A last look at the year in review
Visiting from Stockbridge, Mass., on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, Linda Russell, left, and Liz Hazen rode their bicycles on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail’s recent extension in the town of Amenia with their husbands (not pictured) along the path known as the Trail to Train project, that leads from the Wassaic Metro-North Train Station off of Route 22 into the hamlet of Wassaic.
Photo by Kaitlin Lyle

A last look at the year in review

Part III

HARLEM VALLEY — Last week readers of The Millerton News caught up with stories from August and September of 2020, as many struggled with the challenges of a difficult year that included not only the coronavirus pandemic and a faltering economy but closed schools and months of quarantine. In this week’s edition, the year in review wraps up with a last look at the headlines between the months of October through December.


On Thursday, Oct. 8, the North East Town Board approved a new two-year police contract with the village of Millerton, marking the first time the two municipalities opted for a two-year rather than a three-year contract. 

That same day, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two-car fatal crash on Route 22 in Amenia that resulted in the tragic death of a 2-year-old girl. The crash involved a 2018 Nissan Sentra operated by Millerton resident Reneisha Johnson who was reportedly struck by a 2000 Ford Explorer operated by Amenia resident Forrest McBreairt. Johnson’s young daughter, Ellie Dunlop, was a passenger in the Sentra. Johnson and Ellie were initially transported to Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie, and then flown to Westchester Medical Center, where sadly, Ellie later passed away. 

Pine Plains Pharmacy owner Nasir Mahmood was recognized by the National Community Pharmacists Association for his dedication to his work with the 2020 Calvin J. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award. 

As local, county, state and national candidates campaigned for office during the 2020 elections, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Millbrook’s Emma Rosi, a longtime scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, had been appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.


Eager to participate in the process, voters swarmed to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to vote in the 2020 elections. Many had voted early through mail-in or absentee voting. After days spent waiting in anxious anticipation for early voting and absentee ballots to be tallied from across the nation, voters celebrated the historic election of former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden as the 46th president over incumbent Donald Trump, and Biden’s running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, as the first Black-South Asian female vice president.

Despite COVID-19, the Pine Plains Free Library and The Little Nine Partners Historical Society devised a way to host its annual Evergreen Cemetery Tours, both virtually and in-person. The in-person tours were re-scheduled due to inclement weather, but then enjoyed by the community without a hitch. 

While local communities organized their respective Veterans Day celebrations to honor those who have served in this nation’s military, local Town Boards adopted their municipal budgets for the 2021 fiscal year.

More than 40 years after it was purchased by the husband and wife team consisting of the late Robert and Carol Sadlon, The Millerton Moviehouse was put up for sale by Carol, who announced she is seeking “new stewards” to lead and guide the theater’s growth and evolution into the future. 

Meanwhile, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail opened its new northbound extension, which stretches from Main Street in Millerton to Under Mountain Road in Ancram. 

One month after officially opening under a hybrid learning model, the North East (Webutuck) Central School District reported its first case of COVID-19 at Eugene Brooks Intermediate School on Friday, Nov. 6, prompting administrators to close all school buildings and shift to a full remote learning model. A second case of COVID-19 was reported at Webutuck Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 9, and as more coronavirus cases came to light, the district postponed its reopening plans; students and staff didn’t return to campus until Monday, Nov. 30.

The village of Millbrook reflected on the impact that “Living Millbrook” magazine co-founder and publisher Rona Boyer had on the community after her passing on Friday, Nov. 27, from lung and kidney issues at the age of 74. 


The debate over whether face masks stop the spread of COVID-19 loomed close to home as readers reacted to an article and editorial published in The Millerton News on Thursday, Dec. 10, followed up with more coverage on Dec. 17 and Dec. 24, regarding the Talk of the Towne Deli’s stance against the state mask mandate, a fine issued by the health department to the deli for violating the mandate, as well as a verbal attack on one customer at the deli by another. The deli was later identified as one of many businesses whose signs was damaged by vandals, along with the NorthEast-Millerton Library, the Salisbury Bank & Trust and other businesses on Main Street.

The town of North East and the village of Millerton rejoiced as State Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106) helped secure a loan worth half a million dollars for building their shared highway garage on Route 22. 

The Trevor Zoo at Millbrook School was awarded a $19,000 matching Recovery Challenge Grant to build a new red wolf breading facility.

On Monday, Dec. 14, the Dutchess County Police Reform and Modernization Collaborative released a comprehensive report on police reform as a guide for Dutchess County municipalities to create their own police reform plans. The report was based on months of meetings among police professionals and public forums, which gave community members the chance to offer input.

Construction at the Amenia Free Library continues for its long awaited expansion project, with an opening date for the new addition scheduled for Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

In Pine Plains, the Willow Roots food pantry and The Stissing House joined forces to cook and distrubute meals for local families during the pantry’s annual Christmas Party on Sunday, Dec. 20, bringing some much needed cheer to those in need during the holiday season. 

Having dedicated seven years of community service as the adult program director at the Millbrook Library, Diana Bontecou retired on Dec. 31. The community expressed its thanks for her years of service. 

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