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News From Town Hall

Dear Hillsdale,

The late astronaut and United States Senator John McCain stated that “If you want to know happiness far more sublime than pleasure, lend your talents, your industry, and your courage to the service of our ideals.” In this spirit I want to congratulate Mike Dvorchak on his election as Town Supervisor, and the election of Jamie Carano Nordenstrom and Irwin Feld to the Town Board, Robina Ward as Town Clerk, Richard Briggs as Highway Superintendent, Russ Immerigeon and Bob Werner as Town Justices, and Joe Hanselman as Tax Collector. And, on behalf of the Hillsdale community, I thank Steve Tiger and Robina Ward whose terms as members of the Board have come to an end, and also retiring Justice Mark Cawley. Public service is a calling of love, and those who step up to the task deserve our thanks and appreciation.

As well, my term as Town Supervisor will come to an end on December 31. It has been an honor and privilege to have been elected to serve as Town Justice, as a member of the Town Board, and as Town Supervisor at various intervals over the last quarter century, and it is a pleasure to pass the baton to a younger generation of leaders with new ideas and energy.

I leave Town governance with the Town in a strong financial position. A forward-looking budget for 2024 has General Fund appropriations (expenses) totaling $743,208. This represents an increase of 6.07% without raising property taxes. In addition, Highway appropriations for the new year total $1,429,529, an increase of 5.42%.

In the waning days of my term of office we have begun much needed and long awaited repairs to Town Hall that will continue into the new year, and are taking active steps to understand and quantify recently identified issues relating to the Sewer District in the Hamlet. To be sure, issues and challenges remain to be addressed, and I trust that the new administration will act with skill, compassion and transparency.

My very best wishes to you and your loved ones for a joyous holiday season and with peace and continued prosperity in the New Year.


Chris Kersten

Town Supervisor

[email protected]

December Town Board Meeting

The December Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, December 12. The meeting will be held in person at Town Hall at 7 PM and will be available on Zoom. People participating via Zoom will be able to make comments during the designated Public Comment times at the beginning and end of the meeting.


Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  862 1516 1343

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 and the Agendas & Minutes page. 

Town Website
Agendas & Minutes
Town Board

Town Hall Repairs Underway, Front Door Closed

Repairs to the Town Hall's slate roof as well as other exterior repairs, including to the portico and pillars at the front entrance, are now underway. Interior renovations should start in January.

Due to the work at the front entrance, the front door of the building is not currently accessible and the rear entrance should be used instead. Town Hall will be open its regular hours, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 AM to 2 PM. A notice will be posted on the website when the portico construction is completed, and people can use the front door again.

Join Santa for Hillsdale's

Annual Tree Lighting and More

Santa will be in Hillsdale on Saturday, December 2, for Hillsdale Fire Company's hay ride to the annual tree lighting. Bring the kids to Hillsdale Firehouse for the 4:30 PM departure of the hay ride to Cullin Park. Fire trucks decorated with lights will join the parade, which will reach the center of the hamlet about 4:45 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.

Sewer Fees Increase,

Solution Sought for Sewer Line for New Coffee Shop

Fees in the Hillsdale sewer district have been increased to 7% to $674.10 per EDU (equivalent dwelling unit.) This increase will cover the cost of cleaning two 30,000 gallon tanks at the sewer plant in 2024. The tanks have not been cleaned since the sewer system was built in 2008. The increase will be effective with the January 1 quarterly billing. The Sewer District is expected to have a $7,500 surplus at the end of the year.

At their November meeting, the Town Board discussed the refusal of the Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) to give Hillsdale resident Kevin Hindes a permit necessary to opening his recently completed coffee shop on White Hill Lane, just east of Roe Jan Brewing. According to the Health Department, the sewer line for the building is too close to the building's water line. The board approved having Town Attorney Matt Cabral and George Schmitt of CPL, the town's engineering firm, talk with Mike DiRuzzio of DOH in order to determine possible solutions to the problem. These will be reported to the board which will then decide on what if any actions to take.

As Befits December, the Historians Have

 Researched the Celebration of Christmas

Tthe Hillsdale Historians's first focused on the history of Christmas celebrations in a blog post on the winter solstice in 2020, when pandemic deaths were skyrocketing. For this December they have reposted the 2020 blog with an introduction that considers the changes in Hillsdale in the last three years.

The holiday’s origins as a raucous celebration of Winter Solstice “misrule” are a far cry from the tamer celebrations of today but misrule was the rule for hundreds of years. The Historians found no record of misrule in Hillsdale but did find that in 1913 Freeland Pulver, proprietor of the Hillsdale Mercantile (today’s Roe Jan Brewing Company), promised a “Grand Display of Holiday Goods … The Most Extensive Line in Town.”

