Decline in public transportation the focus of Salisbury talk
The emergence of COVID-19 has derailed so much in people’s lives. Not surprisingly, transportation also has been affected by the pandemic, Jim Cameron said in a recent talk at Scoville Memorial Library. Cameron, a former NBC News anchor and author who writes a newspaper column called “Getting There,” told his virtual audience that ridership on the Metro-North Railroad is way down. Many in the Northwest Corner use that line from Wassaic, N.Y., which is just over the Connecticut border, to points south, ending at Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Up until March of last year, Cameron said there were 3.1 million riders a month getting to their destinations on time. “It’s still getting there on time, but ridership is down 78% on weekdays and 57% on weekends.” He presented some figures illustrating the toll the pandemic has taken on transit. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has seen $4.2 billion in fare losses, $2.1 billion in reduced subsidies, a $880 million decrease in tolls and $500 million in additional expenses.
Cameron noted the state’s gas tax, at 25 cents a gallon, has stayed the same since 1997. Tolls, he said, are pretty much a dead issue.
Disappointed supporters of paused Marist football launch Hail Mary bid
Call it a Hail Mary pass, with dim prospects of success for returning Marist football in time for the upcoming spring Pioneer Football League season. Late Monday afternoon, a letter signed by 85 program supporters, including parents and former players, was sent to school president Dr. Dennis Murray and two other administrators, asking for reinstatement of the program that was put on pause due to the COVID-19 virus. They are asking for consideration two to three weeks from now in belief that the COVID infection numbers are coming down in New York State and Dutchess County.
The letter penned by football parent Paul Olivett of State College, Pa., cited Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent decision to allow high school athletes to participate in “high-risk” sports such as football, should local county health commissioners give the go-ahead.
Connecticut Governor Lamont extends emergency powers to April 20
Gov. Ned Lamont signed declarations Tuesday to extend his emergency powers to manage the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic through April 20. Lamont said he believes a third extension of the current public health and civil preparedness emergencies is necessary because of the ongoing public health threat from the coronavirus despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines now. House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and Senate President Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, favor extending the joint states of emergency to April 20, while House Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora, R-North Branford, and Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, only support an extension to March 1, subject to certain conditions, including setting a 30-day limit and requiring legislative approval for future extensions.
Widespread internet outages hit northeast U.S.
Internet users across the northeast U.S. reported widespread outages Tuesday. In an emailed statement 90 minutes after the outage was first reported, Verizon said it was working on the problem hurting Fios service “throughout the Northeast corridor” and that some service had already been restored. The telecom giant had reported a cut fiber in Brooklyn via Twitter, although it’s not clear if that issue was responsible for the outage. Verizon didn’t give any estimate in its email about when the problem would be fixed and didn’t reply to questions about what caused the problem. Comcast, another major internet service provider, said it had not observed problems with its network Tuesday.
Gov. Lamont activates state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol due to expected cold temperatures
Governor Ned Lamont announced that he is directing Connecticut’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol to be activated ahead of the cold temperatures expected this week. Wind chill factors are expected to dip into the single digits or lower over the coming days. The Severe Weather Protocol will be activated beginning at noon on Thursday, January 28 and it will last through noon on Sunday, January 31. The protocol sets up a system for state agencies and municipalities to coordinated with United Way 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure the most vulnerable receive protection from severe conditions. Anyone in need of shelter is urged to call 2-1-1 to get connected to these services.
Residents of Big Pond in Otis see proposed cell tower as big problem
OTIS — People who live around Big Pond in Otis are organizing in an attempt to prevent the town from contracting to build a cellular telephone tower in their neighborhood. The town’s top board has requested proposals for a tower on public land near the pond, with submissions due Thursday. Residents say they plan to join an online session of the Board of Selectmen at 7 p.m. Tuesday, when the panel’s agenda includes discussion of the tower project. Big Pond, located between Algerie Road and Route 23 in East Otis, has about 125 cottages and homes around its shores.
Jobless rate in Berkshire jumps to highest rate since September
The unemployment rate in the Berkshires is at its highest point since September after climbing by over a point last month. Berkshire’s jobless rate in December jumped from 6.6 percent to 7.8 percent, according to state figures that were released on Tuesday. That largely mirrors a trend across the state, which saw an increase from 6.2 percent in November to 7.1 percent last month, according to the unseasonably adjusted figures that were released on Tuesday. Unemployment in Berkshire’s two cities broke the 9 percent mark in December, registering 9.3 percent in North Adams and 9 percent in Pittsfield.
Kent groups sue Siting Council over cell tower; selectmen opt out of suit
BY LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
KENT — Two neighborhood groups that opposed construction of a cell tower in the eastern portion of town filed a lawsuit against the state Siting Council and developers of the tower but the Board of Selectmen won’t be joining them.
The selectmen unanimously opted not to pursue an appeal, which they said in the motion was based on the legal advice they received during a Jan. 19 executive session. Upon coming out of the private portion of the meeting, each selectman shared their feelings on the matter.
The cell tower at 93 Richards Road was approved Dec. 7.
First Selectman Jean Speck said that, while she appreciated the grassroots efforts of the neighborhood groups, she doesn’t feel it’s a good use of the town’s resources to join the legal fight.
Cuomo to localities: Monitor hospital vaccination rates
By Kate Lisa Johnson Newspaper Corp.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tasked county and local government officials Monday with monitoring hospitals and area health care facilities delayed in administering their supply of COVID-19 vaccines for more efficient distribution as the state continues to wait for the federal government to procure higher weekly supply. The state’s roughly 200 hospitals have administered allocated COVID-19 vaccine dosages with varying speed and efficacy in each of New York’s 10 regions since the first immunization was distributed Dec. 14. Local government and municipality officials must do more to manage hospitals in local communities and ensure medical facilities are efficiently vaccinating eligible New Yorkers as quickly as possible, the governor said.
