News from Town Hall

As we continue to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia County is unable to reopen on May 15. As such, Hillsdale Town Hall and the Town Garage will remain closed to the public through May.

Regarding the latest Columbia County Department of Health's latest data, there have been no new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths. One more person has been hospitalized, eight more people have recovered from the virus, and test results for 35 more Columbia County residents have been received.

As of 3 pm on May 13, 2020, here's the status of COVID-19 in Columbia County:

  • 24 Columbia County residents have passed away from COVID-19.
  • There are 328 positive identified cases in Columbia County.
  • 144 of the 328 cases have recovered.
  • 8 of the positive cases are hospitalized, and none of those hospitalized are in the ICU.
  • We have received 2,556 test results completed for Columbia County residents.
  • 159 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 7 under precautionary quarantine

Please check out the link below for services that are available to us during this challenging time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at anytime.

Peter Cipkowski
Hillsdale Town Supervisor
518-325-5073 x6 (Town Hall)
646-373-5002 (cell)
At the beginning of the day Wednesday, May 13, the Capital Region, of which Columbia County is a part, had hit six of the required seven metrics set forth by New York State for a region to begin re-opening its economy. However, later in the day, Governor Cuomo announced that the region had fallen back to satisfying only five of the necessary metrics.

The seven metrics are:

  • 14-day decline in hospitalizations OR under 15 new hospitalizations (three-day average)
  • 14-day decline in hospitalized deaths or under 5 new hospitalized deaths (three-day average)
  • New hospitalizations: under two per 100K residents (Three-day rolling average)
  • Share of total beds avail (threshold of 30%)
  • Share of ICU beds avail (threshold of 30%)
  • 30 perk 1K residents tested monthly (seven-day avg of new tests per day)
  • 30 contact tracers per 100k residents or to meet current infection rate

As part of the Governor’s plan, New York State will gradually ease essential business restrictions in four phases. Once we meet the seven metrics, Columbia County can enter Phase 1.

Phase 1: Includes construction, manufacturing and select retail (with curbside pickup)

Phase 2: Includes professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate/rental leasing

Phase 3: Includes restaurants, food services and hotels

Phase 4: Includes arts, entertainment, recreation and education
“While we are disappointed by this news, I think we are closing in on the day when the seven metrics are met and we are able to begin opening Columbia County under Phase One of the state’s plan." said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell.
Reiterating his statement from earlier in the week, Chairman Murell added, “We have to follow the Executive Order or there will be penalties. As much as we might look forward to businesses being allowed to open, Columbia County cannot go it alone,” he said.
A new local law was presented at the May 12 Town Board meeting. The proposed law will provide the town with a procedure for addressing unsafe buildings in the community – both occupied and unoccupied. While there are still a few details to iron out, the board will welcome community feedback at a public hearing to be scheduled soon. You also may email your comments to Peter Cipkowski, Town Supervisor, at [email protected] .
Four years ago Julia Brandi and Marilyn Herrington conceived the idea of interviewing a diverse group of long-time Hillsdale residents to capture their unique and often extraordinary stories. They felt that if people were preserved on video as an “oral history”, their voices and life stories would be protected forever. With our world changing and moving at an ever-increasing speed, a capsule containing these stories is an asset for our community and can be enjoyed by generations to come. The Roeliff Jansen Historical Society provided the camera, and 25 folks were interviewed.
That film footage has been distilled into two sections called "Our Story" and "Portraits."
"Our Story" is a 20-minute overview of Hillsdale narrated by several residents who describe their life and their experiences in our beautiful town. It will be posted in an upcoming newsletter soon.
The “Portraits" section is a 30-minute up-close-and-personal collection of brief recollections by every interviewee. Watch Portraits here:
Marilyn and Julia are indebted to Elea Wilder for her critical eye, editing talent, and thoughtful coaching throughout, and to Jessica Comeau, whose inspiring dulcimer music gives the film a hometown feel.
The Hillsdale Safe at Home Committee connects local seniors and caregivers to important information and resources. Though monthly socials have been canceled since March, the committee continues to reach out. Their most recent communication was mailed to more than 130 individuals.

The photo below shows a May 2019 meeting of committee leaders and seniors at Hillsdale Town Hall.
NYSEG has issued a press release warning their customers of new scam attempts. This is in response to several reports outlining increased scams threatening to turn off people’s service unless they pay over the phone using gift cards or “Green Dot” cards. Given the COVID-19 situation, NYSEG and RG&E has suspended all disconnections until further notice.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the NYSEG Customer Relations Center at 1-800-572-1111 before paying anything over the phone.
Hillsdale Fire Chief Fred Miller wants to remind us that if we place a call to 911 for ANY reason, to please let the 911 operator know if it's ALL CLEAR and that no one is showing symptoms of coronavirus in the household. If someone is symptomatic, please let them know when you place the call. The first responders will take a few extra precautions when they arrive.
The Town of Hillsdale is still distributing free face coverings (non-medical grade). The masks come in packages of five, so we are limiting the distribution to one package per family. They are made of soft cloth and can be washed and re-used.

Hand-crafted masks also have been generously donated by Hillsdale resident Lisa Smith of BlueSmith Studio.
A limited supply of these masks are available at Town Hall upon request from 11 am to 1 pm on weekdays. To obtain masks, please contact Town Clerk Kathi Doolan to schedule your pickup. She or Deputy Clerk Veronique Fabio will leave a package for you at the front door with your name on it.
The Roe Jan Community Library continues to sponsor a series of brief interviews with community leaders during this unique moment in our history. The idea is to capture the personal stories of these individuals and, ultimately, show how each person is dealing with the pandemic. The next collection of conversations includes the leader of a community non-profit, the owner of a popular general store, an Episcopal minister, the owner of a regional business, and the owner of a local diner.
Jack Lindsey, Neighbors Helping Neighbors Co-Chair
Seung Suh, Copake General Store Proprietor
Rev. John Thompson, St. John in the Wilderness
Richard Herrington, Vice President, Herrington's
Brian Peacock, Owner of Dad’s Copake Diner
The Hillsdale Economic and Community Development Corporation (HECDC) is offering gifts of $250 to local families and individuals who are experiencing financial stress due to loss of income because of COVID-19.

The available funds are limited, so if you would like to apply, please do so as soon as possible.

Please email [email protected] or call 518-325-5073 extension 6 to learn if you qualify.
We have some good news for the region! Chris Rickard, Park Manager for Taconic State Park, recently shared a draft design for the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Route 22 crossing and bridge. As currently planned, the project should see construction starting in spring 2021. Edgar Masters who is a NYS Parks Commissioner, stated at the end of a recent interview that he has been working to keep the project front and center with the State.

The bridge will connect the Orphan Farm section of the rail trail in Copake Falls to the Hillsdale leg of the trail. This will mean that there will be a continuous trail from the Wassaic Train Station to Anthony Street in Hillsdale.
The bridge will be built on the site of a former railroad bridge, shown here in a 1975 photo.
With restaurants, farmers markets, and other key wholesale clients still closed, our farmers’ biggest customer base has suddenly disappeared. To help your local organic farmers, please explore this list of local farmers and resources to learn what they sell and how you can support them.
Despite suspending field operations last month, the 2020 Census is still underway, and more households are responding every day.
Though the Coronavirus crisis has strongly impacted the count, you can still be counted. According to the latest data, Hillsdale has broken 40%. Please mail back your survey or get counted online!
With rigorous COVID-19 protections in place, the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market is scheduled to open for the season on Saturday, May 23. The hours are 9 am to 1 pm. Running through October 31, there are 29 vendors scheduled to participate at the weekly market.