News from Town Hall

Firstly, hearty congratulations to Tom Carty on his re-election, and to Joanna Virello on her election to the Hillsdale Town Board. Welcome! And on behalf of the entire town, I want to express great appreciation and thanks to Jill Sims, who is leaving the Board at the end of this month, for her long and dedicated service to our community.

As the year-end approaches, coinciding with my first year in office, it seems a good time to reflect on our accomplishments over the last twelve months. Town governance is a collaborative effort, and the many steps forward we have taken would not have been possible without the hard work of the Town Board. our committees, and our dedicated staff at Town Hall and the Highway Department. Because of our collective efforts, we have:

  • Adopted a forward-looking Town Budget for 2022 without raising taxes. The budget building process has actively involved the full board and the public, supported by our new CPA Bob Patterson. We have also introduced a new bookkeeping system and are strengthening internal controls.
  • Adopted Credit Card, Procurement and Committee Policies that are now being observed.
  • Created a Sewer Master Plan that is now being implemented and stabilized the Sewer District budget for a system that is currently operating at about one-third of its capacity. Some issues relating to past years are being studied and will need to be addressed.
  • Moved forward on planning for major projects designed to make Hillsdale an even better place to live, work and do business by adopting a Master Plan and Feasibility Study for Hamlet Park, with grant applications pending at this writing. We are working with our engineers to scope out solutions for new sidewalks in the Hamlet; the bridge replacement project on West End Road; continuing to address the Whippoorwill/Route 22 intersection; a new Salt Shed for the Highway Department, as well as funding for vehicle replacement; and continuing to seek solutions and grant opportunities for broadband enhancements.
  • Formed a tri-town Roe Jan Housing Task Force with Hillsdale, Copake and Ancram to consider and plan for a more regional approach to workforce/affordable housing solutions in our area. We have had four meetings so far, including potential collaboration with the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) and Pattern for Progress.
  • Supported and worked closely with our committees, including the hard work of the Hamlet Committee in staging five Jams in the Hamlet concerts, as well as the successful Antique Car Show, Flea Market and Pumpkin Festival events that have been enjoyable for all age groups and have brought foot traffic into the town.
  • Preparation of an updated Town of Hillsdale Employee Handbook and Public Employer Emergency Plan.
  • Addressed speed issues by purchasing two radar speed signs (not yet delivered) and working with DOT and the Sheriff’s Department to control speeds on major roads.
  • Agreed to “opt in” to the NYS Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).
  • Received the first half of an approximately $182,000 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation, with the balance to be received by mid-2022. The Board is carefully evaluating the town’s priorities and will be making its recommendations at the appropriate time.
  • To facilitate outreach and transparency, the Board approved town Facebook and Instagram sites, along with enhanced news of the town through the Hillsdale Newsletter and our website. The Board also approved revised policy guidelines for the Newsletter and a new Town Seal that now needs to be incorporated into our printed and electronic representations.
  • At this writing, we are launching two major efforts long in the making -- eCODE 360, an online portal designed to house Hillsdale’s codified laws and municipal information in one convenient location, and the LED Street Light Project with NYSERDA.

It clearly “Takes a Village” to accomplish all of these things, and I am grateful to the Board, the chairs and members of our committees and to all who have worked so hard and effectively on these and other projects. We are incredibly fortunate to have such talent and vitality in our town, and I encourage others to consider participating as well.

Much has been accomplished, but even more remains to be done. We look forward to the New Year with hope and enthusiasm.

My family joins me in wishing you a joyous and safe holiday season.

Chris Kersten
Town Supervisor
December Town Board Meeting on Zoom
The December Town Board meeting will be held on Zoom on Tuesday December 14 at 7 PM. For the two Public Comment sessions during the meeting the Zoom moderator will ask attendees if they want to be unmuted in order to make a comment or ask a question. Zoom attendees will be muted at all other times.
Town of Hillsdale November Town Board Meeting
Time: Tuesday December 14, 7:00 PM
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 850 2012 1223
COVID Update
Columbia County's COVID-19 rate remains high. As of Monday the 29th there were 116 active cases and 10 people were hospitalized. None were in the ICU. Since the start of the pandemic Columbia County has had 6,107 cases and 106 deaths.

The county has three multi-brand booster clinics scheduled at Columbia Greene Community College.
Carty and Virello Win Town Board Seats
With all votes counted, Tom Carty has been reelected to the Hillsdale Town Board with 571 votes. In the best two out of three race for town board, Joanna Virello was also elected, with 506 votes. The third candidate, Jimmy Dawson, received 386 votes. Carty and Virello will serve four year terms starting January 1.
Town Board Approves
2022 Budget of $1,916,624
At the November Town Board meeting the board voted to approve the 2022 budget of $1,916,624. The General Fund for 2022 is $667,435 and the Highway Fund is $1,249,189. Town property taxes will be $969,612, the same as in 2020 and 2021. The total budget increase of $167,649 will be covered by expected increases in sales and mortgage taxes, state highway funds (CHIPS), and funds carried over from 2021.

Supervisor Chris Kersten reported at the board meeting that the town will be ending 2021 in a strong financial position as both sales and mortgage taxes are well above the budget for the year.

The full town budget is available on the town website.
Hillsdale to Allow Marijuana Dispensaries
Marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities will be allowed in the town of Hillsdale subject to state law and local zoning laws. All town boards had the option to opt-out by the end of the year of having dispensaries and/or consumption facilities in their town. If a town board took no action, both types of facilities would be allowed in the town. The Hillsdale town board chose to take no action.

The town can adopt local zoning laws regulating the time, place and manner of those establishments so long as it does not make the operation of them unreasonably impractical. Sales to consumers will carry a 13% tax: a 9% tax that will go to the state and a 4% local tax. Of the local tax, 25 % goes to the county and the rest of the tax will be paid to the town.
Fire Company Hosts Annual Tree Lighting
and Visits With Santa
Santa is coming back to Hillsdale! The Hillsdale Fire Company's hay ride to the annual tree lighting returns on Saturday December 4. Bring the kids to firehouse for the 5 PM departure of the hay ride, which will be accompanied by firetrucks decorated with lights. The parade will reach the center of the hamlet about 5:15 and then Santa will help light the tree. After the tree is lit, children can visit with Santa at the firehouse and tell him what they want for Christmas. Hot chocolate and Christmas cookies will be served.
Green River: Hillsdale's Lesser Known Hamlet
For quite a while the Hillsdale Historians have been trying to track down the history of Green River, the northeast corner Hillsdale, along Rt. 71. Their quest has been complicated by the fact that the southeast corner of Austerlitz has also been known as Green River. But they kept researching and have reported their findings in their blog post this month. Read it and you'll learn about the river, cemeteries, colliers, the Knox Trail, temperance and maybe even bordellos!
Of Note.....
Through December 10 the shredding bins sponsored by the Columbia County Clerk's Office are back in Hillsdale Town Hall by appointment. Call 518 325-5073 ext 5. Documents deposited in these secured bins Papers deposited in secure bins will be destroyed by Certified Document Security LLC of North Chatham.

A Project Advisory Committee has been set up by the Town Board to advise on the installation of sidewalks on Anthony, Coldwater and Maple Streets. Members are Bart Ziegler, Gaye Hoffman, Sharon King and Steve Bluestone. Supervisor Chris Kersten and Board members Tom Carty and Robina Ward will be working with the committee. An engineering firm is developing initial plans which will be reviewed by the committee.

The Town Board is accepting applications for a new member of the Planning Board to serve a seven year term beginning on January 1, 2022, an uncompensated position. The Planning Board reviews and guides proposed development projects so that they are in compliance with the regulations set forth in the Hillsdale Comprehensive Plan, the principal goals of which are to maintain the rural character of Hillsdale and to protect the environment. If interested, please send a letter of intent and resume to: Hillsdale Planning Board, PO Box 305, Hillsdale NY 12529 or via email to [email protected].

The Hillsdale Town Court is seeking a Court Clerk Assistant to print data pages and collect payments during the Court session on the third Wednesday of each month. The job requires approximately six hours a month. Contact BJ Tiso at 518 325-5073, ext 4.

EverHome Columbia, Inc., a local nonprofit organization that provides care coordination and real-time technology that monitors daily living to improve quality of life and response time in an emergency, is launching a pilot program for Columbia County residents. Funded by The Home for the Aged and in partnership with the NYS Office of Aging, Social Services agencies, and emergency services, the pilot will create “Virtual Homes for the Aged” that bring 21st century care to the homes of elders in the county. To learn more, register for their Wednesday December 8 webinar.
Styrofoam Food Containers and Packing Peanuts Banned in New York State
Effective January 1, 2020 New York State has banned the sale or use styrofoam (polystyrene foam) food containers and packing peanuts.

Styrofoam has long been recognized as an environmental pollutant, both in its manufacturing and its disposal. According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, “foam packaging is one of the top contributors of environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and other natural resources, as well as littering our communities and natural areas. It is lightweight, breaks apart easily, and does not readily biodegrade. When polystyrene foam ends up as litter in the environment, it can persist for a long time and may also become microplastic pollution. In addition, foam containers and loose fill packaging, such as packing peanuts, are not accepted in most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle and has a low value.”

In 2020, the NYS Assembly adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene. When the ban goes into effect on January 1, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in New York State. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state. Covered food service providers and facilities that meet certain criteria may request a renewable 12-month financial hardship waiver from DEC.
Hillsdale Civic Pride Fundraising Page Launched
Historic Hillsdale
The Hillsdale Economic & Development Corporation (HECDC), a non-profit group founded to promote economic development consistent with the Hillsdale's Comprehensive Plan, has a new Hillsdale Civic Pride fundraising page. The HECDC supports projects that are important to the town and enhance the quality of life for town residents. As a 501(c)3 the HECD can accept tax-deductible donations in support of such projects.

Among the projects that have been supported are grants for individuals who lost employment due to COVID-19, playground and fitness equipment for the town parks, restoration of historic slate roof on town hall, signs for welcoming people to Hillsdale and for historic cemeteries, a research study to investigate needs for workforce housing, and renovation of the basketball court in Hamlet Park,

Current funding opportunities include plaques for historic district buildings, a flagpole for Town Hall, and winter lamppost banners. Donations may be made via credit card on the web page or by check to HECDC, mailed to PO Box 305, Hillsdale, NY 12529
How to Help Others This Holiday Season
This holiday season there are multiple ways to help ensure that everyone in Hillsdale and neighboring towns can enjoy happy holidays.

Community Christmas Baskets

About 130 families are expected to be recipients on December 18 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, serves those in need in Hillsdale, Copake, Austerlitz, Taghkanic and other parts of the Taconic Hills School district.

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, and canned soup.

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.

Roe Jan Food Pantry

For 37 years the Roe Jan Food Pantry has been helping vulnerable families put food on their table. Currently food is being provided to about 100 individuals a month. 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.

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 pantry.

A Baked Goods & Soup Sale Knit Club Fundraiser from 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday December 4 at the Copake Community Building at 305 Mountain View Road in Copake will raise money for the Food Pantry, Community Christmas Baskets and the Taconic Hills Backpack Program. Cookies, breads, pies, jams and jellies as well as homemade soups, chili and mac & cheeses will be available for purchase and take-out.
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 31 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. A shopper recruited for each family buys presents, including hats and gloves for each child, and delivers the wrapped and labeled packages to the Hillsdale Firehouse for distribution, this year on December 18.

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.
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 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 but can freeze in the winter. Eggs, bread, butter, cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables are welcome and can be put in the cooler. 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 put them in the box.

For More Information: Contact: Rene Gibson (518) 325-3161.
Upcoming Events in the Area
The Roe Jan Library Friends Bookshop will be open on December 4, 11 and 18 from 10 am to 2 pm. The bookshop, which sells a variety of gently used books at low prices, is on the lower level of the Roe Jan Community Library at 9091 Route 22. Book donations are accepted by appointment only. Info is on the Friends page of the Library website and on Instagram @roejanfriendsbookshop.
As part of this year’s Winter Walk in Copake Falls, the festively decorated Roe Jan Historical Society is holding an open house on Sunday December 5 from 12 - 4 PM. Kids can visit Santa and the Society's annual holiday exhibit will be on display. Holiday wreaths, books, raffle tickets for seasonal prizes, baked goods and beverages will be available for purchase. The Historical Society is at 8 Miles Road in Copake Falls.
December programs at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library include an art workshop and history programs for adults. There will be virtual visits with Santa, story times, musical story time and Homeschool Mondays for kids. The library is located at 9091 Route 22.
Upcoming Meetings

The next CAC (Conservation Advisory Committee) meeting will be at the Town Hall on Thursday, December 2 at 7 PM.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on Tuesday December 7 at 7:30 PM at the Hillsdale Town Hall to consider an application by Sylvan Motor Lodge and two applications by Robert Bradway Plumbing and Heating.

Hamlet Committee
Time: Monday December 13, 6 PM
Passcode: 160226
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  857 5300 5716

Economic Development Committee
Time: Wednesday December 29 11 AM
Passcode: 873669
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 870 6140 0150
Follow Hillsdale on our official Facebook and Instagram pages.
Have you seen the Hillsdale Business Directory? From plumbers to galleries, restaurants to inns, businesses have a lot to offer in Hillsdale. 

If you have a business located in Hillsdale you can add or edit your listing online.
Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley