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Julia Widdowson, proprietor of the Red Devon in Bangall, hosted a fundraiser Sunday night for the Hudson River chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, an organization that Assemblywoman Didi Barrett identified as having been started in the Hudson River Valley. Ms Barrett was one many invitees who showed their support for the young organization that was formed to represent small scale, young agriculturalists in state capitals and in Washington.

As explained by Sophie Ackoff, a recent Wesleyan graduate and the membership and development director of the Hudson River Chapter of the Young Farmers Coalition, the organization has identified two areas where young farmers are at a distinct disadvantage:  obtaining land and raising capital.    

This Friday at 6:30 p.m. is show time for the village of Millbrook’s Parade of Lights.  Decorated fire trucks, floats and auto vehicles will cruise through Franklin Avenue to bring smiles to spectators faces.  Each community’s fire department dresses up their trucks with Christmas lights.  Local business, schools, friends and families build floats or decorate vehicles to drive up Franklin Avenue.  Although Pine Plains, Millerton and Amenia have been hosting Parade of Lights in their own community for several years, Millbrook only brought the tradition to the village a year ago. 

Last year’s floats featured a decorated school bus filled with the waving children of Alden Place Elementary.  More than 52 floats, vehicles and fire trucks drove through the village for 45 minutes ending with Santa on the last truck wishing crowds a Happy Holidays. The Bank of Millbrook sponsors the parade. 

Jelena Vadanjel-Doukas is “in residence” at Alden Place Elementary, teaching art and design to fifth-graders.  Twice a week Jelena (pronounced Yell-in-ah), who is from Croatia, coaches 80 fifth-graders while they create storyboards that complement their oral folklore presentations for the “Western Hemisphere” unit in the curriculum. One of the main objectives is for students to learn storytelling and the basics of graphic art. 

The artist in residency program was made possible through matching grants from the Dutchess Arts Council and Millbrook Education Foundation.  Vadanjel-Doukas was a volunteer at the Grace Church Preschool for several months.  It was there that she met the former director of the Millbrook Education Foundation, Diane Schnoor. Schnoor (who also wrote theater reviews for this newspaper) assisted in putting together a grant through the Dutchess County Arts Council. Vadanjel-Doukas was awarded the grant to serve as guest artist at Alden Place.  

Small Business Saturday was conceived by American Express three years ago as a national shopping day. Following Black Friday, the shop-local initiative is intended to boost local economies by encouraging people to look to their mom-and-pops for gifts. 

The town of Kent decided to dramatize the holiday weekend by starting the first  Kent Holiday Champagne Stroll. Thirty shops in Kent offered 30 different bottles of Champagne to customers, giving them a taste of bubbly and a chance to explore Kent’s retailers. On Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, Main Street was illuminated with Christmas lights as shoppers, bundled up in coats and scarves, poured into businesses as though they were on Madison Avenue. Each store offered a different splash of Champagne. To participate, you purchased a $5 glass of Champagne at any retailer. 

The Millbrook Arts Group Holiday Concert is this Saturday at the Millbrook High School auditorium at 70 Church Street. MAG has organized a diverse range of performers including solo musicians, choirs, tap dancers and more to fill attendees with holiday cheer. The concert starts at 7 p.m. and last until 8:30 p.m.

The concert begins with pianist, composer, scholar and conductor Peter Muir playing Christmas classics on the piano. Half Moon Theatre’s School of the Arts follows with This Little Light. Then Michael Brenner accompanied by Muir will sing Here Comes the Sun and Yes Sir, That’s My Baby! 

Next a tap-dance performance by Studio on 22 directed by Heather Holohan. Muir will return for a solo on the piano of Hungarian Rhapsody #15 in a minor. Millbrook Free Library’s Lorraine Hartin Gelardi will share a Hanukkah story. Poughkeepsie’s Cappella Festiva Treble Choir directed by Susan Bialek a choir of children and adults perform This Little Babe by Benjamin Britten, Time of Snow by Bob Chilcott and Nutcracker Jingles. 

The NY State Comptroller’s office paid the Town of Stanford (population 3,800) a visit this fall and filed an audit that complained that the town has too much money in its reserve accounts.  Thrift was roundly criticized. The comptroller said the town over estimated its expenses and under estimated its revenues creating surpluses. “Under estimating revenues and/or over-estimating expenditures could result in the collection of more real property taxes than are necessary,” said the comptroller’s audit report. 

Between 2009 and 2012 revenues exceeded expenses by $1.3 million more than budgeted revenues and total expenses in the same period were $340,669 less than appropriations, creating as surplus so that the town had $2.7 million in its fund balance, “more than double the ensuing year’s appropriations.” 

In the years 2009-2012 revenue exceeded the budget estimates by 30%. Expenses were under budget between 13 and 3 percent in the same period. 

As a result of an out-of-court settlement of a certiorari proceeding, the Webutuck Central Schools will soon be dealing with a bill for a refund in the neighborhood of $55,000 according to officials familiar with the case.  That amount is within the reserve set aside for refunds according to school Superintendant John Gratto.  

When a property assessment is reduced as a result of a judicial proceeding, taxing authorities may have to refund taxes collected.  The settlement has not yet been approved by the judge, so the refund is not yet due according to Gazzoli, but the school has been forewarned. 

The Homeland Tower cell tower application on Fraleigh Hill Road positions the tower about 440 feet from the road at the edge of the tree line on the right hand side going up the hill.  It would be a single pole 105 feet high at the 880 foot elevation.  The highest point of Fraleigh Hill is 970 feet, so the tower would be just slightly higher than the highest point of the hill. 

The application indicates that up to six carriers could be accommodated on the tower.  The application indicates that only one, AT&T, will be using the tower at this point.  But other carriers could use it by renting space from Homeland Tower.  If others carriers do rent space, they will each have a small structure within the 75 by 75 foot fenced area and have parking space outside the area.

The fence will be a six foot high chain link fence whose posts will be sunk in concrete. 

The fence would be mostly screened from the road by trees, vegetation and a planting of white pines, six feet high when planted. 

The Pop Warner Squad consists of eleven 9 to 12 year old girls who love to cheer.   Nine of the girls are from Millbrook and the other two from Dover and Poughkeepsie. Last year the Northern Dutchess Raiders established themselves as a competitive squad cheering their way to the National Pop Warner Championship in Disney World. This season the girls placed first at both the Mid-Hudson Conference and the Eastern Region Competitions granting them an opportunity to go back to Nationals in Florida.  At the championship the squad will compete against the top 16 squads in the country for the Pee Wee Level 1 title at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Tuesday, Dec. 10. The squad has only a few weeks to raise $27,000, which covers airfare for 11 girls, 4 coaches and 8 chaperones. So far they have collected $9,489 in donations. Last year the girls were successful in raising the appropriate amount of funds and they are hoping to be so again this year. The squad would appreciate a donation of any amount to help achieve their dream of becoming Pop Warner National Champions.

At the recent Board of Education meeting, Millbrook parent Meredith Nohai voiced  concerns about the common core curriculum that are not unique to her or her family. Her remarks reflect what may be a widespread concern that has erupted across the nation as parents, students, teachers and administrators grapple with what may be an important adjustment in curriculum—or may be a nightmare of bureaucratic bungling.     

This national initiative consists of three components. Common Core Standards are the benchmarks for what students across the United States should achieve at their specific grade level, ensuring that all students are at the same level. Common Core Curriculum is designed to provide the means for students to reach the required benchmarks for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math in K–12. The final and most controversial piece is the Common Core Assessment, which evaluates how well students retain the ELA and Math requirements of their level. The score from the test is also factored into a teacher’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). 

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