Latest Tri-State News Headlines Updated October 27, 2021 5 AM

Geer’s nursing home hit by COVID wave with 40 residents infected

Geer’s nursing home hit by COVID wave with 40 residents infected

CANAAN — Forty residents and 14 staff members at Geer’s 78-resident nursing home recently contracted the delta variant of COVID-19, Geer President Kevin O’Connell said Tuesday. Of the 40 residents, 15 have fully recovered, as well as seven of the 14 staff. Three residents who had compromising health issues died in the last week and a half, O’Connell said. The Geer Village complex at 77 South Canaan Road can provide care for up to 292 senior residents. No one at Geer Lodge, the facility’s assisted living complex, or any other campus site, has been diagnosed. O’Connell said 99% of those infected had been treated with the Pfizer vaccine. “We are seeing waning immunity,” he said. Inoculations of the booster, which is aimed at providing increased protection, will be starting at Geer next Tuesday.

Police say man fled scene of Falls Village wreck that seriously injured woman

BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

TORRINGTON – A Middletown man accused of fleeing from a crash in Falls Village that left a woman seriously injured has been ordered not to drive. Jason Wass, 23, was driving recklessly, passengers in his Honda Accord told police. He was speeding at up to 110 mph along Route 63 just north of Music Mountain Road on Sunday at 12:18 p.m. when he tried to pass a vehicle ahead of him, police allege. An oncoming vehicle forced him back into the southbound lane, where he struck a red convertible that left the roadway and struck a tree, police allege. Wass, who has no criminal history, was arraigned Monday at Torrington Superior Court on charges of interfering with police, following too closely involving a crash, evading a crash with serious injuries and reckless driving. He was ordered not to drive as a condition of his release.

Salisbury home to trooper and his dog

SALISBURY – Town residents not only have Will Veras as their new resident state trooper, but Dexter as well. Dexter is Veras’ K-9 companion, a German shepherd who is constantly at his side. Veras, 32, exudes a sense of pleasure at having been assigned to Salisbury. He has been at Troop B in Canaan for his entire eight-year career as a trooper. For the most part, he was on the evening shift, which is often the busiest. Alone most of the time and patrolling a large area, he said his duties were different depending on the cases. Now, he looks forward to getting to know Salisbury’s residents well and helping them as the face of the town’s law enforcement. As a resident, he said he can see more immediate feedback.

How to fix Housatonic’s water problems? Great Barrington officials say it might involve litigation.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/housatonic-water-problems-qualtiy-issues-legal-action/article_80df4b2e-3652-11ec-a1c1-dfb362d8f8c4.html

Town Manager Mark Pruhenski asked the Select Board to schedule a nonpublic session to discuss options that would hasten an overhaul of the Housatonic Water Works Co. system, since these “may involve potential litigation and/or a potential purchase of the water company.” “I think that needs to happen in executive session, and probably sooner than later,” he added Monday. The session, scheduled for Nov. 15, marks steady movement by officials over the past year to search for solutions amid an angry and growing chorus of residents dealing with bouts of tea- to coffee-hued water and large particles flowing from faucets. The company serves 850 customers in Housatonic and some outlying areas of Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge.

FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT THROUGH WEDNESDAY EVENING…

The Flood Watch continues for* A portion of northwestern Connecticut, including the following areas, Northern Litchfield and Southern Litchfield.* Through Wednesday evening* A complex area of low pressure will bring periods of rain, heavy at times, through tonight. Between an inch and and inch and a half of rainfall has already fallen. Additional rain, heavy at times, is expected mainly through this afternoon, then becoming lighter through this evening. The rain will taper off Wednesday morning. Rainfall totals through Wednesday are expected to be 1 to 4 inches, with the greatest values along east facing slopes of the southern Berkshires and Litchfield Hills.* Heavy rainfall may cause flooding of roads, ponding of water on roadways and standing water in low lying areas. River flooding is also possible, mainly along the Housatonic basin.

An additional two upcoming FREE vaccination clinics being held at Housatonic Valley Regional High School

Friday, October 29th, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

COVID Vaccination Clinic Friday, November 12th, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

In addition, Town of North Canaan will be hosting a FREE Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic on Saturday, November 6, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, will be available. All boosters will also be available. Below is some specific information regarding boosters:

For individuals who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna)

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:65 years and olderAge 18+ who live in long-term care settingsAge 18+ who have underlying medical conditions

Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

For individuals who received a J&J vaccine

For individuals who received a J&J vaccine, booster shots are recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago. This means that all individuals who received a J&J vaccine should receive a booster.Mixing & Matching (heterologous series)Both the FDA and CDC support individuals to receive a booster dose that is a different vaccine type than they originally received for their primary series if they choose. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Connecticut Lottery Corp. opens first retail sports betting venue. More are planned to open – including in Waterbury and Torrington – through November

Connecticut Lottery Corp. opens first retail sports betting venue. More are planned to open – including in Waterbury and Torrington – through November

Through November, sports betting will expand to seven additional Sportech locations in Waterbury, Torrington, Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, Milford, and Norwalk. The lottery corporation has authorization to operate five other retail locations, including a site in Bridgeport.

Norfolk woman accused of assaulting nephew

Norfolk woman accused of assaulting nephew

BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Dorine Patterson had nothing to say when state police asked her why she unlawfully entered a relative’s home in Norfolk on Friday night and assaulted her nephew. The 54-year-old, of 4 Goshen E. St. in Norfolk was arrested for home invasion, a class A felony that carries a penalty of up to 60 years in prison, 10 years of which cannot be reduced or suspended if convicted. State police say Patterson entered a West Greenwoods Road home in Norfolk where her sibling lives with two sons. She was screaming and yelling profanities just before 9 p.m. and continued to hurl abusive language and physical behavior at her nephews. She remained in the home after being told to “get out,” police said. After police arrived, Patterson refused to give a statement and was ordered held on $50,000 bond until posting it after being processed. There was no explanation for the fight.

Dutchess loses 500th resident to COVID as cases decline

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/10/25/covid-dutchess-deaths-500-cases-decline/49289687/

At least 500 Dutchess County residents have died with COVID-19. The county reached that grim plateau Saturday, when it lost its ninth resident of the month. It also came as the county and the state continued a slow, gradual decline in the numbers of diagnosed and active COVID-19 cases, though the rate of residents receiving a first vaccine dose is also declining. There were 521 active cases in Dutchess as of Saturday, the most recent day for which the county shared data on its online dashboard. That’s 12.6% less than the week before, and 18.7% less than the beginning of the month. New York reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week, adding 26,908 new cases. That’s down 19.7% from the previous week’s tally of 33,490 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Bill would require COVID vaccine for NY school kids, pending federal approval

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/education/2021/10/25/ny-bill-covid-vaccine-for-school-children/6173320001/

As a COVID vaccine for children 5-11 appears headed for federal approval, a new bill would require all New York students to be vaccinated in order to attend school. The bill, introduced last week by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, would add COVID vaccines to the list of inoculations that students must have for school — effective 30 days after full federal approval for children 5-11. If passed, the bill would require the state Health Department to develop a vaccination program. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in August by Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan. The state Legislature is due to return to session in January.

Want to draw people to your town? Start a summer busking program like Great Barrington’s

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/berkshire-busk-great-barrington-successful-summer-2021-things-to-do/article_9fd60d86-328a-11ec-a5d8-cfec2e11b644.html

A summer performance festival in downtown Great Barrington, dubbed Berkshire Busk, is being hailed as a success that might stick around beyond the pandemic — and even expand. “This is another thread in the cultural tapestry of the Berkshires and adds to what makes this place so wonderful in the summer,” said Eugene Carr, a software entrepreneur who came up with the idea and made it happen. “Talk about putting Great Barrington on the map — this project reverberated well outside our borders.” There is data to prove it. Carr, the festival’s director, will be presenting information to the Select Board at its Monday meeting. It includes an estimated $105,000 in economic activity generated by people who came to town on Friday and Saturday evenings for the performances, held in different locations downtown, including Railroad Street with its outdoor dining setup. Events drew more than 150,000 hits on Facebook and Instagram each, according to Carr. Surveys show that 70 percent of attendees came from outside Great Barrington — and half said they came to town because they heard about Berkshire Busk.

October 25, 2021 Regional COVID Notice – Cornwall, Salisbury & Sharon

We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:

Cornwall ● A community member at Cornwall Consolidated School tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The community member is related to the staff member that we wrote about in our letter of October 18. The affected individual has never been in the building and has had no close contact (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with students or staff while in school, except for those who live in the home. All family members will remain in isolation/quarantine per CDC guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms or school at this time.

Salisbury ● A family member of a Salisbury Central middle school and elementary school student has tested positive for COVID-19. The affected individual has never been in the school building and has had no close contact (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with students or staff during school hours. All family members will remain in isolation/quarantine per CDC guidelines. There is no need to close any of the classrooms or the school at this time.

Sharon ● Two Sharon Center middle school students have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The students have not been in school since October 20th. Close contacts have been notified and will quarantine per CDC guidelines. The affected individuals and their family members will also remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms or school at this time.
We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines and permission that we receive from the individual cases. Thank you for understanding that sharing more than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy.

Despite signing bonus, Connecticut is still struggling to fill empty jobs

Despite signing bonus, state is still struggling to fill empty jobs

Gov. Ned Lamont said he is dubious that a $1,000 back-to-work bounty enticed all that many long-term unemployed workers to rejoin the full-time workforce now that the bonus program has closed. The federally funded, $10 million Back to Work CT Program stopped accepting applications in mid-September four months after its announcement because the state Department of Revenue Services had received the maximum number of 10,000 applications. “The $1,000 incentive came and went, and, you know, I think it was a middling incentive. I think it worked OK,” Lamont said. “I’m not sure how many people it got off the sidelines who otherwise were going to do it, but we are doing everything we can.” Like much of the rest of the country, Connecticut is struggling through a bedeviling worker shortage, a lingering side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic that produced the largest job losses seen in the state since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Despite offering higher pay, expanded benefits, signing bonuses, flexible work policies and other enticements, many state employers with job openings to fill are only seeing incremental gains, said Chris DiPentima, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.

Cornwall officials get affordable housing draft proposal

Cornwall officials get affordable housing draft proposal

BY RUTH EPSTEIN Republican-America

CORNWALL – Affordable Housing Committee members during a forum last week presented a draft proposal for a state-required plan that ultimately must be approved by the Board of Selectmen. A second public forum is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 8. First Selectman Gordon M. Ridgway, a committee member, said the town has been grappling with this issue for a long time. He said the committee wanted to be sure the community was given a variety of options.

Former Housatonic School building should be saved, committee says

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/former-housatonic-school-building-should-be-saved-committee-says/article_5b6656f6-337f-11ec-8dd6-f75869b0f84f.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — Don’t tear the building down. That’s the recommendation the Housatonic Improvement Committee will present Monday night to the Select Board regarding the former elementary school building on Pleasant Street. The committee was formed last year to make recommendations to town bodies, including what to do with the 14,000-square-foot building that, until 2005, housed the village’s elementary school. Through the years, the town has issued several requests for proposals to put the 112-year-old building into some type of re-use, all to no avail. But the committee is recommending that the town try again. Drawing from the town’s master plan and input from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the public, the committee has narrowed down what it would like to see the building used for. Bailly said affordable housing, live/work rentals, retail, office, child care, and some type of community space all top the list.

COVID clogging courts: Attorneys say access to judges, hearings painfully slow

BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

COVID clogging courts: Attorneys say access to judges, hearings painfully slow

TORRINGTON — Nearly five months after jury duty resumed statewide, evidence has yet to be presented in Torrington Superior Court. In Waterbury, one trial convened but ended before a verdict was reached. COVID-19 closings in the spring and summer of 2020 halted all but the most essential in-person proceedings. A June 1 order to resume court trials statewide was part of a gradual reopening of court procedures in all 13 of the state’s judicial districts. With coronavirus on the ebb and precautions in place, sufficient courtrooms and staff are in place to handle jurors, state Judicial Branch spokeswoman Rhonda Hebert said. Jury trials place people close together in deliberation rooms and courtrooms, where they have historically sat elbow to elbow in jury boxes. Safety precautions are a matter of judges’ individual preferences, Hebert said.

Ten digits will be needed to dial local phone calls for 845, 914 area codes

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/10/22/phone-dialing-changes-845-914-area-codes/8458372002/

Beginning Sunday, Oct. 24, all phone users in southeastern New York will need to dial 10 digits — the area code and the seven-digit phone number — to complete all local calls. After that date, if you only dial the seven-digit local phone number, your call will not be completed. The change applies to both the 845 area code that includes Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties, and 914, which covers Westchester County.

October 22, 2021 Regional COVID Notice – North Canaan

We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:

North Canaan ● A North Canaan Elementary elementary school student is presumed to be positive (by the family healthcare provider) for COVID-19. The affected individual is related to one of the family members that we wrote about in our letter of October 18 and has not been in the building since October 15th. All family members will remain at home in quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There has been no close contact (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) in the school so there is no need to close any classrooms at this time.

We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines and permission that we receive from the individual cases. Thank you for understanding that sharing more than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy.

FBI looking for players victimized by Connecticut AAU coach

FBI looking for players victimized by Connecticut AAU coach

The FBI has identified “quite a few” sexual abuse victims of a former Connecticut girl’s AAU basketball coach and authorities are seeking the public’s help in finding others, an official said Friday. Danny Lawhorn, 30, of Hartford, faces both state sexual assault and federal child enticement charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of three girls who played for the Bria Holmes Elite program between 2017 and this year. The federal charges allege that in June he assaulted a player from overseas who was staying at the Hartford home that Lawhorn shared with Holmes, a former WNBA player, and the couple’s child. Two other former players in the Holmes Elite program have come forward to say they were abused by Lawhorn in 2017 and 2019, federal prosecutors said. All three girls, who were under the age of 18 at the time, said Lawhorn asked for a massage before he sexually assaulted them, according to court documents. Aristos Papadacos, a special agent with the FBI’s New Haven office, said at a news conference Friday they are asking for any other victims to come forward and contact them through a special website. Lawhorn also faces federal drug charges stemming from Lawhorn’s Oct. 5 arrest by Hartford police, during which he possessed about 300 wax sleeves believed to contain the deadly narcotic fentanyl, according to the federal complaint. A federal detention hearing was continued until Monday because of technical difficulties with the video conference. Lawhorn remains in state custody in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

Can NY employers test for marijuana use? State issues new guidance

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/22/ny-employers-marijuana-test/6132939001/

New York employers are not allowed to drug test their employees for cannabis except under limited circumstances, based on new guidance this month from the state Department of Labor. The state is currently laying the groundwork for the legal sale of marijuana after legalizing its recreational use in the spring. Only the use of cannabis among adults over 21 and the possession of up to three ounces is currently legal in New York. The sale and transportation of marijuana is still prohibited, and will be until at least 2022. The Department of Labor this week released guidance for employers based on the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, or MRTA, which amended New York state Labor Law.

Great Barrington recoups funds allegedly embezzled from town coffers by worker

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-insurer-pays-over-alleged-embezzlement/article_b42a8234-335d-11ec-87ca-0f9bbf72871d.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The town’s insurer has paid it around $167,000 allegedly stolen by an employee and is now suing the worker accused of the theft. Town officials said Friday that insurance will also cover the cost of the town’s investigation and legal fees into what authorities say was long-term embezzlement from Town Hall after officials had made a claim under its surety bonds. The town will have recouped around $200,000. Former assistant treasurer/collector Deborah Ball, 64, continues to face trial in Berkshire Superior Court for allegedly pocketing money she diverted from taxpayer accounts. That criminal trial is on hold due to the pandemic backlog. The town had sued Ball to recoup the money, but now the insurer has taken over that lawsuit, said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski. Pruhenski said the town will work to rectify the accounts of residents whose real estate taxes were diverted. “Town taxpayers were not on the hook for any legal fees or financial auditing costs, or for the missing funds,” he said.

New York Educators urge state to review mask mandate, quarantine rules to keep students in school

Educators are pushing the state to set criteria for eventually lifting its indoor-masking mandate for schools and to consider COVID policy changes to help keep students in school. Superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley have spoken to the state Health Department about identifying statewide or regional metrics that could point to a change in the state’s indoor masking requirement, which went into effect in late August. Parents in many communities continue to ask school officials when students will be allowed to drop masks.