Read the blog to find out how the ways we celebrate the holiday and how we picture Santa Claus are based not so much tradition as the creative writings and illustrations in the 1800's that helped make the celebration of Christmas more genteel.

Hillsdale Historians Blog

Town to Reapply for Grant for West End Bridge

In a late breaking development, the Town has been informed that it may resubmit its BridgeNY grant application for the West End bridge project. The Town Board has approved moving expeditiously to retain grant writer Victor Cornelius to prepare and resubmit the application for a grant to be awarded in 2024. The grant submission deadline is January 24.

Because the Town did not receive a grant in the 2023 round, the firm of Ryan Biggs | Clark Davis Engineering and Surveying, which had previously determined that repairing the bridge would be prohibitively expensive, was hired to evaluate the bridge and offer alternatives. They offered three. The first, to do nothing, is not recommended. The feasible options are a detour on nearby roads or the installation of a temporary bridge. A detour would be either three or six miles, on dirt roads. Renting and installing a temporary bridge could cost between $250,000 and $300,000 if it were in place for a year. A new bridge is expected to cost about $1 million. The state inspects bridges annually. The board will discuss the bridge at the December meeting.

West End Bridge Options

CMH Fundraises to Help Open Copake Rapid Care,

Staffing Issue Likely Resolved

A fundraising letter from Columbia Memorial Health was recently mailed to 1,900 households in Ancram, Copake, Copake Falls, Craryville, Hillsdale, Taghkanic, and Gallatin. The purpose of the letter is to raise funds for the reopening of Copake Rapid Care, and explains how residents can make a contribution earmarked for the Copake facility.  (Click below to see letter and how to donate.)

Kirk Kneller, President of the CMH Board of Trustees remains optimistic regarding the reopening of the facility. "We are hoping to reopen Copake Rapid Care within the first quarter of 2024. We had two hurdles -- one was staffing and we think we have resolved that. The other is financial. We are looking for contributions from the community to jumpstart the operation and as soon as we make our goal, we will reopen the doors. If our fundraising goes well, we will open sooner than later. But make no mistake: CMH is totally committed to reopening Copake Rapid Care.  It will happen. Once Copake Rapid Care gets back to its 2019 pre-Covid visit numbers, we will be back to at least break even numbers which should be within a two to three year period."

CMH continues to offer primary care at the Copake facility, pending the return of Rapid Care.

Fundraising Letter re Copake Rapid Care

Town Has Opening for Court Clerk, Town Custodian and Wastewater/Sewer Operator


Responsibilities include organizing twice monthly evening court sessions, and preparing and maintaining case-related documents and records. Administrative, communication, and organizational skills are key. Court clerk experience is desirable; training is provided. Hours are flexible, totaling 15-20 office hours a week ($20 per hour).


Applicants are sought for a licensed Wastewater/Sewer Operator to perform a variety of skilled tasks associated with the treatment operation, and ongoing maintenance of Hillsdale's sewer district. The position is part-time, 10 to 20 hours a week, and requires on-call and weekends. The employee must hold, or be willing to obtain, a Grade 1 Wastewater Operator certificate.


High School diploma or equivalency diploma is required. Must hold a valid NYS driver's license throughout employment and reside in or near the Town of Hillsdale per NYS DEC requirements.



Applicants are sought for an experienced maintenance person to perform a variety of tasks at three locations in the town:

Town Hall: Painting and light carpentry, minimal handyman duties. Plumbing and electrical knowledge is a plus.

Roe Jan Park: Grass cutting.

Sewer Assistant: Daily checking of numbers and monitoring of sewer plant.

The position is part time, 15-20 hours a week. The employee must hold a valid NYS driver’s license and reside in or near the town of Hillsdale.


To apply for any of these positions, send a letter of interest, including a brief bio and three references to the Town Clerk: [email protected] or PO Box 305, Hillsdale, NY 12529

Of Note.....

Shredding bins will be available at Town Hall through Friday December 8. Hours are 10 AM – 2 PM, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday


2024 recycling stickers for use at county transfer stations will be on sale at Town Hall starting on December 18. The price has increased to $75 for county residents, $50 for residents over 65, and $125 for non-residents. Each envelope contains two stickers. While these are also for sale at the transfer stations, buying them at Town Hall means the town keeps $5 per sale. The trash bags that as of January 1, 2024, will be required when disposing of trash at transfer stations are also available at Town Hall and the town keeps a portion of the payment. Small bags are $1, medium are $3 and large are $5. Tags will not be accepted after December 31.


