Latest Tri-State News Headlines Updated January 24, 2022 5 AM

The Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality will meet at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, January 26, 2022.

*It will be conducted remotely, to comply with Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7B.
Council Members may participate via Zoom on their computers by connecting to:

Join the Zoom Meeting: https://ctdeep.zoom.us/j/96365270321 or
Dial by your location: +1 646 876 9923 Meeting ID: 963 6527 0321

Members of the public may watch and/or listen by connecting to the same website. Materials for the meeting will be posted to the Council’s website in advance of the meeting. Persons wishing to comment during the Citizen Comment Period may participate remotely at that time, or they can send their comments to Peter.Hearn@ct.gov who will present them.

AGENDA

  1. Call to Order; Establishment of a Quorum
  2. Approval of Agenda
  3. Approval of December 15, 2021 Minutes
  4. DEEP’s Policy on Tree Removal and Public Involvement
  5. Citizen Comment Period – Reserved for people to make brief comments to the Council regarding topics not on the agenda.
  6. Citizen Complaints and Inquiries Received

CT’s still in a COVID Civil Preparedness and Public Health Emergency

https://www.wfsb.com/news/ct-22-cts-still-in-a-covid-civil-preparedness-and-public-health-emergency/article_c3d6b60c-7a1c-11ec-ac38-eb2125d1a08d.html?block_id=994091

Connecticut remains in a COVID Civil Preparedness and Public Health Emergency that allows the governor to issue executive orders.

NY voting rights: Voter intimidation, absentee ballots among lawmakers’ push for reforms

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2022/01/21/new-york-voting-rights-reforms-absentee-pandemic-college-sites-joe-biden-john-lewis/6582068001/

Now, a little over a year after the 2020 election and the passage of restrictive voting bills in several states, New York Democratic legislators are seeking to build off previous voting rights reforms — particularly early voting in 2019 and voting for people on parole in 2021 — with several pieces of legislation.

Now, a little over a year after the 2020 election and the passage of restrictive voting bills in several states, New York Democratic legislators are seeking to build off previous voting rights reforms — particularly early voting in 2019 and voting for people on parole in 2021 — with several pieces of legislation.

Democrats are also hoping to build off the loss of two ballot referendums that deal with voting. One would’ve permanently removed any excuse to vote through an absentee ballot. The other would have allowed same-day voter registration.

State Republicans pushed hard to defeat the measures, calling them a power grab to stack elections in Democrats’ favor.

Plans for a W.E.B. Du Bois statue (and a gathering place) are revitalized in Great Barrington

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/plans-for-a-web-du-bois-statue-are-revitalized-in-great-barrington/article_9e7dafe0-7b03-11ec-9e50-337f56a552e6.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — With bronze and marble, an independent group of local citizens hopes to revive a yearslong initiative to honor a native son.

The centerpiece of the efforts would be a life-size bronze sculpture of W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963). The famous scholar, writer and champion of civil rights and economic justice was born and raised in Great Barrington. The statue would be part of a larger plaza envisioned for the front yard of the Mason Library, on Main Street. The plaza would utilize native marble.

The town’s Board of Library Trustees again gave its approval of the location and concept on Tuesday night. It had already done so in 2018, after the idea had first come before the town.

Before the project can move forward, it will require approval from the Historic District Commission. The commission’s meeting this past Thursday was cancelled. Because the library is town-owned, the Select Board would also have to approve accepting the statue and plaza as a gift. The project would not utilize local taxpayer money.

Rep. Hayes shares thoughts, frustrations during virtual event

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, spoke with constituents of the 30th District of the Democratic State Central Committee from the basement of her Wolcott home Thursday because she’s in quarantine due to a second bout with COVID-19.

The virtual event, hosted by committee members Audrey Blondin of Goshen and Larry Sweeney of Morris, offered several candidates running in the November election the opportunity to give brief presentations.

Hayes, who is seeking her third term, lamented the fact she once again tested positive. She noted her frustration that one-third of U.S. House members have not been tested for the virus.

Hayes also said she was devastated that Congress did not take action on voting rights legislation.

“We have to do our own work because Congress won’t do it,” she said.

Gov. Lamont: 3.6 million test kits distributed throughout January

https://www.wfsb.com/news/gov-lamont-3-6-million-test-kits-distributed-throughout-january/article_9389360e-7ba8-11ec-9e06-0fcf3ec3d815.html?block_id=994091

Governor Lamont announced on Saturday that Connecticut distributed an addition 500,000 self-test kits this past week.

According to state officials, that brings the total amount of test kits distributed throughout January to 3.6 million.

“We’ve got one of the largest COVID-19 self-test distribution operation of any state in the area, and I am appreciative of the many groups that are working with the state to get these out to the communities they serve,” says Governor Lamont.

Officials say the state has been working to get self-tests from vendors so they can be distributed in bulk to organizations throughout the state.

The organizations then provide the test kits to members of their communities.

Some notable deliveries this past week include 350,000 kits to K-12 students and teachers, as well as first responders and front-facing municipal employees. 83,000 kits were given to community groups and vulnerable populations, and 50,000 kits were given to nursing homes for visitor testing.

AG James finds Trump’s valuations suspect at Trump National and Seven Springs in Westchester

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/money/personal-finance/taxes/david-mckay-wilson/2022/01/21/donald-trump-westchester-holdings-focus-attorney-general-letitia-james-investigation/6596947001/

Donald Trump’s alleged penchant for inflating the value of his Westchester properties in financial statements have become a centerpiece of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into the Trump Organization.

In an explosive court filing on Tuesday, James revealed tactics used by the company to boost the reported value of Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor and at his Seven Springs estate in the towns of New Castle, North Castle and Bedford.

The puffed-up values alleged by James were also involved in his donation of a conservation easement on 159 acres at Seven Springs, which brought Trump significant tax savings on his personal income taxes. These values were recorded for banks and insurance companies, just as another arm of the Trump Organization was fighting to slash the value of Trump National in what turned out to be the company’s successful bid to lower the club’s taxable value on the Ossining assessments rolls. The Trump Organization, James’ office said, overstated the value of land donations made in New York and California on paperwork submitted to the IRS to justify several million dollars in tax deductions. The Trump Organization issued a statement Wednesday calling the investigation “baseless” and politically motivated, AP reported. James’ filing came in a petition aimed to secure the testimony of Trump, his son, Donald Trump, Jr., and his daughter, Ivanka. His younger son, Eric, last year invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination 500 times during his interview with James’ investigators in the civil probe.

The filing said Eric Trump was the company official who often communicated by phone with accountants at Mazars USA, who drew up the financial statements.

283 new daily COVID-19 cases reported, and one new death, in Berkshire County

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/daily-report-coronavirus-covid-19-berkshire-county-ma/article_f7f2121a-7a53-11ec-85c2-ef0f8ee2b6c9.html

As of Thursday, there were 283 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County, for a seven-day rolling average of 263.7 new daily cases. That is a 29 percent increase from two weeks ago.

Berkshire Health Systems had 32 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday, the most recent data available. There was one new death reported in Berkshire County, for a pandemic total of 358.

Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels.

Across the state, there were 14,384 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases. The state had 3,144 hospitalized patients, with 86 new deaths reported. To date, 20,782 people in Massachusetts have died of COVID-19.

Across Massachusetts, 74.9 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to state data. County-level vaccination rates are reported weekly, and 72 percent of Berkshire County residents were vaccinated fully as of last week.

COVID testing: Dover site to open, at-home tests available; What to know to get a test

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/20/covid-testing-dutchess-how-get-kit-dover-test-site-open/6598337001/

Eastern Dutchess County will soon have a free county-run testing site, and residents around Dutchess will have several more opportunities to pick up at-home test kits in the next week.

There are also several upcoming vaccine clinics that will offer pediatric doses in addition to adult.

The county announced plans to open a test site that will operate twice a week for three weeks at the former CVS location at 3081 Route 22 in Dover Plains. The site will open Jan. 25 and operate Tuesdays and Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. through Feb. 11. Walk-ins are welcome but preregistration is encouraged through the portal available at the county’s site, dutchessny.gov/coronavirustesting.

Rapid antigen and PCR lab testing will both be administered, and the site will be run by Senergene Solutions, the testing partner the county brought on earlier this month after reports of lab results taking more than a week to be returned to residents. The county said lab results from the Dover site will take up to 48 hours from when the lab receives the sample, but that timeframe can vary.

Dutchess also announced it would be giving away roughly 10,000 at-home testing kits, each of which will include two tests. They are available to Dutchess residents, only, and limited to two kits per family or vehicle.

Dutchess also announced it would be giving away roughly 10,000 at-home testing kits, each of which will include two tests. They are available to Dutchess residents, only, and limited to two kits per family or vehicle.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/arts_and_culture/berkshirelandscapes/tanglewood-lenox-summer-season-2022-full-schedule-announcement-line-up/article_f602a69e-79ff-11ec-8c0a-df5cd20f34e7.html

It’s full tilt at Tanglewood this summer as the Boston Symphony unveils an all-hands-on-deck 10-week season of classical concerts, Popular Artists shows — including the return of James Taylor for two performances — a 90th birthday salute to John Williams, and a tribute to the late Broadway master Stephen Sondheim.

It’s the first complete slate of programming at the BSO’s summer home since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Tanglewood to shut down in 2020, and last year’s season, though robust, was compressed into six weeks — and devoid of Popular Artists shows.

This summer, Ozawa Hall will reopen for the first time since 2019 for solo and small-ensemble performances by visiting artists as well as concerts by advanced young performers attending the Tanglewood Music Center summer institute. The year-round, four-building Linde Center complex, inaugurated in June 2019, will also reopen for Tanglewood Learning Institute events.

Ticket sales for the general public begin at 10 a.m. March 10 at tanglewood.org, 888-266-1200 and at Symphony Hall in Boston. *

The Tanglewood box office opens June 5. The range of ticket prices has not been announced.

*Tickets for James Taylor’s July 3 show go on sale Jan. 31.

Sharon Town Hall Parking Lot

https://tricornernews.com

 A plan to expand the Sharon Town Hall parking lot took a step ahead as a.  preliminary plan was announced at the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen . First Selectman Brent Colley announced that WMC Consulting Engineers had drawn a preliminary plan for parking lot improvements, a project that has already been awarded funding through a state STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) grant. The grant stipulates that the work be completed by August 2023. According to the plan, parking spaces would increase from 41 to 53, including space for a van and two vehicles with “handicapped” tags. There would also be new lighting, landscaping and improved drainage, to direct water flow away from Town Hall and neighboring 67 Main St. As directed by the STEAP program, two electric vehicle-charging stations would be accommodated by installation of a conduit installed under the new pavement and a generator. One resident questioned the wisdom of the charging stations and learned that it was a requirement of the STEAP program. Colley explained that the state grant program called for implementing charging stations within these types of improvements.  

Family Services is hiring more social workers, expanding hours

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/19/family-services-hiring-more-social-workers-handle-increase-cases/9174161002/

Family Services this year is hiring up to 18 more social workers, along with other staff. The new positions will be spread among its network of behavioral health centers and may reduce caseloads while increasing time spent with clients.

The organization, which operates eight behavioral health centers in Dutchess and Ulster counties and four community program locations, including the Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie, is also increasing salaries and the work hours of its social workers.

The organization, which operates eight behavioral health centers in Dutchess and Ulster counties and four community program locations, including the Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie, is also increasing salaries and the work hours of its social workers.

Along with the social service workers, the nonprofit will also be hiring more supervisors, administrative staff, nurse practitioners and psychiatrists. Family Service’s website lists about 50 positions from therapists to a director, and it said this hiring push will increase staff in social work and other key positions by nearly 50%.

The organization currently has 30 social workers who assess, treat and counsel individuals with behavioral health diagnoses across its eight behavioral health centers. The number of social workers at each center ranges from 12 in Poughkeepsie to three in Dover.

Geer Village Senior Community vaccine clinic at the Geer Lodge

Geer Village Senior Community is offering a booster vaccine clinic at the Geer Lodge, hosted by Hartford HealthCare, on Tuesday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.   

Hochul wants to send $2.2 billion in property-tax rebate checks in fall of election year

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/money/personal-finance/taxes/david-mckay-wilson/2022/01/18/ny-gov-kathy-hochul-wants-billions-homeowner-rebate-checks-sent-fall-2022/6561583001/

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s election year budget has a $2.2 billion one-shot gift for an estimated 2 million New Yorkers homeowners, teed up for fall delivery, just as voters focus on the 2022 gubernatorial election.

Hochul wants to take $2.2 billion from the state’s projected surplus of $5 billion and return it to homeowners who earn up to $250,000 a year. It will be allocated through the state’s STAR property tax relief program, which pays a portion of school taxes for eligible homeowners.

It’s one of the state’s few programs that provides the greatest benefits to homeowners in wealthy downstate suburban communities in the Hudson Valley and Long Island.

While Hochul has billed the program as a “middle-class” initiative, the STAR program sets a cap on a family’s income at $500,000. Median household income in New York is $69,000, according to the US Census.

The election season checks will average $970 for those owning property outside of New York City, but they will be substantially higher in high-tax school districts in the Hudson Valley.

Online sports betting in NY an immediate success, says DraftKings head from Poughkeepsie

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/sports/2022/01/19/online-sports-gambling-new-york-draftkings-johnny-avello-success/6520040001/

New York on Jan. 8 became the 18th state to legalize online sports betting. The New York State Gaming Commission approved four mobile app-based sports books to take wagers from what figures to be a major national market.

People who watch television regularly have already been inundated with Caesars Sportsbook commercials.

“It’s hugely popular; I can tell by the numbers we did over the first weekend,” said Avello, a longtime Vegas oddsmaker who now is the head of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, one of the apps approved for use in New York. “We opened up with the two NFL games that Saturday and New York was one of the top states for handle.”

Four casinos were constructed in 2013 in upstate New York, and a 2018 Supreme Court ruling permitted sports betting at those locations, lifting a longstanding federal statute that relegated sports betting primarily to Nevada.

Since New Jersey opened to online wagering in 2018, there had been suggestions — if not a clamoring — for its neighboring state to follow suit. The state gaming commission approved regulations for sports betting last June, which got the ball rolling.

There are some restrictions here, one of which is bettors being barred from placing wagers on in-state college teams. It might be tempting for a New York resident to make some bets involving the Syracuse University men’s basketball team during the NCAA tournament, for example, but that won’t be permitted. Similar rules apply to New Jersey.

There is a financial benefit for the state in giving this go-ahead, of course. The sports books will have 51% of their gross revenue taxed in New York, which will be the highest rate in the U.S. Some projections figure that within a few years, New York could generate more than a billion dollars annually in gambling revenue.

News release from the New York State police

On January 16, 2022, the New York State Police arrested David A. Trotta Jr., age 26, of Amenia, for Murder in the 2nd degree, a class A-I felony, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 4th degree, a class A misdemeanor. At approximately 11:50 a.m., Troopers were dispatched to South Amenia Road for a report of a stabbing by Dutchess County 911. Once on scene the suspect, David A. Trotta, was immediately taken into custody. Arriving emergency medical services rendered aid to the victim, Juan C. Cedillo, aged 45 years, of Amenia, and despite lifesaving measures, Mr. Cedillo was pronounced deceased on scene. Trotta was arraigned before the town of Amenia Court and remanded by the Honorable Judge Klingner to the Dutchess County Jail without bail. He is next scheduled to appear before the court on January 21, 2022, at 9:30 a.m.

Breaking news on Sharon Hospital and Nuvance Health

The parent corporation of Sharon Hospital, Nuvance Health, has filed a petition to the CT Office of Health Strategy (OHS) to “consolidate” the current Intensive Care Unit (ICU) into a “new medical-surgical/telemetry/progressive care unit (PCU)” without requiring the filing of a Certificate of Need. Dr. David Kurish, one of the physicians who currently admits patients to the Sharon Hospital ICU, is “against the shutdown of the ICU and substitution of a Progressive Care Unit… If Nuvance is permitted to close the Sharon Hospital ICU, ICU nurses will not want to stay to work on a medical surgical floor. Instead, they will leave and there will be a shortage of nurses with the skills and desire to care for these patients that require a special expertise. In fact, there is already a shortage of ICU nurses, which is a crisis of Nuvance’s own making. For about a year, Nuvance administration has discussed its plan to shut down the ICU, scaring several ICU nurses away.” Save Sharon Hospital, Inc, a community based non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and preserving Sharon Hospital for future generations as a full-service hospital, also opposes this change as an ICU is not equivalent to a PCU. We have requested that OHS deny Nuvance’s request to replace the ICU with a PCU without filing a Certificate of Need.

Grants helps Region 1 food banks stay stocked with milk

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/18/in-your-corner-grants-helps-region-1-food-banks-stay-stocked-with-milk/

FALLS VILLAGE — Users of local food banks in the Region 1 towns will be well-served due to the generosity of many. Last week, the Housatonic chapter of FFA at Housatonic Valley Regional High School held a ceremony and presented $500 checks to five food banks. Then, as an added bonus, Amanda Freund of Freund’s Farm in East Canaan also had something to give. A graduate of Housatonic herself, and an active member of the ag-ed program and FFA as a student, Freund said after striking out on her own following graduation from Cornell University, she worked for a congresswoman and served two years in the Peace Corps in Zambia. “But then I wanted to come home and help feed the people of my community,” so she joined the family farm. Freund’s Farm produces 2,300 gallons of milk daily. Wanting to do even more, Freund applied for and received a $5,000 grant through the Connecticut Milk Promotion Board. A total of $3,800 will be put toward the initiative of delivering fresh milk or coupons to each of the food banks.

Pawling affordable housing development sparks debate

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/18/pawling-affordable-housing-project-faces-debate-within-town-schools/9104126002/

The town Planning Board meeting on Tuesday will continue discussion regarding The Woods at Pawling, an 80-unit, income-restricted housing development. Its future hinges on an argument over the interpretation of a larger project concept approved over a decade ago, though residents are arguing the merits of preservation vs. fulfilling need. County officials have stated Dutchess is facing a housing crisis. Dutchess put together a steering committee to conduct a housing needs assessment, which it plans to release later this spring. Last year, as local municipalities prepared for an evictions surge, the county reported a rental vacancy rate under 1%. The Woods at Pawling would double the number of affordable units in the town, according to the county’s housing survey. But, the land on which it would be built is not approved for non-age-restricted housing, specifically. The land is zoned as a Planned Development District, which allows for any type of housing. In 2008, the town approved an amendment to a concept plan for a project, now called Castagna Senior Park, to include up to 400 units of senior housing, commercial, office and open space. The Hamlet at Pawling, 81 senior housing units also built by Kearney, is a part of that.

$1.1 billion in federal aid will help repair 472 bridges in Massachusetts, Rep. Richard Neal says

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/statehouse/federal-aid-repair-472-massachusetts-bridges-us-rep-richard-neal/article_c991ea54-7886-11ec-a8cf-973c153607d9.html

As voters weigh a new wealth tax to finance education and transportation initiatives, Massachusetts is poised to receive $1.1 billion in new federal bridge repair money over the next five years. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, announced the money estimate Tuesday, crediting the work of Congress and President Joe Biden to pass a landmark infrastructure funding law. The money will be allocated under a Federal Highway Administration formula and can be used to address 472 bridges listed in poor condition in Massachusetts. States normally must match federal money with up to 20 percent state or local money, but guidance issued last week signals that federal money can be used for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating “locally owned off-system bridges,” according to Neal’s office. Neal joined Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on Tuesday to make the announcement at an Armory Street site in that city where planners hope to replace two bridges. Supporters of a constitutional amendment adding a 4 percent surtax on household income above $1 million a year say it will make the wealthy pay their “fair share” and raise money to address education and transportation deficiencies. Opponents say state government already is awash in billions of dollars in surplus revenues, the tax will drive away some wealthy taxpayers, and they warn that lawmakers can deploy work-arounds to ensure that not all the new revenue is invested in education and transportation.

Connecticut investigating possible remote school that would serve students in grades K-12

A group of Connecticut education stakeholders is scheduled to review standards and guidance next week on how a statewide remote learning school would look if one was to be implemented. The Remote Learning Commission, under the guidance of the state Department of Education, has held four meetings since its creation this past September, reviewing the feasibility behind a remote learning school that would serve K-12 students across the state’s 205 public school districts. The 18-member commission arose from legislation last year requiring the state Department of Education to create such a panel. A remote learning school would follow the same curriculum and schedule as a traditional in-person school. The state Board of Education would have jurisdiction over it. Legislation passed last year banning remote learning this year, outside of very limited circumstances. Irene Parisi, chief academic officer for the state education department, and Ajit Gopalakrishnan, chief performance officer, have learned in focus groups how school administrators, teachers and student advisory groups envision remote learning. Florida, Virginia and Massachusetts have statewide remote learning schools, which the commission has reviewed since the fall.

New York COVID-19 cases plummet 39% on downward slope of omicron wave.

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2022/01/18/covid-numbers-plummet-new-york-state/49661965/

New York reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 360,560 new cases. That’s down about 39% from the previous week’s tally of new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. New York ranked 15th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Nationally, coronavirus cases increased 5.8% from the week before, with 5,438,242 cases reported. With 5.84% of the country’s population, New York had 6.63% of the country’s cases in the last week. The turnaround comes after COVID-19 cases — fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant — hit home for more than 1.8 million New Yorkers since Dec. 1.

Berkshire County animal shelters benefit from the Betty White Challenge

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/central_berkshires/pittsfield-animal-shelters-benefit-from-betty-white-challenge/article_5dc2fe10-77ac-11ec-bdf3-8fcc027298ed.html

PITTSFIELD — Two city-based animal shelters are benefiting financially from the Betty White Challenge, the nationwide movement to raise awareness and money for animal care. Since Wednesday, the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter on Crane Avenue has raised $550 through its website, and $250 more in checks have come in. “I think it’s a wonderful movement, and it happened so quickly,” said Sonsini manager Simone Olivieri. “It’s a beautiful thing when animal lovers recognize an animal lover so well-known across the county.” Meanwhile, a member of the Berkshire Humane Society board of directors, Oskar Hallig, of South Egremont, has raised $1,000 for the Barker Road facility through his Facebook page. Berkshire Humane Society Executive Director John Perreault says Hallig is one of several people he has heard are conducting fundraisers on behalf of the shelter, but the shelter is not directly involved in the challenge — which took place virtually Monday and asked for $5 donations to rescues and animal shelters in her name. “We appreciate people honoring Betty White. [On Monday], we posted a tribute to her on our website for what would have been her 100th birthday,” he said. Across the border, in New York, the nearby Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA is being challenged by an an anonymous donor to raise up to $5,000, and the philanthropist will match the amount dollar for dollar as an effort to honor White.

Legislators return Feb. 9

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/17/legislators-return-feb-9/

HARTFORD – When state legislators return to the state Capitol for the 2022 legislative session it is unclear whether the public will get to attend and participate like before the COVID-19 pandemic. Democratic majority leaders are waiting until the end of January to make an initial call on public attendance and participation for the 12-week short session that opens Feb. 9, but they say some remote component is likely to start. Republican minority leaders says GOP lawmakers want to see a return to pre-pandemic access after nearly two years. The course of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a big determinant concerning opening rules and guide future decision-making, said House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and Senate President Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven. “The word for the 2022 session is ‘flexibility,’” Ritter said. “We’re not going to come out on Feb. 1st and say, ‘This is the rule for the next three months.’ We are going to adjust to the circumstances on the ground.”

Hillsdale, N.Y.: Students to deliver science presentations

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/hillsdale-n-y-students-to-deliver-science-presentations/article_889bae4c-77c6-11ec-b896-835ac6247e30.html

Imogen Drake and Ellie Yang, students in the Taconic Hills High School’s Science Research Program, will share the culmination of three years of intensive research work at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library, 9091 Route 22. Drake, who has been working with a psychology professor from the University of California, will be presenting her findings about the impact of traumatic brain injury on the development of anxiety. Yang, who has been working with Claudia Knab-Vispo from the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program, will share their findings on the differences between duckweed grown in a laboratory setting and duckweed growing in the wild. Masks are required. There is a possibility that this program will be moved to Zoom. Check the Roe Jan Library and Taconic Hills Central School websites and social media for any updates. For more information, call 518-325-4101 or visit roejanlibrary.org.

Kent Streetscape Committee sends bid package to selectmen

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/16/kent-streetscape-committee-sends-bid-package-to-selectmen/

KENT – The long-awaited sidewalk renovation project is one step closer to completion, following the recommendation of the bid package by Streetscape Building Committee Thursday evening to the Board of Selectmen. Member Jack Nelson, who is a contractor by trade, recommended a review of the insurance requirements stipulated in the bid package. “The insurance is a little sketchy,” he told the committee. “The limits looked low and the town is not indemnified or held harmless.” He suggested, and the committee agreed, to recommend to the selectmen that the town’s insurance company or the town attorney review the insurance requirements in the bid documents. The bid package was created by Milone & MacBroom, the firm the town has worked with since 2013 when the first plans were drawn up to renovate sidewalks and enhance the walkability of the town. Since that time, there have been many changes to the scope and geographic boundaries of the plans. The town has three grants to help fund the improvements, in addition to approval from the townspeople to bond up to $2.95 million, which was approved in May 2019.

