copake connection
March 2021
Greetings from Copake

Copake Connection is an online newsletter brought to you by the Town of Copake. This newsletter will publicize community events throughout the Town of Copake and will be published once a month, on the 15th of the month. The editor is Roberta Roll. All submissions should be sent to no later than the 10th of the month. The newsletter will be distributed to anyone who wishes to subscribe. Simply click the mailing list icon below.
Table of Contents
Supervisor's Desk
Washington Sends Good News
Chairman's Proclamation
Copake Remembers Last Year
Mike Bradway Retires
Free Seedlings
Grange Events
Copake History
Library Schedule
K.I.S.S. 2021
Public Transportation Survey
Copake Outdoors
Ways to Stay Informed
From the Supervisor’s Desk

On Sunday, February 28, the iconic and beloved Swiss Hutte closed its doors for the last time. Owners Gert and Cindy Alper have announced that the restaurant which they have operated since 1986 has been sold.

The Swiss Hutte has been an institution in the Roe Jan area for almost 60 years. In 1963, Tom and Linda Breen purchased a historic coaching station at the base of Catamount. The station had been converted to an inn in the early 20th century. The Breen's renamed the inn “The Swiss Hutte,” and with Tom as the chef and Linda managing the dining room, the restaurant became well known in the area for offering consistently fine food in a European décor. The Breen's retired in 1986, selling the restaurant to Cindy and Gert Alper. Gert was born in Zurich, Switzerland and trained as a chef in Luzerne. He continued many of the favorites of the previous era and added his own delicious signature pieces.  Cindy was the gracious hostess, and year-round, the restaurant was a favorite of both visitors and locals.

I was a waitress at the Swiss Hutte in the late sixties and early seventies - but so were my sisters and a whole lot of kids from Roeliff Jansen, and later Taconic Hills. In later years the jobs were taken by more mature staff, but to this day there are a lot of sixty and seventy-year olds who can probably still recite the dessert menu. I well remember when the Breens were told that they had to have both a New York and Massachusetts liquor license since the bar was in New York but patio was in the Commonwealth. An “Alice’s Restaurant” sort of sheriff would hide in the bushes alongside the patio at lunchtime to see whether we were serving in Massachusetts. We put down the trays at the door, and the silver haired lunch crowd would have to carry their own martinis to the table. When Linda Breen died in 2014 more than a few of the old waitresses and at least one bartender were among the mourners. When they played “Edelweiss” at the end of the funeral there were no dry eyes.
The Swiss Hutte was the scene of more family gatherings than one can remember. Wedding receptions, birthdays, anniversaries. So many gathered there for occasions both happy and sad. Town Board member Stosh Gansowski remembers that when Ben Ackley died, everyone went back to the Hutte for lunch after the funeral. The Roe Jan Historical Society had their annual dinners at the Hutte. The library dine-outs included two nights at the Hutte because it was so popular. Whether for a special occasion or chicken schnitzel in the bar in front of a roaring fire, the Hutte was reliable, consistent and always welcoming.

There is a lot going on in Copake these days. Some of it is new, and some of it is challenging, but it is always worthwhile and comforting to remember how life used to be here in the Roe Jan area. To remember when life was slower, and simpler, and yes, sweeter. With those memories we thank the Alpers for carrying on the tradition of the Swiss Hutte for so many years. It was a place that felt like home. We wish Cindy and Gert a happy and well-deserved retirement and thank them for the important part they played in the history of our corner of the world.

Jeanne E. Mettler
Town Supervisor
Washington DC Sends Good News to Copake

The American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed March 10 and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, includes significant assistance to towns and local government. Senator Schumer has published information that the plan makes available $370,000 for Copake and $11.37 million for Columbia County.

At the March Town Board meeting, Supervisor Mettler called this “hugely exciting news.” Supervisor Mettler said that it would appear that the funds can be used to fill in the shortfall in state revenue (such as CHIPS), and to pay for the COVID-related equipment which the town had to purchase. Funds may also be available for infrastructure and other benefits.
Supervisor Mettler reported that she was on a Zoom call with Congressman Delgado regarding the Rescue Plan earlier in March, and on March 11 she was on a call with Senator Schumer. She promised that as the town begins to understand better what these funds will mean to Copake, she will be reporting back on the details.
Copake Remembers the Past Year and Plans to Open Again!

