Thursday, May 28, 2009

Little Known Museum in Troy Holds a Key to Capital Region's Place in the Labor Movement

Fergitaboutit! J'Ville was thee most important industrial town in all of Pittstown and most of Rensselaer Co. We want a Johnsonville Railroad & Industrial Museum! The old "moms" store on Rt. 67 would be a PERFECT location, and its for sale too!
Hello! Any of you historic pres railfan / industry & labor people listening? Here is a golden opportunity for you to champion a really good cause that would help the local economies. Give me a call and I will show you around and share with you some ideas.
(518) 753 7791

News from New York State Department of Labor

For more information contact: Leo Rosales, 518-457-5519

Media Advisory: Little Known Museum in Troy Holds a Key to Capital Region's Place in the Labor Movement
Governor Paterson Proclaims May Labor History Month in New York State

ALBANY, NY (05/27/2009; 1316)(readMedia)--

Question: What do the Liberty Bell, the Panama Canal, the USS Monitor, George Armstrong Custer and a local Iron Molders Union have in common?

Answer: The City of Troy, of course.

On Thursday, May 28, the Department of Labor will be holding a press event at the Burden Iron Works Museum in Troy to celebrate Labor History Month in New York State. Located in the former office of one of the most important firms in the history of iron and steel, the Burden Iron Works Museum promotes the City of Troy and its rightful place as the Silicon Valley of the 19th Century.

WHEN: Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 11 a.m.

WHERE: Burden Iron Works Museum

One East Industrial Parkway

Troy, NY 12180

Map available at the following link:

WHO: Executive Deputy Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino

Congressman Paul Tonko

Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino

P. Thomas Carroll, Ph.D., Executive Director, Burden Iron Works Museum

Paul F. Cole, Executive Director, American Labor Studies Center

Guests in attendance to include State Historian Robert Weible; Jeffrey Stark, Secretary-Treasurer, Capital District Area Labor Federation; and Michael Barrett, Deputy Director and Tourism Coordinator for the Hudson-Mohawk Industrial Gateway.

Hoosic Valley CSD Raised to A+ by S&P

This is MY school district and I tell you, despite what the article says, we ARE NOT doing well economically in this district....only the schools are thriving, expanding and building new annexes as we speak. Its our ever-rising school TAXES paying for these expansions, NOT a "growing" economy! Everyone, and I mean everyone I know in this district is feeling the pinch, for real.

Hoosic Valley CSD Raised to A+ by S&P

Click on title above for article;

Monday, May 18, 2009

USDA Rural Development / Low-Income HomeOwner Loans for "Credit Qualified" Only

No help from Uncle Sam for the poor with bad or no credit history.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Tim Jones (315) 477-6436



SYRACUSE, N.Y., Feb. 11, 2009 - Interested in a home loan that requires no down payment, no private mortgage insurance and offers low, fixed interest rates?

If so, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency’s home loan program might be right for you.

Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Program

Rural Development serves as the USDA’s economic and community development arm and has the mission of improving economic conditions and the quality of life in rural America.

The agency’s Single Family Housing (SFH) Program supports this mission by offering direct and guaranteed home loans to help rural New Yorkers buy or build safe, decent and affordable homes. Home ownership is an economic cornerstone for individuals and communities and owning a home is an integral part of the American dream. The direct and indirect impacts of housing development also provides a stimulus for manufacturing, trade industries and related professional services, benefitting the larger economy.

Last year, Rural Development’s SFH program invested more than $97 million in New York, helping more 1,000 families and individuals buy, build or repair homes.

Direct Loan Program

The direct loan program provides government loans to low-income families or individuals. Borrowers must be able to afford mortgage payments, including taxes and homeowners insurance, and have a reasonable credit history. Direct loans are for 33 years, although 38-year terms are available in some cases. Payment assistance also is available for many qualifying borrowers.

Guaranteed Loan Program

The guaranteed loan program is administered in partnership with private lenders and is designed to assist low- and moderate-income borrowers. In the program, the loan is made by a bank, credit union or other financial institution, and Rural Development guarantees a large percentage of the loan on the borrower’s behalf. The guarantee enables lenders to offer more affordable mortgage terms. The loans have a two percent guarantee fee and this can often be rolled into the mortgage, enabling lenders to finance up to 102 percent of an appraised home’s value.

The First Step

Rural Development operates an extensive income and property eligibility web site at Potential applicants can find out if the home they’re interested in is in an eligible area - the loan programs are restricted to rural areas - and find income limits for their locations.

Prospective homebuyers and lenders interested in enrolling in the guaranteed program can also call the USDA Rural Development Service Center nearest them or call Rural Development’s state office at (315) 477-6416. A list of local offices with phone numbers and counties served is provided on the last page of this press release.

