What Benefits Us

Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill

Earlier this week, I stole away some time for a hike up on the Gunks near New Paltz. The ridge was mine alone, and it was great to stretch my wintered legs and warm them up for spring (photo here is on the Beacon Hill trail).

On Tuesday, after spending time helping kids learn about the benefits of gardening and open space (thank you Kristen Wilson of the Cornell Co-operative 4-H program for the opportunity!), I made another quick hike at Onteora Lake, just outside Kingston. It was steamy hot, but wonderful.

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Havranek Named County Attorney, First Woman to Fill Post

In a statement today, Ulster County Executive Michael Hein named Beatrice Havranek, Esq. to the post of Ulster County Attorny — the first woman named to the position in the history of the county.

“Ms. Havranek is the first woman to hold the office of County Attorney in the history of Ulster County and had previously served as Deputy County Executive,” said the statement. “Ms. Havranek’s appointment follows the retirement of County Attorney, Joshua Koplovitz. Ms. Havranek’s current position will be filled by the former Probation Director, Robert Sudlow.”

To read the full statement, click here.

GW Sets Gardening Day

The GW School.
The GW School.

As you can sign from the sign in the photo here, George Washington Elementary School is holding a Community Garden Workday on May 1 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

It’s not suprising that the school is taking such an initiative. Under the leadership of principal Valerie Hannum, the school continues to delight and surprise.

To read more about this Kingston City school, check out its website and mission statement here, which describes how the school is incorporating a Montessori teaching approach.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Call for Entries!

The Kingston Natural Foods Buying Club is now showcasing work of local artists in its store front at 33 Broadway in the Rondout. Check out the details in this story. The work is on exhibit through the beginning of June.

The buying club is also inviting local artists to submit work for an upcoming exhibit in its space. The theme of the exhibit is “Nourishment” and all work must be two dimensional and no more than 36 inches high. The exhibition will open June 6 and run through August 15. Please submit your digital images with media and size information to curator Megan Ingalls at megan@meganingalls.com by May 15 or call 845-383-1150 for more information.

Earth Work Continues…

earth-awarenessThe 4-H program at Cornell Co-operative Extension held its annual “Earth Awareness Day” at Kingston Point Park today. Over 300 area students went through several stations where they learned about soil erosion, the impact of toxins on wildlife and why planting a small veggie garden can be good for the Earth, among many other topics.

Julie Noble, of Forsyth Nature Center and who serves on the board of the Kingston Land Trust, was there to leverage her skills as an environmental educator. I was lucky enough to make the small garden presentation on behalf of the Kingston Land Trust. All of which is fitting, given that the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote an editorial today in support of the City Hall Victory Garden, which is being led by Rebecca Martin, director at the land trust and chair of the garden committee. Read the editorial here. Kudos to Rebecca for her hard work, and the volunteer corps that supports the effort.

The Freeman also urged residents to pick up a rake, a paintbrush, and get busy sprucing up the city. Great idea! We can all pitch in together to make Kingston shine.

And speaking of sprucing things up, many thanks are due to Charlotte Adamis for coordinating a rose pruning session with a couple of enthusiastic 5th graders from Chambers at the Senate House. To see pics of the kids at work, see this article.

If anyone is interested in volunteer work, let us know. There’s much to be done in Kingston.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Out to Trash

moneytrashAn often-cited study by the University of Arizona reveals that the average person in the U.S. tosses out about $600 worth of food each year. That’s about $12 each week.

How much is that? Well, with $12 you could buy four pounds of organic, dried chick peas and three pounds of organic, brown, long-grain rice at the Kingston Natural Foods Buying Club. Cooked, this would be enough food to serve two adults one meal each day for one week. Just add salt and pepper to taste.

One way to insure you’re not wasting food is to make a shopping list (with more accurate portion sizes) and stick to it. Buying smaller quantities of local foods when available is also more efficient. You could also invite friends over once a week for a meal to help “empty the fridge.”

Better yet, since you likely haven’t noticed that $12 each week, how about work to not waste food while also giving $12 a week to a local food pantry?

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Time to Help Out

helping_handsAs this Kingston Daily Freeman article says, the recession is taking a big toll on the arts community — many of whom work as non-profits.

At issue is a double whammy on the revenue-generating ability of non-profits: consumers are tapped out and not spending as much on the arts while the larger foundations — stressed by a steep erosion in the stock market — have less money to give.

At a recent bring-your-own lunch meeting with several non-profits in the environmental conservation sector, the topic of fundraising is a sensitive topic. There’s simply less of it. And by some forecasts, the percentage of non-profits in the U.S. that are expected to fail in the next two years is 20 percent. This includes non-profits that serve in the environmental conservation, arts, health services and social service sectors.

What can you do? Whatever you can. A little bit can go a long way. And it doesn’t have to be giving money. Give your time. Lend a hand.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Local Wisdom

Kudos too Ulster County Legislature Majority Leader Brian Cahill for proposing a “use what we make” initiative that would require area businesses to be notified when Ulster County government seeks services or goods.

According to the Kingston Daily Freeman, Cahill “drafted a resolution requesting the county Purchasing Department [to] create a database of Ulster County-based businesses by category and notify those business when the county is seeking bids for goods or services the businesses offer.”

From the perspective of local businesses and a responsible government, such as policy makes good business sense.

The move comes as our neighbors in Orange County urges local businesses there to bid on products, goods and services. Read that story, here.

Area businesses have much to offer, and taxes used for operating costs should go back into the local business pool. What do you think?

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Reminder: Groundbreaking at City Hall

Just a quick reminder of the Victory Garden groundbreaking at City Hall this Wednesday at 9 a.m. If you’re free, stop by to see the installation of a “Three Sisters” garden. Meanwhile, the seeds that are being grown at the Kingston Land Trust are growing fast. For more on this, see the story here.

Make a Difference This Week

The Parks and Recreation Department announced its annual “spring cleanup” of city parks and is encouraging folks to volunteer on April 25 in the effort as part of Global Youth Services Day. See the Freeman story, here.

Noteworthy is that Ward 1 resident Alina Denarie is organizing the Kinderland Playgound cleanup that day. Interested in helping? Contact her at denariea@yahoo.com.

If unable to  pitch in on the public projects, residents are urged to clean up their neighborhoods. Thanks to Steve and Julie Noble and other community leaders who are spearheading this campaign. Well done!

Under the constraints of current budget conditions, this year is more important than ever in regard to pitching in to help the parks and recreation department and our city. Moreover, cleaning up our neighborhoods is not only a great way to beautify the area, but also to meet your neighbors.

Would you consider organizing a neighborhood clean up? If yes, just do it. Invite your neighbors over for a planning meeting this week. Pool together resources such as brooms and bags. See if someone can serve as a recycling volunteer. Make a difference in your neighborhood this week.