July 1, 2006

Thanks on Red Cross disaster training

This morning's Ithaca Journal includes Darts & Laurels, including a Laurel from Cheryll Vosburgh of the Tompkins County American Red Cross:

What an excellent experience for our Red Cross volunteers! A two-day training exercise responding to an imaginary tornado that had touched down in the town of Dryden drew more than 50 people to the Holy Cross Parish - the shelter simulation site. Red Cross would like to thank the following people, organizations and companies for making this exercise a reality and helping us to keep our promise to help our neighbors in their time of need: Holy Cross Parish in particular; Anne Marie Brogan and Tom Stamp; Dryden Food Market and A-1 Pizzeria for supplying necessary food items; The Ithaca Journal and Cayuga Radio Group for their excellent coverage of this event and our amazing, multi-talented Red Cross volunteers - you all rock! And our very special community role players: Connie O'Brien, Kate Turner, Glen Downey, Maxine Nicholls, Dave Stotz, Richard Schaefer Amy Bonn, Maxwell Bonn, Nancy Fuhr Bonn, Fred Bonn, Mason Bonn, Logan Bonn and Rich Flavelle. Thank you all for participating in this very important and enlightening exercise.

Posted by simon at 12:51 PM Comment

July 4, 2006

Zipcodes and towns

I felt a little odd listing "Ithaca is Home" as a Dryden blog, but the writer definitely lived in Dryden, almost in Caroline along Route 79 in Bethel Grove.

David Makar has since come to notice that while his mail comes to the Ithaca 14850 zip code (like me), he lives in the Town of Dryden:

Turns out the blog was always supposed to be called "Dryden is Home". I've lived in Dryden (and most importantly paid town taxes every January to the town of Dryden) since our moving caravan arrived on October 14th, 2004. In the past six months I've become a little more attached to Dryden (while still staying somewhat attached to Ithaca - since that is where a majority of my Finger Lakes region customers have their businesses)....

So, Dryden is my home. I started the blog in August of 2004 only really knowing that we were moving to Ithaca (I have an Ithaca mailing address even here in Dryden) and that people would know that Ithaca was home to Cornell (where Avery was going to attend school). See the new tagline above for a minor clarification.

Since I've spent more time driving through the town I've realized there are a lot of great views from a top a lot of the hills. There is a lot of farm acreage here in Dryden and although the street I live on (rt. 79) seems like a bedroom community for Cornell (of the three close neighbor families that I talk to often, four of the six adults work at Cornell), there are a few small businesses (Crispell's, A New Leaf) that must contribute to Dryden's commercial tax base.

It's great to see someone else on the west side of town look around at the town as a whole, and especially cool to see someone in Bethel Grove, which is especially isolated, join the fun.

Posted by simon at 7:57 AM Comment

July 5, 2006

Intergenerational music, summer music

I've been trying to get a lot of household projects done this week and haven't been quite up to speed with this site. I should at least catch up with today's paper...

Cathy Wakeman reports on the Intergenerational Summer Band and Chorus, a joint Dryden-Groton project which has just started rehearsal and will be performing in August. She also reports on the Music in the Park events coming this summer. The cup I got at the first one lists the summer's performances:

Update: All of the remaining concerts are in Montgomery Park, in the Village of Dryden.

The Journal's editorial chides NYSEG for leaving responsibility with customers for sorting out NYSEG's billing error. Update: The Journal since noted that NYSEG apparently finally mailed customers about the billing issues, so a lot of customers received notice the day the editorial was published.

Posted by simon at 2:20 PM Comment

July 6, 2006

Protecting lake; baking cakes

Dryden is filled with streams and creeks, most of which flow into Cayuga Lake. Whatever goes in the streams here ends up there, making protecting the lake a much larger project than policing its edges. Recognizing that, the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network gave out Lake-Friendly Farm Awards to a number of area farms for their hard work in keeping the lake clean. Lew Lin Farms in Dryden was one of the recipients:

"We sell milk, and we want people to think we have a good business,? said Lewie Stuttle, owner of award-winning Lew Lin Farm in Dryden.

Lew Lin Farm was recognized for its rotational grazing system, which is good for the environment because it naturally and evenly spreads manure and does not strip land of nutrients.

“We're pretty proud of our grazing system,? Stuttle said. “It keeps everything green.?

Lew Lin Farm also has a barrier around the stream near the farm. The cows are watered by the farm's well as opposed to being able to drink from the natural source.

“That's not the best thing for the streams because the cows do more than drink water,? Anderson said, “they leave deposits.?

The Journal also reports on Dryden native Marion Cardwell-Ferrer pastries, cakes, and sweets in an article on her Lansing business, Sincredible Pastries. She started out in Dryden:

A crucial event in that progression was her effort, in her freshman year at Tompkins Cortland Community College, to earn some cash for Christmas. With the help of her mom, who was an employee of the school, she advertised a service selling Christmas cookies and other edible gifts. Within three days she had $500 worth of orders.

By the next semester she had moved from TC3 to culinary school.

Posted by simon at 1:32 PM Comment

July 8, 2006

Fast trees by RPM

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports in depth on a project I'd heard bits and pieces about: the large-scale tree nursery planned by RPM on Route 13. They're negotiating tax abatements and sorting out permits, but if all goes well they hope to produce 25,000 seedlings a year, using a million gallons of water a day from Virgil Creek and employing 40 to 50 people. They're contemplating a 155-acre parcel next to Willow Glen Cemetery, and would build 20 greenhouses on it and use 72 of those acres. They specialize in producing hardwood trees that grow much faster, as they've figured out how to divert the trees' attention from building huge taproots.

There's also an article on local National Guardsmen deploying to Arizona to work with the Border Patrol.

In state news, Dryden's Assemblywoman and State Senator have opposing views on gay marriage, with Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton supporting and State Senator Jim Seward opposed to marriage but not necessarily to other legal recognition.

Update: A sharp-eyed reader points out that my reading of the Journal article may have lost some nuance for Lifton's position, and she may only support civil unions. They wrote:

When asked if she believed a compromise could be reached, possibly modeled after Vermont's decision to allow civil unions, Lifton said that it is the state government's responsibility to make sure all New York citizens have the same rights.

“That's the compromise I support,? she said....

Lifton said that equal marriage rights was already a legislative issue, calling to attention a bill authored by fellow assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-66th District, that, if passed, would grant civil unions to everyone in the state, treating everyone the same. Lifton supports the measure.

Lifton also reaffirmed her stance on equal protection under the law.

I read "the same rights" as including "the right to get married," but I may not be correct about that.

Construction on the road from McLean to Cortland will be delayed as the contractor shifts to flood repairs elsewhere. The Journal calls McLean-Cortland Road Route 366, but I thought it was pretty clear that NY 366 ends in Freeville.

Darts and Laurels includes a long laurel to supporters of the Dryden Senior All-Night Extravaganza (SANE):

LAUREL: The parent committee of Dryden's Class of 2006 would like to thank the following businesses for their generous contributions toward our Senior All Night Extravaganza (SANE Party): A-1 Restaurant, AC Moore, Agway of Dryden, Arnold's of Dryden, Back to Basics Bulk Foods, Best Buy, Borders, Borg Warner, Cynthia Elberty DDS, CFCU, Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Cornell Dairy Store, CP Cash&Carry, Creative Touch Salon, Dryden Apartment Company, Dryden Family Medicine, Dryden Mutual Insurance, Dryden Teachers' Center, Family Practice Associates of Dryden, Dryden Wine and Spirits, F&T Distributing, First National Bank of Dryden, Frito-Lay (Chris Mott), George Bailey Insurance, Harford Glen Water, Inc., Holy Smoke Fireplace and Chimney, Ithaca College, Ithaca Produce, Ithaca PBA, Ithaca YMCA, Kinney Drug Store, Kwik Fill/Red Apple, Laser Tag of Ithaca, McDonald's of Dryden, Mobil Express Mart, V.C. McGregor & Sons, Mix Brothers, P & C, Papa John's Pizza, Price Chopper, Shear Visions, SUNY at Cortland, The Roadhouse Pub and Grub, Todi's, TC3 and College Now, Tompkins Trust Company, Tops Market, Wal-Mart, Wegmans, West Shore Apartment Company and the community members that took part in our fund raisers. The parents of the Class of 2006 put their hearts into organizing this event and a great time was had by all!

Posted by simon at 10:49 AM Comment

July 10, 2006

Green New York?

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports a quiet weekend for Dryden. (Actually, it doesn't report anything on Dryden at all, which I hope means a quiet weekend.) It does, however, include a piece by Jay Gallagher on New York State and global warming, looking at the recent floods and energy use.

In the print edition, Professor Elia Kacapyr reports that his Index of Economic Activity in Tompkins County rose by .84% in May, a weak gain but an improvement on losses in the last two months. May is slightly below the December 2005 position, so it's good to see an upswing. Most of that up seems to be in building construction and home sales, with a tiny increase in retail sales.

Posted by simon at 8:42 AM Comment

July 11, 2006

Horse sitting

Have a horse? Think it might get lonely while you're away? Then call Jen Connelly, who "specializes in caring for equine clients throughout Tompkins County while owners are absent." The Journal's profile looks at what's involved, both for the horses and for the owners.

Also in Dryden, Briefly in Tompkins notes a meeting on Ellis Hollow Road construction to be held tomorrow night at 7:30pm at the Ellis Hollow Community Center (map),

At the county level, an entire overnight shift of sheriff's deputies received the Frank G. Hammer Police Officer of the Month Award for their community police work in April and May.

Finally, in the Congressional race here, it looks like Democrat Michael Arcuri and Republican Ray Meier have raised similar amounts of money, though Meier has more on hand.

Posted by simon at 5:23 PM Comment

July 12, 2006

TCAT lowering outer zone fares

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that TCAT will be abolishing the zone distinction for its fares on August 20th, making it cheaper to get from Ithaca to Dryden and vice-versa. They expect it will cost some revenue, but should increase ridership and the state aid that comes with it.

There's an article on organic dairy farming in Groton that seems relevant to Dryden as well, where I've heard of a number of farms making the transition. There's also a piece on a tour of Tompkins County farms by Kentucky visitors, which notes one of those, Dryden's Jerry Dell Farm, which "was one of the first dairy farms in the county to go organic."

On the opinion page, Marcello Tino of Freeville writes that the "partnership of big business and government was dangerous during the Fascist era, and it is dangerous, now."

Posted by simon at 5:16 PM Comment

July 13, 2006

Rebuilding Ellis Hollow Road

The print edition of this morning's Ithaca Journal has a brief mention of last night's meeting about Ellis Hollow Road reconstruction, and the online edition describes the meeting in detail. About sixty people showed up - not as many as for the water district discussion but still a lot. (Ellis Hollow residents have had a lot of infrastructure to think about lately.) 90% of the asphalt is in bad shape, and the county would like to ensure bike lanes on both sides, though the county does plan to build it a total of 30 feet wide rather than their preferred 40 feet because of resident concerns.

Briefly in Tompkins lists Saturday's "Stump Run '06", a motorcycle benefit ride for the Cortland County SPCA hosted by the Elm Tree Inn in McLean.

Finally, the Monitor lists two thefts in Dryden, one of an air conditioner, and one of copper wire from a NYSEG substation.

Posted by simon at 7:53 AM Comment

Tonight's Town Board meeting

I won't be able to make it tonight's meeting at 7:00pm, but the Town Board has some interesting issues on its agenda:

  • More on the proposed Dollar General and surrounding complex near the A-1 Restaurant and TC3

  • A possible land transfer from the Finger Lakes Land Trust to the Town, of land on Mount Pleasant between Mount Pleasant Road and Route 366.

  • "Goals and objectives that the Board wants the Fire Departments to accomplish"

  • Community Development Block Grants

  • "Town Supervisor's Term - how many years"

It sounds like it should be an interesting evening!

Posted by simon at 8:17 AM Comment

July 14, 2006

A proud predecessor passes on

I'm sad to report that A.K. Fletcher, publisher of the Dryden Rural News, painter, writer, and yes, a proud Democrat, passed away this morning in Florida. I'm very glad to have met him last summer when he was visiting, and the Rural News is a model I've kept in mind while working on this site.

A. K. Fletcher talking with Elsie Gutchess
A. K. Fletcher talking with Elsie Gutchess.

Fletcher, usually called Fletch, was 98. If you need some entertaining reading about life in Dryden (and elsewhere), the Dryden Town Historical Society has his memoirs (and many of his paintings).

I hear there will be an obituary soon and a service in September.

Posted by simon at 5:36 PM Comment

Not all milk is good for you

This morning's Ithaca Journal has a genuinely strange story about an alleged attempted murder with poisoned milk.

They also repeat yesterday's Ellis Hollow Road rebuilding story.

