News from Town Hall

With schools and colleges to remain closed for the rest of the year academic year and a very limited path for reopening New York, everything feels unpredictable. Many New Yorkers are in their sixth or seventh week of self-isolation. Thanks to everyone for doing their part.

As of 3:00 pm on May 1, 2020, here's the status of COVID-19 in Columbia County:

  • 13 Columbia County residents have passed away from COVID-19.
  • There are 210 positive identified cases in the County.
  • 94 of the 210 cases have recovered.
  • 14 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 6 of those hospitalized are in the ICU.
  • We have received 1,409 test results completed for Columbia County residents.
  • 145 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 16 under precautionary quarantine.
  • Confirmed positive cases by town (as reported by the Department of Health on Friday, May 1):

Ancram 5
Canaan 7
Chatham 9
Claverack 4
Clermont 4
Copake 4
Germantown 7
Ghent 16
Greenport 9
Hillsdale 8
Hudson 26
Kinderhook 22
Livingston 5
New Lebanon 3
Stockport 1
Stuyvesant 4
Livingston Hills 2
Pine Haven Residents 35
Barnwell Residents 37

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)
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 for us to enjoy today and for future generations to explore. 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 would be an asset to the community. The Roeliff Jansen Historical Society provided the camera, and 25 folks were interviewed.
That film footage has been distilled into two videos that will be posted in this newsletter later this month. They will reside on the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society and Town of Hillsdale websites.
Listen to Marilyn Herrington and Julia Brandi introduce their special project here:
Photo above: The videos include many rare photographs like this beautiful view of Hillsdale looking toward the old ice pond. The structure in the foreground was a busy dairy cooperative and ice storage. The orchard and American Elm on the other side of the tracks are now Herrington's. The roof of Hillsdale Public Library (now Hillsdale Town Hall), built in 1926, is visible in the upper right.
The Town of Hillsdale has received notice that, due to significant and worsening structural deterioration, the 90+ year-old County structure, carrying Columbia Co. Rte. 21 over a tributary to the Agawamuck Creek, will be closing later this spring for the complete replacement of the bridge. Unfortunately, this bridge replacement work will require the full closure for about four months.
37 residents of The Grand at Barnwell in Valatie have now tested positive for COVID-19, Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said Friday. “Barnwell is being proactive with testing as this situation develops – we do anticipate more positive cases,” said Mabb. “The positive cases are no longer limited to one unit of the facility. The nursing home is making an effort to isolate those who are positive.”
The first in-county nursing facility to experience a widespread outbreak of COVID-19, Pine Haven Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Philmont, has drawn kudos from State and Columbia County Departments of Health for its response to the virus. “Things appear to have leveled off at Pine Haven as they seem to have gotten a handle on their situation,” said Mabb.
“Barnwell is the second Columbia County nursing home to be seriously affected by COVID-19,” he added. Columbia County DOH and New York State DOH will continue to monitor the situation at The Grand at Barnwell.
Tiny Hearts Farm received a nice shout out in local gardener Margaret Roach's most recent column in the New York Times. Though their Hillsdale retail store is closed during the pandemic, Jenny Elliot (shown below) and Luke Franco are busy on the farm in Copake. They are offering curbside pick-up of flower bunches and arrangements. Order online to schedule your pick-up and check back often as new varieties and colors are blooming almost daily.
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.
Governor Cuomo is not making any decision about summer programs until the end of May. Given that kids are not going back to school this spring, summer programs are critical for kids and parents. Once State requirements have been established, we hope that Hillsdale will be able to work with the County Department of Health to design a safe – and fun – summer program directed by Taconic Hills educator Joe Raco.

The popular program always takes advantage of its unique location in the beautiful Roeliff Jansen Park with trails, fields, wetlands, two large open barns, and a working community garden. Focused on nature and the great outdoors, applications will be posted on the page below if the program can be scheduled.
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, how each person is dealing with the pandemic. The next batch of interviews include a school superintendent, a community caregiver, a New York State Parks Commissioner , a healthcare educator, and the person who was supposed to be doing the interviewing!
Neil Howard, Taconic Hills Central School Superintendent
Betty White, Roe Jan Food Pantry President
Edgar Masters, Friends of Taconic State Park Founding Member
Janet Mackin, Copake Grange Secretary
Peter Cipkowski, Town of Hillsdale Supervisor
Thanks to remarkably generous donations to the Hillsdale Economic and Community Development Corporation (HECDC), the HECDC is offering gifts of $250 to Hillsdale area families that are experiencing financial stress due to loss of employment because of COVID-19. More than $13,000 has already been distributed.

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.

Donations are also welcome. If you would like to support this important local fund, contributions are tax-deductible. Make your check payable to the HECDC and mail it to:

PO Box 305
Hillsdale NY 12529

Write in the memo: COVID-19 Fund
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.
With restaurants, farmers markets, and other key wholesale clients still closed, farmers’ biggest customer base has suddenly disappeared. To help support your local organic farmers. 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. The Census Bureau is mailing a paper questionnaire to all households with a mailable address that have not yet responded.

Please mail back your survey or use get counted online or by telephone. Click on the graph below or call one of the following numbers: 

844-330-2020 for English 
844-468-2020 for Spanish.
Though Hillsdale Town Hall and the Town Garage remain closed to the public, the Town continues to operate, albeit with somewhat reduced activities.

  • Contact Town Hall employees by email, phone, or mail. Please consult the Town Directory if you need to reach the Town Clerk, Court Clerk, Assessor, Building Inspector, Highway Superintendent, Supervisor, or members of the Town Board. All telephone calls and emails will be returned promptly.
  • Town Highway Departments are considered “essential” and are working a regular schedule. Ours is no exception – and they are taking precautions to protect themselves and the public.
  • Please use the mail slot at the front door of Town Hall if you have anything to drop off.
  • May’s Zoning, Planning, and Town Board meetings will take place virtually. Details will be posted on the town website.
  • Hillsdale Town Court is canceled in May.