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Town Supervisor Updates

Dear Pine Plains 7.23.21

7.23.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

Wednesday night the Hudson Valley Project/Durst Organization held the first of two scoping meetings to ask for public input on the impact of the project. Numerous people got up and spoke, suggesting the kinds of studies that might be conducted to determine the impact of the development on the Town. Your input is crucial to how the development is designed. The next meeting is Saturday July 31st at 10am. Doors will open at 9:30 so you can view the maps and sign up to speak. This is a long process and requires our full attention, as well as our input. So much misinformation and old information is out there.

As I write this, the 10U Town Rec Girls Softball Team is still up in Rochester playing in the State Tournament. In less than 3 days, the citizens of Pine Plains raised all of the money necessary to allow them to stay in a hotel together and play. We were able to raise this money so quickly with the help of the technology and 501c3 designation of The Stissing Center. The final push over the edge came from cash jars at local businesses.

Speaking of The Stissing Center, they are asking for help. They write: “Have you been to The Stissing Center yet? You’ve got to check it out. TSC is a non-profit arts and performance space, and they’ve got a full line-up of events coming in the Fall. You can join in the fun! They are looking for volunteer ticket takers, ushers, concessions, stage production crew, and office help. There’s something for everyone. Please contact Liz Raum at TSC via the website, TheStissingCenter.org/volunteer.” This is a great way to see shows. And being a part of them is even better.

There will be a public hearing at the regular Board Meeting on August 19th for the text changes in our zoning as recommended by our Zoning Review Committee. And have you seen the corner park renovation yet? It is really coming along!

As we are planning for a small dedication of the park, I decided to try and find out who Edward C. Kinzer was. I contacted the lawyer who sent the letter informing us of the inheritance, and found his nephew, Doug Kampfer. Doug was wonderful to talk to. He believes the Kinzers bought the house at the corner of Old Orchard Lane (that now belongs to the Pecks) in the 1930s. Doug loves Pine Plains and talks about it all the time with his sister. They spent many summers up here fishing in the lake and “shooting at rats at the dump”! That dump was where the highway garage is now. He told me that his uncle was an electrician, whose son had died long ago. They were friends of the Klein family (Al) and the Dinnen (sp) family and the Rensings next door on Lake Road. They all loved Pine Plains and in fact, the ashes of the older Kinzer folks are up on Stissing Mountain. I hope they are watching the progression of their beautiful legacy from there.

This weekend boasts numerous concerts and events around town, but in particular, there is a BBQ at the Church of the Regeneration from 2-4pm Saturday on Pine Street, where numerous local musicians will play, and on Sunday downstairs at The Stissing Center, scholar and raconteur Andy King will be reading from his latest book at 3pm. The impact of even the smallest-seeming of events is often huge in proportion. All are welcome.

Stay small, feel big, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 7/16/21

7.16.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

Demolition on 8 and 12 N Main is scheduled to begin on Monday the 19th. Notices are going to be hand-delivered to neighbors so they understand what’s going on.

We received the money for a grant of $5,000 which I applied for from NYSERDA for our work in becoming a Clean Energy Community. This money can be designated to help with environmental projects around town.
My application for the American Rescue Plan money was confirmed and we will be receiving $245,765. Because we did not incur much loss from the pandemic, probably all of this money will have to be used for infrastructure projects as per the requirements.

Camp is up and running and already hugely successful thanks to Camp Director Jen Chase. We welcomed 15 kids from Ancram this year as their camp did not open.

The Scoping Meetings begin next week with the first on Wednesday the 21st at 7:30pm at the high school. The next one will be at 10am on Saturday the 31st. These are informational meetings only on the impact of the development proposal on the area.

The Town Board passed a proclamation last night declaring the week of August 1-7 International Clown Week! Bee Bee, Pine Plains’ own official Town Clown, will be going all over Dutchess County and beyond, distributing red noses and making people laugh, because… clowns!

The town park renovation is moving quickly now–and what a change. Plan on getting take-out and going there to sit amongst the beautiful plantings soon.