Posted by simon at 8:38 PM Comment

July 15, 2006

More on that milk

The Ithaca Journal reports on a press conference about an alleged murder attempt in Dryden:

“We charged him with attempted murder,? said Lt. James E. Barnes, of the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “We weren't guessing. We're certain.?

Hanson, 51, of Brightday Road, Dryden, was charged with second-degree attempted murder, a felony, in connection with trying to poison Benjamin by lacing Benjamin's milk with unknown substances for the past month, state police said in a felony complaint filed Wednesday. Hanson is being held at the Tompkins County Jail on $500,000 cash bail. If convicted, he could serve up to 25 years in prison.

In more upbeat news, the Freeville United Methodist Church is noted for its participation in the Relay for Life held by the Tompkins County American Cancer Society.

There's also a report on 51 gas station sites which haven't been cleaned up but which the Department of Environmental Conservation isn't watching:

Diane Carlton, regional spokesperson for the DEC, said the list can be misleading because staffing and reporting constraints make maintaining the spills database nearly impossible, thus many reports aren't updated with the most recent information or state that spills don't meet standards when the public health concern has been mitigated.

“This is meant as a reference point and it takes time to maintain and keep up to date,? Carlton said. “We have to make decisions. Do we send someone out to spills or do we have them sit at a desk and keep these updated??

Given that it would probably take one hire to keep the public information in sync with what the DEC has actually done, this is pretty discouraging. The spokesperson blames staff reductions. After the damage MTBE did to the wells in Jacksonville, on the other side of the county, I'm surprised to see the DEC's lack of interest in this, to say the least.

Posted by simon at 7:04 AM Comment

July 17, 2006

Who is this guy talking about affordable housing?

Affordable housing? Why do we need that? Isn't the ideal situation a subdivision of 6000 square foot mansions with a shopping mall nearby? Some punk from Dryden disagrees in this morning's Journal:

Tompkins County is full of people who say it's important to support neighborhoods, families, schools, churches and organizations. Housing is key to all of these local issues. Everyone benefits when people can focus on their children and their community instead of scrambling to make the next rent check or preparing for their fifth move in a many years.

Everyone can also help out. Housing isn't an arcane issue that only policy wonks can ever hope to understand. We can help create affordable housing - for ourselves for now, for others later - by improving energy efficiency where we live, lowering future costs. We can help create affordable housing by connecting with neighbors to talk about needs and ways to meet them. We can also help to create affordable housing by encouraging local government to plan land use and infrastructure wisely, and by supporting state and federal initiatives to put those plans into action.

If our efforts together ensure an available supply of affordable housing managed by owners with an interest in more than the next check, we can move on to more exciting questions, like what newly stable neighborhoods can do to celebrate. It's not just about improving property values in one area for a few years, but about improving the value of living in this county for a long time to come.

Housing is a cornerstone for everything else we hope to accomplish in this town and county, and it needs to be broadly available without creating enormous stresses on individuals and communities.

There's also a notice in the print edition for the upcoming 4-H Acres Youth Fair.

Posted by simon at 12:30 PM Comment

Thursday's Town Board meeting

I was on my way to Boston when this month's Town Board meeting took place, and I haven't seen the Journal report on it. Fortunately, Town Board member Mary Ann Sumner posted a a thorough summary, ranging from the Dollar General proposal to enormous sewage issues to work on the new Town Hall to the Youth Commission to speeding problems on Baker Hill Road.

Posted by simon at 12:46 PM Comment

Ken Camera drops out

Maverick Republican Ken Camera has dropped out of the race for the 24th Congressional District, unable to get enough signatures to be on the ballot.

Posted by simon at 8:01 PM Comment

July 18, 2006

Dryden teacher on testing

Freeville resident and Dryden High School teacher Charles J. Hanley has a guest column on the impact of testing on education, A few excerpts:

Do we teach for the test? Of course we do. At some level we have no choice. That's not always a bad thing. I'm not against standardized test. The Advanced Placement test in the various disciplines is a superb challenge to students. When I taught AP classes, bucking the trend of selecting only the elite students likely to achieve the ultimate “5,? I encouraged as many students as possible to take the tests. Teaching students to go beyond rote memorization into critical analysis and theoretical formation is teaching for the AP test. All students benefit from that stretch of their intellectual muscle.

Although the history and geography Regents are moving in the direction of testing critical thinking, the floating hand from Albany has still writ large: “thou shalt cover.? That means a break-neck sprint through the masses of curriculum while hoping that at some points names, dates and places will somehow lodge themselves in the swirling synaptic whitewater of the adolescent brain. This challenge that the advertising industry approaches with multi-million dollar flotillas, teachers must navigate with the equivalent of a wooden raft....

Even after three decades of successful Regents, I feel the temptation. The pressure on all teachers to produce good test scores is intense. And it grows every day as the public, quite rightly, calls for improvement. However the risk of toxic teaching techniques grows along with that pressure.

Also on the opinion page, Cyndie Smith of Etna criticizes the county's (lack of) notification for the closing of Etna Lane this summer.

In news, we fell two degrees short of breaking yesterday's record high temperature, hitting 91F, not the 93F set in 1953.

A hearing in Dryden Town Court moved the milk-poisoning case to the county courts, and Town of Dryden Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Ezell is quoted in an article on increased training requirements for local planning and zoning boards.

Posted by simon at 8:16 AM Comment

July 19, 2006

Dunkin' Donuts comes (back) to Dryden

When I first moved back to Tompkins County, I was disappointed to find that I had moved into one of the very few places in the Northeast without a Dunkin' Donuts in the area. Worse, I could tell from the entrance and exit signs that there used to be one in Dryden, and one on Route 13 in Ithaca. They'd vanished. My refusal to come to terms with the nefarious glazed-donut obsessed Krispy Kreme when they came to New York and then when I went to their headquarters town in North Carolina seemed to have yielded nothing. I would occasionally buy donuts in Horseheads or Corning, and at Thruway rest stops, but it was rare. (And in Boston - yecch! Granulated sugar on jelly donuts? Who came up with that?)

That was probably a good thing for my waistline, and in keeping with my memories of Dunkin' Donuts growing up in Corning. My mother would occasionally win 'Trivia' on WCBA when they were a more locally-oriented station, and a dozen donuts were often part of the prize.

This past Thursday, all of those memories came back when I stopped at the new Dunkin Donuts' on Route 13 in the Village of Dryden, formerly Burger King. I bought a half-dozen donuts to celebrate, and gave myself far too drastic a sugar rush. They don't have as many varieties of jelly donuts as I'd like to see - black raspberry and blueberry are my favorites - but it's good to have them around. And the jelly donuts are powdered, like they should be.

Okay, enough about donuts. Enough other things happened in Dryden that I should notice. A Dryden man was arrested for DWI. In the happier events to come category, there are a lot of Dryden High reunions coming up, with listings for the classes of 1971, 1995, 1996, and 2001.

On Dryden's western edge, the Town of Ithaca approved Rocco Lucente's subdivision, with lots and lots of conditions.

At the county level, the legislature will have public hearings on a local real estate transfer tax and adopted a new diversity policy. Dryden legislator Mike Hattery voted against both, while legislator Martha Robertson voted for both and legislator Tyke Randall voted against the public hearing and for the diversity policy.

Posted by simon at 7:29 PM Comment

July 20, 2006

Retiring to the jewelery factory

This morning's Journal reports on Bob and Martha Clark, the two Dryden residents behind Bread & Butter Silver Factory II. Inspired by their daughter's journey through metalwork (she now oversees the repair operations at Tiffany), they started working in silver and gold about a dozen years ago, working in their basement. They'll be showing their creations on Friday and Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm at their Christmas in July sale, in conjunction with the Yellow Barn yard sale (map).

There's also an article on TC3's TechPrep program contributing to local schools, including Dryden High School and TST BOCES.

Posted by simon at 8:49 AM Comment

Etna resident running for Congress

Yes, there are definitely libertarians in Dryden. The Journal reports that Mike Sylvia of Etna was endorsed by the Ithaca Libertarians to run for the 24th Congressional District seat being vacated by the retiring Sherwood Boehlert.

Posted by simon at 7:08 PM Comment

July 21, 2006

Local fast food?

I was happy to see Dunkin' Donuts come to Dryden, but I've had more thoughts on fast food recently. I found a chain, Burgerville (warning: site seems to be all Flash-based, or try this), which "prides itself in using the best and the freshest local ingredients."

It's a burger joint, certainly. The prices are fast food, the style is fast food - maybe a little slower - and yet they use real ingredients, produced in the Northwest. (It tastes good too.)

Why isn't there anything like that in the Northeast? We produce beef, bread, potatoes, cheese, fresh vegetables, and a lot more. I think people might even like it. Heck, we could make much of that in Dryden alone.

