·         RRA Scholarship Announcements


·         Rail Trails Rich In Both Our History And The Future...

·         Schools Safer Than Ever... RV Threats Assessed Despite Official Quiet

·         Ulster County VLT bill fails to reach NY Assembly floor, is dead for 2014

·         Ulster County trash agency’s proposed fee hike, secrecy anger municipal leaders

·         Rondout Valley High School senior had perfect attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade

·         Kerhonkson pilot Katja Jourdan soars to new heights

·         Town of Rochester man used woman’s credit card to steal money, police say

·         Schenectady woman stole from town of Rochester home, damaged vehicle tires, Ulster County sheriff’s deputies say

·         Police Blotter

·         Letters



RRA Scholarship Announcements

The Rochester Residents Association is pleased to announce the award of four Community Scholarships for 2014.


Alyza Countryman will study criminal justice and wildlife management at Sullivan County Community Colllege and hopes to become a DEC officer.  Alyza was active in basketball at RVHS and played on the JV and varsity teams.  She also led practices and was captain of the track and basketball teams.  In addition, Alyza participated in a number of community service projects and was coordinator of the Wounded Warrior Benefit Concert.


Aja Levenson will attend SUNY Oneonta, where she intends to double major in psychology and child & family studies, professions in which she will be able to fulfil her passion for helping people work through emotional struggles.    At RVHS, Aja has taken college level classes while also working at Saunderskill Farms and as a babysitter.


Emma Spiegler will study biomedical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.  At RVHS, Emma has been a member of the National Honor Society and been active in soccer, tennis, track, and gymnastics.  In addition to being a member of the Math Team, Emma was active in the All County Band.


Asa Witt will attend McGill University, where he intends to study computer science and to use that knowledge to develop and implement projects that improve people’s lives.  Aside from taking a number of college-level science classes, Asa initiated and led a Student Forum to promote students’ voices in educational reforms.  He was also active in mock trial and the RVHS band.

We are pleased to be able to help Alyza, Aja, Emma and Asa as they pursue the next step in their educational paths; we're proud to have them represent our community and to know that they'll still be nearby.


This is the eighth year of the Rochester Residents Association’s scholarship program.  During that time, more than $20,000 in scholarship have been awarded to graduating seniors from our community.  The scholarships are funded by contributions and dues received from members.






            The Mid-Hudson Fuel Buying Co-op has made agreements for the purchase of discounted oil, kerosene and a service contract for the 2014-2015 heating season. 

            A Better Choice Fuel Service (ABCFS), LLC is offering prepay oil for $3.499 a gallon and $3.599 for a nine-month budget plan; prepay kerosene at $399.99 and budget at $409.99 per gallon, and a service contract for $239.99.  Prices are valid through July 31, 2014.  Both plans require a minimum purchase of 500 gallons, with the first budget plan payment due in July.   If fuel prices drop, customers will receive the lower price without paying an additional charge. 

Established in 2006, A Better Choice Fuel Service, LLC is an independent, family-owned and operated fuel supply company, located in Kingston.  Tom, a retired NYS Trooper, and Dorothy Rafferty, long- time area residents are invested in supporting our community. 

            Due to the complexities of propane pricing, we are unable to provide a discounted price for this fuel season.  We plan to begin negotiating for propane in April 2015 for the 2015-2016 heating season.

            If you would like to join the co-op, please request a membership application form from Estie Jacobs at estiej@gmail or 845-626-5350.  After completion of the form, your application will be forwarded to ABCFS, LLC, and you will contract directly with them.

             The Mid-Hudson Fuel Buying Co-op was formed in the fall of 2013 to purchase oil, propane, and kerosene fuel at a discounted rate.  The co-op is interested in expanding into an Energy Co-op which will explore fuel conservation and alternative energy.  If you would like to be involved, contact Fay Loomis at flloomis@earthlink.net.




Rail Trails Rich In Both Our History And The Future...


By Terence P. Ward


ROCHESTER – Watching an electric train trundle through a platform towards its next destination, it's not uncommon to see sparks fly as power is drawn from the third rail. So while the trains which once ran on the O&W line were powered by coal, the history of that and other local railroads and the land upon which they were built has been characterized by metaphorical sparks... Even today, the challenges of completing a rail trail system through the town of Rochester, and other Rondout Valley townships, can be enough to cause hair to stand on end.