Dutchess loses 13 more people to COVID-19, but number of active cases is down
Michael P. McKinney Poughkeepsie Journal
Dutchess County has lost 13 more people due to COVID-19, for a total of 337, since figures that were reported Friday.
The county’s active cases fell to 1,844 from 2,316, according to figures reported Monday. The seven-day average positivity rate was at 7.11%, according to the county’s dashboard.
Thirteen more people have died due to COVID in Ulster County, for a total of 203, during the pandemic, the county reported Monday.The county’s active cases rose to 2,458, from the 2,389 reported Friday. Some 8,993 people have tested positive since the pandemic began, up by 275.
Western Mass. saw 4 COVID-19 deaths. All in Berkshire County
Berkshire County saw four new COVID-19 deaths as of Monday, for a new total of 199, with the confirmed case count up 44, to 4,343, the state Department of Public Health said.Those numbers in perspective: According to the nonprofit CovidActNow, “Over the last week, Berkshire County, Massachusetts has averaged 47 new confirmed cases per day (37.7 for every 100,000 residents). If this trend continued for the next year, this would translate to approximately 17,000 cases and an estimated 86,000 infections (69% of the population).”
Winter Weather Advisory
URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Albany NY
326 PM EST Mon Jan 25 2021
Northern Litchfield-Southern Litchfield-Eastern Greene-
Western Columbia-Eastern Columbia-Eastern Ulster-Western Dutchess-Eastern Dutchess-Including the cities of Torrington, Oakville, Gaylordsville,New Milford, Terryville, Thomaston, Catskill, Coxsackie, Athens,Cairo, Jefferson Heights, Hudson, New Lebanon, Kingston,New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Arlington, Pawling, Wingdale,Dover Plains, Millbrook, Stanfordville, Pine Plains, and Amenia
326 PM EST Mon Jan 25 2021
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON TUESDAY TO 10 AM
- WHAT…Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 1 to 4
- WHERE…Northwestern Connecticut and the mid Hudson Valley and
southern Taconics of eastern New York.
- WHEN…From noon Tuesday to 10 AM EST Wednesday.
- IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions and reduced
visibilities. The hazardous conditions will likely impact the
Tuesday evening, and Wednesday morning commutes.
- ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Some sleet or freezing rain could mix in at
times Tuesday evening, especially close to Interstate 84.
Job losses keep Connecticut’s unemployment rate at 8% for December
The state economy suffered 6,800 job losses largely related to COVID-19 to close 2020 on a losing streak.
The monthly employment report for December initially estimated 3,400 jobs were lost in Connecticut last month, and the initially reported loss of 1,600 jobs in November was revised up to 3,400.
The unemployment rate ticked down slightly from 8.2% in November to 8% in December
The state Department of Labor said the back-to-back monthly job losses in November and December came after six consecutive months of job gains following record-breaking levels of unemployment due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Connecticut officials promise to improve vaccination process
State officials are making changes to respond to complaints about difficulties in scheduling appointments for COVID-19 vaccine shots. Gov. Ned Lamont and his top public health adviser acknowledged problems that have arisen since vaccinations for state residents age 75 and older started last week during a news conference Monday morning at the state’s first mass vaccination clinic in East Hartford.
Residents age 75 and older are the first group outside of front line health care workers, medical first responders and residents and staff of long-term care facilities to be vaccinated. Appointments are being scheduled through health care providers, a state web portal, or a dedicated telephone line. There have been widespread complaints about long wait times for people dialing the appointment line, and for others using the automated call-back system. Many older residents do not have computers, or they are more comfortable using the phone line. In response, staffing for the 211 call center at the United Way that is booking appointments from callers was doubled last Friday, and this week more personnel will be added to field phone calls. The number of the COVID Vaccine Appointment Assistance Line is 877-918-2224.
Region has lowest hospital bed availability
By Sarah Trafton Columbia-Greene Media
The Capital Region reported the lowest hospital bed availability in the state Monday. The region, which includes Columbia and Greene counties, reported 24% of hospital beds were available over a seven-day average and 18% of intensive care unit beds were available. The state’s seven-day average for hospital beds is 32% and 26% for the ICU.
1/25/2021 Region has lowest hospital bed availability |
The Capital Region and the Twin Counties have not been designated a micro-cluster for the coronavirus at this
time. A yellow zone is defined as an area with a 3% positivity rate based on a seven-day average over the past 10 days, that is within the top 10% in the state for hospital admissions per capita over the past week and is experiencing weekover-week growth in daily admissions.
New York to seek federal OK to cancel 3-8 assessments amid uneven instruction due to pandemic
New York state will request permission from the federal government to cancel spring assessments for grades 3-8 for a second straight year, the state Education Department announced today. “In light of the ongoing pandemic, we have determined that the Spring 2021 state assessments cannot be safely, equitably and fairly administered to students in schools across the state,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester Young in a statement. Math and ELA assessments administered to grades 3-8 every spring are required by federal law and require a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to cancel. All 50 states received such a waiver in 2020. According to state Education Department officials, the waiver request being sent to Washington this year also covers Regents exams administered in June.
NY unemployment rate drops slightly to 8.2% in December
As New York’s unemployment rate continued to improve in December, initial unemployment insurance claims dropped recently for the first time in five weeks. The New York Department of Labor reported initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits increased from 56,325 to 73,121 the week ending January 9 from the previous week, but dropped to 61,459 the week ending on January 16. The unemployment rate in the state, when accounting for seasonal adjustments, dropped from 8.4% in November to 8.2% in December, while the rate for all regions outside of New York City stood at 5.9%, according to the state Department of Labor. Unemployment in New York City reached 11.4% in December, improving slightly from the month prior when unemployment was 12.1%, according to the state.