As I hope you all know by now, the Rec’s 10&Under Girls softball team won their division championship and presented the Town with a dilemma as to how to come up with the money to send them to Rochester, where the State games will be held, in a very short amount of time–less than a week. The money will be used for hotel expenses only, as parents and coaches are paying for food and travel. And of course, the better they do the more expensive it will get. The Rec Committee reached out to the Stissing Center, a not-for-profit, for handling the funds. They jumped on board and in turn sent out a link for folks to be able to easily donate to the effort. Local businesses put in cash jars and we were up and running–and in 2 days we raised the entire amount for the team!!! It was the cash jar at The Platter that put us over the mark. 100% of the money collected will go to the effort, no fees will be charged. Any money left over will be given to the Rec Department hopefully for the dugouts we sorely need. Thank you Pine Plains, thank you. You continue to be the small town where people take care of each other.

Play ball, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 7.9.21

7.9.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I went to our monthly meeting of the Dutchess County Mayors and Supervisors, where we all trade information and ideas, complaints and successes, and learn from each other and advocate for change. It is a vital connection for this smallest of towns. All along, we have kept each other informed—with the help of the County—on how we can handle the American Rescue Plan Funds, and how to apply for them in the first place. Pine Plains will receive $245,000+ in two installments, and we are restricted to spending it on infrastructure: wastewater system, water system, broadband. Those who do not have these kinds of projects actually lose the funding. The exchange of all this information prepared all of us well for applying for the funds without having to spend significant money hiring an accountant to fill out the application.

Recreation Director Michael Cooper, Matt Zick and I met on Tuesday with the Dutchess County Assistant Executive Ron Hicks and the Department of Health down at the beach to assess the problems there so that they don’t close the beach this summer due to bacteria. We included Ken Preusser, a lake expert from the USDA in the discussion. I will admit, getting through to the DOH on proper lake testing and what that really entails has been exceedingly difficult, but at least we got the discussion rolling and observed some improvements we can make to ensure the beach stays open. One thing I want to ask of everyone is that should you see geese down there or droppings, you immediately become a volunteer to help clean it up rather than just complain. If we all pitch in I know that we can make a difference for our kids there. We do not have the employees to handle all that entails and when you take on responsibility for keeping Pine Plains clean and operating everywhere, you claim it as your own.

This brings me to the CAC: the CAC is our Conservation Advisory Council, our action committee for everything environmental. We are currently seeking a co-chair with a background in science for help in vitalizing this committee and making them a central point of energy for preserving our environment here. If you are obsessed with clean water and air, preserving our lakes and animal life and farmland, please volunteer for this very important position and help take the town forward in this regard. As you know, this Town Board worked hard to achieve status as a Climate Smart/Clean Energy Community (NYSERDA certified) and now we have a chance to create programs and actions that result in the award of numerous denominations of grant funds via a point system for our achievements. If you don’t know this, the Town achieved our CEC status by committing itself to 4 big actions: we converted all our street lighting to LED, saving both light glare from the town into the sky, electricity and its requisite cost, saving us approximately $6000 a year. That, a unified solar permit, environmental building code training for our Building Inspector, and our EV Charging Station (AKA Rosie, in back of the bank), and earned us $5000 in grant money for other things. Please consider becoming a part of this truly vital committee.

Senator Sue Serino paid a visit to town on Wednesday after the Senior Drive-by Picnic at the high school, attended also by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, Congressman Antonio DelGado, Comptroller Robin Lois, Legislative Chair Gregg Pulver and numerous volunteers and patrons from the area numbering over 200. We walked the length of our business district going into stores and talking to the owners. We spoke at length about all the things the town needs to survive into the future, and all the exciting things going on. It was fortuitous that the town park was getting its face-lift at the same time the roof of the Stissing House was being replaced. The sounds of hammering and plowing and stone-wall building could be heard all over. And Justin finally got me with his spray bottle when we went into the barber shop. We are inviting the Senator to return to tour a few more businesses and The Stissing Center as well. In a meeting on Thursday with board members of BOCES, I learned that the Center now employs 5 local people, full and part-time, and has just made a very exciting hire which I can’t disclose. Their mission is forming around them as they take in all the potential a center like that can have for a town that loves theatre and dance and art and music, as we do.

Please do not forget to attend the Scoping Meetings being set up by the Durst Organization (see last week’s newsletter) on the 21st at 7:30 or the 31st at 10am at the high school. And please consider the difference you make as a citizen when you do something small and simple like picking up after the geese. Or going to an important meeting in order to stay informed.

And way to go, Girls’ 10U Softball team! AND their volunteer coach, Rich Tamburrino!  Region 17 winners! Good luck going forward!

This town is yours, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 7.2.21

7.2.21

Dear Pine Plains,

This letter will be devoted to a lot of the business at hand in the next few months. Much is going on here that impacts the future of Pine Plains in significant ways, and your input is absolutely necessary to this process. Save the dates for these special public meetings.

The first step in the long process of approval for a large development is the conducting of an environmental impact study. We talk about SEQR all the time—what’s that?  It stands for State Environmental Quality Review, and it is a study of just that. The Durst Organization is about to begin this study for what they now call the Hudson Valley Project at the old Carvel estate.

And so there will be two “scoping meetings” for the Hudson Valley Project held at the high school auditorium, one on July 21 @ 7pm, and one on July 31st @ 10am. What is a scoping meeting? First, I will tell you what it is not—it is not a time to comment on your opinion of the project. It IS a time for your input as to what you think ought to be considered for study for the Environmental Impact of the development on the area. You will be invited to peruse their Draft Scope documents and maps and come up with your ideas as to what ought to be considered as they revise this document.

We will also be putting up posters all around town regarding these meetings and informing the Millerton News about them so that those without internet can get this information.

In addition, written comments on the Draft Scope are invited. Written comments will be accepted by the CONTACT PERSON identified below until August 10, 2021 at 4 pm. Written comments may be delivered by e-mail or by mail (addresses below).

All Involved Agencies are invited to inform the Lead Agency of each Agency’s concerns, permit jurisdictions, and information needs to support such Agency’s SEQR Findings, including, where applicable, any specific techniques or model to be used in studies and analysis for the EIS.
For Further Information:
Contact Person: Tricia Devine, Planning Board Secretary
Address: Town of Pine Plains Planning Board Pine Plains Town Hall P.O. Box 955 Pine Plains, NY 12567
Telephone: (518) 398-8600, option 3
Email: planningboard@pineplains-ny.gov

On August 16th, our usual Town Board Workshop Meeting will be turned into a regular meeting for the purpose of conducting a public hearing for the Zoning Review Committee results. If you missed our discussion of these, look on YouTube at Town of Pine Plains and our Board Workshop of June 14th. This was an extensive discussion of the results of the committee work on zoning revisions which we have made as a result of the update to the Comprehensive Plan finished at the top of 2020.

And the results of the Sewer Feasibility Study will be discussed at a public meeting as soon as the ink dries on the engineers’ final draft. Word about this meeting is forthcoming.

This year’s Triathlon was a record-breaking event. 150 athletes came to Pine Plains and swam a ½ mile, biked 4 miles and ran a 5K. The Fire Department was out in full force to help as were kayakers from the Stissing Lake Association and road volunteers. Besides being an exciting event, this is a way to introduce people to the beauty of Pine Plains in the hope of both preserving that beauty in their eyes and promoting the Town’s businesses, some of which were open after the race for meals and visits.

While we are on the topic of the future of Pine Plains, it is important to say at this time how much businesses mean to the present as well as the future of the town. If you go down to the Recreation Fields, you will see banners around the fencelines that show the financial support numerous local businesses have given to our recreation department. If you have ever had to raise money for school groups, scouts, sports, Decoration Day, the Ag Fair, the School Play, The Stissing Center, etc. in Pine Plains, you know that you went around to every business and asked them for a contribution. Without businesses here supported by an active community, financial support of these wonderful activities and groups would be on the shoulders of parents and townspeople exclusively. The Sewer Feasibility Study was conducted in the hope of our being able to build a small, efficient central septic system so that businesses can be opened by anyone—not just wealthy corporations–willing to take on the hard work of owning one, and thrive in Pine Plains.

Think local, buy local, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

PS: If you missed this article by Anthony Musso in the Poughkeepsie Journal, here it is. Pine Plains had the first Library in the County! And guess where it was?