And no, it's not a complete solution to the woes of the world, but it's fascinating to see a business I'd seen as always hunting for low-cost embracing the notion of buying locally.

Posted by simon at 1:34 PM Comment

July 22, 2006

Varna and Sertoma give laurels

This morning's Ithaca Journal has some positive news coming from the Town of Dryden. In Darts & Laurels, both the Varna Community Association and Dryden Sertoma praise those who have helped their community.

Varna thanks the Journal for its coverage of their benefit barbecue for Kim Rowland, and other media for their coverage, which led to a sell-out success.

Dryden Sertoma's thank you is a long list:

LAUREL: The Dryden Sertoma Club wishes to express their thanks to the following businesses for their support of our second Annual Dryden Sertoma Golf Tournament. Their generosity helped to raise over $3,200 for the Dryden, Freeville and McLean Fire Departments. Thank you to the hole-in-one prize sponsors: Staffords and Stone Travel. Thank you to the hole sponsors: HSBC-Triphammer Branch, RKG Plumbing, First National Bank of Dryden, Cayuga Press, Cotterill Agency, Family Practice Associates of Dryden, Dryden Food Market, A-1 Restaurant, George B. Bailey Insurance Agency, Merrill Lynch, Mullen's Body Shop, Conway Construction, Dryden Wine & Spirits, Dryden Mutual, American Homes, R.E. Shipe Contracting, Pall Trinity, Holtz-Nelson Dairy Consultants, LLC, and Jes-Styles. Thank you to those who donated prizes: Bell's Auto Care, Dryden Agway, Syracuse University, Todi's, Villa Vitale Pizzeria, Holy Smoke, Arnold's Florist, Specialty Trophy, Dryden NAPA, Tompkins Trust Company, Dryden Recreation, The Antlers, Dr. Cynthia Elberty, Sheri's Unique Boutique, Jim Whyte's Auto Service, Action Auto and Doug's Fish Fry.

TC3 gave awards to Dryden teacher Linda Bruno and Ithaca teacher Ray Cole for their work connecting TC3 and local high schools.

You can learn about how the land of New York's Military Tract, which includes Dryden, was distributed by the state after 1782.

There's also an article on Congressional candidate Ray Meier's position on stem-cell research. I have mixed feelings about the issue, but it looks to me like Meier is trying make both sides of the issue happy, while hiding his actual position from supporters of the recently vetoed Congressional bill to support federal funding for the research. The Journal cites a "press release issued by his campaign on Friday" (which I can't find on his campaign site or his State Senate site). They go on to write:

Meier, a Republican running for re-election to state Senate, voted in March in favor of New York State Senate Bill S.5999, supporting state-funded stem cell research.

This bill establishes a public umbilical cord blood banking program. Umbilical cord blood has shown great benefit to medical research because it is rich in blood stem cells. The concept is backed by the National Institutes of Health, Meier's office said, because adult stem cells have proven value in research.

The Republican senator stressed that he does not support cloning or the “destruction of nascent human life for research.?

That sounds to me like Meier supports the use of umbilical stem cells and adult stem cells, but not the embryonic stem cells the vetoed bill was about. When readers hit the Journal's headline, "Sen. Meier, GOP lawmakers support stem cell research," that's probably not the impression they're going to get, given the recent news. I don't know if the Journal fell for a creatively spun press release or if they just misreported the overall intent, but it's definitely worth reading beyond the headline.

Posted by simon at 3:45 PM Comment

July 24, 2006

State budget summary

I think the New York Times offered the best summary I've seen yet of the state of New York's budget:

this year the biggest surprise turns out [to be] the total cost of the big final hairball of interconnected supplemental budget laws sometimes called the “clean-up’’ bills. “Clean out? might be a better term.

...the state will spend over $114.7 billion, including federal funds, in the current fiscal year. That is an increase of $10.1 billion over last year’s spending. And the increase in state funds alone is about 13 percent, a full four times the inflation rate.

Admittedly, times are good. And the state suddenly has - make that had - a $2 billion surplus. But New York’s politicians spent the surplus and then some because nobody seems to have thought that this Wall Street boomlet might be temporary. Or that the price of oil might hit three digits.

...Mr. Hevesi’s post-session report raises so many red flags, it looks like a Beijing ballet. Spending, up 30 percent, is growing faster than revenues, which are up 15 percent. This is never a good way to plan for the future because it means more borrowing: the state’s debt is up by $16.5 billion this year. Some debt, of course, is good — a chunk of this new borrowing is for necessary projects like New York City schools. But at this rate the state’s debt could increase to nearly $65 billion, or more than a third of the projected state budget, in five years. This should sound the alarm, but so far it appears that somebody in Albany left it on mute.

I'm not sure how best to sound that alarm. People seem to hear it dimly, grumbling about Albany, but there's not been nearly as much action as I'd like to see toward changing things.

Posted by simon at 12:05 PM Comment

July 25, 2006

Cornell Master Plan gets started

In East Hill News, Gary Stewart notes that a website on Cornell's master plan development is now available. The map image at the top of it stretches from downtown Ithaca to Varna and Mount Pleasant. While I doubt the image is meaningful - the project is just getting started - it's certainly thought-provoking. Stewart writes that:

The CMP, launched in April, will serve as a flexible frame of reference as the university adapts to changing research, teaching, and residential priorities over the next 10 to 25 years. Sustainable development and environmental stewardship are central themes of the overall plan.

CMP planners are now in the outreach, information and analysis phase of the three-part project. Input is being sought from all campus constituencies, as well as municipal, county and state representatives. The CMP is scheduled for completion in fall 2007.

In a News Update, the Journal announces that the 4-H Acres Youth Fair willl run July 26th to 29th on Lower Creek Road off Route 13.

Posted by simon at 10:43 AM Comment

July 27, 2006

Empire Zone to arrive in Dryden; 4-H Fair here

It looks like Dryden will soon have two Empire Zones, places where businesses creating new jobs can get tax cuts. I believe one of them will be near the NYSEG building, and another north of the Village of Dryden.

The defense lawyer for an alleged Dryden rapist is claiming the DA withheld evidence from the grand jury in getting an indictment. My understanding is that evidence rules for grand juries are very different from those for actual trials, and all the prosecutor has to do is demonstrate that there is enough evidence to move forward, so I'm not really sure what the lawyer is trying to accomplish here, though he claims to have case law. I guess it's a sign that there will be an aggressive defense.

The Journal's editorial encourages readers to attend the 4-H Fair in Dryden, writing that:

anyone who has uttered the pessimistic interrogative “what's with kids today?? anytime in recent memory should stop by the fairgrounds on Lower Creek Road off Route 13 for a quick dose of much-needed unbridled optimism.

In letters, Charles DeMotte of Freeville calls on the Bush administration to negotiate - "a long, tedious, and often frustrating process marked by repeated failures, but... the only road to a lasting peace."

Posted by simon at 2:03 PM Comment

July 28, 2006

Suozzi comes to Tompkins County

It's not all Eliot Spitzer for Governor, however much the press calls that a foregone conclusion. He has plenty of opposition in his race for Governor of New York. His Democratic primary opponent, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, opened an office in Ithaca yesterday.

(Yes, I'm supporting Spitzer primarily because he's pledged non-partisan reapportionment next time around.)

Also in Ithaca, an alleged Dryden rape case stayed in court, and the trial should begin today.

On the opinion page, Rich Duell of Dryden responds to critics of a letter urging readers to mourn this 4th of July.

Posted by simon at 1:32 PM Comment

July 29, 2006

4-H Fair in progress

The 4-H Fair runs until 3:00pm today on Lower Creek Road, as this photo of Freeville resident Brian Lampman notes.

There's also a report from the rape trial of Karel Westerling.

On the opinion page, Dryden Sertoma has a large thank-you in Darts & Laurels, though it duplicates last week's Laurel.

Posted by simon at 8:05 AM Comment

July 31, 2006

Finding local food

This morning's Ithaca Journal cites Mike Ludgate, of Ludgate Farms on Hanshaw Road, in an article on Local Foods Week. Most of their produce right now is local:

At this time of year, about 90 percent of the produce Ludgate Farms sells comes from within a 50-mile radius of Ithaca, Ludgate said. The farm also home-grows a small percentage of its fruits and vegetables for sale, he said.

Personally, I'm enjoying the lettuce mixes from Finger Lakes Fresh, just down the road on 13. (Ludgate carries them, and so do a number of other local stores.

In county news, the county legislature will have a public hearing on a real estate transfer tax tomorrow night at 5:30pm.

At the state level, Jay Gallagher reviews last week's debate between the Democratic candidates for governor.

Posted by simon at 5:25 PM Comment