FBI visits Great Barrington dermatologist’s office in connection with a federal investigation

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/fbi-great-barrington-dermatologist-connection-federal-investigation-thursday/article_8dd1f7a8-32bc-11ec-be3e-ff1c0d307de3.html

The Federal Bureau of Investigation visited the office of Great Barrington dermatologist Scott Goffin on Thursday. The agency confirmed to The Eagle that FBI and law enforcement partners were “conducting court-authorized activity in connection with an ongoing federal investigation.” The agents were seen removing items from the physician’s office, located at 17 Taconic Ave., which was also surrounded by police cones. A spokesperson for the agency would not confirm whether the investigation was about Goffin. Goffin could not immediately be reached for comment.

COVID vaccines for kids should be available at about 700 locations in Massachusetts

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/massachusetts-covid-19-vaccine-for-kid-rollout-where-to-get-it/article_0c500954-328a-11ec-966c-1b3123c8cd17.html

The fine details are still being worked out, but the Baker administration expects there will be about 700 locations across the state where kids as young as 5 will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if federal agencies approve the expansion of vaccine eligibility as expected in the coming weeks. About 515,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 in Massachusetts could become eligible for COVID-19 shots by early November and 360,000 doses of the pediatric vaccine are expected to arrive in the Bay State between Oct. 28 and no later than Nov. 5, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Thursday during a legislative oversight hearing.

Connecticut Supply Chain Having An Impact

https://www.wfsb.com/news/supply-chain-issues-are-impacting-grocery-stores/article_c2b7cf5a-32ae-11ec-ad85-531b0622f7d6.html?block_id=994091

Shoppers and business owners are being impacted by supply chain issues. Daniel D’Aprile, owner of D&D Market in Wethersfield, is one business owner who had to deal with supply chain issues. D&D Market has been dealing with these shortages. “People are still buying, prices are going up and it’s a lot due to gas, transportation, and freight. It’s a major factor in getting your goods to your store,” D’Aprile says. Despite these shortages, business has been going well since many shoppers are buying locally. Grocery prices are increasing, as demand for product increases. Umegia Taylor, an educator and supervisor of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program at UConn, gave tips on how to save on groceries. “Definitely you want to have a list. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Make sure you eat beforehand.” Taylor also recommends searching for other brands that might be cheaper than brand name ones. “The stores have relationships with the manufacturers. So they are going to pay for space, prime space. So that eye level is going to be that prime space, so look up and below,” Taylor says. Taylor also recommends being cautious when it comes to buying in bulk or buying solo. Taylor says it should depend on the price and if you have the storage space. People should also consider shopping with a neighbor or family member to split the cost, and the products, she recommends.

Why New Yorkers are less optimistic that the COVID-19 pandemic is waning

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/politics/albany/2021/10/21/covid-new-york-restrictions/6116317001/

ALBANY – Protecting themselves and their families from COVID-19 continues to be top of mind for New Yorkers, who were also less confident than months ago that the worst of the pandemic is behind them. Those were the results from a Siena College poll released Thursday that showed 78% of New Yorkers think about protecting themselves and their family from getting COVID either some of the time (35%) or all of the time (43%). And just 50% of residents said they thought the worst of the coronavirus pandemic was over, while 36% predicted the worst is still to come as the winter months approach. That’s a less optimistic view than in a Siena poll in June when, by a margin of 68% to 17%, New Yorkers thought the worst of the pandemic that has killed 45,200 residents was over.

Head to Thousand Islands, Capital region to catch peak colors this weekend

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/09/09/ny-fall-foliage-2021-weekly-update-leaves-changing-peak-color/5781581001/

Foliage in the Empire State have reached or surpassed peak conditions with brilliant fall colors emerging elsewhere across the Empire State. According to New York’s weekly fall foliage report, vibrant autumn hues are at peak conditions throughout parts of the Thousand Islands and Capital-Saratoga regions. Foliage in several regions, including parts of the Adirondacks and Catskills, are past peak. The seventh report of the season was issued on Wednesday.

October 20, 2021 Regional COVID Notice – Sharon

We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:


Sharon ● A Sharon Center middle school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The student has not been in school since October 15. The students and one staff member who have been identified as close contacts have been notified and will quarantine per CDC guidelines. The family of the affected individual will also remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms or school at this time.
We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines and permission that we receive from the individual cases. Thank you for understanding that sharing more than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy.

Ida relief: Dutchess residents now eligible for individual FEMA assistance; here’s how

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/10/20/ida-fema-assistance-open-dutchess-residents/6110087001/

Seven weeks after parts of Dutchess County were submerged by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, county residents are eligible for federal relief funding. Reps. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, and Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, announced Federal Emergency Management Agency was making assistance available to individual residents as of Wednesday. Dutchess had previously been left out of the benefit, which was first extended to Westchester residents and parts of New York City and Long Island, and later expanded to include Rockland. County and municipal governments around the Mid Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island had also already been eligible for FEMA assistance, as well as certain private non-profit organizations in those areas. Dutchess residents can apply for assistance by visiting DisasterAssistance.Gov, calling 1-800-21-3362, contacting Rep. Delgado’s office at 1-845-443-2930, or visiting a disaster recovery center. The Congressmen did not specify where disaster recovery centers may be set up in Dutchess, but several are already in operation in Westchester and Rockland, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Massachusetts bill would double taxes on alcohol sales

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/statehouse/bill-would-double-taxes-on-alcohol-sales/article_f388cd0a-31aa-11ec-bc90-838cee1fe554.html

Supporters of slapping new levies on sugary and alcoholic beverages testified Monday that the two policies combined could bring in up to $435 million in additional revenue for public health, nutrition and substance use treatment. Rep. Kay Khan, a Newton Democrat, has filed two bills to tax sugary beverages (H 2972) and double the excise taxes on beer, wine and liquor (H 2973). Khan told the Committee on Revenue Monday that she thought the time for both ideas had come, with the state spending $2.6 billion every year in response to alcoholism and addiction, and other cities finding success with sugar taxes. The bill would not change the application of the sales tax, but would double the excise tax rates assessed on beer, wine and liquor. Hinds said those rates have not been adjusted in decades, and remain among the lowest in the country even among states that also charge sales taxes on alcohol. Twenty-seven House and Senate lawmakers have signed on to Khan’s sugary drink tax proposal, which she filed with Rep. Jon Santiago and Sen. Jason Lewis. It would add a tax of 1 cent to 3 cents per ounce to drinks, depending on the sugar content. Drinks with less than 7.5 grams of sugar per 12 ounces would not be taxed. Khan estimated the tax could be worth as much as $368 million that could be invested in public health, nutrition programs, and clean drinking water in schools.

State fully launches online sports betting in CT

https://www.wfsb.com/news/state-fully-launches-online-sports-betting-in-ct/article_4f8b8b74-3048-11ec-85fa-9f6ded2b34e2.html?block_id=994091

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Following a soft launch last week, the state fully launched sports betting in Connecticut on Tuesday morning. The full launch of online wagering and iCasino began at 6 a.m. It came after a delayed start and then a soft launch last week. Mohegan Sun is partnering with FanDuel, Foxwoods is working with Draft Kings, and the Connecticut Lottery has a deal with Rush Street Interactive and it’s Sugarhouse website. Each sportsbook can have 750 customers. Draft Kings and FanDuel are invite only, but fans can try to be part of the lottery’s test by signing up at CT.PlaySugarhouse.com.

Officials: Only 100 COVID cases in Mass. could be linked to the Big E

https://www.wfsb.com/news/officials-only-100-covid-cases-in-mass-could-be-linked-to-the-big-e/article_447c1b7b-62a2-534d-a382-45c5e14978bb.html?block_id=994091

The West Springfield Director of Public Health told Western Mass News tonight there are only 100 COVID cases in the Bay State that could be linked to the Big E. Officials said that is good news considering more than a million people attended the 17-day fair. These 100 cases do not exactly mean that they came from the Big E. As the way it was tracked was by the contract tracing collaborative in Massachusetts. “They’re telling me there’s about 100 cases so far that have linked to the Big E by at least saying they went there,” said Jeanne Galloway, West Springfield Director of Public Health. Galloway told Western Mass News that 100 people who live throughout the Bay State that got COVID said they went to the Big E. In getting answers for you, we asked Galloway if the 100 people are from a certain part of the State. She said they’re not. “So 1.5 million people, according to the Big E’s data and 100 as you know is a fraction of a fraction of that number,” said Galloway.

Man indicted in Superior Court for arson in blaze at Great Barrington building with history of violations

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/crime/man-indicted-in-superior-court-for-arson-in-blaze-at-great-barrington-building-with-history/article_4eb445ac-310a-11ec-a6a3-9b61e68a30eb.html

The arson case of a Great Barrington property owner accused of setting on fire his building that formerly housed apartments and the Wonderful Things yarn store has been moved to Berkshire Superior Court. A grand jury early this month indicted 85-year-old Harry H. Sano Jr. on charges he allegedly set fire to 232 Stockbridge Road over the summer in an attempt to defraud his insurer, Lloyd’s of London, court documents show. The building had a history of unsafe living conditions and previously served as a multifamily apartments whose units first were scrutinized in fall 2017, when five tenants were taken to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty furnace.

Controversial Kent property proposal to be decided in December

Controversial Kent property proposal to be decided in December

BY RUTH EPSTEIN Republican-AmericanOctober 19, 2021019

KENT — The Planning and Zoning Commission’s hearing on a controversial proposal to place 13 houses on a meadow just north of town closed Oct. 14 and commissioners now have 65 days to come up with a decision. The Zoom meeting was attended by more than 90 people. The application has spurred numerous letters objecting to the proposal, particularly that the development would mar the beauty of the northern gateway to town. The plan for the North Main Street (Route 7) property has been altered, said Paul Szymanski, an engineer from Arthur Howland Associates. The developers, Angelica and Andrew Bacon of Long Island City, N.Y., and Erik Tietz of Cornwall, no longer seek a subdivision. They plan to develop a common interest community, so there will not be 13 individual lots, but the 13 acres will be considered one piece of property. As part of a conservation easement, the land must have 40% open space. Another change is they are no longer proposing the town take over the road in the development. The homeowners will be responsible for its maintenance. Other alterations to the plan involve widening certain areas of the road to support fire apparatus and the redesign of the filtration basins, making them more shallow.

Berkshire County: Towns set trick or treat hours

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/berkshire-county-towns-set-trick-or-treat-hours/article_86ddcb2c-30f8-11ec-936a-ff77524d1bf2.html

The following towns have announced trick or treat hours or alternative activities. Homes wishing to participate in trick or treat should turn on their outside lights.

Egremont: No trick-or-treat hours. Halloween party for children from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, in French Park

Great Barrington: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31

Sandisfield: Town-wide Halloween Trick or Treat Trail, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. Sign up by Oct. 20 to have your house added to the Trick or Treat Trail Map and receive a free “Halloween Trail” lawn marker indicating participation. Contact Kowgirlruby@yahoo.com or 413-269-7357. Visit tinyurl.com/ufjkw7vf for more information.

Sheffield: 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31

Stockbridge: 11th Annual Pumpkin Walk-About from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 29, outside the Stockbridge Library. Children who drop off a carved pumpkin will receive a free book while supplies last. A free Take and Make craft available while supplies last. Halloween-themed storytimes at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. on the front lawn. Space limited. Reservations required. Information: stockbridgelibrary.org.

Conversation continues in Sharon on the state trooper program

Conversation continues in Sharon on the state trooper program

SHARON — The second public meeting to address citizens’ concerns about law enforcement issues had two representatives from the Troop B state police barracks in Canaan speak about the benefits of a resident state trooper program. Lt. Alain Bisson, commander of the troop, and Trooper Roy Dungan met with about 40 residents at the town pavilion Friday to answer questions and talk about how the town is covered by local officers. The first meeting arranged by the Board of Selectmen was held last spring to talk about the problem of speeding traffic. As a way of continuing the conversation, the two officers were invited to Friday’s session, First Selectman Brent M. Colley said. Asked what other options for law enforcement the town could pursue, Dungan said it could form its own police force, but that would cost millions of dollars. An informal straw poll showed about half those in attendance would favor Sharon having a resident state trooper.

Kent Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval clears the way for affordable housing on Landmark Lane

Kent Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval clears the way for affordable housing on Landmark Lane

KENT — The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a change of use from commercial to residential at 16 Landmark Lane in a first step toward creating affordable housing at the site. The approval came with the condition that Kent Affordable Housing (KAH) receives funding for a mortgage. The building, which is at the southern tip of the Kent Green shopping area, has been vacant for some time. In her presentation to the commission Thursday, Virginia Bush of KAH explained the building is in an area that receives little traffic.

A new report from the Center for Disease Control shows that Connecticut ranks first in child vaccinations.

https://www.wfsb.com/news/cdc-reports-connecticut-ranks-first-in-child-vaccinations/article_e4e8068a-3060-11ec-9eeb-379710d49231.html?block_id=994091

According to the report, an estimated 80.2% of Connecticut children have gotten the vaccine. Connecticut’s average is above both regional and national averages. The national average stands at about 70.5%, whereas the New England region is about 79.7%. Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani says, “Today’s announcement is the result of years of hard work and collaboration among all of our partners, whose results protect us all. When it’s harder for disease to get a hold and run unchecked, all of our communities are safer.” The estimates specified in the report reflect vaccines that were administered mostly prior to any disruptions that were caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. DC reports Connecticut ranks first in child vaccinations.

Connecticut’s positivity rate drops to 1.83%

On Monday, 398,270 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 1,147 since Friday. Out of 62,825 tests administered, 1,147 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate of 1.83%. The current number of hospitalizations is at 247, an increase of 15 since Friday. Data on COVID-19 associated deaths is updated every Thursday. As of Thursday, 40 new COVID-associated deaths were reported, bringing the total so far since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,707. The number of total tests performed since the pandemic began is now at 11,542,773 an increase of 62,825 since Friday.

COVID-19 cases in New York flatten. Here’s where they are growing or declining

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/18/covid-new-york-county-cases/119059572/

New cases of COVID-19 flattened statewide over the past week, but they were persistently high in some regions of New York. New York reported 33,490 new cases of coronavirus in the week ending Sunday, a 1% increase from the week before. But the seven-day positivity rate Saturday varied from a low of 1.2% in New York City to a high of 6.2% in the North Country, as well as 5.4% in central New York and 5% in the Finger Lakes, state records showed. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she was pleased with the statewide trends, but noted that the state’s disparate rates remain a concern. The statewide positive rate was 2% on Saturday, down from 2.5% a month ago.

Enrollment at Berkshire Community College up 1.4 percent over 2020

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/central_berkshires/enrollment-increases-bcc-fall-2020/article_8e6c67da-3027-11ec-888e-0f72b1a8cc80.html

Enrollment is up slightly this fall at Berkshire Community College as the learning institution continues to deal with challenges presented by the pandemic. Overall enrollment for 2021 is up 1.4 percent compared to 2020, according to a news release from BCC. The first-year student population is up 16.4 percent, while continuing students are up 3.9 percent.

Early voting in the Mid Hudson Valley: Where and when you can cast a ballot

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/politics/elections/2021/10/18/early-voting-where-cast-ballots-dutchess-orange-ulster/8463670002/

The nine-day early voting period for the contentious 2020 general election saw more than 33,000 Dutchess residents cast ballots — 17.2% of all registered voters across the county and 22% of all voters registered in the election. While the 2021 general election, bereft of national races, may not duplicate that turnout, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing and social distancing still encouraged where possible, early voting is again expected to be a popular way to cast a ballot. The early voting period in advance of Election Day on Nov. 2 begins Saturday, Oct. 23, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 31. Unlike Election Day, when voters are assigned specific polling places to visit based on their address, voters can visit locations in their county at any time polls are open during the week. The ballot this year around the region includes county legislator positions and state supreme court spots. A handful of countywide positions are contested — comptroller in Dutchess and clerk in Orange — and many towns have contested supervisor races, among other positions. Consult county boards of elections websites for a complete list of races, candidates and propositions.

Community Health and Wellness Center of Greater Torrington plans to open a third office in Canaan to fill a void of primary care and behavioral health services in the Northwest Corner.

Torrington’s CHWC to expand Canaan’s care options

CHWC CEO Joanne Borduas presented an overview to state representatives, regional health leaders and Attorney General William Tong on Friday about the center’s efforts and its challenges recruiting physicians. Though the Northwest Corner is perceived as the home of millionaires and the elite, 15% of Sharon residents and 12% of Canaan residents fall at or below the poverty level. The region also faces the same health issues as other areas, from high blood pressure and chronic asthma to cancer. “The shortage of (primary care physicians) is a national problem, but in this particular area, when you’re looking at rural services … it is a really big concern,” Borduas said. There are a small number of medical offices across the Northwest Corner, but the number is expected to dwindle over the next two years. “The mission and vision for us is to provide primary care access where there is a need, and in the next few years, there will virtually be (no access),” Borduas said.

Connecticut applied along with Comcast as a sub-applicant, for federal funding to fully build out the broadband infrastructure for Salisbury, Sharon, Falls Village, North Canaan, and Norfolk

The state has applied, with Comcast as a sub-applicant, for federal funding to fully build out the broadband infrastructure for Salisbury, Sharon, Falls Village, North Canaan, and Norfolk (the towns in the 64th District where Comcast operates). More information on the specifics of the application should be released in the next couple of weeks, with hopes for funding by year end.

Salisbury man gets 5 years for stalking, planting cameras

Salisbury man gets 5 years for stalking, planting cameras

BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

TORRINGTON — Christopher Pelgrift, who installed four cameras to capture bathroom and bedroom images of a woman who declined his advances, was sentenced to five years in prison Friday in Torrington Superior Court. Pelgrift sought to obtain by criminal acts the images he believed he was owed in a relationship he was denied and became obsessed with, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Terri L. Sonnemann told Judge Chris Pelosi. Pelgrift, 60, had hired the woman as a life “health” coach. He admitted installing the cameras in bathroom and bedroom areas after breaking into two homes owned by the woman in Salisbury. Pelgrift also admitted he had repeatedly driven past the woman’s home and knew her schedule. The investigation to identify Pelgrift was helped by the defendant himself when he inadvertently captured images of himself while installing the cameras. Charged with burglary, stalking and malicious voyeurism, Pelgrift fled the state but was recaptured after his name was checked during a routine traffic stop. He was returned to Connecticut and additionally charged with failure to appear, and briefly held on $700,000 bond. Pelgrift had been free on $75,000 bond when he fled.

NTSB Investigating Plane Crash That Seriously Hurt Pilot in North Canaan

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating after Thursday night’s plane crash in North Canaan that left Scott Nelson injured. Officials said the single-engine plane crashed into the water near 535 West Main St. after taking off from the grass runway at the North Canaan airport. The NTSB said part of their investigation will be to request radar data, weather information, air control communication and airplane maintenance records. Investigators said they’ll look at the human, machine and environment as the outline of their investigation. The FAA confirms the aircraft was a Kitfox IV and says they’re also investigating. The pilot Scott Nelson was the only person on board and was taken to Sharon Hospital, then airlifted to Hartford Hospital.

Kent selectmen clear way for emergency plan update

Kent selectmen clear way for emergency plan update

BY LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON Republican-AmericanOctober

From left, Selectman Christopher Garrity, Selectman Edward Matson and First Selectman Jean Speck at a special meeting of the board this month. Republican American

KENT — The emergency management department now has the support of the Board of Selectmen to spend up to $10,000 on writing an update to the local emergency operations plan that was last updated in 2012. Emergency management Director David Becker and Eric Epstein, who is the deputy, presented what their department responsibilities are to the selectmen a month ago and followed up Tuesday with financial details about what current expenditures are needed. The department had hoped to see a large budget increase back in May, but ran into complications when the selectmen requested more details about why the 535% increase was needed.

Groundbreaking for Great Barrington’s next affordable housing project expected in November

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/windrush-commons-groundbreaking-coming-in-november/article_9bf28778-2888-11ec-95f7-ff3b5e9fa267.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — Construction of a 49-unit affordable housing complex consisting of five separate buildings is expected to begin in November on South Main Street. The project will begin with the demolition of a 5,256-square-foot building once known as the Waldrum House, which, until 2011, served as a residential facility of the former Kolburne School. The $19 million development, at 910 Main St., will be called Windrush Commons. Located across from Brookside Road and the Bostwick Gardens apartments, the site is within Great Barrington’s Smart Growth Overlay District. The district was established, in part, to encourage higher-density housing, including affordable dwelling units, all within walking distance to shopping, health services and public transportation.

Proposal Six on the back of ballots in Ancram, Copake, and Hillsdale this year asks each town to increase its support for the Roeliff Jansen Community Library.


In 2013, Copake voters approved an annual library tax of $55,000, and Hillsdale voters approved $42,500. Ancram currently makes an annual donation to the library of $17,500, paid from town taxes. In 2014, funds from the three towns equaled 45% of budgeted expenses for the year. Due to inflation and increases in expenses, the payments now cover only 33% of budgeted expenses. The amounts to be raised by Proposal Six will increase support of the library to 40% of budgeted expenses. If voters approve Proposal Six, Copake’s annual payment will be $66,472, Hillsdale’s will be $44,142, and Ancram’s will be $29,977. For individual taxpayers, that means a total cost of $9.03 per $100,000 in property value—a tax rate that is actually lower than the rate approved when Copake and Hillsdale last voted on support for the library. In 2020, the library had more new patrons, particularly families, than any year since 2013, and2021 is likely to be even higher. Circulation this year will reach 45,000 items. COVID restricts the number of visits but pre-COVID, there were 40,000 visits a year. Even with COVID restrictions, the library is holding about 200 programs a year outdoors, on Zoom and in person, attended by over 3,500 people. The library’s resources and services are available free to everyone in the area – all ages, all interests. To learn more, visit roejanlibrary.org/414-faqs/

A small plane crashed Thursday into the woods on a property along West Main Street in Canaan

Pilot taken to hospital after crash landing in Canaan

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash of what appeared to be a single-engine plane at 5:22 p.m. onto the property of a home on West Main Street near Canaan Airport, a privately owned strip across the street from the Canaan transfer station and near the Massachusetts state line. The plane crashed a few houses down from the turf runway. The unidentified pilot was the only occupant in the plane and was taken by North Canaan Ambulance to Sharon Hospital, state police said. A Life Star helicopter was requested and responded to Sharon Hospital, but it wasn’t known if the pilot was flown to a different hospital Thursday night. The pilot of a small plane that crashed Thursday into the woods on a property along West Main Street was taken to Sharon Hospital with unspecified injuries. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash of what appeared to be a single-engine plane at 5:22 p.m. onto the property of a home on West Main Street near Canaan Airport, a privately owned strip across the street from the Canaan transfer station and near the Massachusetts state line. The plane crashed a few houses down from the turf runway. The unidentified pilot was the only occupant in the plane and was taken by North Canaan Ambulance to Sharon Hospital, state police said. A Life Star helicopter was requested and responded to Sharon Hospital, but it wasn’t known if the pilot was flown to a different hospital Thursday night.

Hospital staff expresses concerns over closure of maternity ward

Hospital staff expresses concerns over closure of maternity ward

Concerns about the looming closure of Sharon Hospital’s maternity ward were brought to the Northwest Hills Council of Governments on Thursday. Residents and some physicians wanted local officials to hear why they are opposed to such a move. A public meeting with hospital officials is planned for Nov. 5 at Sharon Town Hall. Nuvance Health, which owns a network that includes Sharon Hospital, announced last month a “transformative” plan that includes shuttering the maternity unit within the next eight to 12 months.

North East fire taxes jump by 58%

https://tricornernews.com

NORTH EAST — North East Fire District Fire Commissioner Chairman Stephen Valyou, Vice-Chairman James Schultz and Commissioners Joshua Schultz, Larry Selfridge Jr. and Jay Scasso just spent the past eight months sweating the details of how to ease those fortunate enough to receive life-saving services from the all volunteer Millerton Fire Company into accepting the reality that within three to five years, they will have to start paying for such services. In 10 years, the fire company may be an entirely paid force due to the lack of local volunteers. To prepare for that inevitable transition to an all-paid fire department, the fire district’s 2022 proposed budget amounts to a 58% tax increase. The amount needed to be raised by taxes by the district in 2022 is $692,805; in 2021 that number was $422,215.

Meeting with police Discussing Crime And Speeding In Sharon October 15

There will be a public information meeting with a representative from State Police Troop B, who will report on speeding, parking, noise and criminal activity concerns in Sharon, including on Hilltop, Sharon Station and Williams Road. The meeting is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 15, at the Veterans’ Field Pavilion, starting at 3 p.m.

Annual Cornwall Town Meeting

The annual Cornwall town meeting is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 19, beginning at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held on Zoom. To request Zoom details for the meeting, residents should email cwlselectmen@optonline.net

The Amenia Lions will be hosting the Hometown Heroes Banner Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony

October 16, 2021 – 10 AM – The Amenia Lions will be hosting the Hometown Heroes Banner Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony at M & T Bank Fountain in the center of town. Speakers will include Lion Wayne Euvrard to give the Veteran’s prayer, Aaron Howard (Marine) will lead in the pledge of Allegiance, Adam Roche, Dutchess County Veterans Director will be on hand to speak on behalf of DC Exec, Marcus Molinaro, Emily Nye from Silo Ridge will say a few words via the AWCO and Silo Ridge, and then as Lions Club President, I’ll say a few words on behalf of the Amenia Lions and close out the ceremony.

Here is the latest notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:


Region One ● A family member of a staff member in the Region 1 Pupil Services office has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person has never been in the school building and has had no contact (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with any staff or students. There is no need to close classrooms at this time.

Salisbury ● A Salisbury Central elementary school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person is related to the family member that we wrote about in our letter of October 8, 2021. The student has not been in the building since October 7 and has had no close contact with staff or students (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period). All family members will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

Sharon ● A Sharon Center School elementary school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person is one of the two students that we wrote about on Saturday, October 9. The student has not been in the building since Friday and has had no close contact (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with staff or students, other than the student living in the home. The affected individual and all family members will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms or school at this time.

We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines and permission that we receive from the individual cases. Thank you for understanding that sharing more than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy.

Dutchess teases to ‘largest tax cut’ in history in announcing Oct. 27 budget presentation

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/10/13/dutchess-budget-include-largest-tax-cut-history-county-says/8440656002/

Dutchess County government says it will introduce “the largest tax cut” in the county’s history when it presents the county executive’s 2022 budget proposal Oct. 27. Marc Molinaro plans to give the proposal at 11 a.m. that day at the Dutchess Community College Aviation Center at Hudson Valley Regional Airport in Wappinger, following a series of town hall events next week. The address will be livestreamed on DutchessNY.Gov

The County Executive’s Office announced Wednesday the budget will feature “a cut of more than 10% to the property tax rate on taxpayers’ bills,” and a $5.5 million reduction to the property tax levy.

Great Barrington lays out options for troubled waterworks, and a possible purchase

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-lays-out-options-for-troubled-waterworks-and-a-possible-purchase/article_0217d636-2c3d-11ec-8b67-c7328d7bdcd1.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — Town officials Tuesday said they will try to get Housatonic Water Works Co. customers a break on their water bills, and come up with a plan that could include buying the company in order to fix a system with water quality problems. While the town is committed, it won’t be easy, said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski, noting, in part, that voters at annual town meeting would have to approve buying a system that serves a small portion of town — about 850 households that are mostly in Housatonic, and in some parts of Great Barrington, West Stockbridge and Stockbridge. Resident David Long said there might not be buy-in from residents on this, since it essentially would indemnify waterworks owners from decisions they have made and “leave the broken pieces for the town to pick up.” The town is considering using some of its $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money for grants to help company customers deal with drinking water that periodically turns shades of yellow to brown and has unappealing particles. In the long term, replacing the systems and pipes will be expensive and take a long time.

Oklahoma man wanted in sexual assault of minor arrested in NY, after fleeing Egremont Police in stolen car

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/sexual-abuse-suspect-oklahoma-arrested-egremont-ny/article_60ec083a-2b9d-11ec-b7c1-478eee4f1f12.html

EGREMONT — A man wanted on charges of sexually abusing a minor in Oklahoma fled town police officers last month, during a traffic stop for allegedly speeding, and later was found to be driving what police say is a stolen vehicle. Jeremy Garneau, 43, of Tecumseh, Okla., was stopped by local police just before 10:30 p.m. Sept. 26 on Hillsdale Road, according to Egremont Police. He allegedly gave the officer a false name before fleeing into New York state, where police tracked him and later learned that he was wanted on a warrant in Oklahoma for multiple charges related to the sexual abuse of a minor. Garneau was arrested in New York and charged with a slew of traffic offenses related to the incident, including driving with a suspended license and failing to stop for police.

Connecticut to start 45-day unpaid suspensions for non-compliant

Last chance: State to start 45-day unpaid suspensions for non-compliant

State employees got one final chance Tuesday to comply with Gov. Ned Lamont’s vaccine-or-testing mandate before state agencies start handing down 45-day unpaid suspensions. Lamont told reporters Tuesday morning at a Southington firehouse that 28 employees who were still in their six-month probationary period have been terminated – 16 more than the dozen probationers that initially were reported Friday. He said the next round of suspensions will include veteran employees who have job protections. Meanwhile, state agencies were making a final effort to get these workers to comply, Lamont noted.

Judge deals a blow to NY’s COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/10/12/ny-must-keep-religious-exemption-covid-vaccine-mandate/6101969001/

A federal judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring New York to allow religious exemptions to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical workers. U.S. District Judge David Hurd of Utica granted a preliminary injunction temporarily barring New York state and employers from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate against medical workers claiming a legitimate religious exemption. The order comes after Hurd last month issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the mandate in relation to religious beliefs, citing a lawsuit that claimed the removal of a religious exemption was unconstitutional. The mandate required most medical workers statewide to get the first COVID-19 vaccine dose by Sept. 27, or lose their jobs. It prodded about 55,000 workers to get the shot, but left the fate of at least 35,600 other workers refusing shots uncertain. Many of the medical workers who had claimed religious exemptions had been placed on suspensions pending the outcome of the court battle. These workers, potentially numbering in the thousands, could now return to jobs as some hospitals and nursing homes face staffing shortages, according to interviews with health leaders.

The Mount awarded $200,000 federal grant

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/the-mount-awarded-federal-grant/article_bf3928d6-2b7b-11ec-bcb1-c3910d122514.html

The Mount, home of the Edith Wharton Restoration, has been awarded a $200,000 federal grant to support both on-site and online programs. The funding was made available by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan, according to a news release from The Mount. This is the second grant that has been awarded to The Mount by the National Endowment for the Humanities since the start of the pandemic. The initial grant in 2020 was for $300,000 and allowed The Mount to retain its entire humanities-related staff.

New Leadership for Pupil Services in Region 1

At a special meeting held on Tuesday, September 21, the Board of Education for Regional School District #1 appointed Martha Schwaikert as the Director of Pupil Services, replacing Carl Gross, who announced his retirement (effective September 30) at the beginning of the month. Ms. Schwaikert has been a teacher in Region One for the past thirty three years. She began her career at Kent Center School 1988. From that time until 2009, she was a special education teacher in Kent, Salisbury and Housatonic Valley Regional School, accomplishing her personal goal of having taught at each grade level in the District. In 2009, she moved into administration and became the Supervisor of Special Education for the District.Ms.Schwaikert received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford and her Master’s Degree and 092 Certification in School Administration from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.On Monday, October 4, 2021, RSD1 BOE appointed Rebecca Gaschel-Clark as the Supervisor of Special Education, the position vacated by Ms. Schwaikert. Ms. Gaschel-Clark has been a Region One teacher for 27 years, spending the entirety of her teaching career at Salisbury Central School. After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Hartford, she began working in the RSD1 special education department in 1994. She became the teacher in the Integrated Pre-K program shortly thereafter. Ms. Gaschel-Clark obtained her Master’s Degree in 1997 from the University of Hartford and her 092 Certification in School Administration in 2017 from Central Connecticut State University. In addition to her work in the classroom, she has participated in school-based and Regional committees and has been an acting administrator at Salisbury Central when needed.Ms. Schwaikert has worked with Rebecca Gaschel-Clark for over twenty-five years and is looking forward to partnering with her and the Region’s Special Education and Pupil Services staff to enhance the outcomes and experiences for our students with disabilities.While sad to leave the littlest learners in the classroom, Ms. Gaschel-Clark is very excited to begin this new adventure with her mentor and colleague, Martha Schwaikert. Superintendent Lisa Carter endorsed the appointments by saying “I look forward to working with Martha and Rebecca and I am excited about the positive energy this team will bring in support of our students with disabilities. Their strong relationships throughout the region and deep understanding of our students, staff and communities is a valuable asset that will ensure a smooth transition into their new roles.”Ms. Carter and the RSD1 BOE wish Carl Gross all the best in his retirement and welcome the new team who they know will ensure continuity of service and the continued success of our students.

Hospitalizations: Distinct surges have marked pandemic in state

Hospitalizations: Distinct surges have marked pandemic in state

One of the key metrics that policy makers in Connecticut and nationally have used since the start of the pandemic is the number of COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized.

Gov. Ned Lamont has often referred to this as a key statistic.

At the absolute height of the pandemic in April, 2020, close to 2,000 patients statewide were reported to be hospitalized due to COVID. Last winter the total again topped 1,000, while the most recent surge due to the delta variant grew the number to just under 400. Here is an interactive look at the full pandemic total, showing the various surges in hospitalizations, with a closer look at how the latest surge has impacted state hospitals.

New York at center of legal battles over using ivermectin to treat COVID

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/10/11/new-york-ivermectin-lawsuits-force-hospitals-treat-covid/6056638001/

New York state is on the frontline of a national legal battle over the use of an anti-parasitic drug, ivermectin, to treat COVID-19 patients, despite it lacking federal approval for treating the respiratory disease. At least 14 lawsuits have sought to force New York hospitals to administer the drug to severely ill COVID-19 patients, including hospitals in the cities of Rochester and Poughkeepsie, court records show. In most cases, family members of the COVID-19 patients, many of them kept alive by breathing machines while in medically induced comas, sued hospitals to try to use ivermectin to save their parent or spouse after other drugs and treatments failed. Hospitals and doctors have opposed the lawsuits, citing in part the potentially far-reaching ethical and medical ramifications of judges overruling health officials on the safety and efficacy of drugs.

Cuomo Bridge contractors appeal to Gov. Hochul for help resolving $1B contract dispute

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/11/cuomo-bridge-builders-hochul-resolve-contract-dispute/6036999001/

Tappan Zee Constructors has – for now – dropped a lawsuit accusing the state Thruway Authority of refusing to pay nearly $1 billion in extra costs spent building the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge at a “breakneck pace” imposed by the Thruway. And the bridge-building consortium has appealed to Gov. Kathy Hochul, asking her to resolve a dispute it blames on promises broken by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Thruway Authority. But the two sides are no closer to resolving their differences. In fact, they remain about $900 million apart. Choy asked for a meeting with Hochul, adding a pointed reference to Cuomo, whose promise to overcome decades of false starts and build a bridge that would be named for his late father is among the signature achievements of his time as governor. Hochul’s office did not respond to a request for comment

Monument Mountain awarded $300,000 grant — what can they do with the money? A lot, says superintendent

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/monument-mountain-regional-high-school-gets-300000-grant/article_f8a29de8-2863-11ec-bb7f-9bc976241f01.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — Monument Mountain Regional High School has been awarded a one-year, $300,000 grant to help in its ongoing efforts to reexamine, well, everything. “Schools have largely been the same for 100 years, right?” said Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superintendent Peter Dillon. “So, this is helping us to really rethink what we value and what we care about.” The money was awarded by the Barr Foundation, in Boston. It comes on the heels of a $336,709 grant received last year from Mass IDEAS that was used for similar purposes. The end result for Monument?: “Students are going to have more voice. Teachers are going to work together in more interesting ways. And the curriculum is going to be more meaningful and more relevant,” Dillon said. “At the end of the day, what we hope is that young people are more engaged and leave school better prepared to go on to college or to the workforce or the military than they previously have been. That’s no small feat, but that’s really what we’re trying to do.” The district’s budget is about $30 million a year. The district now brings in about $2 million a year in grants.

Connecticut State community college rates lag behind universities
Student exemptions 15%

State community college rates lag behind universities

Nearly 15% of the students enrolled at Connecticut community colleges have received non-medical exemptions from the system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, a rate that administrators suggested could be brought down with efforts to educate students about the vaccine. Of the 37,116 students enrolled at the state’s community colleges this semester, 71% are fully or partially vaccinated; 5,479 or 15% have received non-medical exemptions and 12% have not yet reported their status. Of the 22,698 who are studying on campus, 17,873 (79%) are fully or partially vaccinated, 2,030 (9%) have received non-medical exemptions and 2,423 (10.6%) have not yet reported their status. At the four regional universities, roughly 80% of students are fully or partially vaccinated, and 8% of the overall enrolled students have received a non-medical exemption from the vaccine mandate

Sharon Burying Ground comes alive with history

Sharon Burying Ground comes alive with history

SHARON – There were tales of woe, confessions and rants of indignation among the characters who came alive during Saturday’s guided theatrical experience at the Sharon Burying Ground. The actors, strategically placed throughout the site, also known as Hillside Cemetery, either gave excerpts from Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology,” or spoke about Sharon residents from long ago. The event was a collaboration among Sharon Playhouse, the Hotchkiss Library and the Sharon Historical Society. Interspersed among the actors’ presentations were explanations by Rogers of some of the wording on the gravestones. In one instance, there was an epitaph on the stone of a woman who died in childbirth. It read, “On the same day, she became a mother and a corpse.” She also pointed out the grave of Justin Bostwick, who invented the mousetrap, making Sharon known as the “mousetrap capital of the world, and that of Henry Holmes.

Kent library hosts talk on signature quilts

Kent library hosts talk on signature quilts

KENT – “The History of Signature Quilts” will be the topic of a presentation by Marge Smith at Kent Memorial Library’s Reading Room on Sunday at 3 p.m. at 32 North Main St. Smith is the curator and archivist at Kent Historical Society and a quilter herself. She was one of the Kent Quilters members who helped create the town’s signature quilt in 2016. The historical society has several signature quilts in its collection. Smith will share how signature quilts create a snapshot of a community and their additional values as a great genealogy resource. Smith grew up as a faculty brat at South Kent School, where her parents taught. The program is free and open to the public. Masks are required inside the library.

Berkshire school cafeterias feel brunt of US supply chain bottlenecks, delivery delays

NORTH ADAMS — Tony’s buffalo chicken pizza, cups of sliced strawberries and smiley potatoes have been hard to find for some Berkshire County schools this fall. Supply chain disruptions and delivery delays are complicating the jobs of school workers across the state and country. The Berkshires have not been spared, and school food service directors in the county say they are adapting to an unprecedented situation. A School Nutrition Association survey published in July found that 97 percent of more than 1,300 school food directors surveyed were concerned about coronavirus pandemic supply chain problems. School meals must meet federal nutrition standards, but this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering more flexibility because of supply chain issues.

October 9, 2021 Region One COVID Notice

Region One Families and Staff:
We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:

Salisbury ● A household member of an All Star bus driver who drives for Salisbury Central has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person has not been in the building and has had no close contact with staff or students (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period). All household members will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms or school at this time.

Sharon ● An All Star driver, who is alo a family member of two Sharon Center School students (one elementary and one middle school), has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person has had no close contact (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with staff or students, other than the children living in the home. There has also been no close contact on the bus.
One of the students (noted above) has developed symptoms and is being tested. Close contacts of the student are currently being contacted by Nurse Sheehan and will be quarantined until we receive test results. The affected individual and all family members will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms or school at this time.

Saturday night, October 2nd saw a glittering one time only concert of The Sound Of Broadway, A Salute To Jonathan Tunick…Broadway’s preeminent orchestrator and Sharon resident.

The evening included performances by Broadway luminaries Debbie Gravitte, Judy McLane, Eric Ulloa, Meg Bussert, Leslie Denniston, Orville Mendoza, Haley Swindal and Karen Mason. Also performing the songs of Sondheim, Yeston, Hamlisch and more were Ashley Ware Jenkins, Richard Koons, Ashley Dawn Mortensen, Lindsay O’Neil, Max Swarner, Nicholas Wuehrmann, Christiane Olson, Joe Schermann, TJ Swetz, Katie Nicole Weiser, Becky Wilczak. The 27 piece orchestra was under the baton of maestro Eric Stern. The entire production was conceived and directed by Artistic Director Alan M-L Wager and was part of the annual Sharon Playhouse Spotlight Gala.

Connecticut lawmakers call on House Republican to apologize after comparing Lamont to Hitler

https://www.wfsb.com/news/lawmakers-call-on-house-republican-to-apologize-after-comparing-lamont-to-hitler/article_70b595ae-290b-11ec-bd2c-7f818b188bd6.html?block_id=994091

A state representative is on the hot seat after comparing the governor to Adolf Hitler on Facebook and doubling down on her comments. Representative Anne Dauphinais is criticizing the governor’s extension of his emergency powers, as well as the vaccine mandate. Now, she is refusing to apologize for her comments. In the Facebook post where she defended herself, she described it all as “dictatorial madness”. She went on to say: “This Governor, with the help of the one-party rule we have in this state right now, has taken dictatorial powers for himself for what will be almost 2 full years when this latest extension expires. Hitler too was a dictator enabled by the rule of the single Nazi party.” Dauphinais claimed Lamont is “segregating us from our work places coercing people to make unwanted medical choices in order to keep their jobs, pay their mortgages and feed their families.” Senate Democrats referred Eyewitness News to the House Democrats, since Dauphinais is a member of the House.
We have reached out to the House and Senate Republicans, but they have not yet returned our request for comment. At last check, about ninety-eight percent of state employees have agreed to the vaccine mandate. Roughly a thousand are not compliant. The latest extension for the governor’s emergency powers lasts until February.

How much did Dutchess County restaurants get from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund?

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/08/how-much-did-dutchess-restaurants-get-covid-restaurant-revitalization-fund/6041583001/

Part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund gave $28.6 billion in grants — not loans — to food and beverage businesses to help make up their losses in 2020. Slightly more than a third of the 278,000 eligible businesses who applied for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund received money. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was the second major federal program that provided funds to restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other funds were awarded through the $669 billion Paycheck Protection Program in 2020. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) provided funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.

What’s in the Great Barrington Housing Authority account called ‘administrative other?’ Finding out will cost one person $16.50 per hour.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/what-s-in-the-great-barrington-housing-authority-account-called-administrative-other-finding-out-will/article_70d87f6e-22e0-11ec-8136-07a6b27caf9a.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — It isn’t that no one knows how some of the Great Barrington Housing Authority’s money is spent. The problem is that the authority board doesn’t know some of the details, and two board members are trying to change that. And this has sparked the latest clash among some of those who run the authority. This time, it revolves around spending that is undetailed in the financial statement shown to board members each month. When asked the authority office last month to provide the information, and copies of billing invoices for this spending, she was told it would cost her $16.50 an hour for staff to produce it, and 5 cents per page for copies, according to emails provided by Mooney. And it isn’t the first time she has been asked to pay to see documentation billing invoices no longer are attached to the statements, as they were. While authority staff say their part-time hours make it burdensome to fill Mooney’s numerous records requests, these invoices and other documentation routinely are gathered by office staff every month and given to the accountant, who creates a worksheet that itemizes every payment for “administrative other.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Annual Community Vigil Thursday, October 14th
6:00 – 7:00 pm Town Pavilion East Main Street / Rt 44 & 7 North Canaan

Each year Domestic Violence Agencies across the nation gather to commemorate those who have lost their lives to domestic violence. Please join us as we remember our community members across the state of Connecticut. Drinks and refreshment will be served. Masks are encouraged.

Ridgway stresses recycling with disposal costs increasing

Cornwall First Selectman Gordon M. Ridgway gave an update on the trash disposal issue Tuesday, saying MIRA, which operates the burn plant in Hartford where the town’s trash is trucked, will be closing in June 2022. After that, trash apparently will be trucked to be buried in landfills in the Midwest and South. That will raise the cost of trash disposal significantly and harm the environment. Ridgway noted the biggest increase in the municipal budget this fiscal year is for garbage. Ted Larson, the transfer station manager, said, “It’s all about education. We have to let people know what can and can’t be thrown out, and what can be recycled.”

No federal storm help for Berkshires, despite extensive damage Berkshire County reported $630,000 of storm damage due to record rainfall, straight-line winds, bridge washouts. It was still not enough to meet FEMA threshold.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/weather/berkshire-county-denied-disaster-relief-funds-after-rainfall-extreme-weather-2021/article_bd97e852-285e-11ec-884b-bfa123a7f4de.html

Sorry, we’d like to help, but we can’t. That’s the basic message from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to Berkshire towns seeking disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for damage during July floods and storms. Record rainfall swamped parts of the Berkshires — in Williamstown, it was the wettest month in 129 years. There was storm damage from straight-line winds and costly bridge washouts from flooding. Berkshire County, along with neighboring Franklin County, had total verified damage amounts above the required minimum to qualify for federal assistance. But, FEMA awards disaster relief only if statewide damage reaches $10.1 million, the threshold needed to qualify for a federal disaster declaration, according to MEMA public information officer Christopher Besse. “Unfortunately, FEMA’s final Preliminary Damage Assessment finding determined that, while two counties (Berkshire and Franklin) did meet the county threshold, the state threshold was not met,” the state agency informed local officials. “As a result, no Federal Disaster Declaration is possible because both county and state thresholds need to be met to qualify for federal disaster aid.” FEMA did confirm $630,000 in storm damage in the Berkshires, well above the county’s minimum requirement of $510,000. Franklin’s total of $941,000 was more than triple the required threshold of $277,000 for the rural county. But, the other three counties, with damage more scattered and less costly, held the statewide total below what the federal agency allowed. The total verified damage for Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire.

Great Barrington has zero new COVID cases. With no new mask rules, residents speak against mandates, just in case.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/great-barrington-has-zero-new-covid-cases-with-no-new-mask-rules-residents-speak-against/article_f81f06a0-27bd-11ec-ba6b-4f8ea53d1be3.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — This was the first full week since May without any new COVID-19 cases in town, where three people are in quarantine for earlier infections. And with case counts dropping in the Berkshires and the region, the Board of Health on Thursday decided not to alter its advisory from last month recommending that, regardless of vaccination status, masks be worn indoors in public, or outdoors at gatherings when social distancing isn’t possible. The board will revisit its recommendation at its monthly meetings and strengthen its stance if case numbers rise again. Preparing for a possible mask-wearing mandate by the board, a handful of residents spoke out against potential regulations, saying that the available research that masks offer solid protection still is debatable — yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says otherwise.

Fundraiser to aid Blue Rider Stables

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/egremont-fundraiser-to-aid-blue-rider-stables/article_a772f612-2853-11ec-bec8-d33dcd35fee2.html

Blue Rider Stables is hosting its inaugural Wings for Willie Ride-a-thon fundraiser now through Oct. 29. Willie Wonka, a member of Blue Rider’s herd, died from colic in June. To participate, create or join a team to ride, walk, run, bike, skate, etc., for pledges. Each team will collect sponsors who can either donate for each mile or lap completed or give a flat donation. Prizes will be awarded. The money raised will help cover healthcare for the herd Willie left behind. To sign up or make a donation, visit tinyurl.com/yuna7x2t or follow the link from bluerider.org. For more information, email info@bluerider.org

Hochul signs 5 bills to combat the opioid crisis

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/08/kathy-hochul-signs-bills-opioid-crisis/6041937001/

New York will expand access to overdose reversal drugs and mandate medicated-assisted treatment in jails as part of its fight against the opioid epidemic, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday. In 2020, 5,100 New Yorkers died of drug overdoses — the worst year of overdoses on record in the state. Nationally, 93,000 people died of overdoses, a 29% increase over 2019. In signing five bills Thursday related to the opioid crisis, Hochul called to memory her nephew Michael, who died six years ago from an opioid overdose after years of addiction to painkillers and later heroin.

Housatonic will be the new voting place for many, as Great Barrington re-precincts

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/housatonic-will-be-the-new-voting-place-for-many-as-great-barrington-re-precincts/article_d44e3a9e-25eb-11ec-883f-d39eeed3bc76.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — Population shifts in Great Barrington have forced the town to rework one of its four voting precincts, something that will affect residents only on the days they need to cast ballots. Town Clerk Jennifer Messina told the Select Board at its Monday meeting, held via Zoom, that this re-precincting will result in a number of residents having to now vote in Housatonic — at the Housatonic Community Center, or “Housie Dome” — rather than at the State Road fire station, as they previously had done. While there are small changes to all the precincts, it is these Precinct C voters from the western part of Division Street and the northern area of Alford Road who will be placed into Precinct B, which votes in Housatonic. Precinct boundaries are drawn up carefully with geographic markers. The results of the 2020 U.S. census pegged the town’s population at 7,172. The state requires a shift for those towns with more than 6,200 residents or more than 4,000 voters per precinct. Because the population in each of Great Barrington’s four precincts is not within 5 percent of the town’s average for each, the precinct had to shift.