A year ago on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 crisis to be a pandemic. The next night the Copake Town Board met in person and appointed a three-person Public Health Taskforce: Rus Davis, Janet Mackin and Dave Proper. That March meeting was the last time the board met in person. On March 19, Town Hall was closed, and on March 30, the board met for the first time via Zoom.  At that meeting they banned all in-person meetings in Town Hall, approved staggered schedules for the Highway Department and, among other things, cancelled the 2020 Easter Egg Hunt.

 A year later, after months of closures, things are beginning to look better. The numbers in Columbia County are going down. They have not flattened completely; there were 6 new cases on Friday, March 12, and the number of deaths keeps rising - it is now 88. Last week there was a COVID-19 outbreak in the DMV and County Clerk’s office. Seven of 23 staff were infected and the DOH closed both offices until March 19.

Still, the town is beginning to take steps to re-open. On March 9, the Town Hall, which has been closed since mid-December, was opened to the public, though appointments are still required. All visitors must be masked and sign in. The clerk’s walk up window is open first come, first served, no appointment necessary.  The Town Hall is open for court. 

At the March Town Board meeting, Supervisor Mettler related meeting with Bryan and Hollie Van Tassel who are the director and assistant director of the Copake Summer Camp. The Van Tassels are educators at Taconic Hills, and are both experienced with the protocols which can be employed to safeguard children. The Van Tassels will attend the April Town Board meeting and present a detailed plan for opening the camp this summer, to be considered by the board.
Supervisor Mettler has also spoken with Adam Nielson and received an email from Ron Semp, president of Taconic Hills Little League Board of Directors. The Little League officials have conferred with the Columbia County DOH and will attend the April Town Board meeting with a detailed plan, approved by the DOH.

Supervisor Mettler reported having communicated with Liana Roberts, Chair of the Park Commission about the Summer Music Program. The Town Board is urging the Park Commission to prepare a detailed plan for the opening of the Summer Music Program. The plan should include not only precautions for social distancing and wearing of masks but also plans for how the rules will be enforced. This will also be on the April agenda. In her report on behalf of the Park Commission, Council member Terry Sullivan said the group was cautiously optimistic about opening this summer.
Town Board Thanks Mike Bradway and Wishes Him Well

Mike Bradway is retiring this month after working for the Town of Copake Highway Department for 25 years.

At their March meeting the Town Board expressed their gratitude for Mike’s many years of service and his commitment to Copake. They wished him a healthy, happy retirement. Superintendent William Gregory joined in the board’s acknowledgement of Mike and expressed his thanks, saying that Mike was a hard worker and dependable. “He took pride in his work,” said Bill. “You could always count on him no matter what you asked.” Bill wished him a happy retirement and said he hoped Mike would find time to spend with his grandchildren.
Opportunities to Make a Difference

With spring in the air and the sense that things are gradually “opening back up,” now is a great time to start something new. Have you considered getting involved at Town Hall? There are numerous opportunities to get involved, some of them on brand new endeavors.

At the March Town Board meeting, the Town Board put out the word that they are looking for volunteers for a newly created Historic Preservation Committee. The board is also looking for people who would like to help with the town website.

The Historic Preservation Committee will be a sub-committee of the Conservation Advisory Committee. The committee will seek to catalogue all historic buildings in the Town of Copake and raise awareness of their historic value. Assistance will be given to property owners who are compiling information in preparation for nominating their properties for historic designation. The committee will also explore the possibility of nominating historic districts in the town.

The Website Committee will be an ad hoc committee formed to help the town with its website. The current website has been in existence since 2013. The committee will discuss the possibilities for creating a new website with more up to date technology.

The town is also seeking to fill a vacant seat on the Columbia County Environmental Council.
Anyone wishing more information on any of these endeavors should contact Supervisor Jeanne Mettler at 518-329-1234, Ext 1. Anyone wishing to apply for any of these positions should submit a letter of interest to the Town Clerk at no later than April 6 at 4:00 p.m. Letters can also be mailed to Lynn Connolly, Town Clerk, Copake Town Hall, 230 Mountain View Road, Copake, NY 12516 or delivered to that address - but all applications must be received by the clerk by the April 6 deadline.

