Letters to the Editor - The Millerton News - 10-28-21

Learning to live with change and with chaos

As a long-term resident of the area, I recall a time when our cozy village was self-sufficient. Oddly enough, Millerton used to be a shopping hub thanks to Delson’s department store, and how about those three grocery stores located within the village?

Progress, if you can call it that, has changed our community. You can thank Big Box stores and the perceived notion that “bigger is better.” We got Wal-Martized: If it was made in China, you could find it made from there at a discount. Quality and service no longer mattered. Brands like RCA evaporated, replaced by Hisense — who? Nobody cared, as long as it was cheap.

At first, perhaps largely unnoticed, jobs started to disappear as manufacturers exited the country for greener pastures. It was about that time job benefits began to shrink as well. First it was health plans, followed by “We now offer a 401-K plan.” Swell. I’d rather have a retirement check. Presently government jobs are among the few offering that benefit.

In case you missed it, the message here is about change. I wish I could say it was for the better. Sure some folks have fared well, but the majority are getting squeezed by the run-away economy threatening our future. It has been said over 40% of the population couldn’t raise $1,000 in an emergency.

My greatest concern is public acceptance of government control. Germany is nationalizing 200,000 homes to better handle rent control. The UK is mandating EV chargers be shut down during peak hours. Norway prohibited the sale of gasoline powered vehicles after 2025. The state of New York wants us to have 70% renewable electric production by 2035. Hello California, get used to brownouts.

Our borders are a joke. Our social structure is crumbling thanks to those who ignore existing laws. Is it any wonder the country is in chaos? Will the last person leaving New York please turn out the lights?

John Walters



Elect Leo Blackman and Katherine Lee on Nov. 2

There are 86 lawsuits filed against the Town of Amenia from Silo Ridge property owners who are asking for further reductions (beyond the $98 million reduction granted in 2019) on their assessed value.

At the “Meet the Candidates Forum” on Oct. 6, Jim Morris, a lawyer and current Town Board member, said he believes the Amenia Strong candidates have conflicts of interest due to their ties to Silo Ridge and pending litigation against the town.

Having served on the ethics committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee for many years, Jim believes these conflicts of interest cannot be resolved in their favor.

Thankfully, we have two excellent Democratic candidates running for Town Board: Leo Blackman and Katherine Lee.

Katherine wants to propel the town forward with improved communications, faster broadband and better wastewater facilities. She wants to capitalize on the energy she’s experienced since moving to Wassaic three years ago.

If elected, Leo Blackman will bring 18 years of volunteer experience to the Town Board. He is chair of Amenia’s Affordable Housing Committee; member of the Wastewater Committee and Planning Board; former chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, and a volunteer for St. Thomas’ food pantry.

In 2014, Leo and his husband invited their wedding guests to direct their gifts toward the installation of a beautiful, $40,000 garden around the Town Hall, including the teak patio furniture we all enjoy. They have maintained their gift to the town for nearly a decade.

A retired architect, Leo provides pro-bono services to the town. He helped implement Amenia’s Main Street grant that provided façade improvements for downtown businesses and upgraded affordable apartments above.

He provided us with free architectural plans for Fountain Square, and for a commercial kitchen at Town Hall.

As Leo says, “We can do this.”

Please vote for Katherine Lee and Leo Blackman for the Amenia Town Board.

Vicki Doyle

Amenia Town Councilwoman

Amenia Democratic Committee Member



Vote for Leo Blackman for Amenia Town Board

We have known Leo Blackman since 2007 when he became a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in Amenia.

He has always been an enthusiastic  member of the ZBA and very passionate about his job and the town.

In 2012 he became chairman of the ZBA and served until 2015. He also served on the  Zoning Review Committee and worked tirelessly on not only Solar, but also on air bnb’s, Tiny Houses and many other items that need to be addressed in our town’s zoning.

He now serves on Amenia’s Planning Board.

We both support Leo in his bid for a Town Board seat.

Susan and Terry Metcalfe



Voters, don’t be fooled by Amenia Strong’s motives

Amenia Democrats and Republicans, and third party and write-in voters, have to be careful when voting next Tuesday. They all have a structural disadvantage; their vote will be divided because they are all competing against one line, the Amenia Strong slate, and one candidate who appears on both the Amenia Strong and the Republican line.

Everyone in town now knows that the Amenia Strong slate is comprised of candidates from or for Silo Ridge who advocate reassessment to further lower their property taxes.

In fact, Silo Ridge is suing Amenia for this purpose. If successful in court or at the ballot box next week, this will result in your seeing your property taxes raised to collect the required tax revenue.

Don’t let the slick tactics of the “Amenia Strong” campaign fool you. Don’t be duped by that phony rag masquerading as a newspaper, or by a “Community Organization” set up and run by Silo Ridge management for the ultimate benefit of the club’s homeowners, if they succeed in their effort to buy your support at the polls.

Don’t put into office the Amenia Strong line. With a majority (3 of 5) on the Town Board, they will control the supervisor’s agenda and the town’s budget, and appointment power for assessor, attorney and Assessment Board of Review.

That’s what this election is all about, folks: A takeover of town government. Be sure to vote Nov. 2nd.

Dan Brown



Presbyterian Church appreciates support, offers ‘Grab & Go’ dinner

The Pine Plains First United Presbyterian Church would like to express our sincere gratitude for the community’s past support of our annual Turkey Supper.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent precautions have changed our towns in innumerable ways and small churches are no exception, but we are slowly realizing our new normal. Our events help us to keep open our doors for ministry to our congregation and our community.

Despite diminished revenue, this year we have been able to continue to support the Community Food Locker, Willow Roots, Crop Walk, Adopt A Family, World Vision and Wreaths Across America.

Due to COVID precautions, we will continue with a “Grab & Go” format on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 4 to 5.30 p.m. Our Turkey Supper with curb side pickup, will include freshly roasted turkey with stuffing & gravy, smashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, a roll and dessert.

Reservations may be made by phoning the church at 518-398-7117 or by emailing Dyan at dyanwapnick@optimum.net.

If we don’t sellout in advance, dinners may be available at the door for purchase. Dinners are $16, payable by cash or check at the door or Venmo in advance @FUPCPP.

For the protection of all, please wear a properly positioned face mask during payment and pickup!

As always, thank you all for your support and Bon Appetit!

With gratitude,

Jeanne Valentine-Chase and Dyan Wapnick


Pine Plains


Vote with me to support Griffin Cooper for North East Town Board

I have known Griffin Cooper for the better part of two years. I have had the pleasure of discussing many issues that impact the local area as well as the Town of North East with him, including farming, climate issues and economic stability.

Griffin has experience delving into these issues as well as the ability to garner new relationships with the future members of the North East Town Board.

I know Griffin will use his intellect and kind-hearted approachability to help tackle some of our town’s toughest obstacles.

Griffin has my support for his candidacy for the North East Town Board. I hope my fellow residents will offer him the same support on Nov. 2nd.

Gino Robustelli

Project Manger/Bee Keeper



Amenia Town Hall is vital for the community

Amenia’s Planning and Zoning Department set and collects fines and fees, processes project applications from Town Hall; the Building Department schedules building inspections for residents and collects fees.

The Assessor’s Office processes exemptions such as Basic Star for residents.

In addition to the Amenia Town Hall administering Town of Amenia business it also is a Certified Red Cross Regional Emergency Response Center.

Furthermore, the Amenia Historical Society leases space in the Amenia Town Hall to house the history of the hamlets in addition to doing genealogy searches.

The Town of Amenia did not have a Community Center, but now it does in the Amenia Town Hall. It offers residents: Recreation activities; Red Cross Blood Drives;  Dutchess County PODs, providing COVID vaccines; free school supplies given out by local organizations; an NECC volunteer comes once a week to assist with filling out social service applications such as for food stamps; Dutchess Community College offers ESL and GED classes.

The Amenia Town Hall serves many other purposes and there have been investments of taxpayer money to make it more energy efficient, including upgrading the heating system from two, 60-year-old steam boilers that failed to a new hot-water system with temperature controls in each room, which saved the town $30,000 a year in heating costs.

Another energy cost saving at Town Hall was changing all lighting — indoors and outdoors — to LED lights, reducing electrical expenses.

The Amenia Town Hall belongs to the town taxpayers and serves them well in all capacities.

Michele Somogyi
Amenia Town Board member
running for re-election

Dover Plains


Remember, with power comes responsibility

Last week’s letter from Margaret O’Brien of Amenia regarding the candidates’ forum for Amenia’s town elections caught my attention and I write to address some concerns I have with her assumptions.

First, the idiom “more money than God” is very commonly used and I have a hard time believing that God would give the phrase much more than a passing glance, let alone raise an eyebrow. I have used the phrase on multiple occasions and have never questioned whether those around me understood that I wasn’t being literal. Idiomatic speech is one of the beautiful gifts of language!

Second, the setting in which Jesus says “the poor will always be with you” is essential for understanding what he means. He is drawing on Hebrew scripture and the full context of that quote is important: “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’” (Deut. 15:11)

Jesus’ message is that the poor are to be continually cared for, not that we should just resign ourselves to poverty’s existence. In fact, over the last few centuries, humanity has drastically decreased poverty. We have a long way to go, but we have raised the standard of living for billions the world over.

Finally, Ms. O’Brien’s claim that both the poor and the rich will always be with us may be true, but Jesus doesn’t give anyone the right to disregard their neighbor’s wellbeing: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” (Lk. 12:48)

Whether one is gifted with wealth, intelligence, leadership skills, a strong work ethic, or any of the other countless ways humans excel, Jesus is clear that any gifts we have are given for the benefit of our community, not ourselves. The extraordinarily wealthy among us are not exempt from criticism if they fail to use the power that wealth affords them for the benefit of their sisters and brothers who cannot meet their daily needs.

I will not endorse candidates for office, as it is not the role of a faith leader or a church to do so. But it is the role of a church to call the community to task about its treatment of the vulnerable in our midst.

Examine your consciences before casting your vote and choose candidates you believe will help Amenia move toward being a more just and merciful community.

The Rev. AJ Stack

St. Thomas Episcopal Church

Amenia Union


Amenia is already strong, and it has no gates

After being deluged with a rainforest amount of campaign literature, I feel I must respond to the Amenia Strong candidates and their patronizing attitude toward the residents of our town. We are not a bunch of low information hicks waiting for the smart people to tell us what to do. Amenia’s already strong, in ways that you may not understand.

Our Catholic church and synagogue are within walking distance of each other. The Italian and Chinese restaurants share the same parking lot. Four Brothers has Italian food, too, but always get the spanakopita.

There are two Mexican groceries and a Farmers Market that supports our local farmers. If we have a gate, it’s to keep our dogs in, not to keep our neighbors out.

There’s not a gate at the library where out children go to story hour, then pass their books on to the next thirsty reader.

There’s no gate at Freshtown, which didn’t close for one minute during the quarantine. We share their free turkeys for Thanksgiving and free hams for Christmas and Easter. If you miss getting the newspaper, Mike will save one for you, and Kenny will get you fresh mint in the middle of February.

There’s no gate at the pharmacy that supplies COVID vaccines, flu shots and a real pharmacist who gives free advice.

There’s no gate at Tractor Supply. Of course, it can take you an hour to buy birdseed because you run into half a dozen neighbors and you get talking about whatever, you know how it is… or you don’t.

There’s no gate at the Rail Trail where we love to hike and bike. We used to love to play golf but we can’t anymore, it seems that somebody put up a gate.

There’s also no gate at the Town Hall, where generations learned to read. There are plaques on trees and the bench in honor of loved ones. It is full of history and memories; it touches the soul of our community. I pity those who can’t appreciate it.

We don’t need transparency. We have it. We are not ashamed of who we are.

We coach soccer and softball and bake cakes for the library and pies for the schoolhouse and if there’s a birth or a death, we show up with a casserole.

We show up. And when we go to Fountain Square to celebrate, commiserate or demonstrate, we stand on bricks engraved with our names.

We’re all familiar with the plot of the evil corporation taking over the quiet little town, but this is not a Hallmark movie. It’s a documentary. Nuvance was going to whip Sharon Hospital into shape. How’s that working out?

For those of you who want to live behind your gate, go ahead, it’s your loss. But if you truly want to be one of us, to work together to solve our problems and pursue our dreams, we’d love to have you. You’re welcome.

Janet Kovalcik



Meg Winkler deserves your vote to join the North East Town Board in 2022, no matter your party

I’m writing to endorse Meg Winkler in November’s election for North East Town Board.