Upon opening in November 1798, the Union Library of Pine Plains became the first public library to exist in Dutchess County. That said, its operation relocated to several different locations through the years and it wasn’t until March 2016 that it finally settled into its present town-owned building.
The library was organized at a meeting held at Stissing House on the southwest corner of West Church (Route 199) and South Main (Route 82) streets. Ebenezer Baldwin acquired the tavern in 1797 from its original owner Cornelius Elmendorph, who opened the business in 1782.
Following the meeting to establish and provide space for the library in Stissing House, Baldwin joined two other proponents of the initiative and traveled to New York City to purchase its first supply of books.
In 1840, Richard Peck arrived in Pine Plains and erected a building as his law office across from Stissing House along South Main Street. When he was appointed the municipality’s postmaster in 1861, the building became the local post office while simultaneously serving as the Pine Plains Library; deputy postmaster Henry Parker oversaw both operations.   In 1874, the library’s status transformed from a membership entity to a tax-supported operation; its name changed at the same time to the Pine Plains Free Library. In March 1885, after closing temporarily with its books stored in the nearby Eno Law Office, the library reopened in a section of Cole’s Drug Store.Clarissa Cole and her son Harrie — both licensed pharmacists — retained the title of librarian through 1904, when Clarissa Cole’s granddaughter, Helen Netter, relocated the operation to her newly built home along Main Street. The library remained in that location for the next 64 years until a capital fund enabled the town to purchase the then McGee Building in 1968.   Ironically, it was the same building that Richard Peck built in 1840 and beginning in 1861 was a combination post office and library. The building had seen numerous owners and uses through the years, including various shops, a nurse’s facility, the office of the Pine Plains Register newspaper, and a restaurant.In August 1958, the first two-day annual Pine Plains Free Library’s Outdoor Book Fair and Art Show took place on the grounds around the library building. Authors participating at the function to autograph their books included Millerton’s Gerald Carson, who was promoting his new work “Cornflake Crusade.”   In October 1959, the Pine Plains Free Library joined 29 other municipal libraries to form the Mid-Hudson Library System. The library gifted the building to the town in 1973 and continued to operate there into the 21st century. In 2001, with space in the building becoming cramped and the overall condition of it falling into disrepair, a group of concerned citizens formed the Foundation for the Pine Plains Library and Community Center in an effort to raise money to finance the construction of a new, larger building.
With funds in hand and a generous donation of property along South Main Street from the Pine Plains International Order of Odd Fellows, construction began in April 2008 and the new facility opened on May 15, 2009.

Foreclosure In 2013 financial challenges led to a foreclosure on the new building.
“The foundation that was charged with the library’s new building went bankrupt,” said Dyan Wapnik of the Little Nine Partners Historical Society. “It had to move its operation back to the building it used for many years and when the town purchased the new building in 2015, the library moved back in as tenants.”
“The Pine Plains Library strives to be the ultimate resource center for our community,” said Library Manager Alexis Tackett. “From technical services to information webinars and programs galore, the library exists to serve our patrons the best we can whether that’s picking up a best-seller or getting assistance setting an appointment online for a vaccine.”
The Pine Plains Free Library is at 7775 South Main St.

Dear Pine Plains 6.25.21

6.25.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

The triathlon is Sunday! Watch for runners and bikers on our roads early in the day, and if you’re like to volunteer, they are still looking for help. You can contact Mark Wilson at coachmarkwilson@gmail.com This is an awesome event first begun by Charlie Norman, and carried on since then. If you don’t know what it is, come down to the ball fields and check it out. People travel from all over to do these events, so you will see some serious athletes at work, swimming, biking, running.

There was a primary held on Tuesday so I got to Town Hall at 5am to open the doors for the Board of Elections team. It was a rainy cool day, and I decided to just stay and try and put my desk in order (hah!) and do the little tasks that the big projects get in the way of. To wit:

  • Read 32 grant applications as a member of the County CDAC, which gives out the money from the Municipal Investment Grants.
  • Studied the Budget for second quarter state of the Town
  • Worked on CFA grants
  • Followed up with Engineer on parking changes in front of the bank
  • Called County to discuss broken sidewalks beside Pharmacy
  • Reviewed all bank statements
  • Signed checks, filled out numerous forms
  • Accepted NYSERDA grant of $5,000 and filled out more forms for deposit
  • Made coffee
  • Re-read the American Rescue Plan requirements; followed up on federal application to receive funds
  • Organized the last Town Board Meeting contents (I keep all documents for every meeting in a binder) and read them over to ensure I had followed up on everything.
  • Read email

Kind of a typical morning. Alice and I get a lot done together.

