Serving the Towns of Wawarsing, Crawford, Mamakating, Rochester and Shawangunk, and everything in between
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Hats Off To Those Who Teach!
I am struck by the number of young adults entering the teaching profession, despite all its difficulties.

Teaching has always been tough work. My grandmother taught in a one-room school in Montana in the 1920s. When she arrived, she learned she had to share a bed with one of her students, whose father was on the school board. After that first night of smashing bedbugs — she could still describe the nightmare 60 years later — my grandmother said she would sleep on a bedroll in the school. The next year, she taught school in Alaska, always entering the freezing building at least an hour early to light the cast iron stove and make a big pot of oatmeal for her students. My other grandmother was the fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and school principal in a three-room school in rural Washington state through the 1960s.

As young women, my grandmothers were attracted to teaching because they were good at it and because it was one of very few professions that allowed them some measure of independence.

Talented young men and women are still entering the teaching profession, drawn by their commitment to serve. Just as young people serve their country in the armed forces, young teachers are serving their country every single day. Their battles are endless and daunting. They are never off-duty. They are always preparing for the next child, the next lesson, the next report, the next parent or committee meeting. The work itself is endlessly challenging, but, on top of that, they are often met with suspicion, hostility, and outright demagoguery.

To all the young people entering the classroom, and to all my friends and colleagues still taking on the noble fight that is public education: Thank you for your service.

Susan Pittman

Summer Program Deserves Recognition!
I find it outrageous that those attending Rochester's town board meeting on September 3rd, including two reporters, did not hear a word about our outstanding summer program because Councilwoman Cindy Fornino, town board liaison to the Youth Commission for the past year, had "nothing to report!"

Personally, year after year I had trouble finding the appropriate superlatives to describe our excellent program. This summer 70 children participated (16 of them benefiting from Oremus Foundation scholarships) and August 21, the last day of the program, marked a uniquely emotional moment — the conclusion of fifteen wonderful years of having MaryAnne Gates as program director. That day some kids had tears in their eyes because the perfectly organized, superbly diverse, lovely program was ending.

I totally agree with what our Youth and Recreation Dept. director Carol Dennin said: MaryAnne is "definitely one in a million!" I had the privilege to see her work with the children only for the last 4-5 summers, but she was our director for 15 years — one third of her entire life! — and I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for her, knowing firsthand what sacrifices are made when one dedicates the summers of her life to bringing joy to the children! Probably this was written with MaryAnne in mind: "The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back."

After fifteen years, she definitely would miss the kids and we would miss her; thankfully, we have her legacy, what she helped create in Rochester — a world of love, friendship, and positivity... She has passed the baton to Dyani Fitzpatrick, who already started to plan next summer's program!

The strongest feeling I had, as participant to the summer program, is that we're enriching the lives of children and they're enriching ours! I treasure the joy and happiness brought by adorable kids calling my name, holding my hand, sharing a hug, pointing out things they discovered on our field trips.

This year I chaperoned these kids: Adrianna, Angela, Beatrice, Cameron, Chris, Elsa, Josh, Kaila, Lacey, Nick, Niomi, Ryley and Savannah. I thank them all for the special moments spent together. I've tried to capture their journey with my camera and the pictures can be seen on the "Town of Rochester Youth & Community Center" Facebook page.

Learning about how shocked I was to hear that councilwoman Fornino had "nothing to report" after seven weeks of a fantastic summer program, MaryAnne Gates, the program director for 15 years, replied: "It's ok. We know how well the program did and will do. We are the ones that matter. The children are the ones that matter... Those people having nothing to report have never been there to witness the greatness of the program and all the people that helped run it. We know what a great job we did to make a difference in all of those children's lives. BECAUSE WE CARE." And, as MaryAnne also said in a recent Q & A piece, "Caring is sharing and sharing is love."

Manuela Michailescu

A New Fight From Mountainkeeper!
Thanks to your tenacious activism we helped win the fight to ban fracking in New York. Now we need to bring that same determination and energy to stopping an invasion of pipelines that would carry fracked gas through our state.

First up is the Constitution Pipeline. We need your immediate help to stop this reckless venture, which would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Canada by carving a path of destruction through the heart of New York State. The Constitution Pipeline will destroy more than 1,000 acres of forests and fertile farms, clear cut 700,000 trees, endanger 277 waterways, and directly threaten the health and safety of our communities and families. And for what? So that Big Oil & Gas can sell its dirty fuel for more money in foreign markets!

Earlier this month I asked you to send an email message to Governor Cuomo urging him to use his powers under the Clean Water Act to stop this attack on our state's environment. Thousands of activists like you did just that. Now, with the pipeline about to pass a key regulatory hurdle, we need to really ramp up the pressure!