Massachusetts Residents 75 and older will be eligible for vaccine on Feb. 1; state moves all seniors up in priority
One week ahead of the start of Phase Two, Gov. Charlie Baker said he would also change the state’s timeline to move residents 65 and older higher in priority. Phase Two sign-ups for people 75 and older will begin online on Wednesday at mass.gov/COVIDVaccine, according to the governor. Residents age 65-74 and those with two or more comorbidities are expected to become eligible later in February, though the exact date depends on federal vaccine supply. The change means that essential workers, such as educators and grocery store workers, will now fall below elderly residents on the state’s priority list. It also means that people with two or more comorbidities will not be eligible immediately at the outset of Phase Two, as previously expected. Individuals with one comorbidity will still be eligible at the end of Phase Two, as planned. Berkshire County health officials have said they expect to have capacity to vaccinate at least 3,000 people per day, if supplies become available.
The Sheffield Volunteer Fire Department, in coordination with the Red Cross, will be installing smoke and carbon monoxide (“CO”) detectors in a small number of Sheffield homes over the next month.
Supplies of these detectors are limited so a strong preference will be given to households that do not have such detectors installed, and cannot afford to purchase these detectors. To register your interest in receiving smoke and CO detectors, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Or call 413.229.2874
Police say woman drove off road into Norfolk woods on purpose; 3 passers-by saved her
BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
NORFOLK- A Hartford woman who police say purposefully steered her SUV on Route 44 Sunday afternoon, crashing into a wooded area, would not have survived but for the efforts of several passers-by. Lina Rodriguez-Gomez was pulled from the wreckage of her burning 2002 Chevy Trailblazer by a tractor-trailer truck driver and two others. All three came upon the crash moments after it happened and just as fire began spreading from the engine compartment. Although firefighters were quick to respond, fire had consumed the vehicle by the time they arrived. The trio carried her farther away from the burning vehicle. Rodriguez-Gomez was taken by Norfolk Ambulance to Hartford HealthCare’s new emergency center in Winsted where she was transferred to a Life Star helicopter that made its first landing at the facility. She was flown to Hartford Hospital with injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening.
Panel in Connecticut to review distribution plan for vaccine Tues.
HARTFORD – State residents eager to find out when they might get a spot in the COVID-19 vaccine line could get some clarity this week.The allocation subcommittee of the Governor’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group is meeting Tuesday to resume distribution planning after recommending the next group of essential workers and vulnerable communities to be vaccinated.Subcommittee members have some time to work out the panel’s next recommendations because the second phase of the state’s vaccination program is going to take awhile to complete based on its size and the current pace of vaccinations.There are approximately 1.6 million to 1.7 million people eligible to be vaccinated between Phase 1a that started Dec. 14 and Phase 1b that started last Monday.
The state is only expecting to get 45,000 to 50,000 doses a week for the foreseeable future. Also, the currently available Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be effective against the coronavirus.
An approximate vaccination timetable put out last week had Phase 1c commencing in May, and it contemplated that sign-ups and vaccinations for healthy people ages 16 to 64 would start in June.
NY COVID vaccine push plagued by supply shortages, unpredictable deliveries, health leaders say
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in New York has been plagued by supply shortages, miscommunication and unpredictable deliveries as state and federal officials struggle to streamline the dire push to end the coronavirus pandemic, health care leaders said. Hospitals desperately seeking details about when to expect more vaccine deliveries. A vaccination scheduling process effectively stalled at some sites due to the lack of information from government officials. Confusion among some vaccination sites about reporting immunization data to the state. Further, the pool of 7.1 million New Yorkers eligible for shots far outpaced the supply of COVID vaccines from the federal government, about 2.2 million doses, leaving many people in the dark as they scrambled to find coveted appointments.
Berkshire Hills district chief delays in-person study, citing troubling COVID-19 numbers
The leader of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District is pushing back the return to in-person education, citing concerning levels of COVID-19 transmission in Great Barrington.Superintendent Peter Dillon told district families and employees in a Sunday email that learning will remain on a remote basis until Feb. 1. He had hoped to see students return this Thursday. Dillon noted that the state Department of Public Health says that in the 14 days before last Tuesday, Great Barrington saw an average daily incidence rate of 119 per 100,000 residents — enough to put the town in the DPH’s red zone.On top of that, 6.46 percent of tests for the coronavirus were positive. While that is below the state’s overall positivity rate of 6.85 percent for the same two-week period, it is higher than the county’s 4.49 percent rate in the DPH report. The county rate has climbed since then.
Signing up to receive the vaccine in Connecticut isn’t as easy as it sounds
After the Republican-American published three other websites where those eligible could sign up, seniors clicked on the Waterbury Hospital website, which confirmed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccination Administration Management System (or VAMS) requires individuals to register for the vaccine with a single email, but ewre still unable to book an appointment. Senior citizens statewide have found the state’s process for getting a vaccine appointment challenging and frustrating. Many are not able or capable online, and the phone line has so far been swamped with demand, a problem state officials confirmed in an email sent to local health workers Friday morning.
New York’s COVID vaccine supply transitions to ‘week to week,’ Cuomo says.
The first five weeks of the COVID-19 vaccine supply in New York was poised to run dry Friday, marking the transition to a reliance on new deliveries of doses that are expected to remain far below demand during coming months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The announcement came after Cuomo warned earlier in the week that many vaccination sites statewide would soon exhaust their supply of the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. By Friday afternoon, Cuomo said the first five weeks of supply was on track to be entirely depleted by day’s end, though shipments for the sixth week of the vaccination program had already begun arriving from the federal government. The development came after New York has administered more than 1.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, excluding shots provided in nursing homes under a federal program. But the concern is that the pool of about 7.1 million New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine far outpaces the current vaccine supply chain, which is expected to provide New York state with 250,400 doses next week.
