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News from Town Hall

Dear Hillsdale,

January has been a busy month and inaugurates a year of renewal and change.

In our Town, the Board moved forward with priority repairs to our Town Hall, having approved a resolution to allocate up to $300,000 for much needed repairs to our historic building, including roof and gutter repairs, mold mitigation, installing fire and carbon monoxide alarms and a generator among other items. At a special public workshop on January 26, the Board also voted to engage CPL, our Town’s engineering firm, to work with us on design, project bidding, and construction administration. Planning will begin immediately.

I’m also pleased to report that the Town will receive $140,873.14 in fourth-quarter sales tax receipts. While this is wonderful news, the County Treasurer has advised that we should not count on receipts at this level in the year ahead.

On the grants front, we were able to successfully submit a BridgeNY proposal for the replacement of the West End Road bridge by the January 20 deadline. Next up will be a Streetscape proposal when the pertinent grant program is announced. And at this writing, we have not yet heard the outcome of our GIGP grant request for Hamlet Park improvements.

We are in the midst of finalizing our plans to address the sewer debt issue in the Hamlet and hope to make a recommendation to the Board at the February meeting. The system continues to operate efficiently at one-third capacity, and I’m pleased to report that the Sewer District posted a modest surplus in 2022 for the second year in a row. On a sad note, our highly valued Sewer Operator Mike Scheller has needed to step away from his responsibilities to deal with longer term health issues. In the meantime, the system is in good hands with Victor Amendola and licensed operator Cliff Albright while we search for a successor. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike and his family.

Our Town and Roe Jan area affordable housing committees are continuing to explore interesting options to give relief to this urgent need. A newly appointed County Affordable Housing Committee met for the first time on January 25, at which time Chris Brown, newly appointed as County Housing Coordinator, was introduced. Chris will be a valuable resource for the work of our two local committees.

In other news, Kathi Doolan, our Town Clerk, has declared her intention to retire after seven years of dedicated service to the Town. We are most grateful to Kathi’s welcome presence at Town Hall, for her grace, collegiality and thoughtful approach to her myriad responsibilities on behalf of all Hillsdalians. Job well done Kathi! We are indeed fortunate that Elizabeth Sheer, who has served as Kathi’s deputy over the past several years, has, with the Board’s approval, agreed to step in as Interim Town Clerk through December 31, with Kathi continuing to serve on a one day a week basis to ensure office coverage and a smooth transition.

We have now received and installed videoconferencing equipment at Town Hall and are in the process of learning how to operate the new system in time for the February Board meeting.

At the County level, the food scrap composting program is moving forward. The digester has arrived at the Greenport station and is being installed. Staff will be trained over the next month on the operation of the equipment. The program is slated to be advertised, along with protocols for the material to be accepted.

Subject to a final vote by the Board of Supervisors, the County intends to enter into a contract with Fitch and Associates to undertake a study of the volunteer fire departments in the County regarding recruitment and retention initiatives, as well as an overview of fire services and suggestions on how to provide viable services in the future. The particular challenge of fire departments across the County is the struggle between a decrease in active members and an increase in calls for service.

Finally, as many of you are aware, and at 74 years of age, I have decided not to seek reelection as Town Supervisor in this year’s November election in order to focus on my work with other worthy organizations, namely Columbia Greene Community College and Columbia County Habitat for Humanity, some long delayed travel, and the pleasures of enjoying more time with my growing family. Serving as Supervisor has been and continues to be a rewarding challenge, and I look forward to my full engagement in this position through December 31.

I raise these plans now because this is the time for a new generation of leaders to come forward to serve our Town in a range of important local positions. Up for election this year areing Town Supervisor, Town Board (2), Town Justice (2), Town Clerk, Highway Superintendent and Tax Collector. Incumbents will be running again for some of these positions, but the slate is wide open for others. Local government can only be as effective as those who step up to serve in leadership capacities, so please consider your involvement in this important work. Those interested in serving should contact the County Board of Elections and your respective political parties.

Chris Kersten

Town Supervisor


February Town Board Meeting

The February Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, February 14. The meeting will be held in person at Town Hall at 7 PM. If the new videoconferencing equipment is operational in time, the meeting will also be available on Zoom. In that case, the link will be posted on the town website.

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

Due to changes in reporting by New York State, Columbia County is no longer able to report daily COVID case numbers. Only hospitalizations and deaths are being reported. This information is reported at the beginning of each week on the Columbia County Department of Health Facebook page. (Link below)

The Columbia County Department of Health is offering Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters at their Thursday afternoon vaccine clinics. For information go to the DOH Facebook page.

According to the DOH, new cases of flu are on the decline and levels are now typical of this time of year. The county has administered more flu shots this year than in each of the last three.

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 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 DOH Facebook Page

Town Clerk Kathi Doolan to Retire,

Elizabeth Sheer to Be Interim

Town Clerk Kathi Doolan, who has served in the position for seven years, has informed the Town Board that she intends to retire in early March because she is moving out of the town of Hillsdale. Because the Town Clerk is an elected position, the Clerk must live in the town of Hillsdale. Doolan’s four-year term ends at the end of this year.