Members of a famous music school were airlifted out of Afghanistan. The coordination effort took place in Otis

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/berkshire-women-key-in-rescue-of-afghanistan-national-institute-of-music/article_ab0e9b80-6f1d-11ec-8d09-4ff66cd5c79c.html

OTIS — From a home here in this hill town, a daring, dangerous, complicated and ultimately successful rescue effort was coordinated beginning last August. It made international news. It’s music to the ears of the world. The denouement came on Dec. 13, when a community of school children from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) landed in Lisbon, Portugal — to safety, freedom and a future far afield from one that would have demanded their silence. Lesley Friedman Rosenthal, a part-time resident of Otis, was in Portugal to greet them. So was Jessica Lustig, a part-time resident of Great Barrington. Rosenthal and Lustig make up two-thirds of the board members of Friends of ANIM, the charitable group that, beginning in 2016, has supported the school, the first and only music academy in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. The school, which was inaugurated in 2010, had gained international fame for teaching Afghan and Western music to a co-ed student body against the backdrop of threats from the Taliban, the militant Islamist regime that had prohibited nonreligious music outright when it led Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The third member of Friends of ANIM is the school’s founder and director, Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast, who still suffers the physical effects following a Taliban attack on his school in 2014. In the end, the evacuation consisted of five airlift flights of 273 school members (including students, staff and immediate family) over a six-week period from Oct. 2 through late November.

Priorities of Kent residents known to town after survey

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/15/priorities-of-kent-residents-known-to-town-after-survey/

KENT — Helping the Kent Volunteer Fire Department is high on the list of priorities of the 170 people who have responded so far to the Kent American Rescue Plan Act Needs Assessment Committee’s survey. Kent has been allocated $821,854 in federal coronavirus relief funds. Committee members, who reviewed the preliminary results Wednesday, said both KVFD and funding high speed internet for homes and businesses were tied at the top for “strong support” from 45% of respondents. However, when the “strong support” and “support” categories were combined, the fire department clearly topped the list with 75.8%. Following close behind was assisting residents struggling to pay bills because of COVID-related issues at 73.2%. “I have a feeling people are telling us they want this money to go directly to the people or the businesses that experienced loss, more than they want it to go to fund any particular project or initiative,” committee member Patricia Oris said. “I think that says something interesting about our town — that we are a town of generous people who want to help those who need it.”

Horn announces intention for trifecta in Salisbury

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/15/horn-announces-intention-for-trifecta-in-salisbury/

SALISBURY –Before an audience of more than 70 people on Zoom, state Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, announced her intention to run for a third term in the 64th House District. Originally scheduled to be an outdoor event on the lawn of the White Hart Inn, Horn said the frigid temperatures Saturday and the sheet of ice on the lawn caused her to move it to a virtual session. Horn’s district is the largest in the state, covering nine towns. The district has changed for 2022, now including Washington, Conn., and all of Goshen, when in the past it only covered half. It no longer has a portion of Torrington. She said the difference from two years ago is there is now a vaccine. She expressed pride that 82% of Connecticut’s population has received one injection and 73% are fully vaccinated. Horn talked about how the pandemic has showed the inadequacies of broadband in the Northwest Corner and how funds are now being allocated for that initiative. As a member of the Environment Committee, Horn has been actively working in the area of waste disposal, especially with the upcoming closing of the MIRA trash-to-energy plant in Hartford. Municipalities will be forced to truck their garbage out of state at a high cost both financially and environmentally. She said she’s pleased with the passage of the extended producer action that makes manufacturers responsible for disposing of their products, such as tires. She also spoke highly of the new bottle bill that hopefully will increase deposit returns.

Schools can skip COVID contact tracing as New York state ramps up access to test kits

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2022/01/14/new-york-focuses-covid-virus-testing-lets-schools-skip-contact-tracing/6530074001/

Schools in New York no longer have to do formal contact tracing when students or staff have COVID or are exposed to someone who does. They do, however, need to have a mechanism for alerting parents and guardians of students who could have been exposed to the virus. “Schools should at least notify parents and guardians of affected students,” according to a New York State Department of Health FAQ that was released late this week. County health departments across the state are now shaping policies and best practices with their school districts. The state has given local health departments authority to coordinate and set any additional guidelines for school districts within their jurisdictions.

Developer misses deadlines to complete Great Barrington ballfield, pay off brownfields money

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/benchmark-development-powerhouse-square-condominiums-berkshire-food-co-op-great-barrington-real-estate/article_ed3901f2-753b-11ec-88af-a3e37aa308f0.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The developer of the building that houses the Berkshire Food Co-op has not followed through on an agreement with the town to upgrade a nearby ballfield and is late paying back hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. Lenox-based Benchmark Development did not make the improvements to the neighboring Memorial Park ballfield as the agreement with the town stated, according to Town Manager Mark Pruhenski. Benchmark said it would install a new backstop, dugouts and baseline fence areas at the ballfield in exchange for using the field’s road to access the lot where it plans a second condominium building. The work was supposed to be done by Dec. 1. Pruhenski said he couldn’t yet say why the contract that was part of the Powerhouse Square project wasn’t completed, and how this might be rectified. Benchmark also failed to pay back $500,000 in loans from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission’s Brownfields Program that it used to help clean up some of the contaminated property, according to Thomas Matuszko, BRPC’s executive director. The revolving loan program is funded by federal Environmental Protection Agency money, and serves as an incentive for developers to tackle construction that is expensive due to contamination issues. The two loans were due to be paid in April and December, and the commission is working to extend the payment terms, according to Melissa Provencher, who manages the Brownfields Program for BRPC. “BRPC has been in regular communication with Powerhouse Square, Mountain One Bank, the Town of Great Barrington and other parties in relation to these loans,” she wrote in an email. She said BRPC has not defaulted. In response to questions about both situations, Benchmark co-principal Michael Charles said in an email that The Eagle’s “information is inaccurate both in terms of the characterization and details,” but did not elaborate.

Group protests mass cutting of trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/13/group-protests-mass-cutting-of-trees-at-housatonic-meadows-state-park/

A group gathered Thursday at Housatonic Meadows State Park to protest the removal of a huge number of oaks and pines by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, two eagles glided overhead. Some of those in attendance said seeing the birds fly from the trees only served to reinforce the reason for their outcry. “I call them the Department of Environmental Destruction,” protestor Jeff Jacobson of Cornwall said of DEEP. “If they’re really concerned about trees, maybe they should close down the Appalachian Trail,” he added, sardonically. State Sen. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, and Rep. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, ranking members of the legislature’s Environmental Committee, issued a statement Thursday calling for additional documents from DEEP in connection with the tree removal. In their statement, Miner said it appears DEEP has no intention of considering the testimony given by experts. DEEP has said the massive cutting of trees at the park that began in the fall was part of its statewide hazardous tree removal program. But the initiative was never communicated to the public, and it was only after passers-by on Route 7 saw the mounds of cut limbs piled high that the issue raised a stir. Will Healey, DEEP’s media relations manager, said Thursday the contractor will be working in the coming days to remove those trees that were identified on the map during the hearing. He expects the work to be completed within the next few days. Asked if the police presence would continue, he said they will be present for the duration of the removal operations to ensure the safety of visitors. On Thursday, DEEP workers were at the end of the road near the boat launch. Several Environmental Conservation police officers were behind a snow fence, making sure no one from the public went near that area. “It’s a matter of public safety,” said Elise Bouthillier, a DEEP public information officer. Those who came to decry the tree cutting held signs and chanted pleas. Treasa Pattison of Cornwall, who is calling herself “Tree sa” these days, had a sign that read “DEEP Shame.” She and others wore large orange paper dots over their hearts to represent the oak trees that were destroyed. Those marked for removal had large orange circles painted on their trunks. Michael Nadeau of Sharon, a retired state-certified arborist who has been involved since the project came to light, said DEEP uses a poor set of criteria when it assesses hazardous trees. There will now be Covid testing on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 4pm-7pm at the Kent Transfer Station, 46 Maple Street. No appointment needed!

COVID Testng In Kent

There will now be covid testing on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 4pm-7pm at the Kent Transfer Station, 46 Maple Street. No appointment needed!

Breakthrough cases soar in state as omicron takes hold

https://www.rep-am.com/news/news-connecticut/2022/01/13/breakthrough-cases-soar-in-state-as-omicron-takes-hold/

HARTFORD — The number of reported breakthrough cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated people in Connecticut has increased nearly five times since the state’s first omicron case was confirmed in early December. State health officials on Thursday released updated weekly numbers showing there have been 115,021 breakthrough cases that have resulted in the hospitalization or death of fully immunized state residents. There have been breakthrough cases reported in every vaccine-eligible age group, but none of the 355 reported deaths have involved anybody age 24 and younger. Vaccines are available to anyone age 5 and older, and anyone 12 and older is eligible for a booster shot. There had been 25,179 breakthrough infections and 205 deaths reported just before testing confirmed the state’s first case of COVID-19 involving the highly transmissible omicron in early December. Since then, an additional 89,842 cases among fully vaccinated people have been recorded, including 31,604 new cases and 150 additional deaths in the last week. The latest combined figures for public and private schools released Thursday showed the number of students testing positive for COVID-19 increased from 7,612 last week to 12,740, an increase of more than two-thirds. The number of teachers and other school employees who tested positive increased from 2,338 to 2,467. There were 3,778 fully vaccinated students who tested positive, and 4,460 were not fully vaccinated. There was no information on the vaccine status of the remaining 4,552 students. The weekly report also said 1,784 infected staff members were fully vaccinated, 193 were not fully vaccinated, and there was no vaccine information for the other 490 positive tests. The daily count of patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 dropped for the first time since mid-December. There was a net decline of 22 patients to 1,917 statewide. There now have been 49,500 hospital admissions in the state’s outbreak. Public health officials reported 9,604 new cases of COVID-19 out of 47,380 newly received test results for a positive test rate of nearly 20.3%.

Great Barrington prepares to pitch redevelopment of the former Housatonic School

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-prepares-pitch-to-redevelop-housatonic-school/article_f4039b86-74a6-11ec-9944-ab1aff7558eb.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — When it comes to the future of the dilapidated building that housed the former Housatonic School, “demolition is still a four-letter word.” So said Select Board Chair Stephen Bannon on Monday evening. “I’d still like to think that’s not a consideration yet,” he said. His fellow board members agree. Instead, the Select Board is poised to once again put out a request for proposals for redevelopment of the 14,000-square-foot town-owned brick building, either for purchase or some type of private/public partnership. Next week, the Select Board expects to finalize the wording for a request for proposals (known in planning parlance as an RFP). Once the RFP goes public, any interested parties would have 90 days to submit proposals to the town. After a recommendation made by the Housatonic Improvement Committee, the town intends to clearly state its objectives for the site. Drawing upon the committee’s conclusions, a draft RFP, discussed and edited at the Select Board’s meeting this past Monday, listed a “primary goal” that the site “be developed in a manner which promotes the village center, provides housing and commercial space, and is consistent with the neighborhood character.” That said, the board agreed that any and all proposals would be considered. But, not demolition — not yet, anyway.

314 new cases reported in Berkshire County, up 169% in two weeks

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/daily-report-coronavirus-covid-19-berkshire-county-ma/article_6beb429e-7401-11ec-958b-f76b26ef601f.html

Berkshire Health Systems had 21 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday. There were no new deaths reported in Berkshire County, for a pandemic total of 351. Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels. Across Massachusetts, 74.5 percent of the population is vaccinated fully, according to state data. County-level vaccination rates are reported weekly, and 72 percent of Berkshire County residents were vaccinated fully as of last week.

Dutchess legislators will mask. Here are some of the arguments some made to get out of it.

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/13/dutchess-legislators-wear-masks-meetings-chairman-says/9190008002/

All of Dutchess County’s legislators present at its set of public committee meetings on Thursday will be wearing masks. That’s according to Chairman Gregg Pulver, following an argument over appropriate mask use, and after Pulver and the County Executive’s Office offered unique explanations for why it was acceptable for two legislators to be at the Legislature’s Jan. 4 meeting maskless. Pulver during the meeting repeatedly compared the legislators sitting at the indoor public meeting without masks to eating dinner at a restaurant without masks, while County Executive’s Office Spokesperson Colleen Pillus on Monday said the legislators were permitted to go maskless for the livestreamed meeting due to an exception in the state’s mask mandate for film and television production. Neither are valid reasons for removing a mask, according to the state Department of Health. Pillus also declined to answer how or if mask use would be enforced in county buildings moving forward.

New York’s expiring eviction moratorium threatens hundreds of thousands of renters

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2022/01/13/new-york-state-eviction-moratorium-end-date-renters-face-looming-deadline/9094643002/

As New York’s eviction moratorium expires, tenants behind on rent during the COVID-19 pandemic must now navigate courts inundated with cases postponed because of the ban. Nearly 600,000 households across New York are behind on rent, according to National Equity Access, a policy group connected with the University of Southern California, using data based on census survey and Treasury Department data from the fall. Westchester County has the most households behind on rent and the highest rent owed in the state outside New York City’s five boroughs. Westchester also had the most eviction filings throughout the pandemic outside of New York City, at almost 7,500, according to state court data. As of Jan. 2, New York state had over 227,000 active eviction cases, according to data compiled by the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, a group of tenant advocacy organizations. This includes nearly half a million renters, although advocates for both tenants and landlords estimate the number is higher. During the pandemic, tenants have a few protections shielding them from the eviction. The moratorium allows them to file a hardship declaration shielding them from eviction. They can also apply to the state or various cities’ emergency rental assistance programs, which stay evictions until the state decides if tenants are eligible for relief funds. Jackson has a fixed income after becoming disabled when a car hit him in 2015. His wife works in a grocery store. He has sought help from the Rev. Mary Ann Watkins, who serves as the tenant association president for her building in Yonkers, to search for housing. However, Watkins said tenants have difficulty finding alternatives. In over 50 cases, Watkins said she hasn’t seen success with the city’s rent relief program, which is separate from the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a federally funded program that allowed for rent relief to be distributed to landlords on behalf of tenants behind on their rent related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connecticut mulls extending Lamont’s emergency powers

https://www.rep-am.com/top-stories/2022/01/12/state-mulls-extending-lamonts-emergency-powers/

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont and Senate President Martin M. Looney on Wednesday left open the possibility of narrowly extending the governor’s emergency powers to manage the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response. The latest declarations of public health and civil preparedness emergencies that authorize Lamont to set rules and modify or suspend state laws, regulations and requirements through executive order are due to expire Feb. 15. The General Assembly will have to approve any extension of the states of emergency, but Lamont has not said outright he plans to request another renewal of his emergency powers. The three-month legislative session opens Feb. 9. The Democratic governor indicated during a virtual news conference Wednesday that retaining some of his emergency authority might be advisable after Feb. 15.

Mass MoCA, Jacob’s Pillow to receive National Endowment for the Arts grants

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/mass-moca-jacobs-pillow-to-get-national-arts-grants/article_f328f564-72f6-11ec-879c-9357ffb36fde.html

Two major arts institutions in the Berkshires are being awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams has been approved for a $45,000 grant to support EJ Hill: Brake Run Helix. The sculptural installation will incorporate a stage for performances, free-standing sculptures, watercolors and a functional roller coaster inside MASS MoCA’s Building 5 gallery, according to a news release. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket will receive a $75,000 grant to support its dance programs.

Salisbury Selectmen are postponing meeting

The Salisbury Selectmen are postponing the meeting at the former train station building in Lakeville that was scheduled for next Tuesday at 8 am. We are waiting to evaluate earlier documents that addressed the condition of the building, and we will find a time over the next weeks to reschedule any meeting at the building.

Stacey Curtis of Salisbury Bank and Trust Company is Selected to Receive 2022 New Leaders in Banking Award

Lakeville, CT – January 12, 2022 – We are pleased to announce that Stacey Curtis, Vice President, Branch Administrator has been selected to receive “New Leaders in Banking” award. Each year the Connecticut Bankers Association (CBA) accepts nominations from member banks who have outstanding employees making a notable impact within their bank and community. The nominations are vetted by an independent panel of judges, none of whom are active bankers or staff members of CBA. Stacey was nominated due to her continuing desire to learn and grow in whatever position she has with the Bank. She has been actively involved in the origination and forgiveness stages of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), training and development programs, and strategic projects. Stacey volunteers for various not-for-profit agencies, school financial literacy programs, community shred days, seminars, and local food pantries.

Berkshire Health Systems had 21 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday. There were no new deaths reported in Berkshire County, for a pandemic total of 351.

Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels. Across the state, there were 22,184 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases. The state had 3,087 hospitalized patients, with 75 new deaths reported. To date, 20,350 people in Massachusetts have died of COVID-19. Across Massachusetts, 74.5 percent of the population is vaccinated fully, according to state data. County-level vaccination rates are reported weekly, and 72 percent of Berkshire County residents were vaccinated fully as of last week.

VACCINE ACCESS: You can get vaccinated at many local pharmacies in addition to the following locations:

• Great Barrington – 475 Main St., next to the Great Barrington Police Department –Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to noon.

Appointments are required at all locations. Call 855-262-5465 or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.

Also, Community Health Programs posts the schedule for its mobile vaccination van at chpberkshires.org/mobile. Vaccines are available with no appointment necessary. For information call 413-429-2946.

After decades, a new chair for NC P&Z  

https://tricornernews.com

NORTH CANAAN — In the 2021 municipal election, longtime Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) Chair Steve Allyn was not returned to the seat that he had held for decades. Two new members were added to the five-person board — albeit two members with deep knowledge of the town and experience on municipal and regional organizations. One of the new commissioners is Douglas Humes, who was the town’s first selectman for many years, and followed that up with a term as North Canaan’s representative to the Region One Board of Education. The other new member, Tim Abbott, who is also the new chair, is well known to anyone in the region with an interest in conservation and ecology  

New four-way stop is being planned  

https://tricornernews.com
FALLS VILLAGE — The Board of Selectmen approved adding two stop signs at the intersection of Main Street and Beebe Hill Road at their regular Monday meeting on Monday, Jan. 10 (on Zoom). The action will make the intersection a four-way stop. First Selectman Henry Todd said anything that slows down traffic coming into downtown Falls Village will help. He credited resident Clifton Yeager with bringin  

North East, Millerton & their approach to law enforcement Joint Police Committee seeks mission statement  

https://tricornernews.com
MILLERTON — The virtual Joint Village of Millerton/Town of North East Police Service Committee (PSC) meeting held on Thursday, Jan. 6, at 6 p.m. drew about 20 community members. They were there to witness the two appointed Village Board members and two appointed Town Board members discuss the committee’s purpose, and its vision of the Millerton Police Department’s (MPD) future. The joint committee was actually created about two years ago, as part of a contract between the town and village. When former Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated all communities with their own police departments re-evaluate their policies in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, the chore fell onto the pre-existing PSC. The committee was also required to come up with a police reform policy for the MPD.  

Pulver elected to lead DC Legislature for fifth term


https://tricornernews.com
DUTCHESS COUNTY — For the fifth consecutive year, Dutchess County Legislator Gregg Pulver (R-19) of Pine Plains has been elected by his colleagues to lead the Legislature as its chairman. The vote was held at the Legislature’s annual organizational meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 4, during which an overwhelming 18-7 majority placed Pulver back in the chairman’s s  

North Canaan leaders want more say in school matters

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/11/canaan-leaders-want-more-say-in-school-matters/

CANAAN — When the Board of Selectmen named Ned Gow as the Canaan representative to the Region 1 Board of Education last week, Selectman Craig Whiting took the opportunity to rail against the way the district’s funding is apportioned. Gow served a term a few years ago and was succeeded by Douglas E. Humes Jr. and then Brian D. Bartram, but Bartram resigned and the town has been looking for his replacement. First Selectman Charles P. Perotti said serving on the Region 1 board can be a thankless job because “you lock heads with people from other towns.” The selectmen have been upset with the latest figures that show Canaan will be assessed $540,000 for the 2022-23 budget for Region 1. The assessment numbers are based on the town’s enrollment of students at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. We pay 40% of the high school budget and we have no say,” Perotti said. “That’s unfortunate.” He said Whiting has taken the lead in arranging meetings with Region 1 administrators and representatives from the state. “We’ll see what happens,” Perotti said. “We’ll see if we can cut down or the state can give us more money.” He said the other towns will approve the budget and Canaan will vote it down, “but we’re still not going to win. The other towns’ assessments will go down because of the number of students.” Perotti noted Canaan has 126 students at the high school, whereas Salisbury and Kent have fewer because many go to private school. “We’re looking at a $540,000 increase in the Region 1 budget in the upcoming year and that’s after a $400,000 increase this year,” Whiting said. “So we’re basically $1 million more and that’s with actually dropping four students.” He said the administrators explained that each time the board proposes cutting something in the budget, such as a sport or a course, they get pushback from the public, so it’s not done. “I understand their point. They have to keep competitive so people will want to come to the school,” Whiting said. “The problem is the student body continues to go down and the costs remain the same.”

Falls Village appoints new town clerk

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/11/in-your-corner-falls-village-appoints-new-town-clerk/

The town has a new town clerk, as well as a new procedure for putting people in the position. Johanna Mann was named by the Board of Selectmen last week to replace longtime clerk Mary Palmer. The town approved an ordinance several years ago making the post appointed, rather than elected. The new system kicked in on Jan. 1, the end of Palmer’s term of office. Mann, a native of Haverhill, Mass., has been in the region for 30 years. She’s excited about taking on this new venture. Palmer, a longtime friend, asked her to consider being her assistant in August and she agreed, so she has some familiarity with the job. “It’s a huge learning curve,” Mann said, “but I’m confident I can be the best town clerk I can be.” Mann has extensive administrative experience, having been the officer in charge at the Taconic post office. She also worked in the food service department at Hotchkiss School, where she ran the snack bar and dining hall, and facilitated catering. She has driven a school bus and was a nighttime supervisor at Stop & Shop.

New York ending COVID-19 contact tracing amid ‘hope’ omicron wave is cresting

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2022/01/11/ny-ending-covid-contact-tracing-amid-hope-omicron-wave-cresting/9171328002/

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced New York would end COVID-19 contact tracing efforts amid early signs the highly contagious omicron variant wave is cresting. New Yorkers who test COVID-19 positive or have known close exposures to the coronavirus will be directed to self-report their isolation and quarantine through a state-run website. The website, which is launching Wednesday, will provide people with isolation-related documents required by many employers and other settings, state officials said. The move comes as the daily COVID-19 case total statewide declined recently, dropping to 48,686 on Monday from about 54,800 the prior day and well below the recent peak of 90,100 on Saturday.

Dutchess recommends schools relax staff quarantine policy; state guidance update follows

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/education/2022/01/11/dutchess-schools-covid-staff-quarantines-can-more-lenient/9161247002/

Three days after Dutchess County recommended school districts adopt a staff quarantine policy that was more lenient than what statewide guidelines and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations allowed, the state announced intentions to update its plan for COVID-19 mitigation in schools. Dutchess County Health Commissioner Livia Santiago-Rosado informed districts on Friday of interim guidance that would allow districts to keep vaccinated, but not boosted, staff in school even if they have an exposure to a positive COVID-19 case.

Great Barrington: Berkshire Grown sets winter market

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/great-barrington-berkshire-grown-sets-winter-market/article_114eb3ec-7303-11ec-bd61-538fb33aef50.html

Berkshire Grown’s next Great Barrington indoor Winter Farmers Market will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Housy Dome, 1064 Main St., Housatonic. The market features locally grown and produced foods, including fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats, breads, and more, and offers e-commerce sales, pre-orders and SNAP/HIP benefits. Admission is free. The Great Barrington indoor winter markets will continue to run on the third Saturday of the month through April 16. Everyone is required to wear a mask and the number of people in the market space will be limited at any one time to make space for effective social distancing.

Salisbury At-Home Rapid Test Kits Available Today

Starting at 9amTown Grove Senior Center,42 Ethan Allen Street, Lakeville, CT 06039The Town of Salisbury will distribute the At-Home Rapid Tests to Salisbury Residents ONLY (proof of residency is required) on WEDNESDAY, January 12, 2022 – starting at 9am(until supply runs out)At the Town Grove Senior Center, 42 Ethan Allen Street, Lakeville, CT 06039. One kit per household BETTY – ​Bringing Exceptional Treatment To You Mobile Treatment at Sharon Hospital CHWC is pleased to introduce the community to our new mobile medical unit (MMU), “BETTY – ​Bringing Exceptional Treatment To You.” We are pleased to announce that our Mobile Medical Unit will be at Sharon Hospital to see patients for primary care visits, PCR testing available. Tuesdays9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.&Thursdays9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Please check Facebook for up-to-date changes on hours and locations.

Connecticut State hospitals endorse booster mandate for all health care staff

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/10/state-hospitals-endorse-booster-mandate-for-all-health-care-staff/

The state’s hospitals, endorsed the new mandate for health care workers to get booster shots for COVID-19.In a statement, Hartford HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey A. Flaks said it “fully supports” the decision, “which is firmly based on scientific evidence and supported by data. Boosters are highly effective in preventing the most serious effects of the coronavirus. A spokesman for Trinity Health of New England said it supported the booster policy, calling it the next “next step in ensuring that we are doing everything we can to support patient and colleague safety.” Health officials cite studies from the United Kingdom and South Africa that indicate that vaccine efficacy drops to about 30% with the omicron variant and increases to 75% with the booster. About 42% of the state is now boosted. Nationally, that number is 36% but those percentages rise with older populations. Among those 65 and older 60% have received boosters nationally; 68.7% of those 65 and older in Connecticut have received one, the CDC reports.

Kent emergency official resigns after funds cut

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/10/kent-emergency-official-resigns-after-funds-cut/

KENT – The town’s emergency management director has resigned as a town volunteer, following the removal of a funding source to bring the department into the 21st century. David Becker, who has been in the role for two years, submitted his resignation to First Selectman Jean Speck Dec. 23, which was a day after the selectmen voted to rescind the motion to spend up to $24,000 from the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for emergency management expenses that included developing a Local Emergency Operations Plan (LEOP) with a pandemic section and equipment for the department. Becker said in his letter that he had enjoyed the experience of working with a great group of people. His last day was Friday. “While I remain open to coming to terms to stay in this role or a reduced capacity, with no movement on compensation for almost two years, and now the recently removed funding for the (LEOP) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and office build out, it is unfortunately time for me to exit,” he wrote. Becker attended the selectmen’s meeting Thursday and all three thanked him for his service to the town. Speck wrote in a recent newsletter to townspeople that Becker had originally stepped in to give her a hand when the previous Emergency Management director resigned. Becker and Speck were longtime colleagues when she worked for the state Office of Emergency Services.

Tri-Town health board plans public hearing to weigh a possible vaccine mandate for indoor diners

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/tritown-boards-of-health-vaccination-proof-indoor-dining/article_25673050-7238-11ec-9d30-73b2ac8f8a6b.html

Should restaurants in Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge require patrons to show proof of full vaccination before entering for indoor dining? That’s the question to be presented for public discussion by the Tri-Town Boards of Health at a public hearing to be scheduled soon. The meeting would include extensive discussions, but no decisions on potential regulations would be made at that time, Tri-Town Executive Director Jim Wilusz pointed out at Thursday’s board meeting. The idea first emerged during an informal presentation by retired physician Dr. Charles Wohl, of Lenox, an invited guest at the regional health agency’s Dec. 15 session. Since the brief discussion of a possible vaccination card directive was not on the agenda, it led to an Open Meeting Law complaint by Lee resident Gary Willey, one of two people who tried to speak. While it was determined that the meeting did not violate the law, Wilusz said public comment will be included on every meeting agenda. “It’s a learning moment; we want to have an opportunity for respectful, good public dialogue,” he said, adding an apology for not including it at the Dec. 15 meeting. “We’ll do a better job.” Tri-Town board Chair Dr. Charles Kenny also apologized and accepted responsibility for confusion on the matter. Jim Castagnaro, a Lee resident and a former 37-year town meeting representative, warned that “if you want any money from the taxpayers of Lee, you’re going to let people speak, at least 3 to 5 minutes, no matter what the topic is to do with health. You can’t control the narrative.

Becket in talks to share its police chief with neighboring Otis

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/otis-becket-consider-shared-police-chief/article_e10ebd76-7253-11ec-8fb3-d742e511acad.html

Officials in Otis and Becket soon might decide to ask a single chief to run their separate police departments, easing a financial burden on both and putting a spirit of neighborliness into action. After losing its full-time police chief last year, Otis began looking for a replacement. At the same time, officials in the towns began considering whether Becket’s chief, Kristopher G. McDonough, could guide public safety oversight in both communities, allowing him to earn more in an expanded role while reducing personnel costs to the individual towns. Otis officials are scheduled to review a draft agreement today. Brandi Page, the Otis town administrator, said the idea of sharing a chief is gaining support locally. She expects a decision within weeks.

Frigid forecast prompts Lamont to take action

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/10/frigid-forecast-prompts-lamont-to-take-action/

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday activated the state’s “Severe Cold Weather Protocol” for the first time this winter season as frigid temperatures approach. State agencies will coordinate with the statewide 211 info-line operated by the Connecticut United Way and the state’s network of shelters to ensure the most vulnerable populations are protected from extremely cold temperatures.

FRIGID WEATHER FORECAST
The governor’s office said safety measures have been enacted at shelters and warming centers throughout Connecticut to adhere to the needs of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone in need can receive shelter from the outdoors and transportation to shelters by calling 211. The cold weather protocol will remain in effect until 12 p.m. on Wednesday

Kent board holds meeting over park director

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/09/kent-board-holds-meeting-over-park-director/

KENT – A Kent Park and Recreation Commission proposal to hire a new director at an annual salary of $6,000 more than is budgeted caught the Board of Selectmen off guard, prompting the scheduling of a special meeting of the selectmen for today at 11 a.m. The commission has been working for months to seek and interview applicants for the position, following the resignation of longtime director Lesly Ferris on March 15 of last year. They recommended to the selectmen to hire Jared Kazinsky at $60,000 full-time with the town’s benefit package. The budgeted salary amount is $54,024. Chairman Lynn Harrington said the commission was aware that it was higher than the budgeted amount but said, “we have enough funds (in the budget this year) to cover that.” First Selectman Jean Speck asked for an immediate executive session; however, the board’s agenda was not warned or modified to include a private session on this topic for a personnel matter. A hiring subcommittee that included Harrington, Julia Neff, Lara Hanson, John Grant and Ed Matson developed a job description in September and advertised the position for two weeks. A total of 32 applicants responded and seven candidates were interviewed, according to the minutes that are available to the public on the town’s website.

New York’s COVID cases surge 62% as omicron wave crashes over communities outside NYC

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2022/01/10/covid-19-new-york-omicron-data/49632687/

New coronavirus cases leaped nearly 62% in New York in the week ending Sunday, as 595,095 cases were reported and many communities outside New York City faced skyrocketing infections that strained the health care system. The previous week had 367,687 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. New York ranked second among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Nationally, COVID-19 cases increased nearly 76% from the week before, with 4,967,431 cases reported. With 5.84% of the country’s population, New York had 11.98% of the country’s cases in the last week. After New York City initially faced the brunt of recent outbreaks, the highly contagious omicron variant sent the number of new cases soaring last week in many counties in the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions.

Shuffling takes place on Kent committee as ARPA funds need distributing

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/08/shuffling-takes-place-on-kent-committee-as-arpa-funds-need-distributing/

KENT — The committee looking to determine how to use American Rescue Plan Act Committee money in the town gained back its chairwoman, lost one member and gained two additional members in recent days. Connie Manes, the former chairwoman, rescinded her resignation and asked to be reinstated, which the Board of Selectmen did Thursday evening. Her email correspondence with the committee and the board indicated she was convinced to continue the work that was started, particularly since First Selectman Jean Speck had resigned from the committee. “With the survey in active use and focus group planning underway, it seems after reflection that a good deal of the work has been accomplished. I would like, if you agree, to see it through to completion,” Manes wrote to the committee. She also noted that she had not considered the burden it would place on the committee members to find and orient new members. Resident Matt Starr, who had been on the committee since its formation, resigned by email and the selectmen accepted his resignation. The ARPA committee requested adding two additional members so there would be an odd number of members and the selectmen agreed to do so. Member Joe Agli suggested Craig Bibb, who has experience working in finance and is interested in getting involved in volunteering for the town. Bibb has raised questions in recent meetings about how the selectmen overspent a budget line on legal expenses last year. He spoke again at a freedom of information session Wednesday evening. He was assured by Tom Hennick from the state FOI and D. Randall DiBella, the town attorney, that nothing illegal was done. Also joining the committee will be Ruth Epstein, who is president of the Kent Community Fund, a former first selectman and a longtime resident of Kent. The ARPA committee suggested having someone aware of the social services needs, particularly in the transitional time without a permanent director for the town. The Community Fund works closely with the town’s Social Services Office and provides grants to those in need.

Bill Dinneen, beloved Cornwall handyman, retires

CORNWALL — Bill Dinneen bears no resemblance to the lonely Maytag repairman seen on television commercials. Dinneen probably has one of the highest name recognitions in the Northwest Corner. For 44 years he was the owner of BMAS (Bill’s Major Appliance Service), called upon to fix stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers – all those essentials now needed to make a household run. He retired as of Jan. 1, leaving many in the community very sorry to see him go. His popularity and following were evident whenever a call from a newcomer to the area went out on Facebook seeking a recommendation for someone to fix an appliance. The overwhelming replies always advised going to him. Raised in Cornwall, graduating from Cornwall Consolidated and Housatonic Valley Regional High School in 1974, Dinneen worked as a helper at his uncle Charles Hepprich’s Cornwall Electric Co. during high school. Following graduation, Hepprich asked if he’d like to do full-service appliances. Twice he attended intensive training sessions out west, once for Maytag and then for Westinghouse. On Jan. 1, 1978, he went out on his own. “I started on Jan. 1 and wanted to end on Jan. 1,” he said during an interview this week.

Luxury home sales in the Berkshires remain strong. A $4.5 million sale in Great Barrington caps year in which 94 luxury homes were sold

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/luxury-home-sales-in-the-berkshires-remain-strong-a-4-5-million-sale-in-great/article_47c56082-6f17-11ec-9a4f-0baa6bcd5136.html

Sales of single-family homes in the $1 million-plus range in the Berkshires began to take off in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continued to soar in 2021. Last year, 94 homes in that range were sold in the Berkshires, including 15 in the first quarter, the highest number during that time span since the Berkshire County Board of Realtors began compiling those statistics in 1997. Last year’s total sales were 18 more than in 2020 when 76 homes in that price range changed hands according to the Board of Realtors, which supplied statistics to The Eagle dating back to 2006. The previous high number for plus $1 million single-family home sales in the numbers the Board of Realtors sent to The Eagle was 33 in 2007. Board of Realtors President Sandy Carroll said her organization had no predictions for how the sales of plus $1 million single-family homes would be last year.

Berkshire nursing homes must allow visitors during COVID. Watchdogs worry a rule change may reduce access

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/nursing-homes-covid-pandemic-visitors-neglect/article_c08e3946-6e5c-11ec-8f8c-bb275b0b65d7.html

Visitors are so important to the well-being and safety of nursing home residents that federal regulators in November lifted all visitation restrictions imposed at the start of the pandemic. Even as the crisis marched forward. “Families are just so essential. They’re not just people coming in to play bingo.” Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney, Center for Medicare Advocacy Regulators, however, adjusted that rule last month, giving nursing homes that ability restrict visitors “with very limited and rare exceptions.” The rule change worries industry watchdogs, who point to data showing that the pandemic worsened already dire staffing levels in nursing homes and caused a “tandem wave of fatalities … quietly claiming tens of thousands more who are succumbing not to the virus but to neglect by overwhelmed staffs and slow declines from isolation,” the Associated Press reported in Nov. 2020. The phase “with very limited and rare exceptions” in CMS’ new visitation guidance worries nursing home watchdogs, who think it could result in lockdowns that harm residents. A researcher estimated these “shadow” deaths at the time to be more than 40,000 in addition to the 90,000 long-term care residents who died of virus-related causes. So far, nursing homes in Berkshire County do not appear to be changing the open, 24-hour visitation policy required by law. Instead, they are taking COVID-19 precautions that help ensure safe visits. Policies can be seen on nursing home websites and most visitation rules hinge on vaccination status. Berkshire Healthcare, which owns six of the county’s 13 skilled nursing homes, is taking this approach. Lisa Gaudet, the nonprofit’s vice president of business development and marketing, said by email that in some locations, the vaccination status of a resident’s roommate may lead to visitation being moved to a common area. “Other than that we screen all visitors upon arrival and offer Binax tests to those who would like one prior to their visit, but they are not obligated to take a test if they are not inclined,” she said.

The Town of Canaan/Falls Village was allotted another 90 test kits

This is still a very limited supply. There will be a distribution of N95 masks and test kits to the public on Saturday, January 8th from 10am-12pm or as long as supplies last. One kit will be given per household, there is two tests per kit. Proof of residency is required. This will take place at the Emergency Services Center. We ask that you enter the north entrance and exit the south. Please remember that this is still the firehouse and if any emergencies happen the trucks and responders still need to be able to get in and out. So DO NOT line up before 10, you will be asked to leave and come back if you do so. We also remind you not to block the bay doors and to take you distribution and exit the parking lot.

Your Robin Hood Radio Tri-State Forecast

CURRENT ADVISORIES: WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY UNTIL 1PM

TODAY– SNOW THEN WINDY WITH SOME CLEARING– 30-35-

TONIGHT – CLEAR- BRISK- 10 TO 15

SATURDAY – SUNNY- LOWER 30S

SUNDAY – CLOUDY- A WINTRY MIX DEVELOPING & CHANGING TO RAIN – HIGHS 35-40

MONDAY – FLURRIES, PARTLY CLOUDY AND WINDY – 25-30

Hospital and nursing home employees required to get booster

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/06/hospital-and-nursing-home-employees-required-to-get-booster/

Clinical staff and all other employees of Connecticut hospitals and nursing homes will now be required to get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots under policy changes announced Thursday. Using his emergency powers, Gov. Ned Lamont issued a new executive order mandating health care workers and support staff of all long-term care facilities receive booster shots no later than Feb. 11. The directive applies to nursing homes, residential care homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities and managed residential communities.

Hudson Valley hospitals credit vaccine, preparedness as COVID surge continues

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/06/hospital-staff-getting-covid-but-vaccine-and-preparedness-help/9102415002/

As hospitals battle yet another COVID-19 surge, several in the Hudson Valley are more prepared this time around. Though staff are getting sick with the new omicron variant, which has proven to be more contagious than its predecessors, hospitals reported on Wednesday that they were holding steady. A survey of hospitals in the Hudson Valley showed that while staff are getting sick and presenting staffing challenges, the facilities are managing. At Vassar Brothers, the number of patients with COVID-19 — 79, as of Monday, according to state data — has increased nearly to roughly the number of patients in spring 2020, said Begg. Still, the hospital and its emergency department are not nearly as overwhelmed as they were two years ago.

324 new COVID-19 cases in Berkshires, more than triple the number two weeks ago

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/daily-report-coronavirus-covid-19-berkshire-county-ma/article_1f95f622-6f52-11ec-8e59-1b10a8eb1445.html

As of Thursday, there were 324 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County, for a seven-day rolling average of 224.6 new daily cases. That is a 204 percent increase from two weeks ago. Berkshire Health Systems had 18 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday. There were no new deaths reported in Berkshire County, for a pandemic total of 349. Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels.

RAPID TESTS OFFERED: Free testing for COVID-19 is offered through the Southern Berkshire Public Health Collaborative’s drive-through clinics in Lee and Sheffield. Advance registration is required.

Here is the schedule for January:

• Jan. 13 in Sheffield: 8-10 a.m. at the Bushnell-Sage Library, 48 Main St.

• Jan. 20 in Sheffield 8-10 a.m. at the Bushnell-Sage Library, 48 Main St.

• Jan. 27 in Sheffield 8-10 a.m. at the Bushnell-Sage Library, 48 Main St.

To sign up for an appointment, visit https://tinyurl.com/BerkshireRapidTest.
Children and adults are eligible, whether symptomatic or not. Antigen test results will be shared the same day. For more information, email Amy Hardt, public health nurse, amy@tritownhealth.org.

Town of North Canaan is receiving a limited amount of “At Home” kits. The town will be distributing these on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 from 10:00 am until 11:00 am, or until the supply is exhausted.

In accordance with Governor Lamont’s self-test distribution, the Town of North Canaan is receiving a limited amount of “At Home” kits. The town will be distributing these on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 from 10:00 am until 11:00 am, or until the supply is exhausted. This will take place at the Town Hall in North Canaan, 100 Pease Street. We ask that you enter the Town Hall from the Pease Street entrance, pick up your kit, and exit onto Bragg Street. Upon proof of a North Canaan resident, each vehicle will receive one (1) test kit. Each kit does contain two tests. If you do not live in North Canaan, you will not be able to receive a kit. Acceptable proof of residency include: driver’s license; passport; utility bill; etc. When more tests become available, there will be another distribution, as well as, N-95 Masks.

The CT Department of Health guidance, Griffin Health has CANCELLED the 12+ COVID-19 vaccination clinic that was scheduled for Friday, January 7th, due to the forecasted weather.

Our future clinics are still as scheduled:

Friday, January 28, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 4, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 25, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
All three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, will be available. All boosters will also be available. Please also note that boosters for 12-15 year olds will be available at these clinics.

For individuals who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna)
Individuals 12 years and older who received a Pfizer-BioNTech and individuals 18 years and older who received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series.

For individuals who received a J&J vaccine
Individuals 18 years and older who received a J&J vaccine two or more months ago are recommended to 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.

North Canaan Elementary School will be holding Pediatric (Ages 5-11) Vaccination Clinics in their building in partnership with Griffin Health. These are open to the public and no appointments are necessary.

The dates and times are:

Thursday, January 13th, 3:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 3rd, 3:30 – 7:30 p.m.
ONLY PEDIATRIC (AGES 5-11) VACCINATIONS WILL BE ADMINISTERED AT THESE CLINICS – NO ADULT (12+) DOSES WILL BE AVAILABLE.

A parent or guardian must accompany the child, ages 5-11, and only the pediatric Pfizer vaccination will be administered. A Pediatric Intake Form (1).pdf must be completed – you may print and complete it in advance, or forms will be available to complete at each clinic.

Regional Middle School Athletics and Activities Committee Meeting

Committee Comprised of Board of Education Representatives of Canaan, Cornwall, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, and Region One

Region-Wide Policy Committee Meeting
Thursday, January 13, 2022
9:00 – 10:30 a.m. on Zoom

Zoom Meeting Link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88211896309
Meeting ID: 882 1189 6309
Join by Phone: 1-646-558-8656
Meeting ID: 882 1189 6309

KENT LIBRARY TO PRESENT READING OF “BRICKS AND BOOKS” AT ST. ANDREWS

(Kent, Connecticut) The Kent Library Association will initiate the celebration of its 100th birthday with the staged reading of Bricks and Books: A Dramatized History of the Kent Memorial Library, on Saturday, January 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the St. Andrew’s Parish Hall, Kent. Proof of vaccination is required for attendance, and audience members are required to wear masks. Please register in advance. The show’s snow-date is Saturday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m. Kent Memorial Library thanks St. Andrew’s for use of the Parish Hall. Kent Memorial Library provides a center for collaborative engagement, education and enrichment for the greater Kent community. Kent Memorial Library is located at 32 North Main Street, Kent, Connecticut, 860-927-3761. Visit kentmemoriallibrary.org for more information.

Tech Labs: Google Drive and Google Docs. Monday, January 31 & Monday, February 7, 5:45 – 7:00 PM.

COPAKE – Join us on Zoom on Monday, January 31, and Monday, February 7, from 5:45 to 7:00 PM, for two tech labs led by Roeliff Jansen Community Library’s tech guru, Pam Doran, on how to use the applications Google Drive and Google Docs. This program is cosponsored by the Claverack Free Library, Hudson Area Library, Philmont Public Library, and Roeliff Jansen Community Library.

COVID-19 numbers top 10K again in state

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/05/covid-19-numbers-top-10k-again-in-state/

HARTFORD — The number of new daily COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday topped 10,000 for the second time after having crossed that threshold for the first time Tuesday. The state Department of Public Health announced 10,344 additional laboratory-confirmed and probable cases, down from Tuesday’s daily pandemic high of 10,644 cases. Per federal reporting guidelines, case counts include both confirmed and probable cases. Public health officials also reported a net increase of 110 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 1,676 statewide. Patients counts were last this high in April 2020 early in the first wave of the state’s coronavirus outbreak. The record remains 1,972 hospitalizations on April 22, 2020.

Kent names interim social services director

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/05/kent-names-interim-social-services-director/

KENT — The town now has a person to cover social services work until a permanent director is hired in what was one of the fastest municipal position searches in recent history. However, she hasn’t started yet. Judy Sheridan was hired Monday evening by the Board of Selectmen as interim social services director following the closing of a candidate search that same day and a meeting of the social services director hiring subcommittee 90 minutes before. The position was first advertised Dec. 20. Sheridan will work up to 15 hours per week at $30 per hour until a permanent director is hired. She is a 27-year resident of Kent and a longtime social worker who retired three years ago.

Frustration, confusion build as Salisbury train station remains in limbo

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/05/frustration-confusion-build-as-salisbury-train-station-remains-in-limbo/

SALISBURY – Individuals and town officials concerned about the old Lakeville railroad station will come together to visit the site and discuss next steps Jan. 18 at 8 a.m. The issue was discussed at length during Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. First Selectman Curtis G. Rand said the selectmen put the matter of the building’s use on hold until the Holley Block affordable housing proposal is settled. The station is near the property that is being sought for the complex, but an appeal of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval has halted. Susan Galluzzo of Lakeville Community Conservancy said that organization has brought vibrancy to Lakeville over the past few years, and has worked to support residents and businesses. “But we need to do something about this key building,” she said, noting the station’s deteriorating condition due to it being vacant for five or six years. Rand and Williams disagreed with her when she said it’s leaking due to a hole in the roof. Galluzzo said it needs immediate care and the conservancy is willing to offer $15,000 toward a conditions assessment. “I don’t see why you’re putting this on hold,” Galluzzo said. “It’s not about use; it’s about condition. This building can’t deal with delay. It’s important this be a community undertaking, not just a government undertaking. Everyone I’ve talked to sees the need to do something now. The building creates a positive force in the community.” Rand countered, “I don’t see the urgency. It’s not leaking. You talk like it’s on fire. It hasn’t been disused for that long.” Williams said town employees check it often to be sure there are no major problems. Galluzzo then talked about various uses that would serve the building well, such as a hub for nonprofits, a welcome center and a place to display business brochures. Selectman Donald Mayland pushed for conditions to be addressed first. When Rand said there is a distinction between the town and the conservancy, Mayland said either one could do the assessment. Galluzzo agreed, saying, “This shouldn’t be contentious.”

Dutchess residents can get COVID at-home test kits free this week.

Another round of free at-home COVID-19 test kits are being made available to Dutchess County residents. And, the county has expanded the hours and days its testing site at the Poughkeepsie Galleria will be open. The at-home kits, supplied from the state to the county and distributed by individual municipalities, are limited, and most are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with proof of residency required. Each kit includes two at-home tests, and are limited to one per household. It’s unclear exactly how limited supplies are, and some municipalities had not posted distribution details as of Wednesday afternoon. Red Hook posted an estimate of there being enough test kits for 9% of households to receive one each. KN95 masks and hand sanitizer is also available at many sites. In addition to various pharmacies and urgent care outlets that offer testing, the county has been running a testing site at the former JC Penney at the Poughkeepsie Galleria, and expanded its availability Wednesday. The free testing site will operate from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Expansion at Geer Nursing is delayed by soaring costs

https:://tricornernews.com

Skyrocketing building material costs have halted the planned construction of an 80,000-square-foot, state-ofthe-art nursing facility on the campus of the Geer Village Senior Community. The cost of the project, originally estimated at between $20 million and $25 million, has seen a double-digit increase since 2019, when the state issued a Certificate of Need (CON) in the amount of $22 million, according to Geer CEO Kevin O’Connell. Now, with a pandemic raging and building costs rising, the clock is ticking on the 5-year certificate, which expires in 2023.

No relief for COVID in state as key numbers remain sky high

https://www.rep-am.com/news/news-connecticut/2022/01/04/no-relief-for-covid-in-state-as-key-numbers-remain-sky-high/

HARTFORD — Almost 1,600 people were hospitalized Tuesday with confirmed cases of COVID-19, a level not seen since April 2020 when hospitalizations peaked early in the state’s outbreak. State health officials reported a net increase of 110 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed cases between new admissions and discharges to 1,592 statewide, including 539 patients in New Haven County, 435 patients in Fairfield County, and 390 patients in Hartford County. The last time that many people were being treated in hospitals for COVID-19 was April 11, 2020 — roughly a month after the first confirmed cases were reported in Connecticut, and 11 days before the hospitalizations reached the current pandemic high of 1,972 patients. The positive test rate set another daily record of 23.85% as the highly contagious omicron and delta variants continue to compete for dominance here. There were 10,602 new cases reported out of 44,449 test results that were recorded Monday.

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/04/legal-opinion-sought-in-kent/

KENT — The town is seeking a legal opinion on when budget transfers should be done in response to feedback and questions from townspeople. Town Treasurer Barbara Herbst has requested a legal opinion from Town Attorney D. Randall DiBella. She alerted both the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance last month. As of Tuesday, she said town counsel has acknowledged receipt of the request. “I have had a phone conversation with him regarding said request,” Herbst said of DiBella. “The official legal opinion has not yet been received and is expected any time now.” Herbst said several of the taxpayers who spoke at a Dec. 3 special town meeting wanted more transparency when lines were going over the budgeted amount. She said she had informed the finance board in her report the legal expenses were exceeding budget last year. “I’m comfortable in my interpretation,” Herbst told the finance board Dec. 15, but she wants to have that verified by counsel. “The concern is that if you know you need a budget transfer now, do we need to go to the taxpayers now?”

COVID spike runs rampant through inmates, staff at Dutchess County Jail

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/04/dutchess-county-jail-locks-down-amid-spike-covid-cases/9090867002/

A recent surge in COVID cases has effectively shut down the Dutchess County Jail as officials try to limit the spread of coronavirus among inmates and staff. Jail Superintendent Therese M. Lee said Tuesday there were 65 inmates, out of an inmate population of about 200, with positive COVID cases at the facility in the City of Poughkeepsie. The previous high at one time was 19, she said. “The last couple of weeks have been a very extreme uptick in cases,” she said. There are also 71 staff members — out of nearly 200 employees — out of work because they tested positive for COVID or were exposed to it, Lee said. As of 4 p.m. Monday the jail was “pretty much shut down,” she said.

Dutchess hospitalizations jump 20% as cases continue to soar

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/04/dutchess-covid-hospitalizations-jump-few-icu/9093523002/

The number of Dutchess County residents hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped more than 20% on the first day of this week, though few required intensive care beds, according to data collected by the state and county health departments. The jump comes as the number of active cases within the county continues to climb, as does the average positivity rate of testing and number of deaths relating to the illness. The spike has been attributed to holiday gatherings and the highly contagious omicron variant. On Sunday, the most recent day for which the county shared data on its online dashboard, there were 123 residents hospitalized with COVID-19, 21 more than the day before and 49 more than a week earlier. Self-reported totals from the county’s three area hospitals showed, as of Monday, there were nine residents in ICU beds, four of whom required intubation. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate, which also likely does not include most at-home test results, was 19.7% Sunday.

Some Connecticut hospitals tighten visitation rules due to COVID-19

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/03/area-hospitals-tighten-visitation-rules-due-to-covid-19/

Several hospitals, including Waterbury Hospital, Saint Mary’s Hospital, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital and Yale New Haven Hospital Systems, have instituted stricter visitation guidelines in response to the increased community prevalence of COVID-19. The new restrictions took effect as hospitalizations rose by more than 300 since Thursday to 1,452. The updated visitor policy at Saint Mary’s took effect Monday and will remain in effect until further notice, officials said. The policy is as follows:

1 fully vaccinated adult visitor per patient, per day on inpatient units. (Compassionate care exceptions may be granted) For minors and neonates, two fully vaccinated parents can visit per patient.

1 fully vaccinated adult visitor for patients in the Emergency Department. Visitors in the waiting room may be limited further or not allowed during times of high capacity.

1 fully vaccinated adult visitor for patients undergoing surgical procedures. Visitors are allowed during registration/intake and discharge/pickup only.

No visitors are allowed for patients testing positive for COVID-19 or persons under investigation (PUI) patients except as outlined in compassionate care circumstances.

Do not visit if you have any symptoms of a cold, the flu, or COVID-19.

Lamont urges most vulnerable to get tested first

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/03/lamont-urges-most-vulnerable-to-get-tested-first-18-eoghe-ogehgg-e-gohegohegg-erogh-eoigheoger/

Gov. Ned Lamont and Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani on Monday urged state residents be judicious in the use of rapid- COVID-19 tests that the state is making available for distribution statewide. Juthani, an infectious disease physician, said only people who have symptoms of COVID-19, or others who have been exposed to the virus should test themselves. “I’m not saying everybody run to the gate and get tested tomorrow,” Lamont said. “I’m saying we have enough testing to take care of those folks must vulnerable, most in need, and give us a little time and we’ll have enough testing for everybody.” Lamont was on the defensive last week after an $18.5 million state deal to purchase 3 million at-home COVID-19 tests collapsed several days after the governor’s office announced the test kits had been purchased. He blamed the delay on misrepresentation by the supplier.

Connecticut’s COVID-19 rate will worsen before it improves, local health officials said Monday, as the state reached a record-breaking 21.5% positivity rate.

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/03/state-has-its-worst-spike-in-covid-cases/

Because of the higher transmissibility of the omicron variant, health officials urged residents to get vaccinated and boosted and upgrade their mask to a surgical mask or N95 mask. “We are seeing the worst spike so far,” said Dr. Syed A. Hussain, chief clinical officer of Trinity Health of New England, parent company of Saint Mary’s Hospital. “We do have difficult weeks ahead of us.” Local health officials expect the COVID-19 surge, led by omicron, to last until early February, said Keith Grant, senior system director of infection prevention at Hartford HealthCare. He noted that the United States typically follows trends in the United Kingdom by 6 to 8 weeks. The UK saw a sharp increase in cases and is now seeing those numbers dip, he said. “We are hoping to see the exact same thing,” Grant said.

‘Logistical mistake’ blamed for delays processing Dutchess JC Penney site tests

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2022/01/03/dutchess-prophase-labs-investigate-problem-covid-test-results/9079813002/

The lab that processes COVID-19 testing from Dutchess County’s sites blamed a delay in receiving samples taken Dec. 27 at the Poughkeepsie Galleria site for why some residents waited until the start of this week for results. However, ProPhase Labs Chief Executive Officer Ted Karkus said Monday the “one-time issue” has been resolved and “everyone should have their results.” The delay caused confusion for many who were tested that day at the former JC Penney. Some said the confusion was exacerbated after being told by lab phone operators their sample could not be used due to a shipping or labeling issue. The incident came as testing sites around the region experienced a flood of residents seeking testing due to the needs and impacts of the holiday season, and the rapid spread of the omicron variant. The county is seeing higher case numbers than at any other time during the pandemic. Cases requiring hospitalization have also been on the rise, though not as severely as last winter’s surge.

Waits persist for COVID-19 tests in Berkshires. One in five results coming back positive as cases surge

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/waits-persist-for-covid19-tests-berkshires/article_97910210-6cd8-11ec-ae6e-5b0dd562b791.html

PITTSFIELD — Recent COVID-19 tests in the Berkshires are coming back positive at a higher rate than the pandemic as a whole – as cases surge and waits continue for access to tests. In the last seven days, 19.2 percent of the roughly 5,000 tests conducted by Berkshire Medical Center detected the virus. That compares to 16.2 percent in the last 14 days and 11.3 percent for the entire pandemic. Since Dec. 27, 1,165 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Berkshire County, according to the state Department of Public Health, and four people in the county have died since then of the disease.

Registration is now open for COVID-19 rapid testing to be held Thursday morning in Sheffield.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/rapid-testing-sessions-covid19-lee-sheffield/article_bced5c3c-6cbc-11ec-8967-6fd718d4dbb7.html

The session will use the BinaxNOW antigen tests. As of 12:30 p.m. Monday, limited appointment slots were available for the session in Sheffield, hosted by the Southern Berkshire Public Health Collaborative. Drop-in appointments may be available at the end of the session for half an hour, as supplies of the test kits last.

To register, visit this site.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f44aca72aa0fbc07-binaxnow

Organizers say test results will be emailed within four hours. A Lee testing session to be held Tuesday afternoon had been fully subscribed as of 1 p.m. Monday, though drop-in appointments may be available after 3:30 p.m. in the Tri-Town Health Department’s parking lot, at 45 Railroad St. People should enter by Main Street onto Consolati Way.

Connecticut’s Schools’ contact tracing to be modified Omicron variant alters strategies

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/02/schools-contact-tracing-to-be-modified/

Students across the region head back to school today following holiday vacation as the omicron variant rages across the state and nation. Upon their return, contact tracing efforts may look different in many school districts. The state Department of Public Health late last week recommended local school officials discontinue identifying all individual exposures inside schools or during extracurricular activities and to focus more on spotting students and staff with active symptoms related to COVID-19. Part of the recommendation that students and staff with symptoms should be managed clinically and isolated early came with a series of updates from Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani after the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shortened the length of quarantine to five days. The new approach will be more effective as individual-level contact tracing weakens when community transmission levels are high, Juthani said in a statement. Virus transmission in schools has remained low despite the increasing positivity rates, she said.

Cornwall group protesting DEEP’s Housatonic Meadows project gets a hearing

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2022/01/02/cornwall-group-protesting-deeps-housatonic-meadows-project-gets-a-hearing/

After more than a month of expressing anger and frustration, members of the group calling itself Housatonic Meadows Preservation Action will be able to voice their concerns face-to-face with representatives from the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. via Zoom, according to a message received from Mason Trumble, deputy commissioner of DEEP. The issue arose late in November when passers-by noticed a massive cutting of trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park, a highly popular recreational area which actually is located in Sharon, but is very close to the Cornwall Bridge border on Route 7. Twenty-four ancient oaks along the banks of the Housatonic River were reduced to piles of felled limbs. White pines were also taken down. No one from the public had been apprised of the project, causing an outcry from residents and conservationists. Local legislators, state Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, and state Sen. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, have visited the site and weighed in with their objections. DEEP representatives have said the action was taken because bank erosion, combined with root compaction from car and foot traffic, had made the trees unstable. There was apparently an incident in which one fell into the parking lot and so safety became a concern. Some residents were so upset with the tree removal that on Dec. 6, understanding that more was to take place, they barricaded the parking area with their cars, but no DEEP workers arrived on the scene that day.

Driver escapes unharmed after driving car through storefront window of Nejaime’s Wine Cellars in Stockbridge

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/driver-escapes-unharmed-after-driving-car-through-storefront-window-in-stockbridge/article_422f3d12-6c17-11ec-a476-031f22f6860e.html

STOCKBRIDGE — Fred Lafave was toward the back of Nejaime’s Wine Cellars on Elm Street when the store clerk’s quiet Sunday afternoon came to crashing halt. “I heard a crash and thought something fell. I looked toward the front and saw a man get out of his car. He had crashed into the front of the building,” he said. Around 1:15 p.m., the unidentified motorist was a customer picking up his order, according to owner Jim Nejaime, when the driver slammed his 2019 Audi sedan into the bay window. The impact shattered two of the three window panes and damaged the deli counter on the inside where Debra Morris had been working before she decided to step away for a moment. Neither Lafave nor Morris were hurt by the accident. Stockbridge police say the driver, who they did not name, also escaped physical harm. Police say it’s believed the driver accidentally stepped on the gas pedal as he was attempting to park his vehicle. The crash, however, remains under investigation.

Great Barrington: Watson Fund reaches $36,860; $15K given anonymously

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/great-barrington-watson-fund-reaches-36-860-15k-given-anonymously/article_10e3c6b8-6908-11ec-9dc2-e73df53dfbb4.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The 85th John S. Watson Christmas Fund has received an additional $27,445 in donations toward this year’s fundraising goal of $40,000. Today’s gifts include an anonymous donation of $15,000. This year’s drive has raised $36,860 to date. The Watson Fund aims to make the holiday season a bit more joyous by providing food and clothing certificates to families in need. Donations are being accepted in person at all South County branches of Berkshire Bank or by mail to Berkshire Bank, 244 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230, or The Watson Fund, P.O. Box 284, Great Barrington, MA 01230. Checks should be payable to the Watson Fund. Those wishing to make their donations “in memory of” or “in lieu of holiday cards,” can include their requests with their check.

Cannabis, solar energy to be discussed at upcoming Sharon hearing

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/31/cannabis-solar-energy-to-be-discussed-at-upcoming-sharon-hearing/

SHARON — The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a hearing Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall to discuss proposed amendments to the regulations, including a temporary moratorium on cannabis establishments. The others relate to solar energy regulations, rear lots, multiple-dwelling units and conversion of old barn buildings. The enactment of a temporary moratorium on the use of land and structures for cannabis establishments would allow commissioners sufficient time to address the effects of such structures on the town. Another amendment calls for establishing standards for the siting of solar systems, as well as a carefully managed employment of solar energy in town. The amendment “is designed to promote the use of solar energy while protecting property values and without impairing the appearance and character of neighborhoods and the town.” The amendment on newly constructed multiple dwellings states they will be allowed in certain districts as a special exception, provided they are located on 2 acres and contain no more than six units.

Kent Memorial Library looks to make 100th anniversary a special one

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/31/kent-memorial-library-looks-to-make-100th-anniversary-a-special-one/

KENT — Turning 100 is a great opportunity for a celebration and the Kent Memorial Library has big plans for 2022 as it recognizes the 100th anniversary of the construction of its building on North Main Street. “Anytime an organization has a big milestone it is an opportunity to celebrate and to remind people of what we’re doing and that it matters,” library Director Sarah Marshall said. A Centennial Committee has been working throughout 2021 to prepare and several initiatives have been launched, including a logo and an online timeline with videos, text and photos of its history, matched with books of the different decades, as well as global events representing different time periods. Individual stories also are being collected. There is an online form at kentmemoriallibrary.org with a series of questions, such as asking how a person uses the library or memories of Kent Memorial Library, and even has been one’s relationship with libraries throughout life. Videos and audio recordings are being made of the stories. Videos can be seen on the library’s YouTube channel and other social media.

New York’s minimum wage just increased. Here’s where and by how much

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/12/29/new-york-minimum-wage-increase-2022-where-how-much/9038277002/

New York’s minimum wage is set to increase on Dec. 31, with three downstate counties arriving at the $15 minimum wage threshold set for the state five years ago. Minimum wage workers in Westchester County and in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island will see $15 an hour in the new year, on par with workers employed by large firms in New York City, who have been making $15 an hour since the end of 2018. Fast food workers across New York also make $15 an hour, regardless of location. Workers in the rest of the state will see an increase to $13.20 an hour — a 70-cent increase from the current rate of $12.50 — on Dec. 31. The increases are part of New York’s minimum wage package, passed in 2016 by the state Legislature and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a five-year rising scale of wages, staggered across the state based on location.

This news from Maria Horn:

The situation is fluid, but it appears that CT’s plan to purchase 3 million at-home COVID tests has not just been delayed, but has fallen through. The state continues to work to find alternative sources, but, predictably, there’s a lot of competition, and there are no answers yet

Kent group files court appeal against PZC for its approval of 13-home development

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/30/kent-group-files-court-appeal-against-pzc-for-its-approval-of-13-home-development/

KENT – An appeal has been filed in Torrington Superior Court against the Planning and Zoning Commission for its approval of a 13-lot conservation development on North Main Street. Also named in the suit are Paul Syzmanski of Arthur H. Howland & Associates, the engineer for the project, and North Main Kent, the owner of the property. They are summoned to appear in court Feb. 8, 2022. A group named the Committee to Protect Rural Kent, along with Dorothy and David Yewer, whose property abuts the site to the south, are the plaintiffs in the case. In addition to Dorothy Yewer, the committee members are Bill Arnold, Liddy Baker, Ken Cooper, Tim Good and Doug Wynn. The issue has been a controversial one since owners Angelica and Andrew Bacon of Long Island City, N.Y., and Erik Tietz of Cornwall applied for a special permit to develop the land on Route 7, just north of the village center, which has become known as the northern gateway to town. During three sessions of PZC hearings, it was noted that 75 letters in opposition to the plan were received, with only a few residents expressing support. The main concern is the view of the open fields that look out to the mountains, primarily on the southern portion of the property, will be marred. The project would have 13 single-family units on 13 acres. As a conservation development, at least 40% of the land must be kept open. The design calls for most of the homes to be near the front of the property, with a community center and pool down a sloping area to the rear. A barn currently standing near the front would remain. The appeal document states that according to the Sept. 9 hearing session, a representative of the defendants projected an image of preliminary Homeowner Association covenants, but the image does not appear on the town’s website of materials from that meeting, nor were such covenants submitted for the commission’s review.

In an effort to keep schools open, Massachusetts will give K-12 employees at-home rapid COVID-19 tests

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/statehouse/massachusetts-give-out-tests-to-keep-schools-open-after-winter-break/article_562299c2-699c-11ec-a3d3-a78edcf53890.html

State education officials are planning to provide school districts with 200,000 at-home rapid COVID-19 tests for their teachers and staff and are encouraging school personnel to take one of the antigen tests before returning to work after the winter break. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said Wednesday that each district will receive enough tests to distribute two to every school staff member, and that superintendents will soon receive more information on the regional sites where districts will be able to pick up their test supply. Purchased through an out-of-state vendor using about $5.6 million in federal school relief funds, the shipment is expected to arrive in Massachusetts by Thursday, the department said.

Covid testing kit updates in NW Connecticut

The Covid test kit distribution in the Town of Canaan/Falls Village scheduled for tomorrow morning is cancelled due to a delay in us receiving the test kits. Update out of North Canaan test kit distribution: We just found out that the test kits have not arrived in Connecticut so the town of North Canaan has decided to cancel tomorrow’s distribution since we have no idea when these kids will arrive so it’s canceled until further notice we will keep everyone posted In Sharon The State of Connecticut did not receive the Test Kits. Unfortunately this means…No distribution for Friday, Dec. 31st. You will be kept updated once we receive more information

Town of North Canaan is receiving a limited amount of “At Home” kits.

In accordance with Governor Lamont’s self-test distribution, the Town of North Canaan is receiving a limited amount of “At Home” kits. The town will be distributing these on Friday, December 31, 2021 from 9:00 am until 11:00 am, or until the supply is exhausted. This will take place at the Town Hall in North Canaan, 100 Pease Street. We ask that you enter the Town Hall from the Pease Street entrance, pick up your kit, and exit onto Bragg Street. Upon proof of a North Canaan resident, each vehicle will receive one (1) test kit. Each kit does contain two tests. If you do not live in North Canaan, you will not be able to receive a kit. Acceptable proof of residency include: driver’s license; passport; utility bill; etc. When more tests become available, there will be another distribution, as well as, N-95 Masks.

Connecticut’s positivity rate now at 17.78%

On Wednesday, 502,484 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 7,520 since Tuesday. Out of 42,295 tests administered, 7,520 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate of 17.78%. The current number of hospitalizations is at 1,113, an increase of 150 since Tuesday.

Connecticut’s vast shipment of at-home testing kits delayed, according to governor

https://www.wfsb.com/news/states-vast-shipment-of-at-home-testing-kits-delayed-according-to-governor/article_289c4062-68ec-11ec-ae3b-ab7f8ed0ea78.html?block_id=994091

Governor Lamont’s office announced that the arrival of Connecticut’s shipment of three million testing kits will be pushed back due to shipping and warehouse delays that are “out of the State of Connecticut’s control”. Part of the problem is due to a distribution bottleneck on the West Coast. It is unclear when the shipment of testing kits are expected to arrive or how this will impact the six million N95 face masks that the state is also expected to get. Dozens of local communities have already established plans to distribute these testing kits and face masks starting Thursday.

Social media has it wrong. NY lawmakers aren’t voting to detain the unvaccinated

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/12/29/new-york-lawmakers-voting-bill-detain-covid-unvaccinated-false-claim/9034694002/

A claim that New York lawmakers are poised to vote on a bill to detain the unvaccinated in medical facilities is false, according to state Assembly leaders. The claim, which is making the rounds on social media, stems from a bill first introduced in the New York state Legislature in 2015, that would allow for the temporary detention of individuals infected, or suspected of being infected, with a contagious disease during a public health emergency. The state Assembly’s health committee has no plans to take action on the bill, and its sponsor, Assembly member N. Nick Perry, D-Brooklyn, now says he will withdraw it, according to The Associated Press, which fact-checked the claim last week. Slightly different versions of the bill have been reintroduced in the Assembly three times since the 2015-16 legislative session, but it never made it out of committee.

After alleged ‘brazen’ acts of shoplifting, four arrested following police chase in South County

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/crime/four-arrested-following-police-chase-in-south-county/article_3fb50468-68de-11ec-9e64-5fd91ab9cf3c.html

LEE — One liquor store owner called it “brazen,” and he’s got the video to prove it. Another liquor store owner expressed relief that no one got hurt. Following a police chase from Stockbridge through Lee, four people allegedly involved in at least two shoplifting incidents were apprehended at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Quarry Hill Business Park in Lee. “It appears that what these individuals were doing was, in a large group, walking into a liquor store, grabbing everything they possibly can carry and then just walking right out, kind of like a mass shoplifting spree,” said Stockbridge Police Sgt. Kirk Nichols. The suspects were all from New York, police said. It’s not yet clear if the two liquor stores in the Berkshires — the first one in Lee, the second in Great Barrington — were the only stores in the region targeted in the spree. The suspects were driving in a vehicle that matches the description of one that sped off from Berkshire Liquors, on Housatonic Street in Lee, following a shoplifting incident at 7:32 p.m. According to a joint press release issued Wednesday afternoon by the police departments of Lee, Stockbridge and Great Barrington, investigators conducted a preliminary investigation on scene. As a result, Stockbridge Police arrested the vehicle operator, Nyzaiah Williams, 18, of New York, N.Y., for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, unlawful attachment of license plates, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property. Three other people in the vehicle were arrested by the Great Barrington Police Department for shoplifting over $250 worth of merchandise. Of these three, two were juveniles — one 16, another, 17. The third was identified as Albert L. Alexis, 23, also from New York, N.Y. The investigation is ongoing. Investigators impounded the vehicle and, as of Wednesday afternoon, they were seeking a search warrant to comb through it. In addition to the arrests and charges stemming from the Stockbridge and Great Barrington Police Departments, charges are also pending from the Lee Police Department.

Charlotte Hungerford Hospital restricting emergency room visitors due to COVID-19

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/28/charlotte-hungerford-hospital-restricting-emergency-room-visitors-due-to-covid-19/

TORRINGTON – Charlotte Hungerford Hospital has been temporarily prohibiting visitors to its emergency department in recent days as it deals with an influx of patients and not enough space. The hospital has 36 beds in its emergency department and recently has averaged 50 to 60 patients daily. At one point Monday, there were 71 patients registered. About 25% of the cases have been related to the latest COVID-19 surge. Patients have been placed in beds and stretchers in hallways as the hospital deals with the influx. “Every day we’re evaluating whether or not we feel it’s safe to allow visitors in our emergency department,” said John Capobianco, the hospital’s senior vice president. “Obviously, if we allow a visitor for every patient, you can easily double the number of (individuals) in your emergency department.” The hospital, which is owned by Hartford HealthCare, announced it would have no visitors to its emergency department Dec. 22, but it did allow visitors on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Connecticut plans to distribute at-home tests and N95 masks

https://www.wfsb.com/news/connecticut-plans-to-distribute-at-home-tests-and-n95-masks/article_159eca74-67d5-11ec-b0eb-833b5b02d0f3.html?block_id=994091

Connecticut is set to receive three million at home tests and six million N95 masks. Of the 3 million tests, cities and towns will get 1 million. K-12 schools will receive 2 million. This comes at the perfect time, just when the state’s positivity rate is at the highest number since mass testing began, based off the latest data that number is at 10.7%. After the holiday surge, many testing sites are getting ready for long lines. Connecticut has 400 testing sites however soon it will be easier to ditch the line and get an at home testing kit. The decision to order the tests and masks was made on Christmas Eve and we could start to see them be distributed by this week

CDC recommends shorter COVID isolation, quarantine for all

https://www.wfsb.com/cdc-recommends-shorter-covid-isolation-quarantine-for-all/article_403344cc-c30e-5763-835a-ae2ca5b66ba6.html?block_id=994091

U.S. health officials on Monday cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant. Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus. But the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say.

Funding for the old train station building on Ethan Allen Street

Fist Selectman Rand said after discussions with the state Historic Preservation Office, he learned the town is eligible for “some serious funding” for the old train station building on Ethan Allen Street. Susan Galluzzo, representing the Lakeville Community Conservancy, said that group has a proposal for “stabilization and rehabilitation” for the building, which is in poor repair. Rand noted that he had just received the letter from the group, and said the selectmen will take it up in January. The selectmen voted to keep the current meeting schedule, which is the first Monday of the month at 5 p.m.

Pine Plains Board of Education


PINE PLAINS — The Pine Plains Board of Education next meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Stissing Mountain Junior/Senior High
School library at 2829 Church St. For details, contact Pine
Plains District Clerk Julia Tomaine at j.tomaine@ppcsd.org

Funeral Mass for Mark Niedhammer

A funeral Mass for Mark Niedhammer will be held on Thursday, Dec. 30, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church in Lakeville. A reception will follow at the Grove in Lakeville. Mark died Dec. 9, 2021, at Vassar Brothers Hospital after a short illness. Contributions may be made in his honor to a charity of the donor’s choice. Arrangements are under the care of the Newkirk Palmer Funeral Home in North Canaan

Millerton Legion hosts Sunday Pancake Breakfasts

Monthly Pancake Breakfasts are back on at the Millerton American Legion Post 178. There will be breakfasts on Sunday, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 6 and April 3, 2022. The monthly breakfast will consist of pancakes, home fries, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, and will cost $8 per meal. Meals will be available for eat-in or take-out. Breakfast sandwiches will also be available for $5. The Legion will serve from 7 to 10 a.m. Please call 518-789-4755 to place orders. The Post 178 Legion Hall is
located at 155 Route 44, Millerton

DEMOCRATIC TOWN CAUCUS


Town of Canaan/Falls Village
DATE: Wednesday, January 5, 2022
TIME: 6:30 PM
PLACE: FVVFD Emergency Services Center
188 Rt. 7 S
Falls Village, CT 06031
MASKS ARE REQUIRED WITHIN THE FACILITY AS WELL AS SOCIAL DISTANCING.
Personal attendance is required, no zoom, FaceTime, calling in, or by proxy voting is possible at this point.

Berkshires COVID-19 cases

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/daily-report-coronavirus-covid-19-berkshire-county-ma/article_3f704b52-6767-11ec-8779-0b45b92db23a.html

Berkshire Health Systems had 20 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Monday. There were no new deaths reported in Berkshire County, leaving the pandemic total at 340. Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels. Across the state, there were 12,983 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases over the three days. The state had 1,636 hospitalized patients, with 25 new deaths reported. To date, 19,629 people in Massachusetts have died of COVID-19.

Mass. not shutting down, but slowing down as COVID cases rise

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/statehouse/mass-not-shutting-down-but-slowing-down-as-covid-cases-rise/article_835659b2-6738-11ec-ab1b-2b4d85bd7073.html

The last week of December in 2020 began with a “day of hope” and the launch of widespread COVID-19 vaccinations. A year later, 2021 is ending with a “blizzard” of new infections, as Treasurer Deb Goldberg described it. Postponements and cancellations are filling the news again. Infections forced many to alter their holiday plans, caused the NHL to put all of its games on hold, and left scores of travelers stranded at airports as the virus put a dent in airline workforces. And starting Monday, some non-essential medical procedures are being put off to protect health care capacity. While vaccinations and boosters have helped reduce deaths, hospitalizations and people suffering severe illness due to COVID-19, the state has now posted more than 20,000 confirmed and probable deaths from a virus that arrived 21 months ago and has since mutated.

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/27/cornwall-selectmen-will-start-new-year-with-affordable-housing-plan/

CORNWALL – Towns have until July to submit an affordable housing plan, but Cornwall has already completed its draft, which will be up for a vote of approval at the Jan. 4 Board of Selectmen meeting. Titled “It’s About Community,” the 18-page comprehensive document was composed by the Cornwall Affordable Housing Plan Committee beginning last January. The introduction states, “The final draft is a culmination of many hours of hard work by the committee, several public forums and lots of direct citizen involvement.” It goes on to say that accessibility to affordable housing has long been an important issue in the town, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Home prices have soared in the past few years and the rental market has virtually disappeared. The document states, “This affordable housing plan has been prepared to proactively position Cornwall so that it will be able to provide housing to all.” The committee was comprised of a group of residents, including the current three selectmen. Planner Janell Mullen was hired to oversee the project.

Affordable housing, infrastructure upgrades on way to Norfolk in 2022

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/27/affordable-housing-infrastructure-upgrades-on-way-to-norfolk-in-2022/

NORFOLK – This year was one of change in Norfolk, with progress made toward more affordable housing, the plan to expand Robertson Plaza initiated and work continuing on upgrading infrastructure, and next year promises more of the same. Most recently, the Norfolk Foundation purchased the Royal Arcanum building in the village center and will sublease five apartments there to the Foundation for Norfolk Living for affordable housing. FNL will renovate the apartments and plans are in place to upgrade the infrastructure of the building. The Royal Arcanum, designed in 1904 by architect Alfredo Taylor, has been a community keystone since its construction. “The Arcanum Building is the main thing right now,” said First Selectman Matthew Riiska, “that and the expansion of Robertson Plaza- that’s a big project for Norfolk. It will be a deck system off the plaza to open up the area for larger gatherings.” Again, he said, the Norfolk Foundation is behind the endeavor. The project also connects the plaza with City Meadow, a wildlife preserve in the town’s center. “We had a charrette a couple of years ago to discuss ways to open up the center and to get people to use the meadow,” Riiska said.

COVID-19 death toll in Connecticut slowed in 2021, 9,000 state residents have died, most in 2020

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/27/covid-19-death-toll-slowed-in-2021/

Deaths in the state’s COVID-19 outbreak slowed considerably in 2021 as vaccinations against the deadly disease increased. While the death toll topped 9,000 lives in the lead-up to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, roughly two-thirds of the coronavirus-related deaths occurred in the last nine months of 2020. State health officials reported another 75 deaths in the last weekly update issued the day before Christmas Eve. This brought the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 or complications from the viral disease to 9,077. On Monday, 489,211 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 14,654 since Thursday. Out of 136,857 tests administered, 14,654 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate of 10.71%

New York COVID cases

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/12/27/covid-19-new-york-numbers/49575823/

New coronavirus cases surged nearly 97% in New York in the week ending Sunday, as 223,956 cases were reported and the highly contagious omicron variant set new record-highs for daily infections. The previous week had 113,883 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. New York ranked first among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday described New York as the epicenter of the winter surge in coronavirus cases spreading across the country. In New York, nearly 4,900 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Friday, which is down from about 7,000 at the same time last year. A total of 380 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in New York in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 432 people were reported dead due to the virus.

500 National Guard members deploy today to help Massachusetts hospitals

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/national-guard-deploy-massachusetts/article_3aecca9e-6715-11ec-a10b-7336f38a0b13.html

Massachusetts is closing out 2021 with COVID-19 seeming to spread as quickly as ever and both health care facilities and testing infrastructure systems appearing to be overwhelmed. On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker is deploying 500 National Guard members to do what they can to aid hospitals and ambulance providers that are struggling with a critical shortage of workers. Also by Monday, many hospitals will need to postpone or cancel any non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures. When the state reopened the Worcester field hospital and started accepting patients on Dec. 6, 2020, there were a total of 1,516 people hospitalized with COVID-19 including 302 people in intensive care.

Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation awards 19 nonprofits grants totaling $147,250

The Northwest CT Community Foundation has awarded grants to 19 area nonprofit organizations, totaling $147,250 during its third grant cycle of 2021.

Among the recent awards:

$15,000 to Beardsley & Memorial Library in Winsted to support the purchase of an outreach vehicle to increase home deliveries and off-site programming “We can visit schools, community centers, and create special events to bring Beardsley everywhere,” said Karin Taylor of Beardsley & Memorial Library, in a news release. “By helping provide library services to underserved residents we will increase our capacity to promote literacy, education, access to resources, and enrichment throughout the community.”

Local awards included

$5,000 to AHA AfterSchool Program, general operating expenses, plus an additional $5,000 from the Northwest Corner Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

$25,000 to Canaan Child Care Center, Inc. to support a playground structure for the child care center

$3,000 to Chore Service, Inc. toward pre-service health screenings for Chore Workers and clients

$5,000 to Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry toward general operating expenses, plus $2,500 from the Northwest Corner Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

$10,000 to Greenwoods Counseling & Referrals Inc. toward the addition of a staff psychiatrist for 10 hours per week

$3,000 to Helping Hands Chore Service toward the purchase of PPE and client transportation to medical appointments

$3,250 to Housatonic Valley Association toward wages for four seasonal multilingual River Information & Outreach interns in 2022, plus $3,250 from the Northwest Corner Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

$10,000 to Little Guild of Saint Franic toward the purchase of equipment for facility maintenance, enhanced cleaning and sanitation

American mural project receives CT cultural fund operating support grant from CT humanities

The American Mural Project (AMP) is the recipient of a $30,700 CT Cultural Fund Operating Support Grant (CTCFOSG) from Connecticut Humanities, the statewide, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). AMP is one of 57 organizations in Litchfield County to have received a grant—and the only organization in Winchester. The Connecticut Humanities grant is pivotal in helping AMP open with regular hours in 2022. This is a significant step in enabling AMP to fulfill its mission, invest in its sustainability, and expand its role in the community. Renovations to the mural building are being completed, including an elevator, second- and third-level stairs and railings, and the build-out of additional program space. These additions will allow AMP to open with three levels of viewing and meet increased demand for education programming.

How can NY fix EMT shortages, worsened by COVID, that threaten emergency response times?

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/12/20/ems-staff-shortages-new-york-worsened-covid-as-emt-recruitment-hochul/8811095002/

New York’s shortage of emergency medical technicians had strained volunteer and professional ambulance corps for years, with long hours and low pay creating hurdles to recruitment and feeding staff turnover. “The pandemic broke the camel’s back,” said Rockland Paramedic Services chief information officer Tim Egan. Across paid and volunteer agencies, COVID’s emotional, physical, and health strains drained the EMT pool. “I don’t think there’s a single person in our organization that hasn’t been touched by COVID.” Around the state, agencies and local governments are coming up with ways to boost recruitment. In Rockland County, a new program was announced last week that would help underemployed workers earn their EMT certification and secure a job with Rockland Paramedics. But the underlying issue that has fed a shortage for years still needs to addressed, first responders say. “Pay is a big problem,” Egan said. The job pays close to minimum wage in many places. A recent job listing in Ticonderoga offered $20 an hour for a person with state EMT-Critical Care or Paramedic Certification; a job in Yonkers listed a similar wage. The starting salary for an FDNY EMT is $35,254.

$200,000 gift from state comes early to the town of Otis

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/central_berkshires/dot-award-complete-streets-otis/article_cfb77f94-6584-11ec-beed-3b30046e8be0.html

OTIS — For five years, the state Department of Transportation has been handing out money to cities and towns to make travel safer and easier for people, regardless of how they get around. A few days before Christmas, that largesse arrived in Otis. The town landed an award of $203,062 that it will use to install sidewalks, as well as benches, picnic tables and bicycle racks. The money comes through the DOT’s Complete Streets program, which has provided $69.5 million to 240 communities since its launch in 2016. The award was announced Wednesday. The program’s purpose is to back community projects that enhance methods of transportation beyond the use of motor vehicles, such as walking, public transit and biking.

Berkshire state lawmakers united in call for more testing, support for health care workers, but split over whether to require masks

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/berkshire-county-lawmakers-discuss-charlie-baker-covid-response/article_c6c634fa-641e-11ec-bc80-bfc2169fc8e2.html

Lawmakers representing the Berkshires agree that the county needs more access to free and affordable testing, and that “exhausted” health care workers need support, but they are split on the idea of a statewide mask mandate. The latest spike in Massachusetts COVID-19 cases has led top lawmakers and public health leaders to call for a mask requirement in all indoor public spaces, calls that Gov. Charlie Baker has rejected. Dr. Howard Koh, who served as assistant health secretary under President Barack Obama, told The Boston Globe on Sunday that fighting the coronavirus pandemic without a masking requirement is akin to fighting “with one arm tied behind our backs.” State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, say they support requiring masks in indoor public spaces. Hinds referenced increased transmission from the omicron variant, which contributed to Massachusetts’ highest single-day count of new cases. The state reported 9,042 new cases Thursday, up from the 7,817 new cases reported Wednesday and the old high of 7,635 new cases from Jan. 8. “A mask mandate takes the pressure off of municipalities, off of businesses that are deciding their own public health policies, and it’s the fastest way to get back to any sense of normalcy,” he said. Farley-Bouvier cited concerns for workers in high-contact settings. The Legislature is set to return from its traditional post-Thanksgiving break during the first week of January, and top lawmakers have not indicated any intention to return sooner. The Senate in January will “discuss if we’re satisfied with [Baker’s] response [to the pandemic] or not and take it from there,” Hinds said.

Upcoming COVID Vaccination Clinics at HVRHS

Friday, January 7, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, January 28, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 4, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 25, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
All three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, will be available. All boosters will also be available.

For individuals who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna)
Individuals 16 years and older who received a Pfizer-BioNTech and individuals 18 years and older who received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series.

For individuals who received a J&J vaccine
Individuals 18 years and older who received a J&J vaccine two or more months ago are recommended to 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.

American Mural Project receives grant

In addition to opening with regular hours, the grant provides funds towards AMP finishing the mural installation, developing an exhibit interpretation plan, and expanding education programming. Mural installation is approximately 85 percent complete, and installation of the many collaborative projects from around the country is beginning. AMP’s education programs—school-based, after-school, summer, professional development for teachers, and virtual options—are in high demand, and the Connecticut Humanities funding also supports expanding these to further fulfill AMP’s mission, reinforce financial sustainability, and increase the organization’s positive impact on Winsted, the region, and the state.

Sheffield Historical Society for a First Night Celebration

On New Year’s Eve from 4-6 pm join the Sheffield Historical Society for a First Night Celebration outdoors on their grounds at the Winter Wonderland Light Display. At this family friendly event musician Willy Welch will be performing songs for kids and adults alike amidst the holiday light display. The event is free and open to the public. Please wear a mask. For more information visit sheffieldhistory.org

Books and Bridles: The Story of the Horse Back Librarians. Monday, January 10, from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.

COPAKE – Join us on Zoom on Monday, January 10, from 6:00 to 7:00pm, for the last of a series of history programs on FDR, presented by Jeff Urbin, educator from the Roosevelt Presidential Museum and Library in Hyde Park. This program is cosponsored by the Claverack Free Library, Hudson Area Library, Philmont Public Library, and Roeliff Jansen Community Library. This presentation tells the story of the Pack Horse Library initiative, a little known program of the Roosevelt Administration’s WPA. Its mission, carried out almost entirely by women, was to deliver and distribute reading materials to the far off corners of Appalachia during the darkest hours of the Great Depression. The pack horse librarians have been the subject of recent novels, including Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars. On Zoom. Register by emailing library@philmont.org

Positive test rate in state highest since early January as COVID surge continues

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/23/positive-test-rate-in-state-highest-since-early-january-as-covid-surge-continues/

Heading into the Christmas weekend Connecticut’s COVID surge continues, according to the latest report from the state Department of Public Health. The positive test rate hit 9.02%, which is only the third time in over a year that it has exceeded 9%. The only higher days were Dec. 29, 2020 (9.14%) and Jan. 11, 2021 (10.72%). Also, 16 more people were hospitalized bringing the current total to 837. And 75 more deaths have been attributed to COVID since last week, which moves that grim total to 9,077 since the start of the pandemic.

Kent first selectman calls fund motions an oversight

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/23/kent-first-selectman-calls-fund-motions-an-oversight/

Responding to criticism, First Selectman Jean Speck resigned Wednesday from the ARPA Needs Assessment Committee and the Board of Selectmen agreed in a special meeting to rescind two motions approved last week to draw $36,000 from the town’s ARPA funds. Speck sent a brief email resignation to Selectmen Glenn Sanchez and Rufus de Rham 7 minutes before the beginning of the meeting. Sanchez later agreed to be the board’s representative on the committee. Sanchez asked for the special meeting to discuss the selectmen’s actions during a Dec. 14 meeting, when Speck put forth two recommendations to spend up to $12,000 on purchasing and installing electronic equipment that would allow hybrid meetings to be conducted in Town Hall, as well as up to $24,000 for emergency management expenses. Those included developing a local emergency operations plan with a pandemic section and equipment for the department. Those votes caused Connie Manes, chairwoman of the ARPA Needs Assessment Committee, to resign the next day. The board is seeking a replacement for Manes, who declined Wednesday to rejoin the committee. However, member Patricia Oris, who submitted her own resignation Dec. 16, said she would stay on the committee and continue the work that is underway. Speck was criticized by committee members and the two selectmen for not notifying and communicating with the committee about the two proposals before bringing them to the selectmen for approval.

Red Hook approves short-term rental regulations

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/23/red-hook-airbnb-short-term-rental-rules-approved/9009869002/

Red Hook has joined the list of Dutchess County municipalities with laws in place regulating short-term rentals. The Red Hook Town Board on Wednesday unanimously passed a local law that limits the number of days hosts can rent out their space, requires permits when hosting and specifies rules for what sort of renting is allowed in each zoning district. The law was passed after weeks of negotiation, public comment and resistance from some hosts. Similar laws have been passed in Beacon, Clinton, Pawling, Rhinebeck and Milan. Other Dutchess areas, including the City of Poughkeepsie and Pine Plains, are considering following suit. Beacon is planning to revisit its regulations to potentially add limitations next year.

State orders admissions freeze at Sandisfield nursing home because of new COVID cases

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/massachusetts-dph-orders-sandisfield-nursing-home-to-freeze-admissions/article_745dc49c-6443-11ec-a782-a3d683be74dc.html

Because of new COVID-19 cases, the state Department of Public Health has ordered an admissions freeze at Berkshire Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center in Sandisfield. The state ordered the freeze Wednesday, a DPH spokesperson said in an email. Berkshire Rehabilitation is one of 17 facilities under state-mandated admissions freezes as of Thursday. The DPH can freeze admissions when there are at least 10 cases at a facility or 10 percent of staff and/or residents are diagnosed with COVID-19 related to health care in the facility. The Sandisfield facility has 57 licensed beds and is operated by Athena Health Care Systems, based in Farmington, Conn.

Upcoming COVID Vaccination Clinics at HVRHS

Upcoming 12+ COVID Vaccination Clinics that will be held at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.  The dates/times include:

  • Friday, January 7, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, January 28, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, February 4, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, February 25, 2022, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

All three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, will be available.  All boosters will also be available.

New York governor signs bill criminalizing fake Covid-19 vaccination cards

https://www.wfsb.com/news/new-york-governor-signs-bill-criminalizing-fake-covid-19-vaccination-cards/article_5a4c5e64-7cbf-5e66-a818-06ac63d1bd58.html?block_id=994091

New York’s governor signed legislation Wednesday criminalizing fake Covid-19 vaccination cards, according to a news release from her office. The new law makes the falsification of cards a misdemeanor and creates a new felony of “computer tampering in the third degree for intentional entering, alteration or destruction of ‘computer material’ regarding COVID-19 vaccine provisions,” Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said. The law comes amid a fresh tightening of rules requiring proof of vaccination in cities across the United States — including New York — as the Omicron coronavirus variant spreads rapidly ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Dutchess County residents in the coming days, including many Thursday, will be able to pick up free at-home COVID test kits from their municipality.

However, the supply of kits is limited, and most are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with proof of residency required. Several towns and cities announced availability for these supplies Wednesday, with the Town of Red Hook holding its distribution Wednesday afternoon, even before a formal notice was issued by Dutchess County.

Village of Millbrook: Kits will be available of 3314 Franklin Ave.

Town of Pawling: Kits will be available at the Lathrop Building at 2 Lakeside Dr.

Town of Pine Plains: Fifty kits available at Town Hall, and they will be available until they run out.

Town of Stanford: Kits will be available at the Town Clerk’s Office and the Supervisor’s Office

Looking for that booster shot? Try the January clinic at Berkshire Community College

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/still-looking-for-that-booster-shot-try-the-january-clinic-at-berkshire-community-college/article_fd30c884-636f-11ec-af45-8ba721f846fa.html

With high demand for booster shots amid omicron spread, the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative will offer a second large-scale booster clinic in January.

The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 8 at Berkshire Community College’s Paterson Field House.

It will offer first, second and booster doses. Pfizer and Moderna doses will be available, and adults 18 and older can choose which they prefer. Children ages 5 to 17 are limited to Pfizer shots. Teenagers 16 to 17 can receive only a Pfizer booster, while younger children are not yet eligible for boosters. Preregistration is required. Visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org to sign up

Berkshire County regional housing agenda set to be released in early 2022

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/berkshire-county-regional-housing-agenda-set-to-be-released-in-early-2022/article_5e070bfe-6367-11ec-a085-2b773152e577.html

A regional housing agenda for Berkshire County is set to be released in early 2022, the product of collaboration among several county organizations, municipal leaders and others. Berkshire, the county’s economic development agency, has worked with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission on the project for much of the past year. “What was a tenuous situation prior to COVID-19 has only been exacerbated in the wake of the pandemic,” 1Berkshire President and CEO Jonathan Butler said this month in a “year in review” article. Butler said the document will recommend “near-term and long-term solutions.”

Region One COVID Update Wednesday December 22

We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:
Kent ● Two Kent Center School elementary school students have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The students were last in the building on Friday, December 17th, and are related to the case we reported on earlier this week. The affected students and all family members will remain at home in isolation/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 quarantine students or close 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.

Connecticut DPH requiring all athletes, coaches to wear masks at indoor sporting events

https://www.wfsb.com/news/state-dph-requiring-all-athletes-coaches-to-wear-masks-at-indoor-sporting-events/article_7013df56-637c-11ec-9526-0b053be97cc5.html?block_id=994091

The state Department of Public Health is upgrading its guidance for local athletic events.

The announcement was made Wednesday evening.

Due to the number of coronavirus cases in the state, state health officials are now requiring that all athletes, coaches, and officials wear face coverings at indoor sporting events, regardless of their vaccination status.

For now, this mask requirement applies to those athletic competitions taking place indoors.

You may need to adhere to new guidelines if you plan on visiting a loved one or friend that’s in the hospital.

https://www.wfsb.com/news/area-hospitals-modifying-visitor-policies-hours-amid-concerns-over-omicron-variant/article_3a81964e-638b-11ec-a7fa-8bfef5404da1.html?block_id=994091

This is in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

On Wednesday, Yale New Haven Hospital announced that they will be requiring visitors to show proof that they’re fully vaccinated or a negative PCR test that’s been taken within the last 72 hours.

No one under the age of eighteen will be allowed to visit a patient staying at Yale New Haven Hospital.

The policy goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, December 23 and applies to all other Yale New Haven Health hospitals, which are Bridgeport, Greenwich, and Lawrence and Memorial Hospitals.

Over in Torrington, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital has decided to bar visitors altogether.

Middlesex Health announced that they’re changing the visiting hours at Middlesex Hospital from 2 to 7:30 p.m. and are encouraging virtual visits, both during the week and on the weekends.

Dutchess residents are getting free COVID test kits.

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/22/covid-home-test-kits-free-dutchess-residents-see-where/9000476002/

Dutchess County residents in the coming days, including many Thursday, will be able to pick up free at-home COVID test kits from their municipality.

However, the supply of kits is limited, and most are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with proof of residency required.

Several towns and cities announced availability for these supplies Wednesday, with the Town of Red Hook holding its distribution Wednesday afternoon, even before a formal notice was issued by Dutchess County. It was immediately unclear just how limited the supplies were; Red Hook and Rhinebeck, in their notices, said each municipality had received enough for roughly 5% of their households. Red Hook noted its villages, Red Hook and Tivoli, would be coordinating separate distributions for their residents. Each kit includes two at-home tests, and KN95 masks were also being made available, with New York giving Dutchess County 120,000, according to the county’s release. The kits are limited to one per household.

The county said the state is expected to be supplying the county with more to distribute to municipalities in the future.

Each kit includes two at-home tests, and KN95 masks were also being made available, with New York giving Dutchess County 120,000, according to the county’s release. The kits are limited to one per household.

The county said the state is expected to be supplying the county with more to distribute to municipalities in the future.

Village of Millbrook: Kits will be available Thursday beginning at noon outside of 3314 Franklin Ave.
Town of Pawling: Kits will be available at the Lathrop Building at 2 Lakeside Dr. from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Town of Pine Plains: Fifty kits were made available around 3 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall, and they will be available until they run out.

Village of Rhinebeck: Kits will be available at Village Hall Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and at the Rhinebeck Police Department Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m.

Town of Stanford: Kits will be available at the Town Clerk’s Office Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Supervisor’s Office Thursday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

New York City-to-Berkshires passenger rail pushed back to summer 2022

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/hinds-targets-berkshire-flyer-pilot-in-summer-2022/article_29a03b3c-62a0-11ec-81d9-47a20734a9ad.html

Passenger rail service between Berkshire County and New York City could begin in summer 2022, as long as the company that owns part of the tracks agrees to allow Amtrak to operate service on those tracks.

A pilot for the project, known as the Berkshire Flyer, was set to begin in summer 2020. But, legal questions and the onset of the pandemic delayed its start.

Funding for the pilot, and an agreement for Amtrak to operate service, are in place for a summer 2022 launch, state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, said in a Tuesday phone interview.

But, CSX Corp., which owns the stretch of tracks between Albany, N.Y., and Pittsfield, still needs to reach an agreement with Amtrak over the use of that 35-mile stretch.

While the pilot would run service only on weekends and during the tourist season, Hinds said the goal is that if the pilot shows strong numbers, the project would expand to daily and year-round service.

Under the pilot, from June to early October, a Friday train would take passengers from New York’s Penn Station to Pittsfield’s Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center, and a Sunday train would return to New York from Pittsfield.

ROBIN HOOD RADIO STORMWATCH WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 22 2021

The WCSD is closed today due to icy road conditions. Have a safe and happy holiday! Due to inclement weather, Dover Union Free Schools will be on a two-hour delay today for all schools and offices – Be Safe. Today is Wednesday December 22. Due to icy road conditions and only having a half day schedule Pine Plains CSD will be closed today. Offices will open at 10am.

New York cancels January Regents exams due to COVID-19 pandemic

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/21/new-york-cancels-regents-exams-january-due-covid-19/8984702002/

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all Regents examinations in January have been canceled, state Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced in a statement Tuesday. No decision on Regents exams in June and August have been made, the statement said. “New York set a daunting record last week with more COVID-19 cases reported in one day than ever before,” Rosa said. “Once again, the January Regents Exams cannot be safely, equitably, and fairly administered across the state. We will continue to work with our schools, districts, and stakeholders to ensure they have what they need to provide academic, social and emotional, and mental health support for our students.” Diploma requirements will be changed to reflect the Regents exam cancellations, with exemptions granted to students completing a secondary-level course of study or make-up program in January, the statement said. To qualify for an exemption, a student must be enrolled in a class that would culminate with a Regents examination in January and earn credit, complete a make-up program to earn course credit or be prepared to take a required Regents examination to graduate at the end of the first semester.

Naumkeag, Berkshire Botanical Garden gain annual entertainment licenses. But the Stockbridge Select Board sets some limits

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/naumkeag-berkshire-botanical-garden-gain-annual-entertainment-licenses-but-the-stockbridge-select-board-sets-some/article_f4e23864-61dc-11ec-8e8c-b72e9a63ff80.html

STOCKBRIDGE — The Naumkeag historic house museum and garden will be limited to 15 outdoor events with amplified music — with the popular Winterlights and Pumpkin Walk attractions, which span several weeks, each counted as a single event. And at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, the early-evening Music Mondays summer series, as well as wedding receptions, cannot include outdoor amplified music. Those limitations and restrictions to nonprofits’ 2022 entertainment licenses were approved by the Select Board last week following extensive discussion focusing on concerns and complaints from neighbors.

Region One COVID Update

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

Salisbury
● A family member of an elementary school student
● A family member of two elementary school students
● A family member of a staff member
The affected individuals have not been in the building and have had no contact with any staff or students other than the students and staff member who live in their home. 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 quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

Sharon
● A family member of middle school students
● A family member of a staff member
Neither family member has been in the building and has had no contact with any staff or students other than the student who lives in their home. All unvaccinated family members will remain at home in quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. Close contacts have been notified and will quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to close classrooms at this time

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation Announces Second Round of Grants from Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Program

Sheffield, Mass. — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation today announced the distribution of nearly $35,000 to 14 organizations through the second round of its Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant program, which supports community-building efforts to bridge differences and drive positive change at the local level. Organizations in Berkshire County, Mass., Columbia County and northeast Dutchess County, N.Y., and northwest Litchfield County, Conn., received grants of up to $3,000 for projects that seek to bring people together to explore shared interests, address problems through dialogue and action, and consider issues through a range of perspectives. Funded projects include community conversations, training sessions, service work, artistic and cultural activities, and educational programs for students. The Bridging Divides, Healing Communities initiative includes a Youth Film Challenge that awarded $3,500 in cash prizes in November to storytellers ages 14-24 followed by public screenings and panel discussions, and a recent speaker series on topics of race, social cohesion, the media’s role in polarized times and promising local engagement efforts. A first round of grants provided $50,000 to 21 local groups earlier this year.