Columbia County residents are invited to a Forum On Climate Change Act, that will explore updates related to New York State's Climate Act. Panelists will discuss potential solutions that are relevant to our county and answer questions. The forum will be held Saturday, December 2, from 1 to 3 PM at the Columbia-Greene Community College Arts Center Theatre.

How to Help Neighbors in Need This Holiday Season

Christmas Friends

Shoppers are needed! This year approximately 200 children from families in Hillsdale and beyond will receive Christmas presents thanks to Christmas Friends, a group of volunteers who for 33 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 on December 16 to the Copake Park Building for distribution.

How to Help: To volunteer as a shopper contact Donna Platt at 518 929-0253. Also contact her if you would like to shop but need the funds to buy the gifts. Donna has taken over for the late Charlotte Shutts, founder of Christmas Friends.

Community Christmas Baskets

About 140 families are expected to be recipients on December 16 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 16 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.

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. Donations may also be made via the town web site. Link below and click on Blessing Box.

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

GIve to Blessing Box

Roe Jan Food Pantry

The Roe Jan Food Pantry helps vulnerable families put food on their tables. Currently, food is being provided to about 22 -27 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. Need increases at the end of the year when families have to deal with the cost of fuel for heat.

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 Jackie Dextraze at 518 965-5770. They will also help in emergencies. 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.


The Knit Club of Columbia County's Baked Goods & Soup Sale will benefit the Roe Jan Food Pantry, Community Christmas Baskets, and the Taconic Hills Backpack Program. The sale will be at the Copake Park Building, 305 Mountain View Road in Copake, on Saturday December 2, from 10 AM to 3 PM. Lunch will be available to eat in or take out. Handmade items will also be available.

Safe at Home Committee News

Special Holiday Coffee Hour,

Meals on Wheels Volunteer Needed in Hillsdale

This month the Safe at Home Committee’s Coffee Hour will be a special holiday event, hosted by Kelly Sweet, at the Mount Washington House, on Wednesday, December 13 from 10 to 11:30 AM. Singer Christina Dellea will perform, and coffee, pastries, gifts, and good cheer will help all celebrate the holiday season.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED - On behalf of the Office of the Aging’s Meals on Wheels Program, the SAH Committee is seeking a volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels in Hillsdale. Requirements are: service one day a week, at about noon, and a smile when you deliver meals to four to seven Hillsdale residents. If interested and available, please call 518 872-7134 and ask for Amy or Lisa.

Due to cold weather, the SAH Wednesday Walks on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail are on hiatus till the weather improves in the spring, though a number of people continue to walk independently.

The committee’s Senior Chore Day, rescheduled to October 28 due to rain, served seven senior households, thanks to ten volunteers plus committee members. Chores included leaf raking, outside window washing, garden clean-up, and outdoor furniture storage. Many of the seniors served live alone and are frail. All expressed appreciation for the help they received.

Over 450 copies of the SAH 2023 Home Repair and Maintenance Resource Guide were mailed to Hillsdale seniors, a number of whom responded and expressed their thanks. The Guide identifies seasonal home maintenance chores and lists local providers that perform home maintenance services and repairs, along with several government agencies that assist seniors. 

At the November Town Board Meeting, Committee Chair Joyce Lapenn delivered a statement on behalf of the SAH Committee to honor Town Supervisor Chris Kersten for his longstanding support of the SAH Committee.

Farmers Market Tallies Up Season

The Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market, operated by the non-profit CHFM Inc., is pleased to close out another very successful season. “The Roe Jan Park continues to be an ideal setting for the market,” says board member Laura Griffin, “as guests frequently comment on the pleasure of ‘making a day of it’ with their families on the walking trails and playground and along the stream after their shopping.”

  • Over 20,000 visited over the 27 weeks of the season;
  • 35 sponsors, including foundations, businesses and individuals, donated, allowing for the purchase of tables and equipment, expanded advertising on radio and in print, and signage on site;
  • 24 local musicians performed and a Shakespeare troupe acted out a play;
  • Over 50 vendors and over 20 artisans and artists offered their wares;
  • 10 community guests attended, including NY State of Health, Hillsdale's Safe at Home Committee, Habitat for Humanity, and Roe Jan Ramble;
  • SNAP (food stamp) usage increased from last year, and a donation from sponsor Berkshire Agricultural Adventures allowed for $900 in vouchers to be given to the Roe Jan Food Pantry for use at the market.

Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market will resume in late May 2024. Vendor applications will be available online in mid-January.


Library Friends Annual Cookies, Books, Etc. Sale

The annual Cookies, Books, Soups, & Tag Sale held by the Friends of the Roe Jan Community Library will be held in the Community Room of the library from 11 AM to 3 PM on Friday, December 8 and Saturday, December 9. Home-baked cookies and homemade soups will be available for purchase as will small holiday gifts such as tabletop books, candles, jewelry, children’s books, picture frames, puzzles, and other homewares. All food can be eaten in or taken out. The Bookshop under the library will be open the same hours. Tickets for a 50-50 Raffle are available to purchase in the Bookshop on Saturdays through December 9 and at the Sale. Winners will be announced on Saturday, December 9.

Cash is the preferred payment for all purchases. All proceeds from the sale benefit programming and additional needs of the library. The library is at 9091 Route 22. The Friends Bookshop will be open every Saturday through December 23. Normal Saturday hours are 10 AM to 2 PM.

Holiday Talk and Open House at Historical Society

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of A Visit from St, Nicholas (better known as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas), Pamela McColl, author of Twas the Night: The Art and History of the Classic Christmas Poem, will give an illustrated presentation at the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society Museum on Wednesday December 6 at 5:30 PM. Refreshments will be served.

The society will hold a Holiday Open House on Sunday, December 3, from 12 to 4 PM as part of the Copake Falls Winter Walk. The museum will offer a vintage holiday exhibit, baked goods and beverages, wreaths, books, a raffle, and holiday music, plus Santa Claus will be there.

The museum is at 8 Miles Road in Copake Falls.

Christmas Marionette Show at Library

Christmas Carol: a Marionette Performance by the Puppet People will be at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library on Saturday, December 2 at 3 PM. In this performance of Charles Dickens’s classic tale A Christmas Carol, children of all ages will enjoy watching as Scrooge discovers Christmas is not a humbug. This puppet spectacular features handcrafted marionettes, shadow puppets, gorgeous masks, lavish costumes, vivid sets, a professional soundtrack that includes many holiday favorites, and a giant 9-foot parade puppet.

This is a free event. The library is at 9091 Route 22.

Farrells Perform Benefit Holiday Concert at Art School

John and Ann Marie Farrell will present a joyful music program celebrating this Season of Light and Hope at the Art School of Columbia County on Saturday, December 16 at 1 PM. This concert, for families and people of all ages, includes original and familiar songs and audience participation. The concert is a fundraiser for the school. Click below to purchase tickets. The school is at 1198 Route 21 C in the Harlemville area of Hillsdale.

Concert Tickets

User or Not, the Library Wants Your Input

Whether you are a power user of the Roeliff Jansen Community Library, or never use it, the library wants your input and opinions. The library is distributing a survey designed to gather information that will be used to guide decisions on library collections, programs, services, hours, communication, and more. You can complete the survey online (link below) or pick up a hard copy at the library, the Friends Book Shop or at the Hillsdale, Copake, or Ancram Town Halls.

Roe Jan Library Survey

Adult programs at the Roe Jan Community Library in December include:

  • On Display at the Library: Paintings by Camilla Mathlein
  • Roe Jan Writers Series: Maureen McNeil will read from and discuss her latest book, Anna Magdalena
  • Holiday Table Arrangement Workshop
  • Qigong & Tai Chi every Thursday
  • Octagon Club: conversation and camaraderie for those 80+
  • Tea Time at the Library: Broadway actor Anna Nanette Hudson will read Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory and perform a modern dance
  • Book Marks Book Club: reading The Art Thief by Michael Finkel
  • Cookbook Club: Cook and bring a festive dishes for the holidays--Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwaanza
  • Free English-language tutoring 6 - 7:30 PM on Thursdays, by appointment; this tutoring program is intended primarily for adults
  • Job search and resume help

Programs for Kids: all young patrons and parents who visit the library during the holiday season are invited to take a free winter-themed children's book to keep. All books have been selected by Children's Library Associate, Tia. Stop in soon before the collection runs out.

Also: Build Your Own Birdfeeder, A Christmas Carol: Marionette Performance, Lego Thursdays, Playtime with Tia on Wednesdays, Homeschool Wednesdays , and Storytime with Tia on Saturdays

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

Upcoming Town Meetings

The Planning Board will meet at Town Hall on Monday, December 11 at 7 PM. The agenda will be available a few days before the meeting on the Agenda & Minutes page of the town website. A PDF will be in the Agenda column next to the date 2023-12-11.

Agendas & Minutes

Conservation Advisory Council

Time: Thursday December 7, 7 PM

Town Hall (there will not be a CAC meeting on the 4th Tuesday)

Safe at Home Committee

Time: Friday, December 15, 3 PM

Cook & Larder, in the Hillsdale General Store Building, on Rt. 23

Economic Development Committee

Time: Wednesday, December 20, 11 AM


Passcode: 534228

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  868 1264 3354

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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley

[email protected]

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