Dear Pine Plains 4.24.2020

Dear Pine Plains,

The past few weeks have been tough on everyone. But resilient Pine Plains has really made an effort to wear masks and gloves while out shopping, patronize our local restaurants so that they stay open, and stay home! It has been hard on the kids not to see their friends, hard on parents out of work, or working from home, hard on essential workers, many of whom come from Pine Plains. That tells you a lot about our town. I get on calls with the County Executive twice a week with all the mayors and supervisors, and this week’s call was all about how slowly the state will open again, what to prepare for, and what to handle as regards things that will not happen as usual.

Many of these things are very disappointing: we will most likely be unable to hold our annual Memorial Day Parade the way we are used to holding it. Stay tuned here for updates on this as we figure out what we can do and how to do it. Camp may not take place and the beach may not open. Jen Chase, camp and beach director, is preparing as if everything is normal, just in case, so that we can jump in and make it happen, but we are being told not to count on it. The courts have gone online, using virtual arraignments, and many cases are adjourned now until May 30.

The good news is that the numbers are holding steady for the first time as most people get tested, and active cases in town go down as people recover. Spring has arrived and it has never been more beautiful. (I say this every year, to the dog). Local farms are planting and preparing for CSA delivery, and the abundance of food in our area has never been more welcome or essential or obvious as the main business around Pine Plains, well worth all our efforts to protect it.

This week, we received the first part of a submission for a development at the old Carvel estate on the west side of town from the Durst Organization. The Planning Board is going over it with our new planners, and the next Planning Board meeting on May 13th will take a look at this. You can access this meeting most probably on YouTube at our Town of Pine Plains site, LIVE. It will also be recorded.

ZOOM has allowed us to broadcast all public town meetings to a wider audience, both a blessing and a curse. Whereas it is wonderful to reach more people, many don’t understand that we cannot address immediately comments posted in real time. There is a comment period written into every board meeting (for Town Board) and if we can capture any, we will. If not, we gather them after the meeting and address them at the next meeting.

It has been stressful trying to run town government at a time when people are quarantined and feel unable to get out and be in touch. Many projects the town board has been working on for the last 2 years are coming to the fore, and we have kept them going. But that means that our decisions of the past seem like a surprise if you haven’t followed the progression of decisions we have made all along to get to this point. Two things I want to mention here: the old pine tree coming down in the town park, and the purchase of 12 N. Main to create a lot big enough for a new Town Hall (some day!)

More than a year ago, a man named Edward Kinsser died and left the town $25,000. The board decided to use that money to renovate the town park. Many people voiced their opinions, a committee was formed to design the park, and 2 arborists came in to look at the big tree. It was determined that it had sustained damage in a storm that would someday soon bring it down, and that it had grown too big for the space it was in. We made the tough decision to take it down knowing it would be replaced by something chosen by the committee that would not grow so big. It was imperative to take it down before it fell on its own, but also in spring so that the committee could begin the work on the park this summer. This was scheduled long before COVID-19.

The purchase of 12 N. Main has also long been in the works. The Comprehensive Plan and its recently completed Update call for Town Hall to be brought back into town. When opportunities arise to fulfill directives like this, it is wise to grab them, and that is just what happened here. The owners of both 8 and 12 N. Main decided to sell, and that location would bring Town Hall to a spot where it would intersect with the Graham-Brush House, our historic society’s home, as well as our municipal parking lot. Both lots are needed to address the space concerns we’ve had ever since we moved Town Hall out of town. Our assessors are in a trailer. Our court and police are not that easy to get to. And voting without a car is impossible.

Many many people are working tirelessly in town to feed those without jobs and food right now, to assemble help for people out of work, to mow the lawns of their neighbors and keep repairs going. The Fire Department has now partnered with the Highway Department to drive by the homes of those with birthdays, so look for parades of big trucks this weekend again, and until this crisis is over.

And our enormous thanks to everyone in town who is an “essential” worker for going in to work in these conditions, to maintain life and to save lives. You make the Town of Pine Plains a better place to live.

Stay proud, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Situation Update

There are now 2,389 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dutchess County, 35 fatalities, as well as 373 individuals who have recovered. There are over 257,000 cases statewide with over 15,000 hospitalizations and 15,302 fatalities. As always, we encourage you to visit our dashboard for the most up to date, verified, local data. Our dashboard has been visited over 400,000 times since it began.

Informational Flyers & Posters

Checkout our flyer which provides important tips to protect yourself and others as well as information on testing and how to get help. The flyer is available in both English and Spanish. We encourage you to share this information with your constituencies. We have also created two posters that should be hung in public locations to help keep residents informed about how to stay safe and how to get help.

Personal Protective Equipment Distributions

Dutchess County Emergency Response has been working diligently to procure and distribute critical supplies and personal protective equipment to front line healthcare professionals and first responders throughout the County. We have already distributed more than 152,000 surgical masks, over 41,000 N-95 respirators, 5,000 face shields and many more supplies such as gowns, hand sanitizer, germicidal wipes, gloves and bottled water. Individuals or organizations interested in donating N-95 respirator masks, surgical masks, fabric masks, gowns, gloves or disinfecting wipes should contact the Donations Coordinator Tijuana Vann: tvann@dutchessny.gov. Healthcare and first responder agencies unable to obtain personal protective equipment may request emergency PPE at: COVIDsupplyrequest@dutchessny.gov

Dutchess County Emergency Management will be making fabric face coverings, manufactured by Hanes, available to local towns, villages, and cities. Each interested municipality will be provided two boxes, containing (100) 5-packs of washable fabric masks, in each box. The intent is for one box to be used to distribute the 5 packs to municipal staff members for use while working and for use outside of work, when unable to social distance. The other box can be used to distribute to local businesses and organizations, within the municipality, for essential staff to use  (i.e. grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, food delivery, etc.). Additional boxes can be requested for additional distribution, as needed. These fabric face coverings can be used in place of surgical masks. (N-95 respirators are still recommended for use in any potential COVID environment.)  Interested municipalities should email COVIDsupplyrequest@dutchessny.gov to arrange for pick up.

NY on Pause Update

  • Governor Cuomo announced some parts of the state would be allowed to begin offering elective surgeries again. Dutchess County was listed as one of the counties that cannot begin elective surgeries at this time. We are working with local area hospitals to communicate to the state regarding the ability to take on some of these services and importance of doing so without delay.
  • The Governor has also reiterated that he would look at reopening the state on a regional basis. The areas would be reopened based on what the spread, hospitalization, and containment efforts are for the region, along with the testing capacity of the region to test and trace positive cases. Dutchess County is actively tracking these and many other important metrics that will be used to determine when and how the County can be reopened.
  • Updated guidance has been provided regarding restrictions on golf courses and marinas. See item number 13 in the State’s Guidancefor determining whether a business enterprise is subject to a workforce reduction under recent executive orders.

Funds Awarded through ‘Dutchess Responds’ Fund

In partnership with the Community foundation, we have awarded $32,400 from the Dutchess Responds Fund to aid County residents in need of critical support as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds have been awarded to community organizations that support to two priorities: Front Line and Service-Challenged needs. This second round of Dutchess Responds Fund grants follows the initial round of grants, announced earlier this month, which awarded more than $50,000 in funds to shore up the feeding programs throughout Dutchess County, with a special emphasis on fresh produce and distribution.

Grant applications will be accepted from non-profit organizations on a rolling basis and are available online through the Community Foundations’ website. More information can be obtained by contacting Community Foundations at (845) 452-3077 or grants@communityfoundationshv.org.

National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week! Huge shout out to our MRC Volunteers who have been invaluable during this Coronavirus pandemic. Thank you to all the volunteers throughout our community who are working diligently throughout this crisis to support those in need. Visit our website to learn more about the Dutchess County Medical Reserve Corps, or call the COVID-19 Hotline at 845-486-3555 and select option 7 to volunteer.

Business Community Update

Businesses are encouraged to visit DutchessBNN.com to sign up for daily emails and access important information and resources.

  • A FAQ document was released by Empire State Development regarding how Code Enforcement Officers should handle all of the changes coming down from Albany, it can be found HERE.
  • The Dutchess Business Notification Network and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerceinvite you to participate in a virtual business town hall conversation on April 24th at 1pm with State Senator Sue Serino, State Assemblyman Lalor, and State Assemblyman Jacobson. The format will open with remarks and end with a Q&A session. Register HERE.
  • The State Comptroller’s office has released a “COVID-19 Financial Survival Toolkit for New Yorkers.” It can be found HERE.
  • The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce is encouraging individuals to post updates about their business, regardless if the business is a member of not, onto the Member News portion of their website. If you are a member of the Chamber and want to post, click HERE. If you are not a member and want to post, click

We Will Fly Again

We’d like to extend our eternal gratitude to first responders, healthcare workers and all those who have stopped to help someone out just because they needed a hand during these uncertain times. Their courage and selflessness are a beacon of hope for us all. And it reminds us that resilience is a part of our county’s DNA and that ours is a history full of stories that prove our ability to overcome anything together. Please watch this video to see the inspiring and beautiful message from our own Dutchess Tourism’s new #WeWillFlyAgain Campaign.

As always, we encourage you to visit dutchessny.gov for the most up to date information. Our COVID-19 Information Hotline is available 7 days a week to help answer questions and provide assistance at 845-486-3555.