
Our current Saturday and Sunday editions will be merged to create a weekend edition, available and delivered Saturday mornings. This means you will receive all the money-saving coupons and sales flyers from local businesses one day earlier for use in your weekend shopping. This will also give you more time to enjoy the features such as Living Today and the USA Weekend and American Profile magazines.
Your Weekend Edition will still include all the local, state and around the globe news, nationally respected columnists, feature stories, sports scores, entertainment options, color comics, crossword puzzles, Sudoko and all the many other items that you have enjoyed for so many years.
Subscribers who have paid for home delivery of the Register-Star will receive an extension equal to the total number of days they have paid for.
We will, of course, continue to publish news and local information every day, 24/7, updated each day on www.registerstar.com, the fastest growing and most complete local news Web site in Columbia County.
Questions? Contact the Register-Star at 518-828-1616.
Copake To Appoint Ombudsman
Town to appoint ombudsman Two interested in position
By Jamie Larson
COPAKE - Two Copake residents have applied for the volunteer position of town ombudsman. Whoever is selected will have the responsibility of investigating citizen complaints against members of government, such as boards, committees or individuals, and trying and broker an acceptable resolution.
The position was written into the town policy manual in 2006 but was not implemented until now. The two candidates, Ian Jarvis and Karen Hallenbeck, both seem to feel they could lend an unbiased and attentive ear toward their fellow residents' concerns, of which, officials admit, there are quite a few.
In just the past month and a half of the new year public concerns have been raised over a myriad of issues related to official Copake town actions. In early January, local auto mechanics expressed feelings that they were being treated unfairly and unequally by aesthetic regulations for their auto storage areas, and were nearly denied permits. Copake farmland owner Salvatore Cascino is currently seeking legal action against the town for not allowing him to build on his property, which he says he feels is a violation of his rights. Cascino is, in turn, being taken to court by the town for the illegal filling of wetlands with construction debris, an issue other residents would like to see remedied by the town as soon as possible.
Other residents have taken issue with the Park Commission for not following town protocol at its meetings and allegedly trying to exclude people it doesn't like from obtaining membership. Additionally, concerns have been raised by a member of the Ethics Board that Town Supervisor Reggie Crowley tried to intimidate him into releasing privileged information by sending police to his home.
These concerns and others could be investigated by the ombudsman, if they are officially presented to whomever is selected. The ombudsman's job would be to attempt to find an acceptable resolution for both the citizens and the town.
Jarvis, who sat on the committee to rewrite the policy manual in 2006 and was instrumental in creating the ombudsman position, says he feels serving on the unpaid post would offer the town a way to heal some of the unresolved issues that have existed for some time. "I'm cognizant of the frustration citizens in Copake feel, not with particular boards or politicians, but with the internal nature of politics," Jarvis said. "An ombudsman would bridge the gap between citizens and the government, without having a political agenda."
Town Board Member Linda Gabaccia, a Democrat, described the relationship not as a gap, but as an "abyss" she feels was widened in 2007 - the year Crowley and the other Republican board members came into power.
"We have a concerned and active community," Gabaccia said, "I think this appointment will go a long way to help."
Board Member Daniel Tompkins, a Republican, is in support of the new position as well.
"We have a lot of debate in this town," he said, "this is something the town needs."
Hallenbeck, who has openly expressed her frustration with the operations of the Park Commission in recent weeks, says she asked to be considered for the job out of love for the area and her ability to listen to every side of a dispute. "I feel I have a fairly level head," she said, "and I have five kids so I know how to deal with people not being happy with each other."
Hallenbeck, who works as an assistant to the financial advisor of Dutchess County Water and Wastewater, sits on the Copake Economic Advisory Board and in the past has chaired Lions Club fundraising campaigns for hearing care, as well the Dutchess County Salvation Army Advisory Council. Due to her past issues with the Park Commission she said she would not have an issue recusing herself from addressing complaints related to that body.
Jarvis says he hopes, if appointed, he can lower frustration on both sides of these and any other issues. "I want to be an honest broker and have an open office, not just a mailbox (for complaints)," he said. "I'll tell people I hear their problem and help show them there are forms of ways to deal with them."
Jarvis has a background operating an international manufacturing business and is now semi-retired, working part-time as a consultant. Jarvis moved to Copake in 2000 with his wife and says he will make himself as available as possible if asked to serve.
To reach reporter Jamie Larson, please call 518-828-1616, ext. 2269, or e-mail email@example.com.
Written by Staff
COPAKE-The Town Board unanimously adopted the first local law of the New Year at its February 12 meeting, creating the positions of court clerk and deputy court clerk. The new law formalizes what the board agreed to do at its organization meeting January 3.
The full-time court clerk position is held by Margaret Hosier, who put up a successful fight last month to save her hours and benefits from threatened cuts.
Mrs. Hosier will work a minimum of 30 hours/week and be paid $13.80 hour. She will receive health benefits at a cost of about $400/month to the town, according to Deputy Supervisor Joseph LaPorta, who presided over a public hearing on the matter and the regular monthly board meeting that followed Thursday night.
Supervisor Reginald Crowley was out of town.
Also at the February meeting, Steven Winkley, head geologist with the New York Rural Water Association, gave an hour-long presentation about Copake's groundwater resources.
In compiling his hydrogeological analysis, Mr. Winkley consulted the U.S. Geological Survey, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Health. He reviewed existing surficial geology maps and conducted his own field mapping.
Mr. Winkley discussed yields from bedrock wells and wells in what are called Walloomsac formations. He also addressed public and community water systems, as well as potential sources of contamination, areas of hydrogeologic sensitivity and what level of development or density of housing the area can sustain.
He did note that there are some areas around the lakes and in Copake Falls where wells showed elevated levels of nitrates.
His report is available from the town clerk and will soon be posted on the town website, www.copake.org.
In other business, the Town Board agreed to ask the town attorney to look into the legality of putting up sponsor advertisement signs along the back fence at the Little League baseball field at the town park during baseball season.
Michael Bradway, superintendent of parks, and Krista Goodacre, the chair of the park commission, spoke in favor of the uniform four-by-eight-foot signs, which would generate funds to pay for youngsters who otherwise could not afford to play baseball.
Planning Board Chair Marcia Becker said the sign idea is the subject of debate, and some residents are opposed to the "commercialization of the public park." She pointed out that "the Little League does not own the park."
Mr. Bradway noted that the Little League spent $7,100 for improvements to the ballfield.
Before a decision can be made, Councilman Bob Sacks suggested that the town code be reviewed to see whether such signs are permitted.
In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation of Louis Kibler as chairman of the Board of Ethics.
Councilman Sacks presented Charles Dodson with a distinguished service award for his work "above and beyond the call of duty" on the Economic Advisory Board. Mr. Dodson has resigned as chair of that board.
The Town Board appointed Leslie Wood as the new chair and Karen Hallenbeck as secretary.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Resident proposes Copake Hops Growing Cooperative
Project could help town ‘heal’ financially
By Jamie Larson
COPAKE — An agricultural plan to start a municipal hops farming cooperative in the town of Copake has received enthusiastic support from town officials, farmers and citizens.
The plan, proposed by part-time resident Tim Reilly, if carried out successfully, would give all willing Copake residents a share in the Copake Hops Growing Cooperative, as well as bring many new jobs and businesses to the town. Reilly says existing local farmers and purchased land would make up most of the area required for the operation, but that town residents with any amount of acreage could grow the crop, and citizens without farmable property would still be able to buy into CHGC.
Reilly’s proposal aims to transform and revitalize Copake’s sluggish economy by reintroducing the highly prized specialty crop to the area. Hops flowers, which grow on trellised vines, are the main flavoring and bittering component in beer. Hops once grew abundantly in the Hudson Valley before a blight and prohibition sent the industry out west.
In the past 10 years, due to a number of economic and environmental factors, the price of hops has increased from $5 to about $28 a pound, and Reilly says the time to get in on the action is now. He claims that even if the hops market settles down to a conservative $16 a pound, Copake’s farmers would rake in an estimated $28,000 an acre. By comparison, Copake’s most abundant crop, corn, only grosses a little over $3,200 per acre.
“The town is (economically) challenged,” Reilly says. “The co-op would really help the town through the hard times ahead.”
The Town Board is fully aware of its community’s unattractive financial situation and when Reilly first publicly presented his proposal at Thursday’s meeting, board member Bob Sacks said, “I think I can safely speak for the board when I say you have our total support,” adding, “tell us what we can do to help.”
Supervisor Reggie Crowley recently attended a gloomy meeting of Columbia County supervisors where he learned that the county lost more than $1 million in sales tax last quarter.
“I’m in support of anything that can help out our farmers,” Crowley said Friday. “Agriculture is a dying industry. If (Reilly’s plan) is good for farmers and creates jobs for the community, I am all for it. Absolutely.”
While planning is in its early stages, Reilly has been discussing his ideas with board members since April and did some test farming last summer with board member — and local farmer — Walt Kiernen. Reilly says they learned a lot from their limited trials and feels even more strongly now that hops would grow abundantly in Copake.
The town would need to acquire a substantial amount of funds to start the cooperative; a large harvesting machine would need to be purchased and large buildings would be required to dry and process the hops. Despite the substantial startup cost, Reilly says he feels grants for such a profitable enterprise will be warmly received by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and says he has received support for the CHGC from Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand.
Reilly currently lives in New York City where he works as a consultant and project manager on large-scale restoration and construction of decorative architecture. He also has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and works in the catering industry.
Reilly admits that he does not have any experience or history in farming and says he will rely heavily on the expertise of Copake’s local farmers.
He does, however, have a background in beer. As a student at the CIA he was the head of the Beer and Ale Society, and has also worked on the construction of breweries, most notably helping to build the Hartland Brewery in Union Square.
“I’m in love with brewing, and the brewing industry,” he said.
Because of his history in the New York City construction industry, Reilly was asked if he has ever used Bronx County Recycling to dispose of construction debris from sites he managed. Bronx County Recycling LLC is partially owned by Salvatore Cascino, who has been repeatedly fined for dumping construction debris, and other illegal actions, on farm property he owns in Copake. Cascino is currently suing the Copake and Columbia County planning boards in State Supreme Court for not allowing him to build large structures on his property. The boards felt he would use the buildings to shelter illegal activity.
Reilly says he was completely unaware of the Cascino situation in Copake until he was asked about it Friday, and says he never oversaw the debris removal aspect of his construction jobs. He said he had never heard of Bronx County Recycling LLC, adding that he is interested in making the CHGC as green as possible.
He says that instead of building new structures for the co-op he would like to retrofit existing structures, and has expressed interest in buying the old Taconic High School on Route 22 to use as a base of operation for the project. He also says that since hops grow on 25-foot trellises there is an opportunity to top support poles with solar panels to make the co-op more energy efficient.
Reilly will be meeting with the Copake Economic Advisory Board at 7 p.m. Tuesday to parse out more details for the CHGC.
To reach reporter Jamie Larson, call 518-828-1616, ext. 2269, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Attorney General Cuomo asked to probe Cascino
By: DIANE VALDEN
The Roe Jan Independent
COPAKE--Two state legislators have asked state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate Copake Valley Farm owner Salvatore Cascino.
Following a public outcry at Mr. Cascino's efforts for over a decade to circumvent local and state regulations, and the length of time it has taken for the court to sanction him, Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro (R-103rd) has joined forces with State Senator Stephen Saland (R-41st) to call for a thorough investigation of Mr. Cascino's activities not only by the state Attorney General's Office, but also the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Assemblyman Molinaro announced his and the senator's intentions in a letter to the editor that appears in this issue. The Independent called for an investigation of Mr. Cascino in an editorial last week.
"Senator Saland and I agree. Mr. Cascino must be held accountable and his activities must comply with local, state and federal law. He is responsible for adhering to all appropriate codes and regulations. Columbia County Judge [Acting Supreme Court Judge] Jonathan Nichols and the Office of the Attorney General have decided clearly on the matter," says the assemblyman in his letter.
Mr. Cascino is currently under a temporary restraining order intended to prevent him from dumping any more waste or other materials on his property, but neighbors and town officials believe the prohibited activity is continuing.
