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copake connection
April 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 [email protected] 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
Solar Update
Copake Opens Cautiously
Copake History
Grange Events
Roeliff Jansen Community Library
What's Happening at the Library
Park Commission
Town Clerk's/Tax Collector's Desk
Columbia County Public Transportation Survey
Columbia County DOH Free Rabies Clinics
Copake Outdoors
Ways to Stay Informed and Help
From the Supervisor’s Desk

In the past month there have been some important developments on the federal, state and county levels which may have very positive consequences for our town.

First is the American Rescue Plan, which was passed and signed into law by President Biden in March. This bill includes significant assistance to towns and local governments. It is projected that Copake might receive as much as $370,000 and the county can receive $11.37 million. The exact details of the Plan will not be definite until the United States Treasury issues guidelines (which had not been issued as I am writing this). In the publicity, there is a wide range of projects on which funds can be spent. Some of the areas highlighted are investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure; the public health emergency costs of confronting COVID-19; and the costs of assisting impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.
I read a piece from the Brookings Institute discussing the American Rescue Plan which observed, “In 10 years, we may look back at this time and ask: Which places merely spent their money, and which places invested it?”

For Copake, I suspect that the answer will be someplace in between. We will have COVID-19 related expenses this summer, for instance with the Summer Camp, and these funds will help. But I also think that we need to invest in the future of Copake - and for that we need to look down the road and envision what will really help Copake in a lasting and fundamental way.

Developments at the State Level 

In late March, New York State passed The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. As a result of this act, depending on the number of plants, it will no longer be a crime or violation to grow marijuana. Nor will it be a crime or violation to possess or smoke marijuana in small amounts. A town cannot prohibit the smoking of marijuana generally but can prohibit smoking marijuana wherever smoking is prohibited. A town can prohibit smoking marijuana on town property, such as a town park. 

As for retail sales, a business can apply to open a retail store unless the town passes a law opting out. A decision to opt out is subject to a permissive referendum. A town can adopt local laws placing restrictions on the time/place/manner of retail dispensaries and onsite consumption establishments.

I was interested to see an article entitled “Cannabis can be a Needed Boost for Rural New York” in a recent publication from the NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. The article states, “The potential marketplace statewide is estimated to be over $3 billion dollars in the first year alone and according to the Rockefeller Institute would create 30,000 jobs.”  Some towns will also be attracted by the 4% tax imposed on sales from retail dispensaries to consumers.

This is a huge issue which Copake needs to study. I would think that sometime in the next few months the Town Board should arrange for a public hearing or forum on the subject.
One more NYS development: the state has announced $15 million in grants for homeowners to replace aging septic systems. In Columbia County there are two areas where such grants will be available – Copake Lake and Robinson Pond. I am working with the Columbia County Department of Health to find out more about this and we will get the word out to residents in those areas.

Discussions in Columbia County

At a recent special meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the possibility that the county could charge a 4% occupancy tax on short-term rentals was discussed with the full Board. The tax would be shared with participating towns.
Again, this is a very big and complicated issue. I think that in the next month or so we should probably appoint an ad hoc committee to make recommendations to the Town Board on how to proceed. 

I will be monitoring all of these developments on the state, county and local levels and will keep all of you apprised of these various issues as we go forward.

Jeanne E. Mettler
Town Supervisor
Solar Update

Supervisor Mettler and Richard Wolf met last week with a Hecate vice president and the Shepherd’s Run Project Manager, Alex Campbell. They again explained that the project as presently envisioned is too large for our small rural town. 200,000 solar panels on prime farmland, along the country roads leading into and out of Copake Hamlet and Copake Lake are too much. They urged Hecate to further reduce the project’s footprint to make it more shieldable and again offered to work with Hecate to identify more suitable locations for its solar panel arrays. We asked that Hecate respect Home Rule, abide by Copake’s laws and follow its siting procedures.

In response, the Hecate representatives said they were committed to a State siting process. When asked point blank if Hecate would commit to remaining in Article 10 — as Hecate had assured us in the past — they said they were evaluating their options, leaving the clear impression that a move to 94-c is all but inevitable. The newer Section 94-c procedures strongly favor developers by further streamlining the siting approval process. The good news from the meeting is that Hecate is reducing the footprint further, while maintaining its capacity, which will remain at 60 megawatts. Hecate will present a revised site plan at an open house on April 28.

During the meeting the town expressed concern that the current Shepherd’s Run plan would place many of the solar panels directly across the road from a dozen or so homes on County Route 7 and urged Hecate to figure out a way to eliminate those panels from the plan, or to at least move them to a less intrusive location. To that end, Alex Campbell and Richard Wolf will meet next week at the site to consider what the options are.

In the meantime, the New York State budget has been finalized, and the State continues its efforts to sweeten the pot for large, for-profit, often out-of-state renewable energy developers, while eviscerating longstanding principles of Home Rule and ensuring that small rural towns like Copake have next-to-no say in what happens within their boundaries. The latest development, which was lobbied for by the developers, is this: the new budget establishes a process for creating a standard methodology of assessing, for tax purposes, wind and solar projects. This effectively takes assessors out of the process. Copake’s assessor will not be allowed to assess the value of the land and equipment upon which Shepherd’s Run would be sited and the taxes to which it would be subject. Instead, the assessed value for solar or wind energy systems will be determined by a “discounted cash flow” approach. This development undermines Copake’s decision last October to opt out of the 15-year solar facility exemption in Real Property Tax Law Section 487, and the town’s intention to tax the full value of Shepherd’s Run, as determined by Copake’s assessor. 

The state already allows developers to ignore local comprehensive plans, farmland protection plans, and zoning regulations and procedures, and to site huge industrial-size projects wherever they can find a nearby grid connection and landowners willing to lease or sell their land. Plus, the state hands developers' very substantial financial incentives in the form of renewable energy credits, which for Shepherd’s Run will be worth approximately $43 million to Hecate.
The only developer-friendly action the state did not take? The Assembly refused to include in the budget a provision that would have completely eliminated objective environmental reviews from the 94-c siting process.

The town has received the ongoing, strong support of Senator Daphne Jordan and Assemblymember Didi Barrett. Recently Assemblymember Barrett arranged for Supervisor Mettler and Richard Wolf to speak with her and Assemblymember Mike Cusick, chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee. They presented the town's concerns to Chair Cusick, and his interest was encouraging. At the conclusion of the call, the legislators said they are planning to tour the proposed Shepherd’s Run site, and to invite others to join them.
Richard Wolf
Copake Deputy Town Supervisor
Copake Opens Cautiously

Concerned about the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the Town Board at their March meeting made clear that they would require detailed plans before they agreed to approve any summer programs. The organizers of four programs responded in writing with meticulous plans, detailing specific precautions to comply with New York State Guidance on COVID-19. The board enthusiastically approved three programs to open and “tentatively” approved a fourth with a promise to review the final plan at the May meeting.

Scheduled now to proceed this summer are the Copake Clean-up Day, scheduled for Saturday, May 15; the Copake Park Commission Summer Concert Series with its first concert scheduled for Saturday, June 26, and the Taconic Hills Little League, with its first game scheduled for the first week of May. The Copake Summer Park Program submitted a very detailed plan for summer camp but still had some open issues, so the board voted to “tentatively approve” the opening with a final review and approval tabled until the May meeting.

Copake Clean-up Day on May 15 will take place from 8:00am until noon at the Town of Copake Highway Garage at 47 School Road. Supervisor Mettler expressed gratitude to the Highway Department for their willingness to assist with this Copake tradition.

Only Copake residents will be allowed to participate in Clean-up Day, and this year, because of COVID-19 concerns, participants must wear masks, practice social distancing and unload their own vehicles. No Copake employees or volunteers will reach into vehicles or trunks of vehicles to unload trash or recyclables. 

The Town Board heard from Summer Program Director Bryan VanTassel with regard to the proposed Summer Camp. It is anticipated that there will be a limit on the number of children who will be allowed to attend, and the campers will be separated into groups. There will be no field trips. More details will be discussed at the May Town Board meeting, which will be held on Thursday, May 13 at 7:00pm.
Copake History

The Copake Story That's in the US History Books

This column has frequently featured some small stories. Maybe even most of the time it's had small stories. But there's at least one BIG story that you read on this page if you've been reading it for a few years. BIG story!

It's about the incident that really set the anti-rent movement afire. I'm talking about the event in Copake in the 1840s concerning Dr. Smith Boughton, AKA Chief Big Thunder. It seems Dr. Boughton led a group of farmers in stopping the Columbia County sheriff from trying to confiscate property of two farmers who were participating in the anti rent strike. I'm talking about the strike against the Livingston family which owned almost all of the land in Copake and surrounding counties to the north.

