Latest Tri-State News Headlines Updated December 2, 2021 5 AM

Artistic Director Alan M-L Wager and Managing Director Robert Exiting Stage Right

SHARON, CT- November 29, 2021—The Sharon Playhouse, one of Connecticut’s leading regional
theaters, has announced that artistic director Alan M-L Wager and managing director Robert
Levinstein, are leaving their posts, effective December 31. Both have been with The Playhouse
since 2018.

“I am both terribly sad and extremely grateful.” said Emily Soell, president of the theater’s board of
directors. “In their four years with us Robert and Alan have been instrumental in bringing the
Playhouse to a new era of financial stability and respect in the community and beyond. They have
helped us to deliver the exceptional and elevated level of entertainment, education and inclusion
that the Playhouse now enjoys. Their energy, creativity, tireless work ethic and refusal to be
discouraged by the daunting circumstances of the pandemic are beyond admirable.”
“They continue to give us their best,” Soell added. “They will stay on the job through the rest of the
year to shepherd our last three 2021 productions. We will miss them. But we are better for having
them lead our theater these past years.

After nearly two decades at Scoville, director Claudia Cayne steps down

https://tricornernews.com

Cayne is retiring, with her last official day on Dec. 3. Cayne won’t be completely gone from the library. Cayne  said she has agreed to continue handling adult programs as long as she’s needed.

Millerton to lose one of its churches

https://tricornernews.com

While closing doors has been the plight of many churches nationwide between the

changing culture and COVID-19, the Millerton community was nonetheless

has learned  of the First Presbyterian Church of Millerton’s plans to close in the next couple of months. Having struggled with its diminishing attendance of congregants, the church

has decided to struggle no more by closing in January.

With eviction moratorium expiring, these Pine Plains seniors search for scarce places to go

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/01/eviction-moratorium-end-forces-pine-plains-ny-seniors-find-new-homes/8723006002/

Harry Holleufer knows he’s on borrowed time.

The 98-year-old veteran received a tenancy termination notice from his landlord in August stating he must leave his townhouse by Nov. 23 or the new owner, Stissing Farm Townhomes, would start eviction proceedings. 

That didn’t stop Holleufer from paying his rent last month, like he’d done for the past 11 years.

“I’m staying here. They have to throw me out,” said Holleufer, sitting at his kitchen table, scattered with papers sent to him from landlords, past and present, and coasters he collected from his travels. In the living room, where he is working on a 500-piece puzzle, is a photo of his wife, who passed away in March.

He and his wife chose this townhouse for its stone counters, good floors and because there weren’t any stairs. The $1,230 per month unit was the perfect size for a couple, at 1,147 square feet with a small backyard. Holleufer remembers the previous landlord telling him it was a place to “stay for the rest of our lives.”

Ten units, most of them home to elderly individuals and couples, make up the largely vacant development called the Town Centre at Pine Plains Active Adult Condominium Community. The property is widely considered affordable housing, though there is nothing legally stipulating it as such.  

The new plan, under a new majority owner, is to convert the existing units to be sold rather than rented, and develop the rest of the property to do the same.

That left residents with a choice. They could purchase their homes at prices those who spoke to the Journal said would be unaffordable and above what should be expected in Pine Plains. Or, they could seek a new place to live amid the holiday season in a market that features soaring prices and few available housing options in the county, let alone in northern Dutchess.

It’s unclear how many of the tenants have left since the terminations were sent out in August, dated for the week of Thanksgiving.

Residents, many of them elderly, veterans or disabled, have sought relief through Hudson River Housing and Legal Services of the Hudson Valley and by filling out the state’s tenant hardship declaration application, although that will only protect them until Jan. 15, when the state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire. Justin Haines, supervising attorney at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley’s Dutchess office, said they are “investigating the cases of several individuals,” but would not elaborate on what recourse they may have.

Town and county officials have contacted the state in hopes of finding help for the seniors. 

The county asked for someone at the state Attorney General’s Office who investigates “rental housing displacement” to look into the situation, according to an email sent from the assistant county executive’s office. 

Hochul deploying National Guard to aid short-staffed NY nursing homes. 