Those sparks were first struck when the New York & Oswego Midland Railroad incorporated in 1868 and founder Dewitt C. Littlejohn ran into difficulty convincing local municipalities to bond for the work along his planned route. Those cities and towns that didn't help were thus bypassed, resulting in a rail bed that zigged and zagged, avoiding most major population centers from Oswego to the New Jersey state line.


The railroad faced additional financial difficulties in the 1870s, ceasing operations almost entirely. Skittish landowners tore up tracks and sold them for scrap, fearing they would not otherwise be paid; but the line reopened under the name New York, Ontario & Western Railway (O&W) in 1879.


The newly-reorganized railroad was in the right place at the right time to both burn and ship anthracite coal from Pennsylvania, starting about 1890. Times were flush as the boarding houses, bungalow colonies and then resort hotels of the area that came to be known as the Borscht Belt surged in popularity, and the O&W shipped both coal and vacationers to and through the Catskills. The Great Depression fundamentally changed the character of Catskill resort traffic, and the coal mines in Scranton failed in 1937, leading the railroad back to the brink of financial ruin. There followed yet another transformation — to the shipping of general goods. That continuing business, and passenger travel, dipped after a postwar spike and never recovered.


The O&W was the first railroad in the greater region to be abandoned in totality.


After years of laying fallow, interest in turning this and other old railroad easements — which did not dissolve with the company — into walking trails began in the 1990s. Much of the early work in that area focused on old rail beds that were still largely clear and easy to convert, but the opening of the Walkway Over the Hudson accelerated that process throughout the region.


The next sparks to fly were about property rights. People who owned land adjacent to tracks which hadn't seen train traffic in generations were sometimes less than welcoming of pedestrians along those routes, fearing liability for injuries, vandalism and litter, as well as the general nuisance of having people where they haven't been before.


With much of the least challenging portions of a nascent rail trail system in Ulster and Dutchess counties complete, the most intractable problems are often of this latter sort. For instance, Al Jager's property is adjacent to the entrance to a rail trail portion along Lucas Avenue in Rochester, and he sees it as the reason why people park in his driveway. Tired of being blocked in, he put up a fence... but that didn't work out so well.


"It wasn't even close to the rail trail property," he said. "It was 2-3 feet away but I was told that it would be removed, and at my expense."


Jager thinks the popularity of such trails tends to have a silencing effect on neighboring property owners. "Most of the landowners don't speak up, but they don't like it much either," he continued. "You don't know what kind of people come up the trail; they can get off the rail trail and run through someone's property. I can't see the benefits in many cases, especially when a lot of people who benefit seem to think the landowner doesn't have much of a right to the land. It's a public thing. We have to pay the taxes, and our property rights have dwindled."


While Rochester is known for residents who put great stock in property rights, concerns like those expressed by Jager are not the most difficult to work with. He and landowners like him do indeed have limits to the rights to their property, limits which were recorded by the County Clerk when the railroad was first contemplated in the 19th century.


Differences about what those easements actually mean can be hammered out by hiring attorneys, but the fact of the matter is that most parcels of land have had some of those rights carved out in years past, and present landowners and trail managers have a legal framework within which to work.


The bigger challenge is that not all of the original rail beds are still encumbered by such easements. Along Lucas Avenue is the biggest gap in the O&W trail, and it's the direct result of the railroad giving those easements back to the farmers who had signed them over in the first place.


With the reopening of the railroad trestle in Rosendale and the near-completion of the Kripplebush Creek bridge in Marbletown, that gap is one of the largest remaining ones in the southern part of the county which doesn't yet have a clear plan for filling it in.


"It's a complicated challenge for Rochester," said Lynn Archer, county legislator for District 21, which includes the area in question. She sees the rail-trail system as a major economic driver for the county, and closing the gap in her town is a priority, albeit a complex one to achieve.