Last night, I went down to the Stanfordville Library to be a part of the 20th anniversary memorial they are producing for those who died in 9/11. We sat in a room with a microphone in twos, and each took turns reading names into a recorder. If anything, I was surprised by the number of families represented. There were a lot of people there to do the same thing. These memorials are tough to witness. The mounting number of names does not escape anyone. I remember feeling the same thing when I visited the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, DC The number of names increase as you walk forward through the sculpture until there are so many it’s overwhelming. It is hard but ultimately good to be devastated by it.

A reminder: Town Clean-up Day is now September 18th.

Pride Month ends this weekend and area churches are making a point that everyone is welcome at their services this Sunday. In particular, Pastor Ryan at the Presbyterian Church, and the folks at the Episcopal Church on Pine Street mentioned wanting all to feel welcome there.

Pastor-in-training Nathan Badore, of the Methodist Church, has volunteered his time as official videographer for a project tentatively called Legends of Pine Plains. (If you have a better name, please send it!) This is a project to record interviews with significant elders in the town. We are hoping people will come forward who can identify someone they think ought to be interviewed, and perhaps also a young person to ask the questions. We are looking for grandchildren, for instance, who would be interested in interviewing their grandparent(s). Or maybe a young neighbor. We hope to archive these at the Library and present them as a whole to the public at some time in the future. Please contact me at Town Hall if you have ideas and names. supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov Our local history has been well documented in the excellent books of Rosie Chase—also available at the Library—and this will add to the collection.

Congratulations to all the seniors graduating this June as the Class of 2021. What a story you will have to tell your interviewer someday.

Stay proud, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 6.11.2021

6.11.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I “graduated” from the Pattern for Progress Class on Institutional Racism and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The class met by Zoom every 2 weeks for as long as 2 hours to discuss and examine the history of institutional racism in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and how we might begin to turn it around. We heard from a number of great speakers including Jeremy Travis and Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law, a must-read book for anyone interested in how the government essentially created and re-enforced segregation in every part of this country. Rothstein was the guest speaker at the graduation, and he stressed a few very salient points about recent history as to why the country based on equality remains divided: when the New Deal was created, benefits did not extend to black people. When WWII was over, and the GI Bill created which granted low-percentage mortgages to veterans, black veterans were excluded. “Affordable” Housing Developments were built, and they had covenants preventing sale to black potential owners. The federal government backed up all of these policies and rulings. Without the ability to build equity via owning a home which increases in value—redlining prevented that as well by creating neighborhoods in which no bank would invest—segregated neighborhoods took hold from which few could escape.

Interestingly, this week a real estate agent posted an ad for a high-end cottage priced out of the reach of many people in Pine Plains. The outcry was audible. The blame is put on newcomers and the well-to-do creating a market that excludes most working people. Yet there was also a bitter discussion on the same platform about censorship vs. bullying. There has been ongoing discussion of people’s rights to do what they want on their own property. And finally, a comment around not wanting “affordable” housing here in Pine Plains, implying who that might bring in here. Board member Sarah Jones and I have been working on what we now call Workforce Housing every year I have been in office here, trying to find a way to create new housing for people to be able to rent or own who can’t afford the rising real estate prices here. This scenario is being played out everywhere in the Hudson Valley. We formed a Housing Committee which is actively researching this, and we helped form the Tri-Town Coalition between Millerton, Amenia and Pine Plains and Hudson River Housing to address the situation. Affordable housing was on the minds of our town government way back when the Durst Organization first proposed a development, and it was worked into the proposal back in the mid-2000s that they help us build homes for working people here to live in. So far, the best we’ve been able to achieve is the proposed amendment to our zoning as regards auxiliary dwelling units, or ADUs. Soon, a property owner will be able to live in either their original main home OR the auxiliary dwelling they build on their property. This can be an apartment over a garage, a cottage in back, etc. Hopefully, this will do two things: open up the possibility of building new rentals in town; and keep seniors on their properties by allowing them to live in the smaller units and rent out their original homes to new families. This seems to me to be key for Pine Plains.

Also key: a central wastewater system. Without one, new businesses struggle to open if they even can. Costly expansions to septic systems can be unattainable due not only to a lack of money a new owner might have, but also of the required space specified by the Department of Health, which now demands a 100% ability to expand any system in place. This law was written for cities; it in no way favors or helps small towns here in Dutchess County that have no infrastructure. In fact, it threatens the future of every small town here. (Below: one unit of the system, the type we are proposing; there would be around 6 of these plus a tiny barn to house computers).

And bringing this around to housing again, no developer will buy any land in the hamlet if we do not have infrastructure in the form of a wastewater system to tie into. So the idea of Workforce Housing depends completely on our building some kind of system which all the businesses in Pine Plains can tie into as well as anyone who would build here on the few available parcels (the Catholic Church land in particular—21 acres). We have been told repeatedly by some very reputable builders—Ken Kearney, Hudson River Housing, RUPCO–that if we had such infrastructure, they would be interested in building here. Sorely needed is affordable senior living as well as starter homes. Rentals in particular. Our schools have capacity for at least 600 more students. And we are not alone: Millerton and Amenia are both working on sewer feasibility studies and designs in order to achieve the same sort of security for the future. Because ultimately, that’s what economic development truly is: the ability to welcome small businesses owned by regular people easily opened in a hamlet.

What if the reason employers are having such a tough time getting people to work for them is not that they’re all sitting at home on unemployment–it’s that they’ve left because they can’t afford to live here anymore?

To quote a playwright whose work I know, “the cavalry isn’t comingwe are the cavalry!” Please, if you’d like to participate in thinking/doing about housing, join our Housing Committee! If Pine Plains is to survive the coming years with a diverse community of people who can afford to live and work here at the same time, then we must save ourselves. The cavalry isn’t coming to do it for us.

Saddle up, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 6.4.21

 

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6.4.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

First, I need to let everyone know that we lost some important people recently: Don Spohr and Robert Couse, Sr.  Bob served the Town in numerous capacities during his lifetime, in particular as the Chief of Police for many years, known for riding his horse through the hamlet in pursuit of offenders. Next week, I will write more about Don and  Bob; this news was just received. We extend our condolences to their families.

Some business: the new date for Town Cleanup Day is September 18th. This is due to the fact that our usual date lands on September 11th this year. I hope that anyone interested in being a part of the Reading of the Names on that day in remembrance in Stanfordville has signed up. Last year on 9/11 in Pine Plains, a fine group of guys hung a giant flag on the Fire Tower here, which was lit by members of FOSL. You could see it for miles.

The Memorial Day Parade was a meaningful event this year as always and attracted a huge crowd. I can usually hold back tears until I hear Taps being played when we reach the cemetery. I was glad to see so many friends there. Thank you to the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars for keeping the memory of those lost alive.

The Triathlon is on this year again! This brings athletes from all over the country to Pine Plains. Volunteers are always needed. More details on this as they appear. Mark your calendar for June 27th. Swimming, biking, running all around town, and a BBQ at the Lions’ Pavilion. I plan to be flipping burgers with our esteemed Camp and Beach Director, Jen Chase.  https://www.trisignup.com/Race/NY/PinePlains/StissingTriathlon

Speaking of esteemed: Tax Collector Eileen Ciaburri has achieved a record 94% tax collection from townspeople. I always tell her people pay their taxes here so they can come visit with her. Her response: “Naw. I only see about 400 a year…”

I run a Writer’s Group sponsored by the Friends of the Pine Plains Library. We are going on 5 years now of gathering every Wednesday night at 7pm somehow—in person at the Community Center, on ZOOM—and reading to each other from whatever we are working on. This past year we lost one of our members, Jen Andersen. Jen was a longtime teacher in the city of New York, a weekender who upon retirement made Ancram/Gallatin her permanent home with her husband David. Jen made the posters for our readings and they were always lovely, using David’s photography and her eye for detail to create an image that often brought more than 40 people to our events. But it was through her writing that we all got to know her.

She had an extraordinary eye for detail. She would write entire essays on the ants by her mailbox, or stray cats she had known in the city. She had us laughing and sitting back in wonder with her descriptions of things and her emotional attachment to the smallest life forms. Vivid in my memory is an essay she eventually published in Senior Hiker which detailed getting-lost-while-old on a hike in the White Mountains. We all adored her. But I mention her here to also talk about making something out of nothing. In a town like Pine Plains, it is much easier than in most places to say something out loud like: I want to start a Writers Group! and then see it come to fruition. Small towns are open in this way. Opportunities are very literally dependent on nothing more than our energy to create them and see them happen.

I sit in my office daily chanting things like: Let’s get us an all-abilities playground! Let’s build a central wastewater system so that businesses can thrive here! Let’s bring Town Hall back into Town where it belongs! Let’s be a welcoming place for young people to raise families and become a part of the fabric of this beautiful place! What will it take to get those things? All it takes is money! Gimme that grant application! Lemme at that donor! (Call me if you want to contribute to any of these: 518-398-8600 ext1. Or write: supervisor@pineplains-ny.gov 24/7. No contribution too small!)

What interferes with these dreams? Culverts which suddenly fail, old systems that spring leaks, mandates from the State, heaters and air conditioners that break, roofs that peel, drainage that backs up. Geese. I’m serious. Do you know how many hours are devoted to geese at Town Hall? Utility bills. Insurance bills. Lawsuits over property assessments. (BTW, we have the best assessors in Dutchess County—we are the envy of every other town). The Town Board dreads raising taxes as much as you dread paying them. So we keep the town running lean, but that means that there are few frills if any. Everything good that we get requires imagination, fundraising, and a committee of volunteers. And all the good things we have already require the same elements to survive.

The amazing thing about all this is that all it takes is imagination, fundraising, and a committee of volunteers. We can make things happen in Pine Plains if we just… make them happen.

And don’t give up.

Imagine and persevere, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 5.28.21

5.28.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

It has been a long slog to this Memorial Day Weekend since the pandemic really took force over us a year ago around this time. A bittersweet holiday for most of us. My Dad was a Captain in the OSS in WWII, then brought back by the Army to serve in Korea. My uncle was in Okinawa. My husband was #2 in the last draft for the Viet Nam War. The Hometown Heroes flags flying high over our streets are indication of the dedication to our country so many Pine Plainsians have felt. Just being around people who have served gives you an understanding of what it takes to be a soldier, and what kind of person that makes you. In my experience, those who come away in one piece from fighting wars seem to know that the world is not black and white but made of so many contradictions and colors. In my office is a plaque Lori Patricola made for me from advice given to me by Brian Coons, our last Town Supervisor, an Army veteran and a hero who doesn’t want a flag up (yet!). It says: Keep a clear and open mind. That advice is a legacy from his years of service in the Middle East. I take it to heart. It’s hard.

The Library hosts the Book Sale Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day, and the Presbyterian Church welcomes walk-ins for their chicken dinner being served after the parade.

This past week, the Zoning Review Committee did more monumental work on cleaning up and updating our zoning law. Making it easier to open a small business in Pine Plains is a key element, and very soon we will schedule a Public Meeting to go over the results of their efforts. The meetings are recorded and available on YouTube at Town of Pine Plains.

The Planning Board has never in history been busier than they are now. This is an all-volunteer committee responsible for making Pine Plains a good and welcoming place to live. I want to thank them all for the incredible work they’ve done this past year especially. The amount of work was monumental.

Don’t forget RebuildingTogether is taking applications for their free home renovations for qualified homeowners. Come see us at Town Hall and we will help you.

I will see you at the Memorial Day parade which begins at 10:30 and winds through the hamlet. Please be mindful of people not ready to take off their masks, and respect everyone by social distancing. This is one of the best days we have in Pine Plains and I always look forward to gathering with others to remember the past and to think about the ideal of a democracy worth fighting for.

I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said something to that effect: Make sure you are living a life that is worth asking someone else to fight and die for…

With a clear and open mind, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 5.20.21

5.20.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

I go to Crossfit in Hudson, and our rather daunting coach said this to us this week: “Resourcefulness is our greatest resource.” I have been thinking about that all week. That is the only way we get things done in a town without revenues, and it demands that we constantly re-invent ourselves to survive. And learn new skills. I see that all the time in the people here.

Rebuilding Together wants to come back to Pine Plains. This is the organization that helps people who qualify financially to fix or modify their homes for free. The form is a little daunting and we can help anyone interested in applying for this program at Town Hall. A lot of this stuff is online at www.rtdutchess.org, but if you can’t work the internet too well that’s a moot point. We are glad to help you. You should know, however, that confirmation that you own the home and have paid the mortgage is required as well as a number of documents attesting to your financial status, like tax records. Come to Town Hall and see what is required or call us and we can read it to you. A number of homes here have been fixed up in this way over the last few years and it’s a really awesome program, with volunteers from expert construction companies in the County doing the work. If your house is falling down around you, or you need grab bars and ramps put in so that you can remain in your home, and you don’t have the money to do this work, this is your program.

