News from Town Hall

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well, and that you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday in these unusual times.

I’m grateful to the Town Board for appointing me as Interim Supervisor through the end of this month, and to the voters of Hillsdale for electing me as your Supervisor beginning on January 1st. My initial weeks have largely been taken up with meeting with each member of the Town Board, Town Hall staff and the Highway Department, and immersing myself in the major issues in our Town, including the rise in COVID cases, and familiarizing myself with the work of the County Board of Supervisors.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Jill Sims, Robina Ward and Kathi Doolan, and with the approval of the Town Board at its November 10th meeting, we submitted our 2021 Budget to the County on a timely basis.

For those of you who would like to tune in to our December 8th meeting at 7 PM via Zoom, see the link below. We look forward to your participation.

The new year begins with our Organizational Meeting -- tentatively scheduled for Monday, January 4th at 6 PM via Zoom -- that will serve as a focus for our activities in the year ahead. We will announce the meeting details and agenda very soon.

In the meantime, my best wishes for a healthy and happy Holiday Season.

Chris Kersten
Interim Supervisor
Join the December Town Board Meeting on Zoom
Topic: Town of Hillsdale Town Board meeting
Time: Tuesday Dec. 8, 7:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656
Meeting ID: 841 4519 4164
COVID Update
COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Columbia County although the rate has moderated some. As of Monday afternoon November 30 there were 54 active cases in the county, for a total of 991 since the start of the pandemic. Twenty people were hospitalized, with one in ICU.

As of Friday November 27 a total of 24 cases have been reported in Hillsdale since the start of the pandemic, an increase of three from a week earlier.

Information on where to get tested for COVID 19 is available on the Columbia County Department of Health website.

With a coronavirus vaccination now appearing closer on the horizon, Columbia County leaders have begun taking steps to ensure the Department of Health is properly prepared to conduct the vaccination process.

“There will be community resources – doctors’ offices and pharmacies, for instance -- that will be giving vaccinations, but we have to be ready to handle a significant portion of the county population and that means hiring people to help with that massive undertaking,” said Department of Health Director Jack Mabb.

To that end, the county has begun adapting its existing plan to meet the needs of the pandemic, said county Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell. “That means we need to do two things right away to get the ball rolling,” he said. “We’re looking for people to assist the Department of Health in doing the vaccinations, and we are instituting a fresh appeal for donations to help with those unforeseen staffing needs.”

Chairman Murell added that previous donations to the county have been instrumental in helping conduct its virus testing programs. “We are extremely thankful to everyone who has been helping out with those efforts,” he said.

Those interested in donating may send a check payable to Columbia County, with coronavirus noted in the memo field. The check can be sent to the Columbia County Controller’s Office, 401 State Street, Hudson, NY 12534. All money received is being placed in a dedicated account.

“We expect to be hiring soon. People who reside and/or work in the county will be given first preference,” said Director Mabb. He advised those interested in filling a vaccinator position to sign up on ServNY.

Due to the pandemic, there is an unprecedented demand for social services. A new New York State web app, Find Services, developed in partnership with, can assist New Yorkers in locating appropriate needed services. This application provides an easy-to-use starting point for first-time program users.
Local Volunteers Are Helping the Less Fortunate This Holiday Season. Here’s How You Can Help
Hillsdale has a tradition of volunteering and donating, particularly to help one’s neighbors. This holiday season offers opportunities for both as well as multiple ways to help ensure that everyone in Hillsdale and neighboring towns can enjoy happy holidays despite problems brought on by the pandemic..
Community Christmas Baskets

About 150 families are expected to be recipients on December 19 of Christmas Baskets that provide everything needed for a Christmas dinner, as well as three or four more meals. Community Christmas Baskets, a Hillsdale/Copake based volunteer organization, uses volunteers’ knowledge of the community and input from the Roe Jan Food Pantry, Social Services of Columbia County and the Taconic Hills school to identify those in need in Hillsdale, Copake, Austerlitz, Taghkanic and other parts of the school district.

“We provide the turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, all the fixings,” says volunteer Elwin Moore. “Plus sugar cookies and candy canes to help make the holiday happier.”

Community Christmas Baskets relies on financial donations from the community to fund the meals. They will also accept donations of nonperishable, non-expired foods. This year they are in particular need of cereal, for adults as well as kids.

How to Donate:
Community Christmas Baskets, PO Box 364, Hillsdale, NY 12529
If interested in donating food contact Vernetta Moore at 413 446-9431 or Elwin Moore at 518 965-6931.

Christmas Friends

Approximately 175 children from about 75+ families in Hillsdale and beyond will receive Christmas presents this year thanks to Christmas Friends, a group of volunteers who for 30 years have been making sure no child goes without. Families that receive Thanksgiving baskets through the Roe Jan Food Pantry, as well as others identified by volunteers, are given forms to fill out listing their children, what they would like for Christmas, sizes and favorite colors. Along with other volunteers, Charlotte Shutts, who has led the effort for all 30 years, recruits a shopper for each family. Shoppers buy presents, including hats and gloves for each child, and deliver the wrapped and labeled packages to the Hillsdale Firehouse for distribution, this year on December 19.

How to Help:
To volunteer as a shopper contact Charlotte Shutts at 518 325-3637
Make a financial contribution: Christmas Friends, 441 Craryville Road, Hillsdale, NY 12529
If you would like to shop but need the funds to buy the gifts, contact Charlotte.

Roe Jan Food Pantry

For 36 years the Roe Jan Food Pantry has been helping vulnerable families put food on their table. According to Betty White, president of the organization, demand is definitely up since the pandemic started, with the Pantry providing food to as many as 200 individuals a month. She estimates the Pantry provided Thanksgiving food to approximately 700 individuals, either through the Thanksgiving baskets or directly from the pantry. Based in Hillsdale, the Pantry serves the Taconic Hills school district, except the Philmont area which has its own food pantry.

Financial donations fund the shopping done by volunteers to keep the Pantry stocked and donations of food and toiletries are also accepted. “Our community is great” says Betty “and very generous”. In addition, the Pantry receives donations of food from the IGA, Big Y and Ginsbergs.

Families in need can arrange to pick up food on Fridays between 10 and 12 by calling Betty White at 518 441-2789 or Vernetta Moore at 413 446-9431. The Pantry is located at 2684 State Route 23, beneath the Sheriff’s substation.

How to Donate:
Roe Jan Food Pantry, PO Box 475, Hillsdale, NY 12529
Or put money on the Pantry’s account at the IGA service desk
Food and toiletries may be left in the deck box to the right of ramp to the Food Pantry.
Blessing Box

The Hillsdale Blessing Box, in the parking lot of the Hillsdale Methodist Church at the intersection of Rts. 22 and 23, is a 24/7 mini food pantry for emergency use for Hillsdale residents. It is not stocked by any specific church or group but instead depends on the community to keep it full.

Community members should stock the box themselves whenever possible. Keep in mind outdoor temperatures when choosing items for the box. Canned goods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, stews, and soups are appreciated. Eggs, bread, butter, cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables are welcome when they will not freeze. Toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, cleaning products and personal care items which are not covered by SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) are also popular.

People not comfortable doing the shopping themselves can make a contribution to the Blessing Box account at the IGA. Hillsdale resident Rene Gibson will then purchase needed items and be put them in the box.

For More Information
 Contact: Rene Gibson (518) 325-3161.
Lighting Up Hillsdale for the Holidays
We may not be able to celebrate the holidays as we normally do, but the Hillsdale Hamlet Committee has a suggestion for Hillsdale residents that can put some sparkle in the season despite the ongoing pandemic.

The committee proposes that anyone who wants to participate should light up their houses for the holiday season with white window candles – electric, battery powered or solar.

“There's nothing more cheerful than the warmth of candle glow, nothing that says ‘You are welcome here’ more than a village full of light,” said Toby Butterfield, Hamlet Committee secretary. "We can light a candle against the darkness and enhance how beautiful our town can be.”

Window candles are widely available from local stores and online and the committee has some available to borrow. Contact Robina Ward,, if interested in borrowing or you have extras to loan.
Yes, There Will be Decorated Firetrucks!
It’s no surprise that the Hillsdale Fire Company can’t host their usual Christmas parade and party this year. But, the fire company will still decorate their trucks and drive through town on Saturday December 5 starting at 5 pm.

The trucks will leave from the firehouse, going south on Rt. 22 to the traffic light and turning right on Rt. 23. They’ll turn left on White Hill Lane, driving past Herrington's, and then left on Anthony Street and right on Rt. 22. The trucks will drive back through the light, pass Four Brothers, and then take a left onto Old Town Road and return to the firehouse.

You can watch the trucks anywhere along the route. Please be sure to wear your masks and practice social distancing of 6 feet or, better yet, enjoy the trucks from your car. Because of COVID, no mass gatherings are allowed.
The Fire Company Has Some Advice For You

The Hillsdale Fire Company has responded to eight calls in November bring the total to 116 calls so far this year. The calls included two carbon monoxide alarms, one alarm activation, one smoke detector activation, one transformer fault, two wires down and one mutual aid to Copake for a chimney fire.

In hopes of keeping the number of calls low and ensuring that every one has a safe holiday season, the Fire Company would like to remind residents to make sure that chimneys have been cleaned, that fireplace dampers are open before starting a fire and that you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

If your home is central station monitored, and there is an alarm activation resulting in the fire company being dispatched but you call 911 or the alarm company to cancel because it was just burnt toast or something like that, don’t be surprised when a chief or an officer shows up at your house anyway. Out of an abundance of caution, even if they have been told that you canceled the alarm, they will still come to your house to verify that there is no fire.

If you are going to change batteries or vacuum or dust your detectors, call your central station first and let them know when you start and when you finish to avoid false alarms.
County Police Reform Panel Gets Community Input, Including From Hillsdale
Local police reform is the focus of an advisory panel, the Columbia County Police Reform Panel, established by the Columbia County Board of Supervisors in response to New York State’s Executive Order #203.

The order mandates that local governments must perform a comprehensive review of current police force deployment strategies, policies, procedures and practices and develop an improvement plan to address the particular needs of the communities served. In addition, the panel is to promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness and legitimacy and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.

Hillsdale resident Phyllis Granat is one of thirty-one Columbia County residents, representing all parts of the county, who were chosen out of more than 60 applicants to make up the Community Input Panel. The Elected Official/Law Enforcement Panel has 22 members.

The Columbia County Police Reform Panel has had three public meetings. At each virtual meeting ten members of the Community panel have spoken, giving their ideas suggestions and comments in regards to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Department procedures and policies have been reviewed, highlighting both the positive and negative aspects as well as areas that need addressing and reform. Panelists spoke of both positive and negative individual experiences of interaction with the department.

Phyllis Granat spoke at the last session, on November 13. In her comments she stressed the need for increased training, but also explained how difficult it is as there are contractual mandates that only allow scheduling during an officer’s shift. Police cannot be mandated to take training on their own time. This creates scheduling issues and necessitates overtime for those covering the shift.

“What process can lead to change in these procedures, as change is critically needed here?” asked Mrs. Granat. “Budgeting has not been increased in three years, and, as stated in the PowerPoint presentation made by the police, much of the training done is what is available for free and it does not cover important topics. Training in implicit bias awareness, restorative justice practices, community based outreach, and conflict resolution should be offered and made mandatory.”

Mrs. Granat pointed out that there are local organizations such as Common Ground Dispute Resolution, located in Catskill but serving Columbia County, that are good sources for community/police training for free or at a moderate cost.

A second area that a number of panelists addressed was overlapping or duplication of services. For instance, it was suggested that the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team (MCAT) of the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties could take over more responsibility in responding to 911 calls involving mental health issues.

Mrs. Granat noted that NYC has just announced a pilot program that will send mental health/crisis control professionals rather than police to answer 911 calls dealing with mental health or family emergencies.

The establishment of a civilian police review board was also suggested by a number of people.

The next step in the process is for the Elected Officials/Law Enforcement Panel to review all the comments and suggestions and to draft a proposal for community review.

The Elected Official/Law Enforcement Panel will be meeting on December 2 and 3. See the website for links to meetings. Community members are encouraged to submit their comments to

The website includes videos of all public sessions, background information on police policies and procedures, and questions and answers.
No, It Wasn't Always the Post Office
Do you remember these Hillsdale businesses: Krauss & Gabaccia, Hilco Valley, The Hand of Man, The Hillsdale Pharmacy, Audio Plus Electronics, Results Chiropractic? Do you know what they had in common? If so, you've been around a long time or maybe you're good at spotting long-faded signs. This month the Hillsdale Historians explore the history of the building that has been the home of the Hillsdale Post Office for 25 years.
Hamlet Park Draft Plan Nears Completion

The Hamlet Committee reports that the draft design of the Hamlet Park by Chazen Associates, the landscape design firm the town has hired, will soon be complete. Input from the many people who completed the committee’s survey re using the park and those who attended the public meeting is helping shape the plan. The completed draft plan will be posted on the town website and on the Hillsdale NY Community Forum Page on Facebook. A Zoom meeting presenting the plan will be held in January. If you would like to receive all updates about the project, please email
Funds Available for Hillsdale Residents
Who Have Lost Income Due to COVID
The Hillsdale Economic and Community Development Corporation (HECDC) continues to offer one-time gifts of $250 to local families and individuals who are experiencing financial stress due to loss of income because of COVID-19.

To learn if you qualify email or call 646-373-5002.

And, please pass this information on to anyone you know who might need assistance.
Holiday Lights in Hillsdale