Friday, February 12, 2010

News That Matters - February 12, 2010 - Things To Do Edition

News That Matters

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Friday Morning,

Sunny WindowThe Blizzard of 2010 wasn't - unless you happened to live in eastern Pennsylvania where some communities received more than 2 feet of snow along with northerly winds reaching 30 and 40 miles per hour. The Washington/Baltimore area has seen 79.9 inches of snow so far this year which compares to the 65 inches they've seen in the last five years combined! And Atlanta, along with the rest of the deep south, may see somewhere between 3-6 inches in the next couple of days which is a major snowstorm for the former CSA.
For us there's been a significant dearth of snow and spring is clearly upon us. As I wrote the other day, the morning sun is now peeking into my window, the trees are starting to bud up and the birds are more active than they have been for the past few months and most telling - it's still pretty bright when you get home in the late afternoons. But can we still hope for that 3 foot blizzard with 50mph winds? We sure can!
The quick poll we're running on reducing municipal budgets is going well. More than 45 votes have been tallied so far but I'm not going to tell you the results just yet. Instead I'll ask that if you have not yet participated to do so - and to ask your friends to do so as well. Tell them to click here or here. We'll discuss the results in Monday's column.

When I see a Sheriff talking on his cell phone while driving, I have to wonder if there's some sort of double standard going on. If it's safe enough for him it should certainly be safe enough for us. I'm also wondering, if you spin your car around and chase him down Route 301 until he stops, can you make him ticket himself?

A woman named Kathleen Carr has been writing to the organizations that are posted as links from the News That Matters site complaining about an image used in a recent edition of the column. The image she doesn't like is one that appears to show President Obama merged into one of Adolph Hitler. (You've seen similar - and far worse - on posters at teabag rallies.) But on this one, under the image the copy says, "Make Up Your Mind. He Can't Be All Four" and in between the lines there are four logos, Islam, Communism, Nazism and Peace.
Clearly the poster is a message to the teabaggers who cannot seem to figure out one political movement from another as they've accused the President of being a Muslim, a Communist, a Nazi and a Socialist and they do so all at the same time. Truly, he can't be all four! But she doesn't get it. She's not a regular reader of the column and my initial response asked her to read back over time to see where things are at. Instead, she insists the image is offensive to her and "others" and demands an explanation! yet none seems to have gotten through. She's apparently on a blind quest that neither truth nor objectivity shall sway.
There are many stories posted to the PlanPutnam/News That Matters website during the course of the week which never appear in the column you're reading now. For example, this past Monday afternoon I posted the agenda for the Town Board meeting in Kent taking place that evening, but there is an easy way to stay up-to-date:
In the bar just above there's a link called "RSS Feed". Click on that (or this) and most modern email programs and/or web browsers will know what to do. Once done, each time something is posted to the site it will appear 'auto-magically' in your reader.
Another thing you can do is to participate more by commenting on posts you read and that's also done at the website. Head on over, read something, and find the comment box at the bottom of the article's page. As usual and to maintain propriety, anything nasty will be removed at the editor's (that's me!) discretion. However, if you're looking for a free-wheeling no-holds-barred blog, try the LoHud at the Journal News where it seems the nastiest of the nasty must spend their days coming up with horrid things to write about each other. We're not like that here so keep that in mind.

Gung Hay Fat Choy and Happy Valentine's Day.
Great Buddha Hall Copyright Jeff GreenThis weekend marks the Chinese lunar new year and brings us the year of the Tiger. The Chuang Yen Monastery will host a celebration on Sunday beginning at 10AM which is free to the public. The monastery is normally closed until April but is open for this special occasion.
For those of you who have not been to the monastery on Route 301 in western Kent (about a mile east of the Taconic State Parkway) for fear of not knowing what to do or how to act, as someone once said, fuggedaboutit! Just dress a little nicer than you normally would and come on over.
The Monastery, a religious institution, is also a major tourist attraction and thousands of visitors come in season. Some by car from states far away, many on tour buses. On a Sunday afternoon there can be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people milling about taking pictures, eating at the dining hall or picnicking by the lake in large or small family/friend groups.
The image above is of the Great Buddha Hall that I took a few winters back. Inside is where you'll want to head as a first stop when you visit the monastery as it holds the Big Attraction - the largest statue of the Buddha in the western hemisphere. The building was designed by IM Pei and inaugurated by the Dalai Lama himself.

Walk up to the second level from the outside then around to the west side door. There you'll find racks on which to put your shoes (sometimes people bring them inside if it's very cold) and walk inside and be prepared to be awed. It's okay: Be brave, though there's no bravery required.

The BAUS website says that the building, built in the style of of the Tang Dynasty (618-907CE) is 87 feet tall and covers 24,000 sq ft of space. It can hold 2000 people and the Buddha himself rises 37 feet above the floor. Surrounding him are 10,000 smaller Buddhas on a lotus terrace. Surrounding the base of the Great Buddha are 12 bas reliefs of Bodhisattvas from the Indian tradition. A colorful mural 8 feet high and 104 feet long covers the inside wall of the lotus terrace depicting scenes from the "Pure Land" of Amiutabha Buddha and on the outside wall is another mural, this one 8 feet high by 144 feet long that contains pictures of 500 Ara, each with a different facial expression. It's amazing.

Bring your camera and feel free to photograph anything other than the monks while praying. Bring your kids, too. Wander around, stop in at the dining hall for the best all-you-can-eat $5 Chinese lunch (vegan) or just wander and observe. (See the article below under Sunday's events.)

A slide show of images I've taken at the monastery over the years is here.

1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 to 2 Tbsp of water
Fortune Cookies are an American invention, as is Chop Suey (and pizza, too, but that's another holiday.) And you can make them at home easier than you'd think. Here's what you do: (from the school bell)

Beat egg slightly. Add sugar and beat until very thick and smooth. Add oil to mixture.  Add water and a little of the egg mixture to the cornstarch and stir until smooth; beat into egg mixture. Heat griddle to about 350*. Drop a heaping teaspoonful of batter into the griddle. Then spread with a spoon into a cookie about 3 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Turn over to brown underside. Cook until cookies are light golden in color and lifts easily from the pan. Remove cookies one at a time from the griddle. Place a fortune paper in the center of the cookie and fold the cookie in half, pinching the edges together and folding down.

The ChordmenAre you looking for an incredibly unique gift for your lover this Valentine's Day? I've got it right here.

For one, you could donate to News That Matters in their name, that would be sweet.

But for something a tad more romantic you could give them a genuine Singing Valentine.
Starting at $50, The Westchester Chordsmen will send one of their quartets, rose in hand and properly attired in tuxedos, to your lover's door or workplace. If you have two lovers, all the better! Contact the Chordsmen at their website here or call, (800) 413-7153. But you'd best work fast as they're quickly booking up.

Things To Do:


Two Hundred Years of Ice Yachting on the Hudson River

7PM - With Brian Read. This talk will cover the beginnings of ice boating on the Hudson in the early 1800s through current times, touching on major figures and centers of ice boating, the thrilling races for silver trophies and where one can come and get a sail this winter.  Old slides, race photos and short videos will be shown.  At the Beacon Sloop Club located by the ferry dock in Beacon. Info: 845-476-6674, (845) 542-0721, 

Songwriters Circle: My Furry Valentine

8PM - An evening in which eyes will moisten, songs will soar and hearts will open with newfound love for people and pets. Veteran singer/songwriters Steve Kirkman, Susan Kane and Peter Calo will join Kati onstage for this intimate evening in the Nashville circle style - one songwriter plays off another. At the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel. Admission $10.


Garnet Rogers

6:30 PM - At the Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse. At the Memorial United Methodist Church, 250 Bryant Avenue, White Plains, NY 10605. "Garnet Rogers may be the greatest male interpreter and vocalist performing in the contemporary folk scene... A first rate writer... musical integrity and powerful permormance..." - Sing Out! More information is here.

Michelle LeBlanc

7:30PM to 10:30PM - Michelle will be playing Saturday nights starting January 16th at the Hudson House Inn in Cold Spring on Saturday evenings through February. Featuring jazz guitarist Steve Lamattina. The Inn is at 2 Main Street, Cold Spring NY  10516 Call 845 265 9355 for dinner reservations. The historic Hudson House Inn has world class food and offers elegant lodging overlooking the Hudson River and Storm King Mountain. Cold Spring is a charming getaway destination with wonderful river views, shops and antiques. Cold Spring's Metro North train stop is only minutes away.


Chinese New Year's Celebration

10:00 am to 3:00 pm - 2010 Chinese New Year Blessing Ceremony - Chuang Yen Monastery is going to hold its 2010 Chinese New Year Ceremony on February 14, 2010,the New Year day in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. We sincerely invite you to participate in this auspicious event to receive its blessings. There will be chanting services in the morning and in the afternoon headed by our abbot. After the afternoon service the monastics will tie the Auspiciousness Thread for all participants. You may also take this opportunity to offer lights to the Buddha or offer meals. 10:00 am, Repentance Ceremony & Grand Offering to the Buddha. 1:30 pm, Mangala Sutta Chanting & Auspiciousness Thread Blessing. Get the Full Color brochure here. (PDF)

Open Your Heart To Haiti

A fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders' Haitian Relief Effort
1PM - Moved by the horror the earthquake in Haiti has caused, the Hudson Valley music community, lead by Joe K (sixteen year old singer songwriter, Joe Krzyzewski) has come together to help the unfortunate victims. When Chris Barron (Spin Doctors' lead singer) heard about this effort in our community, he generously offered to participate. Special guest musician, John Hall. (Yes, that John Hall). Come join us in our endeavor to help relieve the tragic suffering in Haiti. If you can't make it to the show, please join us in spirit by taking a moment to donate ~ buy one or more tickets online now! $25 donation. Location: Towne Crier Cafe - 130 Route 22, Pawling, NY or call

Love Lives of Animals

10 AM - 11:30AM - Here's a natural for Valentine's Day - A short walk that's long on fascinating facts about animals and their mating habits. Find out what gets these creatures "in the mood"� and learn all about their strange courtship rituals. Contact Anthony Coneski, 845 473 4440 Ext. 273, Madam Brett Park, Beacon.

Into the Future

Friday, February 19

League of Women Voter's Annual Dinner

7PM - Marco's Restaurant, 612 Route 6 & 6N in Mahopac. Tickets are $30. Guest speaker, Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi. RSVP to (845) 6261 or email Annual Membership meeting will be before dinner at 6PM.

Saturday, February 20

"The End of Suburbia"

"The End of Suburbia" will be screened at 7 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester, 236 South Bedford Road. The film examines the "American way of life," and its future as demand exceeds supply for fossil fuels. Part of the Transition Westchester Winter Film Series. Information,,

Sunday, February 21

Report Back >From Copenhagen

2:30 PM - World Views on Climate Change: What was accomplished? What did we learn? What can we do know? With Professor Richard Ottinger and the Reverend Paul Mayer. Musical guest, David Bernz. Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, 199 Main Street, Beacon, NY

Professor Richard Ottinger
is Dean Emeritus of Pace University School of Law, former U.S. Congressman for Westchester; Co-director of the Pace Center for Environmental Legal Studies and founder and faculty supervisor of the Pace Energy and Climate Center. In Congress, he chaired the House Energy and Conservation subcommittee ... and was a delegate to Copenhagen for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Reverend Paul Mayer has over a half a century of service to the earth including 18 years as a Benedictine monk, involvement in the civil rights movements with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and with those in Central America. He applies the tenets of liberation theology to parish and community work. He co-founded and serves on the board of the Climate Crisis Coalition, working to broaden the constituency and bring urgency to this overarching issue beyond traditional environmental organizations and thought.