Kent teacher accused of groping student

BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/10/06/kent-teacher-accused-of-groping-student/

TORRINGTON – A 36-year-old history teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student after class in January was ordered by school administrators to leave the Marvelwood School campus in Kent where he had been living. Adam Finestone admitted having intimate contact with the teenager, with whom he had communicated through texting and social media. The charge against him, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, applies against a 17-year-old because of Finestone’s position of authority over her. Absent the student-teacher relationship, the alleged contact could have been legal. A protective order was issued to keep Finestone from having any contact with the alleged victim. Now living with his parents in Pennsylvania after school officials ordered him off campus, he turned himself in Sept. 14 and posted a $2,000 bond. His case was continued.

October 6, 2021 Regional COVID Notice

We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:

Lee H. Kellogg ● A Lee H. Kellogg School middle school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person has not been in the school building since Monday, October 4. All families of students who are close contacts (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) have been notified. The affected individual will remain at home in quarantine/isolation per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close any of the classrooms or the school at this time.

Sharon ● Two Sharon Center elementary school students have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). These two students are related to the family members that we wrote about on October 1, 2021. They have not been in school since September 30 and have had no close contact (within three feet in the classroom or six feet outside of the classroom for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with staff or students. The entire family will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms or school at this time. We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines and permission that we receive from the individual cases. Thank you for understanding that sharing more than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy.

Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association moves to unionize

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/berkshire-visiting-nurse-association-moves-to-unionize/article_ddf9784e-26f2-11ec-8e6b-f355d601e941.html

Nurses and other health care professionals that work for the Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association have taken the first step toward forming a union. The Berkshire VNA is a home health care agency, owned by Berkshire Health Systems, that sends nurses, physical therapists and other medical professionals to care for patients across the county in their homes. A “huge majority” of those staff members signed cards intending to join the Massachusetts Nurses Association, according to the MNA — and they sent a letter on Wednesday asking their employer to voluntarily recognize the union. Berkshire Health Systems did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

Massachusetts Senate approves bill to expand voting rights

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/ap/state/massachusetts-senate-approves-bill-to-expand-voting-rights/article_f9cf6d2e-adf5-51cc-b701-25fe491cac80.html

BOSTON (AP) — A bill that would permanently write into Massachusetts law early voting options that were temporarily adopted during the height of the coronavirus pandemic was approved overwhelmingly Wednesday by the Massachusetts Senate.The bill would also enact same-day voter registration and make other changes to the commonwealth’s election process, including allowing no-excuse voting by mail. The Senate passed the bill by a 36-3 vote.Supporters say the proposal incorporates lessons learned during the pandemic and takes critical steps to expand the right to vote in Massachusetts at a time when many states are tightening access to the ballot box. As part of the bill aimed at allowing permanent no-excuse mail-in voting, the secretary of the commonwealth would be required to send out mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters on July 15 of every even-numbered year. In the past, the use of mail-in voting was restricted to those who could offer a valid excuse for not being able to get to the polls on Election Day. Mail-in ballots would be accepted for a biennial state election if mailed on or by Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on the third day after the election. The bill would also let local cities and towns set up secure ballot drop boxes and allow local elections officials to pre-process mail-in and early voting ballots ahead of Election Day.

Lamont: State will pay for tests for unvaccinated state employees

Lamont: State will pay for tests for unvaccinated state employees

BETHEL — Gov. Ned Lamont disclosed Wednesday that the state is prepared now to pay for weekly COVID-19 tests for eligible state employees who choose testing over vaccination. The move represents a change from previously announced policy that the state would pay for four weeks of testing, but then those executive branch workers would have to pay for continued weekly tests. In Bethel, Lamont said free testing will be part of an agreement concerning his vaccine-or-testing mandate that he expects his administration and the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition to conclude in the coming days. The governor’s office reported Tuesday that 5,500 covered employees had opted to submit to weekly testing.

COVID Updates: State’s positivity rate falls back under 2%

https://www.wfsb.com/news/covid-updates-states-positivity-rate-falls-back-under-2/article_979ce734-22ea-11ec-83f3-f70538f252d9.html?block_id=994091

On Wednesday, 392,951 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 377 since Tuesday. Out of 19,825 tests administered, 377 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate of 1.90%. Hospitalizations decreased on Wednesday by 7, bringing the current total to 230. Data on COVID-19 associated deaths is updated every Thursday. As of Thursday, 53 new COVID-associated deaths were reported, bringing the total so far since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,629. The number of total tests performed since the pandemic began is now at 11,257,015 an increase of 19,825 since Tuesday.

Some rural NY counties face higher COVID-19 risks. Hochul blames low vax, mask use

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/06/ny-covid-rates-higher-in-rural-counties/6010785001/

A crush of unvaccinated New Yorkers infected with COVID-19 ended up lying in hospital beds at Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira recently, struggling to breath and asking the same question: “Can I get the COVID vaccine now and will it help me?” Dr. Justin Nistico on Tuesday recalled his talks with the desperately ill patients, who mostly live in rural parts of Chemung County and surrounding communities in the Southern Tier. “The answer is always no, and now we’ve got to treat the disease,” he said. In some cases, Nistico recounted the pleas of vaccine holdouts to family members after they’re placed on breathing machines. The medical realizations are unfolding as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spiked in some upstate New York counties, despite plunging infections in other communities, including New York City and parts of the Hudson Valley. Experts suggested the trends offered a glimpse of the pandemic’s next stage in New York, as rural communities across the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and North Country lag behind statewide vaccination rates and remain at heightened risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Butch Anderson funeral: Dutchess residents, police gather to bid farewell to sheriff

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/10/06/butch-anderson-funeral-poughkeepsie-civic-center/6017901001/

The cacophonous procession slowly made its way down Market Street. The clang of horseshoes against pavement from the mounted police, followed by the roar of motorcycle engines from the motorcade. The low whine of the police dogs as they were brought to heel was quickly silenced by the drone of bagpipers and the pounding of drums. And finally, the slow and steady rhythm of footsteps as members of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office trailed the hearse carrying the late Adrian “Butch” Anderson, following his lead one last time. The procession led to the Majed J. Nesheiwat Convention Center, where Dutchess’ sheriff of nearly 22 years was honored in front of thousands at a funeral ceremony this morning, following his death last week. A larger than life procession for a larger than life personality.

Affordable housing projects in Waterbury, Goshen and Kent get state funding

Affordable housing projects in Waterbury, Goshen and Kent get state funding

Plans to build a 44-apartment affordable housing development in a run-down section of Waterbury’s Hillside neighborhood received a $500,000 boost this week. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority announced Tuesday that $10.9 million in grants would be shared among 22 affordable housing projects in 14 cities and towns. The money was spread among communities large and small; urban and rural. A project in Goshen will receive $500,000. Another in Kent was awarded $265,000.

Kent candidates to debate Oct. 27

Campaign notebook: Kent candidates to debate Oct. 27

KENT — A Zoom debate is scheduled for Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. involving the four candidates for Kent first selectman. Democratic incumbent Jean Speck, Republican Edward Matson, and unaffiliated candidates Rufus P. de Rham and James E. Rundall will take part. The debate is sponsored by Kent Memorial Library and will be moderated by Bibby Veerman of the League of Women Voters. The library is seeking questions from local residents for the candidates to answer. Questions may be dropped off in person at the library, 32 North Main St., or emailed to kla-bmcallister@biblio.org no later than Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. Anyone submitting must include their name. All questions asked must be submitted in advance because there will be no live questions from the audience. Anyone who wants to watch the virtual debate as a group may do so at the library. Masks are required.

New York’s cannabis board holds first meeting, amends medical program

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/05/ny-cannabis-board-holds-first-meeting-amends-medical-program/6003571001/

New York marijuana regulators on Tuesday sought to make up for delays in the drug’s rollout by approving a chief equity officer and making immediate changes to the medical cannabis program during the inaugural meeting of the state Cannabis Control Board. The five-member board charged with implementing marijuana legalization and advancing the state’s cannabis industry set a clear tone: They wanted to move past delays in implementing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. The state law legalizing marijuana took effect in March, but infighting between then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature exacerbated delays in getting members appointed to the board, slowing down the work of getting regulations for legal sales in place. “The MRTA was signed into law on March 31. But we were not able to begin the work of establishing New York’s cannabis market until Sept. 22, when the full cannabis control board was appointed. As such, there was a six-month delay to make up,” Christopher Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, told the board Tuesday afternoon.

A coalition of public safety groups will hold a virtual press conference on first annual #KeepKidsSafe Connecticut statewide gun buyback and gun safe giveaway day planned for October 16, 2021

Newtown, CT — Newtown Action Alliance Foundation, Ethan Miller Song Foundation, Yale New Haven Hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Saint Francis Hospital, Hartford Hospital, CT Against Gun Violence Education Fund, Swords to Plowshares Northeast, Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, Wilton Quaker Meeting, CT Violence Intervention Program, Mothers United Against Violence, Tears for Triumph, Violent Crime Survivors, Bridgeport Police Department, Guilford Police Department, Hartford Police Department, Newtown Police Department, Norwalk Police Department, Stamford Police Department, and Waterbury Police Department will be holding a virtual press conference on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 11:00am to announce the first annual #KeepKidsSafe Connecticut Statewide Gun Buyback and Gun Safe Giveaway Day on October 16, 2021. The buyback and safe giveaway events in Bridgeport, Guilford, Hartford, Newtown, Stamford, and Waterbury are 100% anonymous; therefore, IDs are not required and no questions will be asked. IDs will be required at the Norwalk buyback event.

Locations of Events:

ANONYMOUS, NO ID, NO QUESTIONS ASKED

BRIDGEPORT: Police Dept 1395 Sylvan Ave

GUILFORD: Police Dept 400 Church St

HARTFORD: Public Works 50 Jennings Rd

NEWTOWN: Police Dept 191 S. Main St

STAMFORD: Police Dept 725 Bedford St

WATERBURY: Trinity Health of New England 15 West Dover St
ID REQUIRED

NORWALK: Police Dept 1 Monroe St

FilmColumbia 21, October 22-31, is a film fan’s delight, offering screenings of new, acclaimed features; in-person audience Q&A’S with filmmakers; a free children’s shorts session; and the highly anticipated Saturday night “sneak peek,” a feature that inevitably Garners Oscar® nominations

(Chatham, NY – October 4, 2021)—In addition to an always rich slate of world-class independent and international features and documentaries, FilmColumbia 21, October 22-31, also will offer a series of highly anticipated screenings and special events designed to engage all film fans, from the earnest to the occasional. The festival is presented by The Crandell Theatre, and the complete FilmColumbia 2021 lineup is available now at https://crandelltheatre.org/filmcolumbia/. For a complete list of the health and safety protocols for the festival, go to https://crandelltheatre.org/filmcolumbia-2021-health-protocol/. While food will not be available at the concession stand this year, popcorn will be offered between screenings.

Deadline for Connecticut state employee vaccinations is tonight

https://www.wfsb.com/news/deadline-for-state-employee-vaccinations-is-tonight/article_e6b79dfc-24aa-11ec-9635-bfa559a1776a.html?block_id=994091

State employees have until midnight to provide proof of vaccination or comply with weekly testing, or they could be placed on unpaid leave. Along with the 23,000 who are fully vaccinated, 5,000 employees have agreed to weekly COVID testing; however, Gov. Ned Lamont’s office said 3,000 are currently non-compliant.Gov. Ned Lamont is calling on the National Guard to plan for state active duty deployment if needed due to workers not being compliant with the state’s vaccine or testing mandate. Those workers could be placed on unpaid leave this week, with the National Guard filling any staffing shortages. State employee Irena Bajwright said most of the employees within her agency submitted their vaccination status, herself included. According to Lamont, Irena is one of 74 percent of state workers who complied with the vaccine mandate.The governor announced 11 percent of state workers have not complied. If those workers don’t either get the vaccine or agree to weekly testing, they’re at risk of being placed on unpaid leave as early as Oct. 5.

When is the best time to get the flu shot?

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/04/flu-vaccine-covid-19-coronavirus-vaccinations/5948966001/

The COVID-19 pandemic continues on as we head into the colder months, but there’s also another seasonal illness to remember: the flu. Flu vaccines and nasal sprays have been available for protection against strains of the virus since the summer, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people should be vaccinated by the end of October for the best protection this season. Last year, activity for the 2020-21 flu season was unusually low, with the CDC postulating vaccines and COVID-19 mitigation measures, including wearing face masks, staying home, hand washing, school closures, increased ventilation of indoor spaces, reduced travel and physical distancing may have contributed to the decline in illness, hospitalization and deaths from the flu virus. Additionally, a record number of flu vaccine doses were given in the U.S. during 2020 and 2021 – 193.8 million doses. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot. The best time to get a flu vaccine this year is before the end of October, according to recommendations from the CDC.

Great Barrington: Board of Health to vote on glyphosate ban on town property

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/great-barrington-board-of-health-to-vote-on-glyphosate-ban-on-town-property/article_ae1702fc-22e4-11ec-a2f4-d3b617db23bc.html

The Great Barrington Board of Health will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to act on a moratorium banning the town’s use of glyphosate, a pesticide ingredient recognized as a probable carcinogen to humans. The public is invited to join the meeting via Zoom, to participate, ask questions and comment on the ban. The meeting link will be available at tinyurl.com/mka5kv8w at meeting time. The meeting can also be found on the October town calendar, townofgb.org/calendar/month. Glyphosate is an active ingredient in certain pesticides, such as Roundup. The board’s action aligns with the 2016 annual town meeting vote for a resolution that commits Great Barrington to being a pollinator-friendly town, to protect food and ecological systems. The moratorium bans the town’s use of glyphosate on town-owned property, by town employees, volunteers or outside contractors.

Telemedicine proposal in Kent has its critics

BY LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON Republican-American

Telemedicine proposal in Kent has its critics

KENT – Nuvance Health is interested in partnering with the town of Kent to offer a location for telemedicine, but not everyone is sure that is the best alternative to having a doctor’s office in town. Andrea Rynn of Nuvance Health System made a proposal at a recent selectmen’s meeting for a six-to-nine-month pilot program in which Nuvance would provide a computer and related equipment and a “navigator” or a person to help patients connect over a computer to access a primary care provider. First Selectman Jean Speck is proposing that the office in the Kent Senior Center would be the location for this telemedicine and the town would provide internet access to Nuvance. She has been looking for a solution since all doctors left the town this year and now everyone has to drive out of town for medical care.
Resident Catherine Bachrach submitted a letter to the selectmen expressing her concerns about the current proposal. She noted that she has extensive knowledge about seniors’ needs from her 10-year tenure as program director at the New Milford Senior Center, planning weekly programs in cooperation with the community relations staff at New Milford Hospital, serving as past presidency of Kent Village Housing for the Elderly and her ongoing familiarity with the Senior Center space as Kent’s volunteer Meals on Wheels coordinator for the past 15 years. She objected to the characterization from Nuvance and Speck that the proposal involves a partnership with the community and that there is a strong collaboration happening, based on what was shared at the Sept. 14 selectmen’s meeting. She strongly supports the efforts to reopen and reinvigorate the town’s Senior Center and is concerned about the proposed use of the office.

Berkshire County likely to see four Mass. House seats cut to three in redistricting

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/berkshire-county-likely-to-see-four-mass-house-seats-cut-to-three-in-redistricting/article_feb1cd10-22f7-11ec-aaa8-135429015da6.html

Berkshire County’s population fell, and so will the number of House members it sends to Beacon Hill, lawmakers signaled this week. Ten years ago, and despite a population loss then, too, lawmakers fought for, and kept, four Berkshire seats in the House of Representatives. But, no such optimism exists this time: Where most parts of the state grew, 2020 census numbers showed another decline in Berkshire County’s population. Every 10 years, after the U.S. census, the House redraws a map that matches each of its 160 members with a district representing a certain number of people. This year, the final version is expected Nov. 8. And that version will show Berkshire County can only muster three, not its current four, House districts. “That is going to happen, and that has been in the making for more than 10 years,” said Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, a member of the Legislature’s Special Joint Committee on Redistricting. “With the numbers we have, we just couldn’t hold on any longer in justifying four Berkshire seats, and it shouldn’t be a surprise.” Changes in the map, though, are not expected to pit current Berkshire lawmakers in races against each other. Two lawmakers — state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru — are believed to be eyeing runs for new offices, and their decisions likely would impact how maps are redrawn.

