Friday, May 15, 2009

News That Matters - May 15, 2009 - Things to Do Edition

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Good Friday Morning,

Rumor has it that today is going to be our first real summer day and I can't wait. Once the skies clear in a couple of hours, the temps should top out at about 75º with low humidity. Tomorrow, not as nice and Sunday cool and cloudy. So take the day off or quit early and enjoy the weather.

I attended a star-studded event last evening in Beacon honoring Fishkill's Historical Focus and long-tine activist Connie Hogarth. Many Putnam County residents were in attendance and it was nice to meet them in this setting. Historical Focus has been leading the fight to preserve what's not been paved over of the Fishkill Army Depot, the largest such facility used by revolutionaries fighting the British from 1776 to 1783. Most of that land is now covered by a failed shopping mall and as far back as the 1970's historical groups have been trying to save it but profits and development have trumped history. Even to this day, with the recent discovery of 100 colonial graves on the property, the Town of Fishkill is forging ahead with development plans that would pave over the remainder of that land. Connie Hogarth has been a social activist for most of her 80 years and runs a program at Manhattenville College to teach students how to effectively mount social justice campaigns.

Reporters Needed: If you give a damn about what's happening in your town

Remember the PCB's in the upper Hudson River and how General Electric has been avoiding responsibility in cleaning up their mess? According to the Albany Times-Union, after millions of dollars were spent on lawyers and specialists, the first phase of the cleanup begins today and will remove some 265,000 yards of river bottom. At that point the EPA will study the process to see how things are going before embarking on a second, much larger, project. But GE hasn't agreed to the second phase so expect the lawyers to continue raking in the bucks.

While the global economy is faltering and the US economy shrinks, Norway is doing quite well. Their mix of socialism and capitalism is a broad success as their personal GDP has reached $52,000 and the nation of 4.6 million people carries no debt and a government surplus. For the record, Norway is what right-wingers in the US would call a welfare state. If you're homeless it's because you want to be. If you're sick there's government clinics to take care of you. If you need to travel from here to there, there's mass transit to take you. And while the income tax rate is near 50% no one seems to be complaining. Here, the average American pays about 35% in Federal income taxes but add state income taxes, property, sales and use taxes to the bill and we're well above Norway and yet have few services to call our own. Go figure. There's more of those "tea parties" schedule for the July 4th weekend. Someone ought to let those folk know they're barking up the wrong tree.

While the Obama administration caves on a national health care proposal, the latest industrialized nation to go that route is Taiwan. And, what did Taiwan base their model on? Canada? No. France? No. Medicare. Taiwan found that based on the American Medicare model they can bring affordable preventative health care to every resident of that island nation of 23 million people. Medicare covers 43 million Americans and runs at a 3% overhead while private insurance companies run at 25-35% overhead, and in some cases, more. This is one of myriad of cases where "privatization" simply does not work. If you have (or had) medical insurance through your employer and you've lost your job, head to Norway or Taiwan where caring for their citizens is more important than profits.

Featured Hike this Weekend:
The Harlem Valley Rail Trail has now opened two sections totaling 15 paved miles through stunning rural Dutchess County landscapes. Since the mid-1980's, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association has dreamed of a 46-mile rail trail in the Harlem Valley and Taconic Hills of eastern New York. The first segment of the trail opened in 1996. Since then, the trail has grown in 1997, 2000 and 2005. Another eight miles of abandoned rail bed are in the development stages, and most of another 23 miles have been acquired in Columbia County that will lead the trail north into the Village of Chatham. Get more information here.

So, what's up this weekend? Here's the run-down. By the way, if your organization's event is not here it's because you didn't tell us about it.
  1. Tonight:
    1. The Hudson: America's River
  2. Saturday:
    1. Canoe the Great Swamp
    2. Art Show Opening
    3. Turtle Pond Trail Grand Opening
    4. Philipstown 4 Democracy
    5. Plant a Tree
  3. Sunday:
    1. Harvey Wasserman
    2. "Renewal"
  4. Into The Future:
    1. Wednesday, May 20
      1. Kent CAC Meeting
      2. Dover Meeting on 1000, Megawatt Power Plant
    2. Thursday, May 21
      1. Kent Fiscal Watch


The Hudson: America's River

7PM - Author and conservationist Fran Dunwell has spent over 30 years working to protect the Hudson River and its historic heritage. She will discuss her new book, The Hudson: America's River, which explores the river's role in inspiring artists, entrepreneurs, presidents, environmental movements, and the rise of Manhattan. This event is part of the Millbrook Book Festival. Event is free and open to the public. Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, 2801 Sharon Turnpike (Rt. 44) in Millbrook.   or call (845) 677-5343


Canoe the Great Swamp

FrOGS Naturalists will guide you through this beautiful section of the Great Swamp, one of the largest wetlands in New York State, with the assistance of Green Chimney's licensed lifeguards. Join us at Green Chimney's beach off Doanesburg Road (formerly Putnam Lake Road). All level paddlers are welcome (rated moderately strenuous). We will provide, canoes, paddles, life jackets (bring your own if you wish). We canoe rain or shine. Reservations are a must and space is limited, so, make your reservation early and join FrOGS as we visit and view this unique and complex eco-system which is also home to many species that visit or live there; you will likely get to meet some of them. $20 adult members, $11 child (6-14 years), $24 adult non-members, $15 child (6-14 years). Children must be 6 years or older. Call Evelyn at 845-877-6498 for reservations and details.

Art Show Opening

1-5PM: The Visual Artists Committee of Arts on the Lake opens the Spring Art Exhibit, 1-5 p.m.  The exhibit continues Sunday, 1-5 p.m., Wednesday evening, 7-9 p.m., Memorial Weekend Saturday-Monday, 1-5 p.m.  Sixty artists are represented in a display of  paintings, sculpture, photography, stained glass and mixed media. 

Turtle Pond Trail Grand Opening

1PM - The Putnam County Land Trust will officially open its latest trail at the Laurel Ledges Natural Area on Saturday, May 16th at 1 pm. The trail skirts the northern edge of Turtle Pond (formerly Mendel Pond).   Acquired through a NAWCA grant from Bill and Sheila Hamilton, the pond serves vital wildlife needs for resting, nesting and food sources. Stephen Maddock of Mahopac Scout Troop 1 earned his Eagle Scout Badge through the planning, fund raising and construction of this trail.  The Turtle Pond Trail as it will be called features over 1500 feet of trail including a 30 foot floating boardwalk. The Opening Program will feature brief remarks and a walk on the trail led by PCLT board member and eminent naturalist, Beth Herr.  The public is invited to attend.  There is no fee.  The ceremony be held at the Trail Head located on Cornwall Hill Road between Rte 164 and Couch Road and the walk will leave from there as well. 

Philipstown 4 Democracy

2PM - Building Peace Through Dialogue. Speaker: Mike Daly, Program Director, Interfaith Peacebuilders. Reports from Interfaith Peacebuilder Trips To Israel / Palestine Interfaith Peace-Builders fosters a network of informed and active individuals who seek to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United States’ political, military, and economic role in it. Desmond Fish Library, Garrison. 917-273-0808

Plant a Tree

2-5PM - At Hudson Highlands Gateway Park Cortlandt, Westchester County - Protect the Hudson River watershed. Help us plant 300 native trees and shrubs provided through the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program's Trees for Tribs initiative, which works to restore lands along tributaries, reducing erosion and improving water quality. Bring gloves, shovels and drinking water. Contact: Anthony Coneski 845 473 4440, ext. 273,


Harvey Wasserman

3PM - Beacon Institute for Rivers & Estuaries- 199 Main Street, Beacon, NY. Author, activist, journalist who coined “No Nukes”. "Stopping Nuclear Power" and "Winning Solartopia". Music :  Dar Williams & David Bernz. Sponsors: Mid Hudson Progressive Alliance, Philipstown for Democracy, Beacon Sloop Club, Hudson River Clearwater, Riverpool at Beacon - IPSEC (Indian Pt Safe Energy Coalition) This program is free. Contact | 845-228-8894


4PM - "Renewal" 2008, dirs Marty Ostrow and Terry Kay Rockefeller, 90 min. At the Garrison Institute, Rute 9D in Garrison. A presentation of eight different stories about America's growing religious-environmental movement. Each story is set in a different religious tradition, and each story addresses a different environmental concern. Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and different Christian denominations pursue projects to raise consciousness about the environmental crisis. "The religious-environmental movement is potentially key to dealing with the greatest problem humans have ever faced, and it has never been captured with more breadth and force than in 'Renewal.' I hope this movie moves many more people off the fence and into action." --Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author of "The End of Nature" Contact: 845 424-4800. Sponsored by: the Garrison Institute, a non-sectarian, non-profit organization "...exploring the intersection of contemplation and engaged action in the world."

Into The Future:

Wednesday, May 20

Kent CAC Meeting

The Kent CAC will meet at the Town Hall on Route 52 at 7PM. On the agenda will be a Chairman's report, planning for the next CAC sponsored hike, cleaning up trash (mostly on Mt. Nimham at the firetower) and other nice green things. (Photo from George Baum)

Dover Meeting on 1000, Megawatt Power Plant

The Dover Town Board is having a public meeting on Advanced Power's proposal to build a 1,000 Megawatt Natural Gas Power Plant in Dover Plains, NY.  This  meeting will be held at the Dover High School auditorium, 2368 Rt 22 - Dover Plains, NY 12522 on May 20, 2009, 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM.

Thursday, May 21

Kent Fiscal Watch

7:30 PM - Kent Fiscal Watch is hosting an open forum featuring special guest Sandy Galef, State Assemblywoman for the 90th district, on Thursday, May 21st, 7:30PM at the Lake Carmel Community Center, 10 Hugenot Road, Lake Carmel NY. The main topics of discussion will be: How to make the Open Meeting and Freedom of Information Act more effective in opening up government documents, Consolidation of Administrative and other Services in schools and other agencies, School Taxes: The Circuit Breaker Bill, The Cahill Bill...different approaches to the same problem, How to take part in your town budget development, Other Tax Reform Topics, The importance of citizen activism.

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