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/12/01/hochul-deploying-national-guard-aid-short-staffed-ny-nursing-homes/8824832002/

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday deployed 60 National Guard medical teams to aid nursing homes in New York facing staffing shortages amid surging COVID-19 infections.

The medical teams will assist at nursing homes and long-term care facilities where the need for additional resources has been identified, the governor’s office said in a statement.

The deployment consists of 120 total National Guard members from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force separated into two-person teams, said Colonel Richard Goldenberg, a New York National Guard spokesman.

All of the guard members will be medical technicians or combat medics, which are effectively equivalent to emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, in the private sector, Goldenberg said.

Three car accident on Route 22 last night

Eastern Dutchess County Fire and Rescue reported a 2 car head-on crash with 3 vehicles Involved
last night. Town Of Amenia Medic Under Mutual Aid Route 22 was shut down. A possible entrapment in the accident was reported possible entrapment.

NY COVID testing up 42% from last fall

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/11/29/how-find-covid-tests-ny-what-know-amid-42-spike-tests/8749948002/

As the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant surged this fall, New York’s coronavirus testing rate increased by more than 42% from the prior year while identifying infections early remained crucial in limiting outbreaks. The statewide tally of COVID-19 tests topped 14.2 million between Sept. 1 and Nov. 23. That’s up from about 10 million tests during the same period a year ago. The ongoing testing spike this fall comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many communities outside the New York City area outpaced the same period last year, despite a statewide partial COVID-19 vaccination rate of about 77%. Beyond rising coronavirus cases, New York’s increase in testing also stemmed from state regulations requiring some unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing.

Short-term rental bylaw in Great Barrington would not ‘magically create’ more long-term housing, some say

GREAT BARRINGTON — While town officials inch closer toward a proposal to regulate short-term rentals, there is little agreement that any such regulation would accomplish one of its original objectives: that of freeing up significant housing units for much-needed long-term rentals. “I think if we’re going to talk about housing, we need to talk about housing. Short-term rentals are not, in my opinion, co-related in any way,” Pedro Pachano, a member of the Planning Board, said Monday evening, at a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Select Board. Town officials say that about 34 percent of Great Barrington’s 2,830 households are rental properties. About 180 of those households are available as short-term, vacation-style rentals. A proposed bylaw, in its current form, would make about 56 of those households ineligible for use as short-term rentals. In order to go into effect, a bylaw restricting short-term rentals first would have to be approved at town meeting in spring. Both boards agreed Monday that, as a draft bylaw continues to take shape, less emphasis should be placed on how effective it might be in freeing up long-term rentals in a town that currently has zero available long-term rentals.

Guthrie Center aims to raise $20,000 in Giving Tuesday campaign

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/guthrie-center-hosting-giving-tuesday-fundraiser/article_a062272c-5205-11ec-b3f0-c3684441d926.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Guthrie Center is asking members of the community to consider donating to the nonprofit for Giving Tuesday. Those interested in making a donation should visit tinyurl.com/5afnr7ej. Facebook pays for the processing fee, so, 100 percent of the donation goes to the Guthrie Center. The fundraiser seeks to raise $20,000 over four days for the center, which is in the old Trinity Church and made famous by Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving anthem “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” In a Facebook post, the nonprofit said that its weekly Free Community Lunch has been giving meals to people in need for more than 20 years.

Kent P&Z to decide on proposed 13-lot development

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/29/kent-pz-to-decide-on-proposed-13-lot-development/