To ensure the clerk’s responsibilities are fulfilled, the board had decided to appoint Deputy Town Clerk Elizabeth Sheer (right) as Interim Town Clerk through the end of the year. It is anticipated that Sheer will work on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and some Thursdays, and Doolan will assist on Wednesdays. Their days and hours will be posted on the Town Clerk page of the town website.

Whether issuing licenses, performing duties mandated by law or serving as a source of information, the Town Clerk serves as a direct link between the residents and local government. The clerk’s responsibilities include:

  • Registrar of Vital Statistics – maintains a permanent record of all births and deaths which occur in the town as well as marriage licenses purchased in the town regardless of where the actual marriage occurs. Since Hillsdale’s records date back to 1881, the clerks are able to assist with genealogic research.
  • Records Management Officer – custodian of all records: ordinances and local laws, Town Board resolutions, oaths of office, proofs of publication and posting, budgets, assessment rolls, fiscal reports, and vital statistics. FOIL requests go through the Town Clerk.
  • Recording Secretary – creates and maintains a permanent record of all Town Board meetings and public hearings.
  • Licensing Officer – the Town Clerk issues marriage licenses, dog licenses, and parking permits for people with disabilities.
  • Payroll – the Town Clerk is responsible for managing the Payroll.

A new Town Clerk will be elected on Election Day this November. This is a salaried position.

Fire Company Responds to

Many More False Alarms Than Fires

The Hillsdale Fire Company reports responding to 102 incidents in 2022, a typical number for a year. On average, response time was less than ten minutes, five members responded, three apparatus were deployed, and the incident duration was 49 minutes. Of the incidents, just five were building fires and three were brush or rubbish fires. Over 40% of the incidents were false alarms, when fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide detectors activated when there was no fire or carbon monoxide. According to the Fire Company many of the false alarms occur when an alarm system is being worked on or construction work is being done in the house so they remind homeowners to ask their alarm company to temporarily report alarms to the fire company when such work is being done.

In addition to fires, the Fire Company responded to motor vehicle accidents, assisted EMS, stood by for other fire companies or helicopter landings, and responded to downed power lines.

When Dinosaurs Last Roamed Columbia County

No, the Hillsdale Historians haven't researched prehistoric times; they only had to go back to the early sixties to find dinosaurs right here in Columbia County! If you were a kid here then, you probably remember them. These life-size creatures were created in Churchtown by sculptor Paul Jonas, a Hillsdale-resident, and his father, for the Sinclair display at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. In their blog this month, the Historians tell the story of the building of the dinosaurs and how they got to the fair as well as the fascinating background of the Jonas family.

Hillsdale Historians Blog

Town Website Gets a Facelift

Hillsdale’s official town website has received a minor facelift. Deputy Town Clerk Elizabeth Sheer and long-time volunteer Tod Wohlfarth worked with Town Web, the service provider for the town, to update the navigation, layout, and functionality of the website.

Here’s what’s new --

  • Cleaner navigation: Navigation has been organized into categories for ease of use.
  • How Do I? section: Based on a suggestion by Sheer, search as been improved so that finding answers to the most common queries, such as those regarding licenses, taxes, permits and the like, will be much easier.
  • News & Events: Previously the news and events sections on the homepage were similarly designed. Town Web recommended giving them distinct layouts to differentiate their uses.
  • Social Media: Previously the website automatically posted to Facebook any new notice, agenda, or minutes update. Town Web is still working on smoothing out this process with the goal of making sure that residents who “like" the town’s Facebook page will, in the near future, see accurate links.

As part of the town’s three-year contract with Town Web, the website gets an update every three years. Hillsdale’s website is based on a custom design, rather than one of Town Web’s available themes. The decision was made to stick with the custom design and improve it.

All updates undertaken were based on a resident survey, analysis of website traffic, and feedback given to the town clerks. If you see a bug or have a feature request, please email deputyhillsdaletc@fairpoint.net.

Safe at Home Hosts Speaker on "February Blues"

At the Tuesday, February 28 Safe at Home Coffee Hour, Claudia Coenen, a Hudson local and experienced counselor, will talk about the "February Blues”. The Coffee Hour will be at Hillsdale House from 10 to 11:30 AM. Given that Hillsdale winters can feel long and challenging in a variety of ways, Coenen will discuss why people feel blue during the shorter and darker days of the winter months when people are inside their homes more and many fear falling on the ice.  Seniors are invited to the Coffee Hour for coffee and donuts and to share thoughts with friends and neighbors. For further information please contact Natalie at 518 265-2113. Coffee hours are held on the last Tuesday of every month.

Of Note.....

2023 property tax payments were due by January 31. If taxes are paid on/after February 1 a penalty applies and it must be included with the payment;

Paid in February: 1% penalty

Paid in March: 2% penalty

Paid in April 3% penalty plus $2 Second Notice Fee

Paid in May: 4% penalty plus $2 Second Notice Fee

Payments received without the required penalty will be returned to the sender.

Property Tax Bills


As reported in the January newsletter, 2022 was a record year for marriage licenses issued in Hillsdale. Thanks to a last minute application, the total for the year was actually 23!


As Hillsdale Supervisor, Chris Kersten is a member of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. At the county level this year he is serving on the Public Works, Finance, and Economic Development Committees as well as sub-committees on Education and Broadband.


At the January board meeting, Matt White, of the Economic Development Committee reported that good progress is being made on the wayfinding mural that will be placed on the back wall of the Hillsdale Supermarket, facing Anthony Street. The mural is being designed and painted by local artist Jane Buck. It is expected that it will be installed in the spring.


The Columbia County Department of Health’s 2023 schedule of free rabies clinics starts at the Ancram Highway Garage on Saturday March 4. From 10 to 11 AM cats and ferrets can be vaccinated. From 11 AM to Noon dogs will be vaccinated. All animals must be at least three months old. Dogs must be on a leash and cats and ferrets in carriers. The Highway Garage is at 32 Maple Lane in Ancramdale.

Littering on the Increase,

 Town Law Allows Fines & Imprisonment

At the January Town Board meeting Highway Superintendent Richard Briggs reported that the Highway Department is receiving an increasing number of complaints about trash on town roads, particularly on Mitchell Street on Mondays. Although the department will pick some up it is not responsible for doing so. It was noted that residents of some roads regularly remove litter.

Hillsdale does have laws prohibiting littering. Any person found violating this law can be ticketed and will have to appear in criminal court. If found guilty, they may be fined up to $250, imprisoned for up to 15 days, or both, and/or have to perform community service. In addition, if the littering is in a public place or on property owned by the Town the violator could be responsible for the costs of removal of the litter or refuse and the restoration of the public place or land to its condition before the litter or refuse was disposed of at the site.

The Town Building Inspector can enforce the law as can members of any police department including the New York State Police, the New York State Environmental Police, and the Columbia County Sheriff's Department.

Emerald Ash Borer is Killing Hillsdale Trees

According to Hillsdale’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC), the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is now widespread in Hillsdale and seems to be on its way to killing most of the ash trees in the town. The larva of the EAB, a small green beetle, feeds on and eventually kills all three of the ash tree species that are native to the Hudson Valley. An organization called Monitoring and Managing Ash (MaMA), link below, is searching for healthy ash trees that have so far survived the ash borer infestation and is recruiting landowners for help with finding these “lingering ash.” The hope is that preserving the resistant gene pool of the lingering ash, and a program of grafting and selective breeding, will eventually allow restoration of native ash trees to our forests, hedgerows, and yards. The MaMA website provides training and protocols for surveying ash on your own property, including how to recognize ashes, how to recognize an EAB infestation, and how to record observations that will be helpful to the program. The CAC encourages Hillsdale landowners to participate.

As yet, there are no suitable treatments for protecting ash trees in local forests. Cutting healthy ash trees is not recommended, but MaMA offers recommendations for deciding whether and when to cut infested ashes, and whether and how to treat individual ash trees that are still uninfested. (Photo by Jonathan Lelito, BASF Corporation)

Monitoring and Managing Ash


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

  • Hot Topics in Healthy Aging - Clearing Up Common Questions: Weight Management
  • Back to Nature: Birding 101
  • Tech Lab: Pam's Secret Tips and Tricks for iPhone
  • Book Marks Book Club: reading Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals
  • Genealogy Basics: Part Two
  • Cookbook Club: Cooking from Ottolenghi's Plenty
  • History Webinar: Anti-Slavery in Columbia County and the Region in the Years Prior to the Civil War
  • Tea Time at the Library: listen, discuss, and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, and sometimes a fun activity
  • Free English-language tutoring 6 - 7:30 PM on Thursdays, by appointment; this tutoring program is intended primarily for adults
  • Strength & Balance Class on Zoom

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

New this month: Teen Chess Club

For kids: 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.


The Friends of the Roe Jan Library Book Shop will not be open on the first Saturday in February as originally planned but will be open on Saturday, March 4 from 10 AM to 2 PM. The Book Shop is in need of all kinds of art, philosophy, history, nature, and fiction books. Donated books must be in excellent condition. Textbooks, CDs and DVDs are not accepted. To donate, email Celia Kahn at caskahn@gmail.com.

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

Upcoming Town Meetings

The Zoning Board will meet on Tuesday, February 7 at 7:30 PM to consider

an application by Jamie Carano for a Special Permit for a change of use; short term rental at 219 Taconic Creek Road.

The Planning Board will meet on Monday, February 13 at 7 PM (in person only) to consider:

  • An application by Nigel Shamash 2605 State Route 23 to build a multi-family residence,
  • An application by Tucker McNamee , Lockwood Road to build a residence in the ridge line overlay district'
  • An application by Sandra Dawson, County Route 21, to subdivide property.

Hamlet Committee

Time: Tuesday, February 7, 6 PM


Passcode: 290916

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 858 9978 4610

Economic Development Committee

Time: Wednesday, February 22, 11 AM


Passcode: 257504

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  851 1192 3848

Conservation Advisory Council

Time: Thursday, February 23, 7 PM


Passcode: 156997

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 872 8697 2017

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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley


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