"We need to close the gap in a safe way — the trail crosses the Rondout, Lucas Avenue, and Route 209. We're exploring every alternative," and the costs associated with each, she continued. "Everybody has an opinion."


Any route will require one or more property owners to sign on as well, so Archer and other public officials are unwilling to lay out any proposals until there is a clear agreement with all the stakeholders.


The stretches of trail that are already in the town are mostly grassy areas that run alongside horse farms and bucolic countryside. This reporter took a walk along one stretch earlier this spring with Rochester councilman Brian Drabkin to determine their condition, and found the O&W trail to be free of fallen trees, muddy spots, and other impediments to walking.


If and when the connections are made, it could mean changes to the existing portions, too: Federal money may be available for the rail trail, but could bring requirements for accessibility to a wider variety of users. That could lead to paving portions and improving entrances and parking areas so that it can enjoyed with a wheelchair, stroller, or electric cart.


The momentum towards a complete rail trail system that extends throughout Ulster and Dutchess counties and beyond is fairly strong, but it still might take time to close the gaps which exist in Rochester. Once that and other trail issues are resolved, it will be possible to walk from the southern county line northward to Kingston, and from there pick up trails which cross the Hudson or into Sullivan, Delaware and Greene counties. Yet as the system moves towards maturity, it's likely that a few more sparks might fly during the process. But so moves history... (Shawangunk Journal 6/5/14)


Schools Safer Than Ever... RV Threats Assessed Despite Official Quiet


By Terence P. Ward


ACCORD – There was no official mention of the threatening correspondence sent to Marbletown Elementary School at the June 24 meeting of the Rondout Valley Board of Education, but Superintendent Rosario Agostaro did note afterwards that it's not because district officials are unconcerned. In fact, the superintendent characterized the schools as safer than ever in the wake of the first letters received at Marbletown last year.

Concerns about the correspondence were referenced obliquely by both people who rose to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting, with one mother referring to "security" and the other expressing concern about "threats at Marbletown back in our daily lives."


In a testament to how fleeting the staying power of local news is, one of the women also remarked that she found it "shocking" that families of this year's kindergartners weren't even aware that two letters of concern had been sent to the school last year.


In response to those first letters being received, outdoor recess was cancelled and bus drivers were only allowed to discharge their passengers one vehicle at a time, measures which were re-instituted in the wake of the newest letter.


Last year, a forum was held at the high school auditorium, with school administrators checking identification of each attendee, a rare measure for an evening meeting. State police and sheriff's department members were on hand to allay parental fears, but were unwilling to share much detail about the correspondence or the investigation.


While only two parents waited through a lengthy board meeting to express concerns about the newest wave of security measures, Agostaro in no way suggested that the district's response has been muted this time around.


"We've been working closely with the state police and sheriff's department," he commented later, pointing out that numerous drills have been held at Marbletown and throughout the district to better prepare law enforcement and staff for any eventuality.


One new measure which was broached at the meeting was the acquisition of a security wand, a hand-held metal detector, which was suggested by the board's safety committee.


"We would need to develop specific policies if we were to move forward," Agostaro told the board, but it was envisioned that the device would be used for athletic events and on other occasions when a large number of people would be gathered together.


Board members had questions about who would be trained to use the device, as well as its specific protocols, and it was agreed to consider the matter in depth at a later meeting.


One of the reasons the meeting was a long one — well over two hours — was the recognition of retirees and the awarding of the district's distinguished service award, which this year was officially designated the Thomas King Distinguished Service Award in memory of a teacher who was well-respected upon his death. Two regular attendees at board meetings, Al Baker and Michelle Donlon, will be retiring and were among the honorees. Baker is technology director and took on the role of athletic director in the past year. Donlon, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, was also a recipient of the distinguished service award.


Board members also agreed in principle to hire Alfandre Architecture of New Paltz to design the greenhouse and food lab classroom as part of a $726,000 grant from the New World Foundation to expand food sciences in the district. The greenhouse will be constructed adjacent to the high school, while the food lab will be in the middle school, which will allow eighth graders to participate in those programs more easily.


