News from Town Hall

At last, we seem to be turning a corner in our struggle with COVID-19. With 28,569 or 47.7% having received their first dose and 20,984 their second, there has been a 43% decrease in the number of cases in Columbia County. While we celebrate this moment, we also remember the lives lost and the altered circumstances we have all endured. If you are 16 years of age and older, please “get the shot” and continue to practice the precautions that have led us to this dramatic decrease. The pandemic is in retreat. We will beat this scourge together and look forward to a gradual re-opening of our society.

In County news, next steps are underway to implement the Police Reform Plan recently adopted by the Board of Supervisors to address social justice issues, and some of us are considering ways to achieve a more open, transparent and accountable county government. The County budget is stable at this point, thanks to prudent planning during the course of the pandemic.

Here in our backyard, we are continuing to move forward in scoping out the range of infrastructure projects identified in last month’s Newsletter in preparation for grant submissions. This is a unique and exciting time to seek grant support and we want to be in a competitive position to seek grants for projects that will materially improve our town.

Other signs of our re-emergence are the Hamlet Committee’s plan for a “Jams in the Park” concert series, a flea market and an antique car show – all taking place in Hamlet Park this summer. All of these events will be governed by Board of Health protocols, as are plans for the Roe Jan Park’s Summer Youth Program. Special thanks to those of you who responded to our request for scholarship assistance for camp attendees. We are most grateful to you.

Representative Delgado observed at a recent meeting that “we are attending to the garden of democracy “ and, together with the Town Board, we thank you for your vitality and thoughtful participation in making our community a better place to live and work.

Be well, stay safe, and be in touch.

Chris Kersten
Town Supervisor
Join the May Town Board Meeting on Zoom
Topic: Town of Hillsdale May Town Board Meeting
Time: Tuesday May 13, 7:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 897 6125 6359

See the last item in this newsletter for Zoom links to other May board and committee meetings.
COVID Update
Columbia County's COVID infection rate remains low. The recent infection numbers mean the county’s infection rate remains under two percent. With seven new positive cases of COVID-19 as of midday Friday, Columbia County had 30 active cases. Of these, three individuals were hospitalized, and one was in the ICU. Since the start of the pandemic Columbia County has had 4,083 cases and 93 deaths.

Director Jack Mabb of the County Department of Health said that since the larger PODs (point of distribution clinics) the department has been conducting since a COVID-19 vaccine became available are no longer filling up, the DOH plans to introduce smaller, pop-up vaccination PODs around the county. Information on upcoming vaccination PODs is continually being updated on the county DOH website.

The Columbia County Department of Health will begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to county high school students next Monday and Tuesday. Of 950 high school students in the county, 150 are currently signed up for next week’s
Clean-Up Day Returns
Saturday May 15 from 8 AM to Noon at the Town Highway Garage on Old Town Road you can rid of all that excess, broken, not working stuff that you have been accumulating for the last two years, as long as you can lift it. Town Clean-Up Day is back. Due to COVID, you will have to transfer anything you bring from your car into a loader bucket. Highway department staff will then dump the loads into trucks for disposal. Highway department staff cannot handle the items you bring. No chemicals, TVs or tires will be accepted. There will be a charge of $20 each for mattresses.
Enjoy Free Monthly Concerts
 in Hamlet Park This Summer
A free monthly concert series will be held in Hillsdale’s Hamlet Park starting May 15, offering music ranging from jazz and classical to bluegrass, folk and a special show for children.

The series, sponsored by the Hillsdale Hamlet Committee, will feature professional musicians and will be capped off by a community talent event at the town’s annual Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 9.

First up on May 15 is the Sleepy Hollow String Band, which plays a mix of bluegrass, retro country and rockabilly as well as original songs. The band members, Mike Burns (guitar/vocals), Connie McCardle (guitar/vocals), Ethan Kende (bass), Dick Neal (banjo), and Mike Sassano (mandolin), are talented, seasoned musicians with an emphasis on great harmony singing.

The rest of the concerts in the series are:
June 19: Classical with Hudson Festival Players
July 17: Jazz with the Hudson Valley Jazz Quartet
August 21: Singer/songwriters Kerri Powers and Lisa and Lori Brigantino
September 18: Children’s performer and Grammy nominee Brady Rymer and Claudia Mussen
October 9: Community Talent Night at Hillsdale’s annual Pumpkin Festival

Concerts will run from 5 PM to 7 PM, with the park opening for concert guests at 4 PM. Admission is free, but donations toward the cost of the concert series are encouraged. While some seating will be available, attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. 

Refreshments available for purchase will be provided by Hillsdale’s Roe Jan Brewery, Little Apple Cidery, Mama Lo’s BBQ and Bacon’s Pizza. Local non-profit, community-driven organizations will be on site providing information on their activities.

The Hillsdale Hamlet Committee decided to bring music to the park this year to allow the community to come together safely and in compliance with New York State's Covid-19 requirements. The committee has embarked on a program to revamp the Hamlet Park based on a professional master plan recently approved by the Hillsdale Town Board. 

Local business sponsors of the concerts include Taconic Ridge Farm, Hawthorne Valley Farm Store, Random Harvest Market, Berkshire Property Agents, Sylvan Motor Lodge, Encore Audio, Copake Auction and Rock Paper Pixel, with more to be announced. Funds for the event are also being raised through the sale of “Jams in the Hamlet” merchandise.

“Jams in the Hamlet” is being produced by Hamlet Committee members and full-time Hillsdale residents Garrin Benfield and Jason Durant.
New Broadband Funding on the Horizon
One thing that Covid-19 has taught us is that broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. While the NYS Broadband Program from 2016-2018 covered hundreds of addresses in Hillsdale, approximately 190 homes and businesses remain stuck with inadequate internet speeds for their homeschooling, small businesses or jobs.

Luckily, there is hope on the horizon and Hillsdale’s Broadband Committee is paying attention. Funding is now becoming available from the CARES Act passed last year and future infrastructure funding should also include money for broadband.

The committee is working with the town’s grant writer to lay the groundwork and apply for grants starting immediately. First up is ascertaining the true need and developing the grant language to define that need. “We are hopeful that by this time next year there will be some movement on this,” says committee chair Andrew Dash, “and we are arguing for “look-back” funds for those that have already taken upon themselves to pay out-of-pocket for a service that many are now enjoying free due to state and federal projects.”

For additional information or assistance contact Dash at [email protected].
Join Zoom Meeting to Learn About and Discuss Hillsdale Natural Resource Inventory
On Tuesday, May 25 at 7 PM, the Hillsdale Conservation Advisory Council will host a virtual open meeting on Zoom to formally present the Hillsdale Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) to all residents and friends of the Town.

Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 848 4176 1382

The CAC and its consultants completed the NRI last year to provide Town residents and Town officials with information about the land and waters of the Town and their value to the people of Hillsdale. 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, dragon- and damselflies, butterflies, breeding birds, and scenic views of Hillsdale, and provides recommendations for ways to maintain and protect resources of conservation concern.

The meeting will introduce participants to these aspects of the NRI and how it can inform decisions about the uses of land and waters by residents, landowners, and town officials. It should be of interest to anyone who values or is curious about the fields and forests, waters and wetlands of Hillsdale.

The NRI is posted on the town website and is available for reading at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library. Major funding for the NRI project was provided by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through a grant to the Town from the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Bloody Bucket??!!
One of the things that makes the Hillsdale Historians' blog posts so interesting is the descriptions of how they track down information and the sleuthing they do to date pictures. To learn about the Globe Hotel, for many years located by the Hillsdale train station, they studied up on pin ball machines, examined liquor licenses and researched beer ads. And of course, they consulted with long time residents. Read their post to find out what they learned from all this detective work, including the hotel's nickname.
2021 Tentative Assessment Roll Available,
Grievances to be Heard May 27
Hillsdale’s 2021 Tentative Assessment Roll is complete, and a copy is available at the Town Clerk’s Office. It will be available online later this month.

The Assessor will be available with the Tentative Assessment Roll for telephone appointments only on May 13, 15, & 21, 9 AM - 1 PM and May 20, 4 – 8 PM. Call the office at 518 325-5073 ext 14 or email [email protected] to schedule an appointment.

The Board of Assessment Review for Hillsdale will meet to hear and examine all properly filed complaints in relation to assessments of Real Property on Thursday May 27, from 4 - 8 PM. Appointments must be made ahead of time and will be held on Zoom. Contact the Assessor’s Office at 518 325-5073 ext 14 or email [email protected] prior to May 27 to schedule an appointment.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, property owners needing to grieve their 2021 tentative assessment are strongly encouraged to submit their grievance application and supporting documentation to the Town Assessor before May 27 either by mailing to Town of Hillsdale, POB 305, Hillsdale, NY 12529 or emailing [email protected].
Of Note.....
Hillsdale's Summer Youth Program in Roe Jan Park still has openings for this summer. The camp will operate from July 12 through August 20, Mondays through Fridays from 9 AM to 3 PM. Students ages five to 13 can attend.
Trucks, motorcycles, muscle cars, street rods, customs, and rat rods from 1990 and earlier will be on display at the Hillsdale Car Show on Saturday June 12 from 9 AM to 4 PM in the Hamlet Park. Sponsored by the Hamlet Committee, the event is free for spectators, including children. COVID protocol will be followed.
Trophies will include a “people’s choice” award. The event will include food, vendors, and music as well as a 50/50 raffle to benefit the Hamlet Park renovation. The registration fee for displaying vehicles is $10 each. Contact Gaye Hoffman at 518 938-1404 for information on participating.
Dog owners using the Roe Jan Park are reminded that other than when in the dog run, all dogs must be on leash and controlled by the person walking them. Park rules require picking up after your dog. Waste may be deposited in the poop stations by the dog run and the main parking lot.

The Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market will be opening in three weeks, on May 22. New vendors include Roe Jan Brewing, Crumble + Melt Delivered for cookies and chocolates, and TNT Bitters. Common Hands Farm is adding dressings and pickled vegetables and Tivoli Mushrooms will bring local fruit. Graylight Farm will have hot coffee and grilled sandwiches and Cheval Farmstead Dairy & Provisions will have a breakfast and lunch menu.
The Hillsdale Fire Company will be holding one of their famous chicken barbecues on Saturday May 22 from 4 to 6 PM. For $15 you get a half a chicken, baked beans, baked potato, coleslaw, roll and a watermelon slice. This event is pre-sale only: dinners must be ordered by May 18.
A Repair Café for Hillsdale?
The Hillsdale Conservation Advisory Council is exploring the idea of holding a “repair café” for Hillsdale and neighboring towns, and is seeking a volunteer who would like to recruit the experts that can make it a success.

A “repair café” or “fix it clinic” is an event where people can bring in their household electrical and mechanical devices, computers, lawnmowers, bicycles, crockery, toys, clothing, and other items, and get them fixed at no cost with the help of skilled volunteers—your friends and neighbors. The objectives are to increase the durability of goods, reduce waste, and improve repair skills, but it is also a fun community event that brings people together.

The Council is looking for someone to recruit a team of skilled handypersons covering an array of specialties—electronics, mechanics, sewing, etc. The initial hope is to hold a one-time “café,” probably in the Hamlet Park or the Roe Jan Park, but if it goes well it might become a regular event that happens several times each year. Each event is likely to have a somewhat different group of fixers, depending on who is available to contribute their time and knowledge.

If you would like to take on the task of finding the specialists (the “fixers”) and organizing the event (with the help of the Conservation Advisory Council), please contact Paul Duernberger at [email protected] . Also contact Paul if you would like to be a fixer at the event but do not want to be an organizer.
Town Court Update
Hillsdale court will continue to meet by pre-arranged appointments only. Pre-arranged civil cases will be heard on the first Wednesday of every month, beginning May 5 at 6 PM. Criminal and traffic cases will meet the third Wednesday of every month. The next court date is May 19, starting at 4 PM. 
Please call the court at 518 325-5073 ext. 4 and leave your last name and phone number on the answering machine to request an appointment.
Library Conducting Survey of Users and Non-users
The Roeliff Jansen Community Library wants to better serve the community and so is asking people to help by completing a survey. The survey is for both those who use the library and those who do not. Information gathered will be used to guide the library's decisions on collections, programs, services, hours, communication, and more. The survey can be completed online or you can pick up a paper copy at the library. It takes about five minutes to complete.
Zoom Links for Other May Meetings
Topic: Hamlet Committee Meeting
Time: Saturday May 8, 9:30 AM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 864 9970 7711
Topic: Planning Board Meeting
Time: Monday, May 10, 7:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 886 0314 1517

Topic: Safe at Home Committee Meeting
Time: Tuesday May 18, 10 AM 
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 854 1834 3731
Topic: Conservation Advisory Council Meeting
Time: Thursday, May 27, 7:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:844 5538 9945
Have you seen the Hillsdale Business Directory? From plumbers to galleries, restaurants to inns, businesses have a lot to offer in Hillsdale. 

If you have a business located in Hillsdale you can add or edit your listing online.
Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley