{There is a lot of news in this issue. To be sure you see it all, click here to view the newsletter as a web page.}.

News from Town Hall

Dear Hillsdale,

As we begin the twelfth month of the year, I’m reminded of Dr. Suess’s reflection: “How did it get so late so soon?”

Over the past year, much has been accomplished, and in the waning days of 2022, I want to express appreciation for our hardworking Town committees who make so much of our work possible. We owe a special debt to the Safe at Home Committee, chaired by Joyce Lapenn for their many initiatives on behalf of our Seniors; to the Economic Development Committee, chaired by

The topic for Speakers at the Safe at Home workshop was"Adapting Homes As We Age In Place"

Tom Carty, for promoting Hillsdale as a dynamic environment in which to do business; to the Hamlet Committee, chaired by Toby Butterfield, for fostering a sense of community and striving to create a safe and attractive Town center in which residents and businesses can flourish; to the Housing Committee, co-chaired by Ellen Levy and Janis Smythe, for exploring affordable and workforce housing in our community, one of our foremost priorities; to the Climate Smart Committee, chaired by Howard Van Lenten, for leading efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change; to the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC), chaired by David Lewis and Gretchen Stevens, for gathering, disseminating and researching matters related to the conservation of natural resources; and to the Broadband Committee, chaired by Andy Dash, for their continuing efforts to provide high speed internet service to all residents in the Town. All of these committees are ably coordinated by Tom Carty, to whom we are most grateful.

Our Town depends upon the motivation and expertise of volunteers to move our many initiatives forward. In looking over the important work of these committees, whose accomplishments have been highlighted in this Newsletter throughout the year, I hope that you will consider becoming involved. Working with neighbors on behalf of the Town is not only important, but it is enjoyable as well. So, as the Board forms its committees for the year ahead, please consider dropping a line to Tom Carty at vancarty@gmail.com or me at hillsdalenysupervisor@gmail.com to let us know about your interest.

My family joins me in sending you best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and the New Year!

Chris Kersten

Town Supervisor


December Town Board Meeting

The December Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, December 13. The meeting will be held in person at Town Hall at 7 PM.

Documents that will be referred to at the town board meeting will be posted on the Agendas & Minutes page of the town website a few days before the meeting. Minutes of previous Town Board meetings are posted on the Town Board page. 

Town Website
Agendas & Minutes
Town Board

COVID Update

As of November 30, in Columbia County there were 31 active COVID cases and eight hospitalized county residents, none of them in the ICU. There have been 15,046 cases and 161 deaths.

The Columbia County Department of Health is offering Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters at their Thursday afternoon vaccine clinics. For information link to the DOH web site (link below) and go to the Calendar or to the Facebook page.

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 the number of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

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

Town Board Passes 2023 Budget, With No Tax Increase

The 2023 budget of $2,056,748 for the Town of Hillsdale was approved at the November Town Board Meeting, following a public hearing at which no questions were asked. Although this is an increase of 7.3% over 2022, taxes will stay at $969,612, which they have been since 2020. The increase in appropriations (expenses) will be covered by the use of appropriated fund balances (accumulated surplus funds) and shifting $50,000 of general fund sales tax income to the highway fund.

Highway Department expenses, which account for 65.9% of the budget, have increased 8.6% to $1,356,044, due primarily to wages, fuel and related costs. General fund expenses have increased 5.0% to $700,704, due mostly to wage increases.

In addition to property taxes, budgeted income includes $363,086 in sales tax, $277,000 state aid, $75,000 in mortgage tax and $50,000 from building permits.

“This is a responsible budget that invests in our employees and takes into account rising costs at a time of rapid inflation without increasing property taxes,” said Town Supervisor Chris Kersten. “The town continues to be in a very good financial position. We anticipate that, by year end, the General Fund will have a fund balance of approximately $1.3 million and the Highway Department will have a balance of $950,000.”

Kersten also reported that the sewer fund is expected to end the year with a projected surplus of $10,000 which will help reduce the fund’s debt to the town.

The complete budget can be viewed by clicking below.

2023 Adopted Town Budget 

Santa to Light Tree and Visit with Kids at Firehouse


Santa will be in Hillsdale on Saturday, December 3, for Hillsdale Fire Company's hay ride to the annual tree lighting. Bring the kids to Hillsdale Firehouse for the 5 PM departure of the hay ride to Cullen Park.  Fire trucks decorated with lights will join the parade, which will reach the center of the hamlet about 5:15 PM. Santa will then 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.

Natural Resource Inventory Adopted as

Official Town Document, Use Encouraged

A local law adopting the Hillsdale Natural Resource Inventory (the NRI) as an official document of the town for use in connection with land use decision-making by the town, specifically including the Town Board, Planning Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals, was adopted by the Town Board at the November meeting. The purpose of this law is to further the town’s Comprehensive Plan goal of identifying and preserving important environmental resources within the town, including high quality agricultural land, scenic roads, ridgelines, wetlands, stream corridors, aquifers, mature forests, and wildlife habitats. The NRI identifies these and other important environmental resources and this law encourages consideration of the NRI in municipal decision making to promote the protection and sustainable use of these resources for the citizens of Hillsdale. Click below to read the law.

The NRI describes and illustrates the Town’s natural resources -- physical, biological, agricultural, scenic, and others. It includes 22 maps showing the geology, water bodies, wetlands and aquifers, floodplains, forests, meadows, areas of resilience to climate change, agricultural resources, and other natural features of the Town, and its text discusses the nature and importance of those features. The NRI also catalogues the rare plants, fishes, amphibians, mammals, dragonflies and damselflies, butterflies, breeding birds, and scenic views of Hillsdale, and provides recommendations for ways to maintain and protect resources of conservation concern.

Hillsdale's Natural Resource Inventory
Local Law Re NRI

New LED Streetlights Installed

In late November, an installation crew arrived in Hillsdale to change all the street lights in the Hillsdale-Copake Lighting District from incandescent to LED, making them cheaper to operate and maintain. The crew worked quickly and got most of the 58 lights in the district installed and turned on. Any resident who identifies a light that has not been changed to LED should contact Tom Carty at 518 325-5260.as soon as possible. The old lights were rounded, like a bulb and gave off a yellow light. The new lights are flat and give off a whiter light.


One nice feature of the new lights is that once a few people have been trained, the town will be able to dim or brighten the lights at customer’s request. Training should be completed within the next two weeks and the public will be informed as to whom they should call if a light is out or otherwise needs attention.

The new light purchase and installation has been made possible with a $60,000 grant from NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Was This House in the Hamlet Built From a Sears Kit?

Today it seems we can order almost anything from Amazon. Back in the early to mid-1900's the same could be said of the Sears & Roebuck catalog. For over 30 years, you could even peruse a catalog and then order your house as a kit from Sears! A few weeks later, Sears would load up everything – including the kitchen sink – into one or two railroad box cars (depending on the size of the house) and ship it off. At the nearest depot, Sears would have arranged for the contents of the box cars to be transferred to trucks for delivery to the home site. One order included everything—nails and screws, paint and roof shingles, windows and doors, woodwork, staircases, and mantelpiece.

This month the Hillsdale Historians have done a deep dive into the story of mail order houses. Was the Hillsdale Hamlet house pictured above ordered from a catalog? So far that hasn't been confirmed but it is still well worth clicking below and reading the Historian's fascinating blog post.

Hillsdale Historians Blog

How to Help Others Locally This Holiday Season

Among the well-established holiday traditions in Hillsdale is joining together to help to ensure that no residents in Hillsdale and neighboring towns have to do without during the holiday season.

Community Christmas Baskets

About 142 families are expected to be recipients on December 17 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 non-profit 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. This year they are also accepting donations of cereal.

How to Donate: Volunteers will be at the IGA many days between now and December 17 to accept donations. Donations may be mailed to Community Christmas Baskets, PO Box 364, Hillsdale, NY 12529. If interested in donating cereal contact Vernetta Moore at 413 446-9431 or Elwin Moore at 518 965-6931.

Christmas Friends

Shoppers are needed! Again this year, approximately 175 children from about 75+ families in Hillsdale and beyond will receive Christmas presents thanks to Christmas Friends, a group of volunteers who for 32 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 17.

How to Help: To volunteer as a shopper contact Charlotte Shutts at 518 325-3637. 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 by Hillsdale residents. It is up to the community to keep it full.

Community members are asked to help by stocking the box whenever possible. Keep in mind outdoor temperatures when choosing items for the box. Canned/jarred goods are appreciated but not when the temperatures may go below freezing. Frozen and perishable food can be left in the cooler, but keep in mind that items in the cooler may freeze.. For example, butter and milk would be OK but not lettuce. Dried goods such as cereals, flour, pastas, rice, dried beans, milk powder, sugar, dried fruits, and nuts are good in the box, no matter the temperatures. Gift cards for gas, groceries or a local restaurant are appreciated. 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 Hillsdale Supermarket. Hillsdale resident Rene Gibson will then purchase needed items and put them in the box.

For More Information: Contact: Rene Gibson (518) 755-2745.

Roe Jan Food Pantry

For 38 years, the Roe Jan Food Pantry has been helping vulnerable families put food on their tables. Currently, food is being provided to about 25 - 30 families a month. Based in Hillsdale, the Pantry serves the Taconic Hills school district, except the Philmont area which has its own food pantry. Some families may need help just when dealing with an emergency while others need long term support.

Financial donations fund the shopping done by volunteers, to keep the Pantry stocked. Additional volunteers are needed for the shopping as well as organizing supplies in the pantry, picking up donated supplies, and helping with Friday distribution. Call one of the numbers below to learn more and/or volunteer.

Families in need can arrange to pick up food on Fridays between 10 AM and 12 PM by calling Betty White at 518 441-2789 or Vernetta Moore at 413 446-9431. Also call if you know of a neighbor who may need help. Information is kept confidential. 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 Hillsdale Supermarket service desk. Food and toiletries may be left in the deck box to the right of ramp to the pantry. Call one of the numbers to let them know if you leave items in the box.

Of Note.....

Shredding bins will be available at Town Hall from now to Friday, December 9. Hours are 10 AM – 1 PM, Monday-Friday, or by appointment.


The county has made no decision yet re the closed Tribrook Bridge but it is possible that the bridge will be removed as it does not get a lot of use. An update is expected at the December Town Board meeting.


The Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market reports that they are proud of their 2022 numbers:

* SNAP (food stamp) sales were 16x higher than 2018

* over 20,000 people visited the market

* 22 local musicians or groups were hired to perform

* 11 local community organizations were welcomed to educate and inform visitors


After being closed for two and a half years because of the pandemic, the United Methodist Church Bargain Shop in Copake is open once again. The shop sells donated clothes and household goods. Shopping hours are every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM. The shop is in a building behind the church at 1669 Church Street/County Route 7A. Donations of clothing and serviceable household goods may be left in the outer vestibule of the shop, the door of which is always open.


A fact sheet on on utility/energy bill payment options and financial assistance programs to help manage these bills is available from the NYS Department of Public Service. Another available fact sheet from the agency has energy efficiency tips for reducing home heating costs. Click below to view the sheets

Managing Utility Bills
Energy Efficiency Tips

Safe at Home Hosts Successful Workshop

Over 55 seniors attended the Safe at Home Committee hosted workshop “Adapting Homes As We Age In Place” at the Hillsdale Firehouse on November 12. Understanding that most seniors want to remain in their own homes, the committee recruited speakers and exhibitors who could impart important information to help ensure that senior's homes are safe, comfortable, and fit for senior living. This project was made possible through funding by Fund for Columbia County, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and Copake Lake Realty.   


Winter Tales Puppet Show, Book Giveaway and Gingerbread Houses At Library

The Caravan Puppets group will be performing, “Winter Tales!” at the Roe Jan Community Library on Saturday, December 3, at 11 AM. All over the world, people brighten the long winter nights with celebration and stories. “Winter Tales'” features secular international folk tales to mark winter celebrations such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Diwali, and Eid al-Fitr. All ages welcome.

Stop by the library with your child in December and they will receive a free book.This year, the library has several festival winter-themed picture books to choose from.

Gingerbread House decorating will take place on Saturday December 17 at 1 PM and 2:30 PM. The library provides the housing material and decoration supplies. Registration required. Email director@roejanlibrary.org to reserve your gingerbread house and request your preferred time or call the library at 518 325-4101. All ages welcome.

Friends of the Library Hold

Cookie, Soup, and Book Sale

The Friends of the Roe Jan Community Library will host their holiday Cookie, Soup, and Book Sale from 11 AM to 3 PM on Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10 in the Community Room of the library. 

Home-baked cookies and homemade soups will be available for purchase as well as small holiday gifts such as table top books, candles, jewelry, children’s books, picture frames and puzzles. Tickets for a 50-50 raffle are available to purchase in both the Friends Bookshop and the library.

During this event patrons are encouraged to visit the Friends bookshop, located on the lower level of the library, to browse their extensive and well-organized selection of gently used books. Cash is the preferred payment for all purchases.

The Book Shop will also be open Saturday, December 3 from 10 AM to 2 PM.

The Friends of Roeliff Jansen Community Library is a nonprofit community driven organization whose primary purpose is to support the Library through fundraising, advocacy, and volunteer work. All proceeds from the sale benefit programming and additional needs of the library.

Historical Society Celebrates Christmas

Vintage Christmas items will be on display at the Roe Jan Historical Society Museum on Sunday, December 4 from 12 to 4 PM as part of the Winter Walk in Copake Falls. The museum, which will be decorated for the holidays will be serving baked goods and hot cider and children can visit Santa from 1 to 3 PM. Decorated wreaths will be for sale as will tickets for two raffles.


Adult programs at the Roe Jan Community Library in December include

  • Hot Topics in Healthy Aging – Sleep
  • Roe Jan Writers Series: David Nasaw and Dinitia Smith
  • History Webinar: Lindendwald's Amazing Historically Accurate Wallpaper
  • Strength & Balance Class on Zoom
  • Free English-language tutoring 6 - 7:30 PM on Thursdays, by appointment. This tutoring program is intended primarily for adults.

For kids there will be Homework Help every Thursday from 5 to 7 PM, with English and Spanish tutoring available for grades K-12. 

Plus, a Columbia Land Conservancy Field Trip at Drowned Lands Swamp Conservation Area, Lego Thursdays, Home School Wednesdays, Storytime with Tia on Saturdays, and Circle Time with Tia on Wednesdays. The library is located at 9091 Rt. 22.

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

Upcoming Town Meetings

The Zoning Board will meet on Tuesday December 6 at 7:30 PM. Public hearing to consider an application by Gloria Kemp, Margaret Rosenthal and the Harlemville Rural Cemetery for an area variance in order to establish a lot line adjustment on a property at 1124 County Route 21.

The Planning Board will meet on Monday, December 12 at 7 PM. (in person only). Public hearing for an application by Ellen Zaroff, represented by Dan Russell, concerning a minor subdivision of property at 663 Lockwood Road. Also, Gloria Kemp and Margaret Rosenthaler are donating a portion of their land at 1124 County Route 21 to the Harlemville Cemetery. This is deemed a lot line adjustment.

Open Space Committee

Time: Thursday, December 8, 7 PM


Passcode: 257980

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 883 1785 2424

Safe at Home Committee

Time: Friday, December 9, 10 AM

Home of Rene Gibson, 68 Old Highway

Conservation Advisory Council

Time: Thursday, December 22, 7 PM


Passcode: 450393

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 837 4094 1626

Economic Development Committee

Time: Wednesday, December 28, 11 PM


Passcode: 852937

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 861 5271 8595

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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley


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