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. In fiscal year 2008, the agency invested more than $273 million in rural New York, raising its total investment in the state to more than $1.75 billion since 2001. Additional information on Rural Development programs may also be found at


USDA Rural Development Service Centers in New York

Phone Number
Counties Served

(585) 343-9167, ext. 2200
Niagara, Erie, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming

(607) 776-7398, ext. 4
Schuyler, Chemung, Steuben, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua

(585) 394-0525, ext. 4
Seneca, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Monroe, Livingston

(315) 386-2401, ext. 4
St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin

(607) 753-0851, ext. 4
Broome, Tioga, Chenango, Tompkins, Cortland, Cayuga, Onondaga

(518) 692-9940, ext. 4
Rensselaer, Washington, Saratoga, Warren, Essex, Hamilton

(518) 762-0077, ext. 4
Fulton, Montgomery, Otsego, Delaware, Schoharie, Schenectady, Albany, Greene

(315) 736-3316, ext. 4
Madison, Oneida, Herkimer

(845) 343-1872, ext. 4
Columbia, Ulster, Sullivan, Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland

(315) 782-7289, ext. 4
Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego

Friday, May 15, 2009

NY Man Dies from Deer Tick Virus

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Wed 13 May 2009
Source:, HealthDay News report [edited]

Man dies of brain inflammation caused by deer tick virus
In what scientists say might be the 1st case of its kind, a new report
details the story of a 62 year old man in New York state who died last year
(2008) of meningoencephalitis, apparently after being bitten by a deer tick
infected with deer tick virus. This appears to be the 1st reported human
illness from the virus, although the organism was isolated in the brain of
a person in Ontario, Canada. In this instance, there was no description of
illness associated with that infection, said Norma P Tavakoli, lead author
of the paper appearing in the 14 May 2009 issue of the New England Journal
of Medicine [see reference in comment below. - Mod.CP]

"Deer tick virus encephalitis [inflammation of the brain] is rare, but
diagnostic testing is not routinely performed, so there could be cases out
there we're actually missing," said Tavakoli, who is a research scientist
with the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health in Albany.
"Certainly, during early spring to fall in areas where infected ticks have
been reported, testing should be done. It is quite a rare virus," said Dr
Geoffrey Weinberg, a professor of pediatrics in the division of pediatric
infectious diseases at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "I would
advise people not to be overly concerned. Ticks are less commonly infected
with this than with Lyme disease. Also, the odds are 300 to one that
someone infected with the virus will develop encephalitis. The vast
majority have no symptoms at all."

For the average outdoorsman, precautions already recommended to avoid
contracting Lyme disease -- also transmitted via deer ticks -- should
decrease the odds of getting the deer tick virus as well, according to the
study. "Whether or not this will become a real problem, I don't think
anybody knows. Obviously, there is no treatment for the virus so, really,
prevention is the only thing you can do," said Dr Peter Welch, an
infectious disease specialist with Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt
Kisco, NY. "We should always be cautious to do our best to not be bitten by
ticks. Check for ticks when you come out of the woods or anywhere there are
ticks. Wear insect repellant, which contains DEET." Wearing light-colored
clothing, removing any ticks as soon as they are found, and keeping pets
free of ticks can also reduce the risk, Tavakoli added.

Deer tick virus is closely related to Powassan virus, which can also cause
encephalitis and is also transmitted by way of the deer tick, according to
background information in the study. Both are flaviviruses, a group that
includes West Nile virus, St Louis encephalitis virus, dengue, and yellow
fever viruses, all of which are transmitted by mosquitoes. Infection with
one of these viruses sometimes causes severe illness, some combination of
milder symptoms, or no illness at all.

Deer ticks also transmit Lyme disease, which is now widespread in the
United States. In the New York case, a 62 year old man from Putnam County,
NY, arrived at a local hospital in spring of 2008 complaining of fatigue,
fever, rash, and muscle weakness. Doctors first suspected West Nile virus,
but analysis of tissue samples eventually came up positive for deer tick
virus only. The patient spent a good deal of time outdoors, owned horses,
and lived in a county with many reports of Lyme disease, indicating a large
tick population. Although the man had not reported any tick bites, the time
of the year was right for such an event, and many deer ticks are so small
as to remain undetected. Unfortunately, the man's condition continued to
deteriorate, life support was withdrawn, and the man, who also had leukemia
and therefore possibly a weakened immune system, died 17 days after he fell

