News from Town Hall

Woohoo … only 19 days until the arrival of Spring! The days are getting longer, and we can feel the occasional glimmer of nature’s rebirth.

So too, we see hope in our struggle to conquer the pandemic that has so upended our lives. While we are still at high risk in Columbia County, the number of new cases has decreased significantly and over 8,000 county residents have been vaccinated. While we have a long way to go, the County is following New York State guidelines that call for a rapid expansion of distribution of the vaccine in the weeks and months ahead so that we may begin to return to a more normal life by mid to late summer. For those seniors, front line workers and those with comorbidities who have not yet been successful in making an appointment, the advice we were given is to be persistent. The New York State hotline. 833 829-7226, has been identified as being particularly responsive. By continuing to wear a mask, following social distancing and washing our hands, we are contributing to the steady decline in the number of cases. Thank you for doing your part.

One of the interesting outcomes of the need to conduct Town meetings via Zoom has been a significant increase in citizen participation, with over 30 persons tuning in to last month’s Town Board meeting. An involved citizenry is the hallmark of our democracy, and I hope this level of interest will continue as we initiate new projects and manage the business of the Town.

I wish you and your loved ones continuing good health as we begin our recovery, here, in our country and around the world.

Chris Kersten
Town Supervisor
Join the March Town Board Meeting on Zoom
Topic: Town of Hillsdale March Town Board Meeting
Time: Tuesday March 9, 7:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 859 8437 0092

See the last item in this newsletter for Zoom links to other March board and committee meetings.
COVID Update
With 12 new positive cases of COVID-19 as of midday Saturday, Columbia County was down to 92 active cases. Of these, 11 individuals were hospitalized, and two were in the ICU. Since the start of the pandemic Columbia County has had 3,541 cases and 86 deaths.

The Columbia County Department of Health regularly updates their site with information about vaccines. Use the link below and at the DOH site click in the pop up box to get "up-to-date information". As is noted on the site, under normal circumstances when vaccine supply is received as expected, new POD (point of distribution) appointment registration links will be posted each week on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. On rare occasions due to weather conditions, vaccine supply delays, time restraints or other circumstances beyond the department's control, a link may be posted on a different day or time.

COVID-19 testing is now available at the CMH Rapid Care Centers in both Copake and Valatie. No appointment is necessary and results are available in less than 48 hours. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone who is infected or your primary care physician requests a test, most insurance will cover the cost of the test.

Elective testing is also available at a cost of $99. Elective testing is not currently covered by insurance. Elective testing is for those who need or want a test to comply with travel regulations or event attendance requirements, as required by school or work, or when planning to visit family or friends.

Copake Rapid Care, at 283 Mountain View Road, is open 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Valatie Rapid Care, at 2827 Rt. 9, is open 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Want to Contribute To Hillsdale in a Creative Way?
Design a New Town Seal!
The Town of Hillsdale wants a new town seal, one that evokes the natural and/or historical identity of the town and that will stand the test of time, not soon looking dated.

Whether or not you are a professional designer, if you currently reside, work, attend a school, or belong to an arts association in Hillsdale, you are invited to contribute to the community in a creative way and submit an entry in the 2021 Town Seal Redesign Competition.

The winning design, which will be chosen by the Town Board at their May 11 meeting, will be used by the town in all online and print media. The winner will receive a gift certificate from the Hillsdale Economic Development Committee for use at the Roe Jan Brewing Co.

All entries must be submitted in a vector format, in color as well as black and white linework versions reproducible at 1.5”x 1.5” printed and digitally at 100 pixels x 100 pixels.

Email your design to Entries will be accepted starting today, (3/1). The deadline to email an entry will be Saturday, May 1, by 5:00 PM.
Board Approves Hamlet Park Plan
A draft design for the renovation of Hillsdale’s Hamlet Park was approved by the Town Board at their February meeting, setting the stage for a fundraising effort that will seek government and foundation grants as well as individual donations to pay for the renovation. No tax dollars will be used for the project.

The Town Board meeting featured a brief presentation by Chazen Associates, the landscape design firm hired by the town. Board members heard about the project’s goals and were shown a schematic view of the proposed revamping of the park, located southwest of the intersection of state Routes 22 and 23. 

Among the proposed new elements are an expanded playground for children, a pavilion for concerts and other events, a walking path, benches, picnic tables, new lighting, shade trees, an improved basketball court, a pickleball court and a connection to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, which currently terminates in Hillsdale. The plan leaves the Veteran's Memorial in its current location, as VFW leadership recently communicated to the Hillsdale Hamlet Committee that this was their preference over a prior version they approved which had been to move the memorial to an expanded location within the park.

The renovation, spearheaded by the Hamlet Committee, was based in part on suggestions and comments from hundreds of residents gathered through a survey and in public meetings in October and January. 

The plan aims to offer a place for residents of all ages to relax and exercise as well as to serve as a venue for community gatherings. In addition, the Hamlet Committee believes the revitalized park will support economic growth by bringing more people to the heart of Hillsdale to patronize its shops and restaurants. 

For more information please contact Hillsdale Hamlet Committee Chair Shannon May at
Expect Short Power Outages March 6 & 7
As part of a project to improve transmission of electric power, NYSEG will be making upgrades/changes to their Craryville substation. 

On March 6th and 7th, NYSEG will take brief planned outages to switch feeds that will impact the following communities: Austerlitz, Claverack, Copake Hillsdale, Taghkanic and Philmont. The outages will last less than 5 minutes between 6:00-6:30 AM on Saturday, March 6 and then again between 5:30-6:00 PM on March 7 as NYSEG returns to a normal feed configuration. This will allow the safe installment of new foundations and structures for new equipment.
Close to Home: Slavery in Columbia County
Spurred by Black History Month, the Hillsdale Historians have investigated the institution of slavery in the Hudson Valley and specifically in Hillsdale. Like most Americans, the historians had been inclined to think of slavery as largely a Southern institution but their research shows that though the numbers were small, slaves were owned in Hillsdale. Read this month's blog post by the Historians to learn some of the details of slavery locally, the laws that affected it, and details about some area Black residents in the 1800's.
Planning Board Seeks Alternate
The Hillsdale Town Board is accepting applications through March 31 for the position of Alternate member of the Planning Board for a seven year term. An Alternate member attends all meetings but only votes when needed to fulfill a quorum requirement.

The Planning Board meets monthly on the second Monday of the month at 7:30 pm, currently via Zoom, but in Town Hall once COVID restrictions are lifted. There is no compensation for this position.

The Planning Board is one of the components of town government responsible for ensuring that proposed development comports with the Town's Zoning and Land Use Control Laws. The Planning Board is specifically charged with reviewing land use (site plans) to ensure adherence to guidelines set out by the town and other authorities for life safety, environmental compliance, and maintaining the rural character of the town.

Interested applicants are invited to submit their resume to the Hillsdale Town Clerk, PO Box 305, Hillsdale, NY 12529, or by email to
Shredding Bins for Seniors at Town Hall
The popular K.I.S.S. (Keeping Identities of Seniors Safe) shredding program sponsored by the Columbia County Clerk’s Office will return to Hillsdale Town Hall March 15 through March 27. The program helps keep identities safe by assisting seniors in safely disposing of sensitive papers and documents such as credit card receipts, bank statements, tax records, etc. Papers to be shredded are placed in a secure container in Town Hall and will be destroyed by Certified Document Security LLC in North Chatham. This free service is available during Town Clerk and Deputy Clerk hours: Monday 10 AM to 5 PM, Tuesday - Thursday 10 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 5 PM and Friday 10 AM to 2 PM.
Town Court to Resume Hearing Cases
The Hillsdale Town Court will resume hearing cases April 21. Criminal cases will be heard first and a small number of traffic violation cases will be added to each court session. If you received a traffic ticket the court will contact you by mail and identify a specific date and time for you to come to the court. The court will be handling tickets from as long ago as last March.

When receive notification of a new court appearance date and time, promptly call the court at 518 325-5073 ext. 4 and leave a message with your phone number so the court can reach you if necessary.

If you have received a ticket recently do not appear at the Hillsdale Town Court on the date found on the lower section of your ticket. Instead, call 518 325-5073 ext. 4 and provide your phone number so a future appointment can be assigned. You will be called back and provided with the new date and time.
Pails & Buckets Still Available for Seniors
Free pails with sand for treating icy steps and walks and buckets from the county Health Department’s Healthy Neighborhood Program that include carbon monoxide detectors are still available from Hillsdale’s Safe at Home Committee. Any senior interested in receiving a free pail of sand and/or a bucket with carbon monoxide detector should contact Natalie at 518 265-2113 to arrange free delivery. The committee acknowledges and thanks Herrington’s for its assistance in this project, saying the committee could not have done this project without their support. The committee is committed to ensuring every senior in Hillsdale has as much information as possible to help them age safely at home.
Save-the-Date: Learn About the
Hillsdale Natural Resources Inventory
Are you interested in Hillsdale's natural history and environment? Hillsdale’s Conservation Advisory Council will hold a meeting on May 25 to present the features and uses of the Hillsdale Natural Resources Inventory (NRI). The meeting will review the maps, photographs and the many, many pages of information about Hillsdale and its land that make up the NRI. Details re time and place (dependent on COVID restrictions) to be announced in a future newsletter.
Library Lends Hot Spots, Offers Home Delivery
If your internet service is limited, or non-existent, the Roeliff Jansen Community Library can help. The library recently acquired four T-Mobile Hot Spots to lend to residents of Hillsdale, Copake and Ancram. As long as there is T-Mobile cellular service in your area, you can use one of these devices to wirelessly connect to the internet. A library card/account is required. Hot spots can be checked out for one week.

Those who are unable to visit the library due to physical or visual disability, a long-term illness, or caregiver responsibilities can sign up for home delivery of books, DVDs, CDs, magazines etc. Library materials are delivered every two weeks on Thursday afternoons by a library staff member or volunteer .
Zoom Links for Other March Meetings
Topic: Safe at Home Committee Meeting
Time: Monday, March 1, 12:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 850 3904 8934
Topic: Hamlet Committee Meeting
Time: Sunday, March 14, 9:30 AM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 811 0986 4885

Topic: Economic Development Committee Meeting
Time: Wednesday, March 24, 12:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 811 7401 2395

Topic: Conservation Advisory Council Meeting
Time: Thursday, March 25 , 7:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 868 8723 0312
Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley