Dear Pine Plains,
What a beautiful week. Everything is budding out and the daffodils are blooming spectacularly everywhere, it seems.
Thursday, a group of citizens held a tiny parade and cupcake ceremony for our beloved FEDEX Delivery guy Pete by surprising him with a motorcade accompaniment into town, where a gathering of people displaying signs of thanks stood by to herald him. Pete is moving on after 21 years delivering to us here, and we are happy and sad at the same time. Here was a man who often stopped his truck to help someone, or shoot a few hoops with a kid playing alone on a court, or to give dog biscuits to canine citizens. (Think of all those Chewy boxes!) He will be missed.
Gregg Pulver stopped in at Town Hall to talk with Alice and I about Phase 2 of the Hometown Heroes Project. This is his baby, and we are helping to implement it. Phase 2 will be going up with the help and dedication of Kyle Lougheed and the crew of Ginocchio Electric. Kyle always steps up to help the town do things like this and we can’t thank him enough. Phase 3 of the Heroes is being gathered right now. If you have someone to sponsor, please come out to Town Hall and talk to Alice. It costs $200 and if you don’t have the money we might be able to help.
I got to see Tilly the Bloodhound this week, whose handler, Trooper Justin Bell, related a search she did recently and successfully for a missing woman down in Ossining. Tilly and Saffy, Justice Dave Humeston’s calendar-girl Ridgeback service dog are frequent visitors to Town Hall. Drop in! You might catch them!
I want to remind people that our Recovery Coach comes to Pine Plains on a weekly basis and is at the Episcopal Church to talk to anyone who wants help with drug or alcohol-related issues, whether the struggles be your own or a family member’s. Her name is Deb Hagan and she is there at 18 Pine Street inside the Parish house on the 2nd and 4th Mondays 4-8pm and the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays 11am-3pm. Think we don’t have a problem in Pine Plains? Think again. It hides well. People exchange their prescriptions for methadone and sublaxone for fentanyl and other opioids, so it is very hard to see what’s going on. Suffice it to say, the town police know, and are often the first ones on the scene of an overdose. Narcan has become a verb.
Our Broadband Committee received some nice publicity for their work in gathering Northern Dutchess towns together to examine the issue of high-speed internet in the area. We hope to have an announcement soon about the results of all their hard work.
The Town Park Committee is just about to get started on the renovation of the corner park at 82 and 199.
Keep tabs on all the things going on in town at www.pineplains-ny.gov, our website. Check out the Town Projects page.
Stay tuned in, Pine Plains!
|4.2.2021Dear Pine Plains,
The Town Beautification Committee is about to get underway with the town park renovation which is being financed by a legacy given to the town by a man named Edward Kinsley. They have a lovely design. It will become a pastoral place to sit and enjoy a coffee or read a book or watch the clouds.
Incredible work is underway via grants to bring the lakes to health with the help of our Highway Department and the DEC. Our designation as a Clean Energy Community will be enhanced by our stewardship of the headwaters of the Wappingers Creek Watershed.
We would like to convene an Affordable Housing Committee in order to handle the research on bringing and maintaining affordable housing in Pine Plains. If you are interested please contact the Town Supervisor.
The Durst Organization delivered their initial development design to the Planning Board. An explanation of this project is on our website in the area devoted to Town Projects. www.pineplains-ny.gov
And this week the County brought a Pop-up Vaccination site to Pine Plains. It was an extraordinary operation, with numerous stations set up to receive recipients and all inside the gym at the high school, matching our own Nasir Mahmood’s mission to vaccinate everyone in Pine Plains. Dana Smith, County Commissioner of Emergency response came up, as well as many volunteers from all over the County and their energy and enthusiasm for the work made it all the more exciting being there. Again, it felt like we were making history, and frankly, we were. Over 250 vaccinations were administered, including one to our County Executive, Marcus Molinaro. He did not have to make that extra effort, and he did it in order to give us a shot in the arm, if you don’t mind my pun. He also gave me the theme for this week’s newsletter.
I remember being in the 4th grade and entirely unaware of what was going on in the world around me, specifically of the fact that our school district was about to be integrated via busing. Kids from Evanston would be bused to Skokie elementary schools, and in turn, we would be bused to the middle school in Evanston. Our teachers prepared us for handling this without our knowledge by teaching us the meaning of “noblesse oblige”. I have never forgotten the lesson. It means this: “the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged.”
Defining privilege is daunting. It can mean nothing more than two parents who stay together, living in a neighborhood where everyone looks after everyone, an ivy league education, a swimming pool and ski trips to Aspen. No matter what our definition, when it’s in action, served by a sense of noblesse oblige, it is like the radio-active spider-bite in Spiderman: with great power comes great responsibility. It can be a burden. It can be a cause for separation. Or celebration. Such is government at the local level. One serves everyone, regardless of who they are or what their circumstances are, or whether they appreciate it or not.
This charge is behind the best things that happen in Dutchess County. It is what makes the difference between getting a project done for the good of many people, not just oneself, and refusing to do much out of fear of losing a position or backlash. It means you leave your politics behind and you address the needs of everyone, and you do more than is required by the situation. Or appreciated by the recipients. So many people in Pine Plains have a strong sense of noblesse oblige, no matter how modest their backgrounds might be, or how vast their wealth. I mention this a lot but it never ceases to amaze me, and we have a fellow traveler in the County Executive. Thank you Marc, for coming here, and thank you everyone who donated this past week to the Erin Shanley Memorial fundraiser for St. Jude, and participated in the Trivia contest the night before, also to raise money for St. Jude; to all those who give money for college scholarships each spring at the high school, and keep the doors of the churches open, and are building The Stissing Center brick by brick; who raised funds for out-of-work restaurant workers during the pandemic, and the Library, who serve on our committees and give land to our trails initiative. To all who live by a sense of noblesse oblige when comfort might be easier, who get out and do things for this community.
Merci, Pine Plains.
|March 26, 2021Dear Pine Plains,
As of today, the Broadband Committee has delivered its Final Report to County Executive Marcus Molinaro, County Legislative Chair Gregg Pulver, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, Senator Sue Serino and Congressman Antonio DelGado, as well as our Town Board. It is the result of 9 months of weekly meetings to study our lack of high-speed internet in Pine Plains. As you know, we have now teamed up with the rest of the towns in Northern Dutchess to ask for help in getting complete coverage. This was not only a brilliant committee that did brilliant work, but a wonderful group to be a part of. Once again, our profound thanks for all the hard work.
The Sewer Feasibility Study Committee met with our engineers and the new plan is very exciting. The district has been re-drawn, and the system proposed is quite innovative. There is a lot of work ahead.
Work continues on the Zoning Review Committee. Again, if you have any problems with zoning we might not have heard about, please contact the Committee via Town Supervisor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many people are asking about Town Cleanup Day. It is always the weekend after Labor Day. Start getting ready now! We will be mulching the brush pile earlier than usual this year due to sheer volume. Make sure you get those branches over to the highway department. And remember, there is a lot of wood chip mulch down there for the taking.
We are beginning to get serious about forming the Pine Plains Bicentennial Committee. The town celebrates its 200th birthday in April of 2023. It will take a lot of planning. For your excitement, we have begun gathering ideas with the historical society and they are listed at the end of this letter. We welcome your ideas but most of all your participation in this momentous event. Contact me or Alice at the above email address,
Trivia Night is tonight at the high school! Play from anywhere! All donations go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Check it out at Info: https://sites.google.com/…/virtual-trivia-night-nhs/home
And if you love forms, you love vaccinations this year. I got my 2nd vaccination and again I want to thank all the volunteers who made the experience personal and professional. I hope everyone knows that everyone at the site was a volunteer. They were all amazing. I had n00 side e**6ects except x%!nnn(**bl5ah…
Stay x%!nnn(**bl5ah…, Pine Plains!
Ideas for Pine Plains Bicentennial 2023
(April 1 is actual anniversary date)
(Suggestion – have a week-long celebration in October to coincide with AG Day)
In BOLD: Little Nine Partners Historical Society leading
Dear Pine Plains,
I dived into three particularly interesting things this week: what the American Rescue Plan could mean to Pine Plains, the vaccination situation in Pine Plains, and our Broadband Committee meeting with Gregg Pulver and Town Supervisors and Committee members from Stanfordville, Northeast, Milan and Amenia.
BUT FIRST, BREAKING NEWS! At 5:34 last night, I received an email from NYSERDA informing us that we have received a $5,000 grant for achieving the status of CLEAN ENERGY COMMUNITY. If you can recall, we began pushing to become a Climate Smart Community in 2018 and by 2019 had achieved 4 large climate actions to qualify to become a Clean Energy Community. We replaced all our street lights with LED, not only saving energy but saving tax dollars of around $6,000 per year in electricity. We instituted the Unified Solar Law, making it easier for people to switch to solar power. We installed an Electric Vehicle Charging Station, inviting eco-tourists here, while promoting electric cars, and did it all via grants and donations. The 4th action was to essentially pledge to become a CEC, which of course we did. This grant came out of nowhere and we are very grateful–now, how do we spend it? Think ecology! (BTW, work on the Town Park at the corner of 82 and 199 commences as soon as bids come in and we decide on a landscaper!)
On to the week. All NY-19 Supervisors and Mayors as well as County officials were invited to a ZOOM Meeting to understand the funding that could come available to us should the Rescue Plan pass. There were 85 officials in attendance with representative DelGado, and we spoke for an hour about the Plan. The gist of this is that he has been advocating in every Plan that has been suggested so far that funding be allotted directly to towns and villages. Each time a pandemic rescue plan has been passed, that aspect of it has been taken out. We should all hope that this year is different. It could mean a fair percentage of our 2020 budget might be given to us to use to shore up the effects of the Covid pandemic. I will be honest with you: our direct costs here have been minimal, mainly because we are so small and everyone is essential. No hours or jobs were cut in town government. We did add hours on to our Buildings and Grounds for extra help in cleaning and recycling. All of our PPE was either acquired (as in “chased down”) through the State and County for free or donated to us by our own Pharmacy. However, there are projects which we could use the money for that would help us prevent the effects of another situation like this which would also count. I have attached the information Rep. DelGado gave us on this opportunity. It was pretty amazing sitting on a ZOOM with all those folks from our district at one time. Just seeing their faces brought home how big this community of New Yorkers here is and how small.
By the way, this funding is calculated via the 2020 Census findings. This is just one way that extra funding for small towns like ours is what is at risk when people do not fill out the Census. There is no other way to determine who lives where, and how many of us there are.
Yesterday, our Broadband Committee organized a meeting with all the towns around us and County Legislator Gregg Pulver to outline the work we have done on Broadband here, and to ask for help from the County in our effort to bring high-speed internet to every household in Pine Plains and Northern Dutchess. The pandemic highlighted how inadequate our system up here is, and good high-speed access is an economic development driver as well as more and more an agricultural tool for farmers. Gregg was enthusiastic about all our work on this and promised to bring our ideas back to the County Executive during their next meeting, which was, coincidentally, right after the one we were all in. He commented on the fact that Southern Dutchess, which has the most population, has the most coverage and so it is not an issue for them. But for Northern Dutchess, it is a big issue.