In general, Welch said, encephalitis cases of any sort are few, and labs
are not usually able to identify the source, unless it is the herpes
simplex virus. "Since no one has been testing, we really don't know the
incidence of deer tick virus, but it can't be very high, because we don't
have many cases of encephalitis," he said. "What happens in the future will
depend on how many ticks get infected, how easy it is to transmit to
people, and what per cent of people infected get severe disease. It could
be that people with normal immune systems are relatively resistant."

communicated by:
ProMED-mail rapporteur Susan Baekeland

[The research described above was published in the 14 May issue of the New
England Journal of Medicine (Norma P Tavakoli, Heng Wang, Michelle Dupuis,
Rene Hull, Gregory D Ebel, Emily J Gilmore, et al. Fatal case of deer tick
virus encephalitis. N Engl J Med 2009; 360: 2099-107.

Summary: "Deer tick virus is related to Powassan virus, a tick-borne
encephalitis virus. A 62 year old man presented with a meningoencephalitis
syndrome and eventually died. Analyses of tissue samples obtained during
surgery and at autopsy revealed a widespread necrotizing
meningoencephalitis. Nucleic acid was extracted from formalin-fixed tissue,
and the presence of deer tick virus was verified on a flavivirus-specific
polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) assay, followed by sequence confirmation.
Immunohistochemical analysis with antisera specific for deer tick virus
identified numerous immunoreactive neurons, with prominent involvement of
large neurons in the brain stem, cerebellum, basal ganglia, thalamus, and
spinal cord. This case demonstrates that deer tick virus can be a cause of
fatal encephalitis."

Deer tick virus is a newly described member of the mammalian tickborne
virus group. The members of this group are classified as the virus species:
_Gadge Gully virus_, _Kyasanur Forest disease virus_, _Langat virus_,
_Louping ill virus_, _Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus_, _Powassan virus_,
_Royal Farm virus_, and _Tick-borne encephalitis virus_. Of these viruses
deer tick virus is most closely related to Powassan virus. - Mod.CP

A photograph of a deer tick (_Ixodes scapularis_) can be seen at
. New York State can be
located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at
. - CopyEd.MJ]


R Town News : Troy Sings in Commeration

Fr. Bedros Shetilian conducts Troy, N.Y., orchestra in Genocide commemoration
by D. Edward Kebabjian

Published: Thursday May 14, 2009

Fr. Bedros Shetilian, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, conducts the Troy Orchestra.

Troy, N.Y. - On the evening of April 25, the New York Capital District Armenian Genocide Committee hosted the 94th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. This year's event was one of music featuring the Troy Orchestra under the direction of Fr. Bedros Shetilian. Fr. Bedros graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. He has worked with internationally known orchestras like the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and has toured several countries including England, Sweden, and Finland. Fr. Bedros is serving at Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church in Troy, New York, and St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Also featured in the evening performance was opera singer Chakee Kazangian, who sang "Karoon" and "Kele, Kele," both by Gomidas, and "Ororotsayin" by Parsegh Ganachian. Ms. Kazangian started singing in the Armenian schools in Beirut. She moved to Australia and graduated from the Sydney Conservatory as an opera singer. As a member of the Sydney Opera Company, she sang several operas in the famous Sydney Opera House to both Armenian and American audiences. She has toured Armenia, Brazil, and Syria and has recorded two CDs. Ms. Kazangian presently resides in the Capital District and is choir director at Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church in Troy, where she is a dedicated volunteer.

A third feature was Melynda Matheke, an elementary music teacher in a local school district who is a flute virtuoso. Ms. Matheke performed J.S. Bach's Orchestra Suite No 2 in B minor, for solo flute and chamber orchestra. Ms. Matheke graduated from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

All performers were extraordinary. The Troy Orchestra performed many songs including the five Armenian songs "Groong," "Yerginken Amber," "Keler Tsoler," "Dzirani Dzar," and "Etchmiadzin Dance."

Monday, May 11, 2009

County Democrats seek candidates

County Democrats seek candidates

First published in print: Saturday, May 9, 2009

TROY — The Rensselaer County Democratic Committee is seeking candidates for county office.

County Chairman Thomas W. Wade said the committee will interview candidates this month for county executive, county clerk and for county legislators.

County Court Judge Andrew Ceresia is the party's candidate for Family Court judge. Attorney Richard Hanft is the party candidate for Family Court judge.

The Republicans control the county Legislature. County Executive Kathleen Jimino and County Clerk Frank Merola are the Republican incumbents seeking re-election.

Anyone interested in running as a Democratic candidate for office should contact Wade at Rensselaer County Democratic Committee, P.O. Box 846, Troy, N.Y. 12181.

— Kenneth C. Crowe II

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Costly Superfund dredging set for Hudson River

By MICHAEL HILL – May 9, 2009

SARATOGA, N.Y. (AP) — People look funny at David Mathis when he takes a dip off his dock in the Hudson River. Health officials have long warned people not to eat fish caught from this slow-flowing stretch south of the Adirondacks and swimming here is unthinkable to many.

The reason: tons of oily PCBs — probable carcinogens — have been packed in with the river mud so heavily that the federal government named the river a Superfund site in 1984. Environmentalists and local residents like Mathis say the only way to rid the river of PCBs is to dredge out 1.8 million cubic yards of contaminated mud — a job that could take six years and cost far more than $100 million a year. Opponents along the river are just as adamant that the river is cleaning itself and that dredging will be a gigantic folly.

The argument has gone on for a generation.

Metal scoops are set to be lowered from barges this month and chomp out the first loads of river bottom in one of the largest and most complex federal Superfund cleanups ever. The dredging will be paid for and coordinated by General Electric Co.

A thin stretch of river around Fort Edward, 10 miles north of Mathis' dock, will be jammed with an armada of boats scraping away at the river bottom night and day, six days a week. A multimillion dollar, 114-acre treatment site built by GE will treat the contaminated mud and pump the clean water back into the river; the processed mud will be shipped to Texas for disposal.

"I've got a couple of kids. I don't have any grandkids yet," Mathis, 61, says as he pilots his 32-foot boat along the contaminated run of river. "But when I do, I want them to be able to swim in the river."

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were commonly used as coolants and lubricants in transformers before they were banned in 1977. Considered a probable carcinogen, they have been linked to immune, reproductive and nervous-system problems.

Over several decades before the ban, GE plants in Fort Edward and neighboring Hudson Falls discharged wastewater containing more than a million pounds of PCBs into the river. A dam at Fort Edward kept the PCBs largely bottled up. But when the dam was removed in 1973, the chemicals flowed all the way to river's mouth at New York City, concentrating along a 40-mile stretch down to Albany.

New York state environmental officials considered dredging in the mid '70s, but had trouble finding a spot to bury the contaminated mud. With the Superfund site listing in 1984, the federal Environmental Protection Agency acquired broad powers to force the cleanup on GE. The EPA initially decided against a cleanup, citing technical challenges, but reconsidered in the '90s.

What followed was a decade on the river that had the air of a political campaign. Neighbors in Fort Edward placed pro- or anti-dredging signs on their front laws. Heated arguments broke out at public meetings.

GE, on the hook for the massive cleanup cost, waged an aggressive media campaign against dredging. One typical newspaper ad said dredging would "disrupt life on the river for years, and there's no guarantee it will work."

Jack Welch, then GE's top executive, was especially outspoken. He even argued with a nun at a shareholders' meeting, telling her: "... there is no correlation between PCB levels and cancer, Sister."

While federal officials have stopped short of saying PCBs cause cancer, the Department of Health and Human Services says PCBs may reasonably be anticipated to be carcinogens.

GE found local allies. Many residents feared dredging would turn a quiet stretch of river into rumbling, klieg-lit construction site. Tim Haven, longtime president of the anti-dredging group CEASE, says he'll give the project "a fair shake," but still believes a full dredging could take more than 15 years and will kick up PCBs into the river.

"I have a suspicion, or a gut feeling, this baby not going to go as well as planned," Haven said.

The EPA called for dredging in 2002. The start date was pushed back several years as the sides haggled over details and legal issues. Under a GE and EPA agreement, 265,000 cubic yards of river bottom — or about 15 percent of the total — will be dredged this year under Phase 1. The results will be studied before the start of Phase 2, the final and much larger stage.

Still in federal court is a suit by down-river towns concerned about whether dredging will stir up the PCBs and contaminate their drinking water. But EPA spokeswoman Kristen Skopeck said the project is scheduled to start sometime mid- to late-May.

Twelve dredgers, using clamshell-like scoops, will scrape up to 5,000 cubic yards a day, a bite at a time. Operations manager Tim Kruppenbacher said every effort is being made to keep light and noise to a minimum, but acknowledges "you're going to hear us."

Toxic muck will be barged about a mile up the Champlain Canal to the sprawling cleanup facility. Muck will be offloaded, processed, piped and dewatered. Water will be filtered again and again until it can go back in the canal. The pressed and dried toxic sludge cake will be shipped by rail to a Texas burial ground.

There are bigger Superfund projects that are expected to cost more to clean. But GE spokesman Mark Behan said there is likely none so complex.

"What's different is the unprecedented logistics," said GE spokesman Mark Behan, "the scale of it."