Please call the Governor at (877) 235-6537 and tell him to Stop the Constitution Pipeline! It will only take a few minutes of your time and is incredibly effective. Just dial and you'll be patched through to the Governor's office where you can choose to either leave a voice mail message or talk to an assistant.

Here's a suggested message: "Governor Cuomo, please stop the Constitution Pipeline by having the DEC deny the 401 Water Quality Certificates."

There is no way this pipeline can tear through sensitive wetlands, streams and forests and still meet our state's strict water quality standards. Call Governor Cuomo right now and ask him to stop the Constitution Pipeline!

And then, please, send us an email to let us know you've called the Governor so we can track the number of phone calls he receives.

Thanks for standing with us to Free New York from Fossil Fuels!

Wes Gillingham, Program Director
Catskill Mountainkeeper

In Praise Of Clerk Kim Davis...
Thank God for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis's courage to refuse to issue marriage certificates to same sex couples. She is following her conscience, regardless of the consequences. People like Kim, who are brave enough to take a stand for God against the prevailing spirit of our time, should inspire many of us to do the same.

While I personally would not serve as an employee of the state because of the potential for compromise of faith principles, I respect her courage. May her jail sentence ignite a national debate regarding attacks on religious freedom. Everyone seems to have forgotten that our nation was started by immigrants who left Europe on reasons of conscience. For Kim Davis and for many others, this struggle is not a gay or lesbian issue; it is about upholding the word of God, and upholding the family as God created it. There has been a steady drive to push God out of all areas of life: our families, our schools, courthouses, and public events. Very few people want to admit that the breakdown of the family is the cause of the unprecedented violence that we are seeing today.

God's truths do not change with time.

Now Kim Davis is in jail, continuing her lonely battle. Please join me in praying for her that she might remain strong.

Johann Christoph Arnold

Believes Schumer Is Wrong About The Iran Deal
I believe Sen. Charles Schumer and others opposed to the Iran nuclear weapons agreement are mistaken.

I understand the senator's desire to protect Israel, but I believe the treaty provides this protection. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's own statements can demonstrate this. On Fox News, on Oct. 27, 2013, he stated Iran was only one month away from building a nuclear bomb. On CBS' "Face the Nation," on Nov. 10, 2013, Netanyahu said Iran had enough enriched uranium for five bombs. Yet according to an Aug. 21, 2015, Israel Times article, while Netanyahu calls the Iran agreement a stunning historical mistake, he also stated that under the treaty, Iran could have a bomb within a decade.

By my calculation, the treaty has gained us 10 years.

Netanyahu's comments in 2013 might have been to support Israel launching a "surgical" strike against Iran. He was deterred when the U.S. threatened to shoot down his missiles. If the Israeli leader thought we could do this, he should expect we could knock down Iranian missiles traveling toward Israel.

If Congress rejects the treaty, we will be at odds with our other allies. They are reopening embassies and sending trade missions to Iran. We will be alone, as we were after launching the Iraq War.

While I agree no treaty is perfect, I find this one a solid start. Recalling President Nixon's "ping-pong diplomacy" with China, ratifying the new treaty will pave the way for more international cooperation with Iran.

John Scileppi, Ph.D.
Hyde Park

We MUST Improve Our Schools!
As students, parents and grandparents shop for school supplies and teachers prepare their classrooms, my concern about the course of our state's public education system continues.

Because of this year's state budget, there will be greater emphasis on flawed evaluations of our hardworking teachers, which will further pass the stress of standardized testing on to our kids. And while our local public schools suffer, our state Legislature just handed out $250 million to non-public schools, many of which are in New York City. These new policies are unacceptable when our Hudson Valley homeowners and business owners are getting hit with unbearable property taxes just to keep our public schools afloat.

However, a sense of renewed energy is building with the start of this school year, and we must keep fighting to improve our public schools for every child in every zip code. This starts with holding our state officials accountable for the mismanaged Common Core and insisting they make our local public schools their top priority. We must fight against those that give our hard-earned tax dollars to New York City charter schools while accepting millions in campaign contributions from those schools' Wall Street backers.

Most importantly, we must keep the pressure on the Legislature to change course by implementing new funding strategies that will support a world-class education system that is fair to all stakeholders; one that allows teachers to teach and students to learn in an environment that focuses on individualization over standardization.

Terry Gipson

A Surprising Lack At A Hospital...
I am writing about the most surprising lack at The Ellenville Hospital. Twice now, I have had friends go there only to find out there was no doctor at the hospital. There were nurse practitioners, but at least one of my friends needed emergency surgery, found no doctor, had to wait four hours and ended up in another hospital. It was a weekday too. Why is this? I have never heard of such a thing at a hospital.

I would suggest you correct this situation immediately.

Lucy Muller

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