News from Town Hall

Happy New Year!

With this note, we begin a new year of hope and promise that will continue to build on our many successes.

I hope that you will join us at the Town Board Organizational Meeting on Monday, January 4 at 6:00 pm via Zoom. One of the unique features of our meeting is to recognize the almost 100 members of our 12 hard working committees. It is these committees, some of whose impressive activities appear in the articles below, that give special meaning and pride to being a “Hillsdalian”. The care that our committees give to the welfare and safety of our citizens, protecting the beauty all around us, and our economic vitality, is truly exemplary.

It also gives us special pride to recognize Joyce Lapenn, Iona Lutey and Robina Ward who have been named among the 100 Women Making a Difference in Columbia County. Congratulations!

Finally, I’d like to join all of you in thanking Meg Wormley for taking on the editorship of this newsletter, carrying on the tradition begun by her mother Elinor Mettler, the founding editor of the Roe Jan Independent (predecessor to the Columbia Paper).

I’m looking forward to collaborating with all of you in the year ahead.

Chris Kersten
Town Supervisor
Join the January Organizational and
Town Board Meetings on Zoom
Topic: Town of Hillsdale 2021 Organizational Town Board Meeting
Time: Monday January 4, 6:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 814 1366 0050

Topic: Town of Hillsdale January Town Board Meeting
Time: Tuesday January 12, 7:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 880 9261 4018

See the last item in this newsletter for Zoom links to other January board and committee meetings.
COVID Update
COVID-19 cases in Columbia County continue to climb. As of 4 PM on December 31 there were 215 active cases in the county, with 392 people in mandatory quarantine according to the Columbia County Board of Health. Sixteen individuals were hospitalized. One person was in the ICU. Since the start of the pandemic the county has had 1,167 cases and 49 deaths.

The Columbia County Department of Health is planning for the eventual distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to county residents. In accordance with the State’s vaccine distribution plan, which is prioritized based on need and risk, the department will continue working to make the vaccine available in the coming weeks. Currently the date when the vaccine will be available to the general public is not known. Updates will be posted on the department's website.

New York has just entered Phase 1 of the distribution plan, which includes vaccinating the following high-risk populations: high-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff), nursing home residents, nursing home staff, followed by all long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS workers, other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners. Further information on the NYS Department of Health distribution plan can be found at their COVID Vaccine site.

The Columbia County Department of Health has scheduled its next COVID-19 drive-thru test screening clinic for Tuesday, January 5, from 9-11 AM at the Firefighter Training Center, 50 Grandinetti Drive, Commerce Park, Ghent.
Pre -registration is required using the county testing registration form.
Joyce Lapenn, Iona Lutey and Robina Ward Named Women Making a Difference in Columbia County
Hillsdale is known for the many volunteers involved in town committees, organizations, and efforts to helps others. It is no surprise that three residents were nominated when the Columbia County Women’s Alliance chose to acknowledge and celebrate 100 Women Making a Difference in Columbia County to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote at the federal level.
Joyce Lapenn was nominated for being a committed volunteer to the town of Hillsdale and Columbia County. Chair of the Fund for Columbia County, Trustee of the Roeliff Jansen Community Library, Chair of the Hillsdale Safe at Home Committee, and Board Member of the Columbia County Advisory Committee to the Office for the Aging.
Iona Lutey was nominated as the founder and first leader of the Columbia County Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby. She is currently CCL’s Northeast Region Coordinator where she is a fearless advocate for the environment.
Robina Ward's nomination recognizes her as a dedicated community volunteer for the past two decades and a member of the Hillsdale Town Board for the past five years.
 All of the 162 women nominated reside in Columbia County and, according to the Alliance, "all have impacted their community through their passion, their foresight, their bravery, and their determination to make life better for their families and neighbors."
Draft Plan for Hamlet Park to be Presented
at Public Zoom Meeting
A draft design of the Hamlet Park has been completed by Chazen Associates, the landscape design firm the town has hired for the project. The plan will be presented and discussed at a public meeting on Zoom on Wednesday, January 13 from 7 - 9 PM. Members of the public are invited to provide feedback at the Zoom meeting or before the meeting via email to

Input from the many people who completed the park survey and participated in the October public meeting helped shape the plan. The restoration of the Hamlet Park is a project of the town’s Hamlet Committee.

Join Zoom Meeting
Time: Wednesday, January 13, 7 - 9 PM
Dial in: 646 876-9923 Meeting ID: 815 4595 4534
Hey Hillsdale, We Have an Official Instagram Page!
There is a new way to get your daily fix of great photos of Hillsdale, and its beautiful landscape, wildlife and community –HeyHillsdaleNY, the new Instagram page for the town, managed by members of the Hillsdale Economic Development Committee. In December the Town Board approved HeyHillsdaleNY as the official Instagram page for the town.

The Development Committee conceived of @HeyHillsdaleNY as a way to promote Hillsdale as a visually stunning community and to build up an online presence that will encourage people to visit and experience all the town has to offer as a place to live and work. "Think of it as a daily postcard from Hillsdale to followers and town visitors,” says committee member Joanna Virello. “We will post five to ten images a week of public events, the hamlet, and Hillsdale area landscapes, including the Roe Jan Park , the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and Catamount.

If you have a photo you would like to share it can be sent to the administrators of the page using direct messaging on Instagram to @HeyHillsdaleNY or it can be shared by hashtagging #HeyHillsdaleNY on your own Instagram post. All shared images will be reviewed and approved by the admins and credit will be given to the original photographer when a photo is posted on the page.

Hillsdale’s local businesses may be shown in an image but no ads or promotions will be allowed.
Nine Hillsdale Natural Resource Maps On Display
One of the things that makes the Town of Hillsdale Natural Resource Inventory, so interesting is the many maps. Now, nine of the maps, have been blown up to 26” X 34” for display in Town Hall. Property boundary lines, which are not shown in the maps in the NRI, have been added to these maps, making it easier to identify where resources are and what is on or near your property. An anonymous donor provided the funds for Joel Kupperstein, (shown below) local master cabinet and furniture maker, to build a display case that can hold all nine maps. The NRI was prepared by Hillsdale's Conservation Advisory Council.

The maps displayed are: wetlands, surface water classes, flood zones, aquatic barriers and potential contaminant sources, large forests and flood plain forests, large meadows, agricultural resources, elevations and special biological resources.

Once Town Hall is again open all will be welcome to visit and study the maps.
Keeping Seniors Safe, Outside and In
According to the CDC, falls are a major health hazard for seniors and at this time of year falls outside and hypothermia are big risks. With that in mind, Hillsdale’s Safe at Home Committee is helping keep Hillsdale’s seniors safe by distributing free buckets of ice melting sand with a scoop, gloves and a booklet of information on how to stay warm when it’s cold. Buckets were distributed to seniors by committee members last Saturday at the Fire House. Any senior who did not get one then can call the committee’s Outreach Coordinator, Natalie Kahan, at 518 265-2133, and she will arrange delivery of the pail.

To help protect seniors in their homes, the committee has partnered with the Columbia County Department of Health Healthy Neighborhoods Program to distribute for free buckets containing a carbon monoxide detector, a fire extinguisher, and a smoke detector. Any senior interested in receiving this bucket should call Natalie to arrange delivery.
Hillsdale Holiday Shopping As it Used to Be
Logically, the Hillsdale Historians focused on Christmas in their December blog posts. They've researched how Christmas became Christmas, from Puritans declaring that celebrating Christmas was a crime to the Coca Cola ad that popularized our current image of Santa. And, they've checked out the how Hillsdale stores and emporiums advertised over the years to attract Christmas shoppers. In 1984 you could enter the Swiss Cheese Weight Guessing Contest at Pine Lane Country store. And in 1910 Santa himself arrived in Hillsdale, via airship, to visit Freeland Pulver's dry goods store.
Town Hall Closing Affects Tax Collection, Town Court
Due to COVID-19, Hillsdale Town Hall continues to be open to the public by appointment only. As a result appointments are needed to meet with the tax collector and Town Court is not being held.

Tax Office
Town property tax bills for 2021 are now available online and are in the mail. Anyone wishing to pay in person will need to make an appointment with tax collector Joe Hanselman, by calling 518 325-5537 or emailing Appointments are available in January on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 AM to noon. When you arrive for your appointment you will have to call again to answer questions relating to COVID exposure and to be let into the building. A mask is required when in Town Hall. “To keep everyone safe,” says Hanselman, “I recommend mailing payments to the PO box on the bill or dropping them in the mail slot in the front door of Town Hall.”

For more information about taxes, including FAQs, and to view and/or pay your bill online click the link below.

Town Court
If you have received a traffic ticket do not go to Town Hall on the scheduled date on that ticket. Instead, write your phone number on the ticket, identify your plea of guilty or not guilty, and if necessary correct your mailing address. Mail your ticket to Hillsdale Town Court, PO Box 305, Hillsdale, NY 12529. You will be notified by phone when court resumes.

Details re court being closed and any changes are updated regularly on the phone message at 518 325-5073 Ext 4. You can also leave a message with your phone number or email Private office appointments are available to discuss or pay suspensions. Call the above phone number to make an appointment.

A link to the Town Hall directory with scheduled hours and employee contact information is provided below. All town employees and visitors are required to wear a face covering. When you arrive at Town Hall, the doors will be locked. Please call the person you are scheduled to see to announce your arrival.
Zoom Links for Other January Meetings
Topic: Housing Committee Meeting
Time: Tuesday, January 5, 4:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 862 8237 27
Topic: Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting
Time: Tuesday, January 5, 7:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 832 8921 6275

Topic: Conservation Advisory Committee Meeting
Time: Thursday, January 7, 7:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 819 4900 8494

Topic: Planning Board Meeting
Time: Monday, January 11, 7:30 - 10:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 896 9623 8370
The Committee Keeping Seniors Safe at Home
Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley