Three weeks is a long time to be away from home, though it was great to take time off for the wedding(s), some wonderful honeymoon time, and a college reunion. I don't think I've ever seen the grass in my front lawn go to seed before, either.
I suspect things will percolate here slowly as I try to catch up, but there will be more soon. Thanks to David Makar for keeping the site going while I was away, and hopefully we'll hear more from him here in the future as well!
As a veteran I'm sure I speak for all the veterans involved in the Memorial Day activities in Dryden. A big thank you to everyone that lined the parade route, attended the ceremony at the fountain and the open house at the Dryden Veterans Memorial Home. A special thanks to the Dryden High School Band and the other units for their participation.
This morning's Ithaca Journal is mostly quiet about Dryden, but the Monitor includes a Mount Pleasant Road man's arrest for DWI and other vehicular charges after hitting a deer while riding an ATV on Pleasant Hollow Road. There is also another Freeville DWI arrest.
At first glance, today's Ithaca Journal has very little on Dryden - just this photo from Dairy Day. A closer look, though, finds a lot more.
On the opinion page, both guest columns on the ICSD budget have lead authors from Dryden - David Lee writing from the school board's perspective, and Henry Kramer writing to urge a 'no' vote. I think, however, that the Journal made a serious mistake in posting these so they look like dueling columns. The board members encourage readers to vote, but not to vote 'yes' - because they aren't allowed to do that. The result is a duel where one party has both hands tied, which doesn't make much sense.
An article on potential Empire Zone changes suggests some likely developments that should (I think) improve management of zones, including the two in Dryden.
An article generically titled Math scores remain low in N.Y. cities includes links to scores for the Dryden and Ithaca districts, among others.
Finally, Dryden residents living on Route 79 may want to know about the prospects for getting long-haul garbage trucks off their road - though the prospects aren't too bright.
This week's issue of Tompkins Weekly leads with an article about a public meeting on the expanded power transmission lines and facilities coming to Dryden soon. Mostly it seems intended to connect the Ithaca area more tightly to the grid and less tightly to the AES Cayuga power station.
This morning's Journal reports that full-time tuition at TC3 will climb from $3200 to $3325 per year, while part-time students will see credits climb from $124 each to $128.
A little ways to the east, in Virgil, Greek Peak started construction on a waterpark and year-round lodge.
In the print edition, the Finger Lakes Farms article visits the Carpenters of Dryden's Wideawake Farms in an article on Dairy Month, as well as the Churches of Freeville, with recipes for dairy-based foods. I think they left out one of the recipes, but do include a photo from last year's Dairy Day. (I took it, which is a bit of extra fun.)
It's time to start enjoying fresh local strawberries. These are right outside my backdoor.
If you don't have your own plants, I see that Brookside Berry Farm is open today, though from the site it looks like they'll be closing soon for the day, reopening tomorrow.
About ten years ago, I went to a conference on web development. Everyone was talking about 'disintermediation' and how "brick and mortar stores" would get crushed. Consumers would be able to go straight to the manufacturer's web site, or to a shopping web site of some kind, and order their products directly. All of the supply chains and middlemen (intermediaries) were going to vanish, leaving only producers of goods and their warehousing and delivery. Or something like that.
That hasn't really happened, except in a few categories of items where the Web turned out to be especially effective. Computer geeks, maybe because they heard this story enough times, often buy computer products online. It's easy for an online bookstore to maintain the tremendous inventory some book buyers dream of, and for some reason a lot of people seem to like making travel reservations online.
Even when it sort of works, though, this "disintermediation" is kind of perverse, sending goods all over the place from all over the place. Large online sellers, like Amazon, end up with hugely complicated supply chain management systems and warehouses all over to manage this process. Importers, wholesalers, and web site managers still act as 'intermediaries'. Is it really that much less mediated than going to a store?
You can also explore this locally, without UPS or FedEx getting involved.
At Dryden Dairy Day, they've had posters illustrating what share of the price of milk you buy at a store goes to a farmer - it isn't much! They sell to a processor, who sells to a distributor (maybe), who sells to a store, who sells to a customer. Once in a while, say at Dairy Day, you can buy tasty cheese curds directly, but usually there are a lot of layers in between. I know that if I buy Organic Valley milk at Ludgate Farms, I'll have probably purchased at least some Dryden-farmed milk from a Dryden store, because there's an Organic Valley sign on Route 13.
