On Friday, April 25 at 7 p.m. William Schlesinger, President of the Cary Institute, will discuss society's most pressing environmental problems, and what needs to be done to ensure a habitable planet, now and for future generations.  His lecture, titled “If I Had a Hammer,” will cover population growth, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, climate change, and finite supplies of fossil energy.

At the heart of Schlesinger’s talk is the importance of communicating science, to both citizens and decision makers. Many of today’s environmental policies and practices could be greatly improved if they were informed by the best available science. The health of our planet – and, indeed, humanity – is at stake. As stewards of the Earth, informed citizens are essential to demanding that science underpins environmental solutions.

The Millbrook Independent would like to congratulate Pawling Public Radio for recently receiving its FCC license to broadcast live. The call letters for the newly approved station are 103.7 FM.

A fund-raiser for the Patterson Rotary Club will take place at the Starr Ridge Banquet Hall in Brewster on April 26 at 6 p.m. “Men Who Cook” will be a “foodie fest” featuring dozens of local chefs and food enthusiasts who bring to the table an incredible assortment of culinary expertise. Tickets are $60 per person, and advance reservations are necessary. If you would like to attend the event, contact Penny Byron at (845) 878-3456. You can also visit the website for more information.

Village Budget 

The Village of Millbrook’s tentative budget will result in a tax levy of $898,590, a 1.5 percent increase from last year—well under the tax cap, said Mayor Laura Hurley at the April 7 budget meeting.  

Village revenue was projected at $1,530,220. Hurley said water and sewer funds continue to remain self-supporting, but there is a possibility for rate increase to take care of capital projects at the water- and wastewater plant.  Salaries for employees, health insurance and the police department budget have yet to be reviewed. 

The next workshop meeting is Monday, April 14.

Volunteers needed for Fire and Rescue 

Fire Chief Ted Bownas, Rescue Squad head Laurie Olsen and Fire Department President Matt Rochfort reviewed the fire and rescue portion of the budget. Mayor Hurley informed the board that the volunteer company has been very busy this winter and is in dire need of volunteers for both fire and rescue services.

Bids for new truck

Police officers, veterinarians, ultrasound technicians and Navy SEALs filled the Millbrook High School cafeteria for the school’s annual Career Day on April 10. 

School guidance counselors Helen Grady and Lisa Petta invited 40 professionals to tell students about the career options that are available to them for the future as well as today.   

Throughout the morning students in grades 9 through 12 could talk to the many professionals who brought brochures, pens and even dogs to encourage the students’ interest.  

Veterinarian Jan Robinson, accompanied by a Maltese named Royal, represented her practice at the Hudson Valley Veterinary Imaging. Students gathered around Robinson as she demonstrated how to perform an ultrasound on a dog by rubbing ultrasound gel on Royal’s belly as the Maltese lay quietly on a wedge cushion. 

In 1864 the Dutchess County Legislature approved the purchase of 105 acres on Oak Summit Road for a facility for dependent men and women. The building became known as the Dutchess County Infirmary.  The property is now, with several additions of new buildings, the Eastern Dutchess Government Center. 

 A majority of the buildings at the Eastern Dutchess Government Center are in a state of decay, with visible holes in the roof and extensive water damage. The County Legislature is discussing an $800,000 bond, to be voted on in May, to demolish nine buildings at the site. 

County Legislator Michael Kelsey brought the pending demolition program to the attention of the village board on Tuesday, April 8.  The county’s five-year capital projects plan was to tear down all buildings with the exception of the West Wing, which is in the best condition. Kelsey said that at this time, the West Wing may also be demolished. The East Wing Building collapsed two years ago. 

The cell tower proposed for Fraleigh Hill stirred up heated discussion at the TOW Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, April 1. The meeting was moved from Town Hall to the Millbrook Fire House to host the crowd. Planning Board president Joshua Mackey chuckled as Fire Chief Ted Bownas handed him a gavel in case the meeting got out of hand. 

The board swiftly approved two lot line changes.  A donation of one acre by Christina Lang Assael to St. Peter’s cemetery and Scott and Alison Meyer’s merging a lot owned by Erich Mauff and Adele Griffin-Watson on Hammond Hill Road passed without public comment. 

The Dutchess County Legislature repealed 3.75% tax sales tax on residential customers on Monday, April 7, responding to wide-spread political opposition from voters and politicians. The repeal was made possible when the State allocated $5.25 million to the county, thereby curing the hole in the budget that had been filled by the tax on heating fuels. 

Although county residents are relieved to see the tax repealed, cuts to programs were not restored. 

County Planning informed non-profits that $705,400 of grants funds were cut.   The North East Community Center Director Jenny Hansell responded in an email to the County Executive and legislators that the loss of funding would impact programs for youth development and farmer’s markets for low-income families. 

“We want to be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers, and we want to maintain current programs,” said Philip D’Angelo, Jr., superintendent of Millbrook schools, at the April 7 meeting at which the school board was given a précis of the likely budget.  Because the amount of school aid from the state is still an unknown, the budget remains an open question. But certain directions are taking shape.

Because enrollment has been dropping in the elementary school, the board focused on consolidating in that area.  

Total enrollment was 1,091 in 2012 and 1,048 in 2013. As of March 31, 2014, total enrollment in the district was 1,050 students.

D’Angelo said the district might be getting as much as an additional $110,000 in state aid, which would reduce the tax-levy increase to 1.83 percent. 

“We are moving people around and looking at retirements,” D’Angelo said. The district is looking at a number of ways to consolidate services and positions, including in the clerical staff. 

Silo Ridge took center stage at the auditorium on Monday, March 24, in Amenia Town Hall, where the newest version of the development scheme for the Silo Ridge Field Club was unveiled. The centerpiece of the presentation was made by Dan O’Callaghan of Discovery Land Company. O’Callaghan emphasized the amenities and attention to detail by which Discovery’s 17 golf club projects are known. Discovery, under O’Callaghan’s local leadership, will apply the ingredients of their brand to the Silo Ridge project, bringing architects, designers and a recognized lifestyle orientation that has meant success for a string of projects from Mexico and Hawaii to Texas, Montana and South Carolina and now Amenia and the Hamptons.

Not too long ago, stormwater was viewed as a dirty thing to be gotten off parking lots and roads as soon as possible and into a stormdrain that went directly into a river.  Now the paradigm has changed.  Clean water in streams is seen as a precious resource.  Techniques to infiltrate stormwater into the ground, called green infrastructure, are now being applied before the polluted runoff gets into the streams.  Watershed protection groups have been educating the public about these techniques for a long time.

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