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News from Town Hall

Dear Hillsdale,

As many of my friends and family traverse the country and foreign lands, my own feeling is that there is no more perfect place to while away the summer months than in Hillsdale. In addition to appreciating our hills and dales, there is so much going on in our community and surrounding areas, ranging from our Farmers Market and picking locally grown fruits and vegetables to hiking, biking, baseball, and the appreciation of art, music and world class performances.

As I write this message, we are about to submit a New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) that seeks major funding in support of our plans for the Hamlet Park. While this is an off-year for sidewalk grants (and we will be sure to apply next year), we are considering other funding possibilities for our Streetscape project. As well, we are working on a BridgeNY grant for the West End Road bridge for submission in the fall. And we have received confirmation from the Department of Transportation (DOT) that they will be reviewing our plans for the Whippoorwill Road intersection. In the meantime, the Highway Department has installed a digital speed sign in the hope of calming traffic along the approach to the Route 22 intersection.

In County news, there is a growing consensus to take positive action to meet the affordable housing crisis. A report of the March 30 County Housing Forum, along with a series of recommendations, has just been released to the Economic Development Committee of which I am a member. Among the foremost recommendations are the formation of a County-wide Task Force and the hiring of a professional staff to guide the effort. This professional approach would surely help the Hillsdale Housing Committee and our Tri-Town Housing Task Force in meeting this critical need. The next steps will include a fuller discussion with the Economic Development Committee and the Board of Supervisors.

I leave you with this quote by Victoria Erickson: “August is the slow, gentle month that stretches out the longest across the span of a year. It yawns and lingers on with the light in its palms.” Enjoy!

Chris Kersten

Town Supervisor


August Town Board Meeting In Person

The August Town Board meeting will be held in person at Town Hall on Tuesday August 9 at 7 PM.

Town Website
Agendas & Minutes

COVID Update

Active COVID-19 cases in Columbia County, which had been trending down in the last few weeks, surged back this week, rising to 110 as of Friday, July 29, according to county Department of Health Director Jack Mabb. As of Friday there were 13 hospitalized county residents, with one in the ICU. A death this week, was the county’s 150th of the pandemic The positive test rate is 13.4 percent.

According to the CDC COVID-19 Community Level tool, Columbia County's level is "low". Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

CDC COVID-19 Community Levels
County Vaccine Clinics
Columbia County Dept. of Health

Town Considers Allowing Public  to Attend

Board Meetings Via Video Conferencing

As discussed by the Town Board at their July meeting, New York State has recently amended its Open Meeting Law to allow members of the public to join in-person town board meetings through video conferencing as they were able to do when meetings were only on video conferencing due to the pandemic. Board members agreed that many more people attended the town board meetings held on Zoom than attend in-person meetings. The town would have to pass a local law authorizing video conferencing for board meetings and to adopt written procedures that would have to be posted on the town website. The board agreed that such a law should be drafted.

The law also allows board members to attend a meeting virtually but only in “extraordinary circumstances” which would have to be described in a local law. The circumstances could be “disability, illness, caregiving responsibilities or any other significant or unexpected factor or event which precludes the member’s physical attendance at such meeting.” A board member attending virtually can vote but would not count toward the required quorum for the meeting.


The town would have to obtain appropriate technology for video conferencing. The state law “sunsets” in 2024.

Celebrating Hillsdale's Ernie Santor0 -

Cowboy, Soldier, Loving Husband and More

As reported in the June newsletter, Hillsdale resident and World War II Veteran Ernie Santoro turned 100 on July 4th and the town was encouraged to help him celebrate. In their blog this month, Hillsdale's Historians, who helped organize and promote the celebration, report on the celebration and on Ernie's life. Ernie started working at a riding stable in his early teens and quickly became an accomplished horseman. This lead to time as a cowboy, meeting his future wife, and serving in the 1st Calvary Division of the Army during WWII. Read the post to learn about his experiences during the war, meeting Joan Crawford, taking advantage of the GI Bill and teaching riding well into his seventies. 

Hillsdale Historians

Loans and Grants Available for

Small Businesses in Columbia County

If you run a small business in Hillsdale, or anywhere in Columbia County, you can take advantage of the new Columbia Forward low interest loan program which is offering loans of up to $25,000. The loan may be accompanied by a grant equal to 10% of the approved loan amount. The program is a partnership of Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) and Columbia County Chamber of Commerce (CCCC).

To be eligible for a grant your business must have operated in Columbia County for at least two years and have 25 or fewer employees. You must be a credit eligible business owner. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the CEDC Loan Committee.

The loans and grants can be used for the purchase of equipment and inventory, working capital, or employee training. The loans have a 3.75% interest rate and a term of up to 10 years. Loans are subject to CEDC underwriting policies.

For more information and assistance with applying to the new Columbia Forward loans, or any of the SBA or CEDC loans, reach out to Martha E. Lane at mlane@columbiaedc.com or 518 828-4718.

Car Show Returns to Hamlet Park

Building on the success of the first show, held in 2021, the Annual Hillsdale Car Show will return to the Hamlet Park on Sunday, September 18 from 9 AM - 3 PM (rain date September 25). Twenty trophies will be awarded to participants in a wide variety of categories including Best in Show, Fan Favorite and Committee’s Choice.

Spectators are welcome free of charge while participants will still only pay a fee of $10 per vehicle. Pre-1990 vehicles in all categories are welcome to take part.

In addition to the cars, there will be music, raffles and participant door prizes.

For more information, contact Gaye Hoffman 518 938-1404 or hoffman.gaye8@gmail.com.

CAC Recommends "Lights Out" for Wildlife Protection

To reduce harm to migrating birds and other wildlife, Hillsdale’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) urges Hillsdale residents to follow the lead of the “Lights Out” initiative recently announced by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Participating state buildings will turn off unnecessary outdoor lighting, a practice that all Hillsdale residents can follow, too. (Photo by Michael Menefee)

Many bird species rely on the moon and stars to help them navigate during spring and late summer-fall migrations. Birds that become disoriented by artificial lights often collide with windows, walls, floodlights, or the ground. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that outdoor lighting leads to the deaths of 500 million to one billion birds annually. Outdoor lights also disrupt the activities of other wildlife, including predators that depend on darkness for hunting, and prey that depend on darkness for cover. Lights are also a fatal attraction for many species of insects, including some whose populations are declining drastically due to a barrage of human-caused hazards. Loss of insects leads to further losses of birds, amphibians, and the many other kinds of wildlife that depend on them.

The Lights Out program (see link below) directs New York State-owned and managed buildings to turn off non-essential outdoor lighting from 11 PM. to dawn during the spring migration through May 31 and during the peak fall migration, August 15 through November 15. Agencies are also encouraged to draw blinds and turn off non-essential indoor lighting during these times.

Of course, turning out unnecessary lights, inside and out, is always a good idea—not just during bird migrations. In addition to reducing impacts on wildlife, it reduces energy consumption and your carbon footprint, and saves money. For more information on the importance of reducing light pollution, see the website of the International Dark-Sky Association.  

Lights Out Program
Int'l Dark Sky Assoc.

Of Note.....

At the July Town Board meeting Supervisor Kersten reported that county sales tax receipts are down significantly. Kersten reports that though the town finances are in good shape this will have an impact on the town's budget.  According to County Treasurer PJ Keeler, the drop in sales tax revenue received is the result of the state's sales tax distribution reconciliation with New York City. "A year ago New York City was not taking in much in the way of sales tax because of its slow recovery from the effects of COVID-19, but now it is recovering rapidly. Because of that, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is reconciling distributions to bring things more back in line,” said Treasurer Keeler.


Town Hall still has KN95 masks and COVID test kits available for free. Columbia County  Director of Emergency Management David Harrison has informed the town that expiration dates on the kits have been extended by the FDA. Once a test manufacturer has more stability testing results, such as 12 or 18 months, the test manufacturer can contact the FDA to request that the FDA authorize a longer shelf-life. As a result, the expiration date on the kits the town has is now January 24, 2023. 


Town Board member Tom Carty has reported that the town has distributed to Hillsdale residents all 100 of the $100 gas cards donated by an anonymous donor.


Tuesday, August 30 will be the next Safe at Home Coffee Hour.  All seniors are welcome for coffee, muffins, and conversation at the Hillsdale House, from 10 - 11:30 AM. Hillsdale-based singer Christina Dellea will entertain. Chris, who performs throughout the tri-state area, sings pop songs from the 60's to 80's.

Looking for a Way to Help Hillsdale?

There are many ways for residents to get involved in town initiatives, such as attending meetings, or volunteering to serve on a town committee. Another is to make a tax-deductible donation to fund one of the many projects designed to enhance the quality of life in our community. Current funding opportunities include:

  • Plaques for Historic District Buildings
  • Town Hall Flagpole
  • Winter Lamppost Banners
  • Hamlet Map Mural Projects
  • Roeliff Jansen Park

For more information and to help fund any or all of these projects, click on the link below. You can also access the donation page from the home screen of the town website. Once there, simply scroll all the way to the right and click on “Support Our Projects”. You may use a credit card or, if you prefer to contribute by check, please make it payable to HECDC and send it to Hillsdale Economic and Community Development Corp., PO Box 305, Hillsdale, NY 12529

Hillsdale Civic Pride Fundraising


Roe Jan Ramble's Six Routes Suit All Riders

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Roe Jan Ramble is back for its tenth ride. On Saturday, September 17 the Ramble will offer cyclists six routes, from an easy, family-friendly 10 mile route to the 62 mile (100 km) route for expert enthusiasts. Ride at your own pace on routes that travel roads and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Ancram, Copake and Hillsdale. The event is free but riders are encouraged to donate to the Rail Trail. Registration is now open. Click below to sign up and donate. (Suzy Altman photo)

Roe Jan Ramble

Library to Host Community Picnic Again

The Community Picnic hosted by the Roeliff Jansen Community Library returns this year on Sunday, August 14, from noon to 3PM. Particularly for kids, there will be lots of fun activities, music, hot dogs and other food and drink, and more. The popular live Birds of Prey program will be at 1 pm. Each child at the picnic will receive a coupon for a free book from the Friends of the Roe Jan Library Bookshop. The event is free.

Adult programs at the Roe Jan Community Library in August include programs on how climate change is impacting birds, Medicare, and seed saving, and a memoir writing group. This month's concert at the Hilltop Barn in Roe Jan Park will be singer/songwriter Linda Worster. Balance and Strength classes will be on Zoom. For kids there will be a story time performance by Storycrafters, story time at the Farmers Market, and Lego Thursdays. The library is located at 9091 Rt. 22.

Adult Programs at the RJCL
Kid's Programs at the RJCL

The Roe Jan Library Friends Bookshop will be open every Saturday this summer from 10 AM to 2 PM. Thousands of gently used books, CD’s and DVD’s will be for sale. Masks are required. To donate books, email Celia Kahn at caskahn@gmail.com. The bookshop is located on the lower level of the library at 9091 Rt. 22.

Upcoming Town Meetings

The Zoning Board will be meeting at 7:30 on Tuesday, August 2.

There will be one hearing, a continuation of the application from Joshua Rudder of Taconic Invasive Pest Control for a Special Permit to apply herbicide within the 200’ stream corridor at 142 Ten Broeck Road.

Hamlet Committee

Time: Monday, August 8, 6PM


Passcode: 597667

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  823 2855 4498

Open Space Committee

Time: Thursday, August 11, 7PM


Passcode: 841208

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  832 3244 6531

Conservation Advisory Council

Time: Thursday, August 25, 7PM


Passcode: 517933

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 836 3776 6279

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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley


2609 State Route 23/Main Street
Hillsdale NY 12529
518 325-5073