Hundreds march in Salisbury and Kent demanding women’s rights

BY RUTH EPSTEIN Republican-American

Hundreds march in Salisbury demanding women’s rights

SALISBURY — Similar to hundreds of other rallies across the nation Saturday, a large crowd gathered on the town Green in front of the White Hart Inn to support safe and legal abortions. Holding signs and banners while chanting “Our bodies, our choice,” an enthusiastic group of more than 250 women and men came to express their commitment to preserving women’s rights on health care decisions and protest restrictive laws recently approved in Texas. The event was organized by a committee led by Debra Frank, an attorney and Planned Parenthood board member in Florida. “We cannot sit back and let our constitutional rights be destroyed,” she said, referring to the Roe v. Wade court ruling that made abortion legal in 1973. “Abortion is part of a woman’s lifetime health care.” The Texas law “is trying to return us to the dark days of illegal abortions,” and will impact women of color and poverty disproportionately, she added. State Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, who also attended a rally earlier in the day in Kent, spoke of her abhorrence of the “insidious law” passed in Texas and the “vigilante justice” being perpetrated. She praised Connecticut for having codified Roe v. Wade, but said laws can change with different lawmakers in office. Horn told the group Connecticut residents aren’t safe. “Be sure to get out there,” she said, “and pay attention. In Kent the rallying cry went out to get loud about protecting women’s health and abortion rights, and more than 300 people responded by gathering here Saturday morning. The Women’s March in Kent began at Town Hall and stretched along both sides of North Main Street, as marchers of both genders held signs with a variety of messages, and wore pink masks and hats to show their support for women. After walking, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz expressed at a rally how delighted she was to be in Kent for such an important cause. She reminded those in attendance of the important legal history in Litchfield County, where Roe v. Wade was born. Catherine Roraback of North Canaan helped bring the case Griswold v. Connecticut to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The case gave the Supreme Court the underpinning and the protection of privacy because it said married couples could use contraception,” Bysiewicz said, noting that became the basis for the right to privacy in Roe.

What’s it costing you to pay town taxes?

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/10/03/taxes/

Here are some local current mill rates by town in Connecticut. Note that Hartford has the highest and Waterbury is second. Only those two cities, plus Hamden, have mill rates over 50. Salisbury (11.0) has the lowest mill rate in the state, slightly below Greenwich, Sharon 14.5, Kent 18.57, Cornwall 16.7, Falls Village 25.7. North Canaan 29, 26.91

Drivers no longer have to stop to pay Bear Mountain Bridge tolls

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/10/01/bear-mountain-bridge-cashless-tolling/5950661001/

Cashless tolling has been implemented at the Bear Mountain Bridge, the New York State Bridge Authority announced Friday. Drivers crossing that bridge will not have to stop to pay a toll, as they pass under a gantry with state-of-the-art sensors and cameras that read E-ZPass tags and take license plate images. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags will be automatically charged for the toll, while a toll bill will be mailed to the registered owners of vehicles without such tags. As on other Hudson River bridges, tolls are collected only from eastbound travelers. Cashless tolling has been in use on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge since July 7. The Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which connects Catskill and Hudson, is set to go cashless in early November. The Bridge Authority expects all five of its crossings, including the Mid-Hudson Bridge at Poughkeepsie and the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, to be cashless by March 2022.

Public input sought on South County school district merger talks

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/public-input-sought-on-south-county-school-district-merger-talks/article_2fefcaa4-2225-11ec-832d-4367a4eee08c.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — As enrollment continues to decline in the county’s two most southern school districts, officials are reaching out to the public for input on whether to combine the districts, increase collaboration or do nothing at all. The Regional School District Planning Board has put together a package of three online surveys geared to three constituencies: community members, school staff and students. To fill out the survey, visit rsdpb.org. Responses will be accepted through Oct. 12. Using the survey results, in addition to enrollment projections and logistical and financial data, the board hopes to make a recommendation next spring to the select boards of the eight towns that make up the Southern Berkshire Regional School District and the Berkshire Hills Regional School District. A report released Sept. 14, by the board’s project manager, Jake Eberwein, paints a grim picture. The combined enrollment from kindergarten through grade 12 at both districts has declined 33 percent in the past two decades — from 2,674 students in 2000 to 1,787 students in 2020. Enrollment is projected to decline by an additional 28 percent — to 1,280 students — by 2030, the report states.

The Sharon Historical Society & Museum Announces New Curator

SHARON —  After an extensive search, Sharon Historical Society & Museum  (SHSM) is pleased to announce the arrival of Brandon Lisi as the new full-time curator. In this role he will work on a permanent exhibition of Sharon history, work towards an exhibit of materials from the Frances Morehouse Kelsey photographic archive, and bolster online public access to SHSM’s collections. Additionally, his deep interest in Connecticut history and education will be a valuable skill set for SHSM members and the regional community. “We are delighted to welcome Brandon to SHSM and our Sharon community,” says Christine Beer, Executive Director, “his enthusiastic interest in history and in engaging patrons of all ages and backgrounds is critical for the SHSM mission to collect, preserve, and share Sharon’s stories.”

The Sharon Historical Society & Museum is being awarded a $50,000 grant to improve stewardship of and access to the Frances Morehouse Kelsey Archives from the Institute of Library and Museum Services. 

The Kelsey Archives contains a variety of historically significant visual and textual materials which illustrate two aspects of history in the town of Sharon: the active life and career of the twentieth century photographer, Frances Morehouse Kelsey (1914-1999), and the major events, individuals, locations, and milestones in the town of Sharon’s history during the mid to late twentieth century. This project will involve hiring a part time archivist for a two-year term to process, inventory, rehouse, and produce a digital finding aid for the Kelsey Archives which will be integrated into a digital archival search aggregator tool accessible to members of the public, academic researchers, and students. The mission of the Sharon Historical Society & Museum is to collect, preserve and share Sharon’s stories. The processing archivist position is posted on sharonhist.org

Connecticut, Eversource reach deal over Isaias response

Connecticut, Eversource reach deal over Isaias response

Connecticut officials announced a settlement Friday with Eversource over the electric utility’s response to Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020, which left thousands of people without power for days. Under the deal, Eversource has agreed to return $103.4 million to consumers and provide more accountability during future storms, Gov. Ned Lamont and Attorney General William Tong announced. Eversource also has agreed not to apply for a rate increase until at least January 2023, for rates that would not go into effect until at least January 2024, the governor’s office said. The storm hit Connecticut on Aug. 4, 2020, with rain and high winds, leaving roughly 800,000 utility customers without power at its peak. Local officials complained that an inability to contact the utility made it difficult to tell residents when or where crews would be coming to restore power. Many towns did not see a utility truck for more than two days and some people were in the dark for over a week. Under the agreement, $65 million in Eversource funds are to be immediately returned to customers in the form of credits on their December and January electric bills. The company said $10 million will be used to assist customers who are having difficulty paying their utility bills. The average customer will see a total credit of $35, the governor’s office said.

Lamont refuses to budge on mandate deadline as unions fight back

Lamont refuses to budget on mandate deadline as unions fight back

HARTFORD — State employee unions are asking for more time to comply with Gov. Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate, but Lamont is not budging on his latest deadline. The Lamont administration this week extended the original Monday deadline seven more days, but the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition is requesting a 20-day extension. One of SEBAC’s stated reasons for requesting the extra time is a lack of confidence in the administration’s ability to collect employee responses and accurately compile numbers on employees who failed to comply with the governor’s emergency order. Union representatives also cited examples of fully vaccinated employees being unable to comply because of problems with the smartphone and computer reporting applications that are preventing them from reporting their vaccination status. The Lamont administration is planning to start placing state employees who are out of compliance on unpaid leave next Tuesday. This is another reason why SEBAC asked for a grace period. Lamont issued an emergency order on Aug. 19 that gave most state employees in the executive branch the option of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or submitting to weekly testing. Employees of state-run hospitals and other long-term care facilities must obtain a medical or religious exemption to qualify for the testing opt-out. Covered employees must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated, or they have received at least one dose and are scheduled to receive a second dose. Alternatively, employees can opt for weekly testing if eligible.

Services now set for Dutchess Sheriff Butch Anderson

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/10/01/services-dutchess-sheriff-butch-anderson-set-next-week/5950898001/

Members of the community will have the chance to pay their respects to the late Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson. Calling hours will be held Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. at the Majed J. Nesheiwat Convention Center in the City of Poughkeepsie. Funeral services for Anderson are scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the center. The service will be followed by a private burial ceremony. Memorial donations can be made to the Sheriff Adrian Anderson Memorial Fund, 10 West St. Pawling, NY 12564. The Timothy P. Doyle Funeral Home in Poughkeepsie is handling arrangements for Anderson.

Bard College Names Valerie Barr the Margaret Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Bard Network Computing Initiative

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY — Bard College is pleased to announce the appointment of ground-breaking computer scientist Valerie Barr as the Margaret Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Computer Science in the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing, and Director of the Bard Network Computing Initiative. She begins in fall of 2022.“Professor Barr is a national leader in efforts to broaden participation in computing even as she champions innovative approaches to connecting computer science with a wide array of intellectual disciplines,” said Vice President and Dean of the College Deirdre d’Albertis. “Over the course of her career she has demonstrated tremendous creativity as an institution builder. Valerie Barr’s appointment will strengthen Bard’s commitment to the study of computing within the liberal arts and amplify these efforts throughout the Bard network.“ I am deeply honored to be offered the Margaret Hamilton Professorship, which recognizes the numerous contributions Hamilton made to the practice and processes of large-scale software development,” said Barr. “I am also excited to join the Bard faculty. I have watched the growth of the Bard Network for many years, and am pleased to become part of this innovative and exciting institution,” she said. “A key question I hope to explore is what do all students, not just computer science students, need to know about computing in order to actively critique and challenge the current pace and impact of technological change? My many conversations with Bard faculty convinced me that Bard, with its rich array of interdisciplinary programs, many of which reach across the Bard Network, will provide a wonderful arena in which to explore this question.” Valerie Barr comes to Bard from Mount Holyoke College, where she is currently the Jean E. Sammet Prof. of Computer Science. She recently completed four years as chair of Mount Holyoke’s Computer Science department, and is also co-chair of the Data Science program. 

A Great Barrington yoga center becomes yet another pandemic casualty

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/yoga-great-barrington-will-close-november/article_1468ddf0-22ef-11ec-80d4-8fb478d284d3.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — For more than 25 years, people have flocked to a converted barn in the heart of downtown Great Barrington to twist and stretch atop mats — and to breathe. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has put an end to Yoga Great Barrington. On Friday, Gillian Gorman-Rabin, the fourth owner of what has been a Berkshires yoga institution since 1995, announced in an email that she could no longer keep the studio open due to a continuing financial hit from the COVID-19 crisis. Classes will end Nov. 19. She said other factors contributed, including a wish to make her two young children a priority and yoga and fitness industry’s shift to livestream and virtual classes. She said the yoga studio business model, even pre-pandemic, often had studios at the brink — especially in the Berkshires. “It’s shifted the entire profession to a degree that brick-and-mortar for yoga doesn’t seem as appealing,” Gorman-Rabin said. Gorman-Rabin said she’ll keep teaching livestream classes and do more wellness work while she raises her children, but she’s sad to let the YogaGB legacy go.

Hillsdale, N.Y., to Hold 10th Annual Pumpkin Festival Oct. 9

HILLSDALE, N.Y.–The 10th annual Hillsdale Pumpkin Festival will take place at businesses throughout Hillsdale and in the town’s Hamlet Park, at the corner of State Routes 22 and 23, on Saturday Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature live music, seasonal displays and activities, a bake sale, community tables, police and sheriff’s department exhibits and a BBQ dinner. There also will be a “Gathering of Scarecrows” at 11 a.m. at Town Hall, a competition to create and decorate a scarecrow, with the theme this year of “Superheroes and Villains.” The contest will be followed by participants and the public parading down Main Street to the Hamlet Park. Costumes are encouraged. Children 12 and under can take free pony rides starting at 2 p.m., weather permitting, at BridleWood Dressage, 35 Sir William Farm Road in Hillsdale.

New laws in Connecticut effect change how residents drive, grow cannabis, cross street, more

New laws in effect change how residents drive, grow cannabis, cross street, more

State lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont decided anyone older age 16 should also be required under state law to wear a seat belt while riding in the rear seat while a vehicle is moving. Under the revised law, police cannot pull over a car because an adult in the back seat is unbelted unless another violation has occurred. This is because the law specifies that a violation is a secondary offense. But if cited, the new infraction carries fines of $50 if the driver is 18 or older and $75 if the driver is under 18. The addition to the state’s existing seat belt is among the slate of new state laws that were given an effective date of Oct. 1. If drivers get caught using a handheld mobile phone to text or talk, it will cost more now. Fines for violating the state’s distracted driving law were increased from $150 to $200 for a first violation, $300 to $375 for a second violation, and $500 to $625 for a third or a subsequent violation. A new law extends the grace period for transplants to Connecticut to change their out-of-state motor vehicle registrations from 60 days to 90 days. It also lowered the penalty for registration violations after time runs out to $1,000 from $2,500. The fine will be suspended for first-time violations if owners prove they registered their vehicles. Medical marijuana patients are now allowed to cultivate three mature and three immature plants, with a limit of 12 plants per household. By July 1, 2023, any adult in the state can have the same amount of plants. Another provision of the cannabis legalization law taking effect now expands previous smoking restrictions. No smoking or vaping of cannabis or anything else is allowed within 25 feet of buildings catering to the general public, including restaurants and retail stores. Towns and cities largely get to decide where public consumption of cannabis will be allowed, but another newly effective provision specifies that communities with populations of more than 50,000 that regulate the public use of cannabis must designate a location in the municipality where public consumption is permitted. According to the 2020 Census, 19 municipalities had more than 50,000 people, including the cities of Waterbury and Bristol.

Dutchess Sheriff’s Office to move forward with Butch Anderson’s roadmap: Acting Sheriff

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/09/30/butch-andersons-death-somber-dutchess-sheriffs-office/5933917001/

In his final days, Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson continued to attend morning meetings and stay up at all hours of the night listening to the police scanner from his house. While the 73-year-old was battling a serious heart condition for several months and recovering from vascular bypass surgery, he continued to serve alongside Undersheriff Kirk Imperati. “Even though he was not 100% health-wise, he was always engaged and always working,” Imperati said. “He was very proud to be the sheriff and very proud to serve Dutchess County.” Anderson passed “peacefully” in his sleep Wednesday morning, Imperati said. Funeral arrangements were still being made Thursday, but tentative plans call for an event at the Majed J. Nesheiwat Convention Center, formerly the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, in Poughkeepsie next week.

Women’s Support Services Annual Community Vigil

WSS Annual Community Vigil will take place this Thursday, October 29th at 7:30 PM on Facebook! In order to keep our community members safe, we are having a virtual vigil this year on their Facebook page.

A note from SVAS:

A long time member and driving force in SVAS service passed away back in December. SVAS and the family are holding a celebration of life for Ted Davis on October 24 at the Town Grove in Salisbury from 11;00 to 3;00, the public is invited to attend

Nuvance Health to require visitors to provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test

Poughkeepsie, NY, September 29, 2021 — Effective Oct. 5, visitors to Nuvance Health hospitals and facilities must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours. This includes inpatients, emergency departments, Nuvance Health Medical Practices and ambulatory services. Special populations and visitors with extenuating circumstances may be asked to provide documentation, but it is not a requirement to visit. “This visitation change is a very important way to limit the risk of our patients, visitors and staff to COVID-19,” Chief Experience Officer Steve Meth said. “We know visitors and loved ones play an essential role as partners in healing and wellness, and we continually evaluate these guidelines with experts from nursing, infection prevention and physician leaders to craft the safest possible path to keep a loved one at our patients’ side in their moment of need.” “Fully vaccinated” means the visitor had a second Pfizer or Moderna dose or a single-dose J&J vaccine at least two weeks prior to their hospital visit.

Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson passes away

PAWLING – Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson has passed away. The 72-year-old veteran law enforcement officer died in his sleep overnight. Butch, as most people call him joined the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy on December 1, 1970. He graduated from the FBI Law Enforcement Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 1977. In 1993, he was named undersheriff of his beloved department and was elected sheriff in 1999. He celebrated 50 years in law enforcement with the department in 2020. “Our community has lost a true hero, and words hardly feel like enough to articulate the full debt of gratitude we owe to the Sheriff and his loved ones,” said State Senator Sue Serino. “Sheriff Butch Anderson was not only a dear personal friend, but someone who felt like a father, a brother, and confidant to everyone who crossed his path. He truly was a steadfast and selfless leader. The sheriff leaves behind his wife, Danielle Giametta Anderson, and three children. In December of 2020, an enormous celebration of Butch’s storied career in law enforcement was held, including a parade that escorted the sheriff from Pawling to his office in Poughkeepsie.

Connecticut OKs sports betting licenses; Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun launch Thursday

The Department of Consumer Protection has approved the state licenses Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun need to launch sports betting on the tribal reservations, while the Connecticut Lottery Corporation says it’s aiming to roll out the first phase of retail and online sports betting during the first week of October. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and its partner DraftKings Inc. on Wednesday announced retail sports betting will begin on Thursday at Foxwoods. Players can place bets at the temporary DraftKings Sportsbook at Foxwoods and betting kiosks in the casino. Mohegan Sun will also accept sports wagers at its facility.

Lamont says around two-thirds of state employees complying with mandate

Lamont says around two-thirds of state employees complying with mandate

HARTFORD — The Lamont administration reported initial numbers Wednesday that 22,000 out of 32,000 covered state employees are complying with Gov. Ned Lamont’s vaccine-or-testing mandate. Approximately 19,000 executive branch employees reported being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday’s deadline, and 3,000 others opted for weekly testing, according to the preliminary counts from Tuesday. The responses from remaining 10,000 were being processed. There were no interim figures available on the number of applications for medical and religious exemptions from employees working in state-run hospitals and long-term care settings who need one to qualify for weekly testing, or the number of approved and rejected exemption requests.

Sharon Hospital announces strategic transformation

Plan focuses on deliberate growth and envisions a sustainable and vibrant future for Sharon Hospital

SHARON, Conn. — September 29, 2021 — At a community forum this evening, Sharon Hospital and Nuvance Health announced a transformative plan to best meet the evolving needs of patients, families, and staff while ensuring a vibrant future for the hospital. This strategic direction is the result of a deliberate years long planning process by Sharon Hospital and Nuvance Health to analyze how the Sharon community seeks care and chart a sustainable path forward in meeting the long-term needs of patients. Sharon Hospital’s transformation will invest in and strengthen the services identified as the community’s greatest areas of need, while connecting patients with advanced care and services offered within the Nuvance Health system. The plan includes expanding primary and ambulatory care, investing in behavioral health, convening workgroups to evaluate opportunities for consolidation and phasing out underutilized service lines that are available at other Nuvance Health facilities. Sharon Hospital’s Board played a critical role in the evaluative process and has endorsed the transformative plan.

Should Great Barrington control how homeowners rent their property? Early bylaw talks stir resistance

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/should-great-barrington-control-how-homeowners-rent-their-property-early-bylaw-talks-stir-resistance/article_854287d0-1af0-11ec-99ca-fb2499c9bac3.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — Preliminary talks about restricting short-term rentals in an effort to address rental housing scarcity again are meeting resistance from homeowners and others who make a living through renting. Members of the Planning Board and Select Board Housing Subcommittee caution that the concepts floated in an early draft of a short-term rental bylaw are an exploration in its infancy, of whether policies that include capping the numbers of days visitors can rent could somehow free up housing stock for local, long-term renters in a town where it has become almost impossible to find a long-term rental — affordable or not.

Great Barrington: Grant award funds Justice for Elders program

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/great-barrington-grant-award-funds-justice-for-elders-program/article_e2b7384a-207a-11ec-9559-af5ea03296b6.html

The Berkshire Center for Justice has been awarded a $12,000 Title 111 grant to help fund its Justice for Elders program. These funds are earmarked to offer free legal services to income qualified people aged 60 years old and older with a focus on those residing in South Berkshire County. The grant period begins Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2022. Clients will be served on a first come, first served basis in areas of family, landlord tenant, real estate, Wills/Power of Attorney/Medical Proxy document construction, bankruptcy, and educational debt, among other areas of law.

Bard College Appoints Nicholas Alton Lewis as Associate Vice President for Academic Initiatives and Associate Dean Beginning January 2022

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Bard College is pleased to announce that Nicholas Alton Lewis will join the College as Associate Vice President for Academic Initiatives and Associate Dean in the Office of the Dean of the College at Bard College effective January 2022. Lewis has previously served as Assistant Dean of the College at Bard. “The return of Nicholas Lewis to the College is eagerly anticipated,” said Vice President and Dean of the College Deirdre d’Albertis. “His commitment to building intellectual community and his attunement in particular to the affective dimensions of teaching and learning will enrich our shared lives in Annandale in so many ways.” “It is both a joy and an honor to be rejoining the Bard College community,” said Lewis. “I very much look forward to working with such a dedicated group of colleagues in service to this vibrant institution and student body.”

House votes to extend Lamont’s emergency powers

House votes to extend Lamont’s emergency powers

HARTFORD — The House voted Monday to extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s sweeping powers to manage the ongoing state response to the COVID-19 pandemic amid protests against another extension. Dozens of demonstrators including parents upset over school mask mandates and vaccine skeptics demanded the legislature end rather than extend the public health and civil preparedness emergencies to mid-February. After four hours of debate, the House voted 80-60 to continue the public health and civil preparedness emergencies to Feb. 15, with every Republican and 10 Democrats opposing the latest renewals, including Waterbury Rep. Michael DiGiovancarlo, D-74th District.

Nearly all school bus drivers reported to work on vaccination deadline day, officials say

Nearly all school bus drivers reported to work on vaccination deadline day, officials say

School districts across Connecticut on Monday did not see the disruptions to bus routes that were anticipated over the weekend as nearly all school bus drivers showed up to work, according to school and transportation officials. The Connecticut School Transportation Association (COSTA), which represents 67 school bus companies across the state, expected nearly 300 drivers to quit over the weekend due to Gov. Ned Lamont’s vaccine mandate that went into effect Monday, said Ann Baldwin, association spokeswoman. Lamont mandated all school bus drivers, along with all state and school employees, have to get a COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing. He shook off requests last week to push back Monday’s deadline for the mandate. Many districts are already dealing with a school bus driver shortage, and school and transportation officials feared the mandate would exacerbate busing delays and other issues. School officials across the region reported they saw very little to no busing impacts on Monday, even in larger districts like Waterbury, Naugatuck and Cheshire.

COVID in Dutchess schools: Totals low, but statistics on new state dashboard differ

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/education/2021/09/27/dutchess-covid-school-cases-low-state-releases-dashboard/5888141001/

School districts across the region reported generally low numbers of positive COVID cases among students and staff over the past two weeks, according to state figures. Public school districts in the Mid Hudson region of the state — Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Sullivan, Dutchess and Ulster counties — reported 837 positive student cases between Sept. 13 and Sept. 24. This represents about 0.2% of total public school enrollment in the seven counties, which was 322,893 students as of 2019-20. The state Health Department posted the numbers this morning on a “COVID-19 Report Card.” The department posted similar numbers through the last school year, but had taken down the report card to make modifications. though, a second set of statistics leaves some reason to doubt the validity of the numbers. The dashboard also includes the number of positive cases reported by testing laboratories for people between the ages of 5 and 17 in each district. In many cases, this number is significantly larger than the numbers reported by districts. This discrepancy is due to “reporting lag times and other variables,” according to the dashboard. The Health Department says it is reporting both sets of numbers to keep the public “fully informed.”

Great Barrington residential school staffer charged with the forcible rape of a girl

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-school-staff-charged-rape-of-student/article_509b03f2-1fbb-11ec-a4bc-4bf4bfd75789.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — An employee of a residential school for girls with severe behavioral and psychiatric issues is accused of forcibly raping a girl multiple times. School employees and police say they have seen the alleged abuse on surveillance video. Douglas Agyeh, 41, of Pittsfield, was arraigned Sept. 16 in Southern Berkshire District Court in connection with the rape of a student who is under the age of 16 at Brookside Intensive Treatment Unit in late August and early September. Agyeh is charged with one count each of rape of a child with force and aggravated statutory rape. The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office moved for a dangerousness hearing, and Judge John McKenna released Agyeh on the condition that he surrender his passport, stay away from the alleged victim and the school and have no unsupervised visits with a child under the age of 18. McKenna set a pretrial hearing date for Nov. 8. Agyeh, who is now suspended from his job, was arrested on Sept. 13 after two employees of Hillcrest Educational Centers Inc., which runs Brookside, reported their ongoing internal investigation to Great Barrington police, according to court documents.

FilmColumbia, Columbia County’s premier annual cultural event, will return, October 22-31, after last year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 10-day festival in Chatham, NY, will present world-class independent and international features and documentaries, plus post-screening Q&As with directors and special tributes, all presented by The Crandell Theatre. The number of films, nearly 40 this year, is slightly reduced from previous years to accommodate added health and safety measures, including proof of vaccination for all attendees and staff, required mask-wearing indoors at all times, reduced seating capacity at the Crandell and the use of only one primary venue for festival events. Additionally, the festival will implement an individual ticketing system and, therefore, no festival passes will be offered this year. The annual pre-festival benefit reception has been cancelled, as well. FilmColumbia will kick off on Friday, October 22. Among other noteworthy festival events are two post-screening, in-person director Q&A’s: with Lapine for In the Company of Rose on October 24, a documentary he directed about noted poet and human rights activist Rose Styron, widow of author William Styron, and with acclaimed food critic and Columbia County resident Ruth Reichl for Julia on October 27, a new documentary about iconic cook, writer and social activist Julia Child from the Oscar-nominated directors of RBG. As always, FilmColumbia’s annual highly anticipated Saturday Night Sneak, an unannounced film that traditionally joins the list of Oscar contenders announced four months later, will screen at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 30. The complete FilmColumbia 2021 lineup is available now at https://crandelltheatre.org/filmcolumbia/. Online tickets to FilmColumbia 2021 for Crandell Theater members will begin on October 4 at 9 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Online sales for the general public will begin on October 16 at 9 a.m. For details of ticket sales procedures and to purchase tickets, please go to http://www.filmcolumbia.org/. This year’s health and safety protocols will be posted on the FilmColumbia website.

The 10th Annual Brew-Ski Fest returns to the Salisbury Ski Jumps Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Salisbury Fall Festival may be canceled for this year, but the 10th Annual Brew-Ski Fest returns to the Salisbury Ski Jumps Sunday, October 10, 2021 with music, pumpkins, corn stalk sand over 30 craft breweries offering visitors over 200 examples of their best brews. For the past 10 years, the popular event has been delighting beer aficionados with its rich diverse beer offerings in a fun intimate setting. This is no cattle call you see. Unlike the big beer-tasting events where you stand in line seemingly forever to get a taste, at Brew-Ski you walk right up, ask for a beverage and chat with knowledgeable folks from breweries around the country. Stateline Wine and Spirits which sponsors and organizes Brew-Ski Fest to benefit Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA), boasts an exciting lineup of popular beers including Abomination, Athletic Brewing Company, Berkshire Brewing Company, Black Hog, Brewery Legitimus, Captain Lawrence, Counter Weight, Devils Back Bone, Dogfish Brewery, Elysian, Fat Orange Cat, Founders, Full Moonshine, Goose Island, Great Falls Brewery, Harpoon, Half Full, Jack Daniels’ Cocktails, Litchfield Distillery, Makku, Miami Cocktails, New England Brewing Company, Norbrook, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Skygazer, Troegs, Two Chicks, Two Roads, and UFO. The folks from Sunday in the Country Food Drive will be offering brats, burgers and dogs for sale to benefit their food program. The Steve Dunn Band will provide live music. Tickets for Brew-Ski Fest are $30 per person in advance and $35 at the door. Advance tickets are available online at www.brewskifest.com and at Stateline Wine and Spirits in Canaan, 860 824-7295 and Ledgebrook Spirit Shop in Winsted, 860 379-4216. Proceeds from the event, which will be held rain or shine, will benefit SWSA’s youth skiing programs. And don’t forget the hugely popular Golf Ball Roll! Buy a numbered golf ball and watch as hundreds of them cascade down the ski jump landing hill- the ball that travels furthest wins the prize. Visit brewskifest.com for more information.

Proposed Canaan ordinances get tweaked Selectmen respond to suggestions on blight, food trucks

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/09/26/proposed-canaan-ordinances-get-tweaked/

CANAAN – The selectmen will tweak the language on proposed ordinances after listening to suggestions at a hearing this past week and then will hold another hearing to explain the changes. Selectmen Christian Allyn and Craig Whiting have been working with groups of citizens to come up with the ordinances that would address concerns in the town, including abandoned premises and motor vehicles, food trucks and tax abatements for commercial enterprises. Allyn began by going over the abandoned premises proposal, which pertains to any building or structure that is unoccupied or occupied by unauthorized individuals and where several conditions exist. These include a determination by town officials that the structure poses a serious threat to the health, safety and general welfare to the occupants or others, that it’s being used for illegal purposes, violations of fire and health codes are apparent and there are several examples of the property not being properly maintained. If such evidence is found, written complaints may be submitted to the authority having jurisdiction, and an inspection will be conducted. Allyn said the building official will be that authority. If violations are found, he will contact the property owner, who must schedule an inspection. If that is not done, the selectmen will schedule a hearing within 30 days of submission of the complaint to try to resolve the problem. If that doesn’t happen, the property owner could be fined $100 a day, be forced to abate the violation at his own expense, or if the town has to remediate, a lien for such costs could be placed on the property.

Subdivision proposal in Kent receives criticism

BY Ruth Epstein REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Subdivision proposal in Kent receives criticism

KENT — Concerns about a subdivision being proposed at 227 North Main Street (Route 7) were raised at a recent hearing of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will be continued on Oct. 14. Angelica and Andrew Bacon of Long Island City, N.Y., and Erik Tietz of Cornwall submitted an application to build and market 13 single-family houses on close to 13 acres on a piece of property that has been considered the “northern gateway” to the town. It is one of the last open properties in the village residential zone. Plans also call for two community spaces, one housing the existing barn near the front of the land, and the second would contain a small community center and pool in the rear. The remainder of the back section will be kept as part of a conservation easement that calls for 40% of open space, with a forest and hayfield retained. The application is being sought through the special permit process. Commission Chairman Matt Winter reported at the start of the hearing that 28 letters on the topic were received by the commission and it was pretty unanimous that not many favored the project. Paul Szymanski of Arthur Howland Associates is the engineer on the project. He said he’s been in contact with several entities, including the state Department of Transportation, the town’s Sewer Commission, the Kent Volunteer Fire Department assistant chief and the town’s engineer. There are still some unanswered questions, he said. He went through the Homeowners’ Association Covenants, noting that if any changes are made in the future, they must come back to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the town’s Architectural Review Board.

Connecticut School leaders: Virus not hindering in-person learning

School leaders: Virus not hindering in-person learning

Public school superintendents across Litchfield County have seen few students and school employees come down with COVID-19 during the first month of the school year. School leaders call the low numbers of virus cases and students and employees who’ve had to quarantine either due to being infected with the virus or being exposed to someone who is a sign of relief, especially with all schools offering full in-person learning. All 205 of the state’s public school districts are following a new state law that requires full in-person learning to be offered this year, eliminating remote options offered last year. Students who need to quarantine are still able to access remote learning opportunities. State officials have not set a threshold as to a specific number of cases and quarantines that would trigger an entire district into full remote learning, Waterbury Superintendent Verna Ruffin said. A total of 728 students across the state had the virus as of Thursday, according to the latest weekly update of cases in schools. Of those cases, 650 were unvaccinated. A total of 127 school employees tested positive, with 85 of those from fully vaccinated, the case tracker shows. There were 513,079 students and 52,005 full-time certified employees in Connecticut public schools last year. The state Department of Education has not updated these numbers for this year.

Dutchess, Orange eligible for FEMA assistance on Ida repairs, individuals excluded

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/09/24/ida-dutchess-orange-among-those-fema-eligible/5848421001/

Federal assistance is being made available for municipalities in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Rockland counties to rebuild and recover publicly owned infrastructure damaged by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Certain private non-profit organizations also are eligible for the public assistance grants, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, in Dutchess, Orange and Putnam, that assistance is still not being made available to individuals. The counties’ additions were determined by joint damage assessments conducted by the state and FEMA.

Columbia County taxpayers, environment to benefit from major energy efficiency project

Columbia County has announced completion of an energy efficiency project at the county Public Safety Building that carries significant environmental benefits and cost-savings for taxpayers. The $2.7 million project, completed on-time and on-budget, will result in annual savings of approximately $138,000 and is expected to pay for itself over the life of the project financing with annual energy reductions. In addition, utility contributions to this energy savings project will add another $80,000 in savings for the project. The primary purpose of the project, led by Board of Supervisors Deputy Chairman and Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ron Knott, was to replace outdated heating and cooling systems, lighting fixtures, electrical control panels and implement various other energy-saving measures at the 30-year-old county correctional facility. The facility is home to the offices of the county sheriff, 911 services, as well as the county jail. The project was developed and completed in conjunction with Centrica Business Solutions, a leading energy efficiency firm. “Centrica Business Solutions’ engineers did a great job designing and specifying the project, and its contractors worked really well within tight parameters,” said Supervisor Knott. “Remember, one of the facility’s main uses is as a jail. It’s a tough building to work in and there were access hurdles to overcome to ensure that we maintained control and security during the installation. They achieved all of that during COVID-19, when we had even more restrictions in place, which was very impressive.” Supervisor Knott, who also serves as chair of the county Public Works Committee, worked closely with Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett on the implementation of the project, so this project is a real winner. ” Following completion of the project, said Supervisor Knott, “Centrica Business Solutions monitored the performance of the equipment for a period of time to make sure we were achieving the projected savings and efficiencies. The results are coming through.”

School bus problem in Connecticut could get worse

School bus problem in state could get worse

Gov. Ned Lamont refused to budge Friday on requiring bus drivers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly despite the possibility his mandate could worsen the state’s driver shortage. Lamont ruled out pushing back Monday’s deadline for school bus drivers to either get or schedule a first dose of vaccine, or, alternatively, produce negative test results at least once a week to give drivers more time. The same applies to state employees in the executive branch, pre-K-12 teachers and school staff, and child care workers covered under the same emergency order. Lamont said he does not expect any problems getting students to schools on Monday due to bus drivers refusing to comply with his vaccine-or-testing mandate. The governor also ruled out authorizing school districts to switch to remote learning as an option if there are not enough bus drivers to cover routes in some districts.

Lamont won’t budge on deadline for workers to get vaccine

Lamont won’t budge on deadline for workers to get vaccine

Gov. Ned Lamont says Connecticut is prepared to deliver Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots in even larger numbers after U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the extra shot for more Americans than anticipated. Lamont said the state will adapt its distribution plans after the CDC authorized Pfizer-BioNTech boosters for essential workers in addition to older and medically vulnerable Americans. He said the state has ample COVID-19 vaccine and administration capabilities to handle the increased numbers of Connecticut residents who will become eligible for a Pfizer booster once they are six months past their last of their initial two Pfizer doses.

New Cogswell bridge panned, some oppose design

BY RUTH EPSTEIN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

New Cogswell bridge panned, some oppose design

CORNWALL — While Cornwall is known for its iconic covered bridge, another bridge has been the focus of townspeople over the past year. The refurbishment of the small bridge on Cogswell Road has brought out many concerns. Both neighbors of the span and those from other parts of town have expressed dismay that the historic structure no longer has its original charm and appeal. They object to the heavy galvanized steel that replaced stone. The topic was again raised at this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting when First Selectman Gordon M. Ridgway said he’d met with Bruce Bennett, who is part of a group seeking modifications to the current look. “I didn’t support the requests in our conversation,” related Ridgway. “I ran their recommendations before an engineer who didn’t think it was a good approach.” Bennett was at the meeting and said what the group is looking for is adding some aesthetics to the bridges on town roads. “Curb appeal can make or break a town,” he said.

Riiska, Norfolk land use officer clash over permit

BY KATHRYN BOUGHTON REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Riiska, Norfolk land use officer clash over permit

NORFOLK — Sparks flew at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last week when First Selectman Matthew Riiska filed an incomplete application for a special permit to use the transfer station property for processing materials. Riiska contested Land Use Officer Michael Halloran’s assertion that a special exception is needed for the site, arguing that the land has been owned by the town since 1886, and has been used for a town farm, a landfill, transfer station and as a location to store materials for road maintenance. He said all the uses pre-date zoning, which would make them grandfathered uses. But Halloran said Riiska was informed that a special permit is needed, as well as a permit from the Inland Wetlands Commission. Riiska insists that wetlands are not an issue on the site and said he will not apply for a permit.

Dutchess begins fall with COVID cases dropping

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/09/24/covid-dutchess-active-cases-drop-below-700/5849066001/

Dutchess County ended a summer soured by a deadly spike in COVID-19 cases with reason for optimism. For the first time since Aug. 12, the county’s number of active cases dipped below 700 at the start of this week, and remained there on Wednesday, the first day of fall. The trend comes as temperatures begin to drop, daylight shortens and residents enter a period in which more events will be held indoors, which health officials say can contribute to greater risk of virus spread. The county has also seen a reduction in its average positivity rate and the number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19. However, the number of deaths among county residents has continued to grow.

Jasper Johns, America’s greatest living artist, plants his flag in two museums

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/entertainment/arts/2021/09/22/jasper-johns-flags-exhibit-whitney-philadelphia-mind-mirror/8370270002/

Who doesn’t love a subway series? Two venues, twice the excitement. And what goes for baseball fans, shuttling between stadiums, also goes for art lovers. “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror” is an experiment. A single art exhibition, shared between two different museums 94 miles apart. But it will probably send fans scurrying to their local depot to purchase commuter tickets, between Sept. 29 and Feb.13. After all, Johns is one of the MVPs of American art. “Johns was a trailblazer because he turned his attention to everyday things — a target, a flag — which he depicted so plainly that people almost didn’t think they were art,” said Scott Rothkopf, curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, which is hosting one half of the exhibit. “He’s really such a towering figure — we just try to pay justice to his complexity,” said Carlos Basualdo, curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is hosting the other half. Both curators worked closely with each other, with input from Johns himself, to create the dual shows, which are meant to mirror each other — just as the art of Johns, with its multiple takes on the same subject, often mirrored itself. Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St., Manhattan; 212-570-3600, whitney.org
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia; 215-763-8100, philamuseum.org

Great Barrington official defends marijuana tax against claims of ‘legalized extortion’

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-official-defends-marijuana-tax-against-claims-of-legalized-extortion/article_152f4f1a-1667-11ec-b4f5-db1ae4370588.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — A community impact fee levied against marijuana businesses does not amount to “legalized extortion,” a Select Board member said recently. Edward Abrahams’ defense of the town’s 3 percent fee on marijuana sales comes at a time when the fee is coming under increased scrutiny in municipalities across the state. The Hampshire County city of Northampton announced this year that it no longer would collect the impact fee from cannabis businesses unless a specific impact can be identified related to specific cannabis businesses. State lawmakers have filed bills advocating that the fee be nixed altogether or that its scope be narrowed. The impact fees are one of two separate taxes that provide municipalities with a source of cannabis-related revenue. The second is a 3 percent local sales tax added to the state excise and sales taxes. Unlike the sales tax, the impact fees are negotiated between municipalities and cannabis applicants under state-mandated host community agreements. By law, the impact fees collected by the town must be used for programs or expenses related to offsetting potential negative effects of marijuana use. Priority is given to town-based groups and organizations, particularly those that educate adolescents about the potential danger of marijuana use on young brains. Abrahams, the Select Board’s point person for cannabis businesses in Great Barrington, assured the board Monday that the town legally is collecting and distributing the fees, all according to guidelines set by the state Cannabis Control Commission and according to the town’s agreement with marijuana businesses. “And we are spending the money specifically to target negative impacts,” he said. The town has taken in more than $6.7 million in cannabis-related revenues dating to fiscal year 2019, when Theory Wellness, the first recreational dispensary in the Berkshires, opened. The community impact fees account for nearly half of the $6.7 million the town has collected.

A message from Columbia Memorial Health CMH Rapid Care in Copake

Effective Friday, October 1, the hours for the CMH Rapid Care office located at 283 Mountain View Rd in Copake will be 9-3pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The CMH Emergency Room located at 71 Prospect Ave in Hudson is open 24 hours a day – 7 days per week. Telemedicine is available daily – go to the telehealth link at https://www.columbiamemorialhealth.org/telehealth/

Freshman class up by 40% at HVRHS

By Patrick L. Sullivan

https://tricornernews.com

FALLS VILLAGE — Housatonic Valley Regional High School Principal Ian Strever told the Region One Board of Education that enrollment at the high school is up — unofficially. The regional board held its regular monthly meeting online on Monday, Sept. 13. Official enrollment numbers are calculated as of Oct. 1 each year. However, Strever told the board that on the first day of school, there were 101 freshmen, representing a 40% increase, and 344 total students, for a 9% increase.

Cell Tower Approved In Lakeville

By Patrick L. Sullivan

https://tricornernews.com

LAKEVILLE — In a decision dated Aug. 26, 2021, the Connecticut Siting Council approved a cell tower at 106 Sharon Road in Lakeville. The approved tower will be 94 feet tall. At the moment the carrier on the tower will be AT&T, with the possibility of “other public or private entities to share space on the proposed tower.”

Millerton Board will only permit MPD to hire seasoned officers

https://tricornernews.com

THE MILLERTON NEWS, Thursday, September 23, 2021

MILLERTON — There has been some scuttlebutt in the village of Millerton surrounding its police force once again, as tends to happen every couple of years. This time, it’s surrounding the Village Board’s recent pronouncement that it will no longer allow the Millerton Police Department (MPD) to hire inexperienced officers to work on its part-time force. Mayor Jenn Najdek confirmed the decision was made during a closed-door executive session during which both legal and personnel matters were discussed, at a July Village Board meeting. Afterward she informed MPD Officer-in-Charge Mike Veeder of the decision. Najdek also said the reason the matter was handled in that manner was because Veeder never responded to her initial invitation to meet with her and Deputy Mayor Alicia Sartori after she first took office following the June elections.

Pine Plains first to allow local pot sales while Amenia drags on

By KAITLIN LYLE

http://tricornernews.com

HARLEM VALLEY — With the clock ticking until New York State’s end-of-year deadline for municipalities to opt in or out of permitting cannabis dispensaries and lounges, the Pine Plains Town Board voted to allow cannabis dispensaries but not lounges at its meeting on Thursday, Sept. 16.

Region One Suffering Bus Driver Shortages

Dear Region 1 Families and Staff:

I am writing to you today to keep everyone informed with respect to some challenges we are facing and may continue to encounter with respect to bus transportation. As you are likely aware, there is a shortage of bus drivers throughout the State which has impacted bus routes, the length of bus runs and the start and finish times of the school day in many districts. This driver shortage has been a long-standing problem throughout the State that has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. While our Region has not been as negatively impacted by this most recent shortage, we are beginning to experience a decrease in driver availability that has affected and could continue to affect bus routes and schedules. A summary of the situation in Region 1 is as follows:

● Last week, the sudden resignation of a driver in the Salisbury district led to the consolidation of routes and resulted in a change in the bus schedule and ride time as well as an increased number of students on the other busses in Salisbury. This staffing change has also impacted our bus schedule for middle school sports and activities. All Region 1 staff involved in planning the transportation logistics for Salisbury and the middle school sports and activities have worked closely with All Star Transportation staff to facilitate a transportation schedule that can work for everyone involved.

● By September 27, per Executive Order No. 13G (“Order”), all public school employees and the contract workers who have contact with children must be fully vaccinated or be in the process of becoming vaccinated unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption and/or opt of weekly testing, Bus drivers are covered by the Order and must attest to Region 1 that they are in compliance with all of its requirements. We have been notified that there may be a limited number of drivers who may not comply with the Order and therefore will no longer be able to drive our buses. We are working with All Star Transportation staff to understand which routes may be impacted and we will communicate with families as soon as we have that information. All Star Transportation staff is doing all that they can to encourage compliance with the Order. They are also advertising to attract new drivers. Finally, Governor Lamont is aware of this situation and is working with CSDE and CAPSS to provide drivers in order to ensure continuity of transportation.

We will continue to work with All Star to minimize the negative impact of any changes in driver availability. We will also express our need to participate in any relief that the State can supply to alleviate the problem. Finally, we will give you as much advance notice as possible if/when changes to bus routes must occur.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this issue. We thought that you should be aware of the situation in Region 1 and understand that we are doing all that we can to avoid bus service disruption. We are fortunate to have great partners on the All Star team who will do the best job possible to ensure that the buses are running so that our students can remain in school.

Kent ponders telemedicine office in town

BY RUTH EPSTEIN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Kent ponders telemedicine office in town

KENT – A proposal by Nuvance Health to place a telemedicine office in the town’s senior center needs further research before any decisions are made. First Selectman Jean Speck introduced the idea at last week’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen. She noted that concerns were raised when the only doctor’s office in town, Kent Primary Care, closed its doors in May. At that time, she said she’d look into alternative ways to provide certain types of health care to the community, since rural primary care “is not an easy thing to deliver and there was not enough support for a bricks and mortar, old-fashioned traditional office here.” Andrea Rynn, assistant vice president of communications, government and public relations at Nuvance, attended the meeting and acknowledged the concern expressed by residents when Kent Primary Care, which was part of the Nuvance system, closed. “It was unsettling to many and I understand why,” she said. “We’ve been working to implement a number of strategies to access care to the people of Kent.” She said Nuvance would like to install a pilot telemedicine program in Kent at the unused office space at the senior center. It would provide the necessary internet equipment, a navigator to give assistance to those using the program and would keep the facility clean between patients. There would be no charge for rent. A memorandum of understanding would spell out the details to avoid risks, she said.

Westchester has most eviction filings by county outside of New York City, state data show

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/09/23/ny-counties-most-eviction-filings-outside-nyc-westchester/5803781001/

Westchester County landlords filed the state’s most eviction notices outside of New York City’s five boroughs during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to state data released Tuesday. Despite eviction moratoria shielding some tenants from eviction during the pandemic, Westchester landlords filed close to 6,500 cases for evictions in 2020 and 2021 as of Monday. Filings for the Lower Hudson Valley county, with 2,183 in 2021 alone, were higher than counties such as Nassau and Suffolk that have larger total populations, data from the New York State Unified Court System showed. The statewide dashboard compiles eviction filings from New York City Civil Court, as well as city, district, town and village courts dating back to 2019. It breaks down to zip codes, though there are limitations for court filings that didn’t list one.

Halloween horror: Pittsfield’s annual Halloween parade has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/central_berkshires/pittsfield-halloween-parade/article_890f64f6-1bcb-11ec-af96-8f254be592d7.html

The city’s annual Halloween parade has been canceled for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials from the city’s Community Development Department told the Parks Commission on Tuesday night that the in-person parade will be replaced by virtual events this year. “There will be no Halloween parade again this year unfortunately, but I am planning the three virtual contests again: the pumpkin carving, the costume contests and the house decorating,” said Becky Manship, recreation and special events coordinator for the city. Manship said more information about the Halloween festivities will be released before the start of October. For now, trick-or-treating is tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. Last year, trick-or-treating was discouraged, but left to parents’ discretion.

Billy Crystal bringing musical version of ‘Mr. Saturday Night’ to Barrington Stage Company

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/arts_and_culture/arts-theater/billy-crystal-mr-saturday-night-barrington-stage-co/article_d3df636e-1ba8-11ec-bdda-0729843309d8.html

PITTSFIELD — Billy Crystal is bringing his new musical, “Mr. Saturday Night,” to Barrington Stage Company’s Boyd-Quinson Stage for nine performances at the end of October.

If you go …
What: “Mr. Saturday Night,” a new musical in development
With: Billy Crystal, Randy Graff, David Paymer and Chasten Harmon
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22, 26, 27, 28 and 29; 8 p.m. Oct. 23; 3 p.m. Oct. 23, 24, and 30
Where: Barrington Stage’s Boyd-Quinson Stage, 38 Union St., Pittsfield
Tickets: $100 to $135. 413-236-8888; barringtonstageco.org
Crystal reprises the role of stand-up comedian Buddy Young Jr., who he played in the original 1992 Castle Rock Entertainment/New Line Cinema motion picture of the same name.