I know, I know - no one wants to think about where their milk comes from, and whatever system is functioning today must be the best system possible because of economics.
Or not. Look around, and think about the ways you can buy things that you know are actually made in Dryden. Lots of things are still made here - but where can you find them?
This morning's Ithaca Journal Monitor suggests that surveillance cameras can be useful at home when there are burglars around. An Etna man seems to have caught his neighbor on tape in his house, and the man then confessed to an earlier burglary.
Briefly in Tompkins reminds readers that the second round of Ithaca City School District budget voting will be tomorrow from noon to 9:00pm. The Dryden-Groton Intergenerational Band and Chorus will be starting rehearsals soon as well.
On the opinion page, Paula Wilson Parker of Freeville complains that "The Tompkins County Legislature isn't a team player on the USA team vs. the world's bad guys."
I'm very used to seeing Natan Huffman, Chief of the Varna Volunteer Fire Company, driving around Dryden in a red pickup truck with lights. Unfortunately, on June 8th, someone seems not to have quite figured out what those lights are about, and Huffman is in the hospital with an ugly back injury after a crash on 366 near Oak Brook Drive. It's a remarkably detailed article about a remarkable guy, and I hope he can return soon. (It doesn't sound like it'll be soon at all, alas - a nine month rehabilitation is mentioned in the article.)
The vote on a second Ithaca City School District budget is today from noon to 9:00pm. Once again, Town of Dryden residents living in the Ithaca City School District have a complicated maze of places to go:
If you live in election district 1 or 5 (meaning you vote at Etna Fire Station in regular elections), the parts of the Ithaca district east of Baker Hill Road, you vote at Northeast Elementary School (map).
If you live in election district 4, which includes Varna, Hanshaw Road from Ithaca to Route 13, and the area between Game Farm and Turkey Hill Roads, you vote at the Varna Community Center (map).
If you live in election district 8, the south side of Ellis Hollow Road over Snyder Hill to Route 79 and Bethel Grove (and normally vote at Bethel Grove Church), you vote at the Belle Sherman Annex (map).
If you live in election district 9, the north side of Ellis Hollow Road, Ellis Hollow Creek, Ringwood Road, and many other smaller roads there, then you vote at Caroline Elementary School (map).
ICSD polls are open from noon to 9:00pm.
Cathy Wakeman declares the start of summer now that Dairy Day has passed. She reports on the upcoming Music in the Park events, starting tonight at Montgomery Park from 6:00pm to 8:00pm with Steve Southworth and the Rockabilly Rays, and the Music in the Hollow series, at the Ellis Hollow Community Center. The first Ellis Hollow event will be Thursday, June 28th, with the Ithaca Dixie Land Band.
Wakeman also notes Adam Philips-Burdge's selection as Dryden teacher of the year, an open studio this weekend at Maryhill Clayworks, Southworth Library Family Fun night next Tuesday, and the upcoming Sertoma Golf Tournament.
Yesterday's Ithaca City School District budget vote passed.
At the county level, it looks like insurance for seniors is getting an ugly side, and the county legislature is looking for more information on the budget. The last article also notes that:
Legislator Frank Proto, R-Caroline and Danby, also announced that the New York State Gas and Electric building near Route 366 is one of the two buildings under consideration for the new Health Department headquarters. The second building under consideration is the Biggs complex land near the former Biggs B Building site on Trumansburg Road....
Proto said that one of the concerns of moving to the NYSEG site is the distance it would be from other health care facilities....
Dryden resident Michael Lane, a former legislator, used his speaking time to say that it's important the new building be closer to the downtown area.
"The first and foremost duty here is to provide the best services and making the easiest access for people who need to get to the health department and its various clinics," Lane said. "By putting it somewhere downtown in the county seat or near the Route 13 corridor, people from our whole square county will have access."
Much as I'd love to see something - anything - develop in the empty fortress of the NYSEG building, I have a hard time seeing the Health Department's moving there as a great idea.