The Memorial Day Parade is on! It launches at 10:30 and will come down the streets of the hamlet with a pause at the Clock for very brief comments and then go on to the Cemetery. All are welcome. Please be advised that the CDC recommendations are in place which means try to stay six feet from your neighbors, and wear a mask if you are unvaccinated or worried. Masks also keep the pollen out of your nose! A convoy will pass through Town as well in the afternoon.

Speaking of I spoke with the people who work at Town Hall, and we generally have agreed to keep the mask regulation in place for that building. You will not be able to get in to see the Town Clerk without one. People have been really great about wearing their masks and I don’t foresee a problem, but for now, I did want to mention that we will keep our policy in place until further notice. Contrary to a popular belief, it is not against the law for a municipality or a business to ask someone if they are vaccinated. HIPAA Law pertains only to Health organizations.

Don’t forget the Book Sale at the Library Memorial Day weekend and the Presbyterian Church’s Chicken Dinner on Memorial Day from 11-1pm. 518-398-7117 for reservations. And the Garden Club Plant Sale is on Saturday the 22nd at the American Legion! Phew!

Stay resourceful, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

PS: Below is one of the many plans created over the years in need of implementation. Which means money!

Dear Pine Plains 5.14.21

5.14.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I popped into the Pine Plains Pharmacy to ask Nasir how the vaccinations were going. I was curious as to how many people he has vaccinated in his one-man attempt to get Pine Plains vaccinated. As of the beginning of the week, he had vaccinated 2843 people with the help of numerous volunteers, most of them your neighbors here in town. Given the fact that at the last census, we had a population of 2504, and that we know people came here from other towns to get their vaccinations, he figures he has covered about 43% of the entire town. (No children in that figure). Given that early on, before he got permission from the County to proceed, many people got their shots elsewhere, the percentage is probably much higher in terms of people vaccinated here. I was reminded of an article I’d read by Atul Gawande about a single doctor in India who rolled out the most effective vaccination program in their history and was able inoculate the entire country against polio by forming groups of local people to go out and give the vaccine to their own towns. Now of course, there is a different story going on there. But Nasir’s accomplishment remains historic and significant here. There is no way to adequately thank him for this. Please try.

There remains disagreement between agencies studying and governing the pandemic, and I know that people are frustrated by the mandates versus common sense, science versus paranoia. But it is imperative that people follow the rules set up for whatever establishment they go to with pride rather than anger. Your rights are not being taken away: you are helping us lower the rate of infection and that is a huge accomplishment by all New Yorkers truly working together. Be a part of this. Going against it leaves you out. And look what we’ve done: things are opening up because all of us wore masks, socially distanced, were careful with each other and did the right thing for everyone. We took care of each other.

Don’t forget that the Garden Club has changed their Plant Sale to the 22nd, 9-12 at the American Legion/VFW building on North Main Street. The sale benefits the Club and all they do to Plant Pine Plains.

The Library Book Sale will take place as usual on Memorial Weekend.

And the Memorial Day Parade will take off at 10:30 Monday the 31st heading up 82 to the clock tower, then on to Evergreen Cemetery. This is a very dear tradition in Pine Plains, and with all the new flags for Hometown Heroes, the town will be out in its finest for the parade. Alice brought 20 more photos up to the printer last week, in the hope that we will get them back and up for the parade. In addition, the Convoy driving around Dutchess County will come through town in the early afternoon.

It’s Grant Season and all the opportunities are back after a year of total absence. Some of these grants are as much as 40 pages long and very complex. Grants are the only way a small rural town can achieve anything, especially one like ours which has no revenue to speak of. We are lucky to live in Dutchess County where we have our own grants program, small but mighty. The State’s is bigger and badder, and far more difficult to accomplish. But nonetheless, we are now in their sights—they are aware that Pine Plains is here and needs grants for improvements. We have received 5 grants since 2018. Hopefully more to come.

The Recreation Program is off to a great start with a re-vamped softball/baseball program and many plans to keep improving it over the next few years. Camp sign-up is underway through Family ID. They are working on a 5-year plan that includes improvements to fields, a new playground, and a beach renovation. Again, it will take grants to get these things.

It’s frustrating how slowly government moves in order to get anything accomplished. We plod away with energy and courage, a band of citizens committed to making the town the kind of place that can give a future to our children.

Push on, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Facebook: Pine Plains Town Hall
website: www.pineplains-ny.gov