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Dear Pine Plains 4.2.2021

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.
All of our projects are there.

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.

Darrah Cloud