On the opinion page, Arlene Bradshaw of Dryden writes about the dangers of soccer goals after losing a 10-year-old grandchild to an accident in Virginia. Richard Jorgensen of Freeville writes to complain about the county legislature's support for impeachment proceedings.
Somehow I managed not to include yesterday's listing of Dryden High School graduates, complete with information on the valedictorian and salutatorian. Graduation will be Friday, June 22nd, at 6:00pm at the Dryden Memorial Complex.
This morning's Ithaca Journal editorial reflects on the need for motorists to let emergency vehicles pass safely, reflecting on their earlier story about Varna Fire Chief Natan Huffman's collision last week. A motorist "was cited for failing to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle," but that doesn't solve much.
Also on the opinion page, Dryden resident Martha Ferger co-authors a guest column on the Healthy Teens Act.
For some reason, New York State's legislature comes to an end just as schools are getting out. Students finish with finals and a wave of celebrations; the legislature ends with negotiations and last-minute votes.
The Journal doesn't seem to have an overview of the legislative session, but the New York Times (registration required) reports on the general collapse of negotiations at the end. It notes a $100 million giveaway to a New York developer. We'll see if Spitzer signs the bill, but this is exactly the kind of problem our broken legislative process encourages.
The Journal focuses more closely on bills with local sponsors, notably Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. They note the approval of a Fingerlakes Wine Center in Ithaca and a long-term care experiment between Longview and Ithaca College. (The latter was approved before, but vetoed by Governor Pataki. Lifton also pushed to extend the life of the voting machine committee.
One bill that passed deserves, I think, extra consideration. The New York State Constitution requires local governments to seek legislative approval for a wide variety of financial choices, and those approvals need to be renewed regularly. In theory, this lets the legislature keep local taxes under control. Unfortunately, as municipalities have become dependent on the extra points of sales tax that the legislature lets themhave, this also means that the state legislature has a lot more control over the municipalities, should it ever choose to use it. The sales tax legislation for this year passed without incident, but as County Legislator Michael Sigler says in the article:
"I'm not a big fan of raising taxes to fill holes in the budget,” he said. “But it would be impossible to fill them through property taxes at any acceptable level."
Update: Sales tax for Tompkins County passed without incident, but the sales tax weapon has been unsheathed in Suffolk County.
On the opinion page, Murray Cohen of Dryden writes in support of Al Franken's campaign for Senate in Minnesota.
This morning's Journal features the Dryden High School graduation, complete with James Bond, a student cutting a teacher's hair, squirreliness, and rocks.
A couple separated for decades will be marrying at the George Junior Republic chapeltoday. It's a a fascinating story on many levels, including the mix of Ithaca, Cortland, and Freeville in the couple's lives.
The New York State Special Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts will be in Ithaca from 10:00am to 5:00pm on Tuesday. This may sound a bit obscure, but there's been lots of discussion of possible change to the village and town court systems. This could be a government hearing with local results down the road.
Finally, the Journal has two articles on the 1972 Agnes flood, which was 35 years ago today. Growing up in Corning, the flood's devastation was a constant subject of conversation. Tompkins County escaped the worst of the storm, though if I remember right, the railroad line from Freeville to East Ithaca closed in this period, I think because of damage. (If anyone knows on that one, let me know in comments!)
If you see helicopters prowling around Dryden Tuesday or Wednesday, they're probably part of NYSEG's power line inspection. Also in Briefly in Tompkins, the Intergenerational Chorus will start rehearsals tonight, and the band will start Wednesday.
The county adopted a housing strategy that hopes to add 4000 more units of housing, more than half of it affordable housing.
Coming back from California has left me even more exhausted than usual, so updates are slow. Sorry about that! The regular flow of stories should resume shortly.
The biggest (though certainly not brightest) Dryden news of the day comes as breaking news: Marie Manos was indicted on two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the May 15th drowning death of her niece.
Route 366 heading into Ithaca will be closed for much of July; I guess I'll be using Route 13 more often.
Anyone interested in the administration of local justice should read this article on yesterday's Ithaca hearing of the the Special Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts. Yesterday's editorial also looked at local courts.
Also, the consolidated administration of economic development funds in TCAD. The Journal hopes that the Empire Zone here will work out, despite the record of corruption they've left across the state.
Jay Gallagher has a depressing look at New York's continuing approach of three men in a room. The painful part for me is:
It's not as though actually making decisions in public is an alien concept in the country. Congress and most state legislatures have open meetings where panels of lawmakers "mark up" bills - making changes that they agree to be considered by their respective houses. They seem to get things done all the same.
Albany has a pale version of these "conference committees." Four have been meeting for weeks here to try to resolve differences over issues large (making it easier to build power plants) and small (limiting junk food in schools.) But it's clear to anyone sitting in on even a few of these meetings that they are authorized to do only what the leaders tell them. There have been some interesting discussions, but calling them "negotiations" is a stretch.
Somehow our legislature lacks imagination and willingness to look at how things get done elsewhere.
Last week, I wrote about how our food supplies don't necessarily connect to our neighborhoods. I also wrote a bit earlier on the possibilities we'd open by looking locally, and I'd like to push further that direction.
Angelika and I have decided that effective August 1st, we're going to eat local foods. For the first year, we'll define 'local' as New York and Pennsylvania, since it's not too hard to find food which is labeled by state. (Vermont is practically a brand unto itself, and would in some ways be easier, but it's a lot further away.)
If that works out, we'll strive to make 'local' more local, figuring out where we can get foods from more immediately around here. There's no reason why everything we eat couldn't come from Dryden - except that the world isn't organized that way any longer. New York State still has tremendous agriculture, though, and we hope it's organized enough for us to find our way.
The one major exception in the experiment - the 'Marco Polo rule' - will be for spices, which are low-weight goods that have traveled for centuries. We're not granting such exceptions for chocolate, bananas, or oranges, however, unless people give them to us. (Angelika's parents send wonderful Christmas and Easter chocolates, for example.) Similarly, we'll eat out at restaurants and other people's houses if other people invite us, and we're not going to carry a suitcase of local produce when we travel.
This is going to mean departing from most processed food, because the processors don't tend to say where their ingredients came from. For some lightly processed food, I'll need to figure out where those ingredients come from. New Hope Mills is just up Route 38, but is the grain for the flour from New York? The midwest? Champlain Valley does both, though I don't know what ends up where. I'll find out, and let people know when I find local options.
Seasonality is going to be a big problem, so I expect we'll learn about freezing and canning, especially of fruit. That fits well with Angelika's plans for her orchard, but it's a lot to figure out. Storing root vegetables is going to be another learning process. Our cooking is going to have to change a lot, and we'll be doing a lot of the processing we used to let companies do for us. Our garden will also be contributing more and more, but we're not nearly crazy enough to depend on it now.
Some things should be easy - dairy, eggs, meat, u-pick fruit, and vegetables in season. New York grows lots of onions, too.
A few of the items I'm hoping to keep in our diet but need to find suppliers for, include:
Cooking oil - New York grower and processor?
Sweeteners - New York produces 34% of America's beets, but how many are sugar beets? And is there a processor here? Honey and maple syrup are much easier.
Cereal - I can make granola out of grains and fruits grown in New York, but I have a lot of looking to do to find them. Or maybe someone else is...
Yeast - Maybe I can do sourdough, but I'll confess to a fondness for spoonfuls of yeast. Where does that stuff come from?
Vinegar - I guess we can make it ourselves, but it seems like there must be some small local place doing it.
Some things I know I can get at Ludgate Farms or Greenstar in Ithaca, as well as the farmstands in Dryden and the farmer's market in Ithaca. Back to Basics sometimes carries very local food from the surrounding farms. We'll also be looking at Community Supported Agriculture around here. I have a lot of research to do.
Angelika also wants us to bicycle to B&B Farms and Ludgate Farms, which will add some extra work to this but have lots of other benefits, especially when the weather is nice. (I don't think we'll do that in winter.)
For now, and perhaps for a long time, we're going to leave the dogs and cats out of this experiment, except when they get leftovers.
I'll post updates - and recipes - here regularly. I also hope to find out more about what this costs, and ways to lower the cost. It doesn't seem like local food should be more expensive, at least in New York State, so long as you're willing to accept seasonality. I suspect it'll cost more at least at first, though, as 'local food' is just getting started. I'll report on the costs - both time and money - along the way.