Sharon Hospital issues update President urges vaccinations, cites need to recruit doctors

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/20/sharon-hospital-issues-update/

Dr. Mark Hirko, president of Sharon Hospital, began his latest community update talking about the current state of COVID-19 and urging people to get vaccinated. “We’re seeing more surges,” he told the participants on a webinar this past week. As part of Nuvance Health, the hospitals in that system provide semiannual updates to keep residents apprised of what is happening in their facilities. “The infection rate is now 8% in the region,” he said. “We’re seeing repeat rates from 18 months ago. It’s mostly in the unvaccinated.” He said the omicron variant is the most prevalent out there, but getting vaccinated and boosted stems what they’re seeing. “Vaccination is your better defense. And it works.” He said Nuvance is in the forefront when it comes to a COVID-19 recovery program, which helps people with symptoms from past COVID-19 cases. He described some of the lasting effects that individuals who have had COVID deal with, including muscle weakness, brain fog, aches and joint pain, balance problems, numbness in extremities and headaches. Treatment can be done tele-medically. Hirko took the opportunity to also talk about the flu, which he said people have developed a resistance to over the past two years, so they are more susceptible. “I worry we may have a more serious season,” so he recommended the steps to stem COVID, such as wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing, be followed for flu prevention as well.

NY to provide $65M, state inspectors for counties struggling to enforce mask mandate

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/12/20/ny-covid-county-mandates/8974699002/

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced state support for localities implementing the statewide mask mandate, saying she will provide $65 million in financial support and state inspectors to provide “spot checks” at businesses and other spaces. The mask mandate took effect a week ago amid rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, with the state requiring masking in all indoor spaces that aren’t private residences and don’t already require a proof of vaccination for entry. Local health departments are on the hook for enforcing the measure. Over a dozen New York counties were quick to say they didn’t have the health department resources to enforce the mandate, while Hochul urged businesses and residents to wear masks anyway. The governor initially said that she didn’t plan to provide state resources for enforcement, but on Monday announced a total of $65 million to help fund counties’ endeavors to enforce the mandate.

At least one dead in Route 8 crash

SANDISFIELD, Mass- At least one person has died following a two vehicle crash along Route 8 north of Winsted in Massachusetts Monday afternoon. The highway, a major north/south thoroughfare heading into Connecticut from the Massachusetts Turnpike, remained closed Monday night while investigators gathered evidence to determine what led to the crash. Multiple ambulances, police and firefighters were dispatched just after 3 p.m., Massachusetts State Police spokesman Trooper Brandon Doherty said. A pickup truck and a minivan were said to be involved. One person is confirmed to have died at the scene. A Life Flight helicopter was requested to transport the second, seriously injured person, from the scene to Albany Medical Center.

Housatonic Valley Association gets state grant for ecological restoration in Hoosic, Housatonic, Farmington River watersheds

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/farmington-river-hoosic-housatonic-get-state-restoration-grant/article_adac613a-61d8-11ec-b759-9bee357f4583.html

A new state program is providing funds to restore rivers and wetlands in the Hoosic, Housatonic and Farmington River watersheds. The Housatonic Valley Association is receiving a grant of $59,085 to restore aquatic ecosystems and boost climate change resiliency in those watersheds. The funds come through a new program under the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration that aims to expand local and regional planning capacities, a Monday news release said. Another Berkshire County project is among 12 new projects to be designated as priority projects, meaning that they become eligible to receive technical assistance from Division of Ecological Restoration staff and/or direct funding.

COVID Letter From Region One To Families On Holiday Break

It is hard to believe that the winter break is nearly here. This week, our schools will be full of excitement as everyone anticipates a nice long time away from our daily routines after a challenging first half of the school year. I am writing this brief letter before we leave school to communicate COVID-19 reporting expectations during the break and to remind everyone about the travel guidelines at this time. Please review the following information and let us know if you have any questions:

● After December 22, 2021, students and staff will not be together again until January 4, 2022. Thus, there is no need to report positive COVID-19 cases during the break unless a positive case or exposure to COVID-19 impacts the ability of a student to return to school on or during the week of 1/4/2022. Please use the 2021-2022 COVID-19 Safety Guidelines as a reference for reporting illness and/or for quarantine guidelines and communicate with your school’s nurse according to our usual protocol.

● For those of you who are traveling or attending large gatherings, I am sending the Region 1 Travel Advisory and Holiday Activities FAQ. We appreciate your efforts in following the protocols included in this document to keep you and all of us safe during and after the holiday. Given the persistent nature of the Delta variant and the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is especially important to follow the mitigation practices described in that document.

Ancram Opera House Theatre

Ancram Opera House Theater Project Ancram Opera House Theater, Inc. will renovate a vacant building into mixed-use artist housing and office space for the Theater in the Town of Ancram’s downtown. Two Bard College Students Win Prestigious Gilman International Scholarships to Study Abroad in 2022

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Two Bard College students have been awarded highly competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships by the U.S. Department of State. Art history and Italian studies major Francesca Houran ’23 has been awarded $5,000 towards her studies at the University of Trento in Italy, where she will be the first to participate a newly established tuition exchange program with Bard. student.”

Biology major and premed student Emma Tilley ’23 has been awarded $4,500 to study via Bard’s tuition exchange at the University College Roosevelt in the Netherlands.

Assembly member Barrett secures historic $1 million in assembly funding for Olana

Assembly member Didi Barrett (D-Dutchess/Columbia) joined with NYS Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Erik Kulleseid, to announce today that she has secured $1 million to support capital development plans for Olana State Historic Site. This is the largest single grant from the Assembly to a NYS Historic Site. The funds will be allocated towards the construction of The Frederic Church Center, a new visitor entry and orientation facility that will transform the visitor experience. The project is the linchpin of the site’s larger capital development plan being undertaken by the public-private partnership of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and The Olana Partnership. This sustainably designed, all-electric facility includes a spacious entry lobby for ticketing and orientation, a café, restrooms, and a multipurpose room adjoining outdoor terraces and paths that connect to Olana’s historic carriage road network, making all 250 acres of the historic landscape an integral part of public interpretation. As the principal entry point for a National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site that attracts over 200,000 visitors annually, the Frederic Church Center will provide a highly visible, publicly accessible demonstration of sustainable design and carbon neutral construction.

Group seeks donations for repairs to Cornwall’s ‘epicenter’

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/19/group-seeks-donations-for-repairs-to-cornwalls-epicenter/

The Village Meeting House stands prominently on Bolton Hill Road in the center of Cornwall. Its architectural design, featuring a set of stately columns, calls attention to the imposing structure that has stood at that spot since 1842. But unfortunately, upon closer look, its poor condition becomes evident. A group of citizens has come together to raise funds for its restoration and while they are close to their goal, they still need some additional money to put them over the finish line at $275,000. Since May, the six, including Rebecca Hurlburt, Stephana Bottom, Karen Doeblin, Marjorie Hewatt, Jeff Jacobson and Kirk Van Tassel, have been conducting tours (20 to date), engaging contractors, securing needed information and soliciting money to make the project a reality. The meeting house, which is also the site of the United Church of Christ Congregational, is truly a focal point of activity for the town. With few spaces in the small town to hold certain functions, the building hosts numerous events open to all citizens. The list of what the building and its grounds is used for is long, such as the Memorial Day carnival, Election Day lunches, food pantry, medical equipment loan closet, pancake breakfasts and blood drives, to name just a few.

Lamont signs sweeping order on climate change, pollution

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/ap/state/lamont-signs-sweeping-order-on-climate-change-pollution/article_0a00065e-9999-5f60-a99a-c2ce5cc797c7.html

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed a sweeping executive order aimed at reducing pollution and addressing climate change Thursday, a month after pulling back his support of a regional climate initiative amid concerns it would further increase gas prices. Under the order, the state will review all public buildings for energy efficiency, develop home appliance standards and building codes aimed at reducing energy costs, seek to make the state transit bus fleet all electric by 2035 and expand air quality monitoring statewide. There will also be a new Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council to address higher pollution levels and climate change mitigation, particularly in poorer and more racially diverse communities. The panel will advise the commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on what steps the agency can take.

What does NY’s mask mandate mean for holiday gatherings, businesses?

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/12/10/what-does-nys-mask-mandate-mean-holiday-shopping-gatherings-q-a/6462275001/

A statewide mask mandate that took effect Monday requires residents to mask up in indoor spaces, signaling a key change in New York’s COVID-19 protocol amid holiday shopping, dining and family gatherings. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the measure Dec. 10 in a move to curb spiking wintertime COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — the latter increased by 29% statewide since Thanksgiving, according to the governor’s office. The mandate is an echo of when masks were first implemented for use in public spaces in April 2020 by Hochul’s predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Those mask requirements were loosened earlier this year for vaccinated people, in accordance with CDC guidance. Here’s what you need to know about New York’s most current mandate and how it may affect businesses and holiday activities. All indoor spaces across New York, meaning grocery and retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, entertainment venues and offices. “Indoor spaces” is defined as any space that is not a private residence, Hochul said on Twitter. In other words, there are no state requirements on family gatherings at private homes. The Department of Health also continues to recommend vaccinations for everyone ages 5 or over. If a business or public space has a vaccine requirement for entry, it does not have to implement a mask requirement. However, unvaccinated individuals are still required to wear masks and socially distance in all indoor spaces, as well as kids ages 2 to 5, who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

Suggesting mixed use, town panel presents report on dilapidated Housatonic School

The former community elementary school opened in 1909 and has remained mostly empty since 2003 when the Berkshire Hills Regional School District consolidated its schools with a new elementary and middle school campus on Monument Valley Road. When the school closed, the town assumed ownership of the property from the school district. Since its closing, the school has been the focus of multiple attempts to save it. The HIC, which was formed last year “to foster the social and cultural well-being of Housatonic,” has been almost entirely focused on the Housatonic School and its future use 

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/17/interactive-how-each-state-county-has-fared-with-covid/

The last report on COVID in Connecticut for the week showed the following numbers:

Positive test rate: 6.78%

People hospitalized: 736 (increase of 26) … highest total since last January

HOSPITALIZATIONS BY COUNTY
As of Dec. 17

Manning to resign as principal of Sharon Center School

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/17/manning-to-resign-as-principal-of-sharon-center-school/

SHARON — Karen Manning, principal of Sharon Center School, will be resigning effective June 30, 2022. The Board of Education voted Monday to accept the resignation with regret. Manning will have served 16 years as the school’s leader. Before that, she was a middle school math and science teacher at North Canaan Elementary School for seven years and principal of Lee H. Kellogg School in Falls Village for three years.

Canaan places lien on Union Station as precaution

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/17/canaan-places-lien-on-union-station-as-precaution/

Fearing the town could be liable for paying back $2.9 million in federal and state grants for rehabilitating Canaan Union Station, the Board of Selectmen has placed a lien on the property. During a recent meeting, First Selectman Charles P. Perotti said he heard a rumor that the building, which is owned by Connecticut Railroad Historical Association, was being sold, and he was advised to take such action by both a state engineer and the town attorney. The historic structure was nearly destroyed in an arson fire in 2001. Privately owned at the time, the station’s charred remains were purchased by the association. Grants for reconstruction and renovation had to come through the town, not the association. The building now houses a craft brewery, an accordion museum and shop, and a railroad museum. Town Attorney D. Randall DiBella said under the Code of Federal Regulations, the building must be used for public purpose. If sold, the grant must be repaid. “Since the town is the grant recipient, we had to make claim,” DiBella said. Perotti said, “The town doesn’t have the finances to buy it and we don’t want to be landlords.”

Millbrook cancels sports after going to remote learning

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/education/2021/12/17/millbrook-school-district-goes-remote-cancels-classes-cases-unclear/8937174002/

A day after the Millbrook Central School District shifted to remote learning for the final week before the holiday recess, the district announced it was also canceling all after-school activities and athletic events. The district on Thursday alerted parents all schools would be closed beginning Friday, amid a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases and the recognition of a large percentage of students who had been exposed to those cases. Superintendent Laura Mitchell on Friday specified four students had tested positive this week, with one on Friday. She also said contact tracing had identified 50 students out of roughly 850 had been in close contact with positive cases in classrooms, lunch periods and after-school events.

The Cove Bowling Lanes will remain open, says the man under contract to purchase the site

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/cove-bowling-lanes-will-remain-open/article_39b682d0-5ec0-11ec-8309-bbc9f740477c.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The man under contract to purchase the property housing the Cove Bowling Lanes said Thursday he has no intention of shutting down the bowling business. But, he will expect that the Cove make upgrades. And he does expect to put a sizable portion of the north side of the building into other use. “People know the spot. They love the spot. The elephant in the room is, it needs rejuvenation.” Meanwhile, the Cove remains open, and Barnum expects it will remain so. After a foreclosure auction Wednesday, Barnum is under contract to purchase the 3.7-acre property at 109 Stockbridge Road that includes the 26,012-square-foot cinder block building, which houses a 24-lane bowling alley, indoor mini golf, cocktail lounge, food stands and an arcade.

Notice to Region One TikTok challenge regarding possible school threats that could take place today.

Dear Region 1 Parents and Caregivers,

The Connecticut State Department of Education has communicated with all schools in Connecticut with regard to the TikTok challenge regarding possible school threats that could take place tomorrow, December 17th. Charlene Russell Tucker, the Commissioner of Education is working closely with the The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and she has indicated that there are no credible threats in Connecticut. However, we take all news of threats in schools very seriously. Thus, Troop B, Troop L, and the town resident troopers have been made aware of this situation and we have requested increased surveillance of all school campuses until we dismiss for the winter break. Principals and staff have also been made aware of the TikTok challenge and will follow the safety protocols in place for each school that address this type of situation. This disruptive use of social media is alarming and disruptive to all of our lives. We will do all that we can to keep students and staff safe and to reduce any stress and anxiety caused in the wake of these disturbances. Teachers and counselors will be especially aware and available to students who may be in need of someone to support them while in school. We thank the local law enforcement officers and our staff for their vigilance and steady leadership during this time and thank you for your partnership as we work through these issues. This type of situation is not what we envision for our schools. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Sincerely,
Lisa B. Carter
Superintendent

Lee H. Kellogg School Welcomes a New Principal

Falls Village, Connecticut – The Canaan Board of Education is pleased to announce the appointment of Stacey Calo as the new Principal at the Lee H. Kellogg School. The decision to appoint Ms. Calo was based upon the recommendation of the LHK Principal Search Committee and Lisa Carter, the Region 1 Superintendent. The LHK Principal Search Committee consisted of 11 members including the LHK
Board of Education, staff and parents/community members. The group followed a process consisting of formal interviews as well as observations of the candidates interacting with students and staff during the school day.

Ms. Calo was chosen from a field of six candidates, narrowed down from a pool of sixteen candidates in total. Her most recent experience includes twelve years in Region 14, where she served in a number of roles including classroom teacher (elementary and middle school), as well as English Language Arts instructional coach and curriculum coordinator.

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


Kent ● A family member of an elementary school student at Kent Center School has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected individual is related to a student that we wrote about last week, has not recently been in the building and has had no contact with any staff or students other than the students who live in their home. 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 quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

HVRHS ● A student at HVRHS has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The student was last in the building on Wednesday, December 15th. All close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) have been notified and will follow the “Screen and Stay” protocol or quarantine as recommended by the CT Department of Public Health. The affected student will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines and permission that we receive from the individual cases.

Millbrook schools go remote until winter break amid uptick in cases, exposures Journal staff

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/education/2021/12/16/covid-millbrook-schools-prompt-district-go-remote/8933843002/

Millbrook Central School District students will not return to class until January and parents are being asked to watch for the development of COVID-19 symptoms amid an uptick in cases within the district community. Superintendent Laura Mitchell issued a letter to families and staff Thursday announcing a switch to remote instruction for the final five school days of the calendar year, from Friday through Dec. 23. Millbrook did not specify how many cases had been diagnosed, but said “multiple” cases were confirmed Tuesday and Wednesday, and “additional positive cases” were found Thursday as the district conducts contact tracing. Some of the students who were identified “as potential close contacts of these cases” Tuesday and Wednesday “were placed in precautionary quarantine and given the opportunity to utilize the new Test to Stay protocols” to return to class.

Kent PZC OKs housing plan, but opponents vow to appeal

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/16/kent-pzc-oks-housing-plan-but-opponents-vow-to-appeal/

KENT – The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved North Main Kent, a 13-unit conservation development on Route 7, just north of the village center. The decision will be appealed by the group Committee to Protect Rural Kent. Dorothy Yewer, a member of the committee, said they had started a dialogue with the developers in the hope of reaching an agreement, but the property owners chose not to withdraw the application and see what transpired. “So, we have retained a lawyer to start the process, but still hope we may come to a resolution with the developers,” Yewer said. “An appeal could be lengthy and expensive, whereas a nonadversarial discussion would be quicker and cheaper. Our goal is to remove all the houses from the meadow to preserve the view shed.” The committee also is comprised of Bill Arnold, Liddy Baker, Ken Cooper, Tim Good and Doug Wynn.

Deaths in state surpass 9,000 level in another grim milestone

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/16/deaths-in-state-surpass-9000-level-in-another-grim-milestone-with-interactive-maps/

Connecticut reached another grim milestone Thursday as there have now been over 9,000 deaths in the state due to COVID since the start of the pandemic. Waterbury at 411 deaths has far and away the highest total, 61 more than the next highest city, Bridgeport. There were 56 more deaths reported on Thursday (a number that is now released weekly on Thursdays). Overall, there were six fewer people hospitalized, which is the first decrease in some time. The positive test rate was basically flat day over day to stand at 7.14% (it was reported as 7.15% on Wednesday). The seven-day rolling average of daily new virus cases in Connecticut has jumped from about 887 to more than 2,600 over the past two weeks. Since Nov. 3, student infections in public and private schools, kindergarten through Grade 12, have increased from 489 to 2,483 as of Wednesday, out of a total student population of more than 500,000.

COVID spike in Dutchess: Hospitalizations, deaths up, but fewer than last year’s surge

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/16/dutchess-covid-hospitalizations-deaths-increase-fewer-than-last-year/8927789002/

In the first two weeks of December, 13 Dutchess County residents died with COVID-19 and the number of residents hospitalized with the illness increased by more than 50%. One week before the Christmas holiday weekend, the county and surrounding state is mired in a holiday surge again. However, more have been spared the illness’ most-severe outcomes than last year’s surge, which proved to be the most deadly stretch of the pandemic to date. The pattern appears to be in line with health officials’ predictions, who warned the absence of widespread safety restrictions and lagging vaccination rates rendered the county ripe for a spike in cases, but the population who had been vaccinated would create fewer deaths and hospitalizations. That prediction was made before the onset of the omicron variant, which studies are showing can be easily transmitted to those who have had two doses of a vaccine but not a booster.

Mark Niedhammer

https://tricornernews.com

Mark Niedhammer of Lakeville died Dec. 9, 2021, at Vassar Brothers Hospital after a short illness.. He served in the New York State Air National Guard. His career started in Schenectady as a cameraman for WMHT, which led to his doing the same job for WABC in New York. He excelled at his job and was the recipient of an Emmy Award. He left the city and moved to Lakeville, where he worked at The Lakeville Journal as the Classified Ads manager and also a friendly greeter. He spent a summer or two working at the Town Grove in Lakeville. His last position was “the friendly man in the booth” at the Salisbury Sharon Transfer Station. He is survived by his partner, Anne Bowen of Salisbury; his sister, Marcia McDevitt and her husband, Richard, of Albany, N.Y., and their three sons, Tavis (and his wife, Rie), Richard (and his wife, Anne) and Adam McDevitt; and two great-nieces and two great-nephews. A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, Dec. 30, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church in Lakeville. Contributions may be made in Mark’s honor to a charity of the donor’s choice. Arrangements are under the care of the Newkirk Palmer Funeral Home in North Canaan  

Salisbury UCC presents its annual Christmas Concert this Saturday December 18th at 3pm.

The Congregational Church of Salisbury UCC presents its annual Christmas Concert this Saturday December 18th at 3pm. Doors open at 2:30, and attendance will be restricted to one half capacity with the audience admitted on a first come-first-serve basis. The program features past years’ favorites for bell choir as well as choral music by Clarke, Elgar, Holst, Josquin, McDowell and Quartel, including four contrasting settings of the Ave Maria.

Regional COVID Notice – CRN, KNT, & NCES December 15, 2021

Cornwall ● A staff member at Cornwall Consolidated School tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The staff member was last in the building on Tuesday, December 14. All close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) have been notified and will follow the “Screen and Stay” protocol or quarantine as recommended by the CT Department of Public Health. The affected staff member will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

Kent ● A family member of a Kent Center School elementary school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The student was last in the building on Tuesday, December 14th. The family member has never been in the building and has had no contact with any staff or students other than the student who lives in their home. The affected student and 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.

North Canaan ● An additional family member of a middle school student at North Canaan Elementary School has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual is related to the family member we wrote about yesterday. The middle school student has not been in the building since December 10th. The family member has never been in the building and has had no contact with any staff or students other than the student who lives in their home. 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 quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

Ryan Diamond promoted to vice president, commercial credit manager.

Salisbury Bank has announced that Ryan Diamond has been promoted to vice president, commercial credit manager. Diamond started with the bank in June 2010 as a seasonal teller, and moved to the commercial credit department in 2011. He became a team leader in April 2015, and in 2016 was made a commercial credit manager. He was promoted to an assistant vice president in 2019  

Two Ancram highway employees have tested positive for Covid-19

Two Ancram highway employees have tested positive for Covid-19. Both had been vaccinated. Four other highway employees tested negative today, but the incubation period for Covid can be up to 10 days so they may test positive at some point over the next week. The county health department has advised that vaccinated highway employees can continue to work, if necessary, and all employees should quarantine if they start to show Covid symptoms. Ancram still plans to hold the town board meeting and public hearings with in-person and zoom participation.

Town of Ancram Public Hearings and
Town Board Meeting
December 16, 2021

6.45 pm – Public Hearing LL# 4-Zoning Amendments
7 pm – Local Law #5 of 2021 – Elected Officials Salaries
7.15 pm – Town Board Meeting
In Person – Masks Required & Via Zoom

New study declares UConn safest school in America

https://www.wfsb.com/news/new-study-declares-uconn-safest-school-in-america/article_cf14b4ce-5e0b-11ec-8d5e-2b14c22cba23.html?block_id=994127

A new study says the University of Connecticut is the safest college in America. SafeAtLast.com, a security systems and safety website, released its list for the safest colleges in America. It ranked UConn as the safest. SafeAtLast said it used FBI crime reports and combined those with campus crime rates. SafeAtLast said they then expanded, including numbers such as the number of crimes per 1,000 students, and local crime rates. SafeAtLast said they also adjusted those crime rates to compensate for states who have strict marijuana laws, as their crime rates are higher. According to SafeAtLast, UConn is in a safe city with a relatively low crime rate at .73 per 1,000 residents. UConn also has a prominent but non-invasive police presence, a system where no one walks alone, the lowest crime rates, and a safety webpage. All these elements were factored into the decision according to SafeAtLast.

Berkshires COVID-19 cases rise

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/daily-report-coronavirus-covid-19-berkshire-county-ma/article_0bd44452-5dfc-11ec-8bd5-c78c7b21e690.html

As of Wednesday, there were 58 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County, for a seven-day rolling average of 67.7 new daily cases. That is a 3 percent increase from two weeks ago. Berkshire Health Systems had 13 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday. There was one new death reported in Berkshire County, for a pandemic total of 336. Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels.

Cove Bowling Lanes in Great Barrington sells at auction.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/cove-bowling-lanes-great-barrington-sells-at-auction/article_d363f96a-5dc8-11ec-8c5e-27a1d2083a1b.html

At a foreclosure auction Wednesday, the iconic Cove Bowling Lanes was sold “as is” to developer Craig Barnum, of Egremont. Barnum declined to discuss his plans for the 3.7-acre property at 109 Stockbridge Road. Meanwhile, The Cove Bowling and Entertainment Facebook page posted the following at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday: “We are open normal business hours. 5pm to 11pm daily. Leagues will continue their normal schedule.” Barnum’s winning bid was $981,000. An attorney representing the mortgage holder also offered bids. A couple of people had registered to bid, but they never raised their bid cards. Immediately after the auction, Barnum went to his car and returned with the deposit, the required, nonrefundable check in the amount of $75,000. The sale includes the 26,012-square-foot cinder block building that houses a 24-lane bowling alley, indoor mini golf, cocktail lounge, food stands and an arcade. As part of the sales agreement for the Cove, Barnum agrees to pay any back taxes on the property

December 14, 2021 Regional COVID Notice – KNT & NCES

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

Kent ● A Kent Center School middle school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). No close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) were identified in the school. The affected student and 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.

North Canaan ● A family member of an elementary school student
● A family member of a middle school student
The elementary school student has not been in the building since December 13th and the middle school student has not been in the building since December 10th. 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 quarantine students or close 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.

State hospitalizations on the rise, delta primary cause

https://www.rep-am.com/news/news-connecticut/2021/12/14/state-hospitalizations-on-the-rise-delta-primary-cause/

COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases rose again Monday and the state’s positivity rate jumped to over 8% as doctors note a “slow but steady” increase in patients with the virus. Another 35 COVID-positive patients were admitted to the hospital on Monday, bringing the state’s total hospitalizations to 681. The state is now treating more than 100 additional patients than it was treating one week ago. Just before Thanksgiving, Nov. 19, the state was treating 247 patients. Of the 681 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 521 are not fully vaccinated. Waterbury Hospital is treating 26 COVID-19 positive patients, of whom 4 are vaccinated.

COVID in Connecticut at level not seen since last winter

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/14/covid-in-connecticut-at-level-not-seen-since-last-winter/

On Tuesday the daily report on COVID in Connecticut showed a positive test rate of 8.16% and a total hospitalized of 681, which is an increase of 36 over Monday. Both of those numbers are high as compared to recent months. The last time as many were in the hospital was Feb. 10. The 7-day average of the positive test rate is at 6.26%, which is the highest it has been since mid-January.

Man trapped below ground extracted: Dutchess emergency response commissioner

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/14/dutchess-responders-aid-man-trapped-underground/8896081002/

A Wingdale Materials employee trapped in the cab of an excavator underground in the company’s mine Tuesday is recovering in a hospital after being rescued by first responders. That’s according to Bob Yaremko, assistant vice president at Peckham Industries, which owns Wingdale Materials in eastern Dutchess. Yaremko said the man, a nine-year employee, “was struck by a large rock that became dislodged from an adjacent area” and became stuck in the excavator around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Dana Smith, Dutchess County Emergency Response commissioner, said “a local fire department” was dispatched with the report of a man with a “leg injury relating to machinery” roughly 2,500 feet below ground; Yaremko said the mine is not quite that far underground. Smith said a rescue team comprising LaGrange, Arlington and Poughkeepsie fire departments was working on the rescue and the Dover Fire Department was the primary agency. After being extracted, the man was flown by helicopter to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla with and injury to his arm and wrist. Yaremko said he had spoken with the man, who was resting.

Eligible seniors in Great Barrington could get a property tax deferral — if voters approve the plan in the spring

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-senior-property-tax-deferral-annual-town-meeting-voters/article_7e6cf864-5d03-11ec-afbb-dbcee339ce08.html

If voters approve of it at the annual town meeting this spring, eligible senior citizens will be able to apply for property tax deferments. With some modifications, the Select Board, in a 3-2 vote on Monday, greenlighted the proposal first endorsed by the town’s Finance Committee. What’s this all about? Since 1974, the state has granted municipalities the authority to allow qualifying seniors to delay payment of all or part of their property taxes. A deferral does not remove a tax obligation. Rather, it delays payment plus interest accrued during the year(s) of deferment, until the time when the eligible homeowner no longer owns the home, such as when it’s sold, or when the home is transferred to a trust or when the owner dies. Town officials say financially strapped seniors can also take advantage of a federally funded heating fuel assistance program, which currently assists 63 senior homeowners in town. Also, the program known as “41C” provides 16 seniors in town with a $1,000 property tax exemption. There are other programs, too, including what’s known as the state’s Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit Program and the Senior Property Tax Work-Off Program

Connecticut officials offer words of caution about large holiday gatherings, urge boosters

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/13/state-officials-offer-words-of-caution-about-large-holiday-gatherings-urge-boosters/

With less than two weeks until Christmas, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz knows people across the state will be gathering again to celebrate the holiday season. Before those celebrations commence, Bysiewicz urges people to get vaccinated if they’re not, and those who are vaccinated to get a booster, especially with the emergence of the Omicron variant and the arrival of flu season. Her message of caution came Monday as she and city officials visited the walk-in vaccination clinic at the former Payless at 910 Wolcott St. “With the number of cases of COVID steadily rising and with our trajectory heading in the wrong direction, we are redoubling our efforts, particularly in socially vulnerable communities, to get the message out about the importance of getting vaccinated and getting a booster,” Bysiewicz said. Overall, there are 645 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state, a number that has risen significantly over the past month. About 77.8% of people hospitalized, or 502 people, are not fully vaccinated, state figures show. On Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving, there were 300 hospitalizations. West Stockbridge woman to serve 4 years in prison for 2019 vehicular homicide.

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/crime/west-stockbridge-woman-to-serve-4-years-incarceration-in-vehicular-homicide-that-claimed-life-of-respected-youth-development-professional/article_2e6b49c2-5c2e-11ec-bba5-4b3b535a8253.html

Molinaro: Dutchess ‘won’t allocate resources’ to enforce statewide mask mandate

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/13/molinaro-mask-mandate-wont-enforced-dutchess/6495348001/

The statewide mandate requiring mask use at all indoor spaces other than private residences will be enforced by local health departments, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said. But Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has signaled the county will not be enforcing the mandate, calling it “unenforceable” and saying it “will become confrontational.” With the COVID-19 mitigation measure underway as of Monday morning, Molinaro’s office said Dutchess “does not have the public health resources necessary to enforce this public health regulation,” and pushed blame on the state for placing the onus on health departments. “We will not divert critical resources away from our vaccination clinics, case management, call center and other crucial work in order to hand out fines to businesses,” a response from county spokesperson Colleen Pillus read. She also cited an email in which the state department of health said it expects the mandate “to be largely self-enforcing.”

Supreme Court refuses to block New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for doctors, nurses

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/politics/2021/12/13/supreme-court-allows-new-york-vaccine-mandate-health-care-workers/8680765002/

The Supreme Court on Monday permitted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in New York that doesn’t include a religious exemption, the latest instance in which the nation’s highest court has declined to wade into the issue of vaccination requirements imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. New York state imposed the vaccine mandate for health care workers in August. The policy allows for medical exemptions but not those based on religious objections. An earlier religious exemption to the requirement expired last month. The Supreme Court was considering two emergency challenges to that mandate and decided to allow the law to stand in both of them. In each case, three conservatives – Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch – said they would have supported temporarily halting enforcement of the mandate.

Berkshires COVID-19 cases rise 207 over weekend

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/daily-report-coronavirus-covid-19-berkshire-county-ma/article_5556d61c-5c62-11ec-8339-df12fecfd95c.html

As of Monday, there were 207 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County in the last three days, for a seven-day rolling average of 73.7 new daily cases. That is a 16 percent increase from two weeks ago. Berkshire Health Systems had 20 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Monday. There were no new deaths reported in Berkshire County, for a pandemic total of 335. Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels. Across Massachusetts, 72.5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to state data. County-level vaccination rates are reported weekly, and 69 percent of Berkshire County residents were vaccinated fully as of last week.

State will distribute more than 2 million free COVID-19 rapid tests, including to the Berkshires

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/statehouse/charlie-baker-says-state-will-distribute-more-than-two-million-free-covid-tests/article_51aac91a-5c2b-11ec-86ad-e73788716098.html

Cities and towns across Massachusetts will begin receiving free, rapid COVID-19 tests this week to distribute to residents, as part of a new strategy Gov. Charlie Baker detailed Monday to control the spread of the virus this holiday season. Baker said that beginning Tuesday the state would start distributing 2.1 million at-home rapid tests to 102 communities with the highest percentages of families living in poverty, including 12 Berkshire County municipalities. The governor’s hope is that people will use these test before gathering with friends and family, especially in indoor settings when not everyone’s vaccination status is known.

Brothers@Bard Receives Major Grant in NBA Foundation’s Largest Round of Funding to Date

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Brothers@ has been named as one of 38 recipients in the NBA Foundation’s announcement of new grants totaling $11 million—the most-awarded grant round to-date—to help create employment opportunities, further career advancement, and drive greater economic empowerment for Black youth. The recipients were selected as part of the NBA Foundation’s fourth grant round during the league’s Season of Giving (Nov 22-Dec 25), a five-week celebration during the holiday season when the NBA family gives back by supporting and uplifting youth, families, and organizations across the country. Created in August 2020 with a 10-year, $300 million commitment by the 30 NBA team governors, the NBA Foundation is the league’s first-ever charitable foundation. The grants will help enhance the impactful work of these national and local organizations in alignment with the NBA Foundation’s mission to provide skills training, mentorship, coaching and pipeline development for high school, college-aged, job-ready and mid-career individuals, focusing in team markets throughout the United States and Canada. The full list of the 38 grantees and their efforts can be viewed at: nbafoundation.nba.com/nba-foundation-fourth-grant-round-recipients/

Metro-North to offer discounts next year to lure back riders who’ve been working at home
The new fares will run at least four months and are geared to address the evolving habits of the railroad’s most dependable customers – Manhattan-bound commuters.

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/12/12/metro-north-offer-discounts-lure-back-riders-working-remotely/6462052001/

Metro-North Railroad will offer discounted ticket packages next year designed for the post-pandemic commuter whose daily trek into Manhattan may be reduced to once or twice a week. Come March, the railroad will offer a 20-trip ticket at 20% off the regular peak price. And monthly tickets, which already offer discounts from the price of a daily ticket, will be reduced another 10%. Additionally, weekday travel between the Bronx and Manhattan outside rush hour will cost riders $5, which is $2.25 off the current weekday fare for travel between the two boroughs but more than the $2.75 cost to ride the subway. The changes are part of a pilot program that will run at least four months and are geared to address the evolving habits of the railroad’s most dependable customers: Manhattan-bound commuters.

Film featuring Sandisfield’s rap-loving farmer has its regional premiere at The Mahaiwe

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/down-with-the-king-screens-at-the-mahaiwe/article_e8dd3c82-5acd-11ec-9f86-93277e6d4745.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Mahaiwe hosted regional premiere of French director Diego Ongaro’s latest film, “Down with the King,” starring the Grammy-nominated rap star Freddie Gibbs and Bob Tarasuk, among others. Shot one year ago at Tarasuk’s farm and other Berkshire locations, “Down with the King” is Ongaro’s second feature-length film that was spawned from Tarasuk having done what he so often does: yucking it up, making new friends. In this case, when Ongaro and his wife, Courtney Maum, had moved to Sandisfield more than a decade ago, they fell into the strong gravitational pull of the guileless Tarasuk, whom Ongaro describes as “such an interesting, unique character. He’s bigger than life, and he’s endearing.” Their friendship developed into the feature-length film, “Bob and the Trees,” starring the non-actor Bob Tarasuk playing Bob Tarasuk. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. It proved a big hit at the Berkshire International Film Festival that same year. Thursday’s screening of “Down with the King,” hosted by BIFF, drew a packed house and plenty of applause. Shot against the soggy, frigid gorgeousness of late autumn in the Berkshires, the film tells the story of a disillusioned rapper, Mercury Maxwell (Gibbs), who seeks to escape the pressures of stardom by taking an extended hiatus in the country (Sandisfield) where he befriends a farmer (Tarasuk), and he reevaluates his life. Purchased by Sony, “Down with the King” was well-received in July at the Cannes Film Festival, and it continues to make the rounds at festivals around the world. It will officially be released in 2022.

Why Dutchess towns are regulating Airbnb, short-term rentals and what impact laws make

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/09/airbnb-dutchess-why-towns-regulating-short-term-rentals/8854715002/

The Town of Red Hook is the latest municipality in Dutchess County to consider passing a law that would limit the number of days hosts can rent out their space, and in some cases, shut down hosting in some neighborhoods all together. The town would follow laws passed in Beacon, Clinton, Pawling, Rhinebeck and Milan, and other Dutchess areas, including the City of Poughkeepsie and Pine Plains, are considering following suit. Beacon, in fact, is planning to revisit its regulations to potentially add limitations next year. The regulations are intended to keep neighborhoods from filling up with houses and apartments that are rented for part of the year with transient guests and sometimes no homeowner on site. Town officials say they can help ensure housing is not bought specifically for short-term rental use, at a time when there is a growing need for affordable apartments and homes. The laws are also meant to legalize short-term rentals through appropriate zoning while keeping a check on nuisances such as “party houses” and unsafe conditions. Some of the regulations commonly instituted include a permitting and inspection system and the requirement that the rental be the owner’s primary residence. National studies have been torn on the issue, showing rentals can lead to an increase in housing prices, while also concluding overregulation of short-term rentals can negatively impact development. Hosts who provide short-term rentals pay hotel occupancy tax to the county like any other hotel or motel. Hosts must also register with the county. Airbnb and the county have a contract whereby Airbnb collects and remits the tax. Affordable housing is one of the main arguments used to uphold the need for regulations. Local officials rely on anecdotal data rather than numerical data to demonstrate the pressure of short-term rentals on housing demand. Dutchess County issued a report in 2019 regarding the cost and benefits of short-term rentals. It concluded the rentals provided and extra source of incomes, attracted tourists and helped boost neighborhood revitalization. However, it also said the rentals impacted the quality of life within a neighborhood and created competitions for traditional lodging. They were found to raise home values, which may be good for owners, but also rendered housing less affordable.

Great Barrington health officials say no to mandating COVID shots for schoolchildren. Concerned about vaccine unknowns, they want to ‘wait and see’

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/vaccine-mandates-schools-children-covid-19-pandemic-social-distancing-masks-berkshire-hills-great-barrington/article_17c7439e-59b1-11ec-a3fd-039115f4601e.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — Public school students won’t have to take COVID-19 shots in order to attend school, because of concerns about short- and long-term vaccine safety versus the minuscule risk the virus presents to young, healthy people. In responding to a request Thursday from the Berkshire Hills Regional School District to consider whether the town should force vaccinations on children who attend the schools, the Board of Health decided to “wait and see” if enough convincing evidence emerges regarding vaccine safety for children to weigh whether to add the shots to the list of required vaccines for school. The district had decided on a mandate only for staff, but not for students. At least 95 percent of Great Barrington and Alford residents, in most age groups, are vaccinated fully, according to state data. The rate is 69 percent for those ages 17 to 19, and 50 percent for younger children. In November, 56 cases in town were confirmed. Countywide, the rolling seven-day average for daily new cases has been ticking up, and as of Thursday it stood at 79, according to the state Department of Public Health. About 69 percent of county residents have received inoculations. Public health and medical officials say they are seeing a milder illness for those who become sick, said Health Agent Rebecca Jurczyk. Given rising cases, and the holiday season, board members agreed that their directive to social distance and wear masks when around others in public, regardless of vaccination status, should continue, and they will meet again Dec. 16 to consider whether their rules should be tweaked. In January, they will revisit vaccines for children.

Connecticut now a red state

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/10/interactive-connecticut-now-a-red-state/

Here is where Connecticut stands in terms of community transmission after Thursday’s most recent report from the state Department of Public Health: Only 7 towns in Connecticut out of 169 are not in the highest category for community transmission as of Thursday. On Friday, 439,423 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 3,280 since Thursday Out of 53,948 tests administered,3,280 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate 6.08%. The current number of hospitalizations is at 585, up by 9 since Thursday. The governor’s office also said of those 585 people hospitalized, 450 are not fully vaccinated. Data on COVID-19 associated deaths is updated every Thursday. As of Thursday, 37 new COVID-associated deaths were reported, bringing the total so far since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,946. The number of total tests performed since the pandemic began is now at 12,683,845, an increase of 53,948 since Thursday. The total number of Omicron variant cases in the state is up by nine, bringing the overall total to eleven.

Town Centre residents in Pine Plains have renewed hope about holding onto homes

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/10/pine-plains-residents-hope-keep-homes-town-centre/6461293001/

Pine Plains residents who were told they would have to leave their homes have renewed hope to stay. Hudson River Housing is in early discussions to possibly purchase their rental units, which a new owner had planned to sell as market-rate homes, with a plan to turn them into affordably priced rentals in the northern Dutchess town. Residents who live in the 10 units known as the Town Centre Active Adult Condominium Community, many of them elderly or disabled, were sent letters by the owner in August ending their month-to-month tenancy. Last week, town of Pine Plains Supervisor Darrah Cloud delivered notices to the tenants stating Dutchess County and Hudson River Housing were seeking to purchase the tenant rental units “for affordable housing that would be permanently designated as such.”

What does NY’s mask mandate mean for holiday gatherings, businesses?

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2021/12/10/what-does-nys-mask-mandate-mean-holiday-shopping-gatherings-q-a/6462275001/

A statewide mask mandate slated to take effect Monday will require residents to mask up in indoor spaces, signaling a key change in New York’s COVID-19 protocol amid holiday shopping, dining and family gatherings. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the measure Friday in a move to curb spiking wintertime COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — the latter increased by 29% statewide since Thanksgiving, according to the governor’s office. “We shouldn’t have reached the point where we are confronted with a winter surge, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers’ frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet,” Hochul said. “As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy.” All indoor spaces across New York, meaning grocery and retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, entertainment venues and offices. “Indoor spaces” is defined as any space that is not a private residence, Hochul said on Twitter Friday. In other words, there are no state requirements on family gatherings at private homes. The Department of Health also continues to recommend vaccinations for everyone ages 5 or over. If a business or public space has a vaccine requirement for entry, it does not have to implement a mask requirement. However, unvaccinated individuals are still required to wear masks and socially distance in all indoor spaces, as well as kids ages 2 to 5, who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

Labor shortage at chain pharmacies causes limited hours, long lines, canceled vaccines for Berkshire residents

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/walgreens-long-lines-pittsfield-staffing-shortage-pharmacies/article_2dfab4e8-5862-11ec-92bb-afc5e99dc18c.html

It took three trips to the pharmacy before Katie Malone-Smith and her husband finally were able to receive their COVID-19 booster shots. Their first two were for naught because the Walgreens pharmacy on Elm Street in Pittsfield, where the couple went to get their shots, was closed at the time their appointments were scheduled. The third trip was successful, but it included a two-hour wait in a long line of increasingly frustrated customers. “Apparently, this happens every day because they are just so understaffed,” said Malone-Smith, who, on Facebook, posted a video of her experience waiting in line. Walgreens has nine stores in Berkshire County, including four in Pittsfield. At one of the Pittsfield stores, an employee who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak for the company referred to the situation as “a very serious issue.”

Local residents protest tree removal, form blockade

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/09/sharon-residents-protest-tree-removal-form-blockade/

As Robin Hood Radio reported Monday morning, a group of local residents opposed to the mass removal of trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park appeared Monday to barricade the entrance to the parking area, but employees of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the organization overseeing the project, did not show up. The project manager told Cornwall Conservation Commission member Katherine Freygang he believes the work has been paused so a hearing can be scheduled. Residents were unaware of plans to cut the trees until late November, when passers-by saw the remains of 24 felled oaks and some pine trees. State Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, was contacted, she reached out to DEEP officials and the work stopped. However, word was received last week that the cutting would continue, so the blockade was organized. Residents opposed to the mass removal of trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park appeared Monday to barricade the entrance to the parking area, but employees of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the organization overseeing the project, did not show up. The project manager told Cornwall Conservation Commission member Katherine Freygang he believes the work has been paused so a hearing can be scheduled. Residents were unaware of plans to cut the trees until late November, when passers-by saw the remains of 24 felled oaks and some pine trees. State Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, was contacted, she reached out to DEEP officials and the work stopped. However, word was received last week that the cutting would continue, so the blockade was organized.

Kent covers overage with a transfer of funds after vote

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/09/kent-covers-overage-with-a-transfer-of-funds-after-vote/

KENT — Voters have approved a transfer of funds to cover a litigation line that exceeded budget by $46,000, but not before asking questions about the Board of Selectmen’s process that resulted in the overage. During a virtual town meeting Dec. 3, moderator Darlene Brady led the 46 participants through the process of voting, using the polling feature in Zoom to register their vote. It passed, 23-11. Not everyone attending the meeting was eligible to vote.

Region One Families and Staff:


We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:
Kent ● A staff member at Kent Center School tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The staff member was last in the building on Wednesday, December 8th. No close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) were identified in the school. The affected staff member and 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.


Lee H. Kellogg ● A Lee H. Kellogg School middle school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The student was last in the building on Friday, December 3rd. The affected individual has had no close contact (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with staff or students. The affected student and 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.

HVRHS ● A staff member at HVRHS tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The staff member was last in the building on Tuesday, November 30. The affected individual has had no close contact (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) with staff or students. The affected staff member will
remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

State’s positivity rate is at 6.48%

https://www.wfsb.com/news/covid-updates-states-positivity-rate-is-at-6-48/article_3d60fb76-52e1-11ec-9065-3fa1c0ff6be5.html?block_id=994127

On Thursday, 436,143 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 2,679 since Wednesday. Out of 41,361 tests administered, 2,679 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate 6.48%. The current number of hospitalizations is at 576, up by 1 since Wednesday. The governor’s office also said of those 576 people hospitalized, 446 are not fully vaccinated. Data on COVID-19 associated deaths is updated every Thursday. As of Thursday, 37 new COVID-associated deaths were reported, bringing the total so far since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,946. The number of total tests performed since the pandemic began is now at 12,629,897, an increase of 41,361 since Wednesday.

NY attorney general seeks Trump deposition in fraud inquiry targeting Trump Organization

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/politics/2021/12/09/trump-deposition-new-york/6448029001/

New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking testimony from Donald Trump as part of an ongoing fraud inquiry involving the former president’s namesake real estate business the Trump Organization, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday. Trump’s deposition, requested for early next month, would mark a new escalation of a civil investigation into financial fraud involving his company. The civil investigation, focusing on whether the company claimed false property valuations in its dealings with lenders and taxing authorities, has been running parallel to a criminal inquiry involving both James and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras to step down amid controversial comments in Cuomo scandal

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/politics/albany/2021/12/09/suny-chancellor-resignation-malatras/6430564001/

ALBANY – SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said Thursday he will step down Jan. 14 amid growing calls for his resignation after he made incendiary comments about one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusers prior to her accusations. Malatras, a former top adviser to Cuomo who was appointed chancellor in August 2020, apologized in recent days after Attorney General Letitia James made public transcripts and evidence from a probe of the allegations against Cuomo, which led to his resignation earlier this year. In a text exchange among Malatras and other Cuomo allies, they were shown to be mocking Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development official who was the first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo.

Great Barrington plans for beach and recreation area to take shape, project will improve safety and protect ecosystem

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/lake-mansfield-great-barrington-town-beach-berkshires-recreation-area-hiking-trails-bike-path-fishing/article_def112f0-584a-11ec-b7fe-d38ac0cda63f.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — In just a couple of summers, people will have a better place to park, and a safer trek to the Lake Mansfield beach with their armloads of supplies and passels of excited children. They also will enjoy a newly overhauled recreation area that is more beautiful, and that protects the delicate ecosystem of this treasured recreation area. People will continue to be able to bike, stroll, fish and play on the road around the eastern side of the lake, but with engineering and new plantings that will fix drainage problems and excessive stormwater runoff. Construction is estimated to start in spring or summer 2023, depending on funding and permits. The town will seek grant money for the project, estimated at about $1.78 million.

Virus ‘taking advantage’ of unvaccinated residents as hospitalizations rise

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/08/virus-taking-advantage-of-unvaccinated-residents-as-hospitalizations-rise/

Fifty additional COVID-19 patients were admitted to the state hospitals Wednesday, increasing the number of hospitalized patients to 575. The state’s test positivity dropped slightly to 4.98% as an additional 789 residents tested positive for the virus. Of those hospitalized, nearly 77% were unvaccinated. Currently, 73% of the state is fully vaccinated, and 85.3% of state residents have had one dose. Despite concerns about the new omicron mutation, delta continues to be the main variant in the state, doctors say. As of Dec. 2, 100% of the COVID-19 cases it has sequenced were classified as delta, according to the state’s Covid tracker. The health department sequences COVID-19 variants in tandem with independent laboratories, Yale University and the CDC. As of Wednesday, 27.5% of state residents had received boosters, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Great Barrington: College staging winter concerts

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/great-barrington-college-staging-winter-concerts/article_018fb5d0-5839-11ec-b5e0-63e845e9ab9b.html

The Bard College at Simon’s Rock Chorus will present “Everything She Touches Changes,” a choral meditation on change, loss, letting go, and moving forward at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, via Zoom. The music of Jocelyn Hagen, Jacob Naverud, and Randall Thompson will be framed by atmospheric chants composed by the women’s ensemble Libana. This performance also marks the Simon’s Rock debut of its new choir director, Ryan LaBoy, in collaboration with Manon Hutton-DeWys on piano. The Chamber Orchestra’s winter concert featuring music by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Bach will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, via Zoom. In-person seating for both concerts will be available only for members of the on-campus Simon’s Rock community.

Visit simons-rock.edu/events for the Zoom links.

Great Barrington: Watson Fund receives $9,415

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/great-barrington-watson-fund-receives-9-415/article_be9ad448-5834-11ec-9b7c-13bade453a18.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The 85th John S. Watson Christmas Fund announces the receipt of $9,415 in donations toward this year’s fundraising goal of $40,000. The Watson Fund aims to make the holiday season a bit more joyous by providing food and clothing certificates to families in need. Donations are being accepted in person at all South County branches of Berkshire Bank or by mail to Berkshire Bank, 244 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230, or The Watson Fund, P.O. Box 284, Great Barrington, MA 01230. Checks should be payable to the Watson Fund. Those wishing to make their donations “in memory of” or “in lieu of holiday cards,” can include their requests with their check.

Canaan Child Care Center

https://tricornernews.com

The Canaan Child Care Center has been chosen to receive one of the Year-End Critical Needs grants by the Directors of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation. They are dedicated to helping area residents and families with limited financial means. The Canaan Child Care Center will receive $2,500 to purchase coats, boots, snow pants and mittens for children of the families who attend the center. The Year-End Critical Needs grant is made possible by the Marion Wm. and Alice Edwards Fund and the Draper Foundation Fund. Donors Marion Wm. and Alice Edwards and Jim and Shirley Draper all expressed a strong desire to assist those facing difficult and challenging economic circumstances.

Sandy Hook Vigil

https://tricornernews.com

The Sandy Hook Vigil to remember those who died on Dec. 14, 2012, and all victims of gun violence will be held this year on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 5 to 6 p.m. in front of The White Hart. Participants are asked to bring a candle (real or battery-operated)

Torrington Public Schools postpones holiday events due to city’s COVID positivity rate

https://www.wfsb.com/news/torrington-public-schools-postpones-holiday-events-due-to-citys-covid-positivity-rate/article_ef052eb4-581e-11ec-b23b-97cef65cd9c9.html?block_id=994091

Torrington Public Schools postponed its holiday concerts because of the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate. “Torrington’s positivity rate was 7.2 percent last week, one of the highest rates in the state according to our local health department,” said superintendent Susan Lubomski. “More importantly, there have been numerous cases within our district (especially K-8) during the last few weeks.” Lubomski clarified that all district sponsored holiday evening events, performances and award recognitions will be rescheduled to the middle or end of January. “Although I know these postponements are disappointing, all events will be rescheduled,” she said. “Principals will update their families on the new dates and times of these events.” The district is hoping the postponements will prevent further spread of the virus. The positivity rate for Connecticut as a whole rose to 8.3 percent on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Berkshire County’s rolling average of new COVID-19 cases hits record high, but hospitalizations, deaths stay low

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/berkshire-countys-rolling-average-of-new-covid-19-cases-hits-record-high-but-hospitalizations-deaths/article_9be90476-5797-11ec-9a01-17f6c444b98d.html

The seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County jumped to 88 cases per day Monday — that was the highest rate since the coronavirus pandemic began — before falling slightly, to 86 on Tuesday. Last winter, the rolling average peaked at 75 cases per day in mid-January. But, unlike last winter, this surge in cases has not been accompanied by a steep rise in hospitalizations and deaths. Those metrics remain well below last winter’s pre-vaccine wave. The previous time cases came anywhere close to this rate, in January, the hospital had more than 50 COVID-19 positive inpatients and three people were dying each day, on average. James Lederer, chief medical officer at Berkshire Health Systems, said the hospital system continues to see high positivity rates, as well as a concentration of cases in Pittsfield and North County. Though fatalities remain low relative to the worst of the pandemic, people continue to die in Berkshire County more than a half-year after vaccines became widely available. By early May this year, any eligible county resident could receive a walk-in vaccine at three Berkshire Health Systems testing sites; there also were a wealth of appointments at numerous pharmacies across the Berkshires.

December 7, 2021 Regional COVID Notice – Kent

Dear Region One Families and Staff:
We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:
Kent ● A Kent Center School middle school student has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person has not been in the school building since Friday, December 3rd. 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) with any students or staff. The student and family members 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.
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.

Pediatric (Ages 5-11) Vaccination Clinics

Dear Region One
Each of our elementary schools will be holding Pediatric (Ages 5-11) Vaccination Clinics in their buildings in partnership with Griffin Health. All are open to the public and no appointments are necessary.

ONLY PEDIATRIC (AGES 5-11) VACCINATIONS WILL BE ADMINISTERED AT THESE CLINICS – NO ADULT (12+) DOSES WILL BE AVAILABLE.

A parent or guardian must accompany the child, ages 5-11, and only the pediatric Pfizer vaccination will be administered. A Pediatric Intake Form.pdf must be completed – you may print and complete it in advance, or forms will be available to complete at each clinic. Here are the clinics that we have scheduled at this time:

Kent: December 8th, 3:30 – 6:30 p.m.
North Canaan: December 8th, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Sharon: December 21st, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Canaan / Lee H. Kellogg: December 21st, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Cornwall: January 5th, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Salisbury: December 28th, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Millerton’s Winter Farmers Market Open Indoors
 
With the advent of colder weather, the Millerton Farmers Market moved indoors for the winter season. Sponsored by the North East Community Center (NECC), it operates at the Millerton Methodist Church, 6 Dutchess Avenue, Millerton. The hours remain from 10 am to 2 pm each Saturday through December 18th. (From January through April, the market will run on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month).

NY reveals list of 32 hospitals halting elective care

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/12/07/which-ny-hospitals-halt-elective-health-care-see-final-list/6408483001/

State officials have revealed the list of 32 hospitals halting elective health care to free up beds in the face of surging COVID-19 outbreaks and staffing shortages. The list included 12 hospitals in the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, as well as 20 hospitals in Western New York, Central New York, the North Country and Capital Region. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday described the measure as an attempt to boost bed capacity in regions being hit hardest by COVID-19 surges, while monitoring the issue in other communities with lower infection rates. “We did not want to return to a scenario in the early months of the pandemic when there was a wholesale shutting down of elective surgeries, regardless of what the infection rate was in a region,” she said during a briefing in Manhattan, referring to the initial pandemic wave in spring 2020.

Jacob’s Pillow announces reopening of Ted Shawn Theatre just in time for 90th anniversary season

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/arts_and_culture/berkshirelandscapes/jacobs-pillow-90th-anniversary-season-2022-sneak-peek/article_18df1902-5784-11ec-a080-7793c490d75a.html

Jacob’s Pillow will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2022 with the reopening of the Ted Shawn Theatre. Pamela Tatge, executive and artistic director, announced Tuesday the reopening of the Shawn, which will have a “completely new stage house and a new ventilation and air-cooling system,” and four of 10 companies that will dance on the newly renovated stage in a video announcement, “A Sneak Peek at Festival 2022” sent to newsletter subscribers. “The San Francisco-based Alonzo King Lines Ballet will be with us to celebrate their 40th anniversary. We’ll then host the return of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble with a retrospective of exceptional works by African American choreographers,” Tatge said. The full festival program, she said, will be unveiled in February. Member tickets will go on sale in early March, with tickets becoming available to the general public in early April.

Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking and Master of Arts in Teaching Program Receive Library of Congress Grant Award

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — The Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking (IWT) and Bard College Master of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT) have been awarded their third grant to imbed digitized Library of Congress primary sources into their programming for teachers and students. Bard MAT and IWT are known for their innovative strategies in supporting literacy instruction across disciplines through writing-based, student-centered teaching practices. The latest grant of $48,617, awarded under the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program, supports their collaborative one-year project “Mapping Unknowns: Writing to Read Primary Sources.” 

First lady to visit Connecticut on Thursday

https://www.wfsb.com/news/first-lady-to-visit-connecticut-on-thursday/article_5ce5c2f8-5753-11ec-b0ac-fba6fa949432.html?block_id=994127

First Lady Jill Biden is scheduled to visit Connecticut on Thursday. The White House said Biden will travel to Groton with Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro to visit with U.S. Navy families of the USS Delaware. Biden serves as the sponsor of the submarine. She is slated to arrive in Groton at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Biden and Toro will then attend a holiday gathering with the families at 5:15 p.m., hosted by United Through Reading at the U.S. Submarine Veterans Club in Groton.

Adopt A Family

Friday, December 10th, the Wassaic Auxiliary will be sponsoring and taking applications for Adopt A Family for local families from 1- 3pm at the Wassaic Firehouse.

The Sandy Hook Vigil

The Sandy Hook Vigil to remember those who died on Dec. 14, 2012, and all victims of gun violence will be held this year on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 5 to 6 p.m. in front of The White Hart. Participants are asked to bring a candle (real or battery-operated)

Canaan Child Care Center

The Canaan Child Care Center has been chosen to receive one of the Year-End Critical Needs grants by the Directors of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation. They are dedicated to helping area residents and families with limited financial means. The Canaan Child Care Center will receive $2,500 to purchase coats, boots, snow pants and mittens for children of the families who attend the center. The Year-End Critical Needs grant is made possible by the Marion Wm. and Alice Edwards Fund and the Draper Foundation Fund. Donors Marion Wm. and Alice Edwards and Jim and Shirley Draper all expressed a strong desire to assist those facing difficult and challenging economic circumstances.

COVID holiday surge intensifies in Dutchess: What it means and what county officials say

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/07/covid-dutchess-holiday-surge-intensifies-no-precautions-coming/6414119001/

Dutchess County, at the end of last week, had more than 1,000 active cases of COVID-19 among residents for the first time since mid-April. Just days into December, this year’s holiday surge is already packing a stronger punch than the summer spike that resulted in more than 40 deaths in two months. Last year’s surge began similarly, and ended with 217 county residents dying from Dec. 1 to March 1. That, despite safety precautions that included capacity limitations and mandatory mask use while in indoor public spaces. No such mask requirements are in place to stem the spread this year amid the rush of shoppers in packed stores and holiday gatherings. Unless they come from Albany, they’re unlikely to come from the county, officials said Monday. “New York State has historically issued mandates of this nature,” County Executive Marc Molinaro’s Office said. “We do not expect such mandate at the county level.”

Boy Scouts’ Greater Hudson Valley Council to sell Dutchess camp, hopes to keep other sites

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/07/boy-scouts-greater-hudson-valley-council-sell-camp-nooteeming/6413801001/

The Boy Scouts’ Greater Hudson Valley Council is selling its Dutchess camp but might be able to hold onto its Rockland and Putnam properties as it contributes to a national compensation fund for victims of abuse. The council, which posted its decision on Saturday, is in final negotiations with a potential buyer for the 272-acre Camp Nooteeming, in the town of Pleasant Valley. The buyer’s identity and the sale price were not disclosed Monday. Boy Scout councils around the country have been looking to sell some properties to contribute to the Boy Scouts’ national organization’s victims compensation trust as part of a proposed court settlement for people who said they were sexually abused as scouts. The scouts’ national organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware federal court in 2020 amid lawsuits alleging abuse.

December 6, 2021 Regional COVID Notice – CRN/KNT/SAL/SHR

We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:
Cornwall ● Two family members of two Cornwall Consolidated school students have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The family members have never been in the building 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 students or staff, except for those students who live in the home. The affected individuals and all family members will remain in isolation/quarantine per CDC guidelines.

Kent ● A staff member at Kent Center School tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The staff member was last in the building on Monday, December 6. No close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) were identified in the school. The affected staff member will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to quarantine students or close classrooms at this time.

Salisbury ● A staff member at Salisbury Central School tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The staff member was last in the building on Thursday, December 2. No close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) were identified in the school. The affected staff member 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 staff member at Sharon Center School tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The staff member was last in the building on Friday, December 3. All close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) have been notified and will follow the “Screen and Stay” protocol/ or quarantine as recommended by the CT Department of Public Health. The affected staff member will remain at home in isolation/quarantine per CDC preferred guidelines. There is no need to quarantine students or close 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.

Connecticut State remains in red with hospitalizations hitting 500

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/06/interactive-state-remains-in-red-with-hospitalizations-hitting-500/

Gov. Ned Lamont’s office reported Monday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Connecticut rose over the weekend to 500, just five months after dropping to a low of 25. That includes a rise of 80 coronavirus-related hospitalizations since Friday, according to the daily metrics released by the governor’s office. The last time the level was this high was April 21 of this year. Lamont, speaking before the latest numbers were released, credited vaccinations and boosters with keeping hospitalizations down. Of the 500 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 386 (77.2%) are not fully vaccinated, according to the governor’s office. “Maybe with each of these variants coming along, we can’t always prevent mild illness,” he said. “But, you’ve got to know that the boosters and the vaccines are keeping you out of the hospital and are keeping you out of the morgue.” The seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in Connecticut has risen over the past two weeks from about 738 new cases per day on November 20 to just over 971 new cases per day on Dec. 4, according to John’s Hopkins University. Further, the positive test rate in the state remains high at 5.80%.

Some NY counties lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccinations for ages 5 to 11.

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/12/06/new-york-covid-19-vaccine-rates-counties-lagging-kids-ages-5-to-11/8855438002/

COVID-19 vaccinations among New Yorkers ages 5 to 11 have slowed recently and some counties are lagging far behind the statewide rate. About 275,000 children, or 18%, of New Yorkers in the 5-11 age group have received their first dose, but nearly 40 of the 62 counties statewide fell below that rate, state data on Friday showed. Many of the 15 lowest pediatric vaccination rates — 10% and below — were reported in rural counties across large swaths of upstate, though Rockland County, Orange County, the Bronx and Staten Island also fell into the group. Most counties with low child-vaccination numbers have also lagged in vaccinating adolescents and adults, leaving them more vulnerable to surging COVID-19 cases and the potentially highly contagious omicron variant detected Thursday in New York City.

Berkshires COVID-19 cases rise 226 over three days

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/coronavirus/daily-report-coronavirus-covid-19-berkshire-county-ma/article_95e143c2-56f2-11ec-b1d7-fbe494aefdcf.html

As of Monday, there were 226 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berkshire County over three days, for a seven-day rolling average of 87.9 new daily cases. That is a 37 percent increase from two weeks ago. Berkshire Health Systems had 17 hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 tests as of Monday. There were no new deaths reported in Berkshire County, leaving the pandemic total at 333. Berkshire County has high transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, at substantial or high transmission levels.

Hurricane Ida-impacted New Yorkers have more time to apply for FEMA help with storm damage

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/06/fema-deadline-new-york-hurricane-ida-assistance/8888486002/

New Yorkers have a few more weeks to seek federal money for damages caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida in September. The Federal Emergency Management Agency extended the deadline to Jan. 4 to apply for individual assistance, allowing homeowners and renters more time to ask for help with uninsured or underinsured damage to their property after the storm battered parts of the state on Sept. 1. Many Hudson Valley residents had their homes or properties damaged by flooding, toppled trees and other impacts from the storm. FEMA’s original deadline for applications was Dec. 6. Residents in Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties are among the New Yorkers who are eligible to apply. Jan. 4 is also the deadline to apply for a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. People can apply for FEMA assistance at disasterassistance.gov, through the FEMA mobile app or via the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. Helpline operators are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Sharon Connect to Update Community on High-Speed Internet Possibilities for Town

Wednesday, December 8 from 6-7pm on Zoom Sharon Connect to Update Community onHigh-Speed Internet Possibilities for Town. Please join us on Zoom this Wednesday to hear an update on the work being done to map out a possible town-owned high-speed internet network. Although a final analysis won’t be completed until mid-January, we can share an initial design and answer your questions. At the same time that Sertex Broadband and Pike Telecom are completing their feasibility study for a town-owned fiber-optic network, Comcast is awaiting word on whether it will receive a federal grant to pay for wiring the parts of Sharon and other towns in the Northwest Corner that it does not currently reach with its cable internet service. Meanwhile, the federal government’s recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will direct $42 billion for broadband deployment, with underserved rural areas being high on the priority list. It’s unclear if Sharon would qualify for any of that funding, but we will keep on top of opportunities to apply. There is a lot going on! Here is the link to the Zoom meeting for you to copy and paste into your calendar for Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 6 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87448754583…

Tree cutting opposed

Led by respected arborist and tree expert Michael Nadeau, Housatonic Meadows Preservation Action has retained leading land use attorney Keith Ainsworth to seek an injunction to require DEEP to stop their massive tree cutting at one of our treasured nearby parks, to stop cutting down the large white pines and other trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park. Despite a plan by Rep. Maria Horn and Sen. Craig Miner that included a moratorium on further tree-removal until local conservation groups can be brought together with DEEP later this month, DEEP has announced their intention to proceed forthwith and IMMEDIATELY with their original plan for the wholesale cutting of irreplaceable trees. They started the takedown of the White Pines on Friday. Monday morning, Attorney Keith Ainsworth will be at the Torrington Courthouse to seek an injunction to halt DEEP’s continued tree cutting.

State has 1,000+ staff vacancies, prompting the offering of emergency certification

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/05/staff-vacancies-prompting-the-offering-of-emergency-certification/

Connecticut education officials are offering public school educators emergency certifications to help fill more than 1,000 vacant staffing positions across the state’s 205 school districts. The state Board of Education voted unanimously last week to reauthorize emergency certifications to combat “unprecedented” staffing challenges that officials say have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The vote allows certified classroom teachers to teach subjects they aren’t certified to teach in and also looks to help relieve special education and English language learning shortages. Last year, the state issued 174 emergency certifications, said Shuana Tucker, chief talent officer for the state Department of Education. Despite the pandemic bringing staffing shortages to the forefront, many school districts have seen staffing shortages for years, said Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. A month into the 2014-15 school year, the state had 250 teaching vacancies, state figures show. More than 1,000 teaching positions were vacant as of mid November, state officials found. There are about 52,140 full-time certified educators in state public schools

Transfer approved, but question remain in Kent

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/05/transfer-approved-but-question-remain-in-kent/

KENT – Voters approved a transfer of funds Friday to cover a line for litigation that went overbudget by $46,000, but not before asking a number of questions about the selectmen’s process that resulted in the overage. First Selectman Jean Speck presented a chronology that showed how a hearing was held in December 2019 that started the public comment on the application by Homeland Towers to install a cell tower on South Road. At that meeting there were a number of people opposed to the tower and the selectmen later agreed to seek party status in the legal proceedings with the state Siting Council. That application was received in February 2020 and there were a series of hearings that resulted in an approval in December 2020. Speck was asked what kinds of controls were put in place for the legal costs. “It wasn’t possible to predict or for counsel to give us a quote as to how much it was going to cost,” Speck said. “This process is very technical. We needed the legal technical expertise. We were working in good faith on behalf of the citizens of the town.” Both Speck and Treasurer Barbara Herbst said that townspeople at the hearing were overwhelming in support of the town seeking party status as an intervenor. Herbst said that the participants were polled at the hearing but that did not occur. However, there were many more people speaking against the tower versus speaking in favor of it.

Sandisfield hires new administrator, treasurer/collector as it works to restore order at Town Hall new bookkeeping practices will be implemented

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/sandisfield-town-hall-town-administrator-treasurer-tax-collector-the-berkshires/article_45a1838c-545d-11ec-997e-77b4e14b5c67.html

SANDISFIELD — The town last month hired a new administrator and treasurer/collector, setting Town Hall on what officials say is solid footing after five departures and some disarray in the town’s financial bookkeeping. Kevin Flynn previously was town administrator in Phillipston, where he worked for five years, according to Select Board Chairman George Riley, who acted as interim administrator until Flynn was hired. Flynn, who could not be reached for comment immediately, has extensive experience working for municipalities in different capacities. He began work Nov. 22. Flynn’s salary is $76,500, which already was budgeted for the former administrator, Joanne Grybosh, who resigned in May. A town hiring committee helped find Flynn and other candidates for the positions. Two had dropped out, citing their inability to find affordable housing. The board also hired Gina Campbell for the treasurer/collector position. Campbell is doing that same work for the town of Washington, and previously held this position for six years in New Marlborough. She replaced Theresa Spohnholz, who resigned in August. The new hires arrived months after turbulence that began last spring, when four people left their positions within two months, including the town clerk and a Select Board member. The upheaval happened amid an analysis in May by the town’s auditor that found gaps in what was recorded in town ledgers. The report also showed other financial issues.

Great Barrington: Book launch party for local historian

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/community-news/great-barrington-book-launch-party-for-local-historian/article_a6fc92b4-5473-11ec-aa7d-f399b7017454.html

The Great Barrington Historical Commission is hosting a book launch and book signing party for “Great Barrington Here & Gone” by local historian Bernard A. Drew at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, at Saint James Place. Drew and other noted town historians will speak about the book, the town’s historical heritage and the importance of preservation for future generations. Drew is also the author of “Great Barrington: Great Town, Great History,” published in 1999. The book may be purchased at the launch party, or through local nonprofits including the Great Barrington Historical Society, Fairview Hospital’s gift shop, Friends of the Great Barrington Library, and other nonprofits. The Bookloft is also selling the book.

Dutchess approves 2022 budget with added school trauma training, grant funding

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/12/03/dutchess-2022-budget-includes-grant-service-funding/8858634002/

Dutchess County will be making $640,000 available to area school districts for youth mental health trauma training as part of its 2022 budget. The majority of the funding was one of several amendments to a proposed spending plan that already boasted cuts to property tax rates, sales tax and the tax levy. The budget and the amendments, which also included more than $3.5 million in additional resources for grant programs and funding for the county health department to hire two substance abuse recovery coaches, was approved by the legislature during its meeting Monday night. In proposing the budget, County Executive Marc Molinaro touted the proposal’s effort to increase services to those in need of mental health or substance abuse assistance, augment emergency services resources and expand opportunities for youth programs.

Here’s what Berkshire County is getting in ‘earmarks’ from the Legislature’s $4 billion ARPA plan

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/what-berkshire-county-getting-covid-relief-money-state/article_ff1fc002-546d-11ec-b48f-8322c5e058ab.html

The nearly $4 billion spending plan the Legislature passed this week, powered by the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act, grew in its final days by $180 million, as lawmakers opened the door to allocations backing hundreds of specific local projects. A share of that, $2 million, will be on its way to Berkshire County. Of that, $825,000 will be used to address poverty, homelessness and other housing issues. Communities in North County will share $230,000 to help low-income residents secure broadband access, while just over a half-million dollars will underwrite parks and recreation improvements. Towns or cities that were unable to secure federal disaster relief after two big summer storms will be able to tap into a $7.5 million fund that must be shared by the five western counties.

Lamont says no return to COVID mandates at this time

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/03/watch-lamont-says-no-return-to-covid-mandates-at-this-time/

OXFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont said on Friday that the situation with COVID in Connecticut would have to get much worse before he reinstituted many of the mandates and restrictions that were implemented early on in the pandemic. This even as the daily data shows levels of positive test rate and hospitalizations not seen in the state since the spring. On Friday the Department of Public Health reported a positive test rate of 5.3%, which is down from Thursday’s number of 6.52%. There were six more people hospitalized with that total now sitting at 420. Lamont continued to stress the importance of getting vaccinated and booster shots as the state and country prepare to deal with the omicron variant of the virus. The governor was speaking at an event to promote investments in green energy projects held in Oxford on Friday.

Great Barrington doctor visited by FBI billed Medicare for more skin biopsies than any U.S. dermatologist

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/great-barrington-doctor-visited-by-fbi-state-top-billing-dermatologist-medicare/article_7f6dec8a-5391-11ec-9918-77964234bddd.html

Federal data shows that Great Barrington dermatologist, Dr. Scott Goffin, performed biopsies and skin growth destructions on Medicare patients at rates significantly higher than other Massachusetts dermatologists. Patients’ accounts also suggest he performed high volumes of those procedures on some people who were covered by commercial insurance, at times making patients anxious and uncomfortable. In 2019, Goffin billed Medicare for nearly 24,000 destructions and more than 17,000 biopsies, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That means he billed for more skin biopsies on Medicare fee-for-service patients than any other dermatologist in the United States, according to CMS data. His volume of skin growth destructions was also the highest in the state and ninth highest in the country.

Connecticut’s State’s COVID numbers at worst level since spring

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/12/02/interactive-charts-states-covid-numbers-at-worst-level-since-spring/

The pandemic numbers in Connecticut are creeping back up with Thursday’s report from the state showing hospitalizations (414) at a level not seen since April and the positive test rate (6.52%) at a level not seen since January. Further, 44 additional deaths were attributed to COVID bringing that grim total to 8,909. All this as the state continues to be among the national leaders in vaccinations. Gov. Ned Lamont reported on Thursday almost 2.5 million state residents have received two vaccine doses, over 72% of the population.

New York announces five cases of omicron variant

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/12/02/new-york-linked-omicron-case-minnesota-what-know/8836891002/

New York has identified five cases of COVID-19 omicron variant, state and city officials said late Thursday. Four of the cases were traced to New York City and one from Suffolk County, where the 67-year-old female patient had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and recently returned from South Africa, Gov. Kathy Hochul said The news comes after Hochul said earlier in the day that another case in Minnesota was linked to an event last month at the Javits Center in Manhattan. The announcements marked the first identified links between the potentially highly contagious omicron variant and New York. It came after California on Wednesday identified the first case in the U.S. Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said two of the cases were from Queens and one from Brooklyn, and the other’s location was not yet identified, but in the city. The Long Island case appears to date back to Nov. 30, Hochul said.

Will a sixth attempt to overhaul Monument High work?

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/southern_berkshires/monument-mountain-high-berkshire-hills-school-buildings-aging-great-barrington-stockbridge-west-stockbridge/article_5b15d628-52b4-11ec-b0bb-a7a9197b5f79.html

GREAT BARRINGTON — The boilers were installed when Lyndon B. Johnson was president. Same with the windows and electrical system. That was 1968, the year Monument Mountain Regional High School was built amid the state’s push to close town schools and regionalize. Now, it remains one of the few high schools in Berkshire County that have not been renovated. Last week, Peter Dillon, superintendent of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, said that the district will learn in March whether it is eligible for money to overhaul the school in some way, after submitting in June its most recent Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The district also will ask voters at the next annual town meetings, in district towns including Stockbridge and West Stockbridge, for money to pay for a new school design work — that possibly could run about $1 million, according to School Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon. The building authority won’t reimburse for that, since it already has paid back the district once during a previous round to renovate the school.

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

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/27/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

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/24/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

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/24/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

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/23/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

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/22/31-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

https://www.rep-am.com/local/localnews/2021/11/22/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.