Dear Pine Plains,Occasionally, I troll Facebook to see what people in Town are talking about. Recently, I came across some comments about how the Town Board works. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the use of Executive Sessions in a Town Board meeting, so I thought I would begin this letter by explaining how this works and what it’s for, as well as a few other things about the meetings.
First and foremost, everyone is invited to Town Board meetings. By law, they must be public, as are all meetings which take place between any 3 or more Town Board members and/or guests. We are very lucky in that for years all our meetings were filmed by Stan Hirson before he retired. After that, we struggled to keep up his work, and we have all meetings on albeit GoPro and now ZOOM quality footage. Anyone can access these on either our website or YouTube under Town of Pine Plains.
But let’s pretend this isn’t a pandemic and consider the old days of in-person meetings. First of all, you will hear acceptance of the minutes of the previous meeting, as taken by the Town Clerk. Those minutes are also always available on our website. We approve the minutes, after any necessary clarifications, then approve the bills. This means that every Board member has examined every bill that is not contractual which the Town owes. (Contractual means something like our internet bill—expected, comes every month, has to be paid promptly to avoid late fees). After the bills, the Supervisor catches everyone up on any issues that need to be brought forth, thanks employees and volunteers and reminds people of events. Then we have Public Comment. This is the only time during a meeting when citizens can speak. They bring up subjects for discussion and ideas. The Board is not obligated to respond, although sometimes they do. This is because there are no fast answers to most things.
After this, the Town Attorney brings to the table any legal issues and resolutions. Then every Department head reads their monthly report on their work and we go into New and Old Business. Normally, we reserve time at the end of the meeting for Executive Session. We announce the topic which we plan to discuss and there are some things we cannot by law discuss. But generally speaking, this is a private session to talk about personnel issues, legal issues, anything that involves information that we are bound by law not to make public. In this way we protect citizens whose issues need discussing. We cannot nor ever do vote in an Executive Session. If we gather information during a session, and it requires a vote, we then come out of it and go back into the public to take the vote. All votes are recorded by the Town Clerk.
Now on to new business! Once again, a Recovery Coach to help people struggling with addiction of any sort will be here in Pine Plains to talk to anyone who wants to come in. Her name is Deborah Hagan and she comes to us via Hudson River Healthcare and the Department of Community and Behavioral Health. She will provide an experienced ear for listening, as well as connections to a Medication Assisted Treatment Program. This is stigma-free support for anyone who wants it, including the family members of those in the struggle. The opioid crisis has claimed the lives of too many people in Pine Plains or related to us here, and this is the first step to saving more lives. Deborah will be available every 2nd Monday and every 4th Tuesday starting February 8th from 4pm to 8pm in the Parish House of the Church of Regeneration at 18 Pine Street and then again on February 23rd from 11am to 3pm. More dates and times to follow. Please take advantage of this opportunity to talk with her in a judgment-free setting. She is terrific and knows of which people speak. And please tell anyone you know who is struggling. And many thanks to our Council of Churches for their swift response to this dilemma and willingness to help. An NA meeting weekly is in the works as well.
I also want to remind you that the ice rink is open most days from 9-12 and then again from 4-7ish. That changes because of the weather, so access them through Facebook for hours and closures. This takes enormous effort on the part of volunteers, and many people have had a very good time skating there. The lights have been a real gift to the community. They can always use your help too!
Nasir Mahmood at Pine Plains Pharmacy believes that he will be receiving doses of vaccine for Covid-19, but has not been told when. He is keeping a waiting list at the Pharmacy and you can sign up there to receive it when it arrives. Many promises are being made at the federal and state levels, so let’s see what happens.
Some very exciting things are in the works around town, and as ideas become more certain I will be able to make announcements. In spite of the pandemic, Pine Plains has kept moving forward.
So keep on keepin’ on, Pine Plains!