(To some extent, this is inspired by a chapter in Bill McKibben's Deep Economy, in which he tries a year of local eating in Vermont. I'll be writing more about that book along the way too.)
I don't know if anyone else was interested in Angela Sparks-Beddoe's nomination to chair the Public Service Commission. I didn't think it was a great idea to appoint a lobbyist for Energy East to that position, but she never got a hearing. It all tangled up in various energy battles in Albany. Apparently, she's withdrawn from the application process.
A car chase that started in Cortland ended in Dryden yesterday as a woman fled from a court order. Cortland City Police and Sheriff's cars were damaged by ramming, and Dryden Police, Dryden Ambulance, the New York State Police, and New York State DEC police responded. After the arrest, the woman continued resisting arrest.
The Journal resumes its series on the impact of poverty in Tompkins County with a look at the challenges summer poses to those with limited income, especially daycare. That article notes recent Dryden daycare nightmares, "the worst-case scenario". There's also a piece on the Solar Express, the bookmobile run by the Dryden schools.
There's a fairly thorough piece on seismic testing for natural gas and all the little flags along the roads.
There's an article on some of the chaos produced by the State Assembly and Senate's inability to agree about Industrial Development Agencies. Dryden opted to keep its IDA at the last Town Board meeting, hopefully bringing it back to life.
And in case you were wondering, the CEO of Energy East, which owns NYSEG, will get $21.8 million from their buyout. That's just the lump sum - his $900,000 salary can be doubled for a while to keep him around.
Ever since the Town Board purchased a large chunk of land in the Village of Dryden for a new Town Hall, there have been rumors and occasional comments that it would be developed as parkland. Everyone loves recreation, but big questions about where the Town should provide it seem never to have gotten a careful look.
The Town leaped without looking on Wednesday, voting to apply for a grant for matching funds to develop the Town Hall area - outside of the wetlands - as playing fields. No inventory of existing facilities ever got completed, the public input proposed last year never seems to have happened, and it doesn't sound like the Board was interested in the park system proposed by the Comprehensive Plan.
I'm afraid I missed both the part of the Town Board meeting where this was discussed and the special meeting they had last Wednesday where the Board approved it 3-2, but you can find out a lot more about it from Mary Ann Sumner and David Makar, who voted against it for reasons that sound somewhat different.
I was surprised last week to see an "Open House" sign on my neighbor's house. I was coming back from bicycling today and saw the sign again, so figured I should check it out. Steve Moraff was there, happy to talk about the house he's leaving behind as he moves to downtown Ithaca.
(He also let me take a lot of photos to post here. I don't do this for every house sale in Dryden - fortunately - but it seemed like a nice thing to do for a neighbor, and an interesting post besides.)
The house was originally built in the 1970s, and looks a bit like a barn from the road. Steve's had major work done to the house, as I heard a few years ago (maybe at this?) from his contractor, Milan Croata at Tile-Tec in Freeville. Croata had clearly enjoyed the work he'd done in the house, from tile surfaces to drainage changes.
All of the floors in the house are hardwood or tile. Steve wanted to avoid volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can cause breathing problems, and they just look good. He also "ultra-insulated" the house, adding layers of insulation under the roof, in the walls, and in the basement. Windows and sliding doors provide lots of ventilation for when you want that.
The bathrooms especially got a lot of work. I think he called it 2.5 bathrooms, but one of the bathrooms includes both a steambath and a whirlpool bath.
The house is much larger than mine - 2900 square feet on three levels, including an incredibly built-out basement with immense closet space. The house's lot is similarly larger, around 2 acres. He expanded the lawn area into the slope, putting down a clover mix that looks nice but doesn't need mowing. He also built a much larger driveway for the RV he used to have, so the house is pretty well set up for entertaining. (Mine definitely is not!)
It was hard to capture the house in pictures, especially given the bright day adding too much contrast to everything. He's almost but not quite cleared out of the place. I've posted a full gallery if you'd like to look further. (He's almost but not quite cleared out of the place.)
If you're interested in the house, contact Steve. He sounds like he'd be happy to show the place off to possible buyers. (Just watch out for the neighbors to the east. They tore up their lawn and put in a garden, and run a website on Dryden...)