Wednesday, February 24

Watershed Planning Across Political Boundaries: A Workshop on Intermunicipal Collaboration

Time: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm - This full-day free workshop is an opportunity for you to learn about successful intermunicipal partnerships, as well as incentives and regulatory reasons for your watershed municipalities to collaborate.

Topics to be covered:
  • Status of tributaries and watershed planning in the Hudson Basin.
  • Watershed based planning and zoning. Considering local challenges within the watershed framework.
  • SEQRA, cumulative impacts & watershed planning.
  • Intermunicipal Agreements & Structures.
  • Sustainable funding mechanisms and strategies.
  • Presentations from existing Intermunicipal Watershed Councils
Who Should Attend?
Local watershed groups, county/local elected and appointed municipal officials, conservation advisory councils, regional leaders, environmental organizations, and interested citizens.
Location: SUNY New Paltz, Student Union Building, 4th floor

Space is limited. Please RSVP by February 17th to Katy Dunlap, Director of Hudson River Watershed Alliance at Directions and more information will be emailed to you, upon your reservation.
Organized and sponsored by the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, Hudson River Estuary Program of the NYS DEC, and the Center for Research Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz. This project has been funded by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program of the NYS DEC.

Saturday, February 27

Forum on Sustainable Energy Projects Being Co-Sponsored by Clearwater

BEACON, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater is co-sponsoring a special forum, “Keeping Pace with Energy Options,” about exciting new sustainable energy initiatives and funding strategies on Saturday, February 27 in New Paltz, New York. The event will take place at the SUNY New Paltz Lecture Center Room 100 from 9 AM to 1 PM. A snow date for the event has been set for Saturday, March 13.

     “Keeping Pace with Energy Options” will offer municipal officials, planners, engineers, concerned citizens and environmental/energy activists with helpful information regarding a number of new energy efficiency and alternative energy projects and programs now extant or starting, all of which will create new jobs and business opportunities in the Hudson Valley.

     Some of the projects ongoing that will be discussed at the forum:

    * NYSERDA’s incentive programs for local governments, homes, businesses and schools;
    * PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs, which enable property owners to upgrade buildings using affordable financing options;
    * The new Green Jobs – Green NY program, offering an array of funding opportunities for energy retrofits;
    * Power Purchase Agreements, using third-party financing to pat for energy projects; and
    * The Ten Percent Challenge, a framework to hasten the implementation of energy efficiency and renewables while drawing attention to the Hudson Valley as a clean energy corridor.

     Other co-sponsors of “Keeping Pace with Energy Options” include Sustainable Hudson Valley, SUNY New Paltz Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO), Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., Hudson River Estuary Training Program, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Hudson Valley Smart Growth Alliance, League of Women Voters of Mid-Hudson Region and Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities/NYSERDA. Over a dozen other endorsing organizations have signed on to support this event.

     The forum will also feature a vendor show, which will showcase green products and services with a sustainable lifestyle theme.

     Several speakers scheduled to appear at “Keeping Pace with Energy Options” include: NY Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy; Karen E. Villeneuve, director of NYSERDA’s Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program; Jackson Morris, senior policy advisor, Pace Energy and Climate Center (PECC), representing PECC and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in advancing clean energy policies in the State Capitol; David Gabrielson, Town of Bedford councilman involved with Bedford's case study of a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) initiative; Patrice Courtney Strong, outreach and educational services provider for New York State Energy Research & Development Authority and coordinator of Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities; and Michael O'Hara, director of operations, Sustainable Hudson Valley, organizing the Ten Percent Challenge.

     Pre-registration is strongly encouraged to facilitate check in for the forum. While the event is free and open to the public, tax deductible donations are welcome and checks can be made payable to “League of Women Voters Education Fund.”

     For additional information visit online or please contact Dare Thompson, program chair of the Mid-Ulster Region League of Women Voters, at 845-236-3074 or
Tom Staudter
Communications Director
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
845-265-8080 x7112

Seasons and Light: Photographs of the Hudson Highlands by Richard Saunders

Museum Logo6PM - 8 PM Opening Reception. This stunning display will feature 42 panoramas depicting 180-degree views of the Hudson River and the surrounding landscape. Join us to celebrate the opening of our new exhibition, Seasons and Light: Photographs of the Hudson Highlands by Richard Saunders. This stunning display will feature over 50 extremely wide-angle photographs of this awe-inspiring stretch of the Hudson River. Light refreshments will be served. At the Putnam County Historical Society, Foundry Museum in Cold Spring.