KENT – The Planning and Zoning Commission has begun deliberating on an application for a 13-lot conservation development on North Main Street (Route 7), but tabled making a decision until its meeting in December. The issue has been a hot topic with many residents who are upset that the meadow considered the northern gateway to the town will be developed. Most of the comments made during the hearing sessions expressed opposition to the plan with several suggestions that the number of houses be reduced and the southern section of the parcel remain undeveloped. A group of residents is working with the developers to try to come up with a plan that they say won’t be as dramatic. During the commission’s deliberations, newly elected Chairman Wesley Wyrick said the commission did set up conservation developments as an incentive for this type of development. He spoke of the many benefits, such as a single road leading into the property, architecture that can be regulated and more control by the commission. But commissioner Marc Weingarten said he doesn’t think the commission has given adequate consideration to the view shed, which is criteria listed in both the site plan and the special permit application. He would like to either see three of the southernly houses that block the view removed or moved to the back of the property. Commissioner Darrell Cherniske said putting the houses out back would contradict the regulations because of the steep slope in that location, which cannot exceed 25%. “Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t mean it’s environmentally correct. I’d rather gerrymander development along the Route 7 corridor where there would be less impact.” He noted that most development in the town is along Route 7. “Why can’t they compromise?” asked commissioner Karen J. Casey, who has repeatedly said she believes there are too many houses being proposed for the site. “Let’s not destroy our town because our regulations say there’s a possibility they can do it. It makes no sense.” Commissioner Adam Manes said the property was put on the market and purchased. “Right now the applicants have done what they’re supposed to do.” Casey acknowledged the developers have done a good job, “but they’re not listening to how the town and community feels about it. They’re not doing anything to change how we feel. I don’t feel they’re sensitive to it.”

Lamont: No new mask mandates for now as infections surge

Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday ruled out imposing a statewide mask mandate or new emergency precautions to guard against the newly identified omicron variant of the coronavirus. While the infection rate is increasing in Connecticut, Lamont said he sees no need to take additional actions at this time because of the state’s high vaccination rate and the increasing number of people getting vaccinated for the first time and booster doses. “Right now, I don’t foresee any new restrictions being necessary. We have a lot of capacity in our hospitals,” he said. “People I hope are beginning again to pick up the pace on booster shots. I think that should be enough if people do the right things.” Lamont reminded state residents that currently unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks or cloth facing coverings indoors. Mask mandates apply universally in certain settings, including hospitals and other health care facilities, schools, child care centers, public and private transit, and prisons. The governor also cautioned the rules for vaccinated people could change with public health conditions and increasing knowledge about the omicron variant.

Connecticut’s positivity rate jumps to 5.25%

https://www.wfsb.com/news/covid-updates-states-positivity-rate-jumps-to-5-25/article_46ec85a2-3b4e-11ec-9ff6-d795435cbd51.html

On Monday, 420,785 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 2,312 since Friday. Out of 44,045 tests administered, 2,312 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate 5.25%. The current number of hospitalizations is at 354, up by 54 since Friday.

November 29, 20211 Regional COVID Notice – North Canaan

We have received notification about the following positive COVID-19 cases at North Canaan Elementary School:
● an elementary school student and family member
● a family member of a middle school student
Neither the elementary school student nor the middle school student has been in the building since November 23. Neither family member has been in the building and neither has had contact with any staff or students other than the students who live in their homes. 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.

What you need to know about COVID booster shots

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/29/what-you-need-to-know-about-covid-booster-shots/

While Connecticut has one of the top five COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, the state’s booster shot rate ranks closer to the middle of the 50 states. State officials are concerned because the infection rate is increasing amid the onset of colder, dry weather that helps respiratory viruses spread and the year-end holiday season that is conducive to community spread. By Thanksgiving, the number of towns and cities on the state’s highest COVID-19 alert status more than tripled from 31 out of 169 at the start of November to 110. At this time, more than 416,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state’s outbreak, and there have been more than 41,000 hospital admissions. The death toll is approaching 8,900.

Home Town Holiday Trees Set Up In Salisbury

The Tri-State Chamber of Commerce devoted elves launched the holiday season today!!! Adopt-A-Tree, one of our community’s most cherished traditions, is up and glimmering with magical lights (solar-powered this year!!!)

All Sharon residents are invited to attend a Community Meeting this Wednesday evening, Dec. 1, at 6:30 pm

All Sharon residents are invited to attend a Community Meeting this Wednesday evening, Dec. 1, at 6:30 pm to discuss how the town should spend the $800,000 in federal Covid relief dollars it was allocated under the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. The Sharon ARPA Advisory Committee will host the meeting in person at Town Hall and online on Zoom. The number of people who can attend the in-person meeting is limited because of pandemic restrictions, but all residents can participate online. You can get the link by going to sharoncovidrecovery.org or by accessing the meeting agenda on the Sharon Town Hall website at sharonct.org. If you haven’t filled out the resident survey asking for your opinion on how the money should be spent, please go to the website at sharoncovidrecovery.org and do that before the end of the day tomorrow. You can also pick up paper copies of the survey at Town Hall, the post office and the library.

Rise in COVID cases prompts Ulster County to declare state of emergency

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/11/28/ulster-county-ny-declares-state-emergency-rising-covid-cases/8786640002/

The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Ulster County recently reached their highest levels since the spring, and county officials responded Sunday by declaring a state of emergency. “With COVID cases and hospitalizations surging, and the emergence of a new and potentially more dangerous variant, we must step up our efforts to ensure the health and safety of all of our residents,” County Executive Pat Ryan said in a press release. The state of emergency, which will be in effect for at least 30 days, allows Ulster County to bolster public health and medical staff resources across the county and more quickly get a hold of COVID-19 testing materials for schools, businesses and families. If necessary, the order also allows the county to ramp up testing, contact tracing, and vaccination efforts.

Shuffling of Kent businesses temporarily paused

Shuffling of Kent businesses temporarily paused

A request for change of use of 24 Main St., the current location of Kent Wine & Spirits from retail to restaurant, was withdrawn until a signed lease is secured for the new enterprise. During a recent meeting, Planning and Zoning Commission members heard an application from Cozzy’s Pizzeria, which is located just a bit north at 6 Kent Green Boulevard, to move to the Kent Wine & Spirits site, which is expected to move to a new location on Bridge Street. The application calls for the restaurant to have 24 seats and will employ three persons per shift. It will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. A grease trap will have to be installed on the premises. The site plan shows 19 parking spaces in the rear. There is also on-street parking available, and the plans will have to be approved by Torrington Area Health District, the building official, fire marshal and Sewer Commission. Commissioners were concerned about approving the application before the package store vacates the premises, which is owned by J. Casey Trust Properties, with Kathleen Moore listed as the representative.

Omicron COVID-19 variant: New York declares state of emergency amid virus surge

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/11/27/omicorn-covid-19-variant-ny-declares-state-emergency/8776598002/

ALBANY – Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency in New York late Friday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and the looming threat of a new variant found recently in South Africa. The move by Hochul comes as hospitals are again warning of being overrun with COVID patients and as the state’s positivity hit 3.8% on Thursday, the highest since mid-April. In some regions, the rates were even higher: nearly 10% in western New York and almost 9% in the Finger Lakes. Are more COVID rules ahead?:The omicron variant has sparked new travel restrictions Hochul said the omicron variant that has stoked fears of a new spread across the globe has yet to be found in New York, but warned it is likely to arrive. Hochul said hospitals should themselves expand hospital capacity in anticipation of the variant hitting New York and because rates are rising.

In Monterey, another complaint, a massive (and expensive) request for documents, and a new flap brewing

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/monterey-town-hall-complaints-open-meeting-law-feud-investigation-public-records/article_bb7a3240-4eed-11ec-a4e6-cbe02653c400.html

MONTEREY— A town official who has filed a slew of complaints with the state for his colleagues’ Open Meeting Law violations is now the subject of one himself. Select Board member John Weingold also will have to pay more than $1,000 for records he has requested from Town Hall. Former Select Board Chairman Donald Coburn filed an Open Meeting Law complaint against Weingold with the Attorney General’s Office because he said an emailed statement Weingold sent on Nov. 17 to the other two board members, just one minute before their meeting was set to begin, was outside of a public meeting and was not placed on the agenda. In that email, Weingold said he would “boycott” meetings until Chairman Steven Weisz stepped down, saying the board isn’t functioning properly due to collusion between Weisz and Town Administrator Melissa Noe in conducting town affairs — which they deny. Coburn’s complaint follows ongoing strife at Town Hall, which is awash in feuds and numerous public records requests, as well as complaints by multiple staff and officials against one another. Board members are working to hire an investigator to pour through it all.

First winter snow hits the Tri-State Area!

It started of as rain, turned to a mixture in the late afternoon, and then to just snow. Depending on your elevation and how far east or west you lived in the the region told the story on how much snow you received! Reports into Robin Hood Radio are as follows:

Millerton around 8 inches (abouve 1,000 feet)

Lakeville 6 inches (above 1,000 feet)

Salisbury 5 inches ( 1,000 feet)

Sharon 2-3 inches (below 1,00 feet)

So winter has officaly arrived!

Connecticut’s positivity rate is at 3.61%

https://www.wfsb.com/news/covid-updates-states-positivity-rate-is-at-3-61/article_46ec85a2-3b4e-11ec-9ff6-d795435cbd51.html?block_id=994127

On Friday, 418,473 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 1,900 since Wednesday. Out of 52,595 tests administered, 1,900 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate 3.61%. The current number of hospitalizations remains at 300. Data on COVID-19 associated deaths is updated every Thursday. However, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, as of Wednesday, 31 new COVID-associated deaths were reported, bringing the total so far since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,865. The number of total tests performed since the pandemic began is now at 12,334,284, an increase of, 52,595 since Thursday.

Founder of Poughkeepsie-based non-profit admits to fraud; organization sued

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/crime/2021/11/26/feds-announce-settlement-poughkeepsie-non-profit-founder/8753291002/

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a federal civil fraud lawsuit against Maranatha Human Services Inc., a Poughkeepsie non-profit that provided services for the developmentally disabled, and its founder, Henry Alfonso Coley. The office announced the suit Wednesday while also announcing a settlement with Coley over individual fraud claims, which includes Coley repaying $220,000 and accepting responsibility. Coley and Maranatha falsely claimed millions of dollars were spent on Medicaid-funded services between 2010 and 2019 when, in fact, they went toward for-profit ventures and salaries for members of Coley’s family, the government said. Coley founded Maranatha in 1988 and served as its chief executive officer until earlier this year.

With the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill done, what’s next for east-west rail in Massachusetts and the Berkshires?

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/infrastructure-bill-mass-dot-study-could-help-massachusetts-with-east-west-rail/article_2b90361c-4bc7-11ec-ad34-2bc8bdeb8477.html

The federal bill allocates $66 billion for Amtrak, a quasi-public corporation, to upgrade and expand its passenger rail service, including for the “Northeast Corridor,” which stretches from Richmond, Va., to Boston. Within that sum, $24 billion would go to federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion in grants would support intercity rail, and Amtrak would receive an additional $22 billion in grants, a White House summary says. Days before the bill’s signing, on Nov. 12, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation released a report recommending that Amtrak operate east-west rail service and a “Western Massachusetts Intercity Rail Authority,” which has yet to be created, to manage and oversee service. Those two developments mean that now is the time to move forward on the project, supporters say. But, even the most bullish observers have concerns with the MassDOT plan, questioning what kind of authority, funding and influence the state would give a Western Massachusetts rail authority. Others doubt whether Amtrak could run service with the speed and affordability commuters need. Supporters long have known the project, which MassDOT has estimated would cost $2.4 billion to $4.6 billion, would require federal money. Many see current discussions about money, operation and governance as a positive development.

Great Barrington’s hot real estate market bumped up home values, helped drop the tax rate

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-real-estate-property-taxes-tax-rate-home-values-tax-bill/article_d32ff5e6-4c95-11ec-b8bf-3f8cbed7bda3.html

A bump in home values might increase residents’ tax bills next year, but with a lower tax rate due to a hot market, they might not rise as high as they previously would have. Commercial property values didn’t soar at the same rate at homes, and so the tax rate drop is going help keep those tax bills down. Water bills are another story. Households will see roughly $150 dollars per year extra on their bills at an overall 8.89 percent increase over last year. The Great Barrington Fire District Water District had to raise its tax because, unlike last year, it didn’t have excess money to keep the rate down. In a presentation to the Select Board Monday, the town’s Principal Assessor, Ross Vivori, said that while the fiscal 2023 tax rate he presented to the board for a vote is down more than a dollar per $1,000 valuation over last year, the median home value rose 11 percent to $348,400. The board voted unanimously to lock in that recommended tax rate of $14.86 per $1,000 valuation, a $1.13 drop and the first decrease in five years. This, in part, is the result of $36.5 million in “new growth” from new construction and remodels since last year.

50 years later, fans still listening to Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Alice’s Restaurant Massacree’

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/arlo-guthrie-thanksgiving-arrest-stockbridge-rick-robbins-obie-draft/article_a7a2edf6-4c9b-11ec-a089-cf53d478c75c.html

Imagine this. You’re 18 years old and you’re crashing at a friend’s place for Thanksgiving weekend. Your friends are preparing the most delicious meal, sure to be the best you’ve had in a long time. But, before you dig in, you’re thinking about some way you could repay them. You take a look around the room and it hits you: Lend a hand by cleaning up the place a bit by taking old pieces of furniture, scraps of wood and cardboard into your van and disposing of it for them. Sounds like a fair deal, a meal for helping around the house. And so you set off, a quick errand. Problem is, when you arrive at the dump, you find it’s closed for the holiday. Shoot. Now, you can’t really take all this garbage back with you … so, what do you do? Looks like someone else had the idea to dump their trash not too far from here … what’s a little more added to the pile? So, you and your buddy toss the rubbish down the side of a 15-foot cliff and head on back to your friend’s place. The deed is done and all is well. Until the phone rings. It’s Officer Obie, and he has traced the trash back to you. Trouble. This is the story of the time Arlo Guthrie and his friend, Richard Robbins, were arrested for littering in Stockbridge on Thanksgiving weekend in 1965. The two friends were guest’s at Alice and Ray Brock’s home, formerly the Trinity Church and now known as The Guthrie Center, an interfaith church established in 1991 in Housatonic. This story is immortalized in a song about 18½ minutes long, and has become a staple on America’s Thanksgiving playlist. Now, over 50 years later, the song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” resonates every Thanksgiving as Americans tune in to hear it on the radio, look it up on the internet or drop the needle on the record player. “Alice’s Restaurant” is Arlo Guthrie’s debut album, released two years after the incident in 1967, and it made it to No. 17 on the Billboard charts, since then selling more than 1 million copies.

Most Connecticut cities and towns in red zone for infections

INTERACTIVE MAP: Most Connecticut cities and towns in red zone for infections

Sixty-five percent of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns are now in the red alert level, the state’s highest of four levels for COVID-19 infections, according to state data released Wednesday as families gather for the Thanksgiving holiday. The 110 communities mark the largest number designated as being in the red zone since April 22, when there were 112, according to state records. This month, the number of Connecticut cities and towns in the red alert zone climbed from 31 on Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 to 67 on Nov. 18 and to 110 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, new data indicate there were 31 new COVID-associated deaths in the state since last Thursday. To date, there have been 8,865 COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut since the pandemic began.

Kent reworks social services director role, now full time

Kent reworks social services director role, now full time

The Board of Selectmen has unanimously supported changing the social services director position to full time at 32 hours per week and at a rate of $30 per hour. Board members also agreed Monday to include Senior Center responsibilities in the position. It was a turnaround from the position taken by the previous board, which balked when former Director Leah Pullaro requested a higher salary to take on additional duties to run Kent Senior Center. On Nov. 3, Pullaro resigned effective Jan. 14, 2022. Pullaro is earning $31.93 per hour for 27 hours a week or $44,824 annually. First Selectman Jean Speck presented data from ZipRecruiter and the Northwestern Hills Council of Governments’ salary survey regarding the rates of pay for social service directors. There is variety in the roles and the pay among the 14 towns that offer some form of services for seniors and residents who are economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable. Speck had attempted to name a hiring committee to interview candidates for the social services director position, but as she tried to name Pullaro to the committee, she declined. Selectman Rufus de Rham has agreed to serve on the panel, as well as Ruth Epstein, who is chairwoman of the Kent Community Fund, and Catherine Bachrach, who is also on the fund’s board of directors and has extensive experience in social services.

Human remains of a skull found on Old Turnpike Road in East Canaan on Sunday

Robin Hood Radio has learned that remains of a skull were found in East Canaan on Sunday. The
skull reportedly was found in the woods in between two houses on that road. The Western Major Crime Unit is investigating the remains.

Canaan trooper has a home

In Your Corner: Canaan trooper has a home

After serving as the interim resident state trooper in Canaan for three months, Spencer Bronson smiles when talking about being chosen for the permanent position. “I’ll bring a small-town feeling to my job,” said the Watertown native, who loves being part of a community and sees that as a big part of his new position. Since Bronson arrived in Canaan, he has found townspeople very accepting, he said. He is promoting a public image to the resident’s job, getting out and about and making himself known, building relationships and becoming familiar with local faces. Bronson is part of the Community Liaison Program at Troop B that works to improve the image of police. He expects to eventually resurrect the DARE program at North Canaan Elementary School and become certified in installing children’s car seats. Residents also will be seeing Bronson riding a bicycle on local streets. He said the town has a bike he hopes to use. He’s working day shifts during the week, but Bronson said he’s willing to adjust his hours to be available when needed. A graduate of Watertown High School, he worked at Gowans-Knight for seven years, a company that builds and services fire trucks. He then worked for the state Department of Correction at Garner Correctional Institution, a mental health facility, before attending the police academy. Upon graduation he was assigned to Troop B in October 2020.

Sharon Town Hall Parking Lot Planning

WMC Consulting Engineers have visited and surveyed the Town Hall Parking Lot to assist with the Expansion Project. We hope to review WMC’s findings at our next meeting and set a date for a discussion of options and opinions. This project is partially funded by a State of Connecticut Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant.

Community Lighting of the Menorah on the Sharon Green

Sunday, November 28th, 2021 @ 4:45 PM
Sharon Town Green
All are welcome.

Dutchess schools are struggling to fill jobs

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/education/2021/11/23/dutchess-schools-staffing-shortages-impacting-workers-students/8528809002/

Across the county, school job postings are cluttered with the same openings at multiple districts. Of the 13 districts in the county, eight are looking for nurses, nine for bus drivers, 11 for food service workers, and 10 for custodial staff. All 13 are looking for teacher’s aides, and a handful are looking to hire school monitors and safety monitors. Larry Anthony, head of a food service department that handles Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Pine Plains schools said he often has to push aside administrative work to jump into the kitchen alongside his crew. Supply chain shortages have also limited what options can be served to students, and even trays must be rationed. The issue is, people are not signing up for positions like they did before, officials say. In many cases, lower pay rates make working for school districts less attractive than work in other industries that may require less hassle and certifications. Non-instructional positions like food service, safety monitors, and teachers aides can range from $12 to $15 per hour. While districts are going through several different and new forms of recruiting, it’s unclear what type of long-term solution can be used to make up for staffing shortages.

Hudson Valley farmers could get debt relief through big funding package in Congress

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/11/23/hudson-valley-farmers-could-get-debts-cut-big-funding-bill-d-c/8726450002/

The proposal, first introduced last year by Maloney and Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand of New York, may now come to fruition as a tiny part of the giant spending bill Democrats have negotiated in Washington for months. The $2.2 trillion overall plan is awaiting action in the Senate after the House of Representatives passed it on Friday in a party-line vote, with all Republicans opposed. Under the modified version of Maloney’s bill in the pending Build Back Better Act, farmers who borrowed money through any of three federal loan programs could have up to $150,000 of their remaining debt eliminated. For those who qualify as economically distressed because of their precarious finances, the government would forgive the entire debt. About $10 billion has been set aside for farm debt relief in the pending package of funding for social programs and climate-change measures. Roughly 1,000 farms in New York stand to benefit, Maloney said on Tuesday.

Cove Bowling Lanes, which has been for sale for several years, will be offered at a foreclosure auction Dec. 15. The property is still open, according to its website.

The auction, by Sullivan & Sullivan Auctioneers of Sandwich, will begin at 11 a.m. at the site on Stockbridge Road. The property had been offered at $4.5 million in 2011, $3.9 million in 2017 and $4 million in 2018. According to court documents, Cove Bowling Lanes’ current owner, Hankey O’Rourke Enterprises, which has owned the property since 2008, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. District Court in Springfield in June 2019. After one of the creditors sought to have the proceedings changed from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, the court dismissed the case entirely on Sept. 22, stating that dismissal was in the “best interest of the creditor and the estate.” The court canceled the case on Oct. 15. The Cove, built in 1958 and opened in 1960, is reported to have been the inspiration for the bowling alley that served as the main setting for “The Big Lebowski,” the 1998 film starring Jeff Bridges. Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen reportedly frequented the Cove when they attended Bard College at Simon’s Rock in the 1970s. In 1987, The Berkshire Eagle reported that the alley was “unquestionably, the number one hangout in South County.” Former owner Gordon “Red” McIntyre owned the property for 30 years before Hankey O’Rourke Enterprises purchased it for $1.5 million in May 2008. .