Finally, I want to relate my experience with our own local vaccination rollout here in Pine Plains. First of all, Nasir Mahmood, our beloved pharmacist, was relentless in annoying County and State government until they recognized the wisdom of allowing his pharmacy to distribute the vaccine. He then recruited retired nurses (who retained their certifications) to help administer the shots, secured space at the Firehouse and readied his staff for handling the paperwork. He had no idea when the vaccines would arrive. In the meantime, since he knew that we were getting some, he put out the word on Facebook with a sign-up sheet. We all immediately learned how to sign up for something using our smart phones and he quickly amassed a list of over 1000 people. Then suddenly, a box arrived and it was all hands on deck. It turned out that I was one of the first people to sign up, so I got a call. I had to fill out more paperwork online, sign up for a time to go in, and then show up. When I walked into the Firehouse that Thursday, I was surrounded by familiar faces and I immediately calmed down. I realized what an amazing and historic moment this actually was. We sat in chairs waiting to go in to get our shots and gabbed. Many of these people I hadn’t seen up close in about a year and it felt so wonderful to be around them again. I went in and received my shot from another friend, which really was very important to me. I was then instructed to sit down for 15 minutes to make sure I had no reaction and then I could go home. Here was another opportunity to sit with people I know and catch up a little. Yesterday, we did this again, this time with more doses available. And we are helping people sign up and sign in out at Town Hall—now that we know what it entails—and at the Library whenever it is open. If you know someone who fears the internet or doesn’t have it or does not have an email address, please tell them we are here to help. I cannot express the gratitude I feel to Nasir and every volunteer helping with this extraordinary push to keep the people in our town healthy and safe. This is what they truly mean when they talk about “the greater good”. The greater good is accomplished by regular people just doing it. They are what is great.
Stay great, Pine Plains!
Delgado Local Government Funding Formula
The House’s American Rescue Plan includes Representative Antonio Delgado’s local funding formula, which delivers $130.2 billion to local governments across the United States. Rep. Delgado has fought for direct federal support for counties, cities, towns, and villages since last May when he introduced the first proposal to provide relief — irrespective of population size.
New York’s 19th Congressional District will receive an estimated $400 million via Rep. Delgado’s formula.
Eligible uses of the funds are broad. They include:
Funding Allocation Breakdown:
o $45.57 billion for municipalities with populations of at least 50,000, sent directly from the Department of Treasury within 60 days of submitting a Certification of Need.
When is the funding available?
For Cities, Towns, and Villages
How much will my county, city, or municipality receive?
What do I need to do to receive the funding?
For Cities, Towns, and Villages
What can my county/town/city use this funding for?
Dear Pine Plains,
No matter how still it might look outside in terms of the Covid shut-down, there is a lot of activity going on inside in Pine Plains.
The Library is up and running again with some really fun events announced for the next month. The Little Nine Partners Historical Society is holding their annual meeting and discussion. The Zoning Review Committee has officially launched, and a new business is soon to open, Roosters Home and Hardware at 2978 Church Street next to the barber shop. I spoke with the owners last summer about Pine Plains, and they were eager to find space here to expand their business. There will be more new business announcements in the coming months, so it feels like Spring to me.
But of course, warmer weather means the ice rink season has come to a close. I know we have thanked the volunteers a lot here, but it doesn’t hurt to thank them again. Matt Zick and his crew worked really hard to get the rink up and running and shoveled off and smooth so that we could all skate. It opened January 6th this year and lasted until this week, so we had a decent season. I skated once and shoveled a number of times!
Please let anyone you know who is struggling with addiction, or has a family member struggling, or just wants someone to talk to about it, that Deb Hagan will now be at the Episcopal Church every week, on either a Monday or a Tuesday. Hours will be posted around town and at the church. She is also doing Narcan training on the last Wednesday of every month. Deb walks the walks, and knows what she’s talking about. Please seek her out.
This week’s biggest news is that Nasir Mahmood at the Pine Plains Pharmacy received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and set up a vaccination site at the firehouse on Thursday for the first 100 people who had signed up for it. I know that he has lobbied incessantly for local Pharmacies to be able to distribute this vaccine, and even though 100 seems very small, it is the first step. He is another Hometown Hero of ours who deserves great thanks. The sign-up process remains difficult for those without smart phones or internet, and to that end, Alice and I can help anyone who comes out to Town Hall to sign up with the County for the next distributions. If Nasir is able to receive more vaccine, then we will help with sign-ups for that too.
And there is a lot to plan for: summer camp will take place again, Covid-style, and baseball and softball organization is happening now. Rec Director Mike Cooper is looking for volunteers. We are talking to the Triathlon people about what they might do.
I spoke with one of our wonderful seniors yesterday and had a nice long welcome conversation about life and Pine Plains. She loves living here, but the loneliness is getting to her, as she has been very active in town. Her husband passed away in November at a nursing home, a fact I did not know, and the loneliness of that just compounds in so many ways. Please reach out to your neighbors and even if it’s just a chat through a screen door, know how important that is to a lot of them. And how rewarding it is to you. You just never know what people are really dealing with in their lives. As I said in the beginning here, there’s a lot going on on the inside.
Take care, be well, and reach out, Pine Plains!
Dear Pine Plains,
It was a good month for attending to the paperwork of the last year, pulling together and finalizing the specs for 3 RFPs for the Highway garage as well as demo for 8 and 12 N. Main. These will all be out in the next week.
We received word from the State that speed limit reductions were approved for STREVER FARM ROAD, CARPENTER HILL ROAD, CHASE ROAD, AND BETHAL CROSS ROAD. All will be reduced to 35 mph. These come at no expense to the town for road speed studies due to the manner in which we made our presentation. I want to thank Mike Manning for his invaluable help with this. Now we can ask for the next set of speed limit reductions!
The Willowvale Bridge is all set for repair in March, according to the County. This will be a one-lane bridge designed to slow down traffic in the area as well as to discourage trucks from using this spur as a short cut. The bridge design will be historic, reminiscent of the kind of work the County did at Patchin’s Mill.
My Broadband report is discouraging. We have a tremendous committee working on this, and have entertained numerous officials from both the legislature and the Broadband Companies themselves. I signed the NDA so that Consolidated would give us their maps and make an estimate as to what a build-out would cost to cover all corners of Pine Plains. They still have not sent this material. Altice was supposed to attend one of our meetings, set it up, cancelled and have not been heard from since. But the fact is that adequate high-speed internet for everyone is dependent on the federal and state governments taking the lead on this and completing this work, perhaps naming internet access as a utility and finding the money. The internet companies are not going to complete service on their own. They will not invest the money. They will however, build out on a road if all the homeowners on that road join the contract to pay a $150 startup fee and $130/mo after that for 3 years. These fees pay the cost of extending the lines. Municipal Broadband in the form of a town-owned company just does not make sense for a variety of reasons here. We will continue to monitor changes in law and funding opportunities, but we also recommend looking into Starlink, a system using satellites that has contacted numerous homeowners for sign-up opportunities even though the system is not yet available. I think they might be looking for adequate numbers to make this worthwhile. We will keep you updated. A huge thanks to Jim Petrie for doing the data entry on the maps we created ourselves. Heroic undertaking.
I have continued my participation in the Pattern for Progress Fellows Class on Institutional Racism, and have found that you can expand the concept to people without money when it comes to ways of keeping certain kinds of people from owning their own homes via zoning. I think Pine Plains has actually done a good job paying attention to its zoning in this regard, and the new Zoning Review Committee will be tasked with securing more ways to ensure equity in housing availability in Pine Plains. At the Town Board Workshop on Monday, we launched the Zoning Review with our planners, and the work begins in earnest in March. It will take about 6 months and will clarify and adjust numerous items in our list of things to fix and change. This work comes as a result of the Comprehensive Plan Update we completed last year, as well as consultation with the Building Inspector, and the Planning and Zoning Boards as to issues that have come up which need attention in their minds.
Finally, a shoutout to some really wonderful high school students who have begun a group to look at Diversity in Pine Plains. They meet online every Thursday evening, and I look forward to hearing about their work together. Diversity is the key to sustainability.
So stay different, Pine Plains!