It is expected that the agriculture and life sciences programs will be among the first impacted by the new facilities, and Agostaro expressed hope that elementary school students will also be able to learn in them in time.  (Shawangunk Journal 6/26/14)


Ulster County VLT bill fails to reach NY Assembly floor, is dead for 2014


Video lottery terminals like these would have been allowed at two locations in Ulster County under the legislation that died in the state Assembly. AP file


By Patricia Doxsey, Daily Freeman


KINGSTON >> Legislation to allow video lottery terminals at resorts in Ulster County is dead for 2014 after failing to make it to the floor of the state Assembly.

The Assembly ended its session Thursday without taking up the measure, which had been introduced by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston.

An identical bill had been introduced in the Senate by James Seward, R-Milford, but his office said Thursday that the Senate would not take the measure up regardless of the Assembly’s action.

Cahill declined to comment Friday.

In a press release issued Friday, Eliot Spitzer (not the former New York governor), owner of the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonkson, said although the bill didn’t make it before the full Legislature, it brought to the fore the issue of allowing video lottery terminals in existing resorts.

“Now that we got to this point and have significant support for the idea, we are going to step back and wait for the casino location process to take its course, as that is the county’s priority at this time,” Spitzer wrote.

The bill, which would have allowed video lottery terminals, or VLTs, at two Ulster County resorts, was opposed by county officials, local government officials and at least one area business association who feared it could damage the county’s chances of securing a much-coveted casino license.

Last year, David O’Halloran, owner of the Pinegrove Ranch in Kerhonkson, and Spitzer asked county lawmakers to adopt a resolution calling on the state to allow video lottery terminals at the two resorts. That measure was pulled, however, when it became clear it wouldn’t be approved. The county Legislature which instead adopted a resolution reaffirming its support for a full-scale casino at the former Nevele resort in Wawarsing.

Michael Treanor, chief executive officer of the casino development group Nevele Investors LLC, has said if the county is granted authority to have video lottery terminals, it could put the county at a distinct disadvantage in vying for the one or two casino licenses to be awarded in the Hudson Valley-Catskills region.

Earlier this week, the Rondout Valley Business Association called on Cahill to “immediately withdraw” the VLT bill, warning it could harm the Nevele’s chances and questioning Cahill’s motives.

And in Wawarsing, where the Nevele has been closed since mid-2009, officials and residents launched a letter-writing campaign calling on Cahill to withdraw his bill.

Under a state constitutional amendment passed last year, a total of four casinos will be allowed on non-Indian land in three regions of the state: the Hudson Valley-Catskills, the Albany-Saratoga area and the Southern Tier.

There are nine casino proposals in the Hudson Valley-Catskills region: six in Orange County, two in Sullivan County and only the Nevele plan in Ulster County.

Final proposals from casino developers are due to the state by June 30. A state casino siting board is expected to announce the selected sites in the fall.

Spitzer said once those announcements are made, he “will continue our efforts to complete what we started” in seeking approval for the video lottery terminals. (Freeman 6/20/14)


Ulster County trash agency’s proposed fee hike, secrecy anger municipal leaders

by William J. Kemble, news@freemanonline.com

TOWN OF ULSTER >> Town leaders are angry about the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency proposing a fee increase and discussing he matter behind closed doors.

Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman, who chairs the Ulster County Association of Supervisors and Mayors, said any discussion about higher disposal fees should be public.

“Especially them being a public corporation like they are, everything should be right out in the open on it,” he said.

“I’d like to have a sit-down with them and have a little bit of back-and-forth,” Chipman said. “We really need that, and if it’s in executive session, you can’t do that.”

Chipman spoke during the public comment portion of Monday’s Resource Recovery Agency board meeting and complained about proposed increases of $10 to $17 per ton for handling solid waste from municipalities’ transfer stations. The agency also would begin charging $85 per month for the use of roll-off containers.

“I’m here to ask you, as a board, to hold off implementing what you’re planning to implement with the bins and asking us to sign a contract for 10 years and giving us two months to be able to be able to do that,” Chipman said.

In a May 29 letter, Resource Recovery Agency Executive Director Tim Rose said the agency last year lost $72,000 on municipal services and is asking municipalities to pay the same rates as the private sector.