New York allows high school and youth sports if locals agree
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration will allow basketball, football and other higher-risk sports competitions to proceed beginning Feb. 1 so long as county health departments sign off on it. The state issued updated COVID-reopening guidelines Friday for sports and recreational activities, clearing the way for all high school and recreational sports leagues to begin as soon as next month.
But the new rules come with a significant caveat: The local health department will first have to approve competitive play within its jurisdiction for sports deemed higher risk by the state, including basketball, football, competitive cheer, ice hockey and men’s lacrosse. The state will require county health departments to consider three things when making a determination: The local COVID-19 rates, the local ability to monitor compliance with rules and whether the U.K. strain of the coronavirus is present within the area.
One new COVID-19 death reported in Berkshires
Berkshire County saw one new COVID-19 death as of Saturday, for a new total of 194 deaths, with the confirmed case count up 47 to 4,270, the state Department of Public Health said.
The DPH said 75 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 13,777. Confirmed cases rose 4,330 to 472,175.
January 23 2021 Regional COVID Notice – Salisbury & HVRHS
Please see the letter below from Superintendent Lisa Carter regarding positive COVID cases in the Salisbury Central and HVRHS communities.We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus(COVID-19) in Region One:
Salisbury● A 3rd grade student in the Salisbury Central School community has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person has been distance learning since January13th and has had no contact with any staff or students other than their siblings. However, since the student’s siblings were in school between Jan 19-22, we are closing Ms. Merritt’s Kindergarten cohort out of an abundance of caution. Students in this cohort will remain at home until Friday, January 29th, when we have more information about the outcome of the testing. Siblings of students in this cohort may continue to attend school in person.
HVRHS● A family member of two HVRHS students – The affected individual has never been in the building and has had no contact with staff or students, other than those who live in the home. This individual and the students will remain in isolation/quarantine according to CDC protocol. The two students, who live in the same home as the affected individual, were close contacts (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period). Because they were in school on Tuesday, January 19, we are quarantining the few students and two staff members who were close contacts of these students from 1/22-1/24, when we have more information about the outcome of the students’ test. Mr. Schibi has contacted those individuals to inform them of this decision.● A student who is not related but who was a close contact of the aforementioned family member. The affected student has not been in the building since December 22 and will remain at home in isolation per CDC protocol. We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines. Thank you for understanding that sharing more than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy. Parents who are uncomfortable sending their children given the information shared may also keep them at home to engage in distance learning. It is especially important that all members of Region 1 Schools follow the Region 1 Health and Safety Guidelines to protect students, staff and family members from becoming ill.
Area sees spike in overdoses
By Natasha Vaughn Columbia-Greene Media
HUDSON — An overdose spike alert has been issued for Columbia County. Greener Pathways Program Director Carl Quinn said Columbia County had one overdose around 5 p.m.
Wednesday in the northern part of the county and another overdose around 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning in the
eastern part of the county. Both were nonfatal.
Ulster County is also currently experiencing an overdose spike, Quinn said. There have been four nonfatal
overdoses in Ulster County over the last 24 hours as of Thursday morning. Quinn said it is very possible the cases in both counties could be connected. The cause of the overdoses is not known, but if they involve the synthetic opioid fentanyl, there could be more
overdoses in the area.
Metro-North sets on-time performance record during pandemic, with fewer trains running
The pandemic led to never-before-seen ridership dips on Metro-North, threatened the layoff of hundreds of workers as well as service cuts but, hey, at least the trains were on time. In fact, Metro-North set an all-time record for on-time performance last year. Trains got to stations on time nearly 98 percent of the time last year, the best since the railroad was founded in 1983 and nearly four percentage points better than 2019. And the slowdown gave the railroad’s maintenance workers time to fix the sort of things needed to help trains arrive on time – cross ties, bridge timbers, switches and track. Last year the railroad installed nearly 50,000 cross ties, 1,641 bridge timbers and 36 switches. Less than 600 of the 163,116 trains operating last year were delayed due to switch or signal failures. In 2019, there were 1,750 such failures on 230,787 trains.
Applications available for 19th annual Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship
Applications are now available for the 19th annual Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship, which is open to students interested in pursuing a career in either journalism or music. The $2,000 award, established in 2003, is given in memory of Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter that was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan in 2002. Pearl, who chose a career in journalism, also had a passion for music. He began his career in the Berkshires, working at The North Adams Transcript and The Berkshire Eagle from 1986 until 1990.
During this time, Pearl performed in a bluegrass band. He was trained as a classical violinist, but also played guitar and mandolin. Application information is available from all public high school guidance departments throughout Berkshire County. Full guidelines and eligibility can also be found berkshireeagle.com/site/daniel_pearl_berkshire_scholarship.html
This information on COVID-19 vaccinations via Walgreens from Torrington Area Health District
Participating local Walgreens Stores that are offering vaccines to individuals 75 years of age or older76 Main St, Canaan, CT 0601828 E Elm ST, Torrington, CT 06790331 West St, Litchfield, CT 06759
American Mural Project gets $29,800+ via state act
The American Mural Project has received a $21,500 contribution from Northwest Community Bank, a $4,931 donation from Webster Bank, and a $3,452 gift from ConnectiCare.
The $29,883 in donations were made using the Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program. The program is designed to provide funding for municipal and tax exempt organizations by allowing a corporation business tax credit for businesses that make cash contributions to an organization.
Connecticut’s positivity rate at 4.93%
As of Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont said the state’s positivity rate was at 4.93 percent. On Friday, there were 237,815 COVID-19 cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which is up 2,019 since Thursday. Out of 40,958 tests administered, 2,019 came back positive. That results in a positivity rate of 4.93%. There were 45 new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the overall total since the pandemic began to 6,819. Hospitalizations decreased by 11, bringing the total to 1,058. The number of tests performed since the pandemic began is now at 5,439,307, an increase of 40,958 since Thursday.
NYSEG socked with $1.5 million fine for poor response to Tropical Storm Isaias in August
NYSEG will pay a $1.5 million fine, the largest possible amount allowed, to settle complaints that it had failed to adequately communicate with its customers during Tropical Storm Isaias in early August.
The settlement, which was approved Thursday by the state’s Public Service Commission, could provide a modicum of rate relief for NYSEG ratepayers. But that won’t occur until NYSEG’s next rate case, with the fine available to cut a proposed rate hike, or used for special initiatives. The fine amount will grow with interest until then. That’s not sitting well with Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who would rather see electric bills cut immediately, with an across-the-board rate reduction.NYSEG had about 183,000 outages during the August 2020 storm among its customers in northern Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. That storm brought high winds and torrents of rain, snapping utilities poles, and uprooting trees that took down power lines across the region. Still pending is the PSC’s case against Con Edison, which had far greater problems in its response to the storm, and could face far higher fines.
Dalton fire defendant ordered back into custody after alcohol lapses
Due to a documented lapse with alcohol, the man accused in a notorious Dalton blaze was ordered held in custody for up to 90 days, while awaiting trial on charges he torched a massive homemade Biden-Harris endorsement last fall. In remanding Lonnie Durfee back to pretrial custody for violating pretrial release terms, Judge Paul Smyth ruled that no conditions of release exist to ensure the safety of the public from Durfee, given what he described as Durfee’s history of violent behavior while intoxicated. Prosecutors said a monitoring device showed that Durfee consumed alcohol twice in recent months. Defense lawyer Robert Sullivan had argued that severe alcohol use disorder was difficult to overcome, and that Durfee — who is working with a counselor at the Brien Center to try to stay sober — should be permitted to continue wearing a monitoring device and to obey a curfew, which would allow him to keep his job as a laborer for a stone company. Assistant District Attorney Richard Dohoney also introduced photos newly obtained from Durfee’s phone that showed Durfee standing beside at least one Black Lives Matter sign that had been set of fire, along with a burning Biden-Harris campaign sign. The prosecutor could not say exactly when the photos were taken, but said they predate the hay-bale arson. Dohoney cited the photos as evidence of Durfee’s “escalating pattern of behavior.”
Complaints in Connecticut on the rise over extra fees for using credit cards
STATE — The state has seen an increase in complaints about businesses charging an extra fee for using a credit card, according to the Department of Consumer Protection.
A business may offer a discount if a customer chooses to use one type of payment, such as cash, over another, such as a credit card. Receiving a discount for paying in cash is allowed. However, charging a surcharge, or “convenience fee,” for using a credit card is prohibited by state law.
“Consumers may not realize they cannot be charged extra simply for using their credit card,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said. “But it’s important to watch out for these unlawful charges and avoid paying them before it’s too late.” Keywords for hidden surcharges include “transaction fees” and “processing fees,” the agency warned.
Anyone who believes a business is unlawfully issuing a surcharge for using a credit card is asked to contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5000 or email@example.com, or the Department of Consumer Protection at https://firstname.lastname@example.org
One injured, one in custody in Livingston shooting
By Bill Williams Columbia-Greene Media
LIVINGSTON — Police are investigating a shooting that occurred early Friday morning in Livingston, Lt. John
Rivero of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office reported Friday. The victim who was shot has not been identified by police at this time and is being treated at an area hospital.
Police did not identify the hospital.One person has been taken into custody.
January 21,2021 Regional COVID Notice – Sharon & HVRHS
Please see the letter below from Superintendent Lisa Carter regarding positive COVID cases in the Sharon Center and HVRHS communities.
We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Region One:
● A family member of a Sharon Center School staff member has tested positive for coronavirus
COVID-19. The affected individual has never been in the building and has had no contact with any other
staff members or with any students. The staff member has not been in the building since 1/20 and will
remain at home in isolation/quarantine according to the preferred CDC protocol. Because the affected
individual has not been in the building, there has been no close contact (within six feet for fifteen minutes
or longer over a 24 hour period) with students or staff in the school, so there is no need to close
classrooms at this time.
● The student in Cohort C, who we wrote about on January 16 as being presumed positive has received
positive test results. All Cohort C students and staff members who have been in close contact with the
student have been contacted last and will remain in quarantine according to CDC preferred protocol.
● A staff member who was a close contact of the student in Cohort C has received positive test results. The
affected individual has had no contact with other staff or students since 1/16 and will isolate per the
preferred CDC protocol.
We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines. Thank you for understanding that sharing more
than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy. Parents who are uncomfortable sending their
children given the information shared may also keep them at home to engage in distance learning.
It is especially important that all members of Region 1 Schools follow the Region 1 Health and Safety Guidelines to
protect students, staff and family members from becoming ill. For additional information about COVID-19 and any new
variants please review the information contained on the CDC website.
Connecticut State lawmakers to draft legislation classifying COVID as work-related illness
HARTFORD — State lawmakers are going to consider expanding workers’ compensation to include coronavirus disease as a work-related illness. The Labor and Public Employees Committee voted Thursday to draft legislation to provide COVID-19 relief that will propose the expansion of workers’ compensation coverage. The contemplated legislation will also cover such other pandemic-related subjects as hazardous pay, worker safety, health care and personal protective equipment, said Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, and Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, the House and Senate co-chairwomen of the the labor committee.
State police unit focusing on hate crimes proposed
HARTFORD — Legislation is being proposed to establish a state police division to investigate hate crimes and other criminal acts committed by extremist groups. State legislators on the Public Safety and Security Committee voted Thursday to draft the bill two weeks after an insurrectionist mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in a deadly attempt to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College victory of President Joe Biden. Rep. Kurt Vail, R-Stafford, was the only “no” vote, but several other public safety committee members joined Vail in questioning the need for the legislation.
New York to make it easier for unemployed to take part-time work
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it clear he wants to reform New York’s unemployment insurance law at his budget address on Tuesday. The Democratic governor is pushing changes in the state’s unemployment insurance system that would make it easier for part-time workers to qualify for more benefits while simultaneously reducing employers’ contribution to the system. As part of his $193 billion budget proposal, Cuomo included a piece of legislation that would expand unemployment insurance eligibility for those who are able to secure part-time work. The measure would take advantage of improved technology to track work by the hour instead of the day, a move the governor’s office claims will eliminate a disincentive for the unemployed to seek part-time work.
Luxury short-term rental real estate development group aims to share the wealth
Daniel Dus, founder and managing partner of Shared Estates Asset Fund GP, says he has found a way to bring the county’s former Gilded Age mansions within reach of the middle class — as affordable short-term luxury rentals and, more importantly, as investment opportunities. Dus’ vision involves rehabilitating Berkshire Cottages — those are summer estates built by some of America’s wealthiest families from 1880 to 1920 — and redeveloping them into short-term, carbon-neutral luxury rentals. In November, Shared Estates announced the pending acquisition of an Egremont estate, Applegate Farm, whichit plans to rename in honor of Elizabeth Freeman, of Sheffield, the first Black female slave to successfully sue for her freedom in Massachusetts.
The group is purchasing the property at 46 Bow Wow Road in Egremont for $1.6 million — $80,000 in cash and $1.52 million in seller financing, secured at a 5 percent annual percentage rate and amortized over 30 years.
Police: Four charged in robbery, assault
By Bill Williams Columbia-Greene Media
HILLSDALE — An investigation that lasted nearly a year into a robbery and assault that took place in February
2020 has led to the arrest of four people. All four were charged with first-degree robbery, a class B felony; second-degree assault, a class D felony; and fourth-degree conspiracy, a class E felony. Shane Bradway, 20, of Copake, turned himself in to the sheriff’s office with his attorney Michael Howard. Bradway was arraigned in Claverack Town Court before Judge Michael Brandon and was held on $2,000 bail and later released after posting bail. Zachary Willis, 23, of Craryville, turned himself in to police, with his attorney . Willis was arraigned in Town of Claverack Court before Judge Michael Brandon and was held on $15,000 bail. Willis was later released after posting bail. An unidentified male from Copake, who was 17 when the incident took place, turned himself in at the Sheriff’s Office. He was issued an appearance ticket to the Columbia County Court-Youth Court.
An unidentified female from Palenville, who was also 17 when the alleged incident occurred, turned herself in with
her attorney at the Sheriff’s Office she was also issued an appearance ticket to Columbia County
The case was first reported to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office February of 2020, when a video was discovered
that showed an assault taking place at an unknown location. An investigation led sheriff’s officers to a
residence on Taconic Creek Road in the town of Hillsdale
and asearch warrant was executed at the residence.
The person who was allegedly assaulted had been lured to the residence to meet one of the suspects and was assaulted and robbed when he arrived and did not report the incident.
The investigation is ongoing at this time. Anyone with information is asked to call 518-828-4316 and ask for
Investigator Patrick Logue.
More than 200 new cases of COVID-19 in Dutchess County
Another 206 Dutchess County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, raising their total to 16,963. Three more county residents have died from the virus, for a total of 322. The number of active cases was down by 225, to 2,110, while hospitalizations were up by 12, to 159.
Timberlyn Heights nursing home on ‘skeleton crew’ amid COVID-19 outbreak
GREAT BARRINGTON — The state has sent a rapid response team to Timberlyn Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where staff is down to a “skeleton crew” amid a recent outbreak of COVID-19. As of Tuesday, 28 employees and 25 residents were infected at the facility off Route 23, according to a text message obtained by The Eagle. The notification, which was sent to all staff, residents and their guardians or families by facility administrator Christopher Duncan, also said some staff will be returning from quarantine over the next few days. The message also said the facility is working with Berkshire Medical Center to provide monoclonal antibody therapy for those residents who are eligible and consent; the therapy will be used in those with mild to moderate symptoms who are at higher risk. The size of the rapid response team, which was sent by the state Department of Public Health, was not clear, and DPH officials did not immediately respond to requests for information.
First vaccination site established in Kent
KENT — As Phase 1b of vaccinations begins, Kent’s first vaccination site has been established by High Watch Recovery Center, 17 Old Barn Road, in the Kent Barns shopping center.
The space, donated by Kent Barns, is operated by High Watch employees and volunteers.“As we worked to get our own health care providers registered for vaccinations, we realized there weren’t a lot of options in the Northwest Corner,” said Jason Perillo, High Watch vice president. “This gives folks who live and work in the area a more convenient option.”
To schedule appointments, register at dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine. People who are 65 or older are eligible to receive a vaccination. Those without online access can call 877-918-2224, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.For information, visit https://highwatchrecovery.org
Officials: Twin Counties shorted on vaccine orders
Sarah Trafton and Natasha Vaughn Columbia-Greene Media
Greene County received 400 Moderna vaccines Tuesday of the 1,000 that were ordered.“If there’s more coming, I have no idea,” Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said. “I don’tthink there’s more coming this week. Generally, they allot them and we get them on a Tuesday.” Other vaccination distributors were also shorted this week, Linger said.“None of the area hospitals that are giving [group] 1A doses received vaccines this week,” he said. “Albany Med
canceled 1,500 appointments they had already set.”