Wanna know more about the story? Read chapter 10 in Howard Zinn's classic social history of America!

(PS – coming soon – another big story – of Copake’s contribution to a battle that helped change the world!! – no kidding.)

Questions? Suggestions? Got photos or stories to contribute? Contact Howard at [email protected]
Grange Events
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 www.thetwoofusproductions.org. For more information contact [email protected] 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 drop your collection that day in the dumpster at Copake Town Hall, 230 Mountain View Rd. Wear gloves, long pants and walk facing traffic! 
Friday, April 30, 7pm - Open Poetry Night. The Copake Grange and the Roeliff Jansen Community Library are co-sponsoring this online open poetry reading to celebrate National Poetry Month. Bring one or two poems of your own or a poem by one of your favorite poets to read. Or, just tune in to listen and be inspired and delighted by the magic and power of poetry. To participate, go to www.copakegrange.org/events.
Saturday, May 1, 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 [email protected] or Rita Jakubowski [email protected].
Saturday, May 1, 7:30pm - The Lion In Winter. Virtual live staged reading by The Two of Us Productions. Sibling rivalry, adultery, and dungeons – The Lion in Winter, by James Goldman, is a modern-day classic. Comedic in tone, dramatic in action – the play tells the story of the Plantagenet family, who are locked in a free-for-all of competing ambitions to inherit a kingdom. In 1183, Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II fight over both a kingdom and King Henry’s paramour. As Eleanor says, “Every family has its ups and downs,” and this royal family is no exception. Register to attend by going to www.thetwoofusproductions.org. For more information contact [email protected] or call (518) 329-6293.
Wednesday, May 5, 7pm - Rail Trails Past and Present. Join us for our Speaker Series, online, with Dan Haas, past president and longtime member of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association. He will speak about the history of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, which goes back to the nineteenth century, when the railroad transformed the economy and daily life of the region. This talk will describe how rails led to trails, update the current status of the rail trail, and dream of the project's future. To attend go to www.copakegrange.org/events.

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 [email protected].
Thursday, May 15, 7:30pm - Radio Dramas “Murder on Mike” and “Back Seat Driver.” The Two of Us Productions live staged readings. In “Murder on Mike” a frustrated radio drama writer decides he’s finally going to end the show on his own terms. He intends to commit a murder during a live broadcast! In “Backseat Driver” a husband and wife out for a night at the movies are carjacked by a murderer on the run. He thinks he’s made his escape, but the murderer only thinks that he’s in control of the situation! Register to attend by going to www.thetwoofusproductions.org. For more information contact [email protected] or call (518) 329-6293.

To learn more about the Grange and to see all our programs, go to copakegrange.org.
Roeliff Jansen Community Library Wants your Input and Opinions! 

We want to serve you better, and to do so, we need your help. This is YOUR library, so we need to know what YOU want.

This survey is for both those who use the library and those who do not. The information gathered will be used to guide our decisions on library collections, programs, services, hours, communication, and more. We hope you can spare five minutes to help the library better serve our community.

You may complete the survey online or pick up a paper copy at the library.

Thank you for your feedback!

What’s Happening at the Library?

Extended Hours at the Library. Roeliff Jansen Community Library is open for both curbside and in-library service. Patrons must wear masks and follow protocol in order to be permitted into the library. For full details, including our new hours of operation, visit our website at www.roejanlibrary.org/reopening/.
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 www.roejanlibrary.org/adult-programs/.
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 www.roejanlibrary.org/adult-programs/ for full details.
Saturdays, 10:30am
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 www.roejanlibrary.org/kids-events/ for Zoom login information.
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 [email protected] to register.
Tuesday, April 20, 4:00pm
Board of Trustees Meeting. All meetings are open to the public. Please email [email protected] if you are interested in attending.
Thursday, April 22, 5:45-6:45pm
Tech Lab: Advanced Zoom 1. Tech Labs are back! Join tech guru Pam Doran for this FREE virtual overview of Zoom control settings, tools, and security. Please email [email protected] to register.

This series is hosted by Roeliff Jansen Community Library, in collaboration with Claverack Free Library, Hudson Area Library, and Philmont Public Library. The full Tech Lab schedule can be found on our website at http://www.roejanlibrary.org/adult-programs/.
Sunday, April 25, 3:00-4:30pm
Concert in the Park: An Afternoon of American Songbook Jazz with Kris Jensen, Scott Heth, and Jay Bradley. Join us at the Hilltop Barn at Roeliff Jansen Park for a special benefit concert to support the library. Donations are appreciated. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. Masks and social distancing are required.
Thursday, April 29, 5:45-6:45pm
Tech Lab: Advanced Zoom 2. Learn how to manage your camera and lighting, and add filters and backgrounds. Please email [email protected] to register.
Friday, April 30, 7:00-9:00pm
Open Mic Poetry Night. To mark the end of National Poetry Month, the Copake Grange and Roeliff Jansen Community Library are co-sponsoring this online open poetry reading. Bring one or two poems of your own or a poem by one of your favorite poets to read. Or, just tune in to listen and be inspired by the magic and power of poetry. Visit our website at http://www.roejanlibrary.org/adult-programs/ for login information.
Saturday, May 1
Arbor Day Celebration. Celebrate Arbor Day outdoors with a day of family-friendly activities. Stay tuned for more details.
Monday, May 3, 6:00pm
History Series with the FDR Presidential Library: FDR and Rural Electrification. 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 explores the many facets of the 32nd president. For the fourth and final installment, educator Jeff Urbin will discuss FDR’s efforts to improve the quality of life for farmers, mainly by bringing affordable electricity to rural areas.

Thursday, May 6, 6:30pm
Introduction to Small Scale Food & Yard Waste Composting. Presented by Zero Waste Columbia and co-sponsored by Climate Smart Communities of Austerlitz, Claverack Free Library, and the Columbia County Library Association, this webinar will celebrate International Compost Awareness Week by offering tips for creating a more sustainable and resilient world together. Leading the session is Jean Bonhotal, of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell Waste Management. For more information, please contact [email protected].
Thursday, May 13, 5:45-6:45pm
Tech Lab: Google Drive. Learn how to store, synchronize, and share files, and create and edit documents. Please email [email protected] to register.
Saturday, May 15, 12:00-2:00pm
Teen & Youth Job Fair. Calling all teens! Join us for our second-annual Teen & Youth Job Fair, where representatives from local businesses will be convening outdoors to hand out cards, answer questions, and accept resumes. Refreshments are included. Rain date: May 22.
Park Commission Plans Summer Fun and Seeks Volunteers

The Copake Park Commission is pleased to announce that they will be having the Summer Concert Series every Saturday night beginning 6/26/21 and running until 8/27/21. The bands will be performing a variety of musical styles from 7:00-9:00pm.

COVID-19 guidelines for outdoor events will be strictly adhered to. A new and exciting feature will be the addition of various food trucks serving from 6:00-8:00pm! Stay tuned for details.

The Park Commission is seeking volunteers to participate and assist with the planning of events throughout the year. The commission meets on the second Monday of the month, and as needed. Exciting things are being planned for 2021!

Those interested should send or email a letter of interest to Copake Town Clerk, Lynn Connolly at [email protected] or 230 Mountain View Rd., Copake, NY 12516 by May 3, 2021.  
Town Clerk/Tax Collectors Desk

As of April 15, 2021, the Town Clerk and the Supervisor's email have changed.

The new email for the Town Clerk is [email protected] and the new Supervisor's email is [email protected].

Please update your records to reflect these changes.

Look for the Zero: Use Only Phosphorus-Free Lawn Fertilizer

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced the launch of the state’s annual "Look for the Zero" public awareness campaign that encourages homeowners to go phosphorus-free when using lawn fertilizer. DEC is encouraging consumers to review bag labels for phosphorus content when shopping for fertilizer. Fertilizer labels have three numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product.

Regardless of the lawn's location, excess phosphorus can wash off and pollute lakes and streams, harming fish and ruining boating and swimming. More than 100 water bodies in New York State cannot be used or enjoyed due to phosphorus overuse. For more information, visit DEC's Lawn Fertilizer webpage.
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 [email protected] or Roberta Roll at [email protected]. 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, townofcopake.org
To subscribe to Hillsdale's email newsletter, News from Town Hall, you can access the Hillsdale website,  hillsdaleny.com
To subscribe to Ancram's email newsletter, Ancramemail, you can access Ancram's website, townofancram.org
The Copake Grange - email [email protected] or go to  copakegrange.org
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:   https://imby.com/hudson/article/the-army-needs-you/.
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: [email protected]. 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.