31 Connecticut staffers fired for vaccine noncompliance

31 state staffers fired for vaccine noncompliance

Close to three dozen state employees have been fired for refusing to comply with Gov. Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate, and more than six dozen others could be terminated shortly unless they comply. The Lamont administration provided an update Monday on compliance among executive branch employees showing 25,464 employees are fully vaccinated, 3,468 employees are submitting to weekly testing, and 1,403 have not complied at this time. To date, executive branch agencies have terminated 31 workers, placed another 35 employees on unpaid 45-day leaves, and started the process to place 42 more employees on suspension. Permanent employees will be terminated following the 45th day of their unpaid leaves. An agreement with state employee unions allows them to resign in good standing after 30 days with the option to rescind their resignation for one year.

Search begins for assistant superintendent in Region 1

Search begins for assistant superintendent in Region 1

A search committee for the assistant superintendent position in Region 1 will be formed. During last week’s All Boards Chair (ABC) Committee meeting, made up of the chairmen of the region’s seven school boards, Superintendent Lisa Carter said she thought it would be best to have one person in that job. For the past year and a half, Housatonic Valley Regional High School math teacher Scott Fellows and Sharon Center School librarian Jill Pace have shared the post. With high praise for them both, Carter said, “I’m beginning to see that the arrangement, while it’s very powerful in its current configuration, has some challenges.” The first year the job was six-tenths for each of them, but that was cut back a bit this year. The reduction has made Pace less accessible, Carter said. She said she isn’t able to see the pair as much and the situation has become “fragmented.” Carter also said she doesn’t think the arrangement is fair, “since they are working more than the assistant superintendence allocation.” She said it would be best to have one person focus on instruction and curriculum, so while she’s sad not to continue having two, she recommends going back to a single assistant.

COVID cases are up in Dutchess for Thanksgiving

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/11/22/covid-cases-dutchess-county-thanksgiving-gatherings/49418357/

As Thanksgiving week arrives in Dutchess County, residents are seeing another increase in the amount of active COVID-19 cases and the rate at which residents are testing positive. The uptick is part of larger growth seen since Halloween, and comes in advance of a holiday based around gatherings of family and friends. However, health professionals say such gatherings can happen safely with few safety restrictions, as long as everyone in the party is vaccinated. Otherwise, mitigation steps are recommended, even as they are not mandated in the way they were a year ago. And, the holiday arrives as Dutchess County specifically has hit a pair of milestones for its vaccination efforts. The county in the week that ended Saturday saw a 20% increase in total diagnosed cases compared to the previous week; the state as a whole saw a 28.1% increase. There were 527 new cases in the county last week, and the sixth COVID-19-related death of the month was reported Saturday, 506th since the beginning of the pandemic.

After a pornographic Zoom bombing rattles a Berkshire Hills school meeting, Stockbridge Police say they’re investigating. And they’ve got some leads

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/berkshire-hills-schools-great-barrington-zoom-bombing-pornography-stockbridge-west-stockbridge/article_d45eda14-4bb3-11ec-a238-cb7ba0ec4c08.html

Police investigating a Zoom bombing Thursday in which three people invaded a Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committee meeting with visual pornography say they have made some progress with their probe. “It is an active investigation in which some leads have been developed,” Stockbridge Police Chief Darrell Fennelly wrote in an email, saying that was the only information he could provide at present. He said that, if needed, police would work directly with state police detectives attached to the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. During Thursday’s incident, the people who joined the videoconference also targeted one of the School Committee’s female members, saying she was “hot.” After an apology about the incident from Superintendent Peter Dillon, the committee quickly moved on to its next topic. The panel now likely will switch its Zoom meetings to the “webinar” format, which restricts screen sharing and gives the host more control.