The town has also advertised vacancies on both the Ethics Board and the Park Commission. Letters of interest for those positions must be submitted to no later than March 22 at 4:00 p.m. Letters can also be mailed to Lynn Connolly, Town Clerk, Copake Town Hall, 230 Mountain View Road, Copake, NY 12516 or hand delivered to the clerk by the March 22 deadline.
Free Seedlings Available for Stream-side Plantings

DEC has announced that the application period for the Trees for Tribs' Buffer in a Bag Program is now open. Private and public landowners who qualify may apply for a free bag of 25 tree and shrub seedlings for planting near streams, rivers, or lakes to help stabilize banks, protect water quality, and improve wildlife habitat. Applications are due by 3:00 p.m. on April 12.

To qualify, landowners must have property in New York State with at least 50 feet that borders a stream, river, or lake, and provide photos or a map of the planting location. Visit DEC's website for more information about the Buffer in a Bag application process and requirements. Contact with questions and visit Trees for Tribs Program on DEC's website to learn more.
Grange Events

Saturday, March 27, 7pm - “Rabbit Hole” - The Two of Us Productions virtual live- staged reading“Rabbit Hole” received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play deals with the ways family members survive a major loss, and includes comedy as well as tragedy.  It premiered on Broadway in 2006 and has been produced by regional theatres in cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The event is free but donations are gratefully accepted. Register to attend by going to For more information contact or call (518) 329-6293.
Saturday, April 3, 12-2pm - First Saturday Giving. Make donations at the Grange to the Taconic Hills School District emergency supply closet (personal care and household items such as toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent), the Milk Can Fund (loose change to build a fund to help address community needs), or the Roe Jan Food Pantry (non-perishable food items). For more information contact Peggy Lewis or Rita Jakubowski
Wednesday, April 7, 7-8pm - Speaker Series - Addressing Food Insecurity and Farmer Rights: A Virtual Presentation on Rock Steady Farm Join co-founder and vegetable farmer Maggie Cheney for a presentation on Rock Steady Farm's unique farming model. Rock Steady Farm is an LGBTQIA+ owned and operated cooperative, sustainable vegetable farm rooted in social justice in Millerton, NY. They operate a CSA and wholesale farm. In 2020, 57% of all their food went to people who are low-income, made possible by numerous supportive partnerships with health centers, community-run organizations, and the sliding scale CSA.

The Grange Speaker Series will run the first Wednesday of each month on Zoom (or in person when feasible), featuring a variety of speakers and topics focused on agriculture and food, the environment, history, and education. If you would like to give a presentation, please contact the Grange at

To learn more about the Grange and to see all our programs, go to
Saturday, April 17, 7pm - Radio Dramas “Joker Wild” and “2462”- The Two of Us Productions virtual live-staged reading. In “Joker Wild” a frustrated comedian is determined to be taken seriously, even if it kills someone. In “2462” a prisoner in the year 2462 is sentenced to death for the crime of being a good poet. The event is free but donations are gratefully accepted. Register to attend by going to For more information contact or call (518) 329-6293.
Saturday, April 17, 9am to 12 noon - Copake Pick-up Litter Day.  The Grange sponsors its third day of beautification for Copake, including Copake Falls, West Copake and Craryville. Pick up along the roads by your house, or any other roads you’ve noticed need a spring cleaning! You may take your collection to the transfer station or drop it that day in the dumpster at Copake Town Hall, 230 Mountain View Rd.
Copake History

Remembering Copake's Steven McIntyre, a Fallen Member of the Greatest Generation

On a brisk October day in 1944, a crowd gathered in the center of Copake for the unveiling of a memorial clock. Over the years, at least half a dozen newspaper articles have been written about that day. Each time, they recounted the death of a soldier which inspired local businessman Albert Bristol and his employee, Eddie McIntyre, to start a subscription to raise funds for the clock, intended to honor that particular soldier, Eddie's nephew, Steven McIntyre, as well as some other local boys. They fought and sometimes, as Steven did, gave their lives for their country and for democracy.

In the more than seven decades since Steven was killed, little has been written about him personally. But thanks to Copake auctioneer Mike Fallon, who came into possession of a Steven McIntyre collection and lent it to the town historian, we now know some details about him and about his death. Steven had a sister, Emily. He was the popular president of his class in each of his four years at the Roe Jan School. Thanks to a detailed letter, cited below, we also know that he had a girlfriend, Joan, although we don't know her last name.

The late William Fenstermaker of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, a friend and fellow soldier of Steven, witnessed the circumstances of Steven's death. William was so profoundly affected by it that he wrote a dozen drafts of a letter to Steven's parents and then threw them away because he was not certain that he was saying what he wanted to. Finally, two years after Steven died, he sent them his final draft.

As William explained in his letter, on June 24, 1944, Steven's and William's unit were camped in a small forest near the front, near Silverado, Italy. Steven was assigned to the wire section and William was the mail clerk. William wrote that Steve was the first of the group to become corporal, and all nine of the boys who had joined the battery were quite proud of him for his achievement. During the night, their unit got orders to be ready to move further up the next day. The wire section was to get up and, as usual, prepare to lay telephone communications to their batteries. Early Sunday morning, Steven gave William a letter to mail, at which William joked with him, saying that if he got any letters for him from Joan, he would open them, read them and only then pass them on to him. Steven got a big laugh out of that. Soon after, Steven and two other soldiers, Lt. Kolaska and Sgt. Foster, took off in a jeep to prepare to lay communications. It was not Steven's job to drive the jeep, but he told the ordinary driver that since he had been working so hard the day before, he would drive for him. The unit's battery commander and his driver accompanied the three in another jeep.

Shortly after crossing a little bridge, Steven's jeep was ambushed by a group of German soldiers who had come back to blow up the bridge. Lt. Koloska jumped out of the jeep and ran across the bridge firing his pistol at these men; at the same time he yelled to the others, but none of them answered. Somehow the lieutenant managed to get back to his unit where he told them about the ambush. They sent out patrols to check the area, however the Germans pulled a strong counter-attack and it was not safe to do anything until nightfall. As soon as it got dark, Lt. Kolaska and some of the men returned to Steven's jeep where they found him dead, his gun still in the holster. Apparently he had never had an opportunity to use it. What became of Sgt. Foster no one knew for months; later it was learned that he was taken prisoner. It appears as though the Germans were afraid that Steven would get away in the jeep and that is why he was killed. "You probably wonder why Lt. Koloska never wrote,” said William in his letter, "since he had the good fortune to escape, but he was killed in the invasion of southern France."

The beautiful Copake Memorial Clock has become the symbol of the town, but for too long the young man whose death inspired its creation has been a shadowy figure. Thanks to William and those who preserved the letter, we can honor Steven more fully than previously, and given recent events, we can reflect on what it was that Steven was fighting for and against. American democracy has been described as an experiment. We cannot let that experiment fail. 
Howard Blue, Town Historian
What’s Happening at the Library?