Wednesday, March 3 & Wednesday, March 11

Parks and Trails Advocacy Days

Parks and Trails New YorkParks and Trails, New York - Parks and trails are taking a big hit in this year's state budget.  Dozens of State Park closings are imminent.  Funds for park and trail grants have been cut almost in half. We must oppose these cuts. Join with a team of park and trail advocates from around the state for a day of meetings with key legislators at the Capitol in Albany.  It's a great opportunity to join with other supporters and let our lawmakers know how their budget decisions will affect the state parks and trails you care about.  Your support is critically important to ensure that our parks and trails receive the funding they must have to survive. Register for Park and Trail Advocacy Days today!!! There is no cost to participate, but advance registration is required as we need to schedule and plan our visits with lawmakers. It is quick and easy- click here to get started. (PDF)

Saturday, March 6

The American Revolution in New York

9:00AM - 4:30PM - Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase Street, Purchase, NY. Contact Hours: 7.5 for teachers. Cost: free to the general public; $25 for teachers (includes lunch).

New York and the Hudson River Valley in particular played a critical role in the American Revolution that is often overlooked.  The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry has precedents in the telling of the story of the American Revolution. For too long Massachusetts writers have made Massachusetts the cosmic center of the confrontation.  Now it is time for New Yorkers to have their say.  Hear and met the scholars who are telling the New York story.  See the displays of the historic organizations that preserve and tell the New York story. Share ideas on how to bring this knowledge back to the classroom. Institute of History, Archaeology and Education.

Do Ghosts Exist?

7PM - Join Vin Dacquino on Saturday March 6th as he explores the question, Do ghosts exist? Author of the Hauntings of the Hudson River Valley, Vin Dacquino will share his insight, research and experiences in a captivating presentation on the existence of ghosts. Portions of the lecture will be used in the feature film, Erie Hall. Erie Hall is a paranormal thriller based upon a haunting that occurred in 1985 ( Vin will also be available for a book signing after the presentation. The event will be held on Saturday March 6th at 7:00 at the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church, Rte 94 & Jackson Ave, New Windsor, NY.

Putnam Arts Council Announces Inaugural Exhibit on Return to Mahopac

The Putnam Arts Council is delighted to announce our first exhibit in our re-built, state of the art gallery space at 521 Kennicut Hill Rd. in Mahopac. We will re-open with our annual Members show, an exhibit of fine art by current PAC members. This is a benefit of membership offered once each year; 2010 marks the 47th such annual exhibit.

Our new bright gallery space boasts a wide open room with 3 skylights, exceptional lighting, and a shadow line where the walls meet the new multi functional floor. Although not all of our hundreds of members are active artists, many are, and all our members support the arts here in Putnam, making this a very popular part of our annual exhibit calendar.

Staff and members of PAC’s Visual Arts Committee will accept work Tuesday 3/2 – Friday 3/5 and on Sunday 3/7 from noon to 3pm at our Mahopac site. Artists may join when delivering work. Complete details can be found in the show prospectus at our website along with information about other 2010 activities.

Members are encouraged to attend the Council’s Annual meeting Saturday 3/13 from 3-4pm to re-visit highlights of 2009 as well as preview 2010 plans, immediately followed by an opening reception. The 47th Annual Members Exhibit will be on view to the public through March 28th, during gallery hours, Tuesday – Friday, 10-3 and Sunday 1-4.

PAC staff will welcome visitors during our Open House week, Tuesday 3/16 – Friday 3/19 from 10-3. For directions or more information about this and all our classes, programs, services and other activities, visit where weekly updates are posted, or call 845.216.0636 during office hours: Tues- Fri, 10-4.

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