Wednesday, February 18, 2009

News That Matters - February 18, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Wednesday Morning,

There's snow and rain coming and it's supposed to be windy today and tomorrow. While winter is not exactly over, the signs of spring are all over the place. Get outside, look and listen, and you'll see them. Maybe we can even stop messing with the clocks and just stay on standard time from now on out? That would be nice.

Over at the blogsite there are two interesting articles out of Putnam Valley. One is a review of a town board work session and the other reviews a planning board meeting.

If you're not seeing news about your town there it's because you're not posting it! Head on over, log on and post!

It's also now easier to log in and post! A form for your username and password (or to register) is right there in the right hand column.

The other day I referenced an article about how Greenburgh's supervisor, Joel Feiner, thought that merging Putnam, Westchester, Rockland and maybe Orange counties into a single entity would save costs and taxes. He's right, to a point, but much more could be saved by simply merging school districts. And, if that were just the first step, the second would be to shift the funding of schools from property, to income taxes.

I've thought about his plans for counties merging, and can't seem to think that Putnam, as a whole, matches well with Westchester or the other counties mentioned. But here's my own plan:

Southeast, Carmel and Mahopac could merge with Westchester as it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins in any case. And, super-developers Paul Camarda and Harold Lepler would feel more at home there.

Patterson could merge well with Fairfield County in Connecticut, which leaves Kent, Putnam Valley and Philipstown, which covers the Highlands proper and have always been different and so should merge together into a single county rechristened as Nimham county. All this would look like this:

Nimham County has fewer roads to maintain and tax contributions from State Parks, DEC and the DEP would help in offsetting property taxes. Those towns are also largely free of development pressures and would see tax savings from fewer homes built and fewer children sent to local schools. Moreover, it's open space lands, which number in the tens of thousands of acres, would enable them to focus on eco-tourism and build their tax base on green, renewable business practices.

Okay, okay... I'm only kidding. Sorta.

Remember that our weekly "Things To Do" edition comes on Friday so if your group or organization has something planned for the weekend or early next week, please get those items in here. If you've already sent in your notices, I got them.

The Town of Kent CAC meets tonight at 7:00 PM at the Town Center on Route 52. The agenda includes a Chairman's report and a film on Stone Chambers in Putnam County.

And now, The News:

  1. Putnam County receives Preserve America grant
  2. Sheriff Smith doing an excellent job
  3. Carmel homes, Guideposts HQ proposed
  4. Residents Fight Urban Sprawl
  5. Homes that Cost Less than Rental
  6. Hydrogen Fuel From Woodchips And Other Non-food Sources
  7. Paterson's Download Tax Hits Porn, Too
  8. Songbirds Fly Three Times Faster Than Expected
  9. U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

Putnam County receives Preserve America grant

Putnam County was recently awarded a federal Preserve America matching grant to foster heritage tourism in Cold Spring. Timed to coincide with the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s 1609 voyage up the Hudson River, the grant will be implemented in partnership with the Putnam County Historical Society & Foundry School Museum (PCHS–FSM). A series of programs, exhibitions, and public outreach initiatives will engage the community in our local history and to draw tourists to our local heritage sites.

Preserve America is a White House initiative developed in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Preserve America goals are to share knowledge about our nation’s past, to strengthen regional identities and local pride, to increase local participation in preserving our country’s irreplaceable cultural and natural heritage assets and to support economic vitality in local communities. In 2004 County Legislator Vincent Tamagna secured a Preserve America Community designation for Putnam. The county was one of the first eight communities in the country to receive this designation. This heritage tourism grant is the third Preserve America grant the county has received; in 2007, funds were secured for the development of an interpretative plan for Scenic Hudson’s West Point Foundry Preserve; in 2008, funds were secured for the restoration of the Grove.

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Sheriff Smith doing an excellent job

What makes a good sheriff?

A good sheriff needs to recognize change indicators that affect the safety of the community and initiate measures to prevent crime as well as enforce laws, using modern technology to assist in prosecution. A sheriff needs to interact with counterparts of federal and state agencies to ensure the best training and equipment is available. In addition to these attributes, Sheriff Donald Smith stresses that the department belongs to the people of Putnam County and that effective law enforcement results from effective interaction between the department and the community.

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Carmel homes, Guideposts HQ proposed

Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News

CARMEL - The new owners of Guideposts' 50-acre site off Seminary Hill Road are proposing to build a 50,000-square-foot glass and steel headquarters for the Christian magazine.

The project also calls for 105 new homes in a clustered configuration, leaving 27 acres as open space. The residential component would require a zoning change since the parcel off Route 6 is designated for light industrial and commercial use.

Guideposts was begun by Norman Vincent Peale in 1945, and its main product is its magazine, which carries inspirational stories. Last year, Guideposts announced it was selling its property to a development group led by Harold Lepler of Covington Management in Brewster with Reliance Partners of Stamford, Conn.

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Residents Fight Urban Sprawl

By Gary Gray
Reporter / Bristol Herald Courier
Published: February 16, 2009

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Irene Lane has lived in her Lark Street home since it was built in 1948. Across the street is an open space where she and others played as kids.

Lane is among a growing number of residents and property owners on Lark and Southside Avenue penning their names to a petition encouraging the City Council to deny a request to rezone that space for business use.

“More than anything I’m afraid it would devalue the homes in this area,” Lane said before signing the petition Thursday.

BurWil Construction Co., a well-known Bristol builder, owns three adjacent lots on Southside. Two lots are used for equipment storage, and the company is seeking to build a new, two-story structure on the third for the same purpose.

But residents who live near the site just south of Tennessee High School, between Volunteer Parkway and Weaver Pike, say the building will create more traffic, dust and danger to pedestrians at a nearby church and the school.

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Homes that Cost Less than Rental

How a Toronto developer creates 'cost-effective' condos sold to families making as low as $32,000.

By Monte Paulsen
Published: February 17, 2009

"We don't call what we do 'affordable housing' anymore," said Toronto developer Michael Labbé. "We call it cost-effective housing. Because what we do is build ownership housing that's less expensive than rental."

Labbé is the founder of Option for Homes, a not-for-profit company that produces condominiums for tens of thousands of dollars below market rates, helps its customers scrape together large down payments, and has accumulated a multi-million dollar endowment that could fund its work in perpetuity.

Since 1993, Options has started 10 developments in the Toronto area, and completed more than 1,500 homes.

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Hydrogen Fuel From Woodchips And Other Non-food Sources

ScienceDaily (Feb. 17, 2009) — Tomorrow's fuel-cell vehicles may be powered by enzymes that consume cellulose from woodchips or grass and exhale hydrogen.

Researchers at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia have produced hydrogen gas pure enough to power a fuel cell by mixing 14 enzymes, one coenzyme, cellulosic materials from nonfood sources, and water heated to about 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius).

The group announced three advances from their "one pot" process: 1) a novel combination of enzymes, 2) an increased hydrogen generation rate -- to as fast as natural hydrogen fermentation, and 3) a chemical energy output greater than the chemical energy stored in sugars – the highest hydrogen yield reported from cellulosic materials. "In addition to converting the chemical energy from the sugar, the process also converts the low-temperature thermal energy into high-quality hydrogen energy – like Prometheus stealing fire," said Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

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Paterson's Download Tax Hits Porn, Too

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  -- Talk of a New York tax increase just got a little, er, hotter.
It turns out that New York Gov. David Paterson's proposal on downloads of music and software would also apply to downloading pornography, an element unnoticed in the public debate so far.
The state Division of Budget confirmed to The Associated Press that the tax would apply to skin flicks, whether they are downloaded online or purchased through pay-per-view on television.

"By taxing it you're legitimizing it,'' said Michael Long, chairman of New York's Conservative Party. "You're sending a message to the children, you're sending a message to the teenagers, if you're taxing it, how can it be wrong? I don't know how you can sink much deeper.''
And because of recent court decisions over the relatively new area of taxing Internet transactions, the sales tax would apply only to pornographers who are located in the state. It's a break for out-of-state Web sites that wouldn't have to collect from New Yorkers.
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Songbirds Fly Three Times Faster Than Expected

ScienceDaily (Feb. 16, 2009) —  A York University researcher has tracked the migration of songbirds by outfitting them with tiny geolocator backpacks – a world first – revealing that scientists have underestimated their flight performance dramatically.

"Never before has anyone been able to track songbirds for their entire migratory trip," said study author Bridget Stutchbury, a professor of biology in York's Faculty of Science & Engineering. "We're excited to achieve this scientific first." Songbirds, the most common type of bird in our skies, are too small for conventional satellite tracking.

Stutchbury and her team mounted miniaturized geolocators on 14 wood thrushes and 20 purple martins, breeding in Pennsylvania during 2007, tracking the birds' fall takeoff, migration to South America, and journey back to North America. In the summer of 2008, they retrieved the geolocators from five wood thrushes and two purple martins and reconstructed individual migration routes and wintering locations.

Data from the geolocators indicated that songbirds can fly in excess of 500 km (311 miles) per day. Previous studies estimated their flight performance at roughly 150 km (93 miles) per day.

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U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

By Julia Preston / New York Times

Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.

Immigrants who are permanent residents, with documents commonly known as green cards, have long been eligible to enlist. But the new effort, for the first time since the Vietnam War, will open the armed forces to temporary immigrants if they have lived in the United States for a minimum of two years, according to military officials familiar with the plan.

Recruiters expect that the temporary immigrants will have more education, foreign language skills and professional expertise than many Americans who enlist, helping the military to fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis.

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