Limited Patron Access and Curbside Pickup. In addition to curbside pickup, Roeliff Jansen Community Library is also allowing patrons into the building at limited capacity. Patrons must wear masks and follow protocol in order to be permitted into the library. For full details, including our hours of operation, visit our website at
Thursdays, 9:00-10:00am
Virtual Senior Balance and Strength Class. Dr. Paul Spector is leading his popular Balance and Strength Class on Zoom. These classes introduce exercises that improve postural stability, core strength, spatial body awareness, sensory integration, agility and coordination. For more details, including login information, please visit our website at
Mondays & Thursdays, 9:00-10:30am
Hatha Yoga. Longtime, local yoga instructor Roberta Roll is conducting her Hatha Yoga classes on Zoom. Visit our website at for full details.
Saturdays, 10:30am
Family Storytime. Family Storytime. Join our Children’s and Youth Services Associate, Tia, for Saturday morning storytime on Zoom, followed by an art activity that kids can do from home. Activity kits are provided by the library free of charge and can be picked up during regular library hours, before or after storytime. Please visit our website at for Zoom login information.
Tuesday, March 16, 4:00pm
Board of Trustees’ Meeting. All meetings are open to the public. If you would like to join this virtual meeting, please email Tammy Gaskell at
Thursday, March 25, 7:00-8:30pm
Matisse and His Cut-Outs. Hosted by our Children’s and Youth Services Associate and professional artist Tia Maggio, this FREE Zoom class will take a look at Henri Matisse’s late works: his paper cut-outs. We will also be “painting with scissors” to create our own colorful masterpieces. Supplies can be picked up at the library during regular hours. To register, please email Tia at
Monday, April 5, 6:00pm
History Series with the FDR Presidential Library: Federal One: Saving the Arts in the Great Depression. Presented by Hudson Area Library, Claverack Free Library, Philmont Public Library, and Roeliff Jansen Community Library, and in conjunction with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, the FDR History Series will explore the many facets of the 32nd President. Hosted by educator Jeff Urbin, this installment will discuss the Works Progress Administration and its role in ensuring federal funding for the arts. Visit our website at for login information.
Monday, April 12, 11:00am–4:00pm
Healthcare Navigator Appointments. A Navigator from the Healthcare Consortium will be available by appointment on the second Monday of each month, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Navigators can assist individuals and families in Columbia and Greene Counties with shopping for, comparing, and enrolling in quality, affordable health insurance, including Medicaid, Child Health Plus and the Essential Plan, through the New York State of Health Official Health Plan Marketplace. Navigators can also assist with applying for financial assistance to help pay for coverage.

Navigator services are free of charge. Please call 518-822-9600 to make an appointment.
Monday, April 19, 6:00-7:30pm
Estate Planning. Join Lorraine Coyle of Coyle & Associates LLP to learn about estate planning. This presentation will cover topics such wills, trusts, power of attorney, health care proxies, and Medicaid planning to protect assets should one need nursing home care. This Zoom program is presented as a collaboration between Roeliff Jansen Community Library, Hudson Area Library, Claverack Free Library, and Philmont Public Library. Please email to register.
Copake Outdoors

If you are like a lot of us, you have been spending more time outdoors this past year.

Hiking, swimming, biking, kayaking, “forest bathing” (it’s a new term, but an old practice - namely, walking in the woods), or just basking in the sun.

Wouldn’t it be fun to join a small group for outdoor outings this spring, summer and
autumn? A small cohort of dedicated outdoor enthusiasts has volunteered to set up
various organized hikes, bicycle rides, kayaking and other outdoor activities in and around the Roe Jan area starting later this spring. 

Would you like to be a part of the group? You can participate in one or many of the outings. Would you like to lead an outing? Please contact Peggy Lewis at or Roberta Roll at Send us your name, address and phone number, as well as activities you would be interested in participating in, and /or outings you would like to lead.
Ways to Stay Informed and to Help

In this difficult time, we want to stay as informed as we can and as connected as we can. Also, many people want to help by shopping for those who find it difficult, making meals, and doing other errands.
Below are some websites you can go to in order to find information on all of these things.
To subscribe to the Copake email newsletter, the Copake Connection, you can access the town's website,
To subscribe to Hillsdale's email newsletter, News from Town Hall, you can access the Hillsdale website,
To subscribe to Ancram's email newsletter, Ancramemail, you can access Ancram's website,
The Copake Grange - email or go to
for online events and ways to volunteer through the Match-Up Program.
The Roe Jan Food Pantry - call Vernetta Moore at 413-446-9431 or Betty White at 518-325-3977
Financial contributions welcome. Mail to:                                  
Roe Jan Food Pantry
PO Box 475
Hillsdale, NY 12529.
The Salvation Army in Hudson - soup kitchen, and provides other items, such as diapers and formula to those in need. Here is a link to an article about the SA:
If you wish to submit an article or notice regarding a community event taking place in the Town of Copake to the Copake Connection, please e-mail: All submissions should be received by us by noon on the 10th of the month.
For more and current information on Meetings in Copake and events throughout the Roe Jan area, go to the Copake Website.