Hank Gross

Hudson Valley Correspondent

Dutchess County plans on getting a dose of reality – on television, that is. Two “reality” based production teams are gearing up for local shoots, according to the Dutchess Economic Development Corporation.

“Tourism has been responding to a number of calls for films, commercials and reality shows,” noted EDC member Andrea Reynolds, in a report made to the board at Thursday's quarterly meeting.

Future science education in Dutchess County will be more integrated, when Vassar College completes its flagship campus complex in 2015.  The proposed academic facility is designed by architects to function as a bridge, allowing ecological study of the stream crossing beneath its archway.

After many years of programming and needs analysis, Vassar College has decided to launch a renovation and construction project for its 12 acre neighborhood of science buildings.

The Ulster County Legislature adopted a local law banning the use of fracking brine on county owned property.  The law passed unanimously Wednesday evening.

County Executive Michael Hein must hold a public hearing before signing it. 

The lawmakers are concerned that the liquid byproduct of hydraulic fracturing to harvest natural gas from shale formations could be offered by drilling companies to the county as a free or low-cost alternative to salting or sanding roads in the winter.

 In his continuing effort to keep county expenses down, Ulster County Executive Michael Hein Wednesday proposed a voluntary separation program for certain county employees as a means of reducing the size of the workforce and lowering payroll and benefits expenses.

Under the program, which would require county legislature approval, the 232 eligible workers could receive a one-time $12,500 separation payment to leave county service no later than December 1.

Health and Personnel Committee Chairman Robert Aiello, a Republican, supports the plan.

As the economy continues its recovery, now is not the time for state lawmakers to vote themselves pay hikes, State Assemblyman Steven Katz (R-Westchester) said Tuesday.

Katz was highly critical of the Democrat-controlled Assembly urged fellow lawmakers to reject any increase in pay.

Congressman Eliot Engel (D-Westchester/Rockland) briefed the new chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of his concerns and opposition to the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan and their applications for license renewal.

Engel’s comments came during a joint hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittees on Energy and Power and the Environment and the Economy on Tuesday.

Wurtsboro Airport will play host to the Wurtsboro Music Festival on two Thursday evenings in August.

Top name pop music entertainment from the 70s will be performing on the lawn at the airfield providing a new music venue for the region, said music festival spokesman William Liblick.

“Everyone often complains that there’s nothing to do in Sullivan County and what we’re trying to do is to make it very affordable and give people a good night of entertainment,” Liblick said.

Courtesy NOAA

Ulster County Executive Michael Hein announced on Monday that he is applying for Community Development Block Grant funding to assist low income homeowners in need of housing improvements with priority given to homeowners needing repairs due to Tropical Storms Irene or Lee.

Rural Ulster Preservation Company will administer the program for the county.  The county and RUPCO will apply for $750,000 with applications from homeowners due on August 7. Funds are expected to be available in the spring 2013.

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dutchess County Legislature and Criminal Justice Council continue to study the overcrowding at the county jail in Poughkeepsie and identify possible solutions.

Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison said they need to develop programs with best practices and evidence based outcomes.

ALBANY – The Ulster County metro area led the state in job growth year over year in June with a 5.4 percent increase.

Private sector employment in the Hudson Valley increased 11,700, or 1.6 percent, to 754,100 for the 12 month period ending in June, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

The Putnam-Rockland-Westchester metro region saw a 2.1 percent job growth while the Dutchess-Orange metro region lost 0.3 percent.

Sullivan County gained a half-percent in job growth while Columbia County had no growth and Greene County fell by one percent.

WAMC

WASHINGTON – In the wake of last week’s announcement that Delta Air Lines will drop its Stewart Airport to Atlanta route effective August 31, US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said he will ask the airline to reconsider the decision.

Schumer said on Wednesday he is disappointed with the announcement, but will press forward with his continuing efforts to attract new air service to the Newburgh airport.

POUGHKEEPSIE – A new Hudson River environmental monitoring station at Marist College in Poughkeepsie was unveiled Tuesday.

The station, built in partnership with the US Geological Survey, State Department of Environmental Conservation, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and Marist College, is funded by the US EPA.

The new station will continuously monitor water quality and automatically collect samples for the assessment of toxics, said Stuart Findlay, an aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute.

Ryan Delaney/WAMC

ALBANY – Some 76 percent of the current gas and oil wells in New York go uninspected by the state annually and before Albany considers approving hydrofracking to harvest natural gas from shale formations, it should increase staff and conduct more inspections. That assessment came Tuesday from environmental organization Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project.

In-county students at SUNY Dutchess will pay more than $3,000 for tuition for the first time next fall under an annual budget approved 17-to-4 by the County Legislature Monday night. Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross reports… 

Dutchess college students will still pay the lowest tuition of any community college in New York State. 

Some who supported the budget said their ‘yes’ was a reluctant one.  Among them was Republican Benjamin Traudt.

Dutchess County, New York government may be starting to see some signs of financial recovery while officials still struggle with the economy. Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross has more…

Recent sales tax income is down two percent, but the hotel/motel room tax is flat and with increases in employee pension and health insurance costs and other state mandated expenses, balancing the budget remains a juggling act.

County Budget Director Valerie Sommerville presented the county legislature with a 2011 year end review and a peak at 2012.

WAMC Photo

The House of Representatives-passed farm bill does not include funding for certain USDA rural development programs. New York Senator Charles Schumer on Wednesday urged the House to adopt Senate language to include that funding. Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross reports…

The New York State Nurses Association, which represents 260 registered nurses at Benedictine Hospital, says as the HealthAlliance considers closing Kingston Hospital and folding all services into Benedictine, it should consider the effect on the community. Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross reports…

The Nurses Association claims HealthAlliance’s current problems are “the result of several poor management decisions,” said spokesman Mark Genovese.

Violent crime was down substantially during the first five months of the year in Kingston, according to crime statistics kept by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross has more on the statistics, which show a 34 percent drop in violent crime...

To date this year, violent crime dropped 34 percent. There were no murders or rapes and robberies were down 44 percent. Burglaries were down 17 percent, although larceny arrests increased.

Organized labor and New York Republican House member representing the Hudson Valley  agree that something must be done to boost employment, as the national unemployment figure for June showed joblessness was 8.2 percent with just 80,000 new jobs added. But they have different views on how to grow the economy. Hank Gross reports…

Paul Ellis-Graham, president of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, said the GOP House of Representatives is blocking the solution to the problem.

Soon, all parks maintained by Dutchess County, New York will be smoke-free. County Executive Marcus Molinaro made the announcement Thursday at Bowdoin Park, overlooking the Hudson River in the Town of Poughkeepsie.  Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross reports...

he smoking prohibition at county parks is an addition to the Dutchess County Clean Indoor Air Law, which was passed in 2003 and championed and sponsored by Molinaro when he was a county legislator.

The Village of Wappingers Falls, New York may have switched to its own water supply, but the village has a contact with the Joint Poughkeepsie Water Agency through the end of the year — and the City and Town of Poughkeepsie want their money. Hudson Valley Correspondent Hank Gross reports...

The village hasn’t paid the $488,400 it owns for usage for the last part of 2011 and the first half of this year, and Mayor John Tkazyik has also sought mediation to get its money.

The Town of Wappinger in New York’s Dutchess County and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection have agreed that the town willsupply water to the DEP during the construction of a new water shaft. The agreement is part of a massive project to repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct in Ulster and Orange counties. Hudson Valley correspondent Hank Gross has more...

Under the plan, the town will provide water for shaft construction and potable supply purposes by September of next year through the duration of the project through 2021.

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