January 22, 2015 

The Millbrook community was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Bill Augerson, one of its most distinguished citizens.  He passed away Sunday, Jan. 18, in Vassar Hospital.  He was 87 years old.

Dr. Augerson spent most of his career in and around government.  He served in the Army for 29 years, practicing as a primary care physician, emergency physician, flight surgeon and internal medicine specialist.  He served in Vietnam on medical rescue missions.  He was awarded a silver star for one such mission when his helicopter came under intense fire.  He was a Lieutenant Colonel at the time.   He was part of the first NASA team, working with the first astronauts on medical matters. 

Billy Leitch passed away peacefully on Saturday January 17th at his home in Smithfield, New York at the age of 79.  A life-long resident of Dutchess County, Billy was born in Poughkeepsie on August 5th, 1935, the son of Oswald J. Leitch and Katherine Murphy Leitch of Millbrook.  Christened Oswald W. Leitch, he was known as Billy for his entire life.  He graduated with the class of 1952 from the Millbrook High School. 

Billy followed his father’s footsteps into a lifelong career as a professional horseman, and was widely known for his eminence within that profession.  He spent many decades in the employ of the Winslow, Bontecou, McLane, and Hall families in Millbrook.  Billy also distinguished himself as an active participant in the Millbrook Hunt, achieving an unbroken record of 62 years of continuous fox hunting seasons.   A member of the Professional Horseman’s Association since 1955, he served twice as President, twice as Secretary and currently as Vice President.  He was also a life member of Saint Joseph’s Church in Millbrook.

January 22, 2015 

The Millbrook Board of Education returned to business for the 2015 year on Monday, January 12, to weigh student transportation choices. The board ended up choosing First Student, the present bus company, and a five-year contract.

Under consideration had been single-tier busing, which would have put all students on a route on a single bus, regardless of age. Although that might have saved on  transportation costs, those savings would have been eaten up through more costs to teachers and related expenses. “It’s just not feasible” said Business Superintendent Brian Fried. The decision was based on a consultant’s report and a survey.

“It would have meant taking away two teaching positions with benefits, so we are recommending to stay at the current structure.” 

It would have cost the district around $200,000 more to move to single-tier busing. 

One-tier busing would require purchase of eight additional buses. 

January 14, 2015 

Countless people around the world believe trees are sacred beings. It is hardly surprising that many Millbrook residents are outraged by Central Hudson’s current destruction of trees along village streets, including Merritt Avenue, Maple Avenue and Front Street. Central Hudson’s new million-dollar upgrade of the Village of Millbrook’s electrical distribution system requires that more than 20 large shade trees be brought down to make room for higher poles.

Unfortunately the village had no say in the matter. The board has no authority over the utility company or their work. Regrettably, Central Hudson failed to inform the village in time to seek alternatives. Putting the lines underground would have been an option, albeit an expensive one. (One million dollars a mile is the figure quoted.) More reasonable, and an avenue Mayor Laura Hurley would have liked to explore, would have been to place the new lines at the rear of the properties rather than along the street. But by the time the village was notified—at the end of November—it was already too late to explore other possibilities. 

January 22, 2015

The third Monday in January is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day, a federal holiday first observed in 1986. Dr. King was a pastor, humanitarian, and activist and the leader of the civil rights movement in the United States.  His words, actions and leadership shaped the world we live in today.  His contribution to the civil rights movement and his dedication to equality put him among a select group of American heroes.   

Amenia’s role in the civil rights movement began when Joel Spingarn, the owner of Troutbeck, became involved in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and formed a friendship with W.E.B Du Bois.  Du Bois became a frequent visitor at Amy and Joel Spingarn’s Troutbeck estate, and it was he who introduced the Spingarns to Dr. King. Joel Spingarn was the second president of the civil rights organization. 

January 22, 2015 

At the January 14 meeting of the Amenia Planning Board, representatives of Silo Ridge announced that they will soon be submitting 160 new documents as a completed application, spelling a new chapter to a process that has been in the works since 2002. The meeting was attended by the town board as well as members of the public. All the documents were apparently not ready for filing, but they are expected in a matter of days, said Pedro Torres on behalf of Silo Ridge Ventures.

The submission will mark the end of a phase that has drawn more than 300 pages of comments from the public and interested parties on the plans to turn the Silo Ridge golf course into a destination golf course, for residents only, with high-end homes, to be built by the Discovery Land Company. 

January 22, 2015 

The Harlem Wizards will bring behind-the-back crossovers, flashy dribbles and gravity- defying slam dunks to the Millbrook High School basketball court next month in a display of the theater, prowess and magic that has made these appearances an annual favorite. The entertainment basketball team has been known for their tricks, hoops and alley-oops since before recorded history, that is, pre-TMI. 

Main Street was lined with fancy cars and outdoor speakers played “I’ll Fly Away,” an old country song, while the chic and the not-so-chic intermingled at Monte’s opening on December 11.  The crowd consisted mostly of friends of the Monte family, people from Long Island, Rhinebeck, Millbrook and Amenia. A total of 200 people attended over the course of the evening at a party that looked like the place to be that evening.

“The party was mostly for family and the people who made the restaurant happen,” explained Dafna Mizrahi, the new manager, when asked where all the people had come from, “We wanted to thank all our contractors as well.”

On hand were Robert Trump and Ann Marie Pallan, the latter being one the owners of the restaurant.  She brought her siblings, who are also partners in the business.  Mr. Trump expressed enthusiasm for the new restaurant, recognizing the hard work that brought it about. 

Posted: 12/22/2014

The town of Amenia awarded three of its citizens with a special award in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to the town.  Ken Monteiro, Leo Blackman and Charlotte Murphy all received Citizens of The Year awards at a two separate ceremonies following the tree lightings in Wassaic and Amenia. 

Blackman and Monteiro, who live in Wassaic, donated and took responsibility for the gardens that adorn the foundation and main entrances to the Town Hall. They donated the teak benches, outdoor furniture and large decorative pots.  Residents at the Holiday of Lights festivities commented on the gardens, even when covered in a blanket of snow. The couple have subsidized the maintenance of the gardens for five years.

The Amenia Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Charlotte Murphy.  She has been a member of the Amenia Fire Company's Women's Auxillary for over 60 years and a member of the Amenia Free Library's Board since 1958.

Posted: 12/22/2014

Amenia’s Holiday of Lights started on December 5 with the Amenia Youth Theater providing a cabaret-style performance at 3 p.m. of old favorites. Instructor Heather Holohan-Guarnieri led 23 talented students between 6 to 16 years in a lively program that gave each singer a role.    

The tree lighting at Fountain Square followed with caroling led by the Youth Theater students and Feathers and Fur 4-H Club members distributing hand-made natural biscuits for revelers to decorate the tree before the Firemen's parade took center stage. 

The floats were dazzling.  Some had festive music with Frosty and the Grinch making hip dance moves, and of course the last one held the long-awaited Santa Claus. Everyone followed Santa on his float to Town Hall where hundreds of eager families awaited their turn to enter Santa's workshop, receive a present, and have their photo taken with Santa. In the gym, hot cocoa, dinner, refreshments and raffle prizes were free for all. 

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