Mr. Molinaro noted that there is "unanimity" between his office and the senator's that more should be done by the state to monitor Mr. Cascino's ongoing activity in and around the districts they represent. He said in a phone interview Thursday that he also wants to understand why and how this has gone on for so long.
"We're not presuming anything other than enforcement of clear violations," said the assemblyman, adding that state Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker is being included in communications from him and Senator Saland on the matter, "so he is aware of our concerns."
The letter to the attorney general was expected to go out late Thursday or Friday at the latest.
Mr. Molinaro also noted his joint sponsorship with Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-92nd) of Westchester, of a bill that would require applicants for DEC permits to include any and all records about prior violations of the law.
The bill was approved by the Assembly, but was introduced too late to be taken up by the Senate before the end of the legislative session. The assemblyman anticipates the re-introduction of the bill in the next session.
Senator Saland could not be reached for comment before press deadline yesterday.
Most recently, on August 2, the Town of Copake's ongoing litigation against Mr. Cascino was the subject of a special meeting attended by about 100 people. Many of the residents who spoke at that meeting called for the involvement of the attorney general in getting Mr. Cascino to comply with the law. Mr. Cascino has been in violation of state or town law at his Copake Valley Farm property for the past 11 years.
Attorney Carl G. Whitbeck, the town's special counsel on the Cascino matter, told the crowd at the August 2 meeting that the Town Board had agreed in July to pursue yet another contempt motion against Mr. Cascino for continuing to dump unknown materials on his 300-acre property in violation of a temporary restraining order issued in November 2006 by Judge Jonathan Nichols.
Residents have witnessed and photographed large dump trucks pulling onto the Cascino property from points south on Route 22 and dumping loads of what could be soil or could be crushed up construction and demolition (C+D) debris, Mr. Whitbeck said at the August 2 meeting.
The judge's restraining order prevents Mr. Cascino from constructing or excavating or depositing material of any type on the property.
Judge Nichols still has a prior contempt motion and the principal lawsuit before him, which have not yet been heard.
Also pending against Mr. Cascino is an enforcement action brought by the attorney general on behalf of the state Department of Environmental Conservation for violations of state law because he filled in a wetland and along the Noster Kill, a protected trout stream, and built a 30-foot-wide steel bridge across the stream without obtaining permits.
The attorney general's office worked out a settlement agreement, called a consent order, that requires Mr. Cascino to remove all the fill he deposited in the wetlands, pay over $100,000 in penalties, close the bridge and remove the road he built leading to it.
While Mr. Cascino has apparently completed delineation of the wetlands and gotten approval for a remediation plan in the area north of Lackawanna Road, Mr. Whitbeck said at the August 2 meeting that officials at the Attorney General's Office told him that Mr. Cascino had not gotten DEC approval for a remediation plan in the area of the bridge and has now accrued two violations of the consent order timetables.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is now demanding that Mr. Cascino submit the required documents by August 12 or be ordered to appear before Judge Nichols again, said Mr. Whitbeck.
Mr. Cascino recently made application to the town Planning Board to build several new structures, including a just-under 25,000-square-foot barn and a grain silo system. A public hearing on those plans was scheduled before the Planning Board August 7.
Attorney Anna Kirschner, who represents Mr. Cascino on his building proposals, said she had no comment on Assemblyman Molinaro's and Senator Saland's call for an investigation of her client by the attorney general.
She did have a lot to say about other things, maintaining that there is no C+D debris on the Cascino property. She invited people to go to "check [Mr. Cascino's] yard at 4 Exterior Street in the Bronx," the site of his Bronx-based waste hauling business, to see that he does not deal in C+D, just concrete, asphalt, rocks and soil, which he processes in a grinder.
Ms. Kirschner also said her client is still interested in giving the town his steel bridge and connecting road over the Noster Kill. She said that if the town won't accept it because it is the subject of litigation and wants to wait until the litigation is settled then the road will no longer be intact because Mr. Cascino has been ordered by the attorney general to remove it. If the town agrees to accept the bridge and road, she said, "the issue disappears."
To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@IndeNews.com.