During the time I’ve know her, Meg has always devoted her time to working for the needs of our community. Most Saturdays you’ll find her at her non-partisan voter registration table at the Millerton Farmer’s Market. Meg doesn’t care which party you sign up for, she just wants to register you to vote!

She has also attended almost every Town Board meeting for the past several years. This is not the way most folks would like to spend their Thursday evenings, but Meg wants to be aware of what’s going on in our town government and those long hours have prepared her well for a seat at the table.

Meg is smart, focused, practical and cares about the future of our community. I hope that you’ll give her the serious consideration she deserves this Election Day.

Bill Kish

North East


Elect Darrah Cloud and Diana Woolis to Pine Plains Town Board

I urge Pine Plains voters to re-elect Darrah Cloud as town supervisor. Her hard work and energy helped us to obtain grants for projects such as studies for a town sewer system — critical to the town’s ability to attract new business.

Darrah keeps us informed about town government with her weekly e-newsletter and she focuses on the town’s needs, not politics.

She meets and works cooperatively with both Gregg Pulver (R-19), our county legislator, and Marc Molinaro (R), the county executive.

She focuses on fostering new business opportunities by working with the Durst Organization’s project manager and by re-starting the town’s business association. She took in active role in updating the town’s Comprehensive Plan – the blueprint for the town’s future.

Brian Walsh, however, said at Candidate’s Night, that he is not familiar with the Comprehensive Plan. He said that he has no opinion about the need for a town sewer system — it’s up to the voters.

That was also his answer when asked about ideas for future town projects. It appears that Mr. Walsh has given very little thought to the town’s needs.

Robert Ambrose, running for Town Board, showed a similar lack of interest in learning about the town’s needs. He, too, said that he was not familiar with the Comprehensive Plan.

His opponent, Diana Woolis, however, referred to the Comprehensive Plan as well as her experience as president of the Library Board. Diana will be the kind of involved Town Board member we need.

Joan Redmond

Pine Plains


Amenia Strong slate only represents Silo Ridge community’s interests

The Silo Ridge slate of candidates for town government (Doran, Vitiello, Rebillard) say they want to cut taxes — their taxes — not yours.

In fact, because of the lawsuits most of the homeowners in Silo Ridge have filed against our town, our taxes will go up. If they pay their fair share of taxes our taxes will probably go down.

You and I and every homeowner in Amenia have the right to protest their tax assessment. It’s simple. You find “comps” or other houses, comparables, like yours that sold recently. That price generally proves what your house is basically worth right now and therefore, what tax you should pay.

But Silo Ridge homeowners don’t like their success. The original price of similar homes in the development was $2.5 million. They have sold recently for $8, $9, $11 million. That is what they are worth because that’s what buyers are willing to paying for them.

But they don’t want to be victims of their own success.

Oh, and by the way, they bragged to us that allowing them to build would greatly increase Amenia’s tax base and lower our taxes.

Instead they are saying they bought a house in Amenia but they don’t want to pay for the roads, the fire department, the streetlights, the library, the government and the schools.

But this same argument is a tired old complaint from those without children in our schools and people who don’t like paying taxes or admitting we are all equal parts of our community.

You can’t refuse to pay your taxes because you think you aren’t getting something for your money. You are. Everyone is. That is what a town is all about.

Let’s pull together, Amenia, and vote for candidates who really want to improve Amenia, not do the bidding of some corporation that wants their homeowners to avoid paying their proper and legal taxes.

Joseph Brennan



Support Stacy Mantel, and your conscience

What to do when faced with the public dilemma of eight candidates competing for two Town Board slots in a small town like Amenia? (Seven on the printed ballot and one announced write in.) Listen up Republicans and Democrats as well as those registered “not of party.”

Vote for character and competence first, and that would be for STACY MANTEL. Then go find your favorite line or affiliation and finish marking your ballot.

In the current social context of ill will and confrontation fanned by the internet, the public interest is best served by choosing leaders who can “play well in the sandbox with others” and who are willing to put time and energy on the self improvement necessary to address governance across the board.

Remember, the challenges of running a town are always more varied and complex than merely addressing any one candidate’s favorite issues.

Sharon Daniel Kroeger

Farmer and Storekeeper


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