The EPA estimates that the project will cost GE around $750 million. GE is not providing its own cost estimate.

Phase 1 of the work will continue through the fall.

Then comes the potential catch.

GE has yet to agree to perform Phase 2 — the vast majority of the cleanup over some 35 miles. GE reserved the right to review Phase 1 results before making a commitment. In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, GE noted blandly that after the peer review "we may be responsible for further costs."

Environmentalists — who have fought GE so bitterly for so long — remain suspicious that the company will find a rationale to stop dredging after this year. But even if GE bows out, EPA could continue with Phase 2 and seek to recoup triple costs from GE. "No matter what," said Skopeck, "we will complete this project."

On the Net:

Click on title above to see map of dredging areas

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Graduates Dilemma; To Shake or Not to Shake?

Here's a diploma and a wave?
Updated: 05/08/2009 06:04 AM
By: Britt Godshalk

TROY, N.Y. -- “I thought it was a great idea,” said Sage graduate Felicia Bishop.

“I think it's a little excessive,” said Sage graduate Stephanie Coppa.

Soon to be Sage graduates sounded off on the latest suggestion from their President. When accepting their diploma on Saturday, she says, forgo the familiar handshake. The reason? Germs.

“I felt like that was genius,” said Bishop. “It's better to be safe than sorry.”

“That's true and I think that's President Scrimshaw's motto. And because of her background in health, she just wants to be safe,” said Sage graduate Julia Killey.

“In the past, when we talked about bird flu, I didn't care, like, it'll never happen to me. And now swine flu, we have signs all over campus and gel dispensers outside, I guess it's a lot more serious than I thought. I've been using the gel dispensers like it's my job,” said Sage graduate Samantha Hall.

“So, should we all wear facemasks?” asked Coppa. “I mean, where is the line of being cautious and being overly cautious?”

The State Department of Health says as long as you wash your hands regularly and don't have flu like symptoms that could be H1N1, you can continue with life as usual. But as a local college prepares to hold its commencement this weekend, its administration is taking an extra precaution, just in case. Our Britt Godshalk explains.

Sage Colleges say both Tufts and MIT have decided to nix the handshake. St. Rose says that college considered it as well, but decided to keep the gesture, as will Union and UAlbany.

“It's tradition that we're breaking,” said Jen Resso.

Why do we even shake hands at all? Well, the President of the Colleges, who is not only a public health expert, but also an anthropologist, says it used to be that you were checking to see if your comrade was holding a sword. She says in this day and age, not only does that not apply, it's just not healthy. It caused us to wonder what will Sage graduates being doing instead of handshakes?

“It's kinda awkward if you just get the diploma. It's like, 'thanks, see ya later!'” Hall said.

“What can we do other than smile or do we just stand there?” asked Bishop.

“Maybe like the bump,” suggested Coppa. “Or maybe, oh wait, no handshaking, so no high five.”

“Probably a nod and a thank you will be it from me,” Killey said.

After all, a handshake is nice, but the diploma is really what they're after.

My suggestion: rubber gloves. Or, in the alternative, fake hands.

NY's Hudson Valley marks historic 1609 voyage

Friday, May 08, 2009

In this file image released by the Museum of the City of New York, an undated lithograph depicting a 17th century man who is purported to be Henry Hudson is shown. Four hundred years after Henry Hudson sailed his ship Half Moon up a river that would one day bear his name, historians are marking his role in the evolution of a tiny Dutch trading post into a world capital with a series of events and exhibits.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- When explorer Henry Hudson got as far north as he could go on the waterway that would later bear his name, he didn't stick around long or wander much beyond the riverbank.

"They did not venture far from shore," said William "Chip" Reynolds, captain of the Half Moon, a full-scale replica of the ship that Hudson, an Englishman, sailed for the Dutch during his 1609 voyage to the New World.

Hudson and his crew spent only four days at what would later become Albany, but others followed his route upriver, mainly Dutch merchants looking to trade for the fur of beavers trapped by local Indian tribes.

Those enterprising Dutchmen established Fort Orange (later renamed Beverwijck, or "District of the Beaver") 15 years after Hudson's voyage on "de Halve Maen." The English renamed the settlement Albany when they took control of Holland's New Netherlands colony in 1664, but the Dutch influence here and along the Hudson Valley lasted well into the 18th century, and plenty of remnants can still be found today.

Many communities between Westchester County and Albany are hosting festivals, concerts, exhibits and other events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Hudson's voyage, along with a belated 200th anniversary celebration of Robert Fulton inaugural steamboat trip up the river in 1807.

Reynolds' Half Moon will figure prominently in several events, including a nearly monthlong cruise recreating the river voyage that Hudson took in September 1609.