Agency lawyer Kenneth Gilligan he believes the board, in discussing the matter in private, was complying with the state Open Meetings Law‘s exception involving contract discussions.

“It’s negotiations between us and towns,” he said. “We’re going into executive session on that basis.”

Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, said the closed-door meeting didn’t “even come close” to the negotiations exception. He said that rule pertains only to the discussion of employee union contracts.

“We’re talking about a relationship between two governmental agencies where, presumably, significant public services as well as substantial public monies are involved,” Freeman said.

Hurley Transfer Station Manager Jim Craven said during the meeting’s public comment portion that municipalities should have a lower rate than private haulers because there of costs involved in transportation.

“Recalculate the fairness ... and consider what it costs transfer stations to get it to you,” he said. “We both have collection costs and overhead costs, and that varies transfer station to transfer station and hauler to hauler.”

Agency board Chairman Leon Smith said requests to delay implementing changes would be reviewed.

“We will take it into consideration when we discuss it later,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some kind of answer we can get back to the supervisors before their (next) meeting.” (Freeman 6/24/14)


Rondout Valley High School senior had perfect attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade



By Brian Hubert, bhubert@freemanonline.com,, @brianatfreeman on Twitter

Rondout Valley High School senior Alexzander Smith, who graduates this week, never missed a day of school since kindergarten. Brian Hubert – Daily Freeman

KERHONKSON>> “You have to take pride in what you’re doing, otherwise there’s no point in doing it,” said Alexzander Smith who graduates from Rondout Valley High School this week.

Smith has something unique to take pride in: he’s the first student to ever graduate from the Rondout Valley Central School District with perfect attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“They actually gave me a funny little certificate for this,” he said.

Smith credits much of his achievement to the support and encouragement of his parents

“My parents always took pride in me being in school,” he said.

Getting perfect attendance became a personal quest beginning back in elementary school, even if that meant going to school after ailments that few would think about going to class with, he said.

“In 10th grade I had my appendix out 72 hours before school started,” he said. “48 hours after I was released from the hospital, I was there for the first day of school.”

Smith said he was recently diagnosed with a condition that causes his throat to close leading to frequent hospitalizations that normally require overnight stays.

“I told them I need to get out of here so I can get to school,” he said.

While classes, particularly English, weren’t always easy for him, he said that never slowed his drive to be there everyday.

Working with his hands always appealed to Smith more than working behind a desk, and he said that led him to the compact diesel engine program at Ulster BOCES.

“In the shop I got hands on experience everyday,” he said. “And I liked the one on one relationship with his teachers,” He said he plans to get basic courses out of the way at Ulster County Community College before he moves onto Ohio Tech to get the certifications he needs to work on larger diesel engines.

Teacher ties

Smith said he’s built a great relationship with his educators like kindergarten teacher, Sally Kemper, who he made a point to visit everyday when his bus stopped at the elementary school.

Jody Hoffman, his guidance counselor for the last three years, always encouraged him, even if his dreams of hands-on work differed from many other students, Smith said. Smith also knows his seventh-grade social studies teacher on a first name basis, and they’ve taken bike rides together. He said he likes history because it lets him learn more about the place he lives in.

Smith played football, basketball 

Smith played football, basketball and ran track for several years, and also participated in the Science Olympiad, where he said he took top billing in the county in the forestry category.

“My dads a logger,” he said.

He said he’s already starting to miss Rondout Valley.

“It’s just starting to sink in now,” he said.

And staff at the high school said they’ll miss him too.

“In my 12 years here, I’ve never come across something like this,” said Jody Hoffman his guidance counselor.

“He was always determined, dedicated, and had a great attitude,” Rondout Valley High School Principal Robert Cook said.

But nobody’s more proud of Alexzander’s accomplishment that his parents, Sue and Mike Smith.

“We’re proud of how hard he pushed himself to do this,” his father said.

“School is like a job if you don’t get a paid sick day, you get off your butt and work,” his mother added. (Freeman 6/22/14)



Kerhonkson pilot Katja Jourdan soars to new heights


Farrell Memorial Highway Considered

Rochester Wrestles With Ongoing Zoning Changes


By Terence P. Ward


ACCORD – Rochester town board members discussed the possibility of commemorating Sergeant Shawn M. Farrell II, who died serving in Afghanistan and was buried last month with full military honors in Krumville Cemetery. A number of suggestions were made, with the board ultimately deciding to pursue that honor for the stretch of Routes 44 & 55 which runs through the town.

Naming a state road would require action by the state legislature.


That stretch of scenic roadway is an attractive option, not only because of its visibility, but because the overlook stops are slated to be improved this year. Other suggested roads to name in Farrell's honor included Scenic Road, Route 209 and Tobacco Road. Town roads would require only a resolution of the board to rename, and Supervisor Carl Chipman expressed that Tobacco Road, where the town's youth center is located, sends an ironic message. Scenic Road, as the address of the town hall and highway garage, could cause some confusion were it to be renamed. Of the state road options, Route 44/55 was deemed the better choice by the board, and its visibility led it to be the final choice that the board wishes to pursue. Chipman said that Assemblyman Kevin Cahill will be asked to carry legislation regarding the honor.


Zoning changes — both to the code itself and the fees associated with it — are proceeding at the speed of government. Council member Sherry Chachkin advised that she and fellow board member Brian Drabkin had reached accord about how to consider the large package of proposed changes to the code. Initially, Drabkin had argued that the board should discuss and vote upon only that portion which is deemed uncontroversial, which board members loosely refer to as "the 85 percent," and only then look at the remaining portions. There was concern that this would result in a code that would be difficult to interpret and enforce, since that remaining 15 percent is closely tied in but would not be law for some time, as the board went through a separate review and public hearing process. Chachkin reported that she had convinced Drabkin, who was not present at the May 29 workshop meeting, that addressing the entire package would be more appropriate "for expedience and economics."


Passing changes to town law has associated costs, including publishing a notice of public hearing and having the town's law books updated by its legal publisher. Town attorney Mary Lou Christiana will codify the proposed changes so that a public hearing may be scheduled. Until then, those changes continue to be changed themselves.


Two proposals before the board will be discussed in the code-change debate... One is an application to have a kennel in an R-5 district; a use that is not presently allowed in that zone, but is in the proposed changes. The other is Camp Epworth's request to become an animal sanctuary, a use which is not contemplated in the code at all but will be included as the board continues its zoning work.  (Freeman 6/5/14)






Rondout graduate Katja Jourdan poised to fly in transcontinental Air Race Classic

 By Ron Rosner, rrosner@freemanonline.com, @RonRosner on Twitter

Imagine a movie changing the trajectory of someone’s life.

In the case of Kerhonkson’s Katja Jourdan, one film did just that and now the 2011 Rondout Valley High graduate finds herself soaring to new heights — literally.

“Four, five years ago if someone suggested I would be a pilot, I would have thought they were kidding,” said the 20-year-old Jourdan in a phone interview from Jacksonville, Florida, where she was getting ready to compete in her third straight Air Race Classic.

The prestigious all-female pilot event, which began in 1929 when it was known as the All Women’s Transcontinental Air Race before it was renamed to the Air Race Classic in 1977, begins in Concord, California and ends in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

She will team up with Stacey Byczek to represent Jacksonville University in the race that consists of more than 100 racers and a dozen colleges.

Her team is called the “Runway Models.”

“I’m excited to be racing in this one last time,” said Jourdan, who just recently graduated early from Jacksonville with a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management and Flight Operation.

There may not have been a first time had Jourdan not been drawn to flying by a movie she saw as a teenager while visiting family in Tampa.

“We went to the MOSI Theater. It’s a small theater and there were only two movies playing,” Jourdan said. “There was ‘Wall-E’ and a movie called ‘Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag’ about fighter pilots training for combat.”

The decision was “Fighter Pilot.”

“The truth is I really wanted to see ‘Wall-E’. (‘Fighter Pilot’) was not my choice, but we had adults with us and they probably wouldn’t have liked ‘Wall-E.’”

The group watched the film in an IMAX Dome theater in the Museum of Science & Industry, “kind of like sitting in a big golf ball,” Jourdan said. “... and I just got hooked. It felt like I was right there in the plane. It was amazing.

“Before then, I never really thought much about flying at all. I do remember when I was eight, right after 9/11, my mother got us round-trip tickets to Germany. I was petrified to go, but I remember we took off from I believe JFK at night and seeing (New York City) from the air was beautiful.

“I wasn’t scared after that.”

It didn’t take long for Jourdan to start her journey to becoming a pilot.

She began flying when she was 16 and got her pilot’s license when she was 17.

Jourdan quit Rondout’s varsity field hockey team to devote even more time to flying. She enrolled in the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center’s Aviation program and trained at the Kingston-Ulster Airport.

She graduated a year early and was accepted at Jacksonville, where she continued her aviation education.

It was in her first year at Jacksonville where she heard about the Air Race Classic (ARC).

“At school, there were a couple of ladies who were part of ARC who spoke with me about it,” Jourdan said. “They were looking for people to join the ARC and I was like, ‘Where do I sign up?’ At first, I was the only one interested, but not only did I find a partner that first year, we actually were able to have two teams represent Jacksonville.

“That first year was so thrilling. I can’t even put it into words. We (Jourdan and teammate Renee Brilhante) had this plane that Jacksonville University supplied all to ourselves. To be able to see the country from that high up, it’s breathtaking. Here I am an 18-year-old with the country below me.”

Jourdan couldn’t remember where the team placed that year, going from Arizona to Ohio, but figured it finished “middle of the pack.”

“In terms of strategy, we really didn’t know what we were doing that first year. We walked into that first race blind, but I don’t think we cared too much,” Jourdan laughed.

She partnered with Amanda Suter in 2013 — also from Arizona to Ohio — and although Jourdan said the duo finished “about the same as the year before,” she said the experience was night and day.

“I knew what to expect because I had been through it already. We definitely executed better,” Jourdan said. “Last year, it seemed like the girls were so much better than even the year before. The competition was intense.”

In the Air Race Classic, competitors go up with a check pilot who measures the best possible speed for the plane. Jourdan’s team will compete in the same plane she competed in last year. All planes must be stock small aircraft.

The goal would be to then beat that best speed.

Between California and Pennsylvania, there will be 10 checkpoints. Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Ohio are the states covered by the checkpoints. More than 2,300 nautical miles will be covered.

“So much of the race is strategy,” Jourdan said. “From beating our best speed, finding that tailwind that can help, being discreet about what you’re doing because you don’t want to give away your strategy.

“Even how many legs you complete in a day is part of the strategy. With our plane, we can go two legs before we need to re-fuel. So you have to decide after that first leg whether it would be better to do the second leg the same day, or maybe the weather would be better for flying the next day.

“There are a lot of things to think about.”

Although flying in close proximity to several other planes at heights of up to 14,000 feet “is intense,” Jourdan said the hardest part are the starts and stops.

“You have to be flying full power in both your takeoffs and landings,” she said. “So there’s a start or stop line (or cones or some other marking) and you’re not far off the ground when you pass it at close to 200 miles per hour.

“There’s some anxiety with that.”

That said, Jourdan said she’d like to finish in the top-10 this year.

“It’s my last chance, so why not go out with a bang?” Jourdan said.

Although the ARC is not limited to college teams, several pilots compete as part of their teams because of the expense.

“For me, Jacksonville is paying for me to fly their plane from Florida to California to Pennsylvania to Florida,” she said. “I couldn’t compete any other way.”

Much like high school, Jourdan graduated from Jacksonville a year early and recently got her instructor’s certification.

She hopes to work for an airlines and someday start her own flight school.

“It’s been an incredible few years for me,” Jourdan said. “After I took that flight to Germany when I was eight, whenever I flew, I always wanted to get that window seat.

“Hopefully soon, I’ll be getting paid for having that window seat all the time. How amazing would that be?”

And just think what Jourdan’s life would be like if she saw “Wall-E” instead.

 “I don’t know. Maybe I’d want to be an astronaut, or a robot,” Jourdan laughed. (Freeman 6/10/14)


Town of Rochester man used woman’s credit card to steal money, police say

ROCHESTER >> A town man was arrested after allegedly using a woman’s credit card to make transfers to a PayPal account, state police said Thursday.

Scott A. Nazario, 45, was arrested by state police at Wawarsing on Wednesday and charged with two felony counts of grand larceny.

On April 25, troopers at the Wawarsing barracks received a report of unauthorized charges to a credit card, they said. The apparent victim told police her credit card and bank account both were used to make transfers to a PayPal account.

An investigation found that Nazario used the victim’s credit card and bank account without her authorization, police said. Nazario and the victim know one another, police said.

Nazario was arraigned in Rochester Town Court and sent to the Ulster County Jail without bail. (Freeman 6/12/14)


Schenectady woman stole from town of Rochester home, damaged vehicle tires, Ulster County sheriff’s deputies say

TOWN OF ROCHESTER >> A Schenectady woman has been jailed on charges of criminal mischief, a felony, and petit larceny and possession of stolen property, misdemeanors, following report Saturday of vandalism and larceny at a town of Rchester home, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office said.

Ameria Venable, 26, of 1749 Albany St., Apt. 1, Schenectady, removed items from the home at 4 Little Sam Road and caused damage to six tires on three different vehicles in the driveway, deputies said Sunday.

Deputies said they responded to a report of a theft and criminal mischief at the residence around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Venable was later located in the town of Newburgh by the Town of Newburgh Police Department and was arrested.

Several of the items reported stolen were recovered, deputies said.

Venable was arraigned in Rochester Town Court and was sent to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail pending a court appearance. (Freeman 5/25/14)


Police Blotter


DWI: Jessica A. Barnwell, 36, of Accord, was arrested by state police at Wawarsing on state Route 209 in the town of Rochester and charged with the misdemeanors of driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding 0.08 percent and drunken driving. Barnwell was released with tickets for Rochester Town Court. (Freeman 6/25/14)


Endangering/aggravated DWI: Eugene D. Brice, 49, of Kerhonkson, was arrested by state police at Wawarsing on Samsonville Road in the town of Rochester at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and charged with felony aggravated drunk driving with a child in the vehicle, the misdemeanors of endangering the welfare of a child and drunken driving, and the infractions of failure to keep right, speeding, and refusal to take a breath test. Brice was held at the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail or $25,000 bond. (Freeman 6/19/14)




Dear Editor:


It should be noted that the code changes proffered were completely non-controversial. Most of the so-called 15 percent of changes not agreed upon by the code committee reviewing them (of which I was a member) were simply the result of running out of time. A few members of the committee wanted more information from state officials (Ag-Market law, for instance) as to what terms meant and what criteria were involved at the state level versus local level to assure fairness of application. There were a couple of items that raised "fear of reprisal" concerns among one or two members: For instance, the more clearly articulated stipulation that conditions of a conditional Planning Board Special Use Permit approval be fulfilled or the SUP could be rescinded. This is a well-established zoning and land use principle with much case law to back it up and has been applicable in the Town of Rochester since the very first Zoning Code was established back in 1969. Understand that Special Uses, by their inherent nature, produce impacts that need to be mitigated. Thus, the need for mitigation conditions being met. If a business wants to operate a Special Use, they need to comply with the conditions of approval.

When the fear of reprisal reaction arose, I asked the concerned members to state a single instance of a SUP being revoked in the 45 years since zoning has been codified in the Town of Rochester. No one could think of an example of such reprisal. The only reason for this new language inclusion was to minimize any misunderstanding so that legal challenges would be less likely to follow such an unlikely rescission of SUP. Businesses that honor their agreement with the town have absolutely no reason to fear such language inclusion. Businesses that seek to violate their agreements with the town should be held accountable. If they still refuse to fulfill their end of the bargain, such businesses would get a public hearing before the Town Board to plead their cases. Only then would a revocation occur if the condition(s) were reasonable and still unmet. Even then, the business could sue the town via Article 78 proceeding and have a judge well-versed in land use law consider whether or not the condition(s) of approval were reasonable vis-a-vis well-established zoning principles.


I am confident that the Town Board will soon and unanimously pass the innocuous but necessary changes to the code.


Steven Fornal