Eight more Dutchess County residents die of COVID-19
Dutchess County said Wednesday that eight more residents have died of COVID-19, bringing the total during the pandemic to 319. The county also reported that 216 more residents have tested positive for the virus, bringing their total to 16,757. The county’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate was 8.01 percent. The number of active cases dropped by 182, to 2,335, and the number of hospitalized residents was down by 10, to 147.
17 COVID-19 cases reported at Marian Fathers facility in Stockbridge
An outbreak of 17 COVID cases has been reported at the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic male congregation’s National Shrine on Prospect Hill in Stockbridge. “Everyone is following COVID safety guidelines and complying with isolation and quarantine standards,” said James Wilusz, executive director of the Tri-Town Health Department covering Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge. At the department’s request, County Ambulance was called in last week for on-site testing for the virus. Wilusz credited Brian Andrews, president of the Pittsfield-based ambulance service, for stepping up to assist. Berkshire County saw three new COVID-19 deaths as of Wednesday, for a new total of 190 deaths, with the confirmed case count up 42 to 4,123, the state Department of Public Health said.
After losing $35 million, BHS leaders hopeful for better 2021
Berkshire Health Systems struggled financially in fiscal 2020 due to COVID-19. With the pandemic still raging, management is bracing for what could be another difficult and challenging year.The high costs of COVID-related care, the state-mandated shutdown when the pandemic hit and inconsistencies in patient volume caused the county’s largest employer to absorb systemwide losses that exceeded $65 million in fiscal 2020, according to figures released by BHS. Supplemental funding from federal and state agencies helped, but still, BHS recorded a $35 million deficit.In the year-end letter to employees, BHS stated that it expects to receive “significantly less assistance from the government” this year. And given competing priorities in the state and across the country, “we have no guarantee of how much, if any, governmental assistance will be forthcoming.” With about 3,900 employees, BHS is too large to qualify for aid from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. BHS also has instituted a $15 minimum wage for all noncontractural employees in fiscal 2021, and on Jan. 3 issued a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for employees who fall into that category. The leadership team has taken voluntary 5 to 10 percent reductions in annual salary this year. There also has been an adjustment to the retirement program, as BHS has suspended the core 2.5 percent core employer contribution for all eligible staff through the current calendar year. But, employees still can make voluntary contributions, and BHS will continue to match them up to 2 percent.
The Pine Plains Free Library will host a Flowers into
Paint Workshop on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 4 to 5 p.m.
Based on the work of American artist Georgia O’Keefe,
participants will design beautiful floral paintings that are
larger than life. Starting with an interactive discussion of O’Keefe’s work it will follow with apainting project. Participants will need real or plastic flowers to paint, white paper orcanvas, water-based paints,brushes, water in a container, a rag or paper towels, apalette or wax paper to mixpaints and a pencil. Registration is required
email@example.com or by calling 518-398-
The Hotchkiss Library of Sharon continues its
Virtual Book Signings with garden designer and author Bill
Noble tonight, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
Registration for this free presentation is required. Copies of the book are for sale. To register and for more information
William Schlesinger, President Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, will examine the regional impacts of rapid climate change on the eastern United States, including implications for food, forestry, disease and sea level rise.
His presentation will be given on Zoom for the Scoville Memorial Library http://www.scovillelibrary.org in collaboration with the Salisbury Association Land Trust, on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 4 p.m. To register go to the library’s event page.
The Salisbury Housing Committee presented a preliminary revised plan for affordable housing at the site of the old Holley Block in Lakeville to the Planning and Zoning Commission yesterday evening.
The plan includes a complete redesign of the exterior to what is known as a Federal style. The new design reduces the number of units from 13 to 12 and the number of bedrooms from 21 to 18. At the request of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Housing Committee agreed to have a public session with concerned citizens about the redesigned project before formally submitting it to the Commission. There is also going to be a review by the State Historic Preservation Office about the site which is not expected to be completed for a few months. After formal submission to the P&Z, the plan will also be subject to a public hearing.
Dutchess’ COVID deaths in January top any other month in pandemic
In the opening days of May, as the number of active COVID-19 cases in Dutchess County began descending from its apex, the county saw a surge of patients who died for reasons relating to the illness.By the end of the month, 72 residents had died, a grim total that illustrated the depth of impact left by the first wave of the virus on the region.In the first 17 days of January, Dutchess County saw 74 residents afflicted with COVID-19 die.With more than a third of the month still to come, January has already become the most deadly month the county has seen throughout the pandemic.It’s the latest example of how the second wave of the virus may be hitting the region even harder than in the spring, when businesses and schools were shut down to limit the spread.
Two Berkshire pharmacies partner with state to offer Phase One COVID-19 vaccinations
PITTSFIELD — Two Walgreens pharmacies in Berkshire County will begin to administer vaccines for eligible recipients, as the role of private pharmacies in the vaccine rollout expands.Massachusetts announced Tuesday that it would launch the COVID-19 CDC Pharmacy Partnership — Phase 1 with CVS Health and Walgreens.“Starting this week, this program will deliver a total of 10,000 doses to at least 15 CVS Health and Walgreens pharmacies a week for eligible residents in the Phase One priority groups,” the state wrote in a news release. The Berkshire locations listed by the state include two Walgreens pharmacies, one at 37 Cheshire Road in Pittsfield and the other at 25 Park St. in Lee. Eligible recipients will have to make appointments. So far in the rollout, CVS and Walgreens have been responsible for on-site vaccinations at long-term care facilities, as well as some congregate care settings.
CT Vaccine Rollout: Where to register for a vaccine if you’re eligible
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – The coronavirus vaccine rollout is underway in Connecticut. Phase 1A began in mid-December and the state is now ready to enter into Phase 1B.
Starting Thursday, anyone 75 years and older can now register to receive a vaccine. They are part of the 1B phase.
Phase 1A is already underway in the state, with most of the phase being completed. Gov. Ned Lamont says the Phase 1A vaccinations are expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
Who is eligible:
Those who are eligible for Phase 1A should contact their employer coordinator on details about how to get the vaccine.
The state is preparing to enter Phase 1B in January, expecting to vaccinate around 800,000 people during this phase. On Jan. 14, advanced registration opened for people who are 75 years and older. They can now start scheduling appointments to be vaccinated. On Jan. 19, Phase 1B appointments will begin for people 75 years and up.
Phase 1b Vaccination
In addition to an online appointment system, there will be a telephone appointment system for people who don’t have computer access. Healthcare providers are reminding the public to be patient, as scheduling an appointment may take time.
New York explores buying COVID vaccine directly from Pfizer
NEW YORK — Frustrated by the flow of coronavirus vaccine from the federal government, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday floated the idea of buying shots for New Yorkers directly from one of the vaccine makers, Pfizer. The idea seemed far from a sure bet, with the pharmaceutical giant saying it would need federal approval to sell to state governments. If that were to happen, the cost and amount have yet to be be discussed.
Regardless, Cuomo said he felt compelled to broach the idea as his state, like many others, faces tough vaccine math. At the current pace of federal vaccine shipments to New York, it could take six months or more to get shots to the 7 million residents already eligible under federal guidelines, let alone the roughly 12 million other New Yorkers. Residents have been scrambling to try to get the shots, with many getting shut out and upset.
Police: Man threatens to shoot up DSS building
By Bill Williams Columbia-Greene Media
HUDSON — A Rensselaer County man was arrested and faces charges he threatened to shoot up the Columbia
County Department of Social Services building in Hudson, Lt. John Rivero of the Columbia County Sheriff’s
Office said Tuesday.Jordan Couse, 19, of Castleton, was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment, a class A misdemeanor. The investigation was opened following an incident Dec. 30, when Couse called a Department of Social Services employee and threatened to shoot up the building at 25 Railroad Ave. Police declined to say how the incident started. Deputy David Stevens and Investigator Thomas Merante obtained a warrant for Couse’s arrest from Hudson City
Court. Couse was picked up at his residence in Castleton by Town of Schodack Police and was turned over to the
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office for processing.
Man suffers critical injuries after falling from hunting stand in West Stockbridge
WEST STOCKBRIDGE — Multiple fire crews and EMTs hiked up a mountainside Sunday to rescue a man who was apparently paralyzed after falling from his hunting stand as he tried to remove it from a tree.The man, 68, was airlifted by a Life Star helicopter to Baystate Medical Center, said town Fire Chief Steven Traver. The man’s name was not released.
January 18, 2021 Regional COVID Notice – Sharon
We have received notification about the following positive cases for coronavirus (COVID-19) inRegion One:
An elementary school student at Sharon Center School has tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19. The affected individual’s case is related to contact (outside of the school day) with the Salisbury Central elementary school case that we wrote about on January16. The student has been home in isolation/quarantine per preferred CDC protocol. There has been no close contact (within six feet for fifteen minutes or longer over a 24 hour period) withstudents or staff in the school, so there is no need to close classrooms at this time. We are sharing as much information as possible given HIPAA guidelines. Thank you for understanding that sharing more than what is allowed would violate guidelines that protect individual privacy. Parents who are uncomfortable sending their children given the information shared may also keep them at home to engage in distance learning. It is especially important that all members of Region 1 Schools follow the Region 1 Health andSafety Guidelines to protect students, staff and family members from becoming ill. For additional information about COVID-19 and any new variants please review the information contained on theCDC website.Thank you for following the Region 1 Health and Safety Guidelines. Please communicate with me regarding any concerns as they arise.
Torrington building that formerly housed Scarpelli’s Restaurant demolished
Scarpelli’s, or Scarp’s as it was known, was demolished almost a year after the well-known restaurant closed its doors. The site is expected to become a gas station after the property was purchased by Terryville businessman Mir Ahmed, owner of the Valero gas station at 154 South Main St.
In the hay days, the restaurant was home to the Hangers, high school-age car enthusiasts who filled the parking lot with hot rods and muscle cars.Things were good until Cumberland Farms came knocking on the door with a $1.1 million offer for the property. Up until that point, there were no plans to sell the property. Business was good but there were signs his customer base, many senior citizens, was shrinking a bit.
Bomb squad called to Torrington for ‘suspicious package’
The state police bomb squad was called to Torrington Monday night following a report of a “suspicious package” at Bachi’s restaurant.Police and firefighters shut down the lower part of East Main Street from South Main Street to Center Street and evacuated residents and businesses in that area.A man was seen in custody at Franklin Plaza a short time later.
A member of the state police bomb squad in protective gear was seen examining a large duffle bag outside of the restaurant.Customers who were inside the restaurant said a man walked in and made comments about the package and that there was some sort of explosive inside.
Police remind residents to lock cars after theft spree in Great Barrington
GREAT BARRINGTON — After spree of thefts from unlocked cars overnight Sunday town police are reminding residents to always lock their vehicles and bring valuables inside.
Thieves rummaged through a dozen cars looking for cash and other valuables, hitting cars from the Wyantenuck Street area off North Plain Road/Route 41, to the Castle Hill neighborhood, said town Police Chief Paul Storti.
“We think it’s the same person,” Storti added, also noting that police do not yet have any leads. “They’re not breaking in, just looking for cars that are unsecured.”
It’s something police have been seeing over the course of last year, he said, noting that other towns have also seen the overnight hits. Storti also said to report anything suspicious, and to contact Officers Elias Casey and Jonathan Finnerty, who are investigating.