Here are some of the signature events, along with listings for museums and historic sites hosting related exhibits. For a more extensive list, check the state's Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission Web site,, or the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau's site at

ALBANY INSTITUTE OF HISTORY AND ART, Albany -- Current exhibit: "Hudson River Panorama: 400 Years of History, Art, and Culture." Features hundreds of artworks, artifacts, interactive displays and rare documents from the institute's own collections. Through Jan. 3, 2010,

CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, Troy -- Current exhibit: "Horseshoes & Waterwheels: NY's Tech Valley 1800s." Explores river's importance to the development of the Hudson Valley and the nation, using photographs, historical objects and video displays. Through Dec. 31,

THOMAS COLE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE, Catskill -- New exhibit featuring Hudson River views by the 19th century artist considered the founder of the Hudson River School, America's first art movement. May 2 through Oct. 11 at Cedar Grove, Cole's home and restored studio. A series of monthly guided hikes will be offered to the local scenes in the paintings beginning June 6 and ending Oct. 3,

TULIP FESTIVAL, Albany, May 8-10 -- A state capital tradition now in its 61st year, the festival celebrates Albany's deep Dutch roots. Events include the crowning of the Tulip Queen, live music, food vendors, children's activities, arts and crafts, and 200,000 tulips on display,

NEW NETHERLAND INSTITUTE, Albany -- Traveling exhibit: "Light on New Netherland." More than two dozen panels tell the story of the Dutch colony, with period artwork by contemporary artist Len Tantillo and video featuring interviews with Charles Gehring, who has spent decades translating the state's thousands of pages of 17th-century Dutch colonial documents for the institute's New Netherland Project. Exhibit will travel from Washington, D.C. to Grand Rapids, Mich., over the next year, with stops on Long Island and Dutchess County this summer and fall, respectively. Check for exact dates.

LAUNCHING OF THE ONRUST, Rotterdam Junction, mid-May -- The Onrust (Dutch for restless) is a full-scale replica of the first Dutch ship built in North America. Launched off Manhattan in 1614, the original ship explored the New York and New England coasts. The replica will be launched in the Mohawk River at the 300-year-old Dutch farm where it's being built. The Onrust's launching date and schedule for 2009 are to be announced.

OLD DUTCH CHURCH, Kingston, May 30-31 -- Celebration of the First Protestant Reformed Dutch Church's 350th anniversary. Presentation of plaque from U.S. Department of Interior designating site a National Historic Landmark, 11 a.m., May 30. Followed by Dutch celebration of Pinkster, or Pentecost, with re-enactors and church tours. Festival service with parishioners from 50 other Dutch Reformed churches and choir performance, 4 p.m. May 31,

HUDSON RIVER DAY, New York City-Albany, June 5-13 -- "Relay Flotilla" assembles June 5 in New York Harbor, then heads upriver the next day, arriving June 13 in Albany with hundreds of vessels expected to retrace Henry Hudson's voyage, including the Dutch replica ships Half Moon and Onrust, and the sloop Clearwater, a Poughkeepsie-based floating environmental education classroom,

NATIVE AMERICAN ENCAMPMENT, Cohoes, June 6 -- Held at the Van Schaick Mansion, named for the Dutch family that owned the island the home was built on in the mid-1700s. Located at the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers just north of Albany, the site was a military headquarters in the 18th century. Activities include a living history program of Iroquois weapons, clothing and storytelling,

CEMETERY TOUR, Menands, June 13 -- Trolley tour of gravesites with stories told of the Albany area's first Dutch settlers. Starts 10 a.m. at Albany Rural Cemetery, final resting place of the Van Rensselaers, Schuylers, Bleekers, and other members of the area's prominent Dutch families dating back to the 17th century,

WEST POINT CONCERTS, West Point -- Continuing a tradition begun in 1817, the U.S. Military Academy Band performs alongside the Hudson. Two free concerts are scheduled, at 7:30 p.m. on June 21, and 8 p.m. on July 4, at Trophy Point Amphitheatre overlooking the river,

NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM, Albany -- Exhibit: "1609." July 3 through March 2010. Using artifacts from the state's collection and historical images created by local artist Len Tantillo, the exhibit will re-examine Hudson's voyage, the myths that surround it, and explore the legacies of his unexpected discovery. Also, an August-September tour from Vermont to Manhattan by the Day Peckinpaugh, the museum's 259-foot, 1921 canal boat. Public tours of onboard maritime history exhibit scheduled at 15 ports,

RIP VAN WINKLE'S WACKY RAFT RACE, Athens to Catskill, Aug. 16 -- 6-mile race involving about two dozen non-motorized, homemade rafts vying for prizes named after old Hudson steamships that raced against one another on the river. Starts at 11 a.m. at Riverfront Park, Athens and finishes at Dutchman's Landing, Catskill,

VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY, Albany, Sept. 14-Oct. 8 -- The replica Half Moon recreates Henry Hudson's voyage on the river, with 7th-grade students serving as the crew. Ship is open for public tours during Albany's "quad" festival Sept. 26, or

WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON, Poughkeepsie-Highland, Oct. 2-4 -- A 1.2-mile-long, 212-foot-high former railroad bridge-turned-walkway for pedestrians, hikers, joggers and bicyclists. "Grand Illumination" of the Walkway, 7 p.m., Oct. 2., with fireworks display. Official opening, 10 a.m. Oct. 3, with rowing races, parade, fly-over by vintage aircraft from the Olde Rhinebeck Aerodrome,

STEAMBOAT BICENTENNIAL, Germantown, Oct. 10 -- Riverfront Trail grand opening and celebration at Clermont, estate of the prominent Livingston family whose members included a partner of steamboat inventor Robert Fulton. Activities include guided trail walks and re-enactments, or

BATTLE RE-ENACTMENT, Kingston, Oct. 16-18 -- Re-enactment of the burning of Kingston, the British attack on Oct. 16, 1777, during the Revolutionary War, when the old Dutch settlement (founded 1652) was the first capital of New York. Activities include redcoats landing in replica wooden boats, battle re-enactments, demonstrations of 18th century military camp life and colonial ball,

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Release No. 0153.09
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

Printable version
Email this page


Program Provides Access to Clean, Safe Drinking Water

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of funding for applications from non-profit organizations for funds to help rural homeowners construct or upgrade household water well systems.

The funding is provided through USDA Rural Development's Household Water Well System grant program. USDA plans to award up to four grants to non-profit groups that will use the funds to establish loan program for homeowners. Loans may not exceed $11,000 and will carry a term up to 20 years at a one percent annual interest rate.

"Because many rural residents do not live in areas where a centralized water system is feasible, it is essential that their wells are safe and working properly," said Vilsack.

The Household Water Well Grant program complements President Obama's environmental initiatives and provides support for rural residents.

USDA Rural Development plans to award up to $993,000 in grants. Non-profit groups must contribute at least 10 percent of the grant request. Individuals are not eligible for grants but may be eligible for loans if their annual household income does not exceed 100 percent of their state or territory's median non-metropolitan income. Loans may not be provided for home sewer or septic system projects.

The grants to be awarded under this notice are part of USDA Rural Development's annual budget and are not funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

This Notice follows the November 20, 2008, release of a Notice of Solicitation of Applications that opened the application filing window. Applications are due by the close of business May 31. The application guide for this grant program can be found at Also see the April 29, 2009, Federal Register, page 19503.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at

News Releases

Latest Releases

Transcripts and Speeches

Agency News Releases

Radio and TV Broadcasts

How to Get Information


RSS Feeds

Reports & Publications

Agency Reports

USDA Publications


Events by Date

Image and Video Libraries

Secretary's Photo Gallery

Broadcast Media & Technology Center

Last Modified: 05/06/2009!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2009/05/0153.xml

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Landfills: A Balancing Act

April 1, 2009

By Dave Call and Joe Benco
The successful siting of a landfill is a multi-pronged effort that must weigh environmental and engineering issues with political challenges, economic viability and social concerns. While there has been about a 75 percent decline in the number of operating landfills from 1988 to 2008, the amount of garbage generated in the United States continues to increase, resulting in a greater need to build new regional facilities or to expand existing sites. Both processes must engage all interested parties, from beginning to end, to develop a scientifically sound and socially acceptable site.

It goes without saying that landfills are an integral component of waste management operations, and the solid waste industry provides a vital public service that ensures the health and safety of citizens across the United States. Yet despite this vital role, and even with the significant engineering design and planning that goes into a modern landfill, siting a new facility or expanding an existing landfill presents an extraordinary challenge.

To better understand the challenge, let's examine the complex process of successful landfill siting. This process doesn't happen in a vacuum or overnight, and several steps may occur simultaneously. In fact, a uniform siting process does not exist for the entire country, primarily because each state and local government has different rules and regulations for land use approvals and other entitlements. A typical landfill siting process may take as few as three years from start to finish, but often takes five or more years.

The objective of any landfill development project is to ensure the site is environmentally and socially acceptable, and fills a defined and needed role. The landfill's purpose must be clearly established with the stakeholders in the community at the project's onset to ensure open communications and to address concerns.

When examining the need for a new landfill or the expansion of an existing facility, the developer must identify the long-term strategy for the market. The project proponents must consider economic justification, technical challenges and political feasibility. Some questions to address:

Is a new or expanded site needed?

When will the site be needed?

What is the area's potential for future growth?

What types of waste will the landfill receive?

How much waste should the landfill be designed to accept?

What is the desired lifespan of the facility?

Who will own and operate the facility?

Once you have determined the landfill's role, you can begin to design a facility. A site should be designed to serve the needs of the community, to maximize environmental protection and to minimize impact on the broader community.

Above all, the design must be based on sound science. A good design always takes into consideration geological conditions, including soil type and hydrology. Other key considerations include access to transportation corridors, compatibility with adjacent land uses and potential visual impacts.

Today's landfill is not just a place to put your trash — it is a complex system with many complementary design features that are protective of health and the environment. These features typically include:

composite liners, which are compacted clay bases covered with plastic liners that are designed to be versatile, resistant to light, and impervious to chemicals and other liquids;

leachate collection systems, which are installed on top of the liner to capture liquid that collects after rain and liquids in the trash itself; and

landfill gas collection systems, which allow the gas produced during decomposition to be collected, cleaned and used in many beneficial ways, such as power generation.

Finally, when sections of the landfill are ready to close, they are covered with a composite cap, which consists of layers of clay, plastic liner and vegetative material. All of these systems work together to protect the environment and public health.

Managing function and form are only the beginning. Making sure that a landfill will fit in with the community is the lynchpin of the siting process.

There are some who argue that the best place for a landfill is a remote location, one that is out of the sight and mind of the general public. Realistically, however, a landfill often is unable to avoid proximity to development, and communities frequently expand around existing landfills, transforming a once quiet and remote area into a fully developed community.

Because a landfill will have neighbors, it is critical to develop a relationship and cultivate trust with local residents and businesses. It is a cooperative effort that takes time, hard work and resources.

Landfill developers should involve the public early on in any siting process. Conduct polls, hold meetings and send letters to members of the community. Talk to neighbors and local officials, and address their questions. Have regular open houses at the site, which will give the public a chance to see the facility and operators a chance to explain how much design and effort goes into a landfill.

Furthermore, encourage the management staff to be active in the community and to know their neighbors. Identify project supporters and opponents, and establish a relationship with both. Not all area residents will be pleased with the project, but they are more likely to cooperate if they are provided accurate information.

Once you have established a successful relationship, it must be continuously monitored and protected. It can take many years to build a level of trust, and one misstep can ruin all of the hard work. If you stumble, work quickly to resolve the issue — it's another opportunity to further strengthen ties to the community.

Landfill development must be a two-way street. If the community does not believe that it will receive value from the project, it is more likely to oppose it. Value to the community comes in many forms, and is not necessarily limited to financial support through host fees or subsidized disposal.

Value also includes the jobs that the landfill brings to the community, both directly and indirectly through the businesses that the landfill supports. Likewise, businesses enrich the surrounding area when they participate in civic activities, such as youth sports, the arts and local festivals. A successful landfill siting strategy should include a plan for how to become an active member of the community.

A Model Public-Private Partnership
The Newton County Landfill in Morocco, Ind., is a perfect example of how a firm's investment in its community created economic and environmental benefits for the area. When Phoenix-based Republic (Allied Waste at the time) was looking for a regional landfill site in the state, the company discovered that Newton County owned an old, unlined site that was not up to Subtitle D standards.

In partnership with the county, Republic purchased the property and built a modern, lined landfill. Republic moved the material from the old landfill into the new facility, eliminating a potential environmental liability. Republic also signed a good neighbor agreement with the county, which provided host fees that funded new medical response equipment and an improved municipal center. A new business park adjacent to the site uses renewable energy provided by the landfill, and Republic also created a pheasant habitat in the buffer zone.

The company plans to roll out additional benefits such as a community recycling center, which will allow Newton County residents to drop off recyclables free of charge. The company saw this facility as both a benefit for the community and as a reflection of its commitment to extending its relationship with Indiana even further.

The Right Balance
The need for environmentally sound waste disposal capacity is evident. Fulfilling that need by balancing science, politics and the concerns of local citizens is a cooperative effort that at times will be emotional, controversial and challenging. But ignoring any one component of the process may result in delay or cancellation of the project.


Dave Call is vice president of landfill development for Phoenix-based Republic Services. Joe Benco is vice president of engineering and environmental management for the firm.

Related Stories
Like a Good Neighbor